July 10, 2019 11 min read
The Sexiest Sleeves!
We playtest Middara a whole lot. We're also all huge fans of sleeving our game. But we've always struggled with the 5x6 large cards. Nobody was providing sleeves that were always accessible or easy to get. We're changing that.
Introducing the sexiest sleeves! ..Er, a 3D mock-up of sleeves.
These sleeves come in a pack of 100, this covers the entirety of the Act 1 with some extras. If you're interested in covering Act 2 and 3 we recommend snagging an additional pack. (The exact card counts will be announced at a later date and we'll make sure that you have an opportunity to grab what you need before wave 2 ships.)
These sleeves are a hefty 100 microns thick. (Not penny sleeves) And we intend to keep a small surplus in stock post campaign to cover additional content we release outside of Kickstarter.
These sleeves do not come in any existing pledge levels and are a $10 Add-On.
Many wonder what happens after death. Fortunately… or unfortunately, depending on the circumstances, death isn’t always the end. While the question of what happens when the spirit departs from the human body is still a mystery, the intangible idea of a soul is something that has been measured and calculated, at least within the realms of their use in magic. Many realms outside of Middara view it as a sort of currency, and some creatures would laugh at the idea of only having one.
An enslaved spirit is just that; A soul of the deceased that is kept from its final resting place to serve some other creature in slavery. These souls come in as many forms as the creatures they are ripped from. When first separated from their bodies, they look much as they did in life, although pale and ...
Many attribute this mirrored form to the spirit still clinging to its original sense of identity, even in death. After a while, however, their forms tend to change as they become more accustomed to their masters whims and wishes. Those trapped in the service of these mercurial beings are often twisted into exaggerated symbols of death; grinning skulls, gory corpses, tortured frames wracked in agony, or anything else pleasurable to their masters.
An enslaved spirit retains some of its physicality, as it helps them to interact with the physical world to perform their master’s tasks. This leaves them susceptible to normal weapons, and they can be banished temporarily this way. However, they are not severed from their prisons. Nothing save permission from, or the destruction of, their master can free them.
While there have been recorded cases of individuals voluntarily becoming enslaved spirits to stave off impending death, it’s not something that is considered morally acceptable in Middara. Becoming an enslaved spirit is seen as a fate worse than death, as the creatures who are capable of creating such bonds dabble in magic that is questionable at best.
For our Day 17 unlock, we will be adding eight figures to the KS2 Promo Box. accounting for all of the Enslaved Spirits in Act 1.
To be clear, these eight miniatures are part of the KS2 Promo Box and are being given away for free as part of every pledge level at the "Through the Portal" level or higher.
The cardboard standee versions that are already a part of the contents of Unintentional Malum: Act 1 will remain a standees.
Nyx felt the instant her bargain was accepted, as what strength she had left faded from her. Her connection to Middara weakened, even as something from distant places followed her soul into reality. For a timeless instant, she saw through the world into the place this new esper had come from. A blasted, volcanic hillside, with sulfurous lava belching and rolling past her.
Lightning struck the hillside in front of her, a single terrible bolt that tore newly dried rock and ripped it up into the air in haphazard chunks. They assembled themselves together into a vessel for the still-molten magma within, shaped a little like her skull, and a little like something else. She nodded to the eye, accepting its terms.
Then the moment faded, and she was still in Padric’s inn. The witch advanced on her, holding no weapons but the sinuous muscle that composed her body. Her barbed teeth glittered in the moonlight streaming in from behind her, and Nyx knew exactly how this monster planned on killing her.
The space behind her brightened. The eye appeared first, its dark pupil fixing on Nyx despite the witch’s figure looming between them.
“It didn’t have to hurt,” the witch said. “But I’ll make sure it does, for Adriel’s sake. You won’t enjoy it, but I will.”
Nyx felt Balaan’s magical strength flood into her, like lightning in her blood. With the creature’s help, Nyx had another point of origin for her spells, one the witch wouldn’t expect. Nyx felt herself focusing on the witch’s back, then unleashed a gore shot as potent as she’d ever used—stones as large as her head tore away from the creature’s shell, fired on a downward angle at the witch.
They tore through her half-rotten flesh without even slowing down, shattering the wood floor around her in a great circular hole. Nyx kept firing, burning through every drop of power this esper had lent to her, until the floor itself collapsed and the witch tumbled down into it with a scream. Balaan followed her down, tearing away from her control at last.
“She’s not dead,” Ai croaked, still clutching at her injured belly with a free hand. “Come on!”
Nyx scooped up her weapon from where it had fallen, then hurried for the doorway. None of them were strong enough to run exactly, but they hobbled out into the hallway, past bedroom doors and patrons peeking out with nervous terror. Nyx couldn’t resent their cowardice, not when the three of them were barely on their feet.
They rounded the bottom of the stairs on a scene of destruction worse than their bedroom. The ceiling in the center of the common room had rained down bits of wood and debris, crushing a few tables and scattering chairs. The witch herself lay in a broken pile in the center of the room, with the Lidless Eye circling around it. But its strength was exhausted, and so the esper’s presence was more reassuring than useful.
“You’re… all… dead…” the Coven Mother croaked, ichor dribbling out from between her lips as she spoke. Her fleshy tentacles dug into the ground around her, hauling her into a near-standing position.
Then the front door banged open. Charlotte hurried in, an oversized blunderbuss clutched in both arms. And she wasn’t alone—there two men with her, in the dark robes of the Black Hand. They had rifles of their own, of a similar design.
The Coven Mother turned on them, baring sharp teeth. “This is no concern of yours! Leave and I will spare—”
They started shooting. Not automatic weapons, as might’ve been made on Earth, but terrible blasts of black powder that filled the air with smoke and made Nyx’s ears ring. The Coven Mother didn’t fall over so much as she broke apart in chunks of gore, her rotten body decomposing into fragments of bone and viscera that smeared across the inn floor.
She still writhed, what was left of her body fighting to take a human shape again. Charlotte tossed her rifle aside, drawing a pair of flintlock pistols and advancing on her. She got in close, ignoring the agonized screams as she shot the witch twice in the head. Finally she stopped moving.
The next morning found them still in the common room of Charlotte’s inn. Nyx leaned over Ai, who lay flat on a pair of tables pushed together into a cot with her wound exposed. Bandages and an open medical kit surrounded them. Mercifully the watch was gone now, leaving only Charlotte and Nyx’s companions. The other patrons had, unsurprisingly, gone to find other accommodations.
“This is going on the Arsen account,” Charlotte declared, for the third time in as many minutes. She had a growing pile of broken furniture near the exit, letting her sweep the rest of the inn clear. “No danger in my inn. You should’ve left it at the door.”
“We had no desire to bring harm to you or your establishment,” Christopher said. He sat in the chair beside them, sword in his lap and his eyes on the front door. But so far no more danger had come. “They shouldn’t have known we were here. This town is far too insignificant to have spies installed here. How could they know?”
“There’s one spy right here,” Nyx called, a little of her old cheerfulness returning. “Hold still, spy. If you twitch, I’ll pour this on healthy skin. So unless you want a fat new tumor on your chest…”
Ai nodded, though there was still enough strength left in her for defiance. “Clairvoyants are diplomats, not spies.”
Nyx started pouring—where the flesh-colored liquid touched, it started to smoke and burn, leaving painfully sealed skin behind. Even the Brahman’s spy wasn’t strong enough to keep arguing through that. Nyx herself didn’t look away, didn’t even think about anything else until she’d finished sealing the wound, and she corked the bottle again. “Done. But just because it stopped bleeding doesn’t mean you’re better. Your insides won’t be so easy to put back together if you tear them.”
“I’ve used Myrtle before,” she muttered, pushing Nyx away. “But thank you. I suppose not every Middaran is a Godless heathen.”
“Godless heathens who saved your lives,” Charlotte grumbled, giving the pistol on her thigh a reassuring pat. “Or do you honestly think you two would’ve survived that scrap without me. Without Nyx, without the Black Hand helping us…”
Christopher looked away, but his expression was stubborn. There was no watch anymore—off patrolling the rest of Rhamsted, in case the cult returned to exact their revenge elsewhere. “If Elenia stayed away from things it shouldn’t meddle with, this Dark Mother cult wouldn’t exist in the first place. The demons would still be in hell where they belong.”
“Because using magic to make animals smart is so much better,” Nyx scolded. She moved sharply, replacing her vial of Myrtle along with the other medical supplies. “My summoning saved us twice. The Coven Mother would’ve just killed us in our sleep.”
“And my inn wouldn’t be destroyed,” Charlotte muttered. “Hey Nyx, just let them kill you next time.”
“I thought you were on my side!”
But Charlotte didn’t answer.
Christopher did. “The argument is petty. I apologize for doubting the competence of you Elenians. We must be united against a common enemy.” He reached into Nyx’s bag—something she might’ve tried to stop if it wasn’t already open. He settled the diary and the cloth pouch onto the table between them. “We do not know how they have tracked us here, but we can be certain we’re on the right path. They sent three of their number to kill us. We must be close.”
“We, uh…” Nyx hesitated, then took the cloth envelope and tossed it across the room. Straight into the fireplace. Christopher lunged for it, but she took his arm with one hand. “While you were out, the Incubi spoke to me. They said that Sandra had been talking to them. I think she must be… connected to that tongue, somehow.”
“Not anymore,” Ai muttered. The flames turned a sickly green for a few seconds, then melted back to orange. “Before either of you say anything, I’ve made a decision. You obviously need the help.”
You mean you need an excuse to stay in Elenia longer. Brahma is probably waiting with bated breath for us to destabilize enough to invade and take their land back without much resistance. Nyx didn’t argue, though. She couldn’t forget just how helpful Ai had been in that last fight. “If one witch is that strong, I can’t imagine what is waiting in the Ziggurat. Maybe you should turn around.”
Ai Chen shook her head once. “If I don’t go, you won’t be able to get there. I asked around last night, after you went to bed. We can’t get to the Ziggurat. It’s supposed to be just out of reach no matter how far you sail. Well, now we know how to find our way there.” She pointed off into a corner, where the mangled corpse of the witch had been haphazardly covered with a bloody sheet.
“If they can listen through their dead, we should just bury her. Or… burn so she can’t come back again.” He shuddered, clutching briefly at the rosary around his neck with a muttered prayer. “Never seen anything so horrible in my life.”
“Not the body.” Ai rose suddenly, slinging her gauntlets over her shoulder, then bringing her fingers together to whistle. At least, that’s what it looked like. It didn’t make a sound.
Nyx watched in silence as the air in front of Ai warped and stretched. For a second she thought she could hear the marketplace, a distant blacksmith’s hammer. Then there was a dog in front of Ai, padding up to her with an open-mouthed canine grin.
Compared to all the strange things Nyx had seen today, this creature was mundane. Dark coat, long claws, and a bright pink horn emerging from its head. Its eyes were yellow, but the expression on its canine face was simple pleasure at seeing someone it liked.
“Christopher, Nyx. This is Pocky.” She dropped to her knees, embracing the creature with both arms. Pocky made a few excited yapping noises, but quickly fell silent, his long tail falling still. “How was the market, Pocky? Did you have a good hunt last night? Of course you did!”
Aren’t those as smart as people? If Nyx tried that with half the espers she summoned, they’d burn her face off.
Pocky only licked her energetically, until she finally had to push him away, rising to unsteady feet. That injury would take time to heal.
“No pets allowed,” Charlotte said, but she didn’t even look up from her sweeping. “Not that I care at this point. Can’t really make my inn any worse.”
“You have a pet,” Christopher said. His tone was flat, but Nyx could tell that was disapproval. “You brought him here?”
“Not a pet,” Ai argued, spinning on him with her hands on her hips. The dog followed her gaze, and Nyx could see clear comprehension in those yellow eyes. It didn’t approve of the name either. “We’re partners. If Pocky wasn’t here, you’d be screwed trying to get to the Ziggurat.”
She turned, marching across the room to the fallen witch. She pulled the cloth out of the way. The smell hit Nyx even from across the room, as though a week of rotting had passed in just a few hours. But she couldn’t look away. Were the stories about these creatures true?
Pocky lowered his head, and his horn went from purple to a ghostly white. Light seemed to radiate from the body, drawn along unseen strands. The magic affected Ai as well, making her go suddenly rigid, her eyes shifting to deep purple. Then the magic faded. Ai wobbled, stumbling back to the nearest chair and catching herself on it. “There. Now we can… find the Ziggurat.”
Christopher rose to his feet, his hand moving from his rosary to his sword. “By Mary and all saints, what did you just do?”
Ai only panted, still catching her breath. Nyx rose, resting one hand on his shoulder. “That’s a Warp Hound. They teleport, and… capture people’s souls, after they die. For a little while, anyway.”
“A day,” Ai supplied. “Until next sunrise. Why I waited until morning to call him here. Plus I… I couldn’t let anything happen to him.” She reached to one side, resting a hand on his head and stroking it affectionately. “He’s not much of a fighter, but he’s still a great partner.” She tapped her forehead with two fingers. “Now I see the way she got here. All we have to do is retrace her steps to find the Ziggurat.”
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