Thursday, 14 November 2019

Blizzard: Tiananmen II

It's amazing how a few hollow words and the promise of entertainment can quell a crowd about to riot. It worked for the Romans, and it seems to be working for Blizzard too. For those not up to speed, here's a recap:

Blizzard is openly kowtowing to China. Business wise one assumes it would be big money for them at the cost of a little thing like morals and human rights, the same cost China is currently extracting from Hong Kong protestors - a few of whom Blizzard silenced. Game wise, things are being slowly changed for their market (which they deny). Less boobs and bones + more mobile games.

People got angry so Blizzard issued a statement of remorse (not an apology), and did not retract any of the offending actions. They then dazzled people with promises of cool games coming soon, which earned them redemption for some while their other supporters just have a general sense of apathy over the whole thing. It's an interesting disconnect.

I wonder, if an event like Tiananmen Square happens, will Blizzard supporters feel anything or will it just be "Blizzard just makes games man - they didn't pull the trigger", "It's not my fault they support China, I just like their games!" and "What they do with the money I give them is their business, not mine!"

While we ponder that, here's what's happening in Hong Kong now since it's not well covered by mainstream news:

Police are arresting students.

Use of force has been escalating.

As of late, they're also openly shooting people too.

From point blank.

They were also trying to storm the universities.

Students barricaded defended said locations all night.

The general public is supporting them by delivering supplies.
(Perhaps not this dude in particular, he just looks cool getting his lunch!)

Meanwhile the police are getting a special unit in to assist them.

Is it a massacre waiting to happen?

Do you even care?

If so, spread awareness of what's happening in Hong Kong and/or boycott what you can of China. Realistically Blizzard is low hanging fruit, but doing even a little is better than doing nothing. If you really can't let go of Blizzard, you might find some other way to help.

Remember: If you're not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

The Cursed: Mirrors of Sendai

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Sendai's base is quite well concealed in the forest, and humorously guarded by Drow disguised as woodland critters. Inside, more Drow, a lair of myconids, pet umberhulks, a slave army, a lich, mindflayers and minor demons all serve as guardians but they are all planetar-ed out of the way.

Even Ogremoch himself, the elemental Prince of Evil Earth (yeah, "Earth" not Faerun), is present but doesn't get to do much as Catharina imprisons it as her opening move. Finally they reach Sendai who proves to be an exciting battle as she makes seven statue clones of herself and has constant Drow reinforcements arriving during the fight.

You can imprison the Prince of Earth, in the Earth? Okay then!

Catharina and Imoen make good use of breach (anti magic), pierce (anti magic), horrid wilting, planetars, mord-swords, true sight and the dragon breath ability (20d10 fireball with knock back) coupled with projected images to prolong spell use (as their spells aren't tied to the original casters memory somehow). After an epic fight, Sendai finally is slain when Catharina "wishes" all magic defenses down and lands a Melf's acid arrow on her.

Insight: For extra cheese, project image also makes copies of the quick slot items so that one powerful scroll you have can be used as much as you like, as long as it is only ever used by a projected image. Obviously, one scroll means each image can only use it once though.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

The Cursed: Slave Rebellion

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Meanwhile in Thay...

The time to escape is now. Joined by Dulf, Hort, Mercy, Gezzthemin and that douchebag Timmoth Goodtree, the squad begins their escape but quickly finds guards in their way. Guards alerted by Symm Haximus. Luckily, the other guards they bribed come through and turn off the anti-magic field making it an even fight. Even the two sous-chefs join the melee.

Alas both of them and all the guards save one, as well as Timmoth are killed when a group of Thayan knights and wizards arrive. The survivors fight through to the market area and loot some supplies, including the vault now open thanks to Brother Elraish. Unfortunately, his corpse is found within.

Thayans have some pretty funky armor.

The extras decide to hold position while the main team goes through the arenas to get to Dennaton, the first of which has a match in progress - umberhulks versus Voghiln, crazy Lea and Gerrod. The monsters are easily killed and Gerrod hands over the spirit transference scroll he just completed.

Insight: You can use the NPCs to do the fighting for you, and while not very RP-ish you can also rest at particular spots to recover spells.

Monday, 11 November 2019

The Cursed: Unexpected Aid

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Eager to rest outside the pocket plane for a change, the squad goes to the Amkethran tavern where they are surprised to find the vampire Hexxat! Since she wasn't staked last time she's survived and using a day-walking cloak has found herself here, to ask Catharina for help with a lich. Not to kill it, but to enslave it for her master.

Guess we didn't kill her good enough last time.

That sounds all sorts of wrong but since help is hard to come by, Catharina agrees as long as the vampire helps her kill a few Bhaalspawn first. Hexxat finds this acceptable. There is a local lich in the village (these things are everywhere!) but this soul trader is not Hexxat's target. They do manage to get a young girl's soul stone from it though, by trading the one of her stupid father.

Instead of using it to restore the child, Hexxat keeps it for herself as it gives nice bonuses. With that, it's finally time to hit one of those Bhaalspawn bases so the team votes to head for the closer one: Sendai's enclave.

Insight: While the day walking cloak lets Hexxat not burn out in the sun, remember to take it off in dungeons as it significantly reduces her stats when worn.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

The Cursed: Amkethran

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Whatever protection Amkethran village has going on is pretty powerful stuff, as the pocket plane refuses to teleport the team there. Instead they have to walk across the desert and at an oasis encounter a sizable force of Tethyr soldiers wrongly hunting Catharina for the crime of destroying Saradush.

Korgan was tempted!

After slaying and looting those idiots dry, the team finally reaches Amkethran - a quaint little place that is brimming with mercenaries. Seems Balthazarr is also assembling an army of his own. The team ends up killing a few: the ones being ass hats to the locals and the idiots tricked by a weasel smuggler that the team, not him, are the smugglers.

For this, the team subsequently assists the mercs take out the local smuggler base which earns them a brief meeting with Balthazarr who follows Melissan's instructions and points out the base locations of Yaga-Shura's allies. Before leaving, the team finds another survivor from Saradush, a magic scroll vendor, whom they spend all of their 305k gold on in preparation for the battles ahead.

Insight: It pays to loot everything. Portable containers will help with that: gem bags, ammo bags, potion bags, bags of holding. Also don't forget your handy and accessible pocket plane that has three boxes you can use if overloaded!

Saturday, 9 November 2019

The Cursed: Symm Haximus

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Meanwhile in Thay...

Arzang is again one of the last standing (hiding) in round sixteen facing six fallen devas (just one step down from planetar) while Symm wins it for them somehow using insta-kill moves. Not to be outdone Hort and Dragonbait get their chance to shine against twin demi liches whose penchant for mazing doesn't work on enraged berserkers.

One of the hardest fights!

Still, it is Symm who is taken for the last two fights: the first against a trio of dragons and the second against two Bhaalspawn, one of whom goes into slayer form both made really easy as he insta-kills the "boss" creatures easily. Upon returning to the pens, they learn that the Planar Hunters are out - making this the most opportune time to escape.

As the gladiators make their way to the meeting point, Party Girl asks Symm one more time if he wants to escape with them. He flatly refuses, saying they all should get used to being gladiators and returns to the training area. Why are the strongest always so stubborn?

Insight: Don't take Symm into battles where he can get charmed or confused. Obviously his axe has an equal chance to insta-kill your party members!

Thursday, 7 November 2019

The Cursed: Burning Yaga-Shura

[Part of the Cursed story line]

With the ritual done, the team pocket plane deploy right into Yaga-Shura's face for an anti-climatic battle where Korgan beheads the fire giant, causing his army to scatter and flee. It is too late for Saradush though, as while they were gone Yaga-Shura's army breached it and killed almost everyone inside.

Fire Giant vs Dwarf!

Only a few non-Bhaalspawn folk remain, including Melissan who warns that Yaga-Shura's allies and their armies will most likely come for Catharina next. Catharina, eager to destroy these threats before they can react, is instructed to use the desert village of Amkethran as a staging point as it is protected by Melissan's friend, Balthazarr - apparently a person of some power having somehow survived a cataclysm long ago.

The team agrees but first faces the second "pocket test" which involves fighting a Catharina not raised by Gorion. This is very tough as evil Catharina exclusively hunts her twin, and is only solved by Imoen casting improved invis on good Catharina and making her "sit out" of the combat. Fortunately Imoen can also summon planetars at this point!

Insight: Enemies will swarm endlessly until Yaga-Shura dies. Don't let him live for too long.