Characters of Cimmeria: Salzar

Salzar

Salzar was a Grey Elf warmage. He played a pivotal role in the First Alliance War as an organizer of the Alliance. It was on his urging that the Alliance broke the Golden Covenant that forbade the use of large-scale destructive magic against living targets. Salzar’s actions allowed the Xorians to retaliate and he became a war criminal. Amalgami the Betrayer, fearing that he would be blamed for Salzar’s actions, murdered his companion. Salzar’s life ended prematurely and the First Alliance crumbled soon afterward. Continue reading

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Gurutama Timeline Revising Part 25

Previous: Gurutama Timeline Revising Part 24

Boom! Navillus is back! There’s also some more recent history with the Night of a Thousand Kings where Hrotomak is unseated, replaced by the mercenary, Jizero, and other stuff in the Upper Maw. Someone finally stands up to the Grez at Bronze Port. Not much for me to add on this one beyond that. In the future I’m hoping that Jizero and his descendants will do something cool in a campaign. Or really anything from the Night of a Thousand Kings. Pretty much anybody can claim the Najar throne now and I’d love to have an adventure centered around people scrabbling for little bits of power related to that. Oh, and of course the Blockade finally ends in this post.

730 NA: In the ruins of Prestounasi the Leaguers rebuilt. From the ruins of the old the city was reborn, New Prestounasi. As Prestounasi was rebuilt more Hykman workers completed construction on the Hobgoblin city of Vassal at the site of Nanatok as well. Meanwhile, more forces were conscripted in Hykma, fueling the growing militocracy. The Rana continued to expand the Shanties, having reached Domicilius, they continued to grow between there and The Hearth.

731 NA: In Balkus, the Bastards of the Tattered Book eyed Proaxium hungrily. They raised a fleet and sailed to the island, raiding the city. Knowing the cost of slaying the Humans on the island to be immense, the Bastards left them mostly alone (aside from plundering their belongings). But the Metal Dwarves… some were certainly killed, but the majority were sold into slavery and scattered about the world. The raid a success, the Bastards sailed away.

The Merfolk horrified at what the Blockade caused, apologized profusely to the Dwarves. The Merfolk lifted the Blockade. They took over management and protection of Proaxium with Dwarven blessings and the great institution was restored to its former state. With the new knowledge available at their fingertips the Merfolk researched military submarines. Submarine fleets were constructed in Drolfo’s Cove and Cyflenwi with a regular fleet to match in New Tortuga.

The Grez ice expanded onto the Hearthland continent.

732 NA: The Grez froze the northern area of Hearthland including Bronze Port and Tylraniria. Then they sent all their armies at Bronze Port. The Hero and the skeletons joined the attack. The city fell to the onslaught of undead. The Grez sent a short message to the Metal Dwarves, “Your decadence is your undoing.”

733 NA: The Metal Dwarves called for help from their brothers on the Upper Maw, but the call went unanswered. King Hrotomak had other concerns on his mind. Najar was undefended and ripe for the taking. Seeking the Imperial throne King Hrotomak took his armies from Cynelle and Syluk and marched on Najar. As the core of defenders were at Bronze Port, Hrotomak captured the city easily. The men went through the city finding vast treasures that the Grez left untouched. They city was devoid of any living being. All the Humans, frozen so long ago, had either decayed or animated to join the invasion of Bronze Port.

King Hrotomak came upon the old throne room. He sat upon the chair and found it to his liking. Behind the royal chair was a curtain that covered a thin volcanic shaft. The shaft went down, down, down, to the heart of the dead mountain. When Hrotomak thought he was alone in the room he heard soft whispers coming from behind him, welcoming him.

734 NA: Hrotomak’s victory was short lived. Reinforcements arrived from the cities of Cynelle, Alixria, and Alrdia, singing the praises of the King of the Red Peaks. These praises became damnations as the reinforcements turned upon the celebrating Dwarven armies. The ensuing battle was ruthless; the Najarns stormed the throne room and cut down King Hrotomak the Conqueror. His “unified” nation separated and devoured itself. The Night of a Thousand Kings descended on Najar, as lords and laymen, both Human and Dwarf, laid claim to the seat at Navillus’ feet and were in turn cut down by friend and foe alike. A terrible laughter seemed to echo through the city, up out of the deep crypts.

The heart of the fiery mountain in Najar began to beat once more. Throughout the world the children of Old Najar, whose blood ran thick with ancient oaths sworn by their ancestors at the feet of the Black Prince, felt that ominous beating beneath their skin and in their very souls. The Dark Lord had returned.

The Night of a Thousand Kings ended with Mercenary Captain Jierzo sitting upon the Red Throne. King Hrotomak’s son, Tenzomak, escaped to Syluk. The old city-states of Najar devolved to fighting amongst themselves as they did when Najar fell to the Hero and the Grez.

Although the Metal Dwarves’ call for aid to the Empire Dwarves went unanswered, there was a different power that cared very much about the trade route that the Grez interrupted. The Frugal Profiteers sent out messengers and their mercenary armies assembled at Tylaniria.

The isolationist Dwarves, when threatened, reacted quickly. A massive force was assembled in the depths of the Tiers and then poured out across the icy desert, to Bronze Port. The Profiteers, communicating with magic, moved at the same time across the ice between the cities. The Dwarves slammed their hammers upon their shields outside the cold gates of Bronze Port, proclaiming the land as still theirs. The Dwarves and mercenaries sustained many losses, but the Grez were defeated and forced to flee from the city, back to Reesrevoton.

-GoCorral

Next: Gurutama Timeline Revising Part 26

The Hobbit Part 3 Movie Review

I finally convinced my wife to see one of “my movies” at the movie theaters!

My wife usually picks every movie we go out to see so it was exciting to finally see something that I wanted to see more than she did.

We saw The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, finally concluding Peter Jackson’s movies in Middle Earth and tying to the two trilogies together.

The movie contained a lot of the scenes I was waiting to see. Thorin’s last speech, Bard slaying Smaug with the black arrow, the arrival of the eagles once again. Awesome stuff!

The movie starts off with Smaug coming to burn Laketown. Everyone evacuates. Bard makes a last stand on the bell tower and shoots Smaug with the black arrow.

Smaug’s death is satisfying, but it feels like too big of a scene for the start of the movie. It would probably feel much better if the three movies were watched in sequence instead of just starting off with Part 3.

The next section of the movie concerns Thorin slipping into a greed-fueled madness called “dragon sickness” by the other characters.

The madness plays very similar to the corrupting power of the Ring in the Lord of the Rings movies. Thorin hears echoey voices, the camera rotates to oblique angles, and the soft whisper of Sauron can be heard just below the surface. It adds a supernatural element to Thorin’s madness and makes it more believable when he eventually shakes off the greed and returns to his former self.

The rest of the movie is almost exclusively what it says in the title, The Battle of the Five Armies. Tons of action scenes and no character development beyond some characters feeling sorry for the death of other characters.

But the action scenes! Woo! High notes include:

Bard riding a wagon down a flight of stairs into an ogre and stabbing the ogre with a spear.

Thorin and one of his dwarf buddies see a horde of goblins coming towards them and they say, “We can hold them off. There’s only about a hundred of them.”

Legolas fighting one of the orcs on a stone tower that has fallen over to construct a bridge between two cliffs. Every missed blow by the orc causes a chunk of the tower to collapse!

Thorin and Azog the White Orc’s final showdown on a frozen river.

The elf king riding on a elk mount that picks six orcs up by its antlers at once and tosses them all aside after the elf king decapitates them with one stroke.

The hilarity of the ogres in general. They’re used as battering rams by having them wear stone hats and then running into walls. They climb over shorter walls and the walls collapse under the ogres’ weight. I started to feel sorry for all the poor little ogres by the end.

Elrond, Saruman, and Galadriel take on the nine ring wraiths and win.

Dain, Thorin’s cousin, riding a pig and talking in an exaggerated accent while he headbutts orcs.

And so much more!

One of the more heartwarming parts is when Bilbo returns to the Shire. He hangs on to the Ring and within a few shots we see him slowly age until it’s his 111th birthday party and Gandalf is coming to see him once more.

Of course there are some things that the movie left out. Probably not necessary given how much time was devoted to action scenes, but it happened (or didn’t happen depending on your outlook).

The missing scene that I noted was how the eagles affected the battle. They showed up and that was about it. We still got to see Legolas and Thorin fighting the orc generals, but the actual soldiers were never seen again.

I also remember more of the 13 dwarves dying in the battle, but its been a long time since I’ve read the book. Perhaps my memory is just faulty.

Great action movie! Still felt true to the books as I remembered them. Almost a complete lack of character development and social drama though.

Thorin’s madness is supernatural and thus hard to sympathize with.

Bard slowly turns into a king, rejecting it at first, but accepting it later. Unfortunately this is a neglected side plot (accurately reflects its importance in the book though).

Bilbo’s desire for home is the only other social plot that had any realism in it. The other conflicts were predictable and bland.

But the epic fighting was why I went to the movie and it deliver on that count all the way!

-Mister Ed

Gurutama Timeline Revising Part 18

Previous: Gurutama Timeline Revising Part 17

Now I know I said the great figures were named from now on, but there is one notable exception, The Hero. The Hero is like everyone’s favorite folk hero, but larger. Greek mythology gives a decent comparison. Theseus is the local hero for Athens. Agamemnon and Jason are the heroes for Argos. Odysseus is the hero for Ithaca. You get the idea. Every Greek city had a local hero. The Hero of Gurutama is like that, but he is the local hero for everyone. And not how Hercules is the national Greek hero. I mean that almost every city on Gurutama has a myth about how The Hero visited them and learned so and so skill or slayed so and so monster.

Every society claims The Hero as their figure. The Dwarves say The Hero was a Dwarf. Najarns say he was Najarn. Elves say she was an Elf. Rana say she was a Rana. And if you’ve caught on at this point, patriarchal societies say he was a man while matriarchal societies say she was a woman.

One thing is clear in each culture’s tales about The Hero is that s/he is an enemy of evil. S/he journeys the world and then goes to back to Najar with a Rana sword to defeat a great evil there. That much is true, but all other information on The Hero is in dispute. Whether a particular myth is true or not will be up to the DM that is in charge at that time.

563 NA: The Dwarven host issued forth from Syluk and crashed upon the walls of the Holy City of Najar in the largest battle in history. The Dwarves suffered under the arrows of the Najar and their strategies seemed to be constantly given over to the enemy. The Dwarven army attempted to storm the city, but they were repelled. The retreat to Syluk, at first organized, turned into a rout due to constant guerilla attacks in the night. The army scattered into the mountains. Many Dwarves were captured and enslaved. Others escaped and small Dwarven communities sprouted up within the Red Peaks.

564 NA: From the carnage a Hero was born. His initial years were sculpted by Najaran passion and the growing philosophy of Dwarven mechanization that had seeped into the Empire during the Dwarven occupation and integration. He drifted for decades throughout the continents of the known world. From the mighty Tiers of Golden Mach to the heights of Cui-Xoloc, the young man studied under sages and common men, learning mastery over all. And from his travels he gained incredible insight on the true plight of the Najar under the rule of their Black Emperor.

603 NA: On the misty shores of the Tonsil, the Rana forged a legendary sword for the young Hero, and at last he returned to his home, the Holy City and the seat of the Demon-God.

No one is certain what happened in the crypts below the fiery mountain, or if The Hero vanquished Navillus or died in the attempt. But silence sunk into the place in his wake, and the doors to the holy crypts were sealed. If The Hero returned, he did so without his sword, and he refused to speak of what transpired in the caverns. Regardless, all felt the Dark God’s influence shrinking away. The city of Najar nervously breathed in the freshness of the world…

The dwarves of Syluk rejoiced at the victory of the Hero over the Prince of Gorgoth.

619 NA: The Grez learned the ways of siege warfare. They prepared ice catapults, glacier towers, and icicle rams in the frozen north for an invasion that had long been brewing. The polar ice extended over the land connecting Ksilartlu to the Red Peaks and Najar. The Great Volcano of Najar fell dormant and blizzards and ice covered the ancient crater. The Grez sent all their strength to take over the city and kill all the inhabitants. Many died in the battle, including, some say, the Hero. Those who were not slain froze into terrible ice sculptures made by Grez magic. The world cowered in fear. None knew what to do in response.

-Mister Ed

Next: Gurutama Timeline Revising Part 19

Defeating Heroic Naxxramas

I’ve been messing around with the Heroic bosses on Naxxramas and they are pretty hard!

Fortunately, I’ve started to learn a few tricks to beat them.

Initially I was looking up decks on the internet to try and get past them, but I just beat all of the Military Quarter using my own creations.

A part of me feels like looking up decks to win was cheating, like looking up the answer to a riddle.

So I think I’ll try beating them on my own in the future.

For those of you who don’t share the same compulsion, here’s the basic outline of a few decks that will help.

I’ve only needed four decks to beat the Heroic bosses so far.

The deck I use most often is a Divine Spirit and Inner Fire combo Priest deck.

I featured a game against Heroic Heigan using that deck on my Youtube channel. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_o_T9poGgwk

The deck list for the Priest deck is:
Circle of Healing x2
Inner Fire x2
Power Word: Shield x2
Northshire Cleric x2
Divine Spirit x2
Shadow Word: Pain x2
Lightwell x2
Nerubian Egg x2
Shadow Word: Death x2
Deathlord x2
Stoneskin Gargoyle x2
Lightspawn x2
Mogu’shan Warden x2
Holy Nova x2
Sludge Belcher x2

The deck works by plopping down a minion with lots of health, like the Stone Gargoyle I used in the video. Use Power Word: Shield and Divine Spirit to increase that minion’s health and then turn it into an unstoppable monster by using Inner Fire.

So far this deck or slight variations on it have worked for Heroic Anub’Rekhan, Faerlina, Noth, Heigan, Razuvious, and Baron Rivendare. Make modifications for those battles based on what cards you have and what your own experience with the bosses. I’m sure you can quickly modify the deck to win against any of the Heroic bosses.

The bosses that required special decks were Maexxna, Loatheb, and Gothik.

I already detailed a proposed Maexxna deck in a previous post.

That deck ended up working. Load up a Paladin deck with as many battlecries and heals as you can.

The objective is to fill Maexxna’s side of the board with 7 minions all only having 1 attack. Humility and Aldor Peacekeeper both help greatly with this for when she plays her Giant.

Voodoo Doctor, Earthen Ring Farseer, Lightbringer, and Holy Light will all help keep your health at a good level.

The game winning combo is Guardian of Kings and either a Wolfrider or an Arcane Golem if you have one.

Play the Guardian of Kings every turn to restore 6 life and then play Wolfrider or Arcane Golem to charge at Maexxna and deal her 3 or 4 damage.

Maexxna will bounce the Guardian and your charge minion back to your hand and then attack with all 7 of her minions to deal you 7 damage.

Then you repeat! Each turn you’re only taking an effective 1 damage while she takes 3 or 4.

If your health gets dangerously low you can play a Guardian and a Voodoo Doctor or Earthen Ring Farseer to gain a little health past what her 7 minions can deal you.

I beat Loatheb using a heavily modified version of the Divine Spirit/Inner Fire Priest deck.

Shadow Word: Pain is pretty much the only card that can remove Loatheb’s starting Fen Creeper before it deals you too much damage.

The Priest provides heals with the hero power and Lightwells to mitigate Loatheb’s hero power damage.

The additional cards needed are Elven Archers, Ironforge Riflemen, and Holy Smites to take out the spores. It’s best to get the spore bonus on as many minions as possible so the addition of Haunted Creepers, Murloc Tidecallers, or Razorfen Hunters is a good idea.

The final boss that requires a special deck is Gothik. Here’s the deck I used:
Innervate x2
Claw x2
Naturalize x2
Mark of the Wild x2
Wild Growth x2
Doomsayer x1
Sunfury Protector x2
Mark of Nature x2
Savage Roar x1
Coldlight Oracle x2
Deathlord x2
Poison Seeds x2
Swipe x2
Druid of the Claw x2
Ancient of Lore x1
Ancient of War x1
Ironbark Protector x2

The plan is to outlast Gothik until he has drawn his entire deck.

Kill the smaller of his minions and then turn them into taunts with Marks, Sunfury, or a Defender of Argus if you have them.

Naturalize should be saved for Gothik’s bigger minions.

Savage Roar is another good way to get rid of the Spectral minions Gothik gives you. Poison Seeds is also great.

Swipe is great for board and can sometimes do double duty if it clears an Abomination or Unstable Ghoul. Starfall would also be nice, but I didn’t have one.

Eventually Gothik will run out of cards and fatigue damage will kill him.

I’ll try to do some more posts for beating the Heroic bosses of the Construct Quarter and Frostwyrm Lair in the future!

-Mister Ed

Mount and Blade

I play a lot of video games but I am often far behind the latest release. I didn’t finish playing Pokemon Gold until Pokemon Heart Gold came out. I’m still working on Skyrim and Assassin’s Creed too. I’ll probably never experience Mass Effect or Dragon Age: Origins.

Mount and Blade is one of the few games I started playing when it first came out. The game was created by a Turkish couple and once it became popular they created a video game studio around it called TaleWorlds. TaleWorlds has just announced that Mount and Blade will be coming out on the Nvidia Shield. I’ve never heard of the Shield, but the people at TaleWorlds are excited to branch out beyond the PC.

In Mount and Blade you take on the role of a warrior in a medieval world with a variety of warring factions. The game is entirely sandbox based. There is no plot to follow. You have to make up your own plot.

The first time I played the game I started a civil war in one of the five kingdoms and ended up on the victorious side. The second time I formed my own kingdom and conquered the world for myself.

The gameplay is what you’d expect for a third person shooter in medieval times. You get swords, armor, bows, and other equipment to do battle with. RPG elements are mixed in as well. Your character levels up and has a few skills that influence the setup of battles as well as your combat capabilities in each battle. The more battles you win the more gear and money you get, money of course being spent on more gear.

The name of the game is Mount and Blade, so there is a fair bit of horse-riding in the game. Cavalry are vastly superior to other units in open field combat. Mount and Blade is also one of the few games to make horse combat interesting. Mounted combat meshes seamlessly with foot combat. Your character rides his horse around, hitting people as he rides by. If you aren’t careful eventually your horse will be taken out. You can try to find another horse that has lost its rider or you can continue on foot.

Mount and Blade is also one of the few games I’ve seen that fits single combat with RTS style combat. The only character whose actions you control directly is your own, but your character can bring potentially hundreds of others to the battle with him. These soldiers are given orders through hotkeys or a menu during battle. The orders can include positions to take on the battlefield, which weapons to use, whether to mount horses or stay on foot, and how tactical formations such as a wedge or turtle shape.

The soldiers that you command in battle have a morale that is heavily influenced by what food you give them. The greater variety of food they have to eat, the better and longer they fight. I spent a fair amount of game time buying more and more food for my soldiers to eat because they kept eating everything up after each battle.

Your soldiers level up after a battle just like you do. They get better gear and stronger combat capabilities with each new level. A fully leveled army is necessary for one of the greatest challenges in the game, sieges.

Sieges are the final objective in Mount and Blade. Unless you actively avoid it, your character will eventually end up in a siege. Assaulting a castle has two basic methods, just like in real medieval wars. You can wait for the combatants to starve or you can attack them with siege engines and try to take over the castle by force. Using force is almost always the better option in Mount and Blade.

Siege engines are used to breach the walls of the castle in someway first. This can be a battering ram that breaks down the castle gate, ladders that scale the walls, or a siege tower that goes over the wall allowing access. Once inside the castle walls you have to eliminate the enemy presence before your troops run out. Then you break into the inner keep and take on the guard there to secure the castle as your prize.

Your character can also defend from sieges. The same rules apply. My favorite tactic was shooting arrows at the soldiers pushing the siege towers up to my walls to try and slow the advance of the behemoth siege engine.

Mount and Blade also has an intense mod community. There are hundreds of mods that add small new things to the game or completely change it. Different mods can change the game to new historical periods, or fantasy periods. You can play a jedi on a speeder instead of a knight on a horse if you want. Some mods introduce boats. Others let you play as if you’re a King’s Guard in Westeros if you like Game of Thrones. I tried out a few. One of my favorites advanced the timeline of the basic game to Renaissance era, allowing rudimentary firearms to be used in combat.

I played the original game out as much as I felt like playing. A sequel came out awhile back, but my impression of it was, “We added some good ideas that were already present in mods and added a multiplayer mode that Mister Ed won’t be using.” A new sequel is scheduled to come out soon though! I’ve been thinking of taking a look. Maybe I’ll see you in the multiplayer mode there if I decide to try it.

You can find Mount and Blade at TaleWorlds website or on Steam.

-Mister Ed