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This week 12 yrs ago--Lehman Bros collapsed......(Best Interest) Explaining the Big Short and the 2008 Crisis
edit: thanks for the awards. I'd be a dick to take credit. Go check out the one-man-band who actually wrote it---I've been reading for a couple months, good stuffhttps://bestinterest.blog/explain-the-big-short/ (Best Interest) This post will explain the Big Short and the 2008 subprime mortgage collapse in simple terms. This post is a little longer than usual–maybe give yourself 20 minutes to sift through it. But I promise you’ll leave feeling like you can tranche (that’s a verb, right?!) the whole financial system! Key Players First, I want to introduce the players in the financial crisis, as they might not make sense at first blush. One of the worst parts about the financial industry is how they use deliberately obtuse language to explain relatively simple ideas. Their financial acronyms are hard to keep track of. In order to explain the Big Short, these players–and their roles–are key. Individuals, a.k.a. regular people who take out mortgages to buy houses; for example, you and me! Mortgage lenders, like a local bank or a mortgage lending specialty shop, who give out mortgages to individuals. Either way, they’re probably local people that the individual home-buyer would meet in person. Bigbanks, such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, who buy lots of mortgages from lenders. After this transaction, the homeowner would owe money to the big bank instead of the lender. Collateralized debt obligations (CDOs)—deep breath!—who take mortgages from big banks and bundle them all together into a bond (see below). And just like before, this step means that the home-buyer now owes money to the CDO. Why is this done?! I’ll explain, I promise. Ratings agencies, whose job is to determine the risk of a CDO—is it filled with safe mortgages, or risky mortgages? Investors, who buy part of a CDO and get repaid as the individual homeowners start paying back their mortgage. Feel lost already? I’m going to be a good jungle guide and get you through this. Stick with me. Quick definition: Bonds A bond can be thought of as a loan. When you buy a bond, you are loaning your money. The issuer of the bond is borrowing your money. In exchange for borrowing your money, the issuer promises to pay you back, plus interest, in a certain amount of time. Sometimes, the borrower cannot pay the investor back, and the bond defaults, or fails. Defaults are not good for the investor. The CDO—which is a bond—could hold thousands of mortgages in it. It’s a mortgage-backed bond, and therefore a type of mortgage-backed security. If you bought 1% of a CDO, you were loaning money equivalent to 1% of all the mortgage principal, with the hope of collecting 1% of the principal plus interest as the mortgages got repaid. There’s one more key player, but I’ll wait to introduce it. First… The Whys, Explained Why does an individual take out a mortgage? Because they want a home. Can you blame them?! A healthy housing market involves people buying and selling houses. How about the lender; why do they lend? It used to be so they would slowly make interest money as the mortgage got repaid. But nowadays, the lender takes a fee (from the homeowner) for creating (or originating) the mortgage, and then immediately sells to mortgage to… A big bank. Why do they buy mortgages from lenders? Starting in the 1970s, Wall St. started buying up groups of loans, tying them all together into one bond—the CDO—and selling slices of that collection to investors. When people buy and sell those slices, the big banks get a cut of the action—a commission. Why would an investor want a slice of a mortgage CDO? Because, like any other investment, the big banks promised that the investor would make their money back plus interest once the homeowners began repaying their mortgages. You can almost trace the flow of money and risk from player to player. At the end of the day, the investor needs to get repaid, and that money comes from homeowners. CDOs are empty buckets Homeowners and mortgage lenders are easy to understand. But a big question mark swirls around Wall Street’s CDOs. I like to think of the CDO as a football field full of empty buckets—one bucket per mortgage. As an investor, you don’t purchase one single bucket, or one mortgage. Instead, you purchase a thin horizontal slice across all the buckets—say, a half-inch slice right around the 1-gallon mark. As the mortgages are repaid, it starts raining. The repayments—or rain—from Mortgage A doesn’t go solely into Bucket A, but rather is distributed across all the buckets, and all the buckets slowly get re-filled. As long as your horizontal slice of the bucket is eventually surpassed, you get your money back plus interest. You don’t need every mortgage to be repaid. You just need enough mortgages to get to your slice. It makes sense, then, that the tippy top of the bucket—which gets filled up last—is the highest risk. If too many of the mortgages in the CDO fail and aren’t repaid, then the tippy top of the bucket will never get filled up, and those investors won’t get their money back. These horizontal slices are called tranches, which might sound familiar if you’ve read the book or watched the movie. So far, there’s nothing too wrong about this practice. It’s simply moving the risk from the mortgage lender to other investors. Sure, the middle-men (banks, lenders, CDOs) are all taking a cut out of all the buy and sell transactions. But that’s no different than buying lettuce at grocery store prices vs. buying straight from the farmer. Middle-men take a cut. It happens. But now, our final player enters the stage… Credit Default Swaps: The Lynchpin of the Big Short Screw you, Wall Street nomenclature! A credit default swap sounds complicated, but it’s just insurance. Very simple, but they have a key role to explain the Big Short. Investors thought, “Well, since I’m buying this risky tranche of a CDO, I might want to hedge my bets a bit and buy insurance in case it fails.” That’s what a credit default swap did. It’s insurance against something failing. But, there is a vital difference between a credit default swap and normal insurance. I can’t buy an insurance policy on your house, on your car, or on your life. Only you can buy those policies. But, I could buy insurance on a CDO mortgage bond, even if I didn’t own that bond! Not only that, but I could buy billions of dollars of insurance on a CDO that only contained millions of dollars of mortgages. It’s like taking out a $1 million auto policy on a Honda Civic. No insurance company would allow you to do this, but it was happening all over Wall Street before 2008. This scenario essentially is “the big short” (see below)—making huge insurance bets that CDOs will fail—and many of the big banks were on the wrong side of this bet! Credit default swaps involved the largest amounts of money in the subprime mortgage crisis. This is where the big Wall Street bets were taking place. Quick definition: Short A short is a bet that something will fail, get worse, or go down. When most people invest, they buy long (“I want this stock price to go up!”). A short is the opposite of that. Certain individuals—like main characters Steve Eisman (aka Mark Baum in the movie, played by Steve Carrell) and Michael Burry (played by Christian Bale) in the 2015 Oscar-nominated film The Big Short—realized that tons of mortgages were being made to people who would never be able to pay them back. If enough mortgages failed, then tranches of CDOs start to fail—no mortgage repayment means no rain, and no rain means the buckets stay empty. If CDOs fail, then the credit default swap insurance gets paid out. So what to do? Buy credit default swaps! That’s the quick and dirty way to explain the Big Short. Why buy Dog Shit? Wait a second. Why did people originally invest in these CDO bonds if they were full of “dog shit mortgages” (direct quote from the book) in the first place? Since The Big Short protagonists knew what was happening, shouldn’t the investors also have realized that the buckets would never get refilled? For one, the prospectus—a fancy word for “owner’s manual”—of a CDO was very difficult to parse through. It was hard to understand exactly which mortgages were in the CDO. This is a skeevy big bank/CDO practice. And even if you knew which mortgages were in a CDO, it was nearly impossible to realize that many of those mortgages were made fraudulently. The mortgage lenders were knowingly creating bad mortgages*.* They were giving loans to people with no hopes of repaying them. Why? Because the lenders knew they could immediately sell that mortgage—that risk—to a big bank, which would then securitize the mortgage into a CDO, and then sell that CDO to investors. Any risk that the lender took by creating a bad mortgage was quickly transferred to the investor. So…because you can’t decipher the prospectus to tell which mortgages are in a CDO, it was easier to rely on the CDO’s rating than to evaluate each of the underlying mortgages. It’s the same reason why you don’t have to understand how engines work when you buy a car; you just look at Car & Driver or Consumer Reports for their opinions, their ratings. The Ratings Agencies Investors often relied on ratings to determine which bonds to buy. The two most well-known ratings agencies from 2008 were Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s (heard of the S&P 500?). The ratings agency’s job was to look at a CDO that a big bank created, understand the underlying assets (in this case, the mortgages), and give the CDO a rating to determine how safe it was. A good rating is “AAA”—so nice, it got ‘A’ thrice. So, were the ratings agencies doing their jobs? No! There are a few explanations for this:
Even they—the experts in charge of grading the bonds—didn’t understand what was going on inside a CDO. The owner’s manual descriptions (prospectuses) were too complicated. In fact, ratings agencies often relied on big banks to teach seminars about how to rate CDOs, which is like a teacher learning how to grade tests from Timmy, who still pees his pants. Timmy just wants an A.
Ratings agencies are profit-driven companies. When they give a rating, they charge a fee. But if the agency hands out too many bad grades, then their customers—the big banks—will take their requests elsewhere in hopes of higher grades. The ratings agencies weren’t objective, but instead were biased by their need for profits.
Remember those fraudulent mortgages that the lenders were making? Unless you did some boots-on-the-ground research, it was tough to uncover this fact. It’s hard to blame the ratings agencies for not catching this.
Who’s to blame? Everyone? Let’s play devil’s advocate…
Individuals: some people point the finger at homeowners, saying, “You should know better than to buy a $1 million house on a teacher’s salary.” I find this hard to swallow. These people, surrounded by the American home-ownership dream, were sold the idea that they would be fine. The mortgage lender had no incentive to sell a good mortgage, they only had an incentive to sell a mortgage. So, it’s hard for me to put too much blame on the homeowners.
Mortgage lenders: someone knew. I’m not saying that all the mortgage lenders were fully aware of the implications of their actions, but some people knew that fraudulent loans were being made, and chose to ignore that fact. For example, check out whistleblower Eileen Foster.
Big banks: Yes sir! There’s certainly blame here. Rather than get into all of the various money-grubbing, I want to call out one specific anecdote. Back in 2010, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein testified in front of Congress. Here it is:
To explain further, there are two things going on here. First, Goldman Sachs bankers were selling CDOs to investors. They wanted to make a commission on the sale. At the same time, other bankers ALSO AT GOLDMAN SACHS were buying credit default swaps, a.k.a. betting against the same CDOs that the first Goldman Sachs bankers were selling. This is like selling someone a racehorse with cancer, and then immediately going to the track to bet against that horse. Blankfein’s defense in this video is, “But the horse seller and the bettor weren’t the same people!” And the Congressmen responds, “But they worked for the same stable, and collected the same paychecks!” So do the big banks deserve blame? You tell me. Inspecting Goldman Sachs One reason Goldman Sachs survived 2008 is that they began buying credit default swaps (insurance) just in time before the housing market crashed. They were still on the bad side of some bets, but mostly on the good side. They were net profitable. Unfortunately for them, the banks that owed Goldman money were going bankrupt from their own debt, and then Goldman never would have been able to collect on their insurance. Goldman would’ve had to payout on their “bad” bets, while not collecting on their “good” bets. In their own words, they were “toast.” This is significant. Even banks in “good” positions would’ve gone bankrupt, because the people who owed the most money weren’t able to repay all their debts. Imagine a chain; Bank A owes money to Bank B, and B owes money to Bank C. If Bank A fails, then B can’t collect their debt, and B can’t pay C. Bank C made “good” bets, but aren’t able to collect on them, and then they go out of business. These failures would’ve rippled throughout the world. This explains why the US government felt it necessary to bail-out the banks. That federal money allowed banks in “good” positions to collect their profits and “stop the ripple” from tearing apart the world economy. While CDOs and credit default swap explain the Big Short starting, this ripple of failure is the mechanism that affected the entire world. Betting more than you have But if someone made a bad bet—sold bad insurance—why didn’t they have money to cover that bet? It all depends on risk. If you sell a $100 million insurance policy, and you think there’s a 1% chance of paying out that policy, what’s your exposure? It’s the potential loss multiplied by the probability = 1% times $100 million, or $1 million. These banks sold billions of dollars of insurance under the assumption that there was a 5%, or 3%, or 1% chance of the housing market failing. So they had 20x, or 30x, or 100x less money on hand then they needed to cover these bets. Turns out, there was a 100% chance that the market would fail…oops! Blame, expounded Ratings agencies—they should be unbiased. But they sold themselves off for profit. They invited the wolves—big banks—into their homes to teach them how to grade CDOs. Maybe they should read a blog to explain the Big Short to them. Of course they deserve blame. Here’s another anecdote of terrible judgment from the ratings agencies: Think back to my analogy of the buckets and the rain. Sometimes, a ratings agency would look at a CDO and say, “You’re never going to fill up these buckets all the way. Those final tranches—the ones that won’t get filled—they’re really risky. So we’re going to give them a bad grade.” There were “Dog Shit” tranches, and Dog Shit gets a bad grade. But then the CDO managers would go back to their offices and cut off the top of the buckets. And they’d do this for all their CDOs—cutting off all the bucket-top rings from all the different CDO buckets. And then they’d super-glue the bucket-top rings together to create a field full of Frankenstein buckets, officially called a CDO squared. Because the Frankenstein buckets were originally part of other CDOs, the Frankenstein buckets could only start filling up once the original buckets (which now had the tops cut off) were filled. In other words, the CDO managers decided to concentrate all their Dog Shit in one place, and super glue it together. A reasonable person would look at the Frankenstein Dog Shit field of buckets and say, “That’s turrible, Kenny.” BUT THE RATINGS AGENCIES GAVE CDO-SQUAREDs HIGH GRADES!!! Oh I’m sorry, was I yelling?! “It’s diversified,” they would claim, as if Poodle shit mixed with Labrador shit is better than pure Poodle shit. Again, you tell me. Do the ratings agencies deserve blame?! Does the government deserve blame? Yes and no. For example, part of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992 mandated that the government mortgage finance firms (Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae) purchase a certain number of sub-prime mortgages. On its surface, this seems like a good thing: it’s giving money to potential home-buyers who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for a mortgage. It’s providing the American Dream. But as we’ve already covered today, it does nobody any good to provide a bad mortgage to someone who can’t repay it. That’s what caused this whole calamity. Freddie and Fannie and HUD were pumping money into the machine, helping to enable it. Good intentions, but they weren’t paying attention to the unintended outcomes. And what about the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), the watchdogs of Wall Street. Do they have a role to explain the Big Short? Shouldn’t they have been aware of the Big Banks, the CDOs, the ratings agencies? Yes, they deserve blame too. They’re supposed to do things like ensure that Big Banks have enough money on hand to cover their risky bets. This is called proper “risk management,” and it was severely lacking. The SEC also had the power to dig into the CDOs and ferret out the fraudulent mortgages that were creating them. Why didn’t they do that? Perhaps the issue is that the SEC was/is simply too close to Wall Street, similar to the ratings agencies getting advice from the big banks. Watchdogs shouldn’t get treats from those they’re watching. Or maybe it’s that the CDOs and credit default swaps were too hard for the SEC to understand. Either way, the SEC doesn’t have a good excuse. If you’re in bed with the people you’re regulating, then you’re doing a bad job. If you’re rubber stamping things you don’t understand, then you’re doing a bad job. Explain the Big Short, shortly You’re about 2500 words into my “short summary.” But the important things to remember:
Financial acronyms suck.
Money flowed from the investors down to the mortgage lenders, and the risk flowed from the mortgage lenders up to the investors. In between, the big banks and CDOs acted as middle men and intermediaries.
When someone feels like their actions have no risk, or no consequences, they’ll behave poorly (big banks, mortgage lenders)When someone is given what seems like an amazing deal, they’ll take it (individual home owners).
CDOs are like empty buckets. Mortgage payments are like rain, filling the buckets. Investors buy tranches, or slices, across all the buckets. If mortgages fail, then the buckets might not fill up, and the investors won’t get their money back.
CDOs are intentionally complex. So complex, that not even the people grading them understood what was going on (ratings agencies).
Buying insurance on something your do not own is a behavior with potential for abuse (big banks)
Buying insurance on something for more than it’s worth is a behavior with potential for abuse (big banks). This is where most of the money in the financial crisis switched hands.
And with that, I’d like to announce the opening of the Best Interest CDO. Rather than invest in mortgages, I’ll be investing in race horses. Don’t ask my why, but the current top stallion is named ‘Dog Shit.’ He’ll take Wall Street by storm. If you don’t mind my cussing but you do like this content, consider subscribing to the email list to get these articles (and nothing more) sent to your inbox every week. I hope this post helped if you were looking for someone to explain the Big Short. Thanks for reading the Best Interest. Source: https://bestinterest.blog/explain-the-big-short/
On Spells and Society, or how 5e spells completely change everyone's lives.
Today i have a confession to make: i'm a little bit of a minmaxer. And honestly, i think that's a pretty desirable trait in a DM. The minmaxer knows the rules, and exploits them to maximum efficiency. "But wait, what does that have to do with spell use in society?" - someone, probably. Well, the thing is that humans are absolutely all about minmaxing. There's a rule in the universe that reads "gas expands when hot", and suddenly we have steam engines (or something like that, i'm a political scientist not an engineer). A rule says 1+1 = 2, and suddenly we have calculus, computers and all kinds of digital stuff that runs on math. Sound is energy? Let's convert that shit into electricity, run it through a wire and turn it back into sound on the other side. Bruh. Science is just minmaxing the laws of nature. Humanity in real life is just a big bunch of munchkins, and it should be no different in your setting. And that is why minmaxing magic usage is something societies as a whole would do, specially with some notable spells. Today i will go in depth on how and why each of these notable mentions has a huge impact on a fantasy society. We'll go from lowest level to highest, keeping in mind that the lower level a spell the more common it should be to find someone who has it, so often a level 2-3 spell will have more impact than a level 9 spell. Mending (cantrip). Repair anything in one minute. Your axe lost its edge? Tore your shirt? Just have someone Mend it. Someone out there is crying "but wait! Not every village has a wizard!" and while that is true, keep in mind any High Elf knows a cantrip, as can any Variant Human. A single "mender" could replace a lot of the work a smith, woodworker or seamstress does, freeing their time to only work on making new things rather than repair old ones. Prestidigitation (cantrip). Clean anything in six seconds. Committed axe murders until the axe got blunt, and now there's blood everywhere? Dog shit on your pillow out of spite? Someone walked all over the living room with muddy boots? Just Prestidigitate it away. This may look like a small thing, but its actually huge when you apply it to laundry. Before washing machines were a thing housewives had to spend several hours a week washing them manually, and with Prestidigitation you can just hire someone to get it done in a few minutes. A single "magic cleaner" can attend to several dozen homes, if not hundreds, thus freeing several hours of the time of dozens of women. Fun fact: there's an interesting theory that says feminism only existed because of laundry machines and similar devices. Women found themselves having more free time, which they used to read and socialize. Educated women with more contacts made for easy organization of political movements, and the fact men were now able to do "the women's work" by pushing a button meant men were less opposed to losing their housewives' labor. Having specialized menders and magic cleaners could cause a comparable revolution in a fantasy setting, and help explain why women have a similar standing to men even in combat occupations such as adventuring. Healing in general (1st-2nd level). This one is fairly obvious. A commoner has 4 hit points, that means just about any spell is a full heal to the average person. That means most cuts, stab wounds, etc. can be solved by the resident cleric. Even broken bones that would leave you in bed for months can be solved in a matter of seconds as soon as the holy man arrives. But that's nothing compared to the ability to cure diseases. While the only spell that can cure diseases is Lesser Restoration, which is second level, a paladin can do it much more easily with just a Lay on Hands. This means if one or two people catch a disease it can just be eradicated with a touch. However doing that comes with a cost. If everyone is instantly expunged of illness, the populace does not build up their immune systems. Regular disease becomes less common, sure, but whenever it is reintroduced (by, say, immigrants or contact with less civilized humanoids) it can spread like wildfire, afflicting people so fast that no amount of healers will have the magic juice to deal with it. Diseases become rare, plagues become common. Continual Flame (2nd). Ok, this one is a topic i love and could easily be its own post. There's an article called "Why the Falling Cost of Light Matters", which goes in detail about how man went from chopping wood for fire, to using animal fat for candles, then other oils, whale oil, kerosene, then finally incandescent light bulbs, and more recently LED lights. Each of these leaps is orders of grandeur more efficient than the previous one, to the point that the cost of light today is about 500,000 times cheaper than it was for for a caveman. And until the early 1900s the only way mankind knew of making light was to set things on fire. Continual Flame on the other hand allows you to turn 50gp worth of rubies and a 2nd level spell slot into a torch that burns forever. In a society that spends 60 hours of labor to be able to generate 140 minutes of light, this is a huge game changer. This single spell, which i am 99% sure was just created as an excuse for why the dungeon is lit despite going for centuries without maintenance, allows you to have things like public lighting. Even if you only add a new "torchpost" every other week or month sooner or later you'll be left with a neatly lit city, specially if the city has had thousands of years in which to gather the rubies and light them up. And because the demand of rubies becomes so important, consider how governments would react. Lighting the streets is a public service, if its strategically relevant to make the city safer at night, would that not warrant some restrictions on ruby sales? Perhaps even banning the use of rubies in jewelry? Trivia: John D. Rockefeller, the richest man in history, gained his wealth selling kerosene. Kerosene at the time was used to light lamps. Gasoline was invented much later, when Rockefeller tasked a bunch of scientists to come up with a use for some byproducts of the kerosene production. This illustrates how much money is to be had in the lighting industry, and you could even have your own Rockefeller ruby baron in your game. I shall call him... Dohn J. Stonebreaker. Perfect name for a mining entrepreneur. Whether the ruby trade ends up a monopoly under the direct supervision of the king or a free market, do keep in mind that Continual Flame is by far the most efficient way of creating light. Gentle Repose (2nd). Cast it on a corpse, and it stays preserved for 10 days. This has many potential uses, from preserving foodstuffs (hey, some rare meats are expensive enough to warrant it) to keeping the bodies of old rulers preserved. Even if a ruler died of old age and cannot be resurrected, the body could be kept "fresh" out of respect/ceremony. Besides, it keeps the corpse from becoming undead. Skywrite (2nd). Ok, this one is mostly a gag. While the spell can be used by officials to make official announcements to the populace, such as new laws or important news, i like to just use it for spam. I mean, its a ritual spell that writes a message on the sky; what else would people use it for? Imagine you show up in a city, and there's half a dozen clouds reading "buy at X, we have what you need", "get your farming supplies over at Joe's store" or "vote Y for the city council". The possibilities are endless, and there's no way the players can expect it. Just keep in mind that by RAW the spell can only do words, meaning no images. No Patrick, "8===D" is not a word. Zone of Truth (2nd). This one is too obvious. Put all suspects of a crime into a ZoT, wait a couple minutes to make sure they fail the save, then ask each one if he did it. Sure its not a perfect system, things like the Ring of Mind Shielding still exist, but it's got a better chance of getting the right guy than most medieval justice systems. And probably more than a few contemporary ones. All while taking only a fraction of the time. More importantly, with all the average crimes being handled instantly, the guards and investigators have more time to properly investigate the more unusual crimes that might actually involve a Thought Shield, Ring of Mind Shielding or a level 17 Mastermind. There is a human rights argument against messing with people's minds in any way, which is why this may not be practiced in every kingdom. But there are definitely some more lawful societies that would use ZoT on just about every crime. Why swear to speak the truth and nothing but the truth when you can just stand in a zone of truth? Another interesting use for ZoT is oaths. When someone is appointed into an office, gets to a high rank in the military or a guild, just put them in a ZoT while they make their oath to stand for the organization's values and yadda yadda. Of course they can be corrupted later on, but at least you make sure they're honest when they are sworn in. Sending (3rd). Sending is busted in so many ways. The more "vanilla" use of it is to just communicate over long distances. We all know that information is important, and that sometimes getting information a whole day ahead can lead to a 40% return on a massive two-year investment. Being able to know of invasions, monsters, disasters, etc. without waiting days or weeks for a courier can be vital for the survival of a nation. Another notable example is that one dude who ran super fast for a while to be the first to tell his side of a recent event. But the real broken thing here is... Sending can Send to any creature, on any plane; the only restriction being "with which you are familiar". In D&D dead people just get sent to one of the afterlife planes, meaning that talking to your dead grandfather would be as simple as Sending to him. Settling inheritance disputes was never easier! Before moving on to the next point let me ask you something: Is a cleric familiar with his god? Is a warlock familiar with his patron? Speak With Dead (3rd). Much like Sending, this lets you easily settle disputes. Is the senate/council arguing over a controversial topic? Just ask the beloved hero or ruler from 200 years ago what he thinks on the subject. As long his skeleton still has a jaw (or if he has been kept in Gentle Repose), he can answer. This can also be used to ask people who killed them, except murderers also know this. Plan on killing someone? Accidentally killed someone? Make sure to inutilize the jaw. Its either that, being so stealthy the victim can't identify you, or being caught. Note on spell availability. Oh boy. No world-altering 4th level spells for some reason, and suddenly we're playing with the big boys now. Spells up to 3rd level are what I'd consider "somewhat accessible", and can be arranged for a fee even for regular citizens. For instance the vanilla Priest statblock (MM348) is a 5th level cleric, and the standard vanilla Druid (MM346) a 4th level druid. Spells of 5th level onward will be considered something only the top 1% is able to afford, or large organizations such as guilds, temples or government. Dream (5th). I was originally going to put Dream along with Sending and Telepathy as "long range communication", but decided against it due to each of them having unique uses. And when it comes to Dream, it has the unique ability of allowing you to put your 8 hours of sleep to good use. A tutor could hire someone to cast Dream on him, thus allowing him to teach his student for 8 hours at any distance. This is a way you could even access hermits that live in the middle of nowhere or in secluded monasteries. Very wealthy families or rulers would be willing to pay a good amount of money to make sure their heirs get that extra bit of education. Its like online classes, but while you sleep! Another interesting use is for cheating. Know a princess or queen you like? She likes you back? Her dad put 400 trained soldiers between you? No problemo! Just find a 9th level Bard, Warlock or Wizard, but who am i kidding, of course it'll be a bard. And that bard is probably you. Now you have 8 hours to do whatever you want, and no physical evidence will be left. Raise Dead (5th). Few things matter more in life than death. And the ability to resurrect people has a huge impact on society. The impact is so huge that this topic needs topics of its own. First, diamond monopoly. Remember what i said about how Continual Flame would lead to controlled ruby sales due to its strategic value? This is the same principle, but a hundred times stronger. Resurrection is a huge strategic resource. It makes assassinations harder, can be used to bring back your officials or highest level soldiers over and over during a war, etc. This means more authoritarian regimes would do everything within their power to control the supply and stock of diamonds. Which in turn means if anyone wants to have someone resurrected, even in times of peace, they'll need to call in a favor, do a quest, grease some hands... Second, resurrection insurance. People hate risks. That's why insurance is such a huge industry, taking up about 15% of the US GDP. People insure their cars, houses... even their lives. Resurrection just means "life insurance" is taken more literally. This makes even more sense when you consider how expensive resurrection is: nobody can afford it in one go, but if you pay a little every month or year you can save up enough to have it done when the need arises. This is generally incompatible with the idea of a State-run monopoly over diamonds, but that just means different countries within a setting can take different approaches. To make things easier, i even used some microeconomics to make a sheet in my personal random generators to calculate the price of such a service. Just head to the "Insurance" tab and fill in the information relative to your setting. With actual life insurance resurrection can cost as little as 5gp a year for humans or 8sp a year for elves, making resurrection way more affordable than it looks. Also, do you know why pirates wore a single gold earring? It was so that if your body washes up on the shore whoever finds it can use the money to arrange a proper burial. Sure there's a risk of the finder taking it and walking away, but the pirates did it anyway. With resurrection in play, might as well just wear a diamond earring instead and hope the finder is nice enough to bring you back. I got so carried away with the whole insurance thing i almost forgot: the possibility of resurrection also changes how murders are committed. If you want someone dead but resurrection exists, you have to remove the vital organs. Decapitation would be far more common. Sure resurrection is still possible, but it requires higher level spells or Reincarnate, which has... quirks. As a result it should be very obvious when someone was killed by accident or an overreaction, and when someone was specifically out to kill the victim. Scrying (5th). This one is somewhat obvious, in that everyone and their mother knows it helps finding people. But who needs finding? Well, that would be those who are hiding. The main use i see for this spell, by far, is locating escaped criminals. Just collect a sample of hair or blood when arresting someone (or shipping them to hard labor which is way smarter), and if they escape you'll be almost guaranteed to successfully scry on them. A similar concept to this is seen in the Dragon Age series. If you're a mage the paladins keep a sample of your blood in something called a phylactery, and that can be used to track you down. There's even a quest or two about mages trying to destroy their phylacteries before escaping. Similarly, if you plan a jailbreak it would be highly beneficial to destroy the blood/hair sample first. As a matter of fact i can even see a thieves guild hiring a low level party to take out the sample while the professional infiltrators get the prisoner out. Keep in mind both events must be done at the same time, otherwise the guards will just collect a new sample or would have already taken it to the wizard. But guards aren't the only ones with resources. A loan shark could keep blood samples of his debtors, a mobster can keep one of those who owe him favors, etc. And the blood is ceremoniously returned only when the debt is fully paid. Teleportation Circle (5th), Transport Via Plants (6th). In other words, long range teleportation. This is such a huge thing that it is hard to properly explain how important it is. Teleportation Circle creates a 10ft. circle, and everyone has one round to get in and appear on the target location. Assuming 30ft. movement that means you can get 192 people through, which is a lot of potential merchants going across any distance. Or 672 people dashing. Math note: A 30ft radius square around a 10ft. diameter square, minus the 4 original squares. Or [(6*2+2)^2]-4 squares of 5ft. each. Hence 192 people. Getting hundreds of merchants, workers, soldiers, etc. across any distance is nothing to scoff at. In fact, it could help explain why PHB item prices are so standardized: Arbitrage is so easy and cheap that price differences across multiple markets become negligible. Unless of course countries start setting up tax collectors outside of the permanent teleportation circles in order to charge tariffs. Transport Via Plants does something very similar but it requires 5ft of movement to go through, which means less people can be teleported. On the other hand it doesn't burn 50gp and can take you to any tree the druid is familiar with, making it nearly impossible for tax collectors to be waiting on the other side. Unfortunately druids tend to be a lot less willing to aid smugglers, so your best bet might be a bard using spells that don't belong to his list. With these methods of long range teleportation not only does trade get easier, but it also becomes possible to colonize or inhabit far away places. For instance if someone finds a gold mine in the antarctic you could set up a mine and bring food and other supplies via teleportation. Major Image (6th level slot). Major Image is a 3rd level spell that creates an illusion over a 20ft cube, complete with image, sound, smell and temperature. When cast with a 6th level slot or higher, it lasts indefinitely. That my friends, is a huge spell. Why get the world's best painter to decorate the ceiling of your cathedral when you can just get an illusion made in six seconds? The uses for decorating large buildings is already good, but remember: we're not restricted to sight. Cast this on a room and it'll always be cool and smell nice. Inns would love that, as would anyone who always sleeps or works in the same room. Desert cities have never been so chill. You can even use an illusion to make the front of your shop seem flashier, while hollering on loop to bring customers in. The only limit to this spell is your imagination, though I'm pretty sure it was originally made just to hide secret passages. Trivia: the ki-rin (VGM163) can cast Major Image as a 6th level spell, at will. It's probably meant to give them fabulous lairs yet all it takes is someone doing the holy horsey a big favor, and it could enchant the whole city in a few hours. Shiniest city on the planet, always at a nice temperature and with a fragrance of lilac, gooseberries or whatever you want. Simulacrum (7th). Spend 12 hours and 1500gp worth of ruby dust, and get a clone of yourself. Notably, each caster can only have one simulacrum, regardless of who the person he cloned is. How this changes the world? By allowing the rich and powerful to be in two places at once. Kings now have a perfect impersonator who thinks just like them. A wealthy banker can run two branches of his company. Etc. This makes life much easier, but also competes with Continual Flame over resources. It also gives "go fuck yourself" a whole new meaning, making the sentence a valid Suggestion. Clone (8th). If there's one spell i despise, its Clone. Wizard-only preemptive resurrection. Touch spell, costs 1.000gp worth of diamonds each time, takes 120 days to come into effect, and creates a copy of the creature that the soul occupies if the original dies. Oh, and the copy can be made younger. Why is it so despicable? Because it makes people effectively immortal. Accidents and assassinations just get you sent to the clone, and old age can be forever delayed because you keep going back to younger versions of yourself. Being a touch spell means the wizard can cast it on anyone he wants. In other words: high level wizards, and only wizards, get to make anyone immortal. That means wizards will inevitably rule any world in which this spell exists. Think about it. Rulers want to live forever. Wizards can make you live forever. Wizards want other stuff, which you must give them if you want to continue being Cloned. Rulers who refuse this deal eventually die, rulers who accept stick around forever. Natural selection makes it so that eventually the only rulers left are those who sold their soul to wizards. Figuratively, i hope. The fact that there are only a handful of wizards out there who are high enough level to cast the spell means its easier for them organize and/or form a cartel or union (cartels/unions are easier to maintain the fewer suppliers are involved). This leads to a dystopian scenario where mages rule, kings are authoritarian pawns and nobody else has a say in anything. Honestly it would make for a fun campaign in and of itself, but unless that's specifically what you're going for it'll just derail everything else. Oh, and Clone also means any and all liches are absolute idiots. Liches are people who turned themselves into undead abominations in order to gain eternal life at the cost of having to feed on souls. They're all able to cast 9th level wizard spells, so why not just cast an 8th level one and keep undeath away? Saves you the trouble of going after souls, and you keep the ability to enjoy food or a day in the sun. Demiplane (8th). Your own 30ft. room of nothingness. Perfect place for storage and a DM's nightmare given how once players have access to it they'll just start looting furniture and such. Oh the horror. But alas, infinite storage is not the reason this is a broken spell. No sir. Remember: you can access someone else's demiplane. That means a caster in city 1 can put things into a demiplane, and a caster in city 2 can pull them out of any surface. But wait, there's more! There's nothing anywhere saying you can't have two doors to the same demiplane open at once. Now you're effectively opening a portal between two places, which stays open for a whole hour. But wait, there's even more! Anyone from any plane can open a door to your neat little demiplane. Now we can get multiple casters from multiple planes connecting all of those places, for one hour. Sure this is a very expensive thing to do since you're having to coordinate multiple high level individuals in different planes, but the payoff is just as high. We're talking about potential integration between the most varied markets imaginable, few things in the multiverse are more valuable or profitable. Its a do-it-yourself Sigil. One little plot hook i like about demiplanes is abandoned/inactive ones. Old wizard/warlock died, and nobody knows how to access his demiplanes. Because he's at least level 15 you just know there's some good stuff in there, but nobody can get to it. Now the players have to find a journal, diary, stored memory or any other way of knowing enough about the demiplane to access it. True Polymorph (9th). True Polymorph. The spell that can turn any race into any other race, or object. And vice-versa. You can go full fairy godmother and turn mice into horses. For a spell that can change anything about one's body it would not be an unusual ruling to say it can change one's sex. At the very least it can turn a man into a chair, and the chair into a woman (or vice-versa of course). But honestly, that's just the tip of the True Polymorph iceberg. Just read this more carefully: > You transform the creature into a different creature, the creature into a nonmagical object, or the object into a creature This means you can turn a rock or twig into a human. A fully functional human with, as far as the rules go, a soul. You can create life. But wait, there's more! Nothing there says you have to turn the target into a known creature on an existing creature. The narcissist bard wants to create a whole race of people who look like him? True Polymorph. A player wants to play a weird ass homebrew race and you have no idea how it would fit into the setting? True Polymorph. Wizard needs a way to quickly populate a kingdom and doesn't want to wait decades for the subjects to grow up? True Polymorph. Warlock must provide his patron 100 souls in order to free his own? True Polymorph. The sorcerer wants to do something cool? Fuck that guy, sorcerers don't get any of the fun high level spells; True Poly is available to literally every arcane caster but the sorcerer. Note: what good is Twinned Spell if all the high level twinnable spells have been specifically made unavailable to sorcerers? Do keep in mind however that this brings a whole new discussion on human rights. Does a table have rights? Does it have rights after being turned into a living thing? If it had an owner, is it now a slave? Your country will need so many new laws, just to deal with this one spell. People often say that high level wizards are deities for all intents and purposes. This is the utmost proof of that. Clerics don't get to create life out of thin air, wizards do. The cleric worships a deity, the wizard is the deity. Conclusion. Intelligent creatures not only can game the system, but it is entirely in character for them to do so. I'll even argue that if humanoids don't use magic to improve their lives when it's available, you're pushing the suspension of disbelief. With this post i hope to have helped you make more complex and realistic societies, as well as provide a few interesting and unusual plot hooks Lastly, as much as i hate comment begging i must admit i am eager to see what spells other players think can completely change the world. Because at the end of the day we all know that extra d6 damage is not what causes empires to rise and fall, its the utility spells that make the best stories. Edit: Added spell level to all spells, and would like to thank u/kaul_field for helping with finishing touches and being overall a great mod.
A whole bunch of Bannerlord tips and tricks you may not know (as of version e.1.5.1)
Bannerlord is a great game that is currently plagued by some serious issues, from glitches and bugs to simply not bothering to explain its own mechanics. Without any mitigation or forewarning, these little problems can really snowball and ruin your experience. I've compiled this list of tips and tricks to help other players get around some of these problems and also to maximise your fun while the game remains in early access.
I've separated everything up into categories so that you don't have to dig through too much to get to the stuff you're interested in. Also, stuff that's relevant to new players only is marked with a [NP] in front of it, so you can skip that if you already know the basics.
Edit: Wow, I hit the 40000 character limit so now I have to add more tips as comments instead!
How Stats, Skills and Perks work
[NP] Your character's progression consists of increasing stats, skills, focus, perks and levels. Stats govern your base aptitude in a set of three skills. For example, the Vigor stat affects your aptitude with one-handed, two-handed and polearm skills. Skills represent your ability with that particular skill. For example, the Bow skill affects your aim with the bow and the Steward skill directly affects how many members you can have in your party. Perks are essentially special abilities that are awarded at specific skill levels, e.g. 25, 50, 75 and 100. Sometimes you will get to choose between two perk options. Make sure you check whether a perk is implemented before you choose that perk! (See paragraph below) Lastly, focus points allow you to increase your max skill level with a skill and also provide an exp multiplier, making you gain skill points faster. Note that if you try to train a skill that's reached its limit, it will grow very slowly and eventually stop growing altogether. Thus, you need a constant investment of both stats and focus points to max out a skill. Since your stat and focus points are limited, I suggest you prioritize only a few skills to max out, and accept that the rest will never be fully completed.
[NP]In the character creation screen, the various skills are grouped by stats (in bold, above the individual skills) and each specific skill can have up to 5 focus points assigned (the vertical bars). Each skill you can learn is limited to a max number which is determined by the combination of stat and focus points you have for that skill. With full focus (5 bars), you will need about 6-8 stat points in a skill to allow you to completely max it out. Furthermore, the perks available for each skill are only partially implemented. This means that investing points into some skills is currently useless. To see which perks are implemented, I recommend using a site like https://www.bannerlordperks.com. At the time of writing this post, the entire "Cunning" stat has zero perks implemented, making it virtually useless to you. If you're new, I highly recommend getting points in Social, Vigor and Endurance. Social (specifically the charm skill) allows you to convince nobles to marry/join you more easily and improves your troops' morale (leadership skill). Vigor is your basic melee combat stat, which you will use a lot in the early game and especially in the arena. Lastly, endurance allows you to improve your movement speed (riding/athletics) and is necessary for smithing (skill), which is a really useful mechanic that I highly recommend you try. Another good choice is Control, if you wish to be a ranged character.
So how does leveling work in Bannerlord? Well here's what the Skills screen looks like using the character (C) menu Using skills with slowly increase your ability with them. The more focus points you have in a skill, the faster it's skill points will go up. Furthermore, your character will gain "exp" every time he/she gains skill points. Or more accurately, exp in this game IS skill points. That is to say, training the various skills is the only way to level up. NOT killing enemies, as you might have first thought. This means you can level up just by trading, smithing, running around, or leading armies. You don't even need to fight simulated battles mostly, though doing so will award you with tactics points and some combat skill points. Every level you gain will award you with either a stat point, a focus point, or both. You can spend these points to increase the relevant stat or skill focus bar. When you have points to assign, they will show up on your character screen. In the earlier screenshot is your NPC brother who you always start with, though his name and appearance is randomized. Because I chose the "assign perks myself" option, I can choose his perks right away (represented by little numbered shield icons next to his skills that tell you how many perks are available to choose). You'll note that to the left and right of the "Skills" table there are weird icons with the number 0 next to them. The left number represents stat points to assign, and the right number is focus points. Your new character will start with 1 free focus point to assign. To assign a focus point, select the desired skill and click the "+" sign. REMEMBER: No choices will be saved unless you click "Done", and you can revert all changes made so far by clicking the curved arrow between "Done" and "Cancel". To assign perks, click on the shield icons in the banner in the middle of the skill page and a popup will appear. Click on the perk you wish to choose - again making sure it's actually implemented first - and then when finished click "Done" to finalize your choices. Don't forget that you can use the left/right arrows to assign skills and perks for your NPCs too!
One more thing about perks. The "Governor" perks DO NOT APPLY to your character, because you can't be the governor of any of your cities/castles. Thus, don't pick governor perks for your main hero unless they also come with side-abilities that you want.
Starting the Game and the Main Storyline
[NP] The various factions each come with a special ability. You can use all troops from all factions, so don't worry about being shoehorned into any particular troop type by your choices. Instead, focus on the ability you'll get. Not all abilities are made equal and not all factions are equal either. Currently, the Khuzait faction is kind of OP due to the AI being too dumb to figure out how to handle horse archers, so select them for an easier early-game. Vlandia gets bonus troop exp, which means you can promote veteran troops faster than others. Empire skills are building-focused, which means you need to own fiefs to really gain any benefit from using them. Sturgia are... faster in snow. Also their troops are supposedly weaker than normal (this will eventually change), so pick Sturgia if you're a masochist. Battania are kind of situational with their forest boost (so maybe don't pick them either), and Aserai get trading bonuses, so pick them if you want to be a merchant or just like money.
[NP] Clicking the various family options will show you the potential change in stat points and focus points that you will gain for that choice. You will have about 7 different choices to make before your character is ready to play. Try to pick choices which focus on your ideal stats and skills while minimizing the other ones. Here's a sample character I generated using the stats I recommended earlier. Don't worry too much about making perfect choices here, since you will gain many more stat and focus points throughout your game too. Plus, you'll use most of the stats/skills at one point or another. After this, your brother will ask if you want to do the tutorial. The tutorial only teaches you how to fight, so if you already know that you can skip it.
If you follow the story you will play through a storyline quest for a while until you've rescued your siblings and experienced the execution mechanic in action. Then you will have to chase down a bunch of clan leaders and lie to two special characters who will never interact with you again once you've made your final choice. However, and this is something I want to emphasize heavily: You do NOT need to make a choice about what to do with the dragon banner immediately. In fact, I strongly recommend you do NOT make a decision until you're very well situated in the game. Why? Because it starts a doomsday timer that you cannot slow down or affect in any way, and when it runs out 3 factions will declare war on you all at once and try to grind your entire faction into the dust. Instead, forget about the story quest and just enjoy the game at that point until you are extra powerful and ready to take on the world. Once you succeed at that quest I'm pretty sure you win the game, and if you start it before you're ready you'll be in for a world of hurt.
The Campaign Map
The game has a really useful feature called the "Encyclopedia". Press 'N' to open it when in the campaign screen. If you want to track down a notable figure, you can search their name or clan in the search bar and it will tell you where they were last seen. Anytime you speak to another noble or visit a settlement, town or castle, it will update the rumours of where that noble was seen most recently. This will allow you to track down anyone with ease. You can also see if they were taken prisoner, got pregnant, or switched allegiances recently. Furthermore, you can use the Encyclopedia to check nobles' relations with you or each other, allowing you to single out the nobles who hate their liege and are ripe for conversion to your kingdom. You can also use the encyclopedia to check troop upgrade paths, details about cities/settlements, and info on minor factions, who are like secret clans that you can recruit if you choose to be your own kingdom. All in all, it's incredibly useful for planning your next move.
There's a circle next to city/settlement names in the overworld and the encyclopedia. Clicking that circle "bookmarks" the city/settlement, which means you can easily find it on the map. Clicking it again removes the bookmark.
[NP] If you hover over any of the symbols at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, you can get detailed info on how the values are calculated. The symbols are, from left to right, money, influence, HP, troops, food and morale. The money icon will show you your daily income vs daily expenses. Influence will show your influence gain/loss over time. HP is your own health and recovery rate. Troops shows what troops you have in your army. Food shows how much food you have and morale shows what's affecting the mood of your soldiers. Using these icons helps you figure out what you need to do to make their values go up instead of down.
Against minor enemies like looters, it's usually relatively safe to use "Send Troops" instead of going in there yourself. You won't gain tactics skill from this, but your troops will gain all the exp instantly instead of spending 5 minutes fighting first.
[NP] You can issue commands to your troops by using the F keys. F1 is the movement menu, F2 is the direction menu, F3 is the formation menu, F4 is whether or not to use ranged weapons, F5 is mount/dismount for cavalry, F6 enables AI control, and F7 allows you to split your groups up and assign the split members to other groups. (e.g. split infantry and assign half to "heavy infantry"). You can also use the number keys (i.e. 1,2,3 etc) to select specific groups of troops to give orders to. 1 is infantry, 2 is archers, 3 is melee cavalry etc. Any non-mapped number selects all troops. This allows you to have fine-grained control during combat. HOWEVER for the most part the numbers and relative experience of the two armies is the deciding factor in how a battle goes. Sometimes you can use the terrain to your advantage, but mostly your tactics will do very little to actually affect the battle's outcome, especially in sieges where taking control of the AI will completely break their ability to use siege equipment and attack or defend properly.
Some basic strategies for manually commanding troops during simulated battles are as follows:
The lazy way: Immediately press 0 and then F6 at the start of a battle. Your troops will do their own thing and you can just run/ride around increasing your combat skills without having to worry about managing battles.
The terrain way: Place infantry in front of your archers and put your archers on high ground. The archers will pick off lots of enemy troops before their infantry get close enough to do any damage, and your infantry will protect the archers when the troops finally do arrive.
The big brain way: Research your opponents' army composition and culture by riding close (but not too close!) to their army to scout them. For example, Sturgians generally will have lots of shield infantry while Battania will have a lot of ranged folks. Figure out the counter infantry type (e.g. for shielded infantry it's heavy 2-handed weapon infantry. For heavy 2-handed infantry it's archers. For cavalry it's spear-throwers. For archers it's cavalry, etc) and fill your army with those units. Engage in wholesale slaughter. Note: This works best when you have a fief garrison you can switch veteran troops in and out of, because rookies get rekt even with a "type" advantage.
The OP way: Get just zillions of horse archers, select them at the start of the battle and press F6. The horse archers will run up to the enemy, fill them with arrows, then run away again and repeat. Currently there's no really effective AI counter to this and they will just bleed troops while you sit there wondering why you're even there.
The "No 'I' in team" way: If you're helping another noble in combat, their troops will automatically be on F6 mode. And you can't do anything about it, either. If you don't want their troops to get completely wiped out, it's best to set yours to AI mode (0 then F6) too. Otherwise they WILL charge the enemy archer wall with their 15 sturgian recruits...
The "Actually, my troops are more valuable" way: Conversely, if you are helping a noble but don't actually need their troops to win (i.e. you have a huge numbers advantage), don't auto send your troops and use whatever your usual strat is. They'll get wiped out but at least you won't lose your precious troops!
You can cheese simulated battles by abusing the "Retreat" command. Hold "Tab" to bring up the stats menu, and press middle mouse button to get your cursor back. Then you can click "Retreat" to teleport your entire army safely out of the battle. Then you can restart the battle with the number of troops remaining from before, but both armies are placed far away from each other again. Combine this with a lot of archers, and you can whittle the enemy numbers down before they reach your army and then simply retreat and start over again until the odds are solidly in your favour. This lets you overcome basically any odds so long as you ensure your opponent takes more losses than you do each time.
Levelling up your troops can be tricky as the experience system isn't very clear as to what gives the best troop exp. However, the following things seem to work fairly well: * Some of the Leadership perks grant lots of free exp over time. In particular, Raise the Meek will rapidly turn all of your lowest-level troops into higher-level ones over time, and the level 225 one, Companions, basically gives you the Vlandian empire troop exp bonus, which stacks with actually being Vlandian * Steamrolling fat groups of looters using "Send Troops" is relatively safe and usually awards a handful of troop upgrades each time * Beating nobles' armies when you have about a 2:1 ratio of your troops to theirs is also usually pretty safe and the higher-level troops they have with them yield much more exp * Winning a siege will be extremely costly in terms of deaths, but the troops who survive will gain tons of experience. Defending a siege will be less costly due to having the home turf advantage, but it's harder to engineer those to occur * Doing hideout raids and taking along a group of only archers is a great way to level up those 9 archers, so long as you don't aggro the entire hideout at once. Just make sure you use F4 frequently to enable/disable "Fire at will" or they WILL try to shoot bandits at the other end of the map and summon the wrath of god down on you * Keep your troop morale high by buying lots of different varieties of food. I'm not sure if morale is fully implemented yet, but you won't have the awkward issue of your troops all running from a difficult battle at least
Building your Clan
[NP] Your clan has a ranking in the clan screen (press L), shown at the top right. Earning renown increases this ranking, and every new level adds more soldiers to your armies and other useful clan perks to your arsenal. Max clan rank is 6, but you won't get there for a very long time. The easiest way to gain renown is through winning large battles, so battling lots will quickly raise that renown score.
The game doesn't tell you this anywhere, but you can have your family join your party by visiting them in whatever city they are hiding in and talking to them (or left-clicking their portrait in that city). Your brother in particular is basically a veteran soldier right from the start of the game, so adding him to your party will give you a huge early-game boost. His high steward score also increases your party size by a lot, so having him around lets you field more soldiers until your own steward score catches up. Later on, set him up as governor of your best city/settlement to give it a huge boost.
You can recruit companions at taverns in major cities. Not all companions are created equally, so I recommend using a companion guide to figure out which ones have skills that you want. You can also manually check their skills by right clicking the character's portrait from the city screen or searching them in the encyclopedia. That way you'll know what they are good and bad at before you go through the long dialogue with them. I personally find the tacticians/stewards most valuable as you can make them lead armies for you (more on that in a bit), and the ones with high trade are helpful because you can create caravans with them for bonus income during peacetime. You can only recruit your clan level +1 companions at a time, (e.g. 2 at clan level 1). This means you should be very picky about who you hire.
If you have joined a kingdom (or started your own), you can persuade other factions' nobles to betray their current faction and join yours. For this you need three things: High charm, luck and money. Save your game. Speak to the noble and say you have something to discuss. Ask about their liege. This will lead to a skill challenge where you have to get 4 successes in 4 attempts (either 100% successes or at least 1 critical success). This is entirely RNG, so choose the highest % options and pray. Or load back a lot. If they hate their monarch you'll have a very high chance of succeeding in at least 1 of the 4 challenges. Once you've successfully convinced them, you then need to bribe them. The bribe usually is about 100k denars, but can go all the way to more than a million denars if they own lots of land (because your team gets the fiefs too when they convert). Unless you're insanely rich, use the encyclopedia to find the poorest, most disenfranchised nobles and you'll discover that you might be able to pay them even a single denar and they'll happily convert. Beware, others can convert YOUR allies too, so try to make sure you give every noble at least one castle to keep them happy and on your side. Also if you save a lot and see the message that a noble has left your kingdom, you can load back and often they won't leave the second time.
If you release a noble whom you beat in combat instead of taking them prisoner, you will get a 6-7 point relationship increase with everyone in that noble's clan. Doing this is an excellent way to butter them up for future conversion to your kingdom.
Convert the head of a clan to your kingdom and their entire clan will also convert along with them!
You can use your influence points to put policies in place that suit you before adding others to the clan. In the Kingdom menu (K), you can go to the policy tab and scroll through the various policies there. Basically, most policies either benefit only the ruler, benefit only the vassals, or adjust your kingdom's rates (e.g. tax rate and growth rate). If you're going to start your own kingdom, take this chance to vote in all the royalty-favouring policies before you add people who disagree with you. Conversely, if you're a vassal, you want to add more vassals to the clan and THEN vote in all the vassal-favouring policies. Both of these strategies will not only increase your influence gain rate, but also make it much harder for a rogue AI to steal powecities from you later on in the game. It will also prevent you from getting disliked by other nobles from voting against their wishes since they won't even be in your kingdom yet.
As a male character, you can marry a noble to have her join your clan. I'm not sure if it's the reverse situation for female heroes or not (i.e. you join their clan). This provides two main benefits. One, you gain another party member to bring along in battle, and two, you can make babies (heirs) who will inherit your stuff if/when your character dies. If you end up playing for enough time you can also eventually add those heirs to your party once they've grown up enough. To woo a noble, simply profess your love to them then return and visit them a few times. You'll have to pass charm checks to woo them properly, so as always, save beforehand! Eventually they'll tell you to talk to the clan leader, and then you'll barter for their hand in marriage. Usually it's pretty cheap.
Did you know that war declarations can be avoided (by sort of cheating)? If you save often and then suddenly get war declared on you (or by your kingdom on someone else), just load back to that save. It's a (low) random chance for war to be declared so there's a strong likelihood that the next time you get to that point in time literally nothing will happen. This allows you to avoid all wars that you don't want! Since the game AI is so bad right now, sometimes this is the only way to save your kingdom from utter annihilation.
You can equip the companions in your party with awesome gear too! This took me 40 hours to realize, but on the Inventory (I) or trade screens, there are arrows at the top that let you select a different character to equip. This works with the Character (C) screen too, allowing you to assign perks or stats/skills to your companions.
In your clan management screen (L), under the parties tab, you can assign your companions to various roles within your party. Generally, this causes the game to act as if your own skill with that particular role is the same level as the assigned companion. For example, if you assign a companion with 80 medicine skill as surgeon, the game will cause you and your troops to heal as if you had 80 medicine skill. Keep in mind that if you don't assign a party member to a role then you will gain the exp for doing that role. In other words, it's a trade-off between gaining free experience and having your party be more effective on the campaign map. The one role in your party you definitely don't want to assign a companion to is Quartermaster, because that trains the Steward skill which you want to raise as high as possible.
You can create separate parties under your clan management screen's "Parties" tab. This allows you to send companions off to raise armies and gain exp all on their own without your intervention. You can also assign them to their own personal role within that party (even the Quartermaster role!) for bonus exp and it won't affect your own exp. Parties have three major benefits that make them very useful. Firstly, they will recruit their own troops for you! The max party size is dependent on the companion's steward skill and your clan rank. This means that with enough time you can create an allied party that's virtually equal in size to your own army. Secondly, those parties can be summoned to your army on a whim (click the flag icon down the bottom right of the screen - you must be in a kingdom to do this) and it costs 0 influence! Thirdly, the parties automatically will go around fighting battles for you and increasing your own influence and reputation. I highly recommend creating at least a few parties. There's a few downsides to be aware of, however. Firstly, you pay all the troop wages for the other parties. This can get VERY expensive if you're not at war and constantly defeating armies for money. Secondly, like any roaming entity, your companions can get attacked and captured by enemy armies. If that happens, you have to wait for them to escape or be ransomed and then track them down in whichever city they end up in to reclaim your companion. This can be very annoying. Lastly, if you're a vassal, your liege can actually summon your companions to their army, thereby using your hard-earned troops for their own personal gain! That's the price of being a vassal though.
Sometimes you cannot assign roles to party members through the clan screen. This tends to happen if you assign a companion to a role and they die in battle. If this happens, instead select them in the party screen (P) and talk to them. You can assign them roles from the conversation menu instead.
[NP] In the early-game you will find the tournaments in city arenas to be almost impossible to win. However, with the power of save/load and determination, you can win big in tournaments by betting on yourself every round. If you win the tournament, not only will you get a sweet prize but you will also be several thousand denars richer. At least until your reputation catches up to you and they start offering less and less money for your bets.
The best way to make money in Bannerlord is smithing (once you've unlocked enough recipes and have about 140 smithing skill). Early on, the stuff you produce is worthless, but as you start making tier 4 and higher weapons you will discover combinations that create weapons work up to 100k denars in value! Make a handful of these and you can go around from city to city, buying up all the expensive armor while still walking away with 20k+ more denars each time. There are many guides to smithing that can be found elsewhere, but here's a few minor tips:
Try not to sell anything you make that's worth less than 10k denars. Otherwise you will encounter these items as arena prizes which will generally make it harder to get the rare arena prizes (e.g. special horses and armour). Instead, smelt it down.
2h swords and javelins seem to be a great money maker once you hit T4+
Smelt the weapons you loot from battles if you need the materials for smithing. Even worthless rusty iron spathas can be broken down into huge amounts of valuable materials.
No matter how many days pass from traveling, none of that will allow you to be able to smelt again once you've hit the limit. This means that even if you come back 3 months later, if you haven't rested in any villages or settlements in that time, you will not be able to continue smelting. You MUST click "Wait here for a while" and just sit around for a day or so to get all of your smithing stamina back.
Smithed weapons are not necessarily better than the ones you can buy. Sometimes they will be, but smithing mostly gives you the ability to trade off damage types and attack speed on weapons. For example, you can increase a sword's length and swing damage but it will reduce it's swing speed and thrust. In other words, smithing is useful for making very specialized weapons, but not for making some OP magical sword of head-lopping.
The second-best way to make money is by thrashing other nobles in combat. If you're at war, target every enemy noble you see whom you can easily beat and trounce them. Not only do you get money and items for beating them, you can also ransom them at taverns for even more money. You also get money when you capture cities in sieges. Naturally, when you're at peace, you'll find it much harder to make money this way.
You can purchase workshops in cities and have them produce goods for a small profit (around 75-125 denars per day). It generally costs about 13k denars to buy a workshop, so it won't become profitable for approximately 140 days. Because of this, if you wish to use workshops you should select cities which you are unlikely to be at war with for a long time (e.g. your own faction's cities!). After all, if you end up at war with a faction, all of your workshops in that faction are stolen from you. To buy a workshop you must physically walk around town. If you hold alt you will see three semi-random workshops throughout the city (e.g. wine press, brewery, smithy). If you walk to one of these shops during the day you will find NPCs loitering around nearby called "Shop Worker". Talk to the shop worker and tell them you want to purchase the workshop.
To decide which workshops to build in which city, examine the fiefs which feed into that city. You can also use a workshop guide, but I find these aren't always correct due to frequent patches. The bottom line is this: Pick a city which has at least one source of workshop materials (e.g. grain, sheep, hardwood) in its settlements. More than one source is even better. Next, buy a workshop and select the type that uses that material. For example, grain is used by breweries, and wood is used by a wood workshop etc. Then, you wait. You can check the workshop's profitability from the clan tab (L), but remember, don't expect it to become super profitable anytime soon. These are long-term investments.
Another way to make money is caravans. Caravans are more profitable than workshops, but come with significant risk, especially if you're at war with anyone. Basically, you assign a companion to manage a caravan (which costs 15000-25000 denars to make depending on the troops you assign), and the caravan will travel from city to city buying and selling goods. Companions with high Trade skills are essential here. While travelling, the caravans can be attacked by looters, bandits, and worst, enemy armies. If the caravan is captured, you'll have to go rescue your companion or wait for them to be released. Then you'll have to spend another 15-25k to get the caravan going again. Basically, don't do this if you're a warmonger. Anyway, to form a caravan, talk to any merchant in a city and choose the "I want to form a caravan in this city" option. Caravans will net you varying amounts of money, and the income will not be every day, but in my experience they are more profitable than workshops and much more annoying to keep track of.
If you have a high trade skill, instead of making caravans you can be a caravan. Load up on sumpter horses which increase your max load, and then use trade rumours (talk to civilians hanging out in town markets) to determine the best places to buy and sell stuff. Buy low, travel, sell high. If you make 30 denars per sale and sell 100 trade items, that's 3k of profit. If you make 100 denars per sale, that's 30k profit! Again, keep in mind that cities generally only keep 20k-30k denars on them at a time, so if you take too many goods you will not be able to sell them all.
Holding the alt key highlights both important people and weapons that are lying around. You can use this during sieges to replenish ranged ammo and locate nearby interactible things.
You can use the siege weapons that your army/city has built. This will train your throwing skill and also open some neat opportunities. For example, you can use catapults to smash siege towers! It takes 4 hits to achieve but boy is it worth it!
Catapults and trebuchets can be aimed left and right but also have a red gauge on the side which affects the distance that your shots travel. You can change this bar using W/S to choose how close or far to shoot. Generally you want the distance to be less than half the red bar because your targets are a lot closer than the range on the siege engines.
When defending a city you will notice piles of rocks (called merlons) lying around upstairs in the gatehouse. You can take these rocks and drop them on enemy troops for massive damage (400+). You can also use them to smash the battering ram with a few good throws, thereby protecting your gates.
You can place your troops before a siege by pressing the numbers (e.g. 1 for infantry) and then clicking where you want them to go. However they just run back to where the AI would have put them anyway, so it's not worth it right now. But someday it might actually work as intended!
Is the castle you were staying in being beseiged by overwhelming numbers? You can sally forth to attack, use archers to pick some troops off, and then retreat from battle before their enormous army starts hacking your party apart. Repeat this about a dozen times and you'll have a much more manageable enemy to fight, with very few casualties on your side. For the love of god though save before you try this. Also note that, due to a bug, when you sally out of the castle you'll be plonked onto the overworld map when you retreat and won't be able to get back in without sacrificing troops.
Save often. Make multiple save files so that you can jump back in time up to half a year if need be. Sometimes bad decisions (e.g. a war with a much stronger faction) take a long time to bite you in the ass.
Buy lots of (non-sumpter) horses. As long as you have at least a 1:1 horse to troop ratio, your campaign movement speed will be hugely increased, allowing you to chase and catch foes must more easily.
Although the tutorial teaches you to buy grain, don't just buy grain. Instead, buy even amounts of every food you can find. That means grain, dates, beer, cheese, butter, oil, meat, fish etc. This will do two things: Grant you huge amounts of Quartermaster exp every day, and also keep your troop morale maxed out, meaning they won't run like cowards from a difficult fight
If you can get your leadership to 125, you can unlock the "Disciplinarian" perk. This allows you to promote bandits into regular military units, which at the minimum makes them as useful as recruits. Some bandits, however, can become very powerful military units, such as bushwhackers, freebooters and forest bandits turning into the much-beloved Battanian Fian Champions!
THINGS NOT TO DO
Don't give anyone the dragon banner before you're ready to fight the whole world. That also applies to founding your own kingdom by completing the relevant quest.
Don't put companions in the Quartermaster role of your party. Otherwise you deprive yourself of an easy way to gain Steward exp, which increases your troop size.
Don't buy workshops in cities you plan on warring with anytime soon, because once war is declared you automatically lose those workshops.
Don't make caravans if you want to go to war a lot. The enemy nobles will target your caravans mercilessly.
Don't leave siege weapons you've built out in the open to get destroyed one by one. Instead, click on the weapon immediately once it's finished and choose "Send to reserve". Once you have 4 weapons built, place them all simultaneously and watch the mayhem unfold!
Don't fight battles where your army strengths are similar (unless it's really important to do so e.g. you're defending your own fiefs against a siege). You will lose a lot of good troops this way, and if you instead fight easy battles you'll get way more rewards with way less casualties in the long run.
Don't execute nobles unless you want to make the game harder on yourself. They breed like rabbits and everyone hates you when you execute someone. Plus there's a good chance they'll execute you too if they capture you in a fight after that. Releasing other nobles grants the most benefit to you by far, even if it's not as satisfying.
And... that's it for now! I'm sure I forgot some tips but I'll edit them in as I remember. At the very least it should open up some new gameplay avenues for some people, and maybe make things a little less stupid for others. If you made it to the end of this very long post: well done!
[OC] Every NBA Team Ranked By How Well They Have Performed To Preseason Expectations This Regular Season In 2019-20.
With another regular season complete I decided it would be cool to continue my annual series and take a look back at every NBA team this season and place them into tiers based on how well they performed relative to pre-season expectations. These are the 7 tiers teams will be fit into.
Completely Exceeded Expectations
Slightly Exceeded Expectations
Slightly Didn't Meet Expectations
Didn't Meet Expectations
Completely Didn't Meet Expectations
I have made this series of post over the last two seasons and both were very positively received so I hope you guys enjoy this version as well. Here is a link to the 2018 edition and another link to the 2019 edition for anyone interested. As always different teams have different issues throughout a season. So, as a result, to determine how each team performed relative to expectations I have considered the team’s overall win-loss record but also how acknowledged injuries and other context of how they have performed. An important clarification to make here is that teams can exceed their preseason expectations and still have disappointing seasons. This is just my opinion and I am keen to shuffle the list around if people disagree with my results so feel free to leave your input and I will be very willing to take the feedback. Please don’t be too harsh and I will try to make sure my rankings are as accurate as possible Just a couple other things to consider:
It was tricky to write the post this year with the complications of unbalanced fixtures due to the 'bubble games' and the shorter season. I have scaled each teams WL record to the equivalent of an 82 game season for the sake of these comparisons in the post so that's why the WL records are different.
Completely Exceeded Expectations
OKC Thunder WL Record: 50-32
The OKC Thunder were predicted to win 37 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win as few as 33 games. They were viewed as a team that would commit to a rebuild after the shock departure of all-star duo Russell Westbrook and Paul George. While they had acquired great veteran players in Paul and Gallinari the expectation was that those two would be moved by the trade deadline. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions not a single voter, out of 29 people, expected the Thunder to make the playoffs. Despite a modest start to the season at 11-14, which was already better than expected, nobody expected OKC to be a playoff threat let alone a 50 win team. Their success can be attributed to many factors such as the terrific leadership of Chris Paul, the elite play of Shroeder who is sure to be a strong contender for 6MOTY and the breakout season of second year player Shai Gilgeous Alexander. The Thunder have surprised everyone this season so look for them to try and cause a major first round upset. .
Toronto Raptors WL Record: 60-22
The Toronto Raptors were predicted to win 45 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report Odds expecting them to win as few as 42 games. They were viewed as a team that would make the playoffs in a 3-6 seed in the weak East but would struggle to compete amongst the league’s elite following the departure of FMVP Kawhi Leonard and role player Danny Green. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions all 29 voters expected the Raptors to make the playoffs, however none of them predicted Toronto to finish with a top 2 seed. Toronto defied that expectation and played at a 60 win place this season which saw them finish with the league’s second best record outright. Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell and OG Anunoby all made major improvements in their game, as did Pascal Siakam who made his first all star appearance. It's unbelievable that the Raptors finished the year 28-5 especially with their starters missing over 50 games through injury in 2019-20 and it's a huge testament to the system Nick Nurse has created and the Raptors next man up mentality that sees them as arguably the deepest team in the league. Could they shock everyone and go back to back? .
Memphis Grizzlies WL Record: 38-44
The Memphis Grizzlies were predicted to win 28 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win as few as 24 games. They were viewed as a young team that was set to enter a new rebuilding era after the departure of franchise legends Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. A successful season for Memphis would've been to see rookies Brandon Clarke and Ja Morant as well as sophomore Jaren Jackson Jr develop. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions not a single voter, out of 29 people, expected the Grizzlies to make the playoffs. However, despite a poor start to the season at 6-16, Memphis surprised everyone and were in playoffs contention all the way until the final day of the regular season. Expected rookie of the year Ja Morant averaged 18/4/7, Brandon Clarke was a hidden gem off the bench, Jaren Jackson continued to improve in a major way and 2017 first round pick Dillon Brooks emerged as a strong 3&D scorer doubling his PPG total from the year prior. They may have just missed playoffs in 2020 but the Grizzlies future looks to be heading in a promising direction. . .
Phoenix Suns WL Record: 38-44.
The Phoenix Suns were predicted to win 31 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win as few as 27 games. They were viewed as a young team in a brutal Western Conference that wouldn't really be much of a threat to anyone. A successful season for Phoenix would've been to see growth from their young stars and to close the gap between their best and worst games. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions not a single voter, out of 29 people, expected the Suns to make the playoffs and to be honest for almost the entire season they weren't really considered a playoff chance. However, they went on a remarkable 8 game win streak in the bubble and were one Caris Levert jump shot away from qualifying for a play in. Despite the heartbreak of missing playoffs, the Suns do have a sense of direction now for the first time in a while. Free agent Ricky Rubio was a great fit for the team and helped lead the Suns to become the number one assist team in the NBA. Devin Booker received an overdue all-star selection and with DeAndre Ayton's great second season the future is looking brighter in Phoenix. .
LA Lakers WL Record: 60-22
The LA Lakers were predicted to win 50 games in the preseason with 538 expecting them to win as few as 48 games. They were viewed as a team that was top heavy with compromised depth, and with Anthony Davis' injury history and Lebron's reputation for coasting there weren't many believers that the Lakers would secure a top 2 seed in the regular season. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions all 29 voters expected the Lakers to make the playoffs, however only 7 of them predicted LA to hold a top 2 seed in the stacked Western Conference. This ended up being just another lesson for us who doubted Lebron though as the Lakers elite defence saw them achieve great regular season success. James played at an MVP level and in year 17 clinched his first assists title as he played more of a point guard role. Anthony Davis was terrific too leading the team in points, rebounds, steals and blocks, proving to be a great duo next to Lebron. It's still to be seen how far the Lakers can go with limited depth and a top-heavy line up in the playoffs but this regular season they exceeded expectations. .
Milwaukee Bucks WL Record: 63-19
The Milwaukee Bucks were predicted to win 55 games in the preseason with Kevin Pelton's odds expecting them to win as few as 51 games. They were viewed as a team that would compete for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, but not many expected them to play at such a high level for so much of the season as they held a record of 52-8 (71 win pace) before managing players to end the year. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions all 29 voters expected the Bucks to make the playoffs, all voters put them as a top 2 seed, however only 17 of them predicted them to finish on top of the Eastern Conference. It seems odd that the team with the league’s best record last season exceeded expectations by doing it again, but as stated before, the Bucks had a historic record before load managing kicked in late in the year and the team never looked like losing their grip on the 1 seed. They began the year 24-3 and look like the team to beat. Giannis had another MVP caliber season averaging 30/14/6 and is also the odds on favourite to win DPOY. They've dominated this regular season but now the true challenge is to go all the way and win it all. .
Miami Heat WL Record: 49-33.
The Miami Heat were predicted to win 43 games in the preseason with 538 expecting them to win as few as 41 games. They were viewed as a team that would be competing for playoffs but a first round exit at best. The departure of Whiteside, Richardson and Wade who all received major minutes in 2019 had people unsure what to make of them but the addition of Butler was enough to expect them not to bottom out. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 25/29 voters expected the Heat to make the playoffs, 5 correctly predicting Miami to finish with a top 5 seed. The improvement by the Heat can largely be attributed to the breakout season of third year star Bam Adebayo who averaged 16/10/5 to make his first all star appearance. In addition to his play the Heat’s other young stars all made big impacts with Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn all playing great basketball. They may not go all the way this year, but the young Heat team looks ready to compete for the foreseeable future. .
Charlotte Hornets WL Record: 29-53.
The Charlotte Hornets were predicted to win 23 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win as few as 16 games. They were viewed as a team that was doomed after the departure of Kemba Walker and one that had no direction or quality players. Many expected them to be one of the outright worst teams in NBA history too. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions not a single voter, out of 29 people, expected the Hornets to make the playoffs and to be honest for almost the entire season they weren't really considered a playoff chance. However, they managed to amazingly finish the season with the 9th best record of Eastern Conference teams, and while that’s not an accurate reflection of how good the Hornets are it shows that they weren’t that bad. Devonte Graham improved his PPG by over 13 points and Terry Rozier had a solid first season in Charlotte to give Hornets fans something to cheer about moving on to 2021. .
Dallas Mavericks WL Record: 47-35.
The Dallas Mavericks were predicted to win 42 games in the preseason with ESPN expecting them to win as few as 41 games. They were viewed as a team with two young stars that could push for the playoffs in a competitive Western Conference but nothing more than at best an 8 seed. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions just 6, out of 29 people, expected the Mavs to make the playoffs, all of those selections were as an 8th seed too. However Dallas did better than many expected and were in the playoff picture all season, with their final win percentage relatively high for a 7th seed. It’s not hard to tell where the improvement came from as Luka Doncic announced himself to the NBA. The Slovenian sophomore averaged 29/9/9 and will be sure to feature highly in the MVP voting. In addition to his improvement, Kristaps Porzingis had a career season and got better as the season went on. The Mavs have the odds stacked against them going against the Clippers but this regular season was a success for Dallas fans. .
Slightly Exceeded Expectations
Boston Celtics WL Record: 55-27.
The Boston Celtics were predicted to win 48 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win as few as 45 games. They were viewed as a team in an uncomfortable situation after a drama filled 2018-19. Kyrie Irving and Al Horford departed and with Kemba, Tatum and Brown the new face of the team the expectation was a comfortable playoff appearance but not really a championship threat. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions all 29 voters expected the Celtics to make the playoffs, 17 correctly predicting Boston to have home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Celtics were led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown who both took big steps forward in years 3 and 4 to show why they are so highly touted and viewed as the future for Boston. The year was one without much drama, a stark difference to 2019, and one that all Celtics fans could enjoy, Gordon Hayward returned to his best form and Kemba Walker was a great fit for the team. Regardless of how these playoffs pan out Boston looks ready to remain an East contender for years to come. .
New York Knicks WL Record: 26-56.
The New York Knicks were predicted to win 24 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win as few as 20 games. They were viewed as a team that would have a dreadful year after an offseason that saw them have to revert to a plan B after failing to sign a big-name free agent. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions not a single voter, out of 29 people, expected the Knicks to make the playoffs, and while they didn’t qualify there were still some positives to take out of the season. RJ Barrett showed flashes of his potential and Mitchell Robinson continued to thrive as their center for the future. It’s a little funny to say that the Knicks ended up slightly exceeding expectations by playing at a 24 win pace but by avoiding a bottom 5 record this season I’d say they fit the category. . .
Indiana Pacers WL Record: 50-32.
The Indiana Pacers were predicted to win 45 games in the preseason with Kevin Pelton’s odds expecting them to win as few as 43 games. They were viewed as a team with solid depth and good players to make up for the departure of Bojan Bogdanovic, Wes Matthews and Thaddeus Young in the offseason but weren’t really deemed much of a threat. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions all 29 voters expected the Pacers to make the playoffs, 16 correctly predicting Indiana to have home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Pacers were led by TJ Warren, Malcolm Brogdon and first time all star Domantas Sabonis who averaged 19/12/5 for the season. The Pacers were probably the most accurately predicted team this season as everyone knew that they were better than your typical fringe playoff team but they weren’t really set to be an outright contender. It’ll be interesting to see if they can end their first round hoodoo this season against Miami in the playoffs. .
LA Clippers WL Record: 56-26.
The LA Clippers were predicted to win 53 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report Odds expecting them to win as few as 52 games. They were viewed as a team with two superstar small forwards that would coast through the regular season and be ready to compete for a championship after developing chemistry all season. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions all 29 voters expected the Clippers to make the playoffs, with less than half of them correctly predicting them to finish the regular season with a top 2 seed. As stated before, this was largely due to the belief that the Clippers would be managing their star players for the playoffs. Despite a down year for Paul George, LAC were still able to play at a 56 win pace in large part due to some elite bench play from duo Lou Williams and 6MOTY front runner Montrezl Harrell. However, the Clippers were always a playoff lock and the real challenge begins now on their quest for championship success. .
Washington Wizards WL Record: 29-53.
The Washington Wizards were predicted to win 28 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win as few as 19 games. They were viewed as a team with no real direction and a strange roster of misfits. Bradley Beal was expected to be traded before the trade deadline to allow the team to embrace a full rebuild. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions not a single voter, out of 29 people, expected the Wizards to make the playoffs yet they found themselves in a position to make the playoffs with 8 games remaining. Bradley Beal was a shining light for the team averaging a career high 30.5 points per game and the growth of Thomas Bryant, Rui Hachimura and Mo Wagner was something for Washington to enjoy but the success was limited. For being just about as bad as we expected them to be this season, despite playing at a below 30 win pace, the Wizards are classified as meeting expectations. .
Cleveland Cavaliers WL Record: 24-58.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were predicted to win 23 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win as few as 19 games. They were viewed as a young team with no real stars but a team that could see some development in their youngsters. Kevin Love was expected to be traded before the trade deadline to allow the team to embrace a full rebuild. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions not a single voter, out of 29 people, expected the Cavs to make the playoffs and for good reason too. The Cavaliers finished the season with the second worst record in the entire NBA and had very few positives outside of the improved offensive game of second year guard Colin Sexton. A late season trade for Andre Drummond was unexpected and it’ll be intriguing to see what direction this team takes from here. It’s funny to say that the Cavs met expectations this year but they were horrible as everyone was expecting. .
Denver Nuggets WL Record: 52-30.
The Denver Nuggets were predicted to win 54 games in the preseason with basketball reference expecting them to win 53 games. They were viewed as a great regular season team with lots of depth and quality players that give them a strong opportunity to secure a top 4 seed in the regular season while the majority of the West powerhouse teams would coast a bit more. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions all 29 voters expected the Nuggets to make the playoffs, with 21 of those votes allocated to Denver making a top 3 seed. It’s hard to find a major storyline for the whole year to go off for the team as they did what was pretty much expected of them. Nikola Jokic had another fine season averaging 20/10/7 while Will Barton provided a spark to remain one of the league’s most underappreciated players. The biggest positive for the Nuggets was the late season emergence of Michael Porter Jr who will look to build on his great recent play with a series win over Utah. .
Slightly Didn't Meet Expectations
Sacramento Kings WL Record: 35-47.
The Sacramento Kings were predicted to win 37 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win as many as 40 games. They were viewed as a team that looked set to put their past history of failure behind them and build on a great 2019 season. A successful season for the Kings would’ve been qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 2006. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions just 8, out of 29 people, expected the Kings to make the playoffs, all of those selections were as an 8th seed too. Unfortunately, they didn’t make the improvement expected of them. The Kings began the season 0-5 and never looked like a playoff threat and as a result extended their streak of failing to make the playoffs to 15 straight years. A rare positive in a disappointing year was the continued growth of Fox and Bogdanovic but this was an otherwise forgettable year for Sacramento. .
Utah Jazz WL Record: 50-32.
The Utah Jazz were predicted to win 52 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win as many as 59 games. They were viewed as a great regular season team with lots of depth and quality players that would give them an opportunity to secure a top 4 seed in the regular season while the majority of the West powerhouse teams would coast a bit more. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions all 29 voters expected the Jazz to make the playoffs. 16 of those votes were allocated with the expectation that the Jazz would have a top 4 record in the West, and despite doing so, something about Utah just seemed off this year. Perhaps it was their inability to match it with the league’s elite teams but nobody really considered the team a major threat in the West. Rudy Gobert had another DPOY caliber year and Donovan Mitchell received an overdue All-Star selection as a positive for the team but they ultimately fell to the 6th seed after a three way tiebreaker. . Brooklyn Nets WL Record: 40-42. The Brooklyn Nets were predicted to win 43 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report Odds expecting them to win 43 games. They were viewed as a decent team on paper but one that didn't have a lot to play for in 2020 with the absence of Kevin Durant. A pass mark for the Nets this year would simply be making the playoffs and being competitive. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 26/29 voters expected the Nets to make the playoffs, but ultimately this year didn't hold much significance. In a way its remarkable that the team played within 3 games of their expected win total too given that Kyrie Irving only played 20 games for the year, two of which were 50 point performances. With the improvement of Caris Levert and Spencer Dinwiddie, the Brooklyn Nets will be a force to be reckoned with in 2021 if the team can stay healthy. . Orlando Magic WL Record: 37-45. The Orlando Magic were predicted to win 42 games in the preseason with Kevin Pelton’s odds expecting them to win as many as 47 games. They were viewed as a young team that was on the up. A team that would be a near lock for playoffs and in a weaker Eastern conference, a team that could push for a 5th seed or potentially higher. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 16/29 voters expected the Magic to make the playoffs but a majority outside the subreddit rated them much higher. The Magic were an elite defensive team this season with Jonathon Isaac making a name for himself as a defensive star of the future. Vucevic, Fournier and Gordon were all reliable offensive players and Fultz showed signs of improvement after a nightmare start to his career. The Magic only played at a 37 win pace which was lower than expected but since they still solidly made playoffs so they only slightly failed to meet expectations this year. . New Orleans Pelicans WL Record: 34-48. The New Orleans Pelicans were predicted to win 39 games in the preseason with basketball reference expecting them to win as many as 40 games. They were viewed as a young team with solid veterans that could help push the team towards the playoffs in a competitive Western Conference but nothing more than at best an 8 seed. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions just 2/29 voters expected the Pelicans to make the playoffs with both votes at the 8 seed. Brandon Ingram had a breakout season for the team, Lonzo Ball improved and star rookie Zion Williamson impressed in his 24 games for the season but it's hard to make an assessment on NOLA. They began the year 6-9 before losing 13 consecutive games. A stretch that they followed up with by playing at a 50 win pace during the middle of the season, before poor play in the bubble saw them miss an opportunity at the playoffs. Personally I'd say the Pelicans only slightly didn't meet expectations since they had a losing record with Williamson in his 24 games and he was so hyped up, but I am open to changing this based on what you guys think. .
Didn't Meet Expectations
. Philadelphia 76ers WL Record: 48-34. The Philadelphia 76ers were predicted to win 54 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win as many as 58 games. They were viewed as an elite defensive team with two great young players that would be hungry after a heartbreaking game 7 loss to Toronto the year prior. Players like Al Horford and Tobias Harris were expected to see the team competing for a top 2 seed in the East. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions All 29 voters expected the 76ers to make the playoffs, with a stunning 28 off them predicting a top 2 seed (12 even predicted the number one record out East). However what happened was a variety of issues from Simmons' poor fit on the team and lack of any improvement offensively, Horford's decline paired with overall inconsistency and poor chemistry from the team. A 6th seed is a fair reflection of a forgettable season for the team that was had an unbelievable ability to dominate at home and play like the worst team in the league on the road. . Houston Rockets WL Record: 50-32. The Houston Rockets were predicted to win 54 games in the preseason with 538 expecting them to win as many as 57 games. They were viewed as a superstar team with two MVP caliber players, and with their kryptonite Warriors weaker than years gone by, this was seen as Houston’s opportunity to secure a top 2 seed and make a championship run. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions all 29 voters expected the Rockets to make the playoffs and while they did so, it happened in extremely unconvincing fashion. 13 preseason voters expected Houston to finish with the West's best record but similar to the 76ers, their record was the same as a 6th seed in the conference. Russell Westbrook had two conflicting halves of the season while James Harden put together another great year averaging 34PPG. The post season is where the Rockets should finally be able to put their previous woes behind them and where we can truly assess if the season was successful or not. . Portland Trailblazers WL Record: 39-43. The Portland Trailblazers were predicted to win 45 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win as many as 47 games. They were viewed as a lock for the playoffs in a competitive Western conference after an impressive WCF appearance in 2019. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions all 29 voters expected the Blazers to make the playoffs and while they did so in the end, they only finished 8th in the standings with a sub .500 record. Of course it's easy to understand why when you consider that their starting front court in Collins and Nurkic missed almost the entire season. Damian Lillard had a fantastic season posting a career high 30 points and 8 assists per game averages to keep the Blazers afloat in a difficult year. As harsh as it is when you account for injuries, the reality is that Portland were still expected to make playoffs after a WCF appearance without Nurkic the year prior so for the regular season this year the Blazers failed to meet expectations, despite a late season run. . San Antonio Spurs WL Record: 37-45. The San Antonio Spurs were predicted to win 43 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win as many as 47 games. They were viewed as a weaker team than the squads they had in years prior but were still expected to compete for the playoffs. All though missing the playoffs was more expected than it likely ever has been for the team in the last 20 years. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 13/29 voters expected the Spurs to make the playoffs with 12 of those votes as an 8th seed. The Spurs had made the playoffs in 22 consecutive years and after coming off a 48 win season in 2019 they seemed a safe pick. However, the 48 wins also signalled the end of a long streak of 50 win seasons for San Antonio and they were clearly on a decline. There wouldn't be too many times in NBA history that you would call the Spurs season a disappointment but this year they failed to meet expectations. It will be interesting to see what the future of the team looks like going forward. . Atlanta Hawks WL Record: 25-57. The Atlanta Hawks were predicted to win 33 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win as many as 36 games. They were viewed as a young team that looked like a dark horse to secure a spot in the Eastern conference playoffs after years of limited success. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 6/29 voters expected the Hawks to make the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Hawks John Collins' was suspended for 25 games and with Hunter and Reddish struggling early in their rookie year the team never looked like a playoff threat. The biggest shining light for the Hawks in a poor season was no doubt the improvement of Trae Young who averaged a stunning 30/4/9 for the year on 60% TS, culminating in an Allstar selection as a starter. Atlanta made a late season trade for Clint Capela in hopes to fix their poor defence but he didn't get an opportunity to play as the season was shortly suspended. The Hawks this season were disappointing from a win loss perspective but I'm sure the development of Trae this year keeps fans excited for the future. . Chicago Bulls WL Record: 28-54. The Chicago Bulls were predicted to win 35 games in the preseason with Kevin Pelton’s odds expecting them to win as many as 39 games. They were viewed as a young team that looked like a dark horse to secure a spot in the Eastern conference playoffs after years of limited success. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 3/29 voters expected the Bulls to make the playoffs, not a great total but there was some excitement around them. Unfortunately Chicago saw limited growth from their young players with some even taking a step backwards this year which ultimately led to the recent firing of head coach Jim Boylen. Zach LaVine was a rare positive for the Bulls as he averaged 26PPG but the team has a lot to work on and some tough decisions ahead of them going forward. .
Completely Didn't Meet Expectations
Detroit Pistons WL Record: 25-57.
The Detroit Pistons were predicted to win 38 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win as many as 39 games. They were viewed as a team with a strange mix of stars in Drummond, Griffin and Rose but one that should have been able to finish in the 8/9/10 range of the East standings. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 11 out of 29 people, expected the Pistons to make the playoffs. They weren't expected to be winning any playoff series but the bare minimum was a playoff appearance. Detroit however struggled with injuries and poor form all year and finished in absolutely shocking form with losses in 18 of their last 20 games. Christian Wood played well as a starter for the team averaging 22/9/2 on 65% TS in that role but the stats didn't translate to much success. After trading Drummond late in the year the Pistons look set for a long rebuild. .
Minnesota Timberwolves WL Record: 25-57.
The Minnesota Timberwolves were predicted to win 39 games in the preseason with 538 expecting them to win as many as 44 games. They were viewed as a young team that wouldn’t really achieve a whole lot of success but would at the least be competitive with a star big man on the roster. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions not a single voter, out of 29 people, expected the Wolves to make the playoffs and for good reason too. The team had no semblance of defensive identity all season long, with the exception of games where Towns was absent, in a worrying sign for a team looking to build around a star player. Malik Beasley flourished after being traded late season but there weren't many other positives for the team. The Wolves could have had a disappointing year by winning 35 odd games but instead were even worse and won had the leagues 3rd worst record in 2019-20. .
Golden State Warriors WL Record: 19-63.
The Golden State Warriors were predicted to win 49 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report Odds expecting them to win as many as 51 games. They were viewed as a weaker team than years prior following the departure of KD and with Klay’s knee injury but a combination of Curry, D’Lo and Draymond had many believing the team would be a lock for playoffs and a chance to steal a playoff series. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions all 29 voters expected the Warriors to make the playoffs with 26 of those voters expecting a 5-6-7 seed for the team. Golden State’s season began in shocking fashion through the first 5 games of the year and things just got worse as Curry was sidelined soon with a hand/wrist injury. Draymond Green and D’Angelo Russell struggled to keep the team afloat and the Warriors ended up trading D’Lo late in the season for Andrew Wiggins. It’ll be interesting to see how the team goes next season with a healthy Curry and Klay back in the lineup, but for finishing with the leagues worst record after 5 straight finals appearances there is no denying that the Warriors completely failed to meet preseason expectations.
27th September – Lady Vago’s Malediction by A.K.M. Beach
In the blackened heart of a cursed forest, a banshee haunts her crumbling castle with lethal screams. Lady Vago is trapped in this place. She cannot fulfill her purpose as a banshee: to warn her loved ones of their deaths and watch over them while they pass. To solve the mystery of her imprisonment, she must sift through the rubble and ruin that surrounds her. By communing with old paintings, broken furniture, and even the stones themselves, she rediscovers who she was in life. Before she was Lady Vago, she was Rovena Stoddard, a sharp-witted horse merchant’s daughter that caught the eye of a charming baron. Lord Kalsten Vago’s life as a wandering knight was over, but it inspired visions of a better life for his most vulnerable subjects. Rovena was far less afraid of bold change than his staunch and loyal steward, who saw her presence as a threat to Lord Kalsten’s success. Love and shared dreams alone wouldn’t overcome the controversy of the couple’s hasty and unequal union, as well as the trials of governing a fledgling barony—Rovena knew that. What she failed to recognize was the deeper darkness taking root in Vago lands and hearts… Every memory of what Rovena loved is a reminder of what she lost, but she cannot let grief halt her search. Devoted spectres of ash are begging their lady for an end to their torment, and she will not let their agony–or her own–go unanswered anymore. Check it out on Goodreads. --
30th September – The Devil You Know ANTHOLOGY by Various Authors
These heroes might not be angels, but you know what they say…it’s always better to trust the devil you know… Looking for a typical hero tale? Keep looking. These twelve tales explore the grittier side of what it means to make life’s hardest choices and let your reputation pay the price. From back-alleys and ancient cities to graveyards and castle walls, these trouble-makers are out for themselves…or are they? Check it out on Goodreads. --
30th September – Mage Prince (The Mage Born Chronicles #3) by Kayleigh Nicol
Following the fall of the mistress mage and the untimely death of the old king, King Vanikolanestra and Mage Prince Jereshin work tirelessly to end the slavery of the mages of Zarapheth and restore magic to the realm. Old noble families are restored, the mage guild is revived and reparations are made against the old king’s crimes. All seems peaceful as Reshi seeks to set aside his crown in favor of Niko’s child and the upcoming heir ceremony. But as ambassadors from foreign nations flock to the capital to witness the ceremony, latent foes begin to emerge. A band of rebel mages vow to wage war unless a monarch of magical blood sits on the Zaraphethan throne. A foreign delegation from a mysterious kingdom arrive with a hidden agenda of murder and magic. And ancient beings stir beneath the very stones, gaining strength from Laurana’s final bargain. Enemies within and without seek to set Niko and Reshi against each other as the rhythm of war threatens the kingdom once more. Check it out on Goodreads. --
1st October – The Second Expedition (A Thousand Li #4) by Tao Wong
Even the great may fall. Wu Ying’s idle winter, one filled with training and recovery, is throw awry when his Master and Elder Yang return, injured. The Three Seasons poison fills Master Cheng’s veins, slowly killing the powerful Elder. His only hope – a rare antidote. But the ingredients for such an antidote are scarce and located in the deepest wilds. Together, Wu Ying and Elder Yang take it upon themselves to embark on a Second Expedition to acquire the necessary materials. It would be a dangerous journey through the State of Wei normally, but in the shadows, enemies await to finish the job. Wu Ying is once again pitched against dark forces as a Sect war looms. Check it out on Goodreads. --
1st October - We Men of Ash and Shadow (The Vanguard Chronicles #1) by HL Tinsley
Amidst the gas lamp shadows former soldier-turned-mercenary John Vanguard hunts criminals at the behest of his corrupt employer, Captain Felix Sanquain. Shamed by his deserter past and seeking to make amends for his many misdeeds, a chance encounter with Tarryn Leersac – a skilled young would-be-assassin fallen from the graces of high society – leads Vanguard to become an unlikely mentor. Charged with hunting down the killer of two guards left washed up on the banks of the canal, the further Vanguard delves into the underbelly of the city the more he finds himself entangled in a web of secrets and lies. A prominent aristocrat is missing. Crime lords, con men and harlots run amok and the city teeters on the brink of another revolution. With his already precarious reputation hanging by a thread, Vanguard must piece together how and why the last war came to pass, find a way to earn redemption for his mistakes and come to terms with the past in a city where few survive, and even fewer can be trusted. Check it out on Goodreads. --
1st October - Arcanist (Spellmonger #12) by Terry Mancour
A Belligerent Spring Being the most powerful wizard in the world can be a challenge. After defending his fledgling realm against the undead lord Gaja Katar all winter long, Count Minalan of the Magelaw faces a new threat in the spring: the Nemovort Shakathet, favored of Korbal, leading the mighty hordes out of the Penumbra. This time Minalan faces a real strategist, who drives his armies with purpose and efficiency. This time, the road to war leads through Megelin Castle and the vulnerable lands to the south of Vanador. This time, old enemies become allies, and old friends become valuable assets. Just another month in the life of the Spellmonger. War, however, is not what is preoccupying Minalan; the knowledge of the end of the world is. As he broods on existential issues and debates with various goddesses and Alka Alon about Calidore’s fate, he must overcome his own fears and anxieties and impose order on the situation before everything goes into the chamberpot. The solution? Hire an Arcanist, a specialist in the obscure and trivial, to organize and investigate the many matters Minalan has to manage and bring them to order. A busy wizard needs good organization to get it all done, after all, so Minalan hires Heeth the Butler to dive into the details while he prepares to fight the darkness. That buys the Spellmonger time to hunt down spies, taunt the Count of Nion into invading the Magelaw, lend aid to the sister realm of the Wilderlaw, who face their own war against the darkness, indulge his wife’s desire for cheesemaking, make staffing decisions, ferret out a plot to betray him by one of his vassals, and occasionally lead a special forces squadron of high-powered warmagi into battle, which is convenient. He also gets help from a wisecracking bard with a talent for espionage, an ancient intelligence who is suddenly mobile, and an insistent cow goddess, but each new ally is fraught with problems of their own. An obsessive know-it-all with a rare talent for obscure trivia is the right man in the right job. Who knew that the Spellmonger just needed an . . . ARCANIST! Check it out on Goodreads. --
3rd October – Children (The Ten Worlds #1) by Bjorn Larssen
Magni never wanted to be like his father, a murderous, absent, cheating alcoholic: Thor – the feared and beloved God of thunder. When Thor destroys everything and everyone his son knows and loves, Magni vows to stop the violence. His dream is to bring peace and prosperity to the Nine Worlds, then settle down with the man he loves. But is it possible to remain good in a place this bad? How do you escape cruelty in a universe built on it, or the shadow of your father when everyone calls you by his name? Maya knows she’s a failure and a disappointment to her foster-parents. How could a child raised by Freya and Freyr – Goddess of love and God of sex – have no interest in the greatest of pleasures? Obviously, it couldn’t be the torture they subjected her to, or treating her as a tool that might someday be useful. Maya, her rage at their games more powerful than she knows, wants freedom to pursue her own destiny. But how do you forge your own life away from your God-parents when you’re nothing more than human? Check it out on Goodreads. --
5th October – Plight of Madness (The Madness Wars #3) by Jesse Teller
The Drine legions achieve their greatest victory since launching the war, and Tienne seems out of heroes. Simon Bard has fled, the ancient Despelora is missing, and Peter Redfist’s men have scattered. Just when it looks like Rextur will win this war, rumor of an old legend surfaces. Tienne has protectors who should be long-dead. The Sons of Despelora have risen, and the Madness of Drine is not prepared. Check it out on Goodreads. --
6th October – A Wizard’s Sacrifice (The Woern Saga #2) by A.M. Justice
Conquering Fate Takes Sacrifice. Victoria of Ourtown believes two things: that the bright, wandering star in the heavens is an abandoned spacecraft which brought her ancestors to this world and that destiny and the will of gods are nonsense. Vic used to scoff at stories of wizards too, until she acquired their powers. Once a warrior, now a secret wizard, she just wants to live an ordinary life and find a way to atone for the mistakes she’s made. Ashel of Narath knows that the wandering star is the god who created humanity, but this difference of opinion doesn’t stop him from loving Vic. All that keeps them apart is a thousand miles and a tragic loss. Lornk Korng needs Vic and Ashel to execute his plans for conquest. The fact both want him dead is but a trifling snag in his schemes. A bigger problem are the world’s indigenous aliens and an ancient enemy whose victory could wipe out humankind. As plots and counterplots clash across time, Vic and Ashel must choose their allies carefully, or risk losing not only each other but everything they know. Check it out on Goodreads. --
6th October – Wintersteel (Cradle #8) by Will Wight
As the Uncrowned King tournament reaches its final rounds, tensions between the competing factions are higher than ever. The outcome may determine the power balance throughout the rest of the world. Each Monarch schemes to seize any advantage they can…while far away, a Dreadgod stirs. When the tournament ends, the Dreadgod will rise. Whether it will be driven back into the sea or allowed to rampage depends on the Monarchs. And on which of them is left standing. Check it out on Goodreads. --
9th October – Truth and Other Lies (The Nine World Chronicles #1) by Lyra Wolf
The Destroyer is coming to Asgard. All will fall. All will burn… Loki thrives on danger, but when he’s struck by a painful vision of ash and death he knows his fun has run out. The Destroyer is real and isn’t taking prisoners. Refusing to have his life obliterated by some stuffy prophecy, all Loki wants is to save Asgard. But the gods stand in his way. They don’t trust the “Trickster.” To prove himself, he must return to the side of the man he wanted to forget. Odin, his blood brother and a first rate con. When he meets a mortal woman, his plans hit a snag. Sigyn is delightfully stubborn and quick with a blade. She also, inexplicably, possesses a divine element found only in a god. As Loki falls for her, he never expects it to fulfill the prophecy threatening all their lives. Forced to choose between betraying Odin and protecting the woman he loves, Loki must face all he never wanted. …But the truth changes everything. Check it out on Goodreads. --
9th October – Seer’s Light (Tales of Tuatha book 1) by Whitney McKinnon
A phantom rider in the night. A magic bracelet hidden below the earth. An alabaster throne in a fiery palace. If you stumble upon a well-kept secret in the woods, you can bet that life is bound to become…well, otherworldly. Sage Sallow is a quiet girl with a mission. Determined to solve her brother’s mysterious disappearance, Sage soon discovers more than she could have ever dreamed of in the off-limits woods behind Manorport Academy. But when a seance goes awry one stormy Halloween night, dark forces arrive with an agenda of their own. And portals that were once closed are now open. It’s up to Sage and her magical new friends to find her brother— and to save more than just one world. Magic? Easy. But when you’re the owner of a powerful torc with godlike powers, things can get a little complicated. Check it out on Goodreads. --
10th October – A Ritual of Flesh (The Dead Sagas #2) by Lee C. Conley
As evil ravages the north and the dead walk, all eyes fall to Arn… The apprentice journeys south, home to the College, unaware of the dark events that transpired in the High Passes after his departure. His leg in ruins, and haunted by watching shadows, the College council in Arn awaits him, but he does not travel south alone. Arnulf and his warriors must travel to Arn also, with tidings for the king of the risen dead and the terrible curse which has destroyed all that he knew. Arnulf seeks vengeance upon the College, but must choose wisely if he is to save his son. Meanwhile in the west, Bjorn and his strange Wildman companion report back to High Lord Archeon at Oldstones with grim news of cannibal Stonemen encroaching from the Barrens, but is embroiled in news of war and invasion as Archeon requests his service once more. In the capital sickness awaits them all, Nym has fled to the city and must now continue her struggle for survival on the plague ridden streets of Arn, keeping all who she cares for safe from the halls of Old Night. The many threads of this Saga converge on the city of Arn, but amid plague, invasion and terror, a greater darkness is looming. Dark forces are seeking to unleash evil upon Arnar, honour and renown is all, and sword, axe and shield is all that stands between the living and the grasping hands of the dead. Check it out on Goodreads. --
15th October – Gunmetal Gods by Zamil Akhtar
They took his daughter, so Micah comes to take their kingdom. Fifty thousand gun-toting paladins march behind him, all baptized in angel blood, thirsty to burn unbelievers. Only the janissaries can stand against them. Their living legend, Kevah, once beheaded a magus amid a hail of ice daggers. But ever since his wife disappeared, he spends his days in a haze of hashish and poetry. To save the kingdom, Kevah must conquer his grief and become the legend he once was. But Micah writes his own legend in blood, and his righteous conquest will stop at nothing. When the gods choose sides, a legend will be etched upon the stars. Check it out on Goodreads. --
19th October – The Thunder Heist (Twisted Seas #1) by Jed Herne
A relentless thief. An impossible heist. Meet Kef Cutmark. Pirate, monster-slayer, scourge of the Twisted Seas. After a lifetime of running from her past, she’s returned to Zorith – a tangled jungle of a thousand boats, all lashed together to make a floating city-ship. Zorith is powered by a device that draws energy from lightning. Mysterious, unique, and locked in an unbreachable tower, it’s the envy of Zorith’s rivals. And Kef? She’s here to steal it. If she can take the device and cripple Zorith, maybe she’ll find justice for all the hurt the city has caused her. But with an unreliable thieving crew, hunters closing in, and her past bearing down upon her, failure looks more likely. And if she fails, she’ll never find peace again. Check it out on Goodreads. --
20th October – The Chanter’s Blade (Bakunawa Rising #1) by A.A. Lee
The moon-eating serpent is coming. Tasked to complete the seven blades, Makanas has traversed many lands, spending countless gold and waging wars. But when the last chief he has to face isn’t blinded by gold nor fear the blade, Makanas employed his last weapon—deceit to infiltrate his household. Just when he thinks his plan is going well, colonizers who now rule the land uncover the chief’s traitorous plan. Lin-ay, the chief’s secluded daughter awakens the blade to protect her family—something Makanas has trained for and failed. To defeat the giant moon eating serpent, he must get Lin-ay to the bolo warrior village, but first, she must trust him. Check it out on Goodreads. --
20th October – Dreams of the Dying by Nicolas Lietzau
Jaaros Oonai, magnate, visionary, and master of coin, doesn’t muse about whether the glass is half empty or half full—only about ways to fill it. Jespar Dal’Varek, drifter, mercenary, and master of avoidance, doesn’t muse at all. He’d rather just drink the damn wine. Two lives that could not be more different intertwine when a strange contract leads Jespar to the tropical island empire of Kilay, the wealthiest nation of the Civilized World. The mission turns out to be as bizarre as it is lucrative: Jaaros Oonai, the country’s merchant king, knows a secret that could stop a catastrophe, but he has fallen into an inexplicable coma. Together with an ex-priestess and a psychic, Jespar must enter Oonai’s dreams and find this secret. What should have been a fresh start quickly turns into a nightmare, as Jespar slides into a spiral of disturbing dreams, political intrigue, and clashing ideals, where not only the fate of Kilay but his own sanity are at stake. It’s not long before he learns that sometimes only a spider’s thread divides the sleeping and the awoken. And that there’s no greater enemy than one’s own mind. Check it out on Goodreads. --
22nd October – The Soul’s Curse (Astrarose #1) by Cole T. Adams
In the land long forgotten, many secret plots of cultists, Kings, and Gods now cast long shadows across the four great kingdoms. Broken treaties and assassinations will only be the beginning as dark magic creeps beyond sight. Enraged beasts are being manipulated, while others cast curses and steal the very essence of life. As these schemes begin to come to fruition, Aeric – a young warrior- becomes entangled in the web of misfortune and adventure. Now he must train in the way of the elites of old to challenge the evil within. Joined by new friends, Aeric will travel the lands of Astrarose, battling many of the foul creatures and enemies that plague the world around him. He will soon find out that unraveling the king’s plans has dire consequences. Check it out on Goodreads. --
26th October – A Queen’s Command (Legend of Tal#2) by J.D.L. Rosell
The legend of Tal Harrenfel lives on, and a new song spreads across the Westreach. But as a devil inhabits Garin and old enemies and old flames haunt Tal, their victory promises to be short-lived… Tal, Garin, and their companions survived the traps of one Extinguished at great cost, but their troubles have only begun. Garin having learned why Tal took him under his wing, the secret has broken them apart, even as circumstance and need force them to travel together. The roads to the elven realm of Gladelyl, once the safest in the Westreach, are rife with danger. And Tal is bound to the commands of the Elf Queen he cannot trust. Upon reaching Elendol, the capital of Gladelyl, they find their troubles go further. With the gates to the East open, Elendol is in turmoil. The nobles strive for greater power, while the underclass and Eastern immigrants seek new rights. And all the while, an ancient enemy strives to turn them all against each other… Now Garin must come to terms with his devil, and Tal with his challenges both past and present, before civil war tears Elendol apart… Check it out on Goodreads. --
27th October – The Alchemyst’s Mirror by Liz Delton
Petra and Maisie Everturn just want to run their family’s tea shop, but when their explorer brother Jiordan goes missing while looking for an alchemycal artifact, none of them are safe. The sisters must enlist the help of another explorer in order to find Jiordan or the artifact—before the mysterious alchemyst society finds them first. However, when one of the sisters stumbles into the clutches of the most dangerous alchemyst in the city, the race to unravel the clues becomes desperate. And when they discover the truth about the artifact, their quest to infiltrate the alchemyst’s secret society becomes a matter of life and death. Check it out on Goodreads. --
28th October – Past Legends: An Arthurian Fantasy (The Camelot Immortals #1) by A.F. Stewart
An immortal witch of Camelot. A looming magical crisis. A destiny she’s willing to reject. All Nimue wants is a peaceful life, but her past won’t leave her alone. And when her friend Iseult brings news that her old rival Morgawse has been abducted, an impending catastrophe lands on her doorstep. And worse, the wizard responsible is Nimue’s ex, Nostradamus. Dragged into another adventure, Nimue confronts her former flame as he wages a desperate quest, only to be thrust deeper into an escalating crisis. As Nimue struggles to unravel what is happening, she discovers dark secrets that threaten the heart of magical energy. Now it’s her fate to rescue magic for every witch and wizard, including her friends. Trouble is, she wants no part of being magic’s saviour. Will Nimue step up as a champion? Or will she let the magical world die? Check it out on Goodreads. --
31st October – A Darkness Beckons (Hollow Fate #2) by Todd Herzman
A seeker has a holy mission, to cleanse the Kharleon Empire of magic—and then the world. On the island of Gailopas, Ella wakes from a coma to find that not only has her sixteenth birthday passed in her sleep, but she’s also lost her powers. She has her family back, and together, they defeated the God King. But without her magic, she feels lost. While Ruben and Jesriel sail to the Albion Dominion, to defeat any blood mages left over after the God King’s demise, Ella and Marius journey to the Tahali mountains. They travel to the monks in search of aid, and—Ella hopes—a way to get her powers back. On their way, they pass through Hirlcrest, the capital of the Kharleon Empire, where they find a peaceful monk being attacked by a seeker. The seeker vows to wage war on the Tahali monastery, and it’s up to Ella and Marius to save the monks. Check it out on Goodreads. --
31st October – The Devil’s Day (Lucky Devil #3) by Megan Mackie
You can always find help at the Lucky Devil. Rune Leveau—emerging Talent and one-time corporate prisoner—knew that better than anyone. She’d rebuilt her life at the Lucky Devil bar, with her Aunt Maddie’s help. Now, in her aunt’s memory, Rune continues that legacy. But when it is time for the Devil to collect his due, Rune could lose it all… With the days counting down until she must defend her claim to the House of Magdalene—including the bar—Rune and her partner, the cyber-spy St. Benedict, hunt for a way to defeat her challenger, the fire Talent, Abraxas. Instead, they uncover long-kept secrets. But do they hold the key? No matter what, the Devil will have its Day… Check it out on Goodreads. -- Space for more…
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