The Tale of the Golemancer – Part Two

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Banir’s shoulders slumped as he exhaled a tired sigh. He glanced over his shoulder at the apprentices, gathered together in a bunch whispering with worried gleams in their eyes. He cleared his throat with a loud harrumph. “You heard the man, now get back to work! There’s a deadline to meet!” The apprentices startled at the sudden barking from their master, but quickly scurried back to moving the preassembled golem pieces.

Banir studied the apprentices closely, clay-encrusted hand stroking the point of his otherwise close-cropped beard. Three boys and two girls, barely more than children. But they had shown they had potential as golemancers, and so the Sultan had conscripted them into his service, just as Banir himself had been conscripted those decades ago when the Khan had scoured the land for those capable of practicing his strange new blood magic.

Still, whatever “gift” these youths might promise to have someday, they were barely of any help to him now. He snorted in disgust as one of the boys, and one of the more promising apprentices at that, began the incantation to weave the parts of their Demon Lash together. In spasmed jerks and twitches, the pieces slowly melded together…and then clattered to the ground. Though they could manage the simplest of blood magic to assemble small parts of the whole, they could not summon the will to actually assemble a completed golem.

“Still,” Banir mused to himself. “They might prove of some use yet…” Turning back to the doors entering the workshop, Banir placed a ponderous lock through iron loops in the door’s handle and the doorframe, and snapped the lock shut. With a brief incantation, the lock grew red as though fired in a furnace, and melted with the iron loops into a solid piece.

Banir shuffled slowly back to the far side of the workshop where a mountain of clay blocks awaited shaping into the brigade of golems he had been ordered to construct. With a deep sigh, he drew his ceremonial dagger from its belt sheath. The black, curved blade gleamed in the morning sun, the runes etched near the hilt almost glimmering red as if thirsty for its next meal. The golemancer began chanting softly as he pulled the waist of his robes aside and drew the sharp edge across his skin, releasing a bright red gush of blood. Only for a few moments. Almost as quickly as it had begun, the flow of his life source stopped up, a fresh scar forming on his flesh overlapping countless others just like it. The blood itself had pooled on the dirt floor at his feet, beading curiously on its surface rather than soaking into the earth.

Stepping back, Banir began chanting louder, dagger still in hand and now outstretched. The blood slowly slithered in two meandering streams towards one of the clay blocks near the top of the pile. As the twin serpents of blood pierced the clay, the block began to change form, coming apart into tiny particles and clusters, slowly reassembling into a grotesque mask—the head of a new Blood Channeler. Once the head took form, the clay hardened once more, reddened by the blood now thoroughly intermingled with it.

Beads of sweat had appeared on Banir’s face by the time his incantation was finished. He stepped over to the golem head to inspect it, looking over every inch with a critical eye before giving a grunt of approval and stepping back over to his clay stockpile. Another gushing slash across his body, this time his arm, and the process was repeated with a leg for the Blood Channeler. More slashes, more bloody serpents floating through the blocks of clay, and beads of sweat formed rivulets down the weary golemancer’s face as he continued to fashion the parts he needed for the Blood Channeler. As the day passed, he grew paler and paler, even as the assortment of Blood Channeler parts neared completion.

As Banir inspected an arm he had just finished constructing, his work was interrupted by a girl’s piercing scream. Broken from his concentration, he turned in alarm towards the front of the workshop. One of his apprentices, Shira, was pulling at the lock on the door. Two of the other apprentices, a boy named Kuro and another boy named Gnalda, were prying at the door’s handle in hopes of breaking it free.

“It’s no use, that lock will remain in place until our work is complete. The Sultan’s golems must be completed by the deadline!”

Shira dashed over to him, stopping short at the sight of his dagger still unsheathed in his hand. She dropped to her knees, watery eyes gazing up desperately at him.

“Please, Master Hareed. We need rest, we need food! There aren’t enough supplies here to feed all of us that long. At least let Kuro and me go out and bring some things back to keep us while we are working.”

Banir shook his head. “A Golemancer’s reputation is everything. I know the Sultan’s demands are too great, but the reputation of Banir Hareed—and all of you, as my apprentices—is at stake. That is the far greater threat than the Sultan’s threat to claim our heads. Everyone stays until the work has been completed.”

Shira began to shake, lower lip quivering. “But, Master Hareed. You said yourself, we don’t have enough golemancers to finish the work in time. You’re already pale from just one golem, and there are so many left to craft yet. There isn’t enough blood in your veins to finish the entire brigade!”

Banir looked down at the girl, who had begun to pick herself up off the ground and dust herself off, small streams of damp streaking her dirty cheeks. For a moment, a glistening in his own eyes threatened to leave damp smudges on his own cheeks as he stared back into her eyes. Shira caught a glimpse of something, maybe the old golemancer’s soul, and let out a strangled yelp as she spun away from him in a sprint.

“Dana-Arga forgive me…” he muttered, hand clenching tight around his dagger’s hilt.

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The Tale of the Golemancer – Part One

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The first red rays of daylight had only just begun to break over the walls of the city, but already there was a busy clamor within the golemancer’s workshop. The enormous vaulted building was surrounded by a pungent aura—the musty smell of wet earth mingling with the sharp metallic scent of blood. Shouts and chanting escaped the building through a half-open side door, a narrow breach showing in the side of the otherwise impervious stone wall of the shop.

“No, no! Move that crab over there, I need this space for the next grappler!” Within the vaulted workshop, a thin man in light, flowing red robes was gesturing wildly with hands besmudged in ruddy grime, a mixture of the earth and blood perfuming the grounds. Pulling at the greying hair on his head, the mage stormed over to the young apprentices struggling to drag the half-finished parts of the Demon Lash they had started to assemble.

“Hurry now, we haven’t time for this nonsense!”

“Yes, Master Hareed!” One of the apprentice gave a frightened nod ass they redoubled their efforts to haul away the massive golem limbs.

Even as this exchange ended, the elder mage glanced towards a noise near the entrance to the workshop. Stomping boots announced the arrival of soldiers. Not just any soldiers, but members of the personal guard of Sultan Bakhar, judging from the sigil proudly emblazoned on their shoulders. Which meant…

“Ah, Banir! Just the mage I was looking for,” came the booming voice of another man just entering through the doorway. There was no mistaking him, from his intimidating size and equally intimidating battle-worn armor. Easily six and a half foot high, and covered head to heel in blood red armor dented and scarred from reseaming and repair work after at least a dozen campaigns, the sultan was a man with a fierce reputation  reinforced by his very presence.

Banir the Golemancer gave a respectful bow. “My Sultan Bakhar, you catch me by surprise, we are about to begin the day’s work, if you would excuse—“

“Yes, I can see you are quite busy. I want to know your status. Will my army be ready?”

Banir hesitated a moment. “Your excellency, we are limited in resources, as you know…no shortage of earth of course, but there is a definite shortage of mages and their precious blood for this workshop. If we had even a half dozen more, I could be confident that your deadline would be met.”

The sultan scoffed. “A half dozen more? And where do you expect me to find that many golemancers not already employed in other workshops!” He snapped his meaty fingers, the sound resonating in the vaulted space, and his guards’ hands went to the hilts of their swords.

“Please, Banir…you know how important these golems are to me. It is imperative that you have your work finished in time. I would hate to lose such a talented golemancer, but…” he shrugged, “I can always replace you if I must. Give me my golems, Banir. Or I shall have your head.”

He snapped his fingers again, and his guards released their grips on their swords and marched out of the workshop single file. Giving the shop one final look over, the Sultan shook his head and followed the guards out, shutting the door behind him.

TO BE CONTINUED…

A Personal Letter

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To my wild cousin Rephas,

Today marks the third occasion on which our “beloved” Raga Nandanna has threatened to remove my head. The law among these Gudanna is a curious thing…to think, I might enjoy such protection by the mere title of “clown” in the court! Though I may yet overstep myself, if our firebrand of a princess notices how weak she appears by not making good on her threats towards me. Then, I may truly find myself relying on the protections of my lord Rudatha. A position I do not entirely wish to find myself…

But why should Nandanna see fit to threaten the security of my neck? Please, allow me to enlighten you. Our princess has been quite on edge at court, ever since her great father—may he live forever in our heartminds—passed. I suppose she thought her quaint plot to blame the Khan’s death on her brother Rudatha would garner more success than it has. Sadly for her, the nobles and the armies were not quite so ready to flock to her beck and call.  Naturally, being a member of the court myself, I ventured the opinion that if she were to wed one particular lord of the court—a fine figured fellow, mind you, well built and quite handsome (after all, horses are quite handsome creatures, and he has every bit the look of one!)—perhaps it might bring more support to her cause. Ah, the fury of a woman…

So you see, conditions in the Gudanna capital are quite unstable at this moment, especially after the recent action at the border, which I am sure your band has heard all about. I suspect, much to my distaste, that Nandanna has gained something of an advantage over Rudatha at court because of what transpired in that fight…but do not doubt the resources of the Spider Prince, as she does. I have every confidence that my prince’s web continues to weave as he wills, and the coming weeks will yet bring some reversal of fortunes. And those fortunes might yet be yours for the claiming, if you consider my advice and pledge your band to my Prince’s cause.

By the by, how goes the mercenary life, cousin? Is the wide world everything you had hoped for, or have you fallen homesick for the Autumnwood Weald? I had hoped that at least one of our family might remain in the weald, if only to reclaim our position of authority there…but it seems we were fated from the start to be exiles. No matter, I am sure the days ahead promise far greater glory and wealth to us both than we might have ever hoped to see in that backwards little bush village.

One other thing, if you happen across the Lady Tarsa in your wanderings, I ask that you direct her to the capitol. There are matters left…undiscussed, after her last time here, and it is imperative she return sooner than later. I have little doubt you will need to explain any further than that.

Be well cousin,

Vareth

Review for Battle Foam’s Golem Arcana Offerings

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I want to preface this review with a couple things. Yes, there are certainly cheaper options for army transport available, and several other Golem Arcana players are successfully employing them. My personal choice though to go with Battle Foam was based on my desire to help promote interest in the game by supporting companies that support Golem Arcana. As Battle Foam took the time to obtain traces for Golem Arcana figures, add them to their custom foam creator, and advertise this fact publicly on the web, I supported them. I also hope that by doing so (and with other players also choosing to do so) we may get some other exciting custom products from Battle Foam, like our own Golem Arcana bag *crosses fingers*

The other thing I wanted to mention is that Battle Foam has a disclaimer on their website that custom production jobs can take 3-4 weeks before shipping out. As this was my first time buying from them, I cannot say whether or not my experience is typical…however, I had these bags IN HAND just shy of 2 weeks from the day I ordered them, and half that time was spent in transit to my house…so they blew my expectations out of the water for turn around time, based on their website’s info.

Now, for the pretty pictures…

Inside view of the main Battle Foam bag.

Inside view of the main Battle Foam bag. While larger foam takes up a lot of the space, there are options to customize what foam you use, and smaller armies won’t require this kind of space.

The bag I opted for has what BF calls their "molle system" which is a fancy way of saying there's straps that smaller bags (sold seperately) can attach to. Pictured are a padded media bag, which holds my Galaxy Tab Pro 10" perfectly, and another bag I carry my Allshare  cast hub/cords and tablet charging stand in. There's a 3rd bag not pictured which is small, but sized perfectly to hold things like batteries, a small screwdriver, etc.

The bag I opted for has what BF calls their “molle system” which is a fancy way of saying there’s straps that smaller bags (sold seperately) can attach to. Pictured are a padded media bag, which holds my Galaxy Tab Pro 10″ perfectly, and another bag I carry my Allshare cast hub/cords and tablet charging stand in. There’s a 3rd bag not pictured which is small, but sized perfectly to hold things like batteries, a small screwdriver, etc.

I opted to dedicate a tray to accessories. Stylus slots use custom traces already available on the custom foam creator. There is a preloaded "Cards" option for Golem Arcana in the creator, but I added finger slots to make it easier to get cards out. The traces from BF fit the cards like a glove, so they may not work as well if you sleeve your cards. I also used generic shapes to create oversized slots for my dice and mana well/blessing tokens, and the oversizing makes it really easy to get them out.

I opted to dedicate a tray to accessories. Stylus slots use custom traces already available on the custom foam creator. There is a preloaded “Cards” option for Golem Arcana in the creator, but I added finger slots to make it easier to get cards out. The traces from BF fit the cards like a glove, so they may not work as well if you sleeve your cards (although there’s other ways to make/use larger cutouts that would fit sleeved cards better). I also used generic shapes to create oversized slots for my dice and mana well/blessing tokens, and the oversizing makes it really easy to get them out.

Based on my needs, I opted for a 2.5" tray to hold my "Mercenary" Ogres and Warsprites. Everyone fits well, and the tear-dropped shaped base lend well to keeping the laying down figures from rolling in the little bit of wiggle space they have. Bramblehorns have a bit more space for wiggling, but given their design that can't really be helped.

Based on my needs, I opted for a 2.5″ tray to hold my “Mercenary” Ogres and Warsprites. Everyone fits well, and the tear-dropped shaped base lend well to keeping the laying down figures from rolling in the little bit of wiggle space they have. Bramblehorns have a bit more space for wiggling, but given their design that can’t really be helped. Also to note, the Bramblehorns have the tiniest bit of horn sticking out, although it doesn’t seem to be an issue (especially when I have them on top and have a 1/4″ foam topper protecting them). There’s a 2nd tray like this combining my other Warsprites and Ogres. Due to how I needed to arrange my Titans, I opted to mix Gudanna and Durani in the same tray.

2nd tray of Ogres and Warsprites, also 2.5" foam (due to Brambled Widows and Gilded Plagues height requirements).

2nd tray of Ogres and Warsprites, also 2.5″ foam (due to Brambled Widows and Gilded Plagues height requirements).

This is one of the trickier parts of Golem Arcana custom foam. Due to the Devil Djinn's dimensions, the only trace available is standing up (laying down would require 3" foam, which would be wasted with any other current figure). Because I have a large army, I opted to combine titans into a single 4" tray standing up. For smaller armies, I'd recommend looking at doing half-trays, so you can maybe stack up shorter trays on one side and do a single titan tray on the other. Or if you don't use Djinns, this is a non-issue as all 3 other current titans have a "laying" trace that fits 2" foam.

This is one of the trickier parts of Golem Arcana custom foam. Due to the Devil Djinn’s dimensions, the only trace available is standing up (laying down would require 3″ foam, which would be wasted with any other current figure). Because I have a large army, I opted to combine titans into a single 4″ tray standing up. For smaller armies, I’d recommend looking at doing half-trays, so you can maybe stack up shorter trays on one side and do a single titan tray on the other. Or if you don’t use Djinns, this is a non-issue as all 3 other current titans have a “laying” trace that fits 2″ foam.

And finally, the Colossus. This foam is 4.5" so, if you look at doing a half-tray of standing Titans and a half-tray with the Colossus, you could potentially put them side by side...I don't think a 1/2" height difference should be an issue (and you could always consider using something to "buffer" the height difference on the slightly shorter Titan half-tray. With this full tray, which is 15.5"x12", you can see there's plenty of room for 2 Jagara and a handful of Winged Preservers. Also, you can kind of see how there's a bit of extra space around the top part of the Colossus, so no pressure on those delicate rails and details on the top! The arms are in snug, so there's virtually no shifting around in its space.

And finally, the Colossus. This foam is 4.5″ so, if you look at doing a half-tray of standing Titans and a half-tray with the Colossus, you could potentially put them side by side…I don’t think a 1/2″ height difference should be an issue (and you could always consider using something to “buffer” the height difference on the slightly shorter Titan half-tray. With this full tray, which is 15.5″x12″, you can see there’s plenty of room for 2 Jagara and a handful of Winged Preservers. Also, you can kind of see how there’s a bit of extra space around the top part of the Colossus, so no pressure on those delicate rails and details on the top! The arms are in snug, so there’s virtually no shifting around in its space.

Overall, I’d say I’m very happy with the fit for all the golems. For reference, I am using the P.A.C.K. 720 and the P.A.C.K. Plus bags (the Plus attaches via heavy duty zipper to the bottom of the 720). I can fit all of the golems pictured above, as well as the accessories tray and 2 full tile sets (tiles are stored loose for now, but they’re only a little bit smaller than the interior dimensions of the bag, and are pretty well protected all things considered). My only beef is the issue with the Devil Djinn not fitting in the same size tray as the other minis, but I kinda understand their reasoning for not wanting to provide a trace of him laying down…his one hand would stick out about 1/4″ from a 2.5″ tray, and if I were them I wouldn’t want to be liable for possible damage that might occur because of that.

Based on my experience with the custom foam creator (which was relatively easy to use, though I recommend their tutorial video for a couple tips on how it works with overlapping shapes), the ordering process and turn around time, and the end result product, I can confidently say I’m planning to order again from them once I’m able to get foam for my Wave 2 golems. Also, once I have more complete army building options with those golems, I’ll likely revisit my tray designs to allow for building specific armies, rather than my original goal of “fit everything I own into these bags”.

Jagara

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(Inspired by “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll)

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‘Twas frigid, on the steppes that morn,

Knights stamped and shivered awake.

All skiddish were the bramblehorns,

And the Sand Lions would quake.

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Beware the Jagara, my lads!

The blasts that fright, the claws that crush

Beware the Hantra’s Gems, egads!

And heels that make you mush!

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They took their Golem’s reins in hand:

Long time the mammoth foe they shot—

So rested he by the healing tree

And threw the foes he caught.

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And, as a whole the throng then charged,

The Jagara, with polished stone;

They burst into bits of sand and wood,

And splintered bits of bone!

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Hack, slash! Hack, slash! Again and again,

The throng broke off his stony bits!

One left it dead, and with its gem

He went triumphant back.

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And, has thou slain the Jagara?

Well met, well met! My bloodied lad!

O glorious day, for Gudanna!

We stood the last, be glad!

 ***

‘Twas frigid, on the steppes that morn,

Knights stamped and shivered awake.

All skiddish were the bramblehorns,

And the Sand Lions would quake.