Friday, September 2, 2011

Neverwinter Review: The Gem of the North Still Shines

I was really more of a Dragonlance fan back in my high school years, when I was first discovering Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. All of my friends were the ones fawning over Drizzt and Elminster and the rest. I never saw the appeal. I played games they ran set in Faerun, but I’ve still never read any of the novels, despite an earnest attempt. Really, it wasn’t until the third edition of D&D and the Neverwinter Nights PC game arrived that I discovered an interest in the Forgotten Realms. I collected many of the books, and played through all three Nights campaigns, multiple times. So when the Neverwinter Campaign Setting was announced, despite my skepticism about an entire campaign contained within a single city, my curiosity was nevertheless piqued.

It’s made clear from the first page that there is a focused premise to this setting. The city is in chaos. Or doing some teetering very close to it, at least. It’s being torn apart from the inside out, and there are hands on the outside helping it along as well. With the conflict necessary to move any story forward established, the stage is set for the PCs to move in and make their mark. Oh, and that’s been well thought of, too. But I’m getting ahead of myself and the book.

Because this is a somewhat unique beast, the book starts out by giving you a framework to build on. The authors are straightforward in telling you how this campaign setting is different from others, what they believe its strengths are, and how all of that applies to being a Dungeon Master or a player. This is a smart move. While the ideas are not necessarily new, putting them up front to help guide a new player (or someone like me who’s not immediately sure about how to approach a campaign in a city) is a great idea.

Even if you don’t want to spend every game session within the confines of the walls of Neverwinter, there is plenty of room to stretch your PCs legs. Much of what is covered in the Neverwinter Nights video games is covered and updated, here: from Port Llast south to the Mere of Dead Men, from Helm’s Hold east to Old Owl Well. Each of 20 locations apart from Neverwinter proper are given just enough attention to whet the appetite for adventure. The history of the region (especially important to a couple of the factions presented), and specific advice for Dungeon Masters on ways to approach the campaign is included as well.

Some of the juiciest bits in the book, though, are the new options presented for players. Thirteen new themes begin the PC chapter, and I think there’s something to appeal to almost every player here. Each theme is tailored to the setting, giving the characters immediate buy-in to the intrigue and strife going on in and around Neverwinter. The Harpers are finally given some love with their own theme (and a Harper pin!), the Red Wizards make an appearance, and we are given more options for players who wish to play spellscarred PCs. For those who wish some more direct ties to the city, there is a Neverwinter Noble theme, and one for the drow of Bregan D’aerthe. Many of these can fairly easily be re-skinned for use in non-Realms campaigns.

For extra added Realms flavor, the dwarves and elves of Faerun get six variant racial rules to distinguish them from their core rules cousins. Shield dwarves, moon elves, and wood elves are all here. I have to admit here that I’m not really familiar with the Essentials classes, and as such I’m not terribly familiar with warpriest domains but there are four new options in the book: Corellon, Oghma (seems an odd choice, but the god figures prominently in the campaign), Sune, and Torm.

Finally, there is the infamous Bladesinger, making its debut in 4e. It bears a striking similarity to the Swordmage, but some interesting twists distinguish this class. The Bladesinger is a Controller, and has access to typical wizard implements (and can use melee weapons as implements, too). Perhaps my favorite part of the class is its homage to previous editions. There are... tables! Spells learned and prepared! The details from here get a bit tricky, but the short version is that Bladesingers get three At-Will powers, and prepare a selection of Encounter powers as Daily powers. There are also additional class abilities gained as you level up, and both Paragon Path and Epic Destiny features but I’ll let you discover those. Overall, I like it and would love a chance to play one.

The rest of the book from here on is dedicated to running the campaign. There is a full chapter detailing over a dozen factions, their goals, relationships with other groups, and new monsters for each as well. Devils, wererats, and shades, oh my! And that’s just scraping the surface. Aboleths, anyone? Cult of the Dragon? Eladrin reclaimers? Yep, and more.

Oh, and then there’s the Gazetteer. Otherwise known as Chapter 4. Almost 100 pages long, the Gazetteer goes into great detail exploring “present day” Neverwinter. For those who have played the video games, there are some familiar locales: The Moonstone Mask is here, as is Castle Never, and the River and Blacklake Districts. But Neverwinter is a changed city. There are floating islands along the shoreline, now. One of which includes the aforementioned Mask. A huge chasm has torn through a quarter of the city. Two of the three bridges crossing the Neverwinter River have collapsed. Several establishments and locations of interest are given attention here, as well as countless sidebars with adventure hooks and suggested ties to PC themes.

Outside of Neverwinter itself, Helm’s Hold, Neverwinter Wood, and the lost dwarven city of Gauntlgrym await the PCs attention. The Hold harbors plaguechanged victims, while werewolves lurk outside its walls, and dangerous things roam the tunnels and crypts beneath the surface. In the Wood, eladrin work at restoring an ancient empire, Thayans work at nefarious purposes, and a remnant of once-mighty Netheril stirs. Those who find their way to the doors of the legendary dwarf city will find its interior populated by dark creatures, remnants of a once-great civilization, and more. Plenty of things to keep brave PCs busy!

Finally, there is Evernight. If the politics, threats, and pervasive, persistent peril of everyday Neverwinter isn’t enough to sate you, a quick trip to the Shadowfell should fix that problem right quick. Almost a caricature of evil, Evernight is Neverwinter’s reflection in the plane of shadow and death. And it has both in spades. The entire city is populated by undead, some intelligent and others mindless, and many willing and able to bring “food” over from Neverwinter.

I know I said “finally”, but that was before you make the connection between the Red Wizards and Neverwinter. Ten pages are given over to expanding the campaign to include Thay and the conflict between Szass Tam and the Netherese shades. A fine way to grow the game beyond the Heroic tier, which is the primary focus of the campaign.

All in all, it’s very impressive. The focus is tight but leaves room to breathe, the details lay a great foundation, and the new crunchy bits presented look like they’ll be fun to see in use. Oh, and I would be remiss if I did not mention the lovely dual-sided poster-map included at the back! Although I acquired my copy as a benefit of running D&D at Gen Con, the $39.95 MSRP is worth it. While I do have my quibbles (which are more qualitative than quantitative), this is a great book. And, yes, this is just one part of a marketing drive from Wizards of the Coast that includes the Neverwinter video game and novels by R.A. Salvatore, but I’ve already seen some popular D&D bloggers saying they want to start a Neverwinter campaign, and I can’t say that same bug hasn’t bitten me!

Note: All images are owned by Wizards of the Coast and are featured in the Neverwinter Campaign Setting book.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Arena of Heroes, my Kickstarter Project!

Dear Internet,

I hold a very special place in my heart for To date, I've helped successfully fund thirteen different projects, ranging from board games and comic books, to card games and RPGs, to gadgets and design software. I love the "grassroots" feel as I watch the projects increase in funding, knowing people are screaming "I WANT THIS, YOUR IDEA IS WORTH MY MONEY!" I also have ideas; lots of ideas. Most are surrounding my 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons home-brew campaign, but everything can't be swords and magic and princesses.

As many of you that frequent my site know, another section has mysteriously materialized in the menu bar across the top: Board Games. There are two sub-links there for games I have designed to a point that they are ready to be released. Reversal of Fortune is a pirate themed card game that can be purchased through the spectacular print-on-demand service The Game Crafter. The other is a board game modeled in style from pop-culture hits as Gladiator or Sparticus, called Arena of Heroes.

Along with the talented help of Alex Melchor and Wesley K. Hall, I have been able to step up the "wow factor" with gorgeous artwork and game board layout. But...this isn't enough. Even the prettiest pearl is nothing if never seen.

With my affinity for Kickstarter and wanting to take Arena of Heroes to the next level, as of GenCon (don't worry, there's a HUGE post-GenCon article coming soon), I've launched my first Kickstarter project asking for $15,000 to do a large, professional print run of Arena of Heroes. I only set the project to run for 30 days, so with a September 3rd deadline looming in the not too far distance, I turn to you and hope my idea is worth your money. Please take a look at the Arena of Heroes Kickstarter Project Page and let me know what you think.

Edit: I've included a gameplay video on the Kickstarter page and thought I'd add it over here as well.

Thank you,
Jeremy Southard
Wastex Games

P.S. Here's what others are saying...
Sinister Forces: Pleas Support Arena of Heroes on Kickstarter








Monday, August 1, 2011

Lost Artifacts: Skullshield of Kalenax

This entry was written by Aaron, for the June Contest: Lost Artifacts. He can also be found on RPG Musings and twitter under @wolfsamurai.

In life, Kalenax was an unholy terror. Even though he was not very old, this red dragon carved a path of destruction and violence across huge areas. His lust for violence and riches drew the attention of Tiamat, who blessed him with even more power. The devestation was incredible, but eventually even such a powerful creature might fall. And so Kalenax did, hunted and killed by a group of adventurers who died to the last in their effort to bring the dragon down.

But even in death, Kalenax was not finished with his rampage. Tiamat-worshipping kobolds of the Poison Scale tribe eventually found the broken and skeletal remains of Kalenax years later and immediately recognised, though signs and portents, that Kalenax had been divinely blessed by their own patron. Not ones to pass up a bounty, the kobolds broke down teh skeleton and fashioned tribal relics from the bones. Kalenax's skull was fashioned into a shield, banded with iron and blessed twice-over by Tiamat, for the chieftan to use.

The kobolds themselves ran afoul of adventurers later and so the Skullshield of Kalenax came to be in the world at large, where many fought over it. Consecrated with unholy power and still containing the whispering remnants of Kalenax's spirt, the shield is an artifact of incredible power. The ablility to blast white hot flames that can melt metal or stone and protect the user from the same is powerful enough, but the shield also grants the wearer the power to sense nearby magical items and perform certain rituals like a master. Dragonkin of all kind are instinctively unsettled before the sight of the shield, though followers of Bahamut may instead be enraged at being near a relic of their hated foe.

Monday, July 25, 2011

July Contest: A Day In The Life

I wanted to start 2011 off with some contests and hopefully we can continue to run various contests each month here on the Wastex Games website. I now present the July Contest...

A Day In The Life

Pick a creature that players are generally unsympathetic toward (drow, gelatinous cube, whatever) and create a "day in the life of..." story exploring the creature's motivation and worldview.

Not the beatles from the monster manual...

There is no minimum or maximum word count required and it is open to anywhere will ship, unless noted on the prize item below.

Submit your entry below and tweet the following on Twitter:
I just entered the July Contest at @WastexGames! #dnd #rpg

If you wish to include any images, include a link to them in the form below. If you do not have a file sharing service, I highly recommend DropBox. It is free and if you use my referral link (here), both our accounts will receive an extra 250 MBs of storage.

The winner will get their choice of one of the three following items:

Lords of Madness - Miniatures 6-pc Booster Pack


Custom made, hand dyed Dragon Chow dice bag.
(Subject to available colors once winner is announced.)


A free character commission by @thedandmom.
Examples can be seen on her Deviant Art gallery.

Use the form below to submit your entry, submissions will be accepted until Sunday, July 31st at 11:59 PM EST. If you have any questions or comments, ask away here in the comments! Good luck!

Contest closed.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lost Artifacts: Contest Winner!

June's winning entry was written by Brent Newhall, for the June Contest: Lost Artifacts. He can also be found on his website Brent P. Newhall's Home(page) and twitter under @brentnewhall.

I hereby present the Bladed Sandals. These nasty little shoes have blades woven or otherwise worked into the sole, allowing a simple side-step to draw blood.

Item Slot: Feet
Property: When you shift, perform a free basic melee attack, dealing 1d6 + half level damage.

Now, give these out to a bunch of kobolds. This basically gives each kobold an extra basic attack every turn, provided there's a square for them to shift into. Watch your players tremble at the sight of kobolds again!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Anachronisms: The Veil of Crow

This entry was written by Alex Melchor, for the May Contest: Anachronisms. He can also be found on twitter under @Alex_Melchor.

The sentries had done their job and the alarm had sounded in the camp before the orcs attacked the camp. The savages had certainly taken them by surprise, but Sir Roderick was not worried; his small unit had trained extensively for this situation.

His squire helped him quickly into his chainmail, the horns of the orcs now splitting the night with their horrid bleating. Normally, he would dispense with his plate to face the ambush, but he nodded at the squire to begin helping him don it. His men, with simpler armors, were following suit, not requiring as much help as he did.

The squire worked quickly, pulling the straps to secure the pieces of plate and simply letting them stick together by virtue of whatever magic made them work, saving precious time with each pull.

The men-at-arms were fully armed and armored when the orcs finally breached their camp's perimeter, surprising the orcs with their preparedness and handily routed the raiding party.

What had the wizard called this miraculous strap that had probably saved their lives? The Veil of Crow, or something...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

Anachronisms: A Brutal Summer

This entry was written by Terrence van Ettinger, for the May Contest: Anachronisms. He can also be found on twitter under @LandrasGembar.

It was a hot day in the midst of high summer. Garya's face was streaked with sweat as she trudged along the road that led from Greenvale to Ventar. Her endurance for such things was being pushed to its limits, and she feared she might be in danger of passing out at any moment. This summer was, without a doubt, the most brutal she had ever faced, unnaturally hot and extremely dry. Gilleth, learned in matters of weather, had expressed concern that it might indeed be the result of something beyond normal influences.
It was while she was contemplating this situation that Garya caught sight of something--a large, bright yellow something--just sitting at the side of the road. It looked, for all the world, like some sort of odd carriage, but with no horses, and no apparent way to hitch them up to it. The wheels appeared to be made from some strange material, and most of the carriage was metal, not wooden.
"Look at this, will you?" she said, addressing her traveling companions. "I've never seen anything like it!"
"It looks like it should be movable," Quaraz observed, his large Gnomish eyes taking in the sight with undisguised curiosity. "But if it's some sort of carriage--it seems to have no way to hitch it up." He walked directly up to the contraption and began examining it more closely.

"Quaraz, look!" exclaimed Sheliya, who had come up beside him. "It's got these handles on the side!" So saying, Sheliya reached out a slender hand and pulled up on the handle, marveling as a catch thunked from inside the thing, and what was now clearly a door opened up. Six pairs of eyes peered into the thing's interior, with its plentiful seating, made from fabrics none of them had ever seen before, and, inthe front, its massive wheel which reminded Gilleth of a sort of modified ship's wheel.
"Let me ensure that there aren't any traps on this," Sheliya proposed. “If not--at the very least it could perhaps provide us some shade for a moment. It looks like there'd be plenty of room for all of us."
"But wait," broke in Sivenna, her learned cleric's eye catching sight of some writing on the inside of the door. "There's some writing here--Quaraz, can you make sense of it?"
As Sheliya began her investigation of the structure for any sort of traps, Quaraz set to work casting the ritual that would allow him to make sense of the writing. It didn't take long for Sheliya to declare the vehicle safe to enter, and while everyone else piled into it, Quaraz completed his ritual.
"These letters here," he explained. "seem to translate to--” here his eyebrow raised in puzzlement. "Dodge. But why someone would write that on the inside of the door, I can't figure out for the life anymore than I know why the wind blows."
"What about this panel?" asked Garya. In her years growing up in the caverns, and in the time she'd been adventuring, she'd never seen anything that remotely compared with it. "Seems there's writing here too."
Quaraz and Sheliya both moved to examine what the stocky warrior woman was referring to. While the elf's lithe frame allowed her to examine the panel easily while sitting in the seat in front of it, it was necessary for Quaraz to stand to his full height in order to gain access to all the various dials, switches, and other bits that covered one side of the panel.
"What are these vents for?" Sheliya asked him. "If I had to guess, I'd say they had something to do with air flow for some reason. Perhaps that's how it runs?"
"Let me see," Quaraz replied, casting his bright blue-eyed gaze upon the area to which the rogue was pointing. By this time the others had all gathered themselves and their gear inside and had closed the door. Sevenna, who normally stood six foot nine, was forced to hunch over significantly in order to fit, but she vowed that the shade was well worth the extra effort. Especially when Quaraz suddenly flipped a small lever on the panel--and to everyone's amazement, cool air began to blow from the many different vents, not just up in the front, but all along the sides as well.
"What manner of strange magic is this?" Gilleth mused, half to himself and half to the rest of the group. "Well, it seems harmless enough." Just about that moment, a loud honking noise came from the vicinity of what they had decided must be the driver's area. Everyone jumped in surprise as the sound took them completely off-guard.
"Um, I believe that's my fault," Quaraz confessed. "There was a big pushable piece here," (he gestured to center of the large driving wheel.) "And I think we now know what that does."
"Quaz, what've I told you about doing things like that?" Fiarak admonished, calmly yet with a slightly stern edge to his voice. "You've been lucky so far--but one of these days--”
"Aye I know, Fiarak," Quaraz answered the red-haired, leather-clad ranger. "But I just had to know."
"You Gnomes and your inquisitiveness," the Eladrin muttered. All through this conversation, Sheliya was still examining the panel, and now returned to the compartment she'd seen when she first went over the carriage before. Taking another look at the actual contents, she came across a ring of keys.
The six of them continued to investigate the various parts of the strange carriage for a while longer, and eventually, between Sheliaya's defts, Quaraz's Gnomish fascination and his skill in understanding how things were put together, they eventually figured out just how to control the thing. They found that, even without draft animals to pull it, the thing could, in fact, move. It took some trial and error, but with experimentation and suggestions from Quaraz, Sheliya began to figure out just how to control the thing's movements, which were far faster than any carriage they'd ever seen. It was clear that, if they could keep it going, they could bein the next town far ahead of schedule, and avoid much of the brutal heat that had oppressed them thus far. Quaraz, reading through some documents he'd located, came to learn that this fast-moving, self-propelling carriage was known as a bus in the language of the strange writing, but one thing was certain: it sure made travel much more bearable.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Agile Gamemaster: The Stat/Initiative/Combat Tool

Welcome to the Agile Gamemaster series. In this series, I will talk about some tools and concepts that gamemasters can use at the gaming table to respond quickly to whatever comes along.

As a gamemaster, you are the single most important element at the gaming table. You are responsible for a large part of the creative energy that happens during each session. You must be ready with plots, adventures and information about the world in which the characters exist. Being an agile gamemaster, then, means that you are prepared, quick with information and able to adjust to whatever is happening at the gaming table. You should not be a hindrance to what is happening, but rather be a driving force at all times. Being agile also means that you are not content with where you are as a gamemaster but are constantly trying to improve your gamemastering skills and the tools you use.

When you sit down in the gamemaster’s chair you assume a number of gaming responsibilities that are easily identified, things like designing in-game locations and events, portraying non-player characters and running combat. There are also a number of things that are not immediately obvious that are just as important and in a few cases more so.

One of those hidden items is in the area of combat management, specifically the tracking of combatant stats, initiative and effects. Without a solid, manageable way to control this area of the game, you will quickly find yourself spending too much time juggling notes and scrambling for room on the table. You will miss some of the things that are the very reason you game in the first place: the action that is happening right in front of you. What you need is a tool that can give you quick access to character and NPC stats; easily display initiative; track the effects that are applied to each combatant as they happen; and not take up a lot of extra space at the gaming table.

As a weathered gamemaster, I have tried over a dozen tools with mixed results. Sticky notes, 3x5 cards, custom-made tracking sheets, notebook paper and even digital devices. Each has great points but is lacking in others or has major drawbacks. Some give volumes of information but take up too much room. Others are small and compact but lack flexibility. The digital tools distract me with their multiple layers of functionality and too often take my eyes and attention away from the table. Some of the things I tried were just plain bad ideas.

Recently I hit on a tool that has minimal drawbacks and outstanding results. Have you ever noticed those little sales displays that sit on your table at restaurants? The ones that stand tall and in the way while you eat so that you will notice the desert selections and maybe spend extra money on your meal. What if, instead of deserts, they held all those important stats about your characters and NPCs right where you could see them easily? I call it the Stat-Initiative-Combat Tool or SInC for short (pronounced sync). SInC has high visibility but allows me to keep my eyes and attention on the game. It is easy to use, stays in place and takes up very little surface area on the table. I can quickly adjust the amount of information displayed. Effects and status markers can easily be added or removed. And they allow the initiative order to be displayed to everyone at a glance.


[caption id="attachment_1695" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Stat-Initiative-Combat (SInC) Tool"]Stat-Initiative-Combat close up[/caption]

In this single tool, I have finally found something that is game system neutral and has a permanent place in my gamemastering tool box.  This close up of the tool in action is from one of my groups gaming sessions.

What follows is a set of instructions that will help you to create your own version of the SInC tool.

To make your own, you will need the following items:

  • Table top menu stands. The shorter ones work well because they have a heavier and more stable base. You will need to get these from a restaurant supply store, which you can find online by searching for “tabletop menu card holders.” They range from $.50 to $2.00 each. Get as many as you think you will need. I used the 2¼” clip-type stand with 3” base.

  • Large craft sticks, tongue depressors or long Popsicle sticks. One for each base you are going to make. Available at any craft store in packs of 50 for about $3.00.

  • Miniature clothes pins. Also available at craft stores. A bag of 50 for about $5.00.

  • Rubber bands. You will need one for each stand.

  • Black magic marker or black model paint.

Steps to create your SInC tools:

  1. Paint or color your craft sticks black. This will help them to visually disappear when you use them.

  2. When they are dry, slide them into the holder portion of the stand in an upright position.

  3. Wrap a rubber band around the base of the clip. This will firmly hold the sticks upright and add a little more weight to each base. You can also disassemble them easily for storage and transport.

  4. Now take printouts of your preferred method of displaying character and NPCs stats and clip them to the stand. I used Wizards of the Coast DDI monster tool to print out creature stats and a custom Excel worksheet that formats all of the character information for the party and mounted them as you see in the pictures below.

  5. I painted one of the miniature clothes pins green to indicate which combatant is currently active in initiative.

You are now ready to game, and hopefully you are a just a little more agile.

Here are a few shots of the SInC tool in action.

[caption id="attachment_1696" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="SInC tool gamemaster view"]SInC Tool GM View[/caption]

You can see in the picture above the green clothes pin indicating the character whose turn it is and a small stack of monster and trap print outs waiting for their encounter. You can very easily create your own stat sheets or use what is available from whatever game system you group uses.

[caption id="attachment_1697" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="The Throne Room battle "]SInC Tool in action The Throne Room battle[/caption]

This was the battle of the throne room. There were 5 characters and 6 different types of monsters in this encounter. It was easy for me to manage the almost 60 combatants shown with no confusion or missed information. You can see many of the different game aids from Wizards of the Coast and Dark Platypus that we use here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June Contest: Lost Artifacts

I wanted to start 2011 off with some contests and hopefully we can continue to run various contests each month here on the Wastex Games website. I now present the June Contest...

Lost Artifacts

Craft a unique magical artifact that would give a dangerous boost to a normally (mostly) harmless enemy. Tell how this might change the monster's tactics and lead it (and possibly its allies) to victory.

There is no minimum or maximum word count required and it is open to anywhere will ship, unless noted on the prize item below.

Submit your entry below and tweet the following on Twitter:
I just entered the June Contest at @WastexGames! #dnd #rpg

If you wish to include any images, include a link to them in the form below. If you do not have a file sharing service, I highly recommend DropBox. It is free and if you use my referral link (here), both our accounts will receive an extra 250 MBs of storage.

The winner will get their choice of one of the three following items:

Lords of Madness - Miniatures 6-pc Booster Pack


Custom made, hand dyed Dragon Chow dice bag.
(Subject to available colors once winner is announced.)


A free character commission by @thedandmom.
Examples can be seen on her Deviant Art gallery.

Use the form below to submit your entry, submissions will be accepted until Thursday, June 30th at 11:59 PM EST. If you have any questions or comments, ask away here in the comments! Good luck!

Contest is closed.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Anachronisms: Contest Winner!

May's winning entry was written by Jim White, for the May Contest: Anachronisms. He can also be found on his website Wombat's Gaming Den of Iniquity and twitter under @twwombat.

What if the adventurers find a full-color collating photocopier?

Consider: They open a cartography shop, able to recreate any map in mere moments. Since it's so easy, they take a copy of every map they reproduce, eventually compiling the most accurate atlas in the world, with every treasure clearly marked with an X.

Literacy rates will shoot upward since the bottom fell out of the book market, even though books are now bound with only a single staple in the upper left corner. Everybody earns training in history and geography, and many children learn the ways of the world with purloined copies of the bawdy (and graphic) "The Piercer and The Beholder".

When war comes to the kingdom, the party is put in charge of a generating and distributing propaganda leaflets which eventually end hostilities and lead to the annexation of the enemy country as a vassal state.

And don't get me started when they figure out the ink formula so they can photocopy viable magic scrolls. They'll have an unstoppable magic school where even apprentices can cast any first-level spell because scrolls are effectively free.

So it's not so much a party advantage as a world-changing device, but I still wouldn't want to be the gnome who has to keep it clean and free the paper jams all the time.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tribes of the Land: The Stone Raiders

This entry was written by Wesley K. Hall, for the April Contest: Tribes of the Land. He can also be found as Illustrator of the Nameless PCs Webcomic, on his sketch blog and twitter under @wesleykhall.

The Story
The Stone Raiders

Paths all throughout the forests are littered with horrifying statues. Women and children with faces in terror, warriors screaming with swords drawn and shields raised in defense. These are considered to be the lucky victims of the “Stone Riders”. The unlucky victims are men and women who wander naked into town missing arms and legs, with empty spaces where noses use to be or with their eyes scratched out.

The Stone Raiders are a small group of goblins mounted on cockatrices. They are known to ambush travelers (especially the more wealthier looking ones) and quickly neutralize the major threats of the group with the bite power of the cockatrices. After petrifying a few party members, a large goblin named Kreush offers the travelers a simple exchange: the antidote for the cockatrice bites for all the traveler’s treasure and weapons. Those who accept the exchange are happy to leave alive. Those who do not accept the bargain, end up as statutes or are found wandering naked into town missing limbs with horrible scars left on their bodies when they became statutes and that remain when they are released from the cockatrice’s bite.

Kreush, is a tall brown goblin who wields a war hammer that appears to be dwarven made. He uses it to crush recently petrified foes in a single blow and is the only voice ever heard from the Stone Raiders. He is rumored to have left his goblin tribe to find the most difficult mount to ride and is rumored to have killed over 1000 foes. He has been heard to speak a wide range of languages from goblin, to dwarven, to common, to elven. Many believe that he is collecting a stockpile of weapons and money to build up a goblin empire lead by him and his Stone Raiders.

The Stone Raiders are said to be handpicked by Kreush and are picked for their veracity and their willingness to follow orders. They all mount cockatrices and are covered in leather armor; the cockatrices are covered in pieces of handmade armor mostly covering their heads and sides of their bodies. A few wield crossbows circling the travelers and keeping them pinned down, the others wield warhammers for the smashing of foes be them petrified or a bit squishier.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

G4 TV's Icons: Dungeons & Dragons

A friend on twitter passed on a link to an episode of G4 TV's Icons about Dungeons & Dragons that I have never seen. It's really great, so I thought I'd post it here for others who haven't seen it as well.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tribes of the Land: Gaspak's Clan

This entry was written by James Lawson, for the April Contest: Tribes of the Land. He can also be found on his website and twitter under @blackengorge.

Gaspak's Clan

Gaspak's Clan is a small tribe of Xivorts (see MM3, p.208) that have taken refuge in the world and are waiting for the day that they become strong enough to exact their revenge on the giants and ogres that they see as their oppressors.

Distant cousins of gnomes, Xivorts have been changed and ravaged by fell magic and torture by formorians in the Shadowdark. Many xivorts are still slaves to the formorians, but a lucky few have managed to escape into the feywild or the world. However, for some this escape was at a price - bargains with cabals of hags to help them escape left them with gross exaggerations to their twisted features as they escaped through the Shadowfell. Many xivorts harbour hatred towards larger creatures, such as goliaths and half-orcs, but reserve their fiercest ire for ogres and giants.

One such xivorts that managed to flee the formarians' servitude through the Shadowfell is Gaspak, who's journey through that plane has transformed him into something stronger than normal. He saw opportunity for revenge when he was released by the hags and made further deals with them. The hags would continue to free xivorts and hold them for Gaspak in exchange for riches and treasures from the world.

Gaspak steadily built up his clan, starting with those that escaped with him, and gradually adding to his numbers with gifts and offerings to the cabal of hags that freed him.

The main tactic the clan employs is to find caves or hideouts fairly close to small villages and towns. Time is spent fortifying these places with traps and hazards, and then they begin small raids - more intent on terrifying than any real destruction. These raids are disguised as best they can as goblin or kobold raids, with the hope that the village will employ any wandering adventurers to solve the problem.

When adventurers arrive the xivorts use their traps and hazards to waylay them and then attack in swarms. The intent is to relieve the adventurers of any items they have that the hags would like. Gaspak takes his share of the items, picking and choosing those that will ultimately help him reach his goal of being powerful enough to take on giants and ogres, before meeting with the hags at pre-arranged times and places to offer them the remaining riches.

Gaspak stays in the location for as long as he deems it safe and the raiding disguise holds, or until adventurers stop coming. The clan then leave in the night to find a new base of operations.

This process has been repeated over and over again for more than three years, and their leader has gradually accumulated items that he believes will help him in his crusade. His clan now numbers over thirty, with new xivorts from the hags helping bolster his numbers, or replace those that have fallen.

Gaspak is a single-minded and determined Xivort, the thought of revenge all he truly has to rest upon after years of suffering and torture. Clever and decisive, he has thought of many of the traps that the xivorts employ - the tinkering skills of their distant cousins, the gnomes, present in his bloodline. He leads battle from the front when he has to, using the weapons and armours he has taken from past adventurers to his best advantage.

Sample Encounters:
Level 1 Encounter (550xp)
- 2 Xivort Slashers (MM3, p.208)
- 1 Shadowhunter Bat (MM, p.27)
- 1 Xivort Darter (MM3, p.208)
- 1 False Floor Pit Trap (DMG, p.87)

Level 3 Encounter (750xp)
- 3 Xivort Slashers (MM3, p.208) mounted on...
- 3 Giant Rats (MM, p.219)
- 2 Xivort Darters (MM3, p.208)
- 1 Xivort Netcaster (MM3, p.209)
- 1 Spear Gauntlet Trap (DMG, p.87)

Level 5 Encounter (1,025xp)
- 3 Xivort Slashers (MM3, p.208)
- 1 Xivort Darter
- 1 Xivort Netcaster
- 1 Xivort Shadow Caller
- Gaspak (see above) mounted on...
- 1 Dire Rat

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

May Contest: Anachronisms

I wanted to start 2011 off with some contests and hopefully we can continue to run various contests each month here on the Wastex Games website. I now present the May Contest...


Pick a single piece of modern technology and have an adventurer find it. Assume that whatever magic brought it to the DnD world keeps it fully functional, even if it normally needs electricity, network connections, etc. Show how it could provide an advantage to your adventurer and his or her party, whether a combat advantage, or through being able to avoid conflict altogether.

There is no minimum or maximum word count required and it is open to anywhere will ship.

Submit your entry below and tweet the following on Twitter:
I just entered the May Contest at @WastexGames! #dnd #rpg

If you wish to include any images, include a link to them in the form below. If you do not have a file sharing service, I highly recommend DropBox. It is free and if you use my referral link (here), both our accounts will receive an extra 250 MBs of storage.

The winner will get their choice of one of the three following items:

Lords of Madness - Miniatures 6-pc Booster Pack


Deluxe Dungeon Master's Screen (4th Edition D&D)


Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Roleplaying Game: An Essential D&D Starter (4th Edition D&D)

Use the form below to submit your entry, submissions will be accepted until Tuesday, May 31st at 11:59 PM EST. If you have any questions or comments, ask away here in the comments! Good luck!

Contest is closed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tribes of the Land: Contest Winner!

April's winning entry was written by Tony Mastrangeli, for the April Contest: Tribes of the Land. He can also be found on twitter under @DnDHelper.

The Anher Haunt

Sevron was a necromancer of some renown in his day. Legend has it that he worked in a liar built into the Nadam mountain range, just outside the town of Anher. Sevron's goal, of course, was Lichdom. However, as powerful as he was, he wasn't able to complete the ritual properly. The result was a magical mishap the kept his brian functioning, but destroyed his body.

Trapped in his own dead body, he wait for months until a unfortunate peasant boy from the town of Anher stumbled into his mountain lair. Using his mental influence, he quickly dominated the boy and set him to do his bidding.

Once the boy had Sevron's brain safely interred into a jar, his use came to an end. Sevron had the boy kill himself and then proceeded to raise him as a ghoul.

Now with his most pressing need taken care of, Sevron began to think about the danger this nearby town might pose to him if they came looking for the boy. So he ordered his new ghoul servant to take him to the nearby graveyard for the town of Anher.

They went down into the deepest crypt and setup shop. With a massive supply of "raw materials" Sevron knew he could build his tribe up quickly. Using the first ghoul as his hands, he ordered him to start by bringing him a few corpses, to which he quickly raised in to skeletons. So over the months, Sevron managed to build up his tribe into a fierce band of undead.

He had thought about creating more ghouls, but knew they would be much harder to control then the simple-minded undead. So he deiced to work on experimenting with different types of zombies and skeletons. In addition to old corpses, anyone unfortunate enough to walk near his graveyard was quickly "recruited" into the tribe.

Thus, over the months, Sevron was able to create himself the Tribe of the Anher Haunt as he calls it. Locals know something isn't right and steer clear of the graveyard. Sevron knows it's only a matter of time before a group of adventures decides to come bother him, so he diligently is working on increasing his tribe.

This day his tribe consists of the following:
Sevron, Brain in a Jar
Level 6 Controller

Unfortunate Boy, Ghoul
Level 5 Elite Soldier

5 Skulk Zombies
Level 3 Skirmisher

4 Hulking Zombies
Level 4 Brute

10 Skeletons
Level 3 Soldier

5 Skeletal Archers
Level 3 Artillery

Monday, April 25, 2011

April Contest: Tribes of the Land

I wanted to start 2011 off with some contests and hopefully we can continue to run various contests each month here on the Wastex Games website. I now present the April Contest...

Tribes of the Land

The world is a big place, and when you include all the other planes of existence, the possibilities of what you may find are endless. Create a tribe of monsters (any kind), include their leader, some background of how they came to be, and some interesting lore.

There is no minimum or maximum word count required and it is open to anywhere will ship.

Submit your entry below and tweet the following on Twitter:
I just entered the April Contest at @WastexGames! #dnd #rpg

If you wish to include any images, include a link to them in the form below. If you do not have a file sharing service, I highly recommend DropBox. It is free and if you use my referral link (here), both our accounts will receive an extra 250 MBs of storage.

The winner will get their choice of one of the three following items:

Lords of Madness - Miniatures 6-pc Booster Pack


Deluxe Dungeon Master's Screen (4th Edition D&D)


Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Roleplaying Game: An Essential D&D Starter (4th Edition D&D)

Use the form below to submit your entry, submissions will be accepted until Saturday, April 30th at 11:59 PM EST. If you have any questions or comments, ask away here in the comments! Good luck!

This contest is closed.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Minions Encountered: Chamber of Fire

March's winning entry was written by David Flor, writer for, for the March Contest: Minions Encountered. He can also be found on twitter under @BrainClouds.

Chamber of Fire, a.k.a. Goblin Go BOOM!
You enter a massive underground chamber that appears to be some sort of temple. At the far end is the goblin leader performing some sort of ritual to a large idol of Bane. In between you and the altar are two narrow bridges of stone that hang over a deep chasm of flowing lava. The goblin leader turns to face you and begins shouting, motioning several goblins in front of him to attack.

Download the full encounter here: Chamber of Fire, a.k.a. Goblin Go BOOM!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fantastic Locations: Temple of Geryon

Geryon was once the lord of Stygia, the Fifth Layer of Hell, a position he gained right after the demotion of Levistus.

Known for his staunch loyalty to Asmodeus, Geryon was the only one to support the Lord of Nessus upon the Hell-wide revolution known as the Reckoning of Hell. But, in the aftermath, his faithfulness was apparently useless, as Geryon was demoted and banished to Avernus with his court by Asmodeus himself.

He was at one time a commander of a Stygian fortress known as Coldsteel, only to later lose that position as well. His physical form has ultimately been destroyed and his life-essence was given to power up Glasya, Asmodeus's daughter.

After Geryon's short reign over Stygia and his swift demise, his occult followers began to wander aimlessly in search of another dark deity to follow, abandoning the temples built in Geryon's honor and most of the treasure and magical items within them. One such temple is buried deep in the jungle and has been overrun by creatures both from the local habitat and those left behind, used in various ceremonies and rituals done in worship of Geryon.

Geryon's temple was once a bustling metropolis of dark dealings and charismatic denizens. The minotaur faithful ran the city with a strict, ironclad hierarchy, though allegiances were not as orderly as they may have seemed. Physically twisted and fanatically loyal, the Priests of Geryon were the unquestioned rulers within the temple walls, and guarded their positions jealously. They were a web of despots, each with his own small domain to crush under his iron heel.

After Geryon’s fall and destruction, the priests tried to hide the change in circumstances from the rest of the city. They were used to their privileges and their power, and intended to keep them. Eventually, it became obvious that Geryon was no longer manifesting, and the truth eventually reached the ears of the general population. The other races in the city banded against the minotaur priests, and both fought each other to near extinction. What few remained wandered off to find better fortunes elsewhere.

For decades, the temple was a quiet place. The jungle has reclaimed much of what was the surrounding city. The temple itself remains barren, as if even the jungle plants can feel the taint of the terrible things done there, though the stones have begun to collapse in on each other, making the maze of rooms treacherous. The more dangerous fauna of the jungle tend to gravitate to the temple, drawn instinctually to the place.

In recent years, minotaur sightings have become more plentiful near the old ruins of the city. They wear metal armor, tinged with a whitish blue sheen that evokes the eternal ice of Stygia. Whispers and rumors abound of a new High Priest taking residence in the inner sanctum of the temple. The Priests of Geryon Resurrected work tirelessly toward uncertain ends, going about inscrutable errands in the ruins of the city and in the surrounding jungle. Only one thing is certain: since the priests returned, nobody who has entered the temple has ever been seen again.

Monday, April 4, 2011

March Contest: We Have A Winner!

The March contest, Minions Encountered, came to a close with two really great entries! I would like to thank everyone that submitted an entry, all were great to read and will be posted here over the next few Mondays. Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! The winner is…

David Flor!

Here is a short excerpt from his entry, stay tuned until Monday when it will be posted here in full:

If the players manage to get close, the bombers will position themselves for maximum damage; they will not damage Gax with their explosions on purpose, but don’t care if any of the other goblins are caught in the blast.

You can find David on Twitter at @BrainClouds and as a writer for his website A Walk In The Dark.

Friday, April 1, 2011

D&D 5e?

Wow, I must say, Mike Wiemholt (Twitter & Website) really outdid himself today with the release of his Dungeons & Warcraft (D&D 5th edition) website:! With an all-star cast of D&D bloggers like Thadeous, The Angry DM, Sarah Darkmagic, Wexogo, and The Secret DM helping out with fake reviews and suppliments, this has got to be THE BEST D&D related April Fool's joke I've ever seen!

Happy April Fool's Day everyone!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

March Contest: Minions Encountered

I wanted to start 2011 off with some contests and hopefully we can continue to run various contests each month here on the Wastex Games website. I now present the March Contest...

Minions Encountered

The bigger (and more sentient) baddies we come across in Dungeons & Dragons are usually surrounded by those lesser of them - either controlled in some way, following them out of loyalty or there for profit. Create a beginning encounter set in an underground cave system that will introduce a party to the main villain and show him using the minions in an interesting way.

There is no minimum or maximum word count required and it is open to anywhere will ship.

Submit your entry below and tweet the following on Twitter:
I just entered the March Contest at @WastexGames! #dnd #rpg

If you wish to include any images (encounter map, monster stat blocks, etc.), include a link to them in the form below. If you do not have a file sharing service, I highly recommend DropBox. It is free and if you use my referral link (here), both our accounts will receive an extra 250 MBs of storage.

The winner will get their choice of one of the two following items:

Lords of Madness - Miniatures 6-pc Booster Pack


Monster Manual: Dangerous Delves: A D&D Miniatures Booster Expansion

Use the form below to submit your entry, submissions will be accepted until Thursday, March 31st at 11:59 PM EST. If you have any questions or comments, ask away here in the comments! Good luck!

Contest is closed.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Army of One: Garrett The Amazing

This entry into the Army of One contest was written by Simon Matthews. He can also be found on twitter under @symatt.

The warm yellow firelight reflected golden off the weak beer up onto Garrett's neck. The soles of his damp boots steamed gently as they face the open fire.
Smoke from countless pipes meandered about the shadow laden room. Maidens with dirty aprons and dirty hands negotiated bags, boots and reaching hands as they went about their business serving warm beer and pale meats. A mix of Local farmers, out of town traders, quiet solitary types and loud half naked warriors with weapons placed at their feet, yet always ready for a fight if the opportunity arose.
The stale taste of sweat and dirt is only just covered by garlic and smoke.
The cacophony of voices is broken from time to time with a burst of laughter or cheer from some other table or corner.

Being a Halfling didn't stop Garrett from mixing with every race and creed, he managed it so well. His clothes, of Noble make, well kept but showed their age, his boots had holes that had been repaired so many times that there wasn't an original piece left. His hair was unkempt, dark and hung in his eyes but he thought it gave him a mysterious look.
A sword, well he says it's a sword, no more than a long dagger really lay in the side grove of the high back chair he managed to acquire when an aged local left to relieve himself. Leaning against the back of that chair was a shield, way to big for one so small but it seemed to attract light like a candle attracts moths. A pattern of wind tossed leaves carved into the metal gave the feeling of motion where there was none.

"There I was, standing alone on the south end side of the bridge of Vakcher"
Raising his voice one more level.
"The entire city of Tyndall was behind me" garrett took a breath. "Women, children and the old stood trembling in fear, only I stood between them and certain death"
The halfling leaned forward to give more drama to his tail. Spilling beer on his leg which he failed to notice or just didn't want others to notice.
"The hordes of VAK stood before me with teeth gnashing and weapons bashing"
He demonstrated this by bringing his small hand hard down onto the arm of the wooden chair and bearing his teeth.
An audience of three had gathered about him now with a couple more peering over their shoulders.
"what did you do, what did you do?
A young adventurer of no more than twenty summers questioned, he sat against the hearth, an untouched drink in hand, questioning him again and again at every scene Garrett described.
"Shut up will you I'm coming to that bit" the flash in Garrett's eyes faded momentarily as the creative juices had been broken.
"Well as I said, I was standing......" garrett stopped looked at the lads goblet and looked back at the lad.
"Are you drinking that?"
Pointing a grubby finger with a broken nail at the young mans drink.
" can have it if you want" he passed it to Garrett, who then poured it into his own flagon.

The wood upon the fire crackled sending a delicate cinder spark drifting into the haze of smoke to then come to rest in Garrett's drink with a soft fizzle. Garrett took several loud gulps of beer and then continued his Story.
"The first wave of Vak charged, I held my ground. They clambered and clawed over each other on mass to get at me".
He looked about, now more had leaned in to listen to his Amazing story. A hidden smile crossed his face. Once again the young fighter interrupted.
"What's a VAK?"
Several of the Audience agreed and looked puzzled.
"Well when you have travelled the many lands and worlds as I have then you may come across the vicious and deadly VAK, but I'd hope for your sakes you never do". Garrett scanned the ever increasing crowd.
"Who will fill my cup so I can continue and maybe a little meat too"?

His cup and plate filled Garrett yet again started to retell his amazing adventure.
"There I was, my trusty sword in one hand and my life protecting shield in the other".
"The Vak, reached me within several heartbeats and all I could do was keep my two horse span width of the bridge. They slammed into my shield skidding me backwards. I dug my heals in harder until I came to a stop." Garrett took a bite of his remaining meat, chewing with mouth open and spitting pieces of food as he became more animated in his telling.

"I stabbed and slashed with my sword, Vak were dying with every stroke of my blade. My arms ached with the force of my blows and the strain it was taking to hold these evil monsters back from the innocent I was protecting".
Garrett's breathing became faster as though he was living the moment again or was it the first time?

The tale continued, drawing more and more people about him, all enthralled in the heroics of this small but mighty Halfling. Garrett carried the story and his spectators farther into the spectacle that must have taken place upon that bridge so far from this small travellers inn.
"The Vak bodies lay about me" Garrett continued. "My feet, ankle deep in their green fetid blood. Took me days to clear the stench from the soles" he pointed at his boots, everyone looked at them and as if in a choir, Oooooed and aaahhhed in unison.
"What about the Vak, surely there was to greater number for you alone"?
A voice from the back shouted across the tables. A human of many years and by the looks of him many a battle. Clambered onto a table and again repeated what he had said, now to the whole room which lay in silence, looking at Garrett for an answer.
Garret looked about him. Stumbled for words a couple of times then spoke clearly as if recalling a memory.
"You are right to ask my friend for there was a horde of Vak. Even though I had killed more than I have fingers and toes there was still more beyond." Garrett's eyes wondered across the faces of the crowed. Sweat trickled down his brow like hot oil running from the skin of a roasting chicken. Had he faltered, had he been discovered?
"yes I had to think fast."
Now standing upon his chair and holding his hands outstretched, holding the attention of his audience.
"I jumped backwards and landed a full ladders length away from the drooling Vak" Garrett touched his lower lip in thought. "I looked about and studied the bridge in total detail. It took but a thoughts moment and then I saw how to beat the Vak."
The whole crowd seemed to move to the edge of their seats even if they were not seated.
"There was a crack, only slight, but it ran the whole width of the marble white bridge." Garrett waited, giving the tension time to increase.
"The Vak charged again, I paused, I had to surprise them with my plan. The sound of so many Vak in one location was the sound of the underdark come alive upon this land. Hell itself was bearing down upon me. I drew my sword high above my head". Garrett demonstrated by raising his sword from the chair and with a great leap. As great as this halfling could manage, landed hard on the inn floor striking the hearth.
"My sword penetrated the marble bridge, like a mole beneath the dirt, moved from the point of my sword to the left and right of me, the crack crumbled and broke before the Vak, their side of the bridge became hidden in a cloud of dust and in their charge they could not stop and like a waterfall of evil flesh they tumbled and fell to their doom one after another until all was gone, down screaming to their end".

The crowd cheered with excitement and clapped, several bought Garrett fresh drinks and coins clattered like heavy rain against the wooden floor.
once again the hubbub in the Inn returned as patrons resumed their own stories and life tale. Not as dramatic and not as world shaking.

Garrett slumped back into his chair exhausted from the sheer drama of the whole evening. Wiped the sweat from his face with a maidens apron as she delivered a tray laden with drinks.

"Is that True?"
The young warrior made his final question. Some hidden disappointment lay upon his face.
"Is that True"?
Garrett leaned forward close to the young lads face, with a voice close to a whisper.
"What do you think?"
"For I am ...."
And as if on cue the two together still in a whisper spoke with a smile upon their bright faces.
"........Garrett the Amazing"

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Army of One: The Ballad of Torin

This entry into the Army of One contest was written by R.E. Davis, aka "Rev. Lazaro". He can also be found on twitter under @revlazaro.

Torin, Born of the Mountains.
His people, his culture, they believe in her. The Stone mother who gave to them, who provided shelter from the wild beasts of the jungles below. Who provided outlook over the lush, green terraces. Torin ensured the mountains were kept safe for him and the other children of Earth. The Stonemen like himself, the bearded sages who understand the runes.

But the Jungles have been screaming with the war drums of the savages. "Elven" is what they call themselves. They have been ambushing the hunting parties of Torin and his people, killing their prey and even setting fires to the land that surrounds their hearth.

Torin called out to the others of his village, and chose the 3 proudest youths of their hunting bands to escort him. He was setting out to return the fire to the savages.

As they traveled into the depths of the Jungle, they were unaware of the savages that waited in the trees and watched. They patiently stood by, until the moment was right to ambush Torin and his crew.

The arrows flew out. One lad was taken down immediately, another one critically injured as the missiles pierced into him. The third child, horrified by what had become of his friends, turned and fled into the brush.

Torin tried to immediately rush to the aid of the youths; he tried to call out a warning to the third. But in a moment's notice he was surrounded by his attackers. Arrows knocked, blades drawn, Torin screamed out in anguish and drew his Hammer crafted by the beardmen, and raised his shield.

The arrows flew. His Goliath skin stung as the points pierced in, but few actually penetrated his rock-speckled hide. He engaged on the nearest foe, swinging wildly his hammer to the back of the Elf's legs....and as he fell he curved back around to drive the hammer into his face.

Two more engaged, blades drawn. He met one blade with his shield, but was taken in the sides by the other. He raised out his hammer and screamed out the name of his Goddess, pleading for her aid as he smashed his weapon into the Elf who caught him off guard. The Earth shook around his foes, grasping at him as he tried to struggle back to his feet. The claws of Earth, however, tore him asunder.

The elves were taken back by the brutality of their target, and a few archers turned to flee much like the third youth. Torin's eyes connected with the other bladesman, and he snarled as he swiped repeated blows his Warhammer, catching him off his guard. The second youth, still alive, took advantage of this moment to lash up behind the Bladesman and drive his own daggers into his sides.

As he dropped the bladesman to the ground, the Youth gazed up to behold a fierce some the Elf leading the ambush emerged from the treetops. He was leaner, stronger than the rest, and brandishing some frightful blades. A few of the Archers also re-appeared, once again knocked and standing guard.

Torin had nothing of it. Though hurt, it appeared that not only did the damage hardly phase him, but he seemed to regain his strength with every crushing blow.

But what the Elves weren't ready for was when Torin, raising his hammer for one last cry, began kicking out the ground, snorting, as two stones lodged in his forehead began to grow out like Ram's Horns. The archers began to shake in Fear, and were shocked as thunder cracked in the skies above as Torin charged towards their leader.

The Youth had not witnessed the events afterward; blinded by the crashes of lightening and deafened by the sounds of thunder. All he knew was that when he came to, the Elves -- including their leader -- laid bloodied and defeated on the ground.

It's unknown what has happened to Torin, but the Elven war drums haven't beaten since. The fires no longer burn at the edge of the Mountains. And according to some, the Storms that blow through the Jungles below are Torin, maintaining vigil for Mother Mountain.