April 2008: Pit Pals!

Hello again, fellow minis mavens. It is I, Zombie Dan, once again bombarding your rods and cones with information about the Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures community here at Gamescape North! Those of you who missed last game, February’s Reach Out and Cleave Someone!, are surely gnashing your teeth with regret. It was a three-map, six-player team battle that rent space and time. Warbands jumped through warp portals that sent them hurtling randomly hither and yon, with results that were both tragic and hilarious.

My own dimensional travels have come to an end for the time being, and not a moment too soon. I took a little vacation from the clutter and terror of Chateau du Zombie, hopping aboard a great ebon brimstone-powered steam-train for a bit of sightseeing in the Inner Planes. But adventures never proceed as planned, do they? After an embarrassing mixup with my ticket, I was thrown off the train in a desolate railyard near the Plane of Ooze. Do you have any idea how expensive dry-cleaning is there? The viscous muck, burbling all around in an infinite expanse, gets into everything! My travel spellbook makes squishing noises whenever I open it. Simply unacceptable! And I weep for the next time I have to reach into my bag of holding

So, caked with dried inner-planar goop, without a penny to my name, I decided to head for the Outer Planes. I hitched onto a freight train with some hobo goblins. From there my spring break took a turn for the festive. These lovable rapscallions showed me how to travel in style, playing homemade instruments and drinking jugs of pilfered elven wine. And oh, the shenanigans we got into! What happens in Arborea, they say, stays in Arborea… They keep odd hours, though, and even an ageless, wispy demi-lich like me needs his beauty sleep. So I was super-glad to finally bid them a fond farewell, and rest in my own crypt for a change. Still, it’s always nice to make friends on vacation.

Speaking of friends, you’ll find out who yours really are this Saturday, April 5, when Gamescape North takes you back to the burning sands of Athas for bone-crunching gladiatorial matchups with your Pit Pals!:

In the shade of the slave pens it was cool, at least compared to the relentless inferno just outside. Still, everywhere was the stink of sweat and fear, and the sounds of labored breathing from the doomed gladiators. Most had their heads down, conserving energy and moisture. Here and there the sobs and mumbles of prayers to forgotten gods of distant lands. The only deity in this land was the sorcerer-king, and the slave-warriors gathered in the pens knew better than to call upon him for aid.

The hardened warriors, those who’d survived one or more of these bloodsports, wasted no time with tears or wishes. The scattered veterans calmly checked the straps of their bone and leather armor, sharpened obsidian blades, and massaged old wounds. In one corner, a wild mage crouched, giggling to himself and drawing arcane circles in the dust.

“He’s crazed, I tell you,” the dwarven battlerager said, with a contemptuous gesture to the mage, whose brightly-colored rags were now muted by the ashen soil he frolicked in. “It’s all his fault we ended up on this backward world anyway. He just had to pick up that stinking crystal, didn’t he? And now we’re supposed to fight each other for some ugly half-dragon tyrant who-“

“Ssshhhh! He’ll hear you,” hissed a terrified-looking halfling slinger, albeit one clearly tougher than any the battlerager had encountered on his home world. “Death in the arena is the kindest fate you’ll get from the All-Dragon of Tyr. There are much worse fates than blood and dust.”

The battlerager spat into the dust in contempt, drawing gasps from several gladiators. One desicated -looking human farmer dove with surprising quickness to lap up the wasted moisture before the desert heat could reclaim it.

“Blood and dust may be my fate, but that doesn’t mean it has to happen just yet. Tell me, Halfling, how does one win one of these contests?”

The Halfling gaped at the sturdy-looking dwarf for a moment and then thought. The grizzled warriors all around were listening in closely, eyes wide.

“Well, at the end of the combat, the free citizens among the spectators cast a vote. Pampered weaklings, the lot of them. Each one votes for their favorite team. Usually they vote for the team whose pit is nearest their seats.”

“I see. And how far away are these spectators?”

The halfling’s eyes narrowed.

“There’s a 15-foot wall of obsidian spikes all around the arena between us and them. This place was once an Imperial quarry. It’s so sharp, it cuts right through leather armor, even fancy armor like yours, outworlder.”

“What would happen, I wonder,” the dwarf mused, “if there were nobody to vote for the opposing team?” Whispering and mumbling among the gladiators grew to sound at least to the dwarf’s ears, like a rising tide. To the natives of this world, who had never seen more than a barrel of water at a time, it sounded like an approaching silt storm.

Outside, the distant roar of the crowd had become hoarse, frenzied. The sorcerer king’s entourage had arrived. The games would begin any moment.

“I’m not afraid of bleeding a little, Halfling,” the dwarf said with a devious grin, showing a couple of toothless gaps. The slinger’s eyes widened in understanding.

“If-if you mean to do this thing,” he said slowly,” you’ll want to aim for the far corner. There’s a small ledge there about 10 feet up. If we survive the climb up there, we’ll have a shot at the crowd before the sorcerer-king turns us to ash.”

“We?” The dwarf chuckled. “I thought you were afraid of fates worse than death.”

The Halfling shrugged, pulling down a bone faceplate over his sunburnt cheeks. “I guess I’m just a performer at heart.”

Special Rules:

This Saturday, it’s a special tag-team gladiator match. Each player will build a 200-point team, but only two members of that team may be on the field outside of the starting area at any time, so build your warbands accordingly! When a team member dies, it is replaced the following turn with a different team member. Commander effects will still apply if creatures on the field are under command of creatures in the starting area. Special items on the field will allow you to “tag out” injured players, heal wounds, cast spells and psionics, and all kinds of other craziness! Each team will have 5 fans worth no more than 10 points each. Victory points can be scored by eliminating your opponents’ fans.

The blood of heroes begins to fly at 1pm. Get there early to sign up, build warbands, shop till you drop, and discuss the upcoming release of Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures 4th Edition! I’ll be there at noon, drinking coffee and drawing sigils in the sand…


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