SKETCH #106: WHEELER

This is a repost from my (now-defunct) writing blog, that I had occasion to come across recently. Decided I wanted to share it again, just for giggles. ^_^


I was about to leave the tavern when she walked in. Quite literally, my hand was on my sword-belt, pulling it down from the peg on the booth, and then one of the Fae strolled through the doors like a shaft of light into a darkened room.

She didn’t hide it, didn’t try. You could see pointed ears poking through red-gold hair, a hunter-green cloak with the hood thrown back, and a lute-in-leather over her shoulder. I saw the bartender perk up at her entrance, a smile spreading across his features as he reached under the bar for something. I watched as she walked through the place like she owned it, petite against the backdrop of the mahogany bar, and saw her mount a stool only to heave herself onto the bar, dangling her boots before her as she faced the common.

I’d already left silver on the table for my meal (looking back, the garçon had already collected it while I wasn’t looking, little bugger) but headed to the bar anyway. My appointment wasn’t exactly pressing, after all. I placed myself down the bar from where the Fae sat, and motioned to the barman. He gave a smirk, like he heard the punchline to a joke, and poured another pint of the Tenhain I’d just finished.

I was taking the first taste of the beer when I heard metals snaps coming undone. Looking to the Fae, she had opened the leather to pull out a lute-like instrument made of black wood. From a sleeve she pulled out a piece of horn that looked like a flattened ‘T’, and twirled it expertly in her fingers.

She gave me a wry smile (because she’d noticed I was staring, and perhaps it was the drink but I found myself not caring) and dragged a corner of her ‘T’ across the three strings. And then she played.

It was an enthralling piece, but by the end I realized something: I was the only person in the tavern, aside from the staff and the Fae.

I raised my mug to her nonetheless, and she nodded her appreciation.

“I’m afraid I’m not much of an audience for you, lady,” I said.

She idly plucked more on the instrument softly as she smiled again. “Audience enough, shaheen.”

“That’s no lute I’ve ever seen before.”

She laughed. “No, I imagine it is not.”

Where was she from? “Far away.” How’d she come to the city? “Boat.” Business or pleasure? “Business is pleasure, shaheen. Both, then?” And all the while she accompanied our conversation with an endless meandering melody on that lute, the long fingers of one hand manipulating the strings while the other picked at them with the bachi.

I realize, looking back, that it was an incredibly frustrating conversation. Or was for a time, until…

“So where are you off to, shaheen?”

“I am a swordsman. I go where I please, when I have a purpose.”

“What purpose would call a swordsman out at this time of night?”

“Business requiring only the sword, if I’m brief.” I can play this game too, Fae. Or so I thought at the time.

“Does it pay well, this business? Playing escort to a sword?”

I was surprised at the sweetness of it, but a fair hand can hurt just as much as a rough one when it slaps you in the face.”The sword doesn’t wield itself, lady.”

“But does the sword not employ you? Without the sword, what are you? Have you another skill?” She paused, but before I could say anything she went on. “What’s more, if the sword doesn’t wield itself, as you say, what is the sword without the hand that wields it?”

Still her hands plied the strings of her instrument, and the gentle smile never left her face, nor the lilt of her voice turned scornful. This was a child asking questions of philosophy, though I couldn’t help but sense there was some motive behind it all.

“Couldn’t I say the same of you, then?” I said, and it’s possible I was not as good at concealing my scorn, though for my part I tried. “Are you not a slave to your lute, if your lute is what makes the music?”

She laughed again, and my scorn burned like bile in my throat. “My lute would be in a poor business, to come to a tavern with no paying customers within. My lute makes music because I wish it to, not because it is what employs me. I have other skills for my employment.”

“Such as?” A thousand ribald examples leaped to mind, and a dark corner of my mind considered whether or not my wages for the night could be better used.

She built to a climax with her bachi, and let the last notes hand in the air. “To start, I am most pleased to own a tavern.”

Such was my introduction to Wheeler, and that is as good a place as any to begin her story.

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Friday Flash (head)Canon Archive, July 13th

SHALL WE PLAY A GAME

A follow-up:

MOVING ON:

A follow-up:

BACK IN THE SADDLE:

The following are the remaining requests I haven’t filled yet. I will update this post with the responses once I have some more time to draft them up. ^_^

 

from the 20th

….

 

Allied Races: WotLK Edition

Alliance: Frostborn Dwarves

Available Classes: Warrior, Hunter, Mage, Rogue, Priest, Paladin

Racial Abilities:

  • Breath of the North Wind: Breathe a cone of ice that deals X Frost damage to enemies with 8 yards. Enemies damaged are slowed by 25% for 2s, and any movement enhancing effects are canceled. (2m CD)
  • Resist the Elements: Reduce Fire/Frost damage taken by 1%.
  • Cold Fury: Maximum resource increased by 5%.
  • Stormcrest Salvation: Instantly summon a Stormcrest Eagle to slow your falling speed for 2m. (10m)

Racial Mount:

  • Ground: Frostmaw Warbear
  • Flying: Stormcrest Warbird

Horde: The Taunka

Available Classes: Warrior, Hunter, Shaman, Priest, Monk

Racial Abilities:

  • The Natural Order: Experience gained from killing Aberrations and Undead increased by 20%.
  • Spearfishing: Fishing skill increased by 15, and successful casts have a chance to provide additional fish.
  • Whalebone Whistle: Summon your fishing buddy Kub’iak, who will sell fishing equipment to you and buy your junk for 3m. (30m)
  • Tundra Running: After a brief pause, take on a distance running stance that scales with your Riding skill.

Racial Mount:

  • Ground: Tundra Blackpelt (Rhino)
  • Aquatic: Pygmy Frostsnapper (Ice Turtle)

Remixing The Wibbly-Wobbly Time Mechanisms of WoD

So… what was the initial conceit of Warlords of Draenor as an expansion?

THE ORIGINAL

Kairozdormu, having learned some new ways to manipulate time due to his research on the Timeless Isle, colludes with Wrathion, who is intent on creating a threat on Azeroth that will prepare the mortal races for the impending invasion of the Burning Legion. They plot to free the captive Garrosh Hellscream (under trial for his war crimes) and place him on Draenor in the past, where he’ll use his connections to the Old Horde to build a force that can truly challenge Azeroth in the present. Garrosh, refusing to be controlled, kills Kairozdormu but proceeds with forming the Iron Horde and invading Azeroth through a time-altered Dark Portal. In response, the Alliance and Horde send expeditions back through the Dark Portal to disable it, then begin a campaign to dismantle the Iron Horde on their home turf of the old Draenor.

WHAT WORKED

So… part of what made this whole conceit screwy was the part where despite traveling to Draenor’s past, nothing we did in the past would change the present. This was explained as traveling to an alternate version of Draenor’s past, with notable differences (Rulkan is alive, Garrosh was never born, etc.) being explained as “blades of grass” that were just a result of Kairozdormu finding exactly the right circumstances for the scenario he had planned.

WHAT WAS FUCKY

The explanation held water for the most part, but it got worse when the Legion got involved. Because now we have this scenario where despite us going back to past-Draenor, the present day Legion is communicating with Gul’dan there, giving him tips on how to combat us. Because the Legion now exists outside time.

Which creates a lot of weird headaches about the nature of reality in the setting. For example: part of what we do in the expansion is go back and interact with the past version of Prophet Velen, even knowing that the present-day Velen is sitting in the Exodar on present-Azeroth. So at a single point in time, there are potentially an infinite number of Velens to interact with given all of these alternate versions that exist (and we know they exist, because Kairozdormu scrolled through all of them to find the best one for his plot). Yet the Legion is explained as existing entirely outside the context of that, in the Twisting Nether. There is only ONE Kil’jaeden, ONE Archimonde, and they’re running the Legion. What does that do in alternate timelines where Kil’jaeden and/or Archimonde didn’t bow to Sargeras? Or the ones where Velen DID?

A REMIX IS REQUIRED

The conceit of the expansion requires us to go to Old Draenor, but the relevance to the modern Azeroth means that a present threat needs to exist. That’s why the Burning Legion is that threat (and it’s why Legion as an expansion was predicated off the events of Warlords) but making the Legion exist outside time in order to facilitate that is pretty screwy.

So… how can we remix the conceit to make more sense?


LET’S DROP THE BEAT

Using what he’s learned from his research on the Timeless Isle, Kairozdormu stages a coup in the Caverns of Time, attempting to kill Nozdormu and other leaders of the Bronze Dragonflight in the process. Rifts in time open, with orcs and Infinite dragons appearing to back Kairoz. Chromie and Khadgar join forces with a group of heroes to beat back Kairoz’ forces, then pursue him through one of the rifts.

On the other side of the rift, the heroes discover what Kairoz has done: he’s gone back to the past of Draenor with Garrosh, who has created the Iron Horde, while Kairoz himself has corrupted numerous bronze dragons into Infinites, who together are using their power to secure Kairoz’ hold on this point in time. While Khadgar and the heroes stay to combat the orcs and Kairoz, Chromie returns to the present to aid Nozdormu is securing the present timeline to prevent Kairoz’ interference from destroying reality.

Khadgar and the heroes succeed in destroying the Chronal Portal connecting Old Draenor to the present. Weakened, Kairoz withdraws, leaving Garrosh and his Iron Horde with the task of crushing the invaders from Azeroth so they can renew their assault on the Caverns of Time in the present. Khadgar’s quick thinking (and knowledge of Draenor from his past experience there) allows him to escape with the heroes, along with some newfound allies, to begin a campaign to retake Draenor from the Iron Horde and stop Kairozdormu.

Chromie rejoins the heroes, stating that all of the dragonflights in the present have joined their remaining power together with Nozdormu in order to protect the timeway from being corrupted, but they cannot hold out forever. Time is of the essence.

HERE’S WHY IT WOULD WORK

The core difference is this: we are in Draenor’s past, but the reason why the present isn’t being impacted is because Nozdormu and all of the dragonflights are ACTIVELY WORKING to make sure it doesn’t. The sense of urgency and impact on the present is because if we fail, the present Azeroth is wiped from reality when the timeway adjusts.

The rest of Warlords proceeds mostly as written, with a few tweaks:

  • Zaela’s takeover in UBRS is a last gasp of Garrosh’ MoP-era True Horde instead of part of his Iron Horde gambit. Wrathion is tangentially involved, since he’s trying to gather Nefarian’s research.
  • The end of the Everbloom dungeon doesn’t culminate in an assault on Stormwind, but instead on the player’s garrison.
  • Gul’dan and his Shadow Council were being used as fuel for the time portal, just as they were in the original scenario. However, we release them, setting up a three-way conflict between the Azeroth invasion, the Shadow Council, and the Iron Horde/Infinites.
  • Khadgar’s cat-and-mouse game with Gul’dan is intercut with Chromie’s objective of locating Kairoz’ lair and breaking the connection with Azeroth.
  • There are no blades of grass; the past we’re experiencing is the actual past, and any changes that take place are a result of Kairoz’ direct tampering.
  • The Legion Gul’dan is communicating with is the Burning Legion of that time, not the present day Legion. This is important later.

This allows the launch content and the 6.2 patch content to proceed as written, but then adds a critical third tier of raiding, where having defeated the Iron Horde and secured Draenor, we move against Kairozdormu’s Infinite Lair to break the connection between Old Draenor and present-day Azeroth, while also undoing everything Kairoz did to interfere with Draenor’s past.

When we defeat Kairoz and the Infinites, we’re told that Old Draenor should return to how it was before Kairoz started messing with it. We’re still able to access our garrison and Old Draenor’s content because game mechanics, but the big cinematic after killing Kairoz basically indicates that we go home. This prevents people from asking questions like “why isn’t Yrel/Grommash helping us fight the Legion?” or “why don’t we go to AU-Azeroth?”

WHY THIS WOULD BE DOPE GOING INTO LEGION

However, that doesn’t mean that nothing from the expansion’s events comes forward.

A key part of Khadgar’s feud with Gul’dan is the part where Gul’dan is increasingly converting himself further and further into a demon in order to continue evading capture and maintain his fight against both Khadgar and Kairoz. Khadgar recognizes that if Gul’dan becomes a demon fully, he will be markedly more difficult to kill, and will be a distraction when the Azeroth invasion has to contend with the Infinites. So Khadgar refines his soul-trap into a soulstone that can be used to capture Gul’dan’s demonic essence, but it requires Gul’dan to be on the CUSP of becoming a demon.

Instead of Gul’dan being sucked into a portal during the Archimonde fight in Hellfire Citadel, Archimonde empowers Gul’dan, converting him to that cusp point. Khadgar springs into action, sealing Gul’dan within the soulstone and depriving Archimonde of his backup, allowing the heroes to defeat him.

As part of the events surrounding the raid on Kairoz and the Infinites, Cordana (having been turned to the Legion’s service by Gul’dan) steals the soulstone from Khadgar and flees back through the time portal into the present. Legion’s conceit (of Gul’dan returning to the Broken Shore and using the Tomb of Sargeras to open the rift) can then proceed as written.


WRAP IT UP CROW COFFEE BREAKS AIN’T THAT LONG

This remix would have given us a third tier of content for Warlords, allowed the expansion as a whole to basically act as a Caverns of Time expansion (bookended by the fights with Kairoz), and would have sidestepped the problem of the Legion existing outside the pre-existing concepts of time travel that the franchise had already established. The notion of the Legion infinitely replenishing itself in the Twisting Nether can be preserved without the “outside time” component, since that’s a key element of what we’re doing against the Legion on Argus.

Moreover, making a more forceful point of showing Kairozdormu creating the Infinite Dragonflight puts that on display better than it was done in the short story. And combining that knowledge with an entire expansion where Nozdormu is channeling the remaining power of the dragonflights in order to keep present-day Azeroth preserved seeds the possibility of him eventually corrupting HIMSELF into Murozond. Because while we know that Nozdormu has foreseen his death, and that his death comes at the hands of Azeroth’s heroes after he has driven the Infinites in messing with time in key points, we’ve only seen one iteration of how that death takes place. Again, it’s seeding a future Murozond rematch.

So, that’s the concept. The conceit of Warlords upended a lot of stuff about the mechanics of the world of Warcraft in ways that weaken it structurally. Encapsulating it WITHIN those mechanics would have served to give the devs what they wanted (“let’s bring back all of these badasses from the RTS games for a rematch” + “let’s reimagine Draenor”) while also presenting the opportunity for a present-day threat for Azeroth and laying groundwork for future content (i.e. Nozdormu’s eventual corruption, Wrathion digging into Nefarian’s stuff, past-Gul’dan existing to enact Legion, etc.).

Tell me what you think.

REMIX THE GUN NARRATIVE IN THE US

As a response to last night’s horrific events in Las Vegas, I suspect that the narrative for this week will be dominated by the debate over gun control in the US. We’ve had this argument far too many times in recent years, but I have started to notice that when I get resistance to the idea of stricter gun controls, some typical responses get trotted out by people who don’t want stricter gun laws.

In the few hours I’ve been working on this, I’ve found counters for all of those responses that offer either a solid anecdotal account or extensive research and reporting. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, and I could easily spend a LOT more time compiling counters, but I need to salve my mental health and do something else.

So let’s get started:

“If you make guns illegal, only criminals will have them.”

The United Kingdom has stricter gun control laws than the US. People often point to the UK as an example and counter-example of the pros/cons of gun control in the US. So there’s this:

There’s more discussion to be had about black market availability of guns and how that factors into gun violence, of course, but the notion that “I have a perfectly valid civilian use for my gun” isn’t a reason for gun laws to be as lax as they currently are.

“If you take away my gun, I am defenseless.”

Crime is down, but gun ownership is up in the US because of the argument of self-defense. The two-fold cause is that a) the NRA wants to sell a product and b) our media industry has perpetuated a Pavlovian response when it comes to reporting violence, because they live off ratings and ratings go up when violent crime occurs somewhere, so they report it more.

“Guns are our protection against the potential tyranny of the government or military.”

This gets brought up a lot, and all of the arguments about the role of the Second Amendment and how it can/should be interpreted have been going around in circles for a long time. So it’s important to remember what the Founding Fathers considered a gun at the time they wrote it:

“We should be addressing mental health, not trying to take guns from law-abiding citizens.”

Funny you should mention that. (But it was a shitty rule.)

“We should arm more people, not fewer.”

How about them good guys with guns?

“‘Assault-style weapons’ is a misnomer used to flag perfectly reasonable weapons as more dangerous than they are.”

Let’s get our definitions straight. So yeah, I’ll buy that folks might be confused about what weapon does what and politicians latch onto talking points. That doesn’t change the fact that high-volume mags and semi-automatic fire is still pretty problematic from the “self-defense” position if you’re just walking into Wal-mart for milk and ammo.

“We need to do more research about gun violence before we fly off the handle making up new laws.” 

Oh but wait, the CDC can’t do that with federal funding, wow… So aside from the part where the NRA lobbies lawmakers to dissuade them from enacting gun control, they also lobby to prevent lawmakers from even asking a third party to run the math. It’s what they call a racket.

“We should be enforcing the existing laws on the books instead of making up new laws.”

Spoiler warning: the alleged gunman in Vegas appears to have adhered to local laws, had no notable prior criminal history, and while he was known to local law enforcement he wasn’t on any kind of watch list. It’s not clear yet if he had any history of mental illness.

And here’s a nice wall of data to look at, which assaults all of the above points in the context of the rest of the world.

 

 

 

 

CITY/ESTATE SCRATCHPAD FOR APRILYNNE PIKE

Rosct (RAH-sht): Northern port town, servicing the seasonal Rashin nomads. Members of the five great Rashin tribes don’t make permanent settlements, but instead cycle between the seaport of Rosct and the mountaintop spiritual capital of Pahua Jihn. Each solstice and equinox is when the tribes cycle positions between five general areas:

  1. Rosct
  2. The cold coastlands north of Rosct
  3. The northern passes leading inland towards Pahua Jihn
  4. Pahua Jihn
  5. The warm southern passes leading to Rosct

Permanent residents of Rosct mainly consist of foreigners who have come to trade with the Rashin for the bounty of their travels, as well as as budding industry serving the needs of foreign converts to the Jihn faith making a pilgrimage to Pahua Jihn. The community in Rosct is known for being quite welcoming to travelers of all kinds but quite hostile to those who prey on pilgrims in particular.

Ercann (air-KAHN): River valley crossroad city, surrounded by farmland. Initially established as a trading post between the riverfolk and travelers along the old Imperial road, a budding community developed after someone learned that potatoes would grow to ludicrous size in the river valley soil. As riverboats (and later airships) made exporting the potatoes a more profitable endeavor, Ercann grew into a powerful city-state. Foreign gentry often paid a pretty penny to purchase country estates that were, in turn, quite profitable in terms of produce returns, so long as they were well-managed.

The more prominent estates around Ercann are called “caens.” It’s drawn from a riverfolk tradition about dowsing sites, but with a weird quirk: as Ercann boomed and these estates came into being, some builders established a trend of prefixing the name with “Caen ___” as a token of respect to the riverfolk traditions. The quirk is that any estates that didn’t have “Caen” in the name experienced all manner of ill-luck, from blights on the farmland to livestock deaths, and often fell into disrepair. In nearly every case, once a place was re-named a caen the land tended to recover over time. Notable caens include:

  1. Caen Tosca
  2. Caen ul’Erca
  3. Caen Boxer
  4. Caen Immakhaliduateva (so re-named by a foreign merchant who wanted to test the legend and somehow succeeded)

 

YREL, GUIDING LIGHT OF DRAENOR [DRAFT]

This is incomplete. Taking a break because hearing about a suicide always impacts my mood.

Role: Melee Support/Assassin?

Trait: Shards of Light
Yrel’s Basic Attacks deplete Shards of Light from her hammer. Various abilities and talents will grant her additional Shards of Light to empower her melee attacks.

Hammer of the Naaru (Q):
Yrel empowers her crystalline hammer with a Shard of Light. While at least one Shard of Light is active, Yrel’s Basic Attacks deal an additional 50% damage.

Judgment of Hope (W):
Yrel marks a target with the Judgment of Hope. When Yrel or her allies deal damage to the marked target, they gain life based on the damage dealt. Yrel can only mark a single target with Judgment of Hope at a time.

Avenging Wrath (E):
Yrel sprouts wings of light, charging forward and following up with a smashing attack. The first enemy struck during the charge will be carried along and take additional damage from the follow-up attack. Other enemies struck while Yrel is charging are knocked away. She is Unstoppable during the charge.

Heroic (R1): Call Vigilant
After a brief delay, Yrel summons Vigilant Maraad to aid her in combat. The Vigilant inflicts Judgment of Hope on enemy heroes within his initial impact area, then follows Yrel for 20 seconds, targeting her targets with AoE damage. Judgment of Hope expires when the Vigilant expires or is destroyed.

Heroic (R2): Divine Bulwark
Yrel calls down a wide dome of light centered on herself, which reflects 50% of the damage dealt by enemies within the shield or targeting allies within the shield. Allies within the shield are healed for a moderate amount and take 100% reduced damage from Basic Attacks while within the shield.

PROJECT FOUR: INSPIRATION WARRIOR [draft]

WARNING: POST IS STILL IN DEVELOPMENT carry on

Crow says: So I’ve got an idea for a warrior healing spec.
Entirely Theoretical Team 2 Class Design Lead says: Oh no.
Crow says: Look, the D&D Warlord class was all about shouting healing into allies and directing them around the battlefield. That can totally work with a lot of Warrior’s existing tools to make a mobile frontline healer that weaves healing and absorbs into their own melee strikes and occasionally ping-ponging around the battlefield. And shouting at allies to get back up after they’re killed.
Entirely Theoretical Team 2 Class Design Lead says: why are there so many floors in this building WHY

Concept/Fantasy: Inspiration (Healer)

As frontline combatants, warriors have distinguished themselves as bulwarks able to withstand the most devastating blows, weapon masters who strike surgically to deal the greatest amount of damage to their enemies, or reckless berserkers who leap into the fray to maul their enemies into submission. Recently, a new kind of warrior has emerged; they lead their allies from the frontline, bolstering them against damage, directing their strikes as a group to where they’ll have the greatest impact, and even ordering fallen allies back into the fray.

Inspiration warriors are like other healers in that they have spells that cost mana in order to heal their allies, but they also still deploy rage like other warriors; they gain rage from taking and dealing damage, and they turn that into attacks that interact with their healing in different ways.

Similar to Discipline priests, Inspiration warriors are intended to have damage as a part of their rotation in order to optimize their healing. Unlike Discipline priests, though, that’s not a matter of damage conversion, where damage dealt is converted into healing. Healing improves the effectiveness of their attacks, while attacking supports their mana regeneration. They are certainly more aggressive healers, with greater mobility, but have to balance that against being positioned in melee.

Warrior (Inspiration) TL;DR

  • fight alongside the tank and melee allies while healing and attacking
  • use orders and shouts to support allies with health and absorption
  • resource/cooldown management very important

Offensive Abilities

Avenging Strike
Strike a melee enemy for X. Deals additional damage when the enemy is targeting an ally. Costs 30 Rage.

Dowsing Strike
Strike a melee enemy for X, recharging 2% of your max mana and applying Rend Mana to the target. Rend Mana stacks up to 5 times and lasts 5s. Gain increased mana regeneration based the number of Rend Mana stacks on the target.

Charge, Heroic Leap, & Heroic Throw
Inspiration Warriors retain these baseline abilities for moving around the battlefield, with some talents to modify them.

Healing Abilities

Focused Orders
Reduce the mana cost and cooldown of orders cast on the target of Focused Orders. If no other ally has your Focused Orders, the first order cast on an ally applies Focused Orders to that ally. You can toggle Focused Orders in order to apply it to a new target once every 30s.

Resilient Order
After 1.5 seconds, target is healed for x. 1.5s CD.

Bolstering Order
After 2.5 seconds, target is healed for a great amount. 2.5s CD.

Defiant Order
Dispel a Magic or Disease effect from an ally. 1.5s CD.

Marching Order (“walk it off ya pansy”)
Target ally is resurrected for 30s at 50% health. When Marching Order expires, the ally dies again (taking no durability damage) but is Exhausted and cannot be resurrected again until combat ends.

Reveille
Brings a dead ally back to life with 35% life and mana. Cannot be cast in combat.

Valorous Shout
After 2.5s, heal the nearest six allies for X and reduce their damage taken by 10% for 10s. 2.5s CD.

Tactical Supremacy
Reduce the cooldown and mana cost of your mana spenders by 50% for 10s. 2m CD.

Fortification (passive)
When your heals overheal a target, the target instead gains an absorption shield equal to the overheal amount for the next 10s.

New Abilities

 

Talents [INCOMPLETE]

Invigorating Intercept
Charge to an ally and heal them for x. They take 30% less damage from the next attack made against them.

Victorious Cheer (replaces Victory Rush)
(Costs X mana) Heal all allies within 30 yards for 15% maximum health.  Only usable for 20 seconds after you or your Focused Orders target kills an enemy that grants honor or experience.

Splashdown
Heroic Leap heals nearby allies for x, and reduces the mana cost of your next mana-spender by 50%

Tier 5-1: Chant of Resilience
After casting Resilient Order, the next order cast within 6s also casts Resilient Order on the target for free.

Tier 5-2: Chant of Defiance
After casting Defiant Order, casting another order within 6s also casts Defiant Order on the target for 50% less mana.

Tier 5-3: Marching Chant
After casting Marching Order, casting another order within 6s extends the duration of Marching Order by 2s, but cost 50% more mana.

Rallying Cry (replaces Commanding Shout)
3m CD. Grant all party of raid members withing 30 yards an absorption shield equal to 10% max health for 10s and restores 25% of their primary resource.

Reprisal
Healing abilities build up stacks of Reprisal. Reprisal increases the number of Rend Mana stacks applied by Dowsing Strike to 2 and improves the damage of Avenging Strike by 100% per stack.

Concentrated Assault
Order your allies to concentrate their attacks on a single target. Attacks against the target heal a nearby injured target for a percentage of their missing health.

Mastery: Inspiring Strikes
Your mana-spenders has a chance to trigger a melee attack that deals 150% Physical damage to a nearby melee target and generates 5 Rage. Trigger chance increases based on Mastery.


Let me know what works and what doesn’t in the comments. (will be making some additional edits later, just wanted to get it up for feedback)

WESTFALL DEADSHOT [DRAFT]

When: Four Years After the Dark Portal
Where: The golden fields of Westfall


Picking her first target was Tiffin’s least favorite part of waiting. The building adrenaline, the tension, the fear… it all made her mind race down little mental box canyons that distracted from the task at hand. She took a deep breath and blew it out slowly, keeping herself still on her shadowed bit of hillside, the crossbow loaded but her finger far from the trigger. Time to focus.

Someone who’s engaged with the group. When the task is to draw attention, it means you need to choose the person that everyone in the group is looking at, or at least has in the periphery. Every group has a talker, someone who’s trying to fill the drudgery of a patrol with entertainment of some kind. When you want to send a message, especially when that message is “look at me, i’m over here, killing you one by one,” then picking the one in the middle of talking about his last night’s escapades is a great way to do it.

Find the talker. This group was more cautious than the last one; five orcs rather than four, and three of them doing a passable job of actually surveying the fallow, dried-out fields around them. But the talker was right there in the front, and the green lunk next to him seemed completely engrossed in the story.

She went through other steps in her mind, keeping her movements slow so as not to give up her position too soon. Her eyes scanned the yellowed grass to get an idea of the wind. The sunlight was not a factor, though it was a bright, shiny Westfall day that belied her dark work.

Light forgive me. She squeezed the trigger, and her crossbow bolt flew off, arcing through the air, kissed by the wind.

The talker was mid-sentence when the bolt struck him through the head. He fell forward, carried slightly by the force of the bolt’s hit, and was dead when he hit the ground in front of his audience. The four other orcs go from shock to rage in under a breath. Tiffin was already sliding forward out of her perch and into the light when she heard them spot her.

Guttural shouts of rage followed her as she dashed at an angle down the hill. Give them quarry, and they’ll give chase. Getting them mad helped with forcing them to make mistakes, but as much as Vice and Hector made the orcs out to be thoughtless brutes, Tiffin insisted that they’re more clever than they seem. That’s why it wasn’t a matter of leading them into an obvious trap and hoping their rage blinds them to the clues; it was making them trap themselves.

Tiffin was not a tall girl for her age. The crossbow was heavy when she couldn’t shoulder it, a cinched sack of weighty steel bolts was troublesome even when strapped to the small of her back, and even the minimal leather jerkin wasn’t nothing when she needed to put down as much foot speed as possible. The orcs were twice her height and were crafted entirely out of muscle and rage, so it wasn’t even a contest about whether they could catch up, but when.

What the orcs saw was a human girl with a big crossbow running scared. They saw her turn her head to look back at them in terror, and then they see her ankle turn on a rock. They watch her tumble with a cry over the lip of a ridge that they knew sloped down towards a dried-out riverbed.

The four of them crested the ridge, expecting to see their wounded quarry on the ground. Instead, their quarry stood in the riverbed with her crossbow up, three other hunters with readied weapons alongside her, and before the orcs could stop their descent down the slope, the humans all fired once.

Only one orc was still alive when their bodies arrived at the bottom of the slope, and true to form, he was instantly up swinging with an oversized barbed mattock. His rampage was cut short, however, when Hector jumped off the rock he’d crouched behind and buried his axe in the orc’s shoulder. The orc went down in a heap, which Hector then victoriously stood atop to ensure his victim wouldn’t get a second wind.

Tiffin gave orders tersely as she walked towards Hector, and the other hunters moved immediately to their tasks. Hector, satisfied that the orc was good and dead, extracted his axe and moved to sit down and clean gore off his axe. He looked up as Tiffin approached, and spoke through the ready grin on his face. “Well met, rabbit.”

Tiffin wasn’t smiling. “They’re strengthening the patrols.”

Hector rolled his eyes. “You can’t take a moment to appreciate victory?”

One of the other hunters squealed as his assigned corpse reached up and grabbed him around the neck. Tiffin’s crossbow twanged, the bolt went thunk under the orc’s ear, and the hunter gasped for breath as he landed on the earth again.

Tiffin rounded on Hector. “It’s not victory until every single orc body is out of our city for good. Now listen: strengthening the patrols means they suspect trouble out here. We need a new plan. Picking off low-tier grunts isn’t a long-term strategy.”

Hector threw up his free hand in defeat. “You feel free to take that up with Vice. I just take orders.”

You should be taking orders from me. “Well, Vice ordered you along with us so we could haul the bodies back. I’ll keep an eye out.”

Hector gave a lazy salute, wisely choosing to not argue. Tiffin made sure her hunter was all right, then headed back up the ridge she theatrically tumbled down to lure the orcs into the trap.

It wasn’t the first time she’d done it, and she knew it wouldn’t be the last. But the orcs would get wise to the same trick if you played it on them enough times.

That’s why she chafed when Vice and Hector talked of the orcs as if they were merely brutes. We lost our kingdom to these brainless green bastards, so if they’re so stupid, what does that say about us?

She pushed the thought away and nocked another bolt, just in case.

 

This is what I do folks, this is my art

(words inspired by the art and earnest wonderfulness of Faebelina)

EXT – Wooded Cliffside. SKYCALLER FAEBELINA sits on the cliff, wind in her hair, smiling contentedly. SOMEONE haughtily clears her throat off-screen.

Faeb says: “?”

A GOBLIN appears. She is wearing shaman’s robes and has a rock in her hand. The ROCK appears to have a crude face scrawled on it with charcoal.

Goblin says: “I’m Glitzy Glimmerrock, acquisitions expert of the Earthen Ring! And YOU my friend are sitting on some parTICularly valuable merchandise!”

Faeb says: “What do you mean? It’s just this cliff underneath me.”

Glitzy holds up the Rock and says: “Well my friend here, this earth elemental, says that a vein of corrupted gold is centered on this cliff-face.”

Faeb says: “Forgive me for being suspicious, but goblins love blowing up landscapes for fun and profit and it looks like you just drew a face on that rock.”

The Rock says: “HOW DARE YOU FLESHLING! I AM ALLOCHTHON AND THIS CLIFFSIDE IS MY HOME! WHAT THE GOBLIN SAYS IS TRUE!”

Glitzy says: “And the fact that I’ll make a killing selling the gold as ingots in Undermine is entirely coincidental!”

Faeb says: “what?”
Allochthon says: “what?”
Glitzy says: “what?”