How to start? Or where to begin? It sure is a big hobby!

As a gamer, I often find my self as an Army of One. Out of all my co-workers (50+ in my office) I am the only miniatures gamer, and one of very few that play any board games at all. I deal with the usual jokes and silliness. My Hasbro Black Series figs are referred to as “dolls” by one guy. I play with kid’s toys. My fellow gamers are “those” guys. You know the ones; the unwashed, uncouth, basement dwellers. All the same stuff I am sure many of you have dealt with at some time.

My two brothers are the same. Neither really has a hobby, and they think it is funny to make jokes about my “shiny” as they refer to my unpainted models. Since they are not gamer, they were blown away by my total models owned. Especially by the number in the Lead Mountain, or The Boxes of Despair, as I refer to them.

It’s mostly in good humor, but still, it gets old. I’ve had decent conversations explaining war games in general, and the games I play in particular, with my direct unit. Because we spend 8-10 hours a day together in very close quarters and we’ve pretty much covered everything. None have really showed any interest. One guy asked about board games a few years back. Games with a military/war theme that would be suitable for a ten-yar-old. I gave him a couple options, and every time I followed up, he replied with “he hadn’t gotten any yet”.

My “gaming buddies” are all of you. The guys and gals that read my blog, post on the forums I frequent, or right blogs of your own. You are the ones who get it. Collecting your own stuff. The ones who buy more models than they paint, and collect rules like somewhere out there is the perfect set. My peeps.

We have a collective vocabulary and a shared knowledge base. Unless you play a single game, or ruleset, you all know that there are literally thousands of rule sets floating around. Starting with eponymous Little Wars, to whatever ruleset is being published the week I publish this, to whatever week you read this into infinity, rules abound. Those in the hobby know and understand it. Those outside the hobby have no idea.

It comes as a surprise, I am sure, when they ask a simple question like “what rules should I use if I wanted to start wargaming?” Three weeks later, when you finish discussing the various eras of warfare and how to divide them, they have lost interest completely…

Honestly, where do we start?

I’ve briefly alluded to some of the eras in warfare that have rules or army lists in this post (the eras I game post link), so I won’t delve into it again. It does create issues though, when someone asks about wargaming. I had this problem today when the guy who asked about board games asked for a set of rules he called “Wargaming 101” and specifically mentioned battles from Thermopylae to Gettysburg.

Well. Hmmm. How do I break it down that no one set of rules is capable of doing that? 2300+ years of history, innovation, tactical changes, and weapons development means that a pike-armed phalanx and a skirmish line armed with repeating rifles are very, very different. While I supposed you could have some very basic rules to cover that wide of a span, it is the differences in units that makes war gaming so great. Otherwise, play checkers.

I answered my friend. He is recently retired, and has way more free time than I do. I suppose he is looking for a hobby, and the world needs more wargamers, not less, so I did my best to help. I gave some options and opinions of the same. My real knowledge is limited to the ten or so rulesets I play most. I am familiar with about probably ten times that number. And have heard of double that. Reading his question, my brain started sorting through what I know.

Plenty of gamers will yell out “you told him about DBA, right?” Which technically, I did. By telling him that Triumph! is the playable successor. We all have our opinions; I don’t care for DBA. Sue me.

I mentioned the Osprey Wargaming Series to start, specifically Lion Rampant.  I like the small rulebooks and narrow focus of this series. Handing someone a book the size of the 9th Ed Warhammer 40K book is almost a surefire way to get them to NOT play wargames. There is literally a 300-page difference between 9th Ed 40K and any rules in the Osprey series.  And the former still needs a pair of army books to really play the game.

Granted, one is sci-fi and the other is medieval, but you understand the dilemma. How to we get a totally newbie over the initial hump and on the slide into wargaming madness?

My recommendations to him were Field of Glory, several from the Osprey Series, Triumph!, the Fire & Fury rules (both Brigade and Regimental) and Black Powder. The real problem is the timespan. None of these will work for that entire timeline. I think a minimum would be four rules. One for Ancients, one for Dark Ages, one for Medieval, and a last for the American Civil War. Unless he is interested in Napoleonics battles, too, then, well, he needs more rules.

What about all of you? If someone asked you the same question, what would your answer be, and what are your favorite rules for these various eras?

For me, these are my current rules:

Ancients: Triumph! I like the vast array of army lists, the simplicity of play, and the guys that play it. I’ve had great fun recreating battles from the Battle of Marathon, to the battle of Hastings.

Dark Ages: Saga I like the warband feel, and the unique traits off the battle boards. Plus, cool dice. Everyone loves cool dice.

Medieval: Lion/Dragon Rampant Easy to read and learn, fast-paced, and really open to include any units you want, I can use my Warhammer Fantasy models with these rules without tossing a monstrosity of a rulebook at my opponent.

Black powder era: Muskets & Tomahawks for skirmish battles. Fire & Fury for ACW. M&T is so cinematic and cool. This evocative set uses cool scenarios and side plots to create really interesting games. The F&F rules allow regimental to brigade level gaming in the ACW.

Anyone of you who has read before know I also game fantasy, WW2 and various sci-fi. He didn’t ask about those, but I’ll list my current favs just for completion’s sake:

Fantasy: Warhammer Fantasy Battles AND Dragon Rampant. I’m still torn between the two. It is the unique units in WFB that makes the game both cool, and overburdened with special rules. DR really streamlines the unit and weapon choices. I need to bust out a couple armies and give DR a go.

WW2: Bolt Action (plus our house rules) and Chain of Command. I’ve written before about how I WANT to love CoC, but there are certain aspects I just don’t care for. I think I will end up with a hybrid of the two, picking parts I like from both.

Sci-Fi: 40K will always be my first gaming love, but I haven’t played it in years. Kill Team has piqued my interest, though, and I might get into it. Mostly I play Star Wars using X-Wing and Armada. Ground combat in the galaxy far, far away isn’t my thing, but space combat is so much fun.

My friend hasn’t taken me up my lunch offer yet. I think he knows lunch would turn into dinner, and the sun would set before I even got to the Black Powder era in rules discussions. He wants to dip his toe, not leap into the fire. I can’t say I blame him for caution, since this path can lead to madness.

A quick peek at what I’ve been up to on the terrain front. A couple sign posts/ message boards, and a ruined tower for fantasy gaming. The signs are from basswood and balsa, with mdf bases I scavenged from the last mdf kit I built. I forgot to take any in progress pics of the tower. It was built stone by stone from XPS bricks/blocks I cut on my Proxxon hotwire cutter. I used Alene’s Tacky glue instead of hot glue (hate the strings) so this took a while. I could only get two rows on at a time before they would slip out of position if I tried to add more layers.

I finally finished this kit from 4Ground. Harper’s Dry goods. I have another copy of this kit already, so i modified the front face, cutting a different profile on the top and hiding the cuts with profile boards. My western town is coming along nicely. Mostly I need to finalize signs and get them printed and installed.

Not sure why the door looks broken. I wonder if I messed it up finishing the tarp?

That’s it for this update. There are few models painted, but no pics yet. With end-of-the year stuff of my daughter, my free time has been limited. June is gonna be worse. If I can finish even one small project, it will be a miracle.

See ya next time!

BG

Project YT-1300: Converting an Icon

Some time ago I happened across a series of photos of the deconstruction and reconstruction of a YT-1300 light freighter model from Fantasy Flight Games’ X-Wing miniatures game. It was a set of great photos showing step by step how a crafty modeler cut apart a great model, and then rebuilt it into an even better model. I saved all the pictures with the intention to build my own version. You call it copying, I call it an homage to a great conversion.

Here is the finished model that inspired me. Unfortunately, it was so long ago I have lost the link to this crafty fella’s blog. I believe his name is Robert Sakaluk. I blame FFG and the closure of their forum and all the great repaints and modeling that were stashed in the X-Wing and Armada areas of that defunct forum.

Inspiration YT model pics

I had purchased the original Millennium Falcon probably just as it was released. I didn’t realize (or remember, at least) that I happened upon X-Wing just as Wave 2 was being released. It included two of my favorite ships in the entire Star Wars Universe, the Millennium Falcon and Slave-1, Bob Fett’s modified Firespray-31. Fully painted, and very detailed, I had to have them. That they belonged to a great miniatures game was a nice bonus.

FFG Falcon

As I fell into the deep hole that is X-Wing, I found the FFG forums and was inspired by the conversions and repaints everyone was doing. One particular fellow had down a conversion that moved the off-center cockpit of the Falcon to the centerline. And it was repainted a light gray and blue. That guy went by the screen name ZombieHedgehog. I was able to commission him to make a copy of the model he had posted. It turned out fantastic:

Blue center cockpit Falcon

He explained everything that went into the project, but I wasn’t comfortable trying it on my own. I’m not sure why, I have been building plastic model kits since I was probably eight-years-old. Something about hacking into a painted model gave me pause.

Time went on and I picked up two more Falcon models. FFG released a version modified and painted to represent the version seen in the sequel movies. Then another model was released of the version from the movie when the Falcon still belonged to Lando.

Somewhere in there came the inspiration to build my own armoured version of the classic YT-1300. Duly inspired, I picked up yet another YT model from FFG. And started the project. Honestly, I don’t know exactly how long this project took. Months. Over a year in total. I would do a little work, get frustrated, and set it aside for weeks. Having never done something like this before, the learning curve was steep.

I had purchased a scribing tool before I started. And a pack of engine nozzles intended for super detailing Gundam models (I believe.) I wanted the old-school feel of round engine nozzles for this build and made an eBay purchase. And then another when I realized I needed more of a particular nozzle size than the pack had. Then I picked up some Evergreen plastic in sheets and rods and strips. With all the supplies in hand, I had to take the first step.

Cutting into a perfectly good model.

Using a razor saw and cutting slow and careful, I tore that model apart. Stripping the entire cockpit out, and then removing the engines and much of the rear superstructure, I had a carcass that was ready for anything. I printed out all the pictures I had found and spent a lot of time staring at them. Progress was slow. I would make a few small parts, or cut and shape a piece of plastic, then wait days or weeks. Slowly it came back together. There were some complex curves that gave me fits. I made and discarded a number of templates and parts trying to rebuild that model. And used greenstuff to hide my mistakes or gaps I gave up trying to fit properly.

As pieces came together, I began to detail the model. Scribing panel lines went a long way towards making it look more like a space ship and less like a chunk of plastic. Tiny pieces of plastic were cut and glued into place to give visual interest. The engine bay was detailed. I constructed some engines and even used putty to hold a couple engine layouts in place to poll some friends on Facebook about which looked best. More cutting. Lots of filing. Sanding. Filling. Gluing. Some days it seemed like it was never going to be complete.

side by side engine layouts

And then, it was. I held a finished model in my hands and checked it over and over for anything else I could do. I think this is one project I could pick at nearly forever. Finally, I called it done and set it aside.

No idea what else I was doing at the time, but it sat unpainted for a long time. Eventually I primed it, and began to paint it. I liked the red and gray of the inspiration model, and gave it a similar paint job. Being a space freighter meant I got to dirty it up, using several washes and inks to put rust, oil, and fuel drips and streaks all over it. Unlike the original guy who was good enough to be able to construct it so he could paint it in subassemblies, I had a complete model to paint. Which meant the engine bay isn’t nearly as well painted as I would like.

primed/washed model

Overall, I am extremely happy with how the model came out. I have a distinct YT model, in a flashy paint scheme, that I built myself.

finished model

Here are couple other repaints I have down. Just for fun, or before a particular model was released.

X-Wing is still a great game. I have enough ships to play monster games, or throw a whole tourney on my own. And several are custom paints. Which makes it a little bit cooler. With the confidence gained, I built an armoured Nebulon-B for Star Wars Armada, and began painting all the tiny fighters for the squadrons in Armada.

A chance image of a converted model led to months of construction and painting. Funny how internet wanderings can do that.

Thanks for stopping by,

   BG

More trouble, more reward

Malark pushed through them, and illuminated a pair of open doors. “Come. You look in doors. Malark protect you.”

He moved just beyond the pair of open doors, lighting another pair. The others followed him, then Adran stepped into the east door. Lia was at the door, crossbow in hand. Seraphina stood behind the other door, peering around it. Meepo was squinting at the torch, hanging back in the dark.

Adran came back into the passage. “Some sort of cell. Garbage and refuse on the floor. Maybe a nest of sorts. Nothing else.”

“My turn.” Seraphina didn’t wait for a reply and moved into the next room. They could hear her moving around for a minute or two. She came out, a disgusted look on her face. “Oh my… Ugh. Urogalan’s pits that smells bad.” She gagged and coughed. “It’s in my mouth…” 

Adran shrugged. “The other smell had an odor, decay, new life.”

Seraphina walked over to the other door, stuck her head in, then looked up at Adran. “You, Mr. Elf, have a strange sense of ‘odor’, that room is just as bad!”

Lia laughed. “And to think, you, a gold elf, are not bothered by the stench of decay.”

Pursing his lips, Adran was quiet for a bit. In the silence Malark leaned in to sniff the cell. He retched and blinked his eyes, his face a grimace.

“Pig. Room smell like pig.”

Lia had tears in her eyes now. “Even…” She tried to say. She was stifling a laugh and couldn’t continue.

Adran looked at the others. “It is true, I was raised in the Elven Court. However, decay is the breath of life. Without decay, nothing grows anew.”

“Don’t mean decay isn’t a horrible smell.” Seraphina wrinkled her nose and spit. “It’s still in my mouth.” She went to the next door, ahead of the others. Before she even went in, she turned back, “Stinks here too.” Sticking out her tongue, she disappeared.

Malark moved up to the door she went into just as a hiss and a squeal erupted from the space beyond. They could hear a scrabbling and violent fight. Before anyone could react, the squealing abruptly stopped and Seraphina stuck her head out.

“Big rat. Horrible smell.”

Malark turned on his heel, swinging his blade fast and low. He sliced another rat clean in half, catching the rat mid-leap. “More rats.”

They party cleared the last two cells, killing another rat. Six cells, all refuse-filled, and the only sign of the adventurers was a disabled trap beyond the last two cells. A pit trip was wedged open with several pitons. A small T was marked in yellow chalk.

“You think?” Seraphina was examining the trap, stepping carefully on the edge.

“Possible. Probable.” Adran stepped around the opposite side, looking into the next chamber.

Lia ran and jumped across the trap, jostling the bolt from her crossbow when she skidded to a landing. Scooping it up, she laid it back in the groove. Malark followed Seraphina, stepping into the room and avoiding the disabled trap. They spread out, covering the room and gathering at the far side, near a fountain that was a mirror to the one that had filled with the red liquid.

Lia was wiping dirt and grime off the front, searching for another command phrase. Seraphina wandered over to look at another door that was just ajar. Adran looked over to see her cock her head slightly, turning her ear to the opening.

She turned and opened her mouth to say something at the same moment Lia read the inscription. “Let there be death.” Her words had barely spilled out when a green cloud poured from the dragon carving’s mouth. Thick and roiling, it spread quickly. The three closest started to gag and cough, backing away from the fountain. Malark threw up, emptying his stomach. Adran coughed and spit. Lia shook her head, then retched.

Seraphina coughed once and backed away. Skirting the edge of the green cloud that was sinking to the floor. She watched the fountain, then the doors.

“Probably shouldn’t have read something with ‘death’ in it.” Lia spit, then washed her mouth out with a draw off her waterskin. Her and Adran were a tinge of green, their skin flushed and damp with sweat. Malark threw up again, dropping to his knees. He was a sickly hue, his skin pale, profusely sweating. The torch lay where he dropped it. His sword on the flagstones next to him.

Adran started coughing again, and didn’t reply. Seraphina spit, sticking her tongue out.

“Gross. Poison?”

Adran nodded. Washing his mouth out, he spit the filthy taste out. “Definitely poison. Got us three.”

Malark retched again. He was on his hands and knees. Spitting and coughing. A pool of sick on the ground under him. Lia knelt beside him, her hand on his shoulder. Looking over at Adran, “Can you do something?”

“Not at my power. Someday, perhaps. Not yet.” He washed his mouth out again. “How are you feeling, Lia?”

“Bad. Not Malark bad, but bad. My stomach is churning and my lungs burn.”

“Mine too, but already I feel slightly better. A weak poison? Or my body is neutralizing the toxin.”

Lia nodded, “I don’t feel as bad as at first. Our big friend here though…” She shook her head.

“Malark not dying.” He spit and got up to his knees, reaching for his waterskin. He rinsed and spit several times. “Weak. Wolf eat bad meat.” He drank a little, but threw up again.

“Wait here Malark. Wait out the toxin. We’ll check out the next room.”

“Uh, yeah, about that.” Seraphina looked over at the door. “There is something back there. It smells worse than the cells. And there is a soft, um, grunting?” She shrugged. “Like piglets.”

Lia flicked a mote of fire into the dissipating green cloud, and stood. “Shall we then? Whatever is there won’t kill itself.”

The three surrounded the door, Lia ready to drag it open. When she did, Adran and Seraphina rushed the room. The smell was oppressive, making the cells seem fragrant. A huge pile of garbage, refuse and corpses was mounded in a nest near the center of the room. They made out a couple goblins, at least one kobold, and a human in leather armor amid the pile. Other corpses were so decayed they were beyond recognition. Three giant rats burst from the nest when they rushed in. Charging the three, the fight was on.

Lia fired her crossbow, slicing a furrow across one of the rats before extending her hand to blast a bolt of flame into the same rat. Flaming and bleeding, it still charged her. It tried to bite her, but she stomped it to death. Adran blocked another as it tried to attack him. Circling, the rat feinted and mock charged. It was just out of reach of his sword. Mumbling, Adran snapped his wrist towards the rat and a tangle of barbed vines sprang from his hand, encircling the rat. It squealed in pain, thorns piercing its skin. Adran yanked, causing the rat to tumble and slide close enough for him to slice it apart with a pair of blade strokes. Seraphina crouched; blades ready as the third rat charged. It leapt, only to be sliced apart mid-jump, her blades stabbing deep and slicing out.

The three waited, blades up, Lia grabbing at her quiver to load another bolt. The squealing, dying rats awoke something in the midden. A low, grotesque squeal-howl sounded deep in the pile. In an explosion of filth, a monstrosity crashed out of the nest. It was swollen and bloated, diseased and scabby, a nightmare horror. Gnashing massive incisors, it scrambled towards Seraphina. Lia hit it square with a well-aimed shot, the bolt burying deep into the nearly hairless creature. Adran slid a dagger from his belt and slung it, burying the blade into the monster. Seraphina flexed her knees, bracing for the impact of the creature, side-stepping at the last moment, slashing both blades, stabbing the bloated body as she tried to avoid its gnashing teeth.

Avoiding the teeth, the rat slashed dirty claws, knocking the tiny halfling aside. It started after the prone halfling when Lia burned it with a bolt of fire. It turned to hiss at Lia, giving Adran an opening. He leapt, slashing down with his sword in a two-handed stroke. The blade cut into the bloated carcass, opening a deep cut flowing with blood and ooze.

Seraphina scrambled to her feet. Breathing hard, she gasped out her thanks. Adran nodded, pulling the dagger and bolt form the corpse. Tossing the bolt to Lia, he wiped the dagger clean on a bit of rag from the nest.

Circling the mounded nest, nothing else came out. Toeing the gnawed corpse of the human, Adran knelt and began pulling items from his belt and quiver. Dropping them aside, he pulled arrows and daggers, a money pouch, and a small vial with a red liquid. He shook the vial, and the liquid shimmered. Unstopping it, he sniffed. “Healing potion. Good find.” He tucked the potion away, then tossed the coin purse to Lia. “Stash that.” He stopped, then leaned closed, lifting the corpse’s left hand, The fingers were gnawed away, save the middle finger. A stub of flesh and bone held a gold signet ring. Pulling it off Adran looked closer and saw that it was inscribed with letters. “Karakas. Wasn’t that the name of the ranger that accompanied the siblings?” Yanking the dead adventurer’s pack out, he dumped it on the floor. Several torches, a bedroll, a small tinderbox and wrapped ration scattered on the floor. Picking up the tinderbox, he pulled some items out, tucking them into a pouch, then tossed the small box aside. Gathering the arrows and torches he stood.

“We should search this pile. Might have more corpses buried. Or inedibles like coins and gems.” Lia grabbed the dead ranger’s bow and used it to stab and poke at the pile. Seraphina used her swords to do the same. Adran was pulling the other corpses out when Malark stumbled into the room.

“Smell worse here. This place awful.”

“Yeah” Seraphina wrinkled her nose, “it is. Terrible smell. But look!” she held up a handful of coins, glittering silver and gold. “Come help.”

Malark used a javelin like the others, to poke and dig. They spent some time exploring the filthy pile, ending with a pile of silver and gold coins, and a couple nice gems.

“Stinking, dirty work, but rats usually gather everything.” Seraphina was shoving coins into a small sack. “These will keep us fed and in a bed for a while.”

Searching this chamber didn’t uncover any more secrets. Back tracking, they headed beyond the cells and opened a door in a small cross room. It was unlocked, but so decayed and gnawed at the bottom, part of it didn’t reach the floor. Seraphina was crouching, tracing faint marks in the dust.

“Rats. And goblins. Back and forth. Regular like.”

Lia reached for the handle. “Same as before. Three. Two.” And yanked the door before counting one.

Seraphina had switched back to her bow and drew it tight as she rushed through. Adran held his own bow low, an arrow notched. Malark was steady again, though still looking pale. He ducked his head to step through the short door and followed the others.

Lia pulled the door closed when she came in. The others had already done a quick search of this medium sized room. The far corner had a door similar to the one they had just passed through. Seraphina was on one knee looking at the door. Malark was walking along a wall, touching stones and tracing gaps between larger blocks. Adran was studying a faint trail on the dusty flag stones.

Seraphina held a finger to her lips and pointed. She waited until the others had gathered close before speaking in a low voice.

“See that?” She pointed to faint scratches and marks on one edge of the wooden door. Malark squinted, not seeing anything. “There is a thread hooked through a gouge in the wood.” She slipped a dagger from her belt and dug into the wood, slicing the thread. Using the tip of the dagger she fished the thread free. “Hope that does it.” She cracked the door, watching the thread carefully until it fell loose. Opening the door more, she looked into the next chamber, pointing again. “Bell.” She mouthed.

Readying her bow, she was aimed in and only nodded for someone else to open the door more. Lia held her crossbow one handed and pulled it open. Slowly. With a zing of released tension, Seraphina let an arrow fly. Her hand flashed to her quiver, drawing and readying another arrow. Something thunked into the door. Then another something clattered on the wall.

“Gobbos” is all she said as she leapt through the narrow gap, loosing another arrow.

Lia threw the door open, kneeling with her crossbow up. Adran followed, bow up and searching. Malark stepped through then hesitated. The floor was covered with hundreds of crude caltrops, a hallway of points and pain. Adran danced and spun down the hall. His steps are light and tiptoeing, avoiding the little traps spread all over. Seraphina kicked a small space open to kneel and fire arrows from.

Down the hall a crude wall blocked off the far end. Built in imitation of a castle wall, there were even crenellations. “Well,” Seraphina thought, “what stupid goblin thinks a crenellation looks like that?”

Aiming carefully, she shot one of the goblins defending the ‘castle wall’ in the eye, throwing it backwards. Another goblin shrieked curses and ducked out of sight. Adran vaulted onto the rough wall, and pulled an arrow back, then released the bowstring without shooting.

“Gone”.

The others carefully moved down the hall. Kicking caltrops aside, they cleared a path. All four gathered in some sort of guard post. Various supplies were scattered about. A small keg of black fletched arrows. Several small sleep mats. Crude pottery jars and stale bread. A smoldering fire wafted a thin trail of smoke, causing a light haze. A door was open, showing a short hall leading to another open space. They could hear angry shouts.

“So much for surprise” Adran was already heading through the door. “Let’s keep up the pressure.”

All four lined ready to enter the next room. Peering around the corner, Adran pulled his head back when several arrows sailed by.

“They know.” He used the notched arrow to point to the next wall. “Looks like an archery range. A couple effigies full of arrows.”

“They practice?” Seraphina’s voice pitched up.

“Looks that way.” Adran leaned around the corner then hid again. Another volley of arrows sailed past.

“Four. I think. I’ll lean out again, once the arrows fly, we rush them. They are hiding behind a wall like in the other room.”

He looked around again, pulling back just as quick. The arrows hadn’t even hit the far wall when all four rushed out. Adran and Seraphina were the first to send arrows flying. Malark hurled a javelin. Lia knelt, aimed, and careful squeezed a shot.

Seraphina missed with her first shot. She had another arrow in the air before her target could react. Adran hit his target, piercing its clawed hand and forcing it to drop its bow. Malark’s javelin hit the wall in front of his goblin foe. He roared in anger, drawing his sword and angling his shield to protect him. Lia’s bolt speared one of the goblins between the eyes. It crumpled, bow and arrows clattering on stone.

Two arrows stabbed into Malark’s shield, a hurled dagger cutting Adran across the cheek. Seraphina’s arrow caught one of the gobbos in the chest, sending it fleeing away. Malark was vaulting the wall when a bolt of flame caught the fleeing goblin between the shoulders, tumbling it over. Malark’s sword flashed in a long arc, a crushing blow cleaving a goblin nearly in two. Atop the wall, Adran bashed his bow into the skull of the last goblin, sending him to the floor. Malark was about to stab it when Adran leapt down, blocking it.

“No! Let’s interrogate it. See what else is here.” He pulled the bowstring from one of the goblin’s bows and bound its hands. Shaking it awake, he was on one knee, glowering at the bound enemy. Malark was pacing, sword held low, his eyes boring into the gobbo.

Lia was searching the dead goblins. Pulling a few coins from each. Then breaking all the arrows she found.

Seraphina was standing in front of the bound goblin, trying her best to look intimidating. Wrinkling her nose, she finally spoke.

“How many others are there? How many more goblins?”

Despite being bound and defeated; the goblin sneered through broken teeth. Its voice was surprisingly deep. “Many.” It laughed and spat blood. “So many. You all die. Elf man. Little girl. Humie. Elf girl. All die.” It laughed and sneered. Defiant.

“How many?” Seraphina slapped the goblin.

Still chuckling, despite the blow, it growled at them. “Many. Strong tribe. You all die.”

Malark stepped forward, punching the goblin in the face, smashing its nose and knocking it out. Seraphina had a shocked look. “Did you kill it?”

“Hope so.” He stomped on the goblin’s head then looked to the next door, hanging slightly ajar.

“What about that door?” Lia was pointing at another door back in the area that goblins used as an archery range. “Probably don’t want potential enemies behind us. This key might open it.” She held up a large, tarnished key she had scavenged from one of the dead goblins.

“Malark, watch that door” Adran nodded towards the closer door. “We’ll go check out the other one.”

“Wait.” Seraphina looked around. Where is Meepo? We got caught up in fighting.” Her voice trailed off.

The others looked back and forth. “He was with us when we first found the rats.”

Adran was pulling an arrow from his quiver when he looked at Seraphina. “Probably hiding in one of those cells. He never wanted to come along.”

“Still… He was with us. What if something happened to him?”

“Kobalds are survivors. He’ll be okay.”

Seraphina looked up at Adran, sniffed once, then wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. “I hope so Mr. Adran. He was nice.”