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Showing content with the highest reputation on 11/18/2018 in all areas

  1. 2 points
    Yeah, it's called going out and fighting people, which is the whole point of the game. The reason why there are so many abandoned threads like this is because there is no intelligence test to limit people creating accounts and posting on this forum. If you want busy work to do to make it feel like you are "progressing" go play one of the dozens of on-rails theme park MMO's. This game is aimed at offering a differing kind of experience, one where the players create conflict and interesting outcomes organically through their own machinations and behaviors. If you don't see a lot of that going on right now it's probably because the game is not complete and in the middle of an update drought pending the next big release.
  2. 1 point
    Hello Crows, I'm quite new to Crowfall and the thing that attracted me here is advertisements that it's a bastard child of EVE-Online. As a long time EVE player (2006-2016) first thing I did before starting, is analyzing skill tree and how to optimize my in-game advantages and what I found was lackluster and not engaging at all. While I understand that for some (maybe even most) passive skill training is boring and just a thing to do, for me personally planning long term for that little 0,5% advantaged in a long run is oh so satisfying. Another complain I read on these forums is that there is no way to f***-up your character (like in Shadowbane, haven't played it so I don't know). Basically passive skill training is too basic lacking any risk reward and not engaging. If your are not yet bored from this rant, lower I will outline some changes that would change all that. But before I start some disclaimer: *English is not my first language (not even a second) so bare with me. *In my 10 year EVE career I only skipped about a month of passive training even when i was not playing actively (i'm sucker for sunk-cost fallacy) *This is MY opinion so don't take it as a god given gospel, discuss and criticize. So all that said lets us begin. 1.PROBLEMS Lack of uniqueness. We all are unique in some ways, so we would also like to be unique in game. As it stands now no Crow will be that unique, we all get to specialize in 2 races 2 classes so combinations are limited, while they will diverge in time it won't be that pronounced. Professions are a bit different next on them. Greater value of professions. Weapons skill tree has greater value then race and class, since weapons crossover to all classes and races. Crafting and Exploring has even greater value since they unlock game content. Race/class gives you an advantage, Weapons gives you advantage/flexibility, crafting/exploration unlock game content. Before Pvpers blow there gasket remember that probably (and I am basing this on my EVE experience) 90% of time will be spent preparing/bored and 10% will be adrenaline rush trying to bash somebodies head in. So you need to fill that empty time with something. Lack of risk/choice in skill progression. Currently when leveling skill pips you have 2 choices. One is do i get that level 5 pip, and second is which way to progress in the skill tree. Problem with the first one is that there is really no cost/risk in taking or not taking that level 5. Problem with the second is that you don't actually have a choice some skill are useful no matter what you're trying to specialize in, others are useless for your path. So from this single logical path for progression comes forth and most will take it (lack of uniqueness). Redundant/unnecessary game mechanics. Choosing which tier of skill tree to put your training in, serves no purpose. Two things it does is to force players to login and spend points/change the tier, which is just a chore. And probably waste some skillpoints if you over-train in one tier. 2.SOLUTIONS Here I will outline the changes I propose and explain their pros and cons. a.Get rid of class/race/profession separation, just leave 9 skill trees we have now. b.Let players train in any 3 of their choosing (non-VIP) and 4 for VIP. c.Make skill pips give linear benefits with progressive cost. c1. Unlock next skill pips at level 3 not level 4. c2. Make pips that require ALL the skill tree to be trained (or just pips that lead to it) be trainable maximum to the lowest level of prereq. d.Remove the selection between which tier of the skill tree you train in. Skillpoints accumulated in your chosen skill tree for you to spend as you wish. 3.WHAT WILL THIS CHANGE As the skill training goes we have 2 options now, Pvper and Crafter. PvPer will take of course Weapons, Class skill, Race skill (2nd class/race skills are irrelevant since they only give you more flexibility and don't add anything to your current vessel+Weapons skill tree limits what race/class is most effective for you) and either Crafting or Exploration. Crafters have the same choice, but they skip Weapons. So what we have now is a PvPer that can do half of a Crafters work and compete with them and a Crafter that has a a slight disadvantage in combat. This is simplified version since pips you choose will make a difference. Conclusion. We have 2 bland option which overlap, lowering the prestige/importance of both. With proposed changes many more options open up. Pvper go Weapons/Class/Race, Crafter go Exploration/Crafting/Race, maybe you want to fight and gather no problems go Exploration/Weapons or Class/Race, maybe you are undecided which path to take explore them all by a little. All of these will give advantages and disadvantages in your given profession. Raising the prestige/importants of those who specialize. Want to be a legendery blacksmith whose wares are sought after by everybody, sure why not but your sure as s**t won't be god in the battlefield and vice versa. And this lead to another change (c;c1;c2). Numbers are just and example. Currently if i want to upgrade a skill that cost 5k skillpoints it goes something like this 5k/5k/5k/5k and wow now I have a choice to drop another 5k or move on (Total cost of maxing 25k). Uninspiring. Not much choice. What I propose would go something more like this. Skill that cost 5k now becomes 2k/4k/6k/8k/10k and at level 3 I have an option to move to next skill (Total cost of maxing 30k). This opens some options "Is this a skill you don't care much about, but need it to progress?" great now you can move on faster 12K compared to 20K. Or is this something that is essential to your game style and that last 1% which cost x5 more then level one is so important that your willing to lose some progression elsewhere. This will turn passive skill training (bland part of the game) into a little min/max, risk/benefit mini game, which doesn't punish those that wander that hard, but rewards those that plan in advance. And the cherry on top. Skill that need prereq (ALL) make them stronger but limit the level to the lowest of that tier (so level 3 max when you unlock it with minimal investment), that is a nice way to reward min/maxers without punish others. 4.VIP vs. NON-VIP Current mechanics. VIP have 2/2/2 in training, Non-VIP 1/1/1 referring to skill categories. Ignoring other advantages (irrelevant). On paper looks great VIPs get 100% advantage in flexibility if not power so no game breaking in-balance. But that 2/2/2 is more like 2/1/1 as 2nd Class/Race skill is not that important it is nice to have, but more like a buffer for nerf-bats. So that 100% flexibility advantages turns to 33% and Non-VIP players are locked from content (i will assume most go pvp way since this is a pvp game). Not very happy clients Proposed mechanics. VIP has 4 paths to train. Non-VIP has 3 paths to train. Same 33% advantage in flexibility. Non-VIPs are not locked out of content since now they can go pure carebear route, without all those nasty pewpewers. If they want to fight they can fight on par with a VIP since both can sink 3 training paths into pvp power improvement. And VIPs can do some stuff on the side excluding pvp. Please discuss and hopefully find flaws in my thinking everything i wrote is based on CCP Games and their approached to EVE-Online. They had 15 years to master passive skill training, they had goofs and bad design decisions, but they took players feedback (although reluctantly) and improved. EDIT. Removed some non-sense I wrongly assumed.
  3. 1 point
    Jah

    Skill Training Revamp for Engaging Play

    This was discussed quite a bit when Tomes were announced. Here's an example:
  4. 1 point
    cemya

    Bride Of Valkyn

    RAINY DAY For the first time since my ascension, I dreamt. I saw a great chamber filled with people. All the races were there - Minotaur, Fae, Elf-kind – all standing silently in armor. In their midst was an open space with a raised dais on which sat three great lords on carved chairs. A girl in homespun, head shaved and hands bound, knelt before them. One of the lords nodded. A hooded man gripped the girl and raised her to her feet. Many in the crowd began to weep. I awoke covered in sweat. My heart beat like a drum. I pulled off the covers and stared at the ceiling until I calmed. It was only a dream. I went to the bedroom window and pulled back the drapes. The first hint of pink in a starry sky. Dawn was near in the kingdom. My kingdom. You want to know the strangest thing about becoming a Crow? It’s not what you think. It’s not the resurrections. The creepy vessels. Nope. It’s being handed a piece of land and told you decide everything there. Think about it. Not even a mortal ruler has that sort of power. Then, as soon as you take one step outside, anything can happen. Pilkington told me some Crows do not take well to this. Especially the older ones who have fought many campaigns and amassed tremendous riches. As time goes by, they keep more and more to themselves. Even their closest friends wonder where they went. Finally, they seclude themselves in their conjured realm, tended by conjured servants, surrounded by piles of exquisite items bought or stolen. The gates shut for the last time and they are never seen again. People call these The Crypt Kingdoms. On the other side are the newest Crows still settling in. After I received a proper orientation - from a kind and helpful Centaur named Lilybeth - it struck me that the first step outside the gates was going to be the hardest. Why leave safety to risk pain and death once more? Some new Crows – not many, but some – flunk this part. They refuse to go out. These realms are called The Stillborn. What I had suffered in the Pillared Hall had really happened. And though I had passed beyond and returned, death left its mark. It always does. If Kitaara hadn’t come to stay with me, I don’t think I could have mustered the courage to take that first step. Our trip was just to The Pantheon to meet Ransom. But it meant crossing the threshold at the hedge. She went first, then stood and waited, like a duck for her duckling. I took a deep breath, then walked to her side. I tensed as I crossed, but felt nothing. She nodded in approval as I reached her, as if I had completed another one of her tests. As promised, Kitaara and I had long talks. Sitting in my house, she patiently answered most of my questions. I learned about Crows and Gods, wars and realms, guilds and orders. About the Devoted. And about what I’d glimpsed that horrid day in Besht – The Hunger. And Kitaara spoke of herself. How she’d met Stilicho. How she’d become a Crow. Some of it was not easy to hear. I came to understand why Ransom had called her Red-Hand. When she was done, I asked her about coming to find me in Elriza. She paused a long while before responding. “I decided in Stilicho’s chamber.” “When I tossed the knife onto the carpet?” “Yes.” “But why? You were angry with me.” “I was. But I saw a girl use her wits to create a choice where there was none.” “Then I ran away.” “The right choice.” “What happened then?” “Many guards came. I fled north.” “To draw them away from me.” “Yes.” As we’d talked, it became clear Kitaara was as in the dark on some things as I was. On where Stilicho was now, for example. I asked her about the amulet. “It is forbidden. It captures that which is not ours to take. That is all I know.” “But what can it do? Ransom seemed terrified.” “Legends say such amulets can cut the thread.” “Between a Crow and their spirit?” “Yes.” I shuddered. After we’d met with Ransom, I had followed his guidance and stayed in my kingdom. Or queendom, I suppose. It was pretty enough, but not much to it once I had explored. You see, besides the basics, everything costs money. Lots and lots of money. Even food and drink. You can’t starve, but your belly will get rumbly. Kitaara helped, but I didn’t want to live off charity. But making coin meant going on campaign. And I needed to deal with the amulet first. Somehow. A little way from my house was a small glade. I would often go there to pray. And so, a day after returning from the Pantheon, a day of grey cloud and coming rain, I knelt once more on the grass. I closed my eyes and felt again His comforting presence. I heard the rustle of leaves. Opening my eyes, I saw that Kitaara, for the first time, had come to join me. Or so I thought. I noticed her gaze fixed on a spot in the middle of the glade. I had wondered about that spot. A circle of raised ground right in the middle of the grass. It looked like something was supposed to be there. Kitaara was staring at the spot, her face pale. In a moment I understood. Should anything happen to a Crow after they leave their realm, their spirit essence, in time, will return. It is bound to a golden statue in the likeness of the deity they have pledged to serve. The statue appears in its appointed place once a Crow has returned from making their choice. Mine was empty. I rose and went to her side. I touched her arm. “It’s going to be all right.” She turned to look at me. Her eyes were moist. I had never seen her like this before. “How do you know?” she asked quietly. I placed my hand over my heart. “I just do.” There was a rumble in the sky. Then the first drops of warm life-giving rain. I took Kitaara’s hand and led her towards the house. “Come on. I’ll make us some tea.”
  5. 1 point
    IDK why people think crafting something a ton of times to level up your "skill" is fun. There is a reason why games that have a system like this offer a way to p2w.
  6. 1 point
    Frykka

    Durability revamp

    You bet it is for a crafter... it is one of the more satisfying things in the face of lots of failure and endless poopy results. Having your bow go blue from only a blue bow string with green riser and green limbs. That is dependent on your crafting assembly skill and the difficulty reduction on your amulets. Whether you then get a sweet result in experimentation is then based on a separate stat and your crafting armor stats and rings. Of course a good crafter never makes one at a time, that is a sure fire way to suck... I make at least 6 which is enough production to expect at least one exceptional result.
  7. 1 point
    Its a core part of the game and will not change. At this point in the development process it cannot change even if the ACE wanted to, which they don't.
  8. 1 point
    I feel like ive heard this conversation before..... possibly multiple times before.... if only there was a way for me to somehow search through topics to see if this topic has been brought up before.... hmmmmmm
  9. 1 point
    Zadracys

    Esperando o 5.8?

    AMÉM!!!
  10. 1 point
    1. Slag ore nodes drop cutting grid, a rare resource other (higher/non-basic) nodes don't drop. They did this on purpose, so the problem is known and given a first part of a solution) 2. The online pogresstion will be about the contribution to win the campaigns. Providing "levels" is something they implemented to add some personal progession to the game. So this problem is also known and also given a first part of a solution. 3. Currently everybody uses the VIP version of the passive skill training, with 30 days progression being saved before points get lost (with currently 3 speed, thats 10 days). The non-VIP version is planned to allow 3 days of saving points before they get los. So the "saving 200k points" issue wont be the usual problem later.
  11. 1 point
    Frykka

    Durability revamp

    It is the big sink that you can make a poor choice to use higher end materials and still get an item that has a lower damage stat than a lower quality item... but the components that were put in that piece are usually far superior so its stats and durability are higher making it usually better overall. You need to know when your skills are high enough to effectively use that color knowing how many pips it is going to give you. You should stockpile those mats until you get there or you free choice will waste them. Somewhere close to 60 assy, 60 exp and 12 pips... Sorry but this suggestion ignores one of the most interesting aspects of the crafting-blueprint mechanic, the bootstrap... the art of working lesser materials into your blueprint and still getting higher color results... bars made from 6 greens and 3 whites, weapon made from one blue and 3 green components and rolls blue.
  12. 1 point
    Frykka

    Durability revamp

    I don't know if you guys have crafted Legendary or Epic gear yet but you should know, in 5.7 we only had a max of 16 pips instead of 20 (never seen anyone get more than 18 ever. Those final assemblies have rows of 9 or 10 pips each stats, damage, range on bows, and durability; durability is always low priority and so we do 8 pips dmg and 8 pips either range or stats... never is an Epic weapon getting durability above what came from earlier experiments on components. in other words, it's already there that durability is not a part of even Blue weapons unless you want to and that would be dumb. It's not a needed suggestion because it is limited by the max # of pips... a high end crafter can only make white maybe green gear with some extra dura...
  13. 1 point
    IsilithTehroth

    Super annoying things

    The fact that he thinks its because of tool durability leaves me to think he feels the game revolves around him. No one is making a problem out of the tool durability except people that don't want to put forth effort to play the game the way it is meant. Are you going to complain that you are forced to upgrade your weapon/gear too or get smashed in pvp? Yes a minigame would be nice, but you are missing the point to durability on tools. It is to force you to upgrade and risk better tools in the game world and as a resource sink so lower end materials aren't worthless; its for the economy. Risk vs Reward. Darkfall online did this and it wasn't a problem at all and we couldn't even upgrade our tools(Unholy wars allowed you to). You are confusing weapon durability/resource sink with the concept of harvesting not being boring and having better yeilds for player skill.
  14. 1 point
    mystafyi

    Durability revamp

    I like the idea of having trade off's. more damage or range but durability is lessened. as you said with skills you can mitigate durability losses. I don't think this will occur. With vendors at EK's and EK's available to every campaign and faction, why would many players want to equip their enemies with good gear? Don't even need to get into having to spirit bank mats back to EK's to craft and vendor with limited import/exports. Vendors need to be inside campaigns to be effective at making a player run economy. They already had to add NPC vendors to the game to mitigate problems, I expect to see this expanded in time.
  15. 1 point
    Hi.

    Go, Greco! - Official Discussion Thread

    I love Dave's art so much, I was kicking myself when I realized I missed their last commission intake. They're an amazing artist, and I can't wait to see where their vision takes the Crowfall universe.
  16. 1 point
    ArtCraft Concept Lead featured in Spectrum 25! FULL STORY
  17. 1 point
    Huzzah! Graças a vocês, Crowfall atingiu uma grande meta: 50k financiados e 300k corvos registrados. veja tudo aqui Apreciamos cada um e todo o vosso esforço na ajuda que nos têm dado.
  18. 1 point
    Vesperre

    Super annoying things

    Sounds horrible..almost sounds like errrr...'War'.
  19. 1 point
    Congrats Dave Keep your awesome Art flow through us
  20. 1 point
    Good going! Congrats Dave Greco!
  21. 1 point
    Go go Greco! Congratulations on the accomplishment!
  22. 1 point
    Congratulations. Very very well earned. ~thumbsandtoesup~
  23. 1 point
    ren

    Go, Greco! - Official Discussion Thread

    Very nice, congrats!
  24. 1 point
    It's always nice to be recognized by your peers for the dedication and talent you have honed. You are very talented and come across as humble, enthusiastic and likable the times I have seen you stream. Congratulations, Dave.
  25. 1 point
    Congratulations Dave, and thank you for your contributions to the game and industry - we all benefit greatly from it!
  26. 1 point
    👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾
  27. 1 point
    cemya

    Bride Of Valkyn

    CHOSEN OF CYBELE Calliope, High Priestess of Cybele, leaned back in her chair - a gesture which indicated the interview was over. Ransom bowed low and turned to leave. She did not move until the ornate doors of the Chamber of Welcome had closed behind the Ranger. There was a long silence. “Magna Mater.” “Yes, Itani?” “I do not think I have ever seen you this sad.” The High Priestess sighed. She nodded and wiped her eye. “This was…unexpected. But what of you, my Second? Ransom was like a son to you.” The Nethari Confessor shrugged and made a show of indifference, running a hand through his short white hair. But the fiery markings on his bronzed forearms gave off a faint glow. “He is only human. Perhaps it was inevitable.” “Have you forgotten that I am half-human, Itani?” “No, Magna Mater. Forgive me, I did not mean to offend. But haven’t most of our ills come from the pride of men?” The half-elf cleric rose and went over to the Nethari. She reached out and patted his shoulder, knowing she was one of the very few he permitted such familiarity. “Ills and joys come and go, as rain is followed by sun. Are not Men and Nethari the children of Arkon alike?” “The Nethari do not surrender to lust.” “And that is what you think happened? He betrayed his oath for the beauty of a girl?” “It was ever his weakness.” “Then perhaps you did not know him as well as you think,” said the High Priestess, turning to sit back on her throne. Itani flushed but remained silent. Calliope stroked her chin, pondering. Ransom had been sent to gather information on this Bride of Valkyn. As Warden of the Golden Council, he had the power to bring to justice any who posed a threat to Order. It was one of the most powerful positions in The Kingdoms. But many saw it as a relic of past ages, when the first Crows fought savagely all against all. Unfortunately, in that time the power of the Warden had often been abused. And so, when the last Warden passed to his reward, Calliope, as spiritual guide to the Council, had insisted a new approach be taken. Ransom was chosen over other candidates not only for his skill in battle, but for his mercy and humility. The Warden would no longer be just a sword of judgment. He would be a living example of a better way. The Ranger had proved himself many times since. In the campaign on Yamoor, when the followers of Malekai and D’Orion, in their mutual hatred, laid waste the lands even as The Hunger approached, it was Ransom who brokered a truce. On blood-soaked Agaste, one of the first campaigns won by the followers of Kane, it was Ransom who convinced the Primarch to unite his defeated foes rather than exterminate them. And on ruined Tallymant, Ransom’s diplomatic skills enabled the world to hold out for longer than any dared hope. But now this. A message from Lord Archon Anaxis in the night. A pilgrim wandering by chance through The Pantheon had happened to overhear a conversation by the Empty Throne. The pilgrim's report was quite at odds with Ransom's tale of an uneventful meeting with an unremarkable girl. She examined the message scroll once more. Her finger traced the strong signature at the bottom. What puzzled Calliope was that Ransom, better than any, would have understood the peril. While the girl had done nothing yet, it was only a matter of time. She was a bomb waiting to go off, either by her own unwitting action or through the manipulations of others. The rumors of bloodsoul amulets would be the least of their problems then. However, instead of bringing The Bride back in chains for judgment, Ransom had returned with lies. The Nethari Confessor stirred. “What shall we do, Magna Mater? Shall we summon the Guardians?” Calliope was silent a long while. Then she slowly shook her head. “No – let him go.” The fiery markings on the Confessors arms flared. “Let him go?” he asked in astonishment. “Magna Mater…” Calliope raised her hand, palm outward, cutting him off. Itani fell into a respectful silence. “For now. But you, my Second, must prepare for a journey.” “A journey? Where?” “To Ferisse.” “Magna Mater…winter will soon be upon that place.” “Yes. But Ferisse spawned this heresy. Before it succumbs, we must learn why.” “You do not think him guilty?” “I think we need to know more. Some judgments, once made, cannot be unmade.” The Nethari pursed his lips, then bowed and left. Calliope rose from her throne and began to pace. She had some time until the next meeting of the Golden Council. She prayed that by then she would know what to tell them.
  28. 1 point
    cemya

    Bride Of Valkyn

    TAVERIS “Brother Genesius.” “Yes?” “She is here.” The old monk muttered a last prayer. Rising from the porch where he'd been kneeling, he drew back his hood and carefully tied his loose gray hair with a bit of string. He took a deep breath of the clear morning air. At last. Even in the deepest pits of his despair, he’d known she'd return. The augurs were many. Her arrival one year ago, unlooked for, stumbling naked into the nave of the great temple. Her vow to take up the mantle none had claimed in a century. The purity of her belief. In that moment he’d felt it was all worth it. The mockery of the others. His long exile from The Kingdoms. The untold years on this doomed world, laying the foundations for a new faith. All the while hiding his true purpose. The Devoted were wise, but they had not all wisdom. The Hunger beasts died in the millions, cut down by sword, lance and spell. Yet more arose. The battle of flesh could not be won, not even by Hero himself. But the battle of the spirit... The answer was there all the time. Right in front of them, in the Book of Creation itself: Such is the nature of our world: the Embers of Chaos and the Dust of Order, divine materials for which all else is but a shadow. Dust floats across the heavens: adrift, lost, untethered. It coalesces around the Embers as if desperate to find purchase. It seeks out scattered chaos, gathered to it like iron to a lodestone. Divine materials for which all else is but a shadow. How many sleepless nights had he spent pondering these phrases? Wrestling one word atop the other, turning them over and about, until he dropped senseless from fatigue? Only to rise again the next day, as consumed as before? Like iron to a lodestone. When it came to him, he’d felt almost a physical pain, as if the truth scorched his brain, burning away the hindering follies. And yet. Memories of his first failure hung like a dark phantom on the edges of his mind. Had it been a hundred years? The horror never left him. The feelings of helplessness and despair. He would not fail this time. And so, when he’d lifted her chin, looked into her eyes, and saw, he made the final decision. He passed her The Gift. The fruit of a century of research. The sum of all his hopes. Damn his weakness afterward. With all her potential, she still needed guidance. Protection. But he'd failed her again. Failed himself. Drawn to the loveliness of her form, he had felt the call of the flesh. Sensing this, she had fled. He had searched far and wide. From time to time he’d heard rumor. A new cult of the All-Father founded in Elriza after the miraculous appearance of a legendary warrior maid. Strange creatures spotted in Besht the same day it was destroyed by a Hunger storm. He wondered if others like himself were on Ferisse. He dismissed the thought. The guilds had long ago abandoned this world to its fate. A knock at the door. One of the younger monks entered and bowed deeply. “The Bride of Valkyn,” he announced. The monk stepped aside to let pass the shapely figure of a young woman, robed and cowled, then withdrew, closing the doors behind him. She had returned to him. Beyond all hope. The young woman remained silent, as if waiting for him to speak. He could not see her features due to the cowl. But his mind’s eye saw once more her blue eyes, creamy skin and the shining black hair that flowed down her back. Surely, she expected an apology. “Dearest Cembrye. I did not behave properly before. Please accept my…” He gasped. The young woman had thrown back her cowl and tossed aside her robe. Braids of blonde hair circled long bat-like ears, carefully pinned to the side of her head. She wore form-fitting doeskin and a pair of dove-like wings uncurled behind her back. A wooden mallet appeared in her hands. She flashed her green eyes and laughed as she brought the mallet crashing down on his skull. “Don’t worry about it Clem!”
  29. 1 point
    Pann

    Bride Of Valkyn

    Happy to see that you're adding more chapters! Looking forward to reading more!
  30. 1 point
    cemya

    Bride Of Valkyn

    CHAOS DIVIDED “Dawn.” Standing high atop the castle battlement, the two figures made an odd couple. Half-Giant and Stoneborn, side by side. The former towered over the latter by at least three feet. Each was clad in black plate armor of similar design. An onlooker might assume relative size determined who was in charge. An onlooker would be wrong. “What of it?” spat the dwarf irritably. “Means the siege will start,” said the Half-Giant, staring down across the plain towards the eastern horizon. The first glints of sun flickered off the lances of the surrounding army. They looked like hundreds of red sparks in the gloom. “Not with an Elken in charge. Especially Bedlam…that rotten shank of venison.” The dwarf spat again. From the tower stairs behind came the sound of a door opening. Then hurried steps. A human rushed in panting and knelt before them. “Pardon, my Lords. A messenger has arrived.” “See?” sneered the dwarf. “They haven’t even blockaded us yet.” The dwarf turned to the kneeling man. “We’ll, who is it? Bring him up!” “No need - I am here,” answered another voice. A sharp-nosed man in a robe stepped forth. “Well, I’ll be damned!” exclaimed the dwarf. He elbowed his Half-Giant companion. “A visitor from The Devoted. Eamon no less!” “Eamon? The same Eamon who used to be in the Order of Chaos but then found religion?” replied the Half-Giant. “I don’t know…that Eamon was a thief and layabout…I don’t think The Devoted would let his kind in,” remarked the Dwarf. “They would if he donated a lot of gold to the Church…in exchange for protection from angry husbands,” smirked the Half-Giant. “Enough!” waved Eamon angrily as they burst into guffaws. He waited for them to subside. He glared at the still-kneeling messenger, who took this as his cue to hurriedly depart. “Baruk Stoneford. Ogram Head-Splitter. I weep to see the Order of Chaos has fallen into the hands of such leaders.” “Lord Baruk Stoneford, if you please. So, what’s this about? Be quick! We are busy!” “So, I see,” nodded Eamon, gesturing at the far-off glints of spearpoints. “I will be brief. My Lord Anaxis sent me.” The demeanor of Baruk and Ogram changed to serious in an instant. Anaxis was not only a Devoted, he was one of the highest ranking. A force to be reckoned with among the Elder Crows and that was saying something. Eamon smiled inwardly at their reactions. “I come from a Making…someone you knew I believe,” continued Eamon. “Beryl,” intoned Baruk. “He was a good man. We’ve both ridden with him.” The dwarf and half-giant each made solemn holy gestures. “Times grow dire,” said Eamon. “The Hunger advances. The Making keeps pace only so long as enough volunteers step forward. Crows willing to end their existence so that a new world can be created. Order, Balance and Chaos united to fend off the common threat. But what happens if we cannot keep pace?” Baruk and Ogram exchanged looks. Eamon had touched on a well-known question. But the search for an answer had split not only the Devoted and the three Orders, but every guild in the Kingdoms. Some wanted to keep the status quo, using only Crows who volunteered for The Making. Others wanted some type of lottery. Others pushed for more brutal solutions – forced conscription, culling those deemed weak and unworthy. The divisions were widening. The reason was an open secret. The Making was losing ground. Each year, at a growing pace, the Hunger advanced closer and closer to The Kingdoms. “We know all this,” said Baruk. “Why did Anaxis send you?” “My Lord Anaxis sees that Order and Balance, for all their disputes, remain intact. Chaos however has fall into civil war. He has two requests for your consideration. First, he offers to mediate an end to your conflict.” “Good luck with that,” said Ogram. “We’ve tried to reason with Bedlam and his followers. They are extremists.” “Yes,” nodded Eamon. “They want The Making fueled by the sacrifice of captive Crows. But perhaps there are other possibilities they haven’t considered.” “Well, if he wants to try we won’t stand in his way,” said Baruk. “What’s the other request?” “He needs your assistance in an investigation.” “Of what?” asked Ogram. “Of whom,” corrected Eamon. “You have both heard of the newest Crow, the so-called Bride of Valkyn?” “The girl who says the All-Father talks to her?” said Ogram. “We don’t know much except they say she’s a real looker.” The Half-Giant elbowed the dwarf beside him. “Perhaps,” said Eamon. “But we need more information. Our problem is that a follower of Malekai keeps her under close watch.” “If you’re asking us to kidnap her from Kitaara Red-Hand, no dice. We’d need an army and ours is busy right now.” “No, nothing like that…we just need someone placed in her retinue whom she will trust.” “Why do you care so much about a batty girl?” asked Baruk, a note of suspicion in his voice. “Lord Anaxis knows that often what matters most is not what is true or false – but what is believed. The unity of the Devoted and the Orders, the glue that holds together the hundreds of guilds and their countless followers, the very foundation of the Kingdoms, rests on shared belief. Undermine belief and you create cracks that, over time, will widen to shatter all.” Baruk and Ogram looked at each other again. Lowering their voices, they whispered for a minute. Then they turned back. “Alright - tell Anaxis we’ll do it. We know one of the Crows who helped her ascend.” Eamon started in alarm, his eyes widening. “Yuki?” the priest exclaimed. “No! That won’t do! Lord Anaxis would never accept that! Are you both mad?” Baruk laughed. “No, not Yuki. Don’t worry. Let us handle this. Go back to the Temple and – do whatever it is you do.” Eamon huffed and straightened his vestments. He bowed stiffly. “Very well, I will deliver your answer. Good day.” Baruk and Ogram watched the priest depart. Once he was out of earshot, they turned back to each other. “Well?” asked Ogram. “Well what?” said Baruk. “This stinks to high heaven. Anaxis is up to something. But for now, we play along. He helps us broker a peace with Bedlam. We help him with this mind-addled girl. Fair exchange.” Ogram nodded. He shouted for the messenger to return. In a moment, the servant was kneeling before them again. “Go find Two-Ton.”
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