Thursday, 31 December 2015

Arkania: Keep moving Forward

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

After crossing the mountains and bypassing some wolves, the party next met with Umbrik Sevenstones at Orvil who agreed to help with the treasure map if they first helped him with a problem of his own. The dark druid Gorah, who was twisting nature all nearby was the target and was easily found in his clearing with a huge pack of dire wolves.

Nice doggies...

But they were just the start - soon harpies and forest lions joined the melee and ultimately, a Heshthot demon. The gigantic, robed, whip-wielding wraith was a very annoying opponent not because he was powerful but because he was VERY hard to hit. It is eventually slain, but only after mangling poor Nerk against a tree. The carnage was just too much for Wolfy Eyes.


It also turns out Umbrik doesn't have a map piece himself, but knows of someone who does in Brendhil, a town on the distant island to the Northwest. He also provides a letter of introduction for this person. With the loss of Nerk, the team considers returning to Thorwal first to replenish their ranks but Paeroka, now driven by the loss of her husband tells them that Nerk would have wanted them to keep moving forward, and to see the quest through to the end.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Arkania: Lonely Inn

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

With no boats heading Westward, the team is forced to go on foot to their next lead. Over the next few days it is clear Shintar is not so good as the replacement hunter while Zubon has an absolute distaste for picking flowers. Fortunately there are some lonely inns on the journey where they can rest up properly. After smashing an orc scouting team and sneaking through the pirate town of Daspota they find yet another isolated inn to crash for the night, only this one is abandoned... and for good reason.

During the evening they investigate strange noises coming from the basement and find a multitude of zombies, skeletons and mummies lurking in the cellars below. They also find prisoners who are slowly turning into the undead monsters thanks to the work of the resident alchemists hiding in the bottom most level. They were summoning something!

Rare to run into a Heptagram. Most bad guys can only go up to six!

It is a very difficult combat against the mage pair and their undead lackies. The Bookahs are knocked out from their vile magics but fortunately the mages burned through their spell power early, forcing them into less favorable hand to hand where they were easily defeated.

After looting a good deal of herbs and alchemical equipment the team cashed in big time at their next stop of Ottarje, not only gaining a significant boost to their wealth from selling loot but from acquiring another map piece from the elderly Hjore Ahrensson.

Arkania: Unfinished Business

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

With half their number dead, the team returned to Thorwal to bolster their ranks with the barbarianess Wolfy Eyes and the dwarven couple Nerk and Paeroka Bookah. They also decided to spend two thirds of their accumulated wealth on the best gear their money could buy. Turns out this is a LOT of gear, as the herbs Sister C had been collecting fetch a small fortune in the town market combined with Paeroka's haggling ability.

While in town, Master Dramosch summons them once more claiming the thefts in the lower levels of the keep have not stopped so the party descends once more - this time finding the illusionary wall the remaining brigands were hiding behind. While they now attacked in greater numbers they simply were out geared and could barely hurt the team as they were cleared out fully this time all the way to the second level where an alternate entrance - a cavern exiting to the sea - was discovered. No doubt the brigands entry point as well as where the ones that fled ran to.

I'm sure nothing important is behind that...

Though a large, and ominous looking door which Nerk couldn't lockpick blocked the path further into the keep, Master Dramosch was quite pleased with the result - awarding the team the 50 ducats he had promised them from before. With this bit of unfinished business concluded, it was time to find the rest of the treasure map.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Arkania: Cult of the Nameless God

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

The third map piece wasn't going to be as easy to get. It's owner, Elaine Widenbek agreed to hand over the piece only after eliminating the Cult to the Nameless God on a nearby small island. Finding a boat to take them there was harder than finding the pretty obvious "hidden" base, but unlike the brigands before - these cultists attacked in large groups and had pretty severe traps lying around the place.

At one point, Sister C had to use an Evil Eye spell to convert an enemy temporarily to swing a combat to the team's favor. While it succeeded, her target snapped out of the trance just a few minutes later and fatally stabbed her in the gut. Things were looking worse on the second floor down as the team were all injured and had begun to run out of arrows, torches and water.

Finding a strange lever, Shintar also had to be separated from the team to hold it down while the rest of the party entered the secret, final chamber that it opened - containing not just two priests but an unholy altar in the center as well. Out of arrows, Augratin is forced into melee and has a critical miss where she hits herself (somehow), resulting in her own death!

I guess the Nameless God sleeps?

Despite that, the battle was won and while fiddling with the altar to try collect loot, Iron Dagger is shot in the eye with a poisoned dart - killing him instantly. Zubon and Vayshen ultimately just destroy the foul thing, taking a fragment as proof to show Elaine. No one challenged their escape from the temple or the sail back, and soon they had their very hard won third map piece in hand.

Three down, lots more to go!

Arkania: Easy Going

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

Satisfied with their performance in the keep, the team decided it was time to find that magic sword - traveling North for a few days outside the city where Augratin's hunting skills kept the party well supplied with food and water. Sister C also took any spare camp time to collect rare flora. Eventually they reached Felsteyn where they met Isleif Olgardson.

Takes around a week on foot.

Isleif was a descendant of the great chief, Hyggelik - the last person known to wield Grimring. He was more than happy to talk about it, and handed over a piece of a treasure map which supposedly led to Hyggelik's final resting place. Apparently more descendants were scattered across the land, and most of them also had map pieces... one of whom was in a town they had passed on the way here!

Back tracking, they found that fellow too - and with a few choice words, managed to collect his map piece as well before returning to Thorwal to rest up and then book passage on a small fishing ship to Varnhome where they hoped to find the third map piece. All up this was pretty easy going!

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Arkania: Code of Thieves

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

Iron Dagger voiced his concern that his new found allies were out of practice, having been out at sea for the past few months, and Shintar agreed - suggesting the team test their skill at a more local problem first - the supposedly haunted keep. The custodian, Master Dramosch, was more than happy to have someone looking into his problems of disappearing supplies from the very dark lower levels.

Sister C noted this was odd behavior for ghosts or ghouls and she was right. What they found instead were ... brigands!


Fortunately only encountered in pairs they didn't pose much of a threat and their locked doors were child's play compared to Iron Dagger's burglary skills. They also find a makeshift altar to the thief god Phex here and of course Iron Dagger robbed all the 20 ducats from it. In no time at all the floor was cleared and they were back in town selling the spoils of battle, assuring Master Dramosch his "ghost" problem had been dealt with.

It was slightly annoying after all that hard work when Augratin's purse got snatched by a random cut purse. The one eyed lady was far too nimble for the party to give chase and escaped with ease.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Arkania: A New Quest

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

On the last episode: The team was deciding if they should attack or flee from the King of Denmark.

Sister C's argument won out in the end, as she - Vayshen Panda, Zubon Ratkiller and Augratin Nerdly (site no longer active) managed to find passage onto a ship to take them to the distant land of Arkania and hopefully finally out of reach of the King of Denmark. Eventually they found themselves at the port city of Thorwal where, while relaxing at a local tavern, they met the local warrioress Shintar Winter and Iron Dagger the scraggly rogue.

Tales of a ghost ship and a haunted keep in town rekindled their adventuring spirit, but what truly called to all of them into action was a crier sent by the local Hetman (the lord of these lands) on a most dangerous quest.

Ah, ye olde tavern quest hook.

Scouts report that the orcs from the wild lands were amassing their largest force in history and all signs pointed to invasion. It was up to the adventurers to find a lost magical sword, Grimring, which would somehow eliminate this threat. With only a breadcrumb worth of information in their possession, the party decided to come up with a plan - back the same tavern where their minds could be refreshed with ale.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas 2015!

Just a quick Merry Christmas post to you all! I got some nice goodies this year which I'll probably blog about at a later post, but for now please enjoy a safe and happy holiday season! Since it's the correct time to post it - here's a Casting Crowns carol courtesy of Aywren who made me aware of this song. =)

Coming up next on the blog is the "continuation" of my Darklands tale, which I think I'll be trying to switch back to a daily schedule for. As for New Years Resolutions I'm only going to try have one for next year, and that is simply to Create more and Consume less - a simple yet undoubtedly difficult plan.

For your Christmas bonus links: Here's a site called Flight Aware for those interested in seeing how much metal is overhead and how much traffic Santa's had to contend with this year. You can search for specific flights or by airports. Supposedly Heathrow is the busiest, but just scroll out to see the madness worldwide!

Lastly here's a spot you can watch this crazy anime called One Punch Man for free. I briefly mentioned it before, and continue to recommend it as something crazily different from the standard fare. Your mileage may vary.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

That thing called Tadhana (Fate)

Since every one else is doing The Force Awakens reviews, I thought I'd do something very left of field. :P

This is basically the story of two people - an angry woman who just got burnt at the end of a long term relationship and a guy who happens to run into her at the airport and henceforth acts like a creepy stalker-leech.

While there are other people around, they only get a handful of lines and are never really focused on - instead relying on Angry and the Leech to carry the whole thing, which is hard to do when there's not much chemistry going on between the two. I should also mention Angry swears a ton.

This is especially evident in the long shots where nothing happens. No dialogue, no exciting action. Just Angry and the Leech staring out at space or leaning ones head on anothers shoulder... for five minutes. WTF.

Fitting reaction to watching this very film.

There is a pretty interesting and simply animated sub story of the Arrow with a Heart pierced through it that runs parallel to what's going on and just like it, the movies ending just leaves you hanging with no real clear resolution.

With very few positive points I can't recommend this to anyone, and give it just one and a half pierced hearts out of five. Watch it again? Nope.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Temple of Elemental Evil (Board Game)

Better than the PC Game.

Off the bat I just want to say I love how Wizards of the Coast put out new releases simultaneously across their branded products. This board game, which came out around the same time as Module 6 in Neverwinter Online, is actually the fourth iteration of its type as it comes after Strahd, Asharladon and Drizzt. It also is the largest game box now in my collection as it comes with a lot of cool miniatures that would probably be worth painting.

The basic gist of the game follows your band of heroes through missions in a set campaign against the elemental cultists, either in the little town or in the sprawling, randomly generated dungeon(s) (done via the tile stack method) nearby. There is no dungeon master which is also a big plus - instead enemies are controlled by the player that finds them, and each has a set behavior pattern that you simply follow (and honestly, manipulate to your advantage).

Town missions are a good break from the dungeon!

It's pretty cool that as you advance through the campaign you add and remove cards from the standard deck, based on the performance from your previous adventures. Don't make the silly mistake of thinking you'll use them all right off the bat!

Also, do not expect old school D&D. For starters the cleric can barely heal herself, much less the rest of the team. If you take the slow and tactical approach the game will destroy you with random encounters - which aren't really encounters but more like BS events such as being shot at by an unseen sniper or a cave in. Instead you'll need to take the rapid exploration approach to complete the mission as fast as possible which can be quite harrowing as almost every single monster will get the drop on you and always win initiative.

The first few missions in particular will be pretty bad but this is because the game is actually balanced on the level 2 versions of the characters, so once people start advancing the adventure becomes more manageable. All up I've found this to be a decently paced and balanced, very fun game that my group thoroughly enjoys (at least after we got used to the speedy pace). I give it five D20s out of five and highly recommend it! :)

Friday, 18 December 2015

Neverwinter: Simril Festival 2015 Tips

It's that time of year again as Neverwinter Online rolls out the Simril Festival! In addition to racing, fishing and fighting low level demons (instead of trolls) on the ice this year you can also get bonus, random vouchers for your stronghold through an easy quest to hire refugees who had found their way to Twilight Tor from the Underdark.

Much like last October's Masquerade event, you also get handed an artifact for free which consumes event items for refinement. I strongly recommend holding on to ALL the refinement items till the double refinement event on the last few days of it though for your best chance of max leveling the Simril artifact of union. There's also a double enchants and runes right before it to help you build up your stockpile for the refinement period!

The current calendar is listed as follows:
2x Guild Marks - Dec 17 to Dec 24
2x Profession Resources - Dec 20 to Dec 27
2x XP - Dec 24 to Dec 29
2x Enchants & Runes - Dec 27 to Dec 30
2x Refinement Points - Dec 29 to Jan 4

There's also free stuff to be had simply by visiting the Zen Market (that's the "Z" on the top menu bar) and going to the "Free" sections on the correct date.

Saturday, 12/26 - Free Bag of Holding
Sunday, 12/27 - Free Stone of Health
Monday, 12/28 - Free Experience Booster
Tuesday, 12/29 - Free Blood Ruby
Wednesday, 12/30 - 3x Free Preservation Wards
Thursday, 12/31 - 5x Free Scrolls of Life
Friday, 1/1 - Free Winter Wolf Mount

Note: All dates listed are on server time so you might need to adjust accordingly.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

MMO Agendas: Pixel Wedding / Affair

[Part of my MMO Design Folder]

Based on the ATITD Test of the Coalition I thought it might be fun to see how the rest of you feel about the following agendas when it comes to MMOs. I not only invite but encourage you to post your own thoughts on your respective blogs or if it's more convenient, in the comment section below.

Today's Agenda: Pixel Wedding / Affair

You are playing an MMO that has weddings between two players as a feature. Perhaps you even get additional perks / stats / abilities / gear if you have a pixel wedding. The thing is, IRL you are not single and your other half doesn't play the game - would you still get married in game anyway?

The idea for this one came up while playing ATITD which specifically has the "Test of Marriage", which you can only pass by being wed to another player character. While most of the players there chose to simply marry their alts (ie. themselves), that was too weird for me so I opted not to pass that test at all as I was already spoken for IRL. :P

This is the last of my agenda list for now, so please make the most of it and share your thoughts on this matter.

Monday, 14 December 2015

MMO Agendas: The Rule of Law vs. Judicial Temperance

[Part of my MMO Design Folder]

Based on the ATITD Test of the Coalition I thought it might be fun to see how the rest of you feel about the following agendas when it comes to MMOs. I not only invite but encourage you to post your own thoughts on your respective blogs or if it's more convenient, in the comment section below.

Today's Agenda: The Rule of Law vs. Judicial Temperance

Are exploits a valid reward for their finder? When is it OK to bend or break the rules in an MMO?

LOL! For anyone who has been following this series then it will come as no surprise when I answer that second question with, NEVER. The law should always be followed to the letter, nothing less and nothing more. I wouldn't trust a game master / company who continually gives free passes to people clearly abusing a system that's meant to be enforced as it just would encourage criminals more. Broken windows theory and all that.

How tempered is your justice?

Saturday, 12 December 2015

MMO Agendas: Rights of the Accused vs. Swift Justice

[Part of my MMO Design Folder]

Based on the ATITD Test of the Coalition I thought it might be fun to see how the rest of you feel about the following agendas when it comes to MMOs. I not only invite but encourage you to post your own thoughts on your respective blogs or if it's more convenient, in the comment section below.

Today's Agenda: Rights of the Accused vs. Swift Justice

A guild mate of the guild you lead is accused of stealing from the guild stash. While this person is a little shady in their interactions with you and your friends, a few of your other members are close to him/her. You are unable to prove that this person is taking the stuff, but every day more stuff goes missing. Do you continue investigating until you find proof or do you kick the person, as usually the simplest answer is the right one?

Should be no surprise that I'd be on the side of swift justice here. You could even be diplomatic and say it's temporary until the thief is caught. I wouldn't bother though as the simplest answer IS usually the right one. Furthermore I'd also kick all that person's friends from the guild just to be sure. Guilt by association is something I'm definitely in to.

Which path do you prefer? 

Thursday, 10 December 2015

MMO Agendas: Investment vs. Immediate Need

[Part of my MMO Design Folder]

Based on the ATITD Test of the Coalition I thought it might be fun to see how the rest of you feel about the following agendas when it comes to MMOs. I not only invite but encourage you to post your own thoughts on your respective blogs or if it's more convenient, in the comment section below.

Today's Agenda: Investment vs. Immediate Need

Do you like to play the market in your MMO?

I don't because A) I am pretty bad with watching trends and predicting future price peaks and valleys and B) I have no patience. Guess this puts me right into the Immediate Need category which is pretty true. If I need something in game, I simply go get it if I can afford it (with the caveat that I can never spend real money). Otherwise I simply learn to make do without it.

Are you an investor or someone that prefers immediate gains?

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

MMO Agendas: Checks and Balances vs. Expediency

[Part of my MMO Design Folder]

Based on the ATITD Test of the Coalition I thought it might be fun to see how the rest of you feel about the following agendas when it comes to MMOs. I not only invite but encourage you to post your own thoughts on your respective blogs or if it's more convenient, in the comment section below.

Today's Agenda: Checks and Balances vs. Expediency


Do you prefer having new content released ASAP or only after a year of testing? If you think a year is too long to retain your interest with no new content, how long would you be willing to wait?

Having been (and still being) subjected to new content being released in a buggy state in the games I play, my head says I'd like more testing but in reality I'd probably get bored and move on if no new content appeared every three or so months. Guess I'm one of those people who force devs to release buggy patches!

Where do you sit on this topic?

Sunday, 6 December 2015

MMO Agendas: Council of Elders vs. Trial by Jury

[Part of my MMO Design Folder]

Based on the ATITD Test of the Coalition I thought it might be fun to see how the rest of you feel about the following agendas when it comes to MMOs. I not only invite but encourage you to post your own thoughts on your respective blogs or if it's more convenient, in the comment section below.

Today's Agenda: Council of Elders vs. Trial by Jury

When someone commits a wrong doing should their fate be determined by the game masters / a select few elected for law enforcement or a group of their own peers, like in Archeage?

My problem with a jury is they can be swayed through emotion or lack of experience and are ultimately unreliable. Judge, jury and executioner should always fall into the realm of game masters, or "to the select few" such as in ATITD where players who are elected as demi pharaohs can perma ban people from the game.

What are your thoughts on this matter?

Friday, 4 December 2015

MMO Agendas: Accountability vs. Privacy

[Part of my MMO Design Folder]

Based on the ATITD Test of the Coalition I thought it might be fun to see how the rest of you feel about the following agendas when it comes to MMOs. I not only invite but encourage you to post your own thoughts on your respective blogs or if it's more convenient, in the comment section below.

Today's Agenda: Accountability vs. Privacy


Should those that cause problems in a game be held publicly accountable for their actions or should troublemakers be dealt with quietly behind the scenes?

I vote Accountability. If person x is found to be guilty of doing something wrong then all details, and I mean ALL (including all registration details), should be given out to the public masses. Yes I know the real world has privacy laws preventing this but still! Not only will this add another layer of fear in potential wrong doers but it also shows that a game company is being active in eliminating those who break the law.

Which side of the fence are you on?

Thursday, 3 December 2015

MMO Agendas: Rehabilitation vs. Punishment

[Part of my MMO Design Folder]

Based on the ATITD Test of the Coalition I thought it might be fun to see how the rest of you feel about the following agendas when it comes to MMOs. I not only invite but encourage you to post your own thoughts on your respective blogs or if it's more convenient, in the comment section below.

Today's Agenda: Rehabilitation vs. Punishment

When someone gets caught breaking the laws in your game, how many chances do you think they should get before receiving a severe, game-ending punishment? Perma-bans are rather rare these days as companies only see dollar signs but pretend money wasn't an issue and you had it your way.

For me, that number is zero. Any crime, no matter how mundane or severe should be result in immediate perma-ban. Forever. And possibly black list that registration email / person from any other games from that publisher. While I might be swayed on some instances to give people a second chance, there is nothing that will ever grant anyone a third.

How strict or lenient would you be?

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

MMO Agendas: Freedom of Expression vs Public Decency

[Part of my MMO Design Folder]

Based on the ATITD Test of the Coalition I thought it might be fun to see how the rest of you feel about the following agendas when it comes to MMOs. I not only invite but encourage you to post your own thoughts on your respective blogs or if it's more convenient, in the comment section below.

Today's Agenda: Freedom of Expression vs Public Decency

Where do you draw the line when it comes to how people behave in MMOs? At what point should their actions become a punishable offense? When they start religious debates? Dressing their character improperly?   Blaming the healer for your pixel death?

It's on that last one I'm going to base my response as it basically boils down to harassment. Blaming anyone for anything is harassment, and harassment should be a punishable offense. Getting angry and frustrated at another human being because of any pixel event gets a big thumbs down for me so I guess that squarely puts me in the Public Decency box. :P

What do you think?