Our fighter, and main source of problems, Zatory. Mercenary to the bone, our entire party has contingency plans for when, not if, someone purchases his blade against us. He does, however, create good weapons, and is the creator of Spike’s axe. He is also the last living dragon-marked member of our party, and I fear he may not last much longer. But hopefully Azarix will not be the one to kill him this time.
Colouring and digitizing done by @aronicus .

Wraith Squadron

My favorite books from the Star Wars: X-Wing series are the three books “Wraith Squadron”, “Iron Fist”, and “Solo Command”.  The basic gist of them is that Commander Wedge Antilles creates a specialty X-Wing Squadron that also doubles as commando/infiltrator unit.  Due to manpower shortages, Wedge is forced to recruit and reform a bunch of washouts and screwballs (your basic “Dirty Dozen” plot).  They end up becoming very effective unit, but they are natural pranksters and practical jokers.  Throughout the books they keep playing practical jokes on each other and Commander Antilles. My favorite is when their Bothan slicer (computer hacker) puts a creepy insect in the cockpit of another’s X-Wing before a routine mission.  In another joke they modify Wedge’s voice recorder to sound like an Ewok during a mission.

The problem is that in a later mission they are to infiltrate Imperial Forces under the command of Warlord Zinsj by posing as a pirate/mercenary force with Tie fighters, and the Imperials had previously listened in to their communications and question them on how it is they have an Ewok for a pilot.  So they invent the persona of Lt. Kettch who is an intelligent Ewok who escaped from a medical lab and uses leg and arm extensions to pilot a fighter. 

To complete the persona, Wedge Antilles pilots a Tie fighter in a mission while wearing an Ewok costume, just in case someone sees him in the cockpit.  I can just imagine Commander Wedge Antilles, winner of the Kalidor Crescent who did two death star runs, co-founder and leader of Rogue Squadron, and the best pilot of the New Republic, going into combat wearing an Ewok costume.

Nohrian Army Headcanons

 I like to imagine that the Nohrian army has a more regimental organization than its Hoshidan counterpart. In particular, I like to think that the army operates similarly to European armies from the late 1400s to the early 1600s (Renaissance, Wars of Religion, etc). 

  For the rank and file Nohrian, battles are probably formational in nature. Imagine pike and shot warfare- Swiss pikemen, landsknechts, Spanish tercios, etc.  Picture rows of halberds and lances interlocked in a tight phalanx, marching and turning in unison. This would be supported by the equivalent of rodeleros- Mercenaries and Fighters- who would form a flexible offensive supporting arm of the infantry corps. Similar to a tercio, fighting blocs would also include a handful of embedded ranged troops- likely Dark Mages and maybe the odd Outlaw (though they’re probably deployed as irregular scouts and spies tbh). 

   While disciplined infantry presents an indomitable core, the real killing arm of Nohr is it’s mighty cavalry. Swift and heavily armored, they are the hammer to the infantry’s anvil. In a single, well placed charge, they could plow through and crush the enemy between the weight of their charge and the immovable wall of spears of the Nohrian infantry. (In a way, I guess this form of warfare is also similar to that of the Hellenic Diadochi but Nohr’s aesthetic and armament is clearly late Medieval/early modern). 

   This might be the reason why Leo and Xander seem to be so obsessed with army drills, unit positioning, and formations. The Nohrian army is an efficient killing machine but it breaks down if it’s mishandled. Without discipline and clear command, the Nohrian phalanx breaks down. Without correct support, the pike line is too slow and inflexible and will get cut to shreds by missile fire or get outflanked. Too far outside of the phalanx, and Nohrian mages and Outlaws are vulnerable and outgunned. The cavalry are a mighty and decisive force, but a badly timed charge will get them bogged down and cut into pieces. 

 In short, Nohr’s military is an army of soldiers run by strict discipline, careful planning, and regimental synergy. 

 Next time: Hoshido and Muromachi/early Sengoku Jidai warfare (though this’ll prolly take a while and might change because i still need to play Birthright)

Never give the DM ideas

I was playing in a D&D 5e campaign with a bunch of friends in college. Our characters were part of a mercenary guild (think the Fighters’ Guild from the Elder Scrolls) and since there were so many of us, we picked our parties for the mini-missions from a hat as drawn by one of the two DMs.

My character was a half-elf rogue and in this session he was grouped with Quintilius, a half-elf bard who favors recreational plants, and Drayna, a tiefling sorcerer. Both Quintilius and Drayna were trying to persuade me to reveal my name, which I refused to do because I didn’t really trust them - especially Drayna because she was a snobby noblewoman. 

Anyways, We are traveling near a wooded area around dusk when we are attacked by a troll. Naturally, I had a low initiative when I wanted to try to back-stab the troll and Drayna had the highest. The DM told us all to roll to see if we knew that trolls regenerated health and were weak to fire, though he didn’t out right tell us that was what the roll was for. I was the only one to pass this roll, but I didn’t have a chance to tell the other two because Drayna was already declaring her attack on the troll.

She critically failed to hit it with Shocking Grasp and hit me instead, paralyzing me for the first half of the encounter and therefore I couldn’t tell them about the trolls regenerating and hating fire. 

Thankfully, Quintillius critically passed with Dissonant Whispers (he told the troll that its mother was a stale lima bean) and scared the troll away. Then Drayna says OOC: “Thank God that thing is gone and there was only one of them!”

And then the DM proceeds to sent two more trolls at us because Drayna had to say something like that and I’m still paralyzed from her mishap and OOC i’m just biting my tongue in annoyance at her.

When my paralysis ends, I tell them about the trolls and Drayna finally decides to use a fire-damage spell. We managed to kill those trolls and learn from the DM that the first troll ran off a cliff in its distress from Quintilius’s stellar insult. 

I decided to name her Velvet Meteor. I didn’t knew what exactly she was supposed to be when drawing her, but I was basically thinking of female fighting game characters when designing the clothes, so I picture her as a fighter/mercenary.

And yeah, I did based her hair on Pinkamina’s, even though  I never intended it to be her, still, I adjusted some of the colors to make this version too since I’m sure a lot of you were expecting this.

That one time I was in a comic...

Ultimate Spider-Man #87 is a comic book I distinctly remember reading. It is cover dated February, 2006, which means it actually came out late November/early December 2005. The comic featured Silver Sable and the Wild Pack. Silver Sable was a bit less sympathetic in the Ultimate Universe. Here she was more of a mercenary than a freedom fighter. As cool as Ultimate Silver Sable was, though, there was another reason I so clearly remember my first time with this book. Mary Jane was still reeling from the breakup she had with Peter. In this issue she learns of his new romance with Kitty Pryde. While I did enjoy that development (Kitty being my favorite comic character and all), it also wasn’t the thing that stood out to me that made reading this comic so unforgettable. It definitely wasn’t the Ultimate Vision story, either. John Romita Jr is my all time favorite artist, but that story was a whole lot of no thank you.

Ultimate Spider-Man was written by Brian Michael Bendis. I had been reading his run on this book since its inception.  I dearly love his tenure on the series as well as his runs on Daredevil and Alias. I was also a member of his now defunct message board on his Jinxworld website. When I signed up for the board I decided to use my actual name as my screen-name instead of coming up with a clever handle. However, I rarely let my presence known. That message board was extremely popular with an enormous membership and it was also very insular so my posts were few and far between. Anyway, I had known for some time that Bendis would use names from the board for insignificant background characters in his creator owned book Powers. What I didn’t know was that he did the same in his Marvel output. And even still, I never would have thought he’d use the names of members of his board who rarely posted, like me.

What made this book special to me happened halfway into it. Flash Thomson was mistaken for Spider-Man and abducted by Silver Sable’s crew. He escapes and runs to the police. He was abducted on school grounds, so the media gets involved. This leads to a press conference and who happens to be in front of the cameras and microphones but Sherriff Mike McNeely! (My name, in case you’re wondering. Hello!)

I just stared at that panel for I don’t know how long. I was in a comic book! Well, not me, obviously. BUT STILL! I sent Bendis a message on the board asking if he used my name from the board and he said yup! (I also asked him to lie to me if it wasn’t because I was so damn ecstatic, but that’s neither here nor there.) 

I met Bendis only once. My wife and I went to the Wizard World Chicago convention in 2003. I got my copy of Ultimate Spider-Man #4 signed by Bendis, artist Mark Bagley, and then Editor in Chief Joe Quesada. While I have yet to go to another convention where Bendis is attending, I did manage to get a copy of #87 signed by him via my friend Joseph at the San Diego Comic Con a few years ago. He signed it, “Hey, Sherriff.” 

At least that’s what I think it says. Authors do tend to have terrible handwriting.