Saturday, 19 August 2017

Castle Ravenloft (Boardgame)

Where the big figurine isn't the boss.

After completing the Legend of Drizzt, my group have finally reached the game that started this D&D board game system with modular, interlocking dungeon tiles to begin with: Castle Ravenloft. The components are good, but given this is the first in the series the dungeon tiles have less mechanism to them than the future games. Not that I mind, since it is a vampire's castle after all.

Well, that *almost* happened.

What this game does well is in the theme. Strahd personally showing up regularly to mess with the players via non combat cameo encounter cards throughout the campaign is awesome because by the time you get to actually fighting him you really, really hate the guy.

By then he's probably randomly bitten one of you, tossed a fireball or two from the shadows, teleported you into a room of monsters, or forced one of you to attack another. Comparatively, the future games main bosses are quite "absent".

Because of that investment in making Strahd present the whole time, and because it's an awesome game - I give it five wooden stakes out of five!

Monday, 14 August 2017

Berserk: Band of the Hawk

A decent catch up mechanism for the non-manga readers.

The easiest way to sum this game up is: Dynasty Warriors Berserk, which is probably why it's also known as Berserk Musou. You control one character of your choice (primarily Guts) and rampage across numerous battle fields slaying literally tens of thousands of foes.

The graphics aren't fantastic and the camera is not great but they serve their purpose, and the keyboard controls (PC) are a bit clunky but serviceable. What caught me by surprise is the length of the game, which goes well past the Golden Age arc which is the extent I thought it would cover as the cut scenes directly come from the remade anime.

Afterwards, it just uses regular CGI but the jist of the story is still there (despite the hundreds of filler monsters) and that is the highlight for me as a Berserk anime fan who doesn't read the mangas!

Once you complete the story line that's available (because the manga itself isn't finished) you then have the option to go into the "Endless Eclipse" mode to unlock bonus outfits, gear, or just fight some more with the small caveat that to win it - you must reach 100 levels of Endless Eclipse without stopping.

Rest is for the weak!

One might say that is the "true" game too, since you can only complete it once story mode is done. If you like Dynasty Warriors type games and/or like Berserk, then this game is worth a look. I give it three behelits out of five.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Today I Smiled: Power Up!

The grind through the River District and Chult continues in Neverwinter Online, so much so that I've not been typing blog posts! Oops! It's great to see my characters improving again though, using Baphomet as a measuring stick.

Once I put some thought into what enchantments I actually used in my gear, my mounts and my npcs companions (who I previously didn't equip at all), I'm now easily beating the demon prince.

Speaking of training, here is the real-life weapons training of Keanu Reeves for John Wick 2, which is pretty awesome. Thank you to the poster who told me about it. Also cool is this site about military strength by country which is an eye opener. Some are higher than I thought!

If that is too violent for you, I've also just learned that Japan has a cat island and a rabbit island which is cute-overload at first, but when carefully thinking about it are islands full of a) rabbit poop or b) critters that actively seek to overthrow the human race. :P

As usual I'm going to end with some musical links - the first one being the Coconut song on an airplane and the last one is Peter Hollen's version of Hands of Gold from Game of Thrones! Have a great weekend everyone! :)

Monday, 7 August 2017


Proves that old dogs are saltier...

It is the future, and mutants are dying out. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is tired, old, and not regenerating as he once did. His limo driving job is mainly just to cover the expenses of looking after an even older and now demented Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who occasionally has seizures which he shares to everyone around thanks to the strength of his "gift".

It's a pretty dark and depressing state, simply waiting for the end. Fortunately having a little girl who is wanted by the "bad guys" (of course) suddenly thrust into their care, forces them to go on another adventure. It helps that the little girl plays her part well - always risky with child actors (she's better than Mowgli for sure)!

Thumbs up!

Visceral, on-screen dismemberment and gore is featured right from the get go, which is a big step up from just suggesting "he stabbed a guy / bloodlessly" from the rest of the X-men franchise and the action sequences are great, which makes up for the ok plot.

While people say this is a "dark" movie, I disagree as it still features some up beat parts. Perhaps I've just gotten used to the likes of Hotel Inferno and Adam Chaplin though. If you just want a more mature X-men film, this does a great job. I enjoyed it a lot and would definitely watch it again. But would I buy the DVD? Hmm, not sure. Three and a half comic books out of five.

Friday, 4 August 2017

John Wick 2

He just has one bad day after another.

After an action filled start where John Wick (Keanu Reeves) finishes off that nasty business from the first movie, he almost makes it back into retirement just before another incident ropes him back into work, and what beautifully choreographed violence that work is.

It's amazing to watch.

I quite liked that Mr. Wick only has an 80% accuracy rating and gets hit repeatedly, and while he is wearing a layer of plot armor (especially against head shots), its significantly less since they explain a bit with the load out portion of the film - one of my favorite parts as it not only shows their love of weapons but also expands on the "assassin's world".

Despite a predictable plot, the trail of blood and guts and violence galore makes for a fantastic spectacle. Is it better than the first movie? Not particularly, but it's just as good so three and a half shotgun shells out of five. I highly recommend it if you are an action fan, or if you enjoyed the original. Would I watch it again? Definitely yes! I might even go get the DVD. :)

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Jungle Book (2016)

Where wolves are American, cats are English and giant monkeys are Christopher Walken.

I've always been interested in seeing this Disney adaptation of the Jungle Book, which has the orphaned boy Mowgli being raised by the generally very compassionate creatures of the forest as one of their own, which is a problem to only the villainous tiger Shere Khan who harbors a hatred for humans.

Bad kitty!

It would be ok if this was just a regular tiger, but Shere Khan is feared by pretty much everyone else and rightly so. Only when Mowgli starts adventuring does he run into other not-so-friendlies. Guess the wolf pack did a good job keeping him safe!

All the CGI creatures are amazing, and damn the mommy wolf actually made me tear up with some of her lines and emotion. In contrast, Scarlett Johansonn as Kaa didn't really work too well for me. Ironically the weakest actor is Mowgli himself, though he does make up for it with all the action pieces he gets.

Being a Disney movie there are some musical numbers but they are very toned down and cut short during the film, with full versions in the entertaining credits. It's definitely an entertaining movie, one I wouldn't mind watching again. I give it three and a half, giant red flowers out of five.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Neverwinter Online: Chult Totem Grind

The new campaign for NWO is out and with it comes some really nice looking areas which will be introduced to you in the somewhat lengthy intro quest. You'll also quickly learn that dinos have a big aggro range, Batiri that glow red are very dangerous, to watch your ranged attacks as to not draw unintentional aggro from the densely packed mobs, and to turn away from the giant eye icons above the yuan-ti dancers who can push or pull you into said mobs.

Also, don't piss off the King of Spines. :P

More importantly, you'll also be introduced to the new grind which is that for totems, the currency that unlocks this new campaign. You can only collect 100 per week to begin with but can boost that as you advance. How does one get to the 100 per week though? The Prince in the new hub gives you 6 patrol quest bonus rewards per week, which each give 5 totems, so that's 30 out of the way. His patrol quests (the ones that start from the city) are quite fun too. You might need to wait a few minutes if you finish them too quickly for his quest cycle to restart though.

There's another 20 from a weekly that comes from defeating a rare critter, which randomly spawns in the place of a regular mob. Hopping to a channel with less people gives you a better chance of finding one I feel since I encountered 2 at a very off-peak time. I'll keep an eye on that  and update here if it continues to be the case.

The remainder of the totems will need to come from repeatable quests at Camp Vengeance, giving 5 totems each. There aren't that many variants, but if you are just gunning for totems, the path of least resistance (with or without a party) seems to be "Rescue Templars" and then "Rescue Scouts from Batiri". They're fast, and don't involve fighting your way into (and then out of) one of the many ruins or sanctify spots required from the other quests.

Does that sound boring and repetitive? Yes, but it's also efficient. There might be better options as more quests get unlocked, but for now that is my plan of attack.

Saturday, 29 July 2017


A supernatural ninja who is as brittle as glass.

Aragami is the tale about a vengeful spirit ninja (that's you) who has been summoned to "thwart the bad guys" by spending most of your time on fetch quests. Everything about you is shadow. You can make shadows, teleport to shadows, and hide in shadows which is great for a stealth game - which make no mistake - this is.

Having glowing white lines on your outfit seems a tad counter intuitive.

Conversely your enemies use light. And I don't mean torches. I mean glowing swords, burning arrows, explosive wisps - everything one hit kills you (at least on the hardest mode). Oh, you you also one hit kill everything, or can go the master thief route of not touching anyone which is what I did.

Supposedly you can get other shadow skills too, as I kept finding scrolls of hidden knowledge and shrines to "power up" but the game never gave instruction on how to use them so a bit of a negative there.

The game play itself is fun and the stylistic art is pretty. I didn't mind that all the voice over is in Japanese since there are English subtitles, but the flashback piece meal story while good, was a bit tough to follow.

All up, the game is a good balance of challenge and fun which I can recommend to anyone that likes stealth games. I give it 3.5 bells out of 5.

Friday, 28 July 2017

X-men: Apocalypse

The first mutant... was a Goa'uld! What do you mean no one knows what Star Gate is anymore?

Continuing on from X-men: First Class (which I haven't reviewed, doh!), this is the story of how "the first" mutant, the titular Apocalypse, reappears in the world and then goes about trying to make it a better place... for mutants. So pretty much like any previous X-men movie so far where Magneto is the villain.

They do try to tie it in to a few of the other movies too, with some expected cameos and a healthy dose of hand waving in some parts. All those guys missing from this movie? "We're the only ones left," makes for a nice, vague response.

There is a lot of eye candy and good effects as to be expected with Quicksilver getting the best pieces of the pie, but the plot has some serious holes - bigger than the one Apocalypse crawled out of at the start, and that's even without trying to join this movie to the rest of the franchise.

Alas, poor Yorick. I wish this movie made sense.

Ultimately this outing is an ok action movie, but there are better ones to choose from within the X-men franchise to watch. I give it 2 horsemen out of 5.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Uukrul: The Beacon

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

Sage Sagaris appears while the team are raiding the treasure vaults to remind them they still need to rescue Mara in the Chaos, and to meet him at the Beacon afterwards. Those two are actually teleport stations and so, once loaded up and back at full strength the party ventures to Chaos where they see Mara sleeping in a cage.

There are no enemies here, just a lot of BS teleporters and more up and down access card things. Despite the graphics not being there it begins to dawn on Balthazarr that not all is as it seems, given they are unlocking latches on the roof and other, very mechanical functions before reaching Mara and waking her up by removing the amulet on her chest. She is thankful and takes all of them to the Beacon... which is a control room for a nuke.

That must be the lousiest reward ever.

Mara claims there is only one way to rid the minions and taint of Uukrul once and forever - to ignite the beacon, which will cost everyone their lives for the greater good! She does mention she gave the city a vision to get out five minutes ago,  I suppose that's enough lead time? Lol. Sagaris uses his rod, Mara flips switches, and the last part is for the team to recite the last line of the untranslatable prayer. Balthazarr, Andraste, Helga and Linisha join hands and sing...

Kumbaya my lord, kumbaya!
(that's my translation)

In a blinding flash of light, Uukrul's taint, army, and indeed... the entire mountain was cleansed. From existence. TEAM WIPE VICTORY!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Uukrul: Master of Hammer

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

A vision of Mara tells the group that they are now at the Palace of Uukrul (despite the graphics looking exactly the same  everywhere) and that they must "arm the beacon". What? Anyway, the initial group of necromancers is easy enough to defeat but wandering the Palace is more about sneaking past the monks, samurais and lamias patrolling the halls.

Oh, so he's a dremora!?

One particular passage guarded by three riddles leads them right into the throne room where Uukrul himself awaits! Using the knowledge gained from the magician's circle, Andraste breaks the glass heart on the floor - preventing Uukrul from fleeing, but that doesn't make the spell casting dremora any less agile with the team struggling to pin him down.

He also regenerates when brought to near death because ... only the relic hammer can kill him! Helga is on the precipice of death, being kept alive only through Linisha's healing hands when Balthazarr finally gets to use the move he has taught so many before... SPIRAL ROCK SMASH! Uukrul's head explodes into tiny, spiraling, giblets as the rest of him falls defeated to the ground. The team rejoice, their exhaustion vanishing as they find Uukrul's treasure chambers which hold a significant trove of treasure!

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Uukrul: The Dark Heart

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

After escaping the pit maze, and the wandering flame spirits within, the team reaches the next sanctuary and returns to town to restock on food (just in time), repair/upgrade gear and level up. Thanks to Helga now having access to more tomes at the magicians circle they learn the relic-hammer is going to be important in the battle against Uukrul so they get that repaired right away.

Lastly, they make a quick pit stop to the urn and unlock it fully, collecting the black, glass heart inside... the Dark Heart of Uukrul! The team then return where they left off, finding themselves in a dark zone which turns out to be Uukrul's barracks. A demon encounter here (posing as a stone heart, the bastard) weakens them significantly, leading to a catastrophic encounter against a large band of patrolling Lamias and giant snakes.

Nabirye sacrifices herself so that her team mates can get away, and in doing so meet Linisha hiding here in the depths. She too was one of Mara's team, and she helps the group reach the next sanctuary that so happens to be past four liches and four specters! Fortunately Helga and Andraste are on the ball with their magic, leading to a well earned victory. Balthazarr can't help but feel more and more useless as the enemies become even more physical resistant.

That should look much scarier than it does.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Uukrul: Snakes and Ladders

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

Beyond the pyramid is a long passage guarded by samurais (sure why not), golems and undead hordes whom get obliterated by Andraste's prayers to Idris. In-joke for Neverwinter Online players there given she's an Undead Queen in that game. This leads to a strange mechanical zone of advanced machinery guarded by more monks.

A vision of Mara suggests the team must use the carriage to proceed. What she doesn't mention is all the back and forthing to lower the water in the flooded levels below, and that the carriage actually runs on electric eel juice. The team slays a whole school of them as well as a pushover demon guarding a broken relic-hammer and a surprise red dragon before hitting the next zone which is full of pits. Which you can climb up and down out of.

Supremely stupid too.

There's much falling and climbing and jumping in this part, and through sheer luck the group runs into a necromancer and a very tough giant guarding another stone heart. Andraste destroys the necromancer with Helga's assistance, while Nabirye almost dies to the giant before Balthazarr can land a killing blow.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Uukrul: Pyramid of Torture

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

The next area past the Jar of Hearts is some sort of pyramid of torture, with few enemies but lots of traps, locks and teleporters. The most annoying one sending the team into a one square prison with absolutely no escape, had they not picked up that "escape medal" earlier. A required key is also in that room so I'm not sure what the designers were thinking...

Helga is vital in using the collected access cards which let the team float up or down the vertical chute, which is a really odd design decision when it comes to non-mages as there are no stairs! Midway they find a dying fighter who claims he was one of Mara's party, saying that she is now a prisoner "in the chaos" and gives Nabirye another stone heart before dying. I wonder where he hid that during his torture? Ewww.

People can be ingenious when it comes to cruelty.

At the very top the team encounter the evil monks again, who are super effective at stunning Balthazarr and Andraste. Fortunately Helga's new "Kunlazar" spell is very handy (large AoE), leading the team to victory and the next sanctuary! As per usual, they then go on a back-track training run with Andraste finally finding Sage Sagaris' black rod which had been missed WAY earlier. Stupid secret doors. They also defeat the white dragon since it gave them time to prepare.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Uukrul: Jar of Hearts

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

Beyond the testing chamber is a small puzzle maze with levers which takes a little trial and error, and manual mapping. The reward is a suspicious urn that holds a black heart. Neither can be taken though, as six heart-shaped latches hold it in place. The stone hearts fit exactly in but they still need three more so they delve deeper and find another sanctuary.

At this point Balthazarr leads the team back to the mirror maze where they discovered that particular monsters always respawn in the same spot. The Krefator is one of them, and between Nabirye and Helga is a one round combat that nets a good XP gain, so after spam killing the acid lizard for awhile they level up a fair bit.

They also find a hidden passage with a long keypad code... Really? A keypad? Fortunately the answer was in the crossword section, so they manage to unlock it and find another stone heart. They also find a white dragon nearby who is polite enough to let them flee via dialogue. They unload the new heart at the urn now only lacking two more.

Your puzzle was a keypad?

Friday, 21 July 2017

Uukrul: Speak Foe and Enter

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

Having completed their training run, the team returns to the mirror maze defeating a fire lizard and finding the plot device mirror which Andraste breaks to reveal a mysterious plaque. The noise attracts a bunch of monks who turn out to be very dangerous, forcing the team to flee to the other end of the mirror maze where a previously locked grate is now open.

Clearly, Uukrul's a dick.

As soon as they step through, Uukrul shows up and shuts it behind them, asking them to beg through the bars if they want it reopened. Balthazarr rejects the offer and instead leads the squad past floating eyes, a giant worm which Helga destroys, and away from the same group of monks - still in slow pursuit - from before!

They reach a room of testing with three paths, one full of locked gates, one with the promise of a fight, and one a dead end with a sign saying that only a single word will open it. Nabirye takes this literally and just says "word", which opens the path. How very modern.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Uukrul: HOYAMOQ!

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

After the close call against Thurazz last time, Balthazarr decides to take the team on an upper level patrol again for experience, and to keep an eye out for stone hearts that they supposedly will need to defeat Uukrul. That last bit of knowledge was courtesy of Helga now being able to access the higher tomes in the magician's circle.

As expected, there is not much that can challenge them now - but through careful navigation and searching they do find secret doors they previously missed (or in two cases, missed due to floor spinners). Secret doors are annoying. Most cannot be forced. A few have levers that open them. Some need a magic word.

For all other times, there's Hoyamoq. A prayer to the god of knowledge. Like most prayers, it doesn't always work and even when it does - you need to repeat it. Many times. So poor Andraste is there praying in front of a wall, reciting "Hoyamoq, hoyamoq, hoyamoq..." over and over until the door opens. Helga found this hilarious, but later on she'd find variations that need the wizard spell "Talis". And yes, it also requires repetition.

So at what point can I just cast fireball or something to explode it open?

Despite the silliness, it's actually quite a productive (albeit long) outing - netting a variety of treasures and three stone hearts!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Neverwinter Online: The Cloaked Ascendancy

Late review, I was stuck in the Far Realm with these guys...

Given that Tomb of Annihilation (the next module) is just around the corner, this is a very late review for the Cloaked Ascendancy which comes after the terribly grindy Storm King's Thunder. Yes, it was so bad I actually quit Neverwinter for awhile and am now playing catch up.

Fortunately the rag-tag band of mages who have returned from the Far Realm make for interesting adversaries not just mechanically but story wise too. It helps that you get to interact with each of them at least a little bit while going through the story chapters, instead of just having some "bad dude" that you never see waiting at the end of a dungeon that you need to take a deus ex machina from or just murder in general.

Nothing very cloaked about them though.

There is only one new area, the River District, which is not just pretty but very functional in terms of dailies. This cuts down travel time from the last modules grind by a metric ton, since there you were required to venture into 4 zones towards the end. Daily.

Of course the grind is still here too, but at least you have a bit of variety on how you want to fill your "daily bar" in this campaign. It's a mix and match of heroics, dungeons, or capturing and upgrading guard posts. Don't worry, all options still include a copious amount of murder. You can choose to just kill 1000 each day too, but that's a real slog.

If that was brought down to 100, like the stronghold daily, it would be much better (10 times!). The guard posts I mentioned before are a great addition too, unfortunately the logic on them is the reverse on what it should be where players actually benefit -more- if they fall to enemy forces.

Shroud of Souls, the short "finale" of the campaign, holds a few really good adventure segments which I wish there was much more of. Evernight in particular is a faaaaantastic place. A world full of undead where everything is messed up? Now I know where Dark Souls takes place. :P

I have a feeling the Cryptic guys took some inspiration from it.

Definitely one of the better modules for me. Hopefully this continues with the Tomb of Annihilation. We won't have long to find out!

Reviews and Tutorials

Welcome to my "new" reviews and tutorials page! I decided it needed a reboot after the photobucket burn, but all my previous ones are still available here.

PC Game Reviews:
Berserk: Band of the Hawk 
Neverwinter Online: The Cloaked Ascendancy 

Movie Reviews:
John Wick: Chapter 2
Jungle Book (2016) 
X-men: Apocalypse 

Board Game Reviews:
Castle Ravenloft

Neverwinter Online: Chult Totem Grind

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Uukrul: Earned Respect

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

He knows he's a hot lizard.

Finally finding the passage out, the squad fights through a few hell hounds, fire lizards and the mandatory group of orcs led by a mid level captain whom Nabirye drains of life (strange that's a paladin ability). There's also a magic immune gremlin demon who gets too cocky and discovers that Helga is quite capable with a knife, thanks to her previous experience with the Porkul Pickers.

This area is quite odd, in that it is a mirror of itself right down to the repeating encounters in the rooms. It is no wonder that Mara's vision here tells of a mirror that would be important with the quest. While looking for it, the team discovers a lower area with odd clues... it's a crossword puzzle!

Correctly identifying the word opens a secret door that holds yet more obscure clues to further puzzles. LOL. While this is a nice change of pace, it is quite rudely interrupted as Orc Lord Thurazz attacks with a pair of witches and orc fodder! It is a very difficult battle, which almost sees the end of Helga and Andraste, with Nabirye and Balthazar not far behind, but the combat is a draw - as Thurazz's forces were also in the same shape.

With a begrudging respect for Balthazarr, Thurazz finally signaled the retreat. Balthazarr did the same.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Uukrul: What's behind door number...

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

After evading numerous orcs and escaping from cave dew plants the team again ran into the Krefator (acid reptile), and in an attempt to run past - Balthazarr was almost laid low to its corrosive spit. Lucky for him the next sanctuary was right around the corner, and his allies could use the attached teleporter to revive him back at the town.

Resupplied, the squad returned to that point and upon exiting the sanctuary received another vision from Mara, warning that the passage ahead was cursed! That's a very mild way of putting it. The passage led to a 5x5 room, with doors all over. These doors led to funky teleporters, spinning floors, and lightning traps which were painful to navigate, especially since the compass did not work here.

She needs to get back to Oz.

The only enemy in this place is the hedge witch who Nabirye guesses is behind the curse. Despite fitting the cauldron brewing trope, the hag is incredibly strong - easily standing toe to toe with Balthazarr! It is ultimately Andraste's prayers that smite her down. Helga, whose magic couldn't harm the witch at all, finds a magical medal of escape on her corpse. A good bonus on top of the huge XP!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Uukrul: That Bloody Bat

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

With Thurazz in (slow) pursuit, Balthazarr, Nabirye and Kebiroz rush deeper into the large cavern, fighting past the troglodytes and slaying an evil wizard residing within. That wizard held another adventuring party captive for "experimentation", so the team set them free and were joined by Andraste the war priest, and the mages Helga the short and Duke Edmund the mad who openly stated he wanted to take Uukrul's power as his own.

Before they could even step out of the room, the giant bat that had killed Lazybum in one hit flapped into the room and began shooting poison and plague (out of its ass I imagine, since bats don't really spit). Taking a direct hit to the face, Kebiroz succumbed to the giant bat poop horribly while the rest fled for their lives.

Balthazarr didn't escape unscathed though, as the poop had infected his wounds from the earlier fight. Now "plagued", he began coughing and wheezing and soon the elderly Duke Edmund found himself "plagued" as well! Unfortunately the Duke didn't have the warrior's fortitude and after a few steps died in a fit of wheezing, puking and soiling himself.

That bloody bat then attacked again, but this time Balthazarr manages to hit it critically and slays the flying fiend!

But I just wanted some fruits!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Uukrul: A Lack of Agility

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

Behind a locked grate and up a hole in the ceiling the team encounters a large band of thieves who are very annoying to fight since they are good at evading AND have a habit of stealing gear from the party mid combat. Like Balthazarr's newish sword. From his hand.

The combat screen.

During the skirmish Null25 is knocked down a pit and breaks his neck, which is annoying given all the training he had gained. Still, with the battle won and the thieves trove taken Balthazarr finds his replacement in Ruby the eager novice back at the guild.

Tired of training Balthazarr decides it's time to try cross the massive cavern on that murderous floor beneath the hermit's safe zone. It is an ill omen that the first thing they run into when doing so is a rejuvenated and powered up Thurazz - now an orcish lord, having been granted unholy powers by Uukrul himself!

The squad is no match for Thurazz's new found strength and have to flee deeper into the cavern. Unfortunately Ruby is too slow and is caught by Thurazz's spiked whip. With a massive heave, he flung her back into melee range and exploded her head with swing of his grizzly metal hammer.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Uukrul: Bling is King

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

Training in the upper halls against rodents, dogs, scorpions, giant ants and crabs (yeah, wtf) proves most useful especially as the team finds previously unexplored areas and keys to open a few of the locked grates. As they progress into the hall of orcs, they once again run into Thurazz and his minions - thrice!

The first time they are forced to flee, but on the second it is Thurazz who needs to run as Null25 wounds him severely. The third time they find his base and, despite the orc chieftain's skill with a poisoned dagger, Balthazarr defeats him in close quarters. Nabirye also begins using her healing hand power on enemies, which proves to be effective as an attack - limited only by her own health, since using it for good or ill drains her of life.

Most importantly they finally find the temple district and magic circle which lets Kebiroz and Null25 earn more rings that enable stronger spells (coz bling is king yo). Kebiroz gets her chance to shine by turning the multitudes of undead in the tombs below the temple - forcing many to flee from combat. Her prayers of healing also keep the party alive just long enough to escape the very same tomb as starvation began to set in.

How the heck do they know that?

Balthazarr makes it a point to load up on rations before their next delve, and thanks to the surplus of gold they all get some better equipment to boot.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Uukrul: The First Task

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

While resting at the hermit's zone, the paladin Lazybum and sorceress Sarina who were already resting here join the team, and Sagaris asks them all to retrieve his black rod from the next floor down which he warns is far more dangerous (because apparently increased pressure makes things tough/evil I guess).

The fully powered squad heads down stairs and promptly gets owned. Pluribus is acidified by a rancid mold, Ila gets devoured by a giant spider, Yen Sid fails to turn "the happiest zombies ever" that tear him and Sarina apart and Lazybum gets one shotted by a giant bat who does 90(!) points of damage in a single strike.

So happy!

Balthazarr barely makes it back to Sagaris' safe zone in defeat. Clearly he needs a team with more training so using the super handy nearby teleporter (provided you remember the name of the one you want to warp to) returns to town to assemble a new squad, composed of the war priestess Kebiroz, Nabirye the hunter paladin, and Null25 the pk mage.

The first task is: Training!!!

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Uukrul: Orcs and Geezers

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

The next level is full of orcs, most of whom are low level as indicated by the color of their karate belt. Brown orcs are easy, Black orcs are brutal (the squad usually flees when they show up). There's a whole spectrum in between. Alas while exploring one narrow passage they are set upon by an orc led by chieftain, Thurazz!

With nowhere to escape they are cut down one by one until only Sapphire is left standing, she does her best to lure the orcs away from her downed team mates but is unable to defend herself for long. The orc band beat her down and abduct her for whatever nefarious purposes orcs keep in mind.

Balthazarr was surprised to wake up at all, finding that he, Yen Sid and Ila had been dragged somewhere safe by his old friend, Pluribus the wise. The wizened mage told him that many others from the nearby land had ventured into Eriosthe too, for the shared goal of helping to defeat Uukrul, after they all had witnessed visions of Mara.

That's what she looks like by the way.

While getting their bearings, they happened to come across another old fellow in dirty robe - the hermit Balthazarr was sent to find! He introduces himself as Sagaris and ushers the team to his home - a small series of tunnels which are safe from monsters.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Uukrul: Wrong Turn

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

The Krefator!

In their haste to save Anyolina, the team took a wrong turn and suddenly found themselves facing a large acid reptile called Krefator. The beast melted Toothless down into a more consumable puddle as Balthazarr dragged Anyolina out of there and down the correct road. He needn't have bothered for she succumbed to the poison along the way.

Distraught at the loss of his team, Balthazarr gave heavy thought to abandoning to the quest until a vision of Mara encouraged him to carry on and find an old hermit on the lower levels. Something in her words gave him the strength to make it back to the adventurer's guild hall and recruit a new team composed of battle sisters Ila the paladin, Sapphire the mage, and the loner priest Yen Sid.

This squad performs much better (since I looked up the manual and can use spells now), surviving a poison pit thanks to Yen Sid's Sirdhe prayer, defeating Sharruk the giant worm in a literal shit tunnel, and finally catching up to the evil rogue where Balthazarr exacted vengance for the fallen.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Uukrul: Knife Party

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

Apart from numerous, almost indecipherable signs on the wall, the only thing living in this area were stray dogs and giant rats. Angoff and Anyolina quickly learned that their magic and prayers would not work as intended down here (mainly because you need to put in a hard input of what magic phrase to say), so it was back to bashing things physically.

Does that look like it's saying "woof woof" to you?

Behind a closed door they found another person, an evil rogue charging tax for all who wanted to pass by. It was a difficult combat which ended with the man fleeing down a hall. The team pursued him right into... a market place? Finally they had reached the city hub itself, but had no time to take in the sights as they pursued this evil doer right into a trap!

The mob of knife wielding peasants was effective in their task of stabbing Angoff to death, before retreating into the various nearby alleyways. In a stoke of terrible luck, Anyolina was poisoned by a scorpion in the scuffle and with her old gods deaf to her pleas, had to endure the burning poison as Balthazarr and Toothless carried her and rushed back to the town proper.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Uukrul: Welcome to Eriosthe

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

Despite his role in thwarting Molag Bal's schemes, Angoff still found himself shunned by almost everyone at Coldharbour due to his previous crimes as an ex-terrorist leader. Hoping to redeem himself, he asked Meridia for guidance. "To erase your sins, you must destroy someone far more terrible than you," said the daedric prince.

"Deep in the underground city of Eriosthe is a foe who poses so great a threat to the world that Mara, the divine, and her allies failed to subdue. He is known as Uukrul. Defeat him any you will find absolution."

Angoff thanked her and immediately set off on his journey. While Meridia did advise that he not try accomplish this task alone, no one was actually willing to accompany him. Only when he crossed the final desert to the great mountain that held Eriosthe did he find a group who were still very young in their careers as adventurers, and had no knowledge of his past.

Or his strange illness. Yep this is part of creating a character.

For the promise of gold and glory, they joined him in his quest: the not so timid priestess Anyolina, the aged paladin Toothless, and the too-smart to be a fighter Balthazarr. A long passage into the mountain led to a dead end to the untrained eye, but Angoff tapped his staff against the rock wall - causing the magical door to open. The four stepped through and now found themselves in the large, dust covered welcome hall of fabled city.

Fate of Heroes

After a nice break from blogging it's time to start up another story! As usual, some spoilers abound for the games involved and I'm taking a little creative license to link things together. :)

Chapter 1 - Welcome to Eriosthe (The Dark Heart of Uukrul)
Chapter 2 - Knife Party
Chapter 3 - Wrong Turn
Chapter 4 - Orcs and Geezers
Chapter 5 - The First Task
Chapter 6 - Bling is King
Chapter 7 - A Lack of Agility
Chapter 8 - That Bloody Bat
Chapter 9 - What's behind door number... 
Chapter 10 - Earned Respect
Chapter 11 - HOYAMOQ!
Chapter 12 - Speak Foe and Enter
Chapter 13 - Jar of Hearts
Chapter 14 - Pyramid of Torture
Chapter 15 - Snakes and Ladders
Chapter 16 - The Dark Heart
Chapter 17 - Master of Hammer
Chapter 18 - The Beacon 

Friday, 7 July 2017

Neverwinter: Sahha

I missed out on (or skipped) the Summer Festival last year, but now it's back along with the Sahha mini-game which translates into an odd 5 vs 5 game of soccer/volleyball. After the non-event which was Lliira's Celebration, due to having no updated rewards and a really poor interaction method anyway, this is quite a step up - though not as good as the Protector's Jubilee or annual Siege of Neverwinter.

I hope the devs find a way to put this permanently in.

The rewards aren't great though for a ten minute match, and it is prone to afk-ers but it still is quite fun. In our alliance there is a guild vs guild sahha contest going on which sounds really fun going so far as to have dedicated goalies and such. The other summer events are still around too - flax griefing collecting, troll killing, pig and chicken herding as well as a water fight which I've not yet tried.

Doubt I will too since when I'm in that zone, I'm just focused on sahha. :P

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Photobucket Burn

As you probably have noticed, all the images on my blog are now either broken or an advertisement for Photobucket, which has been my image host since I started in 2011. They've been a decent host over the years, with only a handful of down times that I can remember.

Alas with their decision to monetize their service, and me not willing to pay $400 odd for it, I bid them adieu today with no ill will whatsoever. Thank you for being a great host in the past PB! Now I'll have to look for a new free alternative for posts moving forward.

For those wondering, no - I'm not going to fix all the broken images. I'll just retrieve the ones I like (mostly my own art) and maybe put them in a gallery somewhere. Apart from my photo stories which will really be broken now, the majority of this site has mainly been about the text anyway so I'm not really fussed.

This gives me a good opportunity to start a new chapter, and start fresh in some areas which I've been keen to do for a while now. Thanks for your patience while I slowly segregate everything before this post, to everything coming next. Have a good day all! :)

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Today I Smiled: Neverwinter Birthday!

The Fourth Protector's Jubilee, which is the annual in-game celebration of Neverwinter Online's birthday, has come and gone - leaving those who attended and participated in the optional events with a lot of free goodies. While I missed out on the last one, I still recall there was speculation if it would ever reach year IV. I'm happy to report that the game is going stronger than ever!

It wasn't only Neverwinter's birthday recently, but also mine, which meant I got even more free stuff in game courtesy of my brother, Dragonlord, who gifted me with a Celeste and lesser bonding runes among other things, and a random stranger named EdwinaVC of the Blackcloaks (alliance) who gave me a Hell Emblazon Worg mount! Thank you very much!

As a PSA for those who play NWO: get the Wanderer's Fortune mount boon if you don't have it already. It's a fantastic source of refinement points, so much so that bag space is again an issue for me.

Wish I could put these thrones as static statues.

While on the topic of Dungeons and Dragons I'm also happy to report that my group has finished the Legend of Drizzt boardgame, and have now moved on to Castle Ravenloft to face the ever present Strahd. It's pretty cool so far - I'll have a review up on that after we play it a bit more. Nice to know the next module, the Tomb of Annihilation, has a board game slated for simultaneous release.

More blog posts coming up shortly, here are some interesting clips for you to watch: a very impressive coin magician and a kid who solves the Rubix cube in his head. Might look like he's doing nothing, but just wait till that blind fold goes on. What's worse - this is a tournament - so there must be others doing the same thing. :O

Have a great day everyone!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Ghost in the Shell: The Scarlett Johansson Version

There must be no jails in the future, because Section 9 is all about killing.

Based on an anime of the same name this movie cherry picks a bunch of stories from the original content and mashes it up into one narrative, much like how the previously Asian protagonist is put back piecemeal with a pinch of amnesia into Scarlett Johansson. There are certainly worse bodies to get resurrected into!

I'm kinda glad none of the others wear a white, form squeezing body suit. :P

As expected from a GITS story it has a terrorist group, a corrupt company, a bunch of fight scenes and a lot of eye candy. I mean other eye candy, apart from Scarlett. Section 9 is well represented too, with a good choice for Batou, an almost cameo for Saitou and Togusa, and an elderly yet authoritative Aramaki. Who only speaks Japanese, while the rest of the cast speaks English. Yeah that did bug me a bit. The meshing of stories also made for some plot holes.

Also, by making trying to make this somewhat kid friendly by removing the gore and nudity (and blood) featured in the animated counterpart - it does make it fall short to GITS veterans. The futuristic capacity also had some ludicrous looking moments with things that don't translate well into real life. Keep your eyes open for people wearing ridiculous bubble helmets filled with ads. Even the opening surgical staff could probably not see where they were going at all.

So, not as entertaining as the originals but still worth a watch if nothing better is on. I give it 2.5 spider tanks out of 5. Would I watch it again? I'd probably give my consent, but not anytime soon.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Neverwinter: Up the River

After that lengthy campaign in TESO, I've found myself back at Neverwinter with the new grind of the River District. So far, it has been pretty entertaining investigating the conclave of Far Realm mages acting as the antagonists in this module - all while trying to dig up lost riches for the now broke Lord Neverember.

It's certainly much better than fishing in the Sea of Moving Ice, which is what ultimately led me to rage-quit take a break in the first place. Slightly regretting that now as it just means I have more currencies to grind up on. It does help that I finally got a purple mount (thank you Siege event for that free one) because damn, speed makes things more bearable. If you are only spending on one thing in the game, get the fastest mount you can afford.

Dragonarm 2017

My guild, Dragonarm, is still small but have made much headway with the Stronghold in my absence - same with the rest of the Greycloak Alliance, with the Greycloaks themselves nearing the max level 20! I also quite enjoy the addition of the Marauder event, even if it's only worth doing once a week, as it gives the alliance yet another avenue for cooperative play.

It comes as no surprise, during our last guild event, where we six manned a Marauder attack, that I am pretty much the weakest now of my team. Haha. I seriously only out DPSed the Gray's dedicated healer alt. Look at those numbers!

Ah well, I guess I'll just say I'm playing the game on "hard mode". :P

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Today I Smiled: Throttling Back

Phew, finally my Creative Writing Experiment is finished! While it was kinda fun to do, it also did take a lot of work doing it - not to mention a gap of around a year halfway through. I think I'll be returning to my simpler writing styles like in my Skyrim journal, which is also finished for now. This isn't the end of my stories though, as I still have many "survivors" on my list who need a chance to shine. :P

I will be throttling back my post frequency though. I know I keep threatening to do it and never actually do it, but this time I actually want to focus on a few other projects so don't be surprised if I start only posting once or twice a week for awhile. When said "other things" are out of the way, I will revisit the post scheduling.

What those other projects are? Well, I'd like to make more headway with this Game 13 thing that seems to keep going through cycles of re imagining / re configuring. There's also a tiny bit more story coming to Tales at the Bonfire when I get it written. Lastly I'd also like a bit more time to grind in Neverwinter since I'm way "behind" (behind who or what, I'm not really sure, probably "everyone" is a suitable answer), but I'd like to be ready for dinosaurs. ^_^

Friday, 16 June 2017

Nameless: The Last Ship

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

"Lord Warrior," said the novice acolyte as he gave a hurried genuflect. "Those monsters have breached the walls, we must evacuate now!"

Gigal nodded, looking one last time at Nessa's portrait before throwing a large tarp over it. The sounds of battle within the halls of this final stand had rattled the remainder of the Shadowstar cultists within. Gigal's small retinue of guards moved quickly to take her towards the Northern tunnel, an escape route designed by the old King that would take them right to the docks.

"What of the Urn?" asked Gigal without breaking her stride.

"It's already being ferried with the first boat to the master," replied one of her retinue - who was suddenly cut down by a large battle axe. A crazed, bald dwarf sprang from the adjoining corridor - making short work of more of Gigal's guards, who were unable to fight back effectively having heard what happens the worms within their enemy touch their skin.

As the last of her allies fell, Gigal charged forth herself in a full sprint - surprising her diminutive opponent as she sprang off a nearby wall to sail right over his attack. He spun around just in time to see the arrow that would pierce his brain and kill his body. Gigal didn't hesitate to flee, and picked up the pace through the tunnel and straight to the docks which were now on fire.

The few remaining guards were being overwhelmed here, so without hesitation Gigal spotted the closest ferry that still seemed operational and raced to it. Weaving and dodging past the clumsy worm infected that noticed her. Once she was on the boat, she set sail immediately - catching the tide that would pull her vessel out to sea, and out of reach of the deep ones.

She was fortunate that the cultists had begun loading rations on board, for she would be at out at sea - alone - for longer than she liked. It was during those days of lonely drifting that her mind thought of Nessa with a pang of regret.

When she finally made land, all her searching for the Shadowstar cultists led to nothing, as if they had all packed up and gone into hiding. After a captive for so long, this freedom felt terrifying. Her only skills were that of combat though, so when she learned of a caravan hiring adventurers to clear out some "cursed" hamlet, she signed up immediately.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Nameless: Pretty as a Picture

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

All that was left of Silvain.

Nessa blinked back the tears as she watched her last ally turn into dust. Filled with rage she turned to the slowly approaching  Lord Warrior, whose helmet was now missing. A mess of long blonde hair contrasted against the pitch black armor and Nessa was surprised that the Lord Warrior had a familiar, feminine face.

"Gigal?" she asked with more than a hint of confusion.

"Hello sister," replied her old arena team mate, as she suddenly sprinted forward into an attack. Her emotions unchecked, Nessa countered it sluggishly and was too slow to evade the follow up, catching an armored shin to the face, knocking her out cold. When Nessa regained consciousness,  she found herself stripped of all her gear, her ankles and wrists chained to a single point to the floor behind her.

More troubling was that she found herself in an intricate magical cage, facing a canvas filled with monstrous shapes. Gigal stood nearby but she was busy talking with one of her Shadowstar minions while a few others chanted in an unknown tongue around her. Finally Gigal turned around as the panicked minion left the room in a hurry.

"Congratulations," she said as her gaze locked with Nessa's. "Thanks to your interference by damaging the urn, the plans of the Shadowstar here are ruined for now. Furthermore, with the costly battle against the deep ones that I can't help but thing you had a hand in starting - they are withdrawing entirely from this region."

"Gigal... why? Why are you helping them!?" asked Nessa angrily.

"Because they helped me escape. They gave me the the opportunity and the means to take down Tectuk and I did. Most importantly, because they didn't leave me behind." Nessa felt that last one was definitely directed at her. Gigal continued, "So now I'm going to do what the rest of you did to me. Your friend Jann was very forthcoming with his imprisonment techniques. I'm told time moves much slower for those inside a painting."

"Wait, Gigal... you can't be serious."

"You left me in a place where I was regularly abused and had to fight for my life. Now you will get to experience that. Forever."

"Please, no! Let me go, you can't do this!" begged Nessa.

With her middle finger raised in a final gesture to her captive, Gigal didn't even break her gaze as she gave the command to proceed. Nessa screamed as a bright flash of light engulfed her, and as it faded she was gone from her shackles and from the cage - transported into the picture with the horrible creatures within.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Nameless: The Answer to Unasked Questions

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Silvain spent most of her life among the tomes and mystical volumes of the Veiled Alliance library, and was always one of those people who look for answers to things no one had asked. A few such questions were: if the elemental urn is so dangerous, why can't it be destroyed? Can it even be destroyed in the first place?

With the magic of the artifacts surging around her, she strummed the lyre - channeling all the power at her disposal - in hopes of finding those answers. The tumultuous blast of energy was far greater than when Jann used the instrument, and the Lord Warrior tumbled out of the way just in time. To Silvain it didn't matter though - she was targeting the urn.

She didn't care that the cup, the seal and the lyre had begun disintegrating around her. She didn't care that her skin began to char from the inside from the overwhelming power that went through her. These, she knew would happen. As she her body slowly began to turn into ash she remained unmoving and focused on the seemingly untouched urn which, along with its pedestal, stood so out of place from the destruction around it.

And then it happened... the urn cracked... and cracked some more. And then a little piece of the top shattered... Silvain sighed with a small smile as she vaporized completely into nothingness. Everything she sacrificed in that attack had merely damaged the urn, but there in her final moments, she found her answer. If the urn could be damaged, it could be destroyed.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Nameless: Explosive Volume

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

With a flick of his wrist, Jann sent a huge ball of flame hurtling towards the three women but the spell exploded harmlessly against the shield generated by the Seal of Fire Silvain held up in front of it. The magic shield did nothing to stop the Lord Warrior's arrow though, which painfully pierced through her extended forearm, forcing her to drop the artifact.

As Nessa rushed their black armored foe, parrying more arrows with her shield, Fayina threw Rhone's spear at Jann - but she missed as the goateed mage hopped down from his perch while he simultaneously produced an ornate looking lyre. With a single strum, violent energies shot forth towards his targets. All Fayina could do was push Silvain out of the way as the magic from the lyre dismembered her in a sudden, violent explosion of blood and entrails.

Wide-eyed, Silvain used her good hand to conjure a wall of stone which blocked the next chord strummed by Jann. Through the debris of the crumbling wall, he didn't notice that the timid librarian had also magically flung a tiny few tiny rocks in his direction. The pebbles hit the strings of his instrument and to his horror, made it sound - firing the energy in his direction and completely obliterating him and the pillar he had jumped down from.

Meanwhile, Nessa had closed the distance and cut through the Lord Warrior's bow with her sword in a furious, flurry of attacks. This didn't stop her opponent though, who proceeded to fight unarmed - evading and deflecting Nessa's sword strikes and skillfully disarming and throwing her across the garden plaza with a surprising, spinning counter.

It was only at that moment that Lord Warrior spotted Silvain crouched to one side on some sort of impromtu magic circle, with the cup of life and the seal of fire at her feet and the lyre in her hands.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Nameless: Evil Intent

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

The night sky showed Silvain that they were almost out of time.

The city was more alert than usual the next morning, with armed Shadowstar soldiers aggressively patrolling the streets and what few civilians were about were hurriedly ushured into their homes. This made it more difficult for Fayina, Nessa and Silvain to sneak closer to the main frustum where the Lord Warrior was said to reside, but it soon became clear that they were not the only threats active that day.

The trio watched from a small, shaded alley as the city guardsmen clashed against a large group of ragged individuals. Some looked like disheveled miners, others wore the familiar greenish garb of the tree folk. One of them was a splitting image of Buster, down to his axe. Silvain held Nessa back as she began to move to assist them, not just because they had a more important mission - but more because this ragtag group attacked with no strategy. No tactics.

Yet for each one slain, the guards seemed to panic more - as if terrified of the blood being spilled around them. Soon they started fighting among themselves as well. While Nessa and Silvain squinted to try better understand what was happening, Fayina called their attention with a loud whisper.

"Now is our chance."

With all the guards now attending the commotion, the grand stairs to the pyramid was clear. With a deep breath, the trio sprinted across the open causeway and into the main Shadowstar headquarters. There was no looking back now

They moved quickly and quietly along the cold marble floor of the interior, counting themselves lucky as the lack of defenses continued inside. That is, until they reached a large open air garden in the center of the building. There, on a small altar was the elemental urn and beside it stood a menacing figure in black armor holding a wicked bow. The Lord Warrior was waiting for them.

"Right on time!" exclaimed a voice familiar to Nessa, as a thin man with a long goatee stood up from his perch atop a nearby decorative pillar. Jann smiled at them with evil intent.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Nameless: Plan B

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Silvain sprung awake as she heard the wooden door open, rolling out of the small cot and grabbing her knife of the small bedside table. Underneath the very same table was a small sack containing the Cup of Life - rewarded to her and Fayina for rescuing the forest folk just a few days ago with the promise of its return once the elemental urn was retrieved from the Lord Warrior.

Silvain was living proof that the artifact worked, having healed the spear wound in her side completely. Alas, its healing properties could not restore the dead, leaving many of the forest folk and Silvain's comrades in shallow graves.

Peeking around the corner from the back room she saw there was no need to worry, as Fayina was already hugging the familiar figure that had just entered... it was Nessa, and in her good hand she held a peculiar stone which Silvain recognized from the books in the old library. The seal of fire.

"Where is everyone else?" Nessa asked.

"We're it," answered Silvain as she came out of from behind the door. "And we're almost out of time. Whatever the Shadowstar are planning to do with the urn is probably going to happen in the next few days when the stars align once more."

Nessa grimly nodded. "Then we do what I wanted to do in the first place. Tomorrow, we go after the Lord Warrior and stop whatever those cultists are trying to do."

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Nameless: Remembrance

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

While escaping the volcano was equal parts terrifying and tiring, watching the temple and a good number of its residents get swallowed by the rising lava was heart breaking. There was nothing Nessa could do or say as Rhone and less than a handful of her soldiers watched and cried from their safe vantage point.

It was surprising to see them cry at all.

As if suddenly remembering she was there, Rhone inhaled sharply and stood up. "You must leave the seal," she said in a tone unmistakable as a demand. Her loyal soldiers were a little slower to take the cue, but also wiped their tears away to face the human with spears and shields at the ready.

"Rhone, I need..."

"That is the last piece of our temple," interrupted the captain. "The last piece of who we were. You cannot take it. We will not let you. I will not let you."

"Don't do this," warned Nessa as the soldiers began advancing on her.

"You leave us no..."

Before Rhone could finish her sentence Nessa's throwing dagger had plunged into one of her bulging, black eyes - piercing her brain and killing the captain out right. With the advantage of surprise she then spun into the nearest soldier, parrying his spear with her blade and beheading him on the second turn.

The remaining two lizards then both attacked, one lunging forward and one leaping with a downward strike, both missing as Nessa unexpectedly shifted direction and rolled past them - severing the tail of the lunger on her way past. Off balance, he made for easy prey as the gladiatrix swept behind him - using him as a shield from the spear of his comrade, much to his dismay.

With a well timed shove, Nessa impaled the tailless one onto the his ally's weapon and then made quick work of the last disarmed foe. With all of her opponents dead, she collected Rhone's spear as a remembrance and began the long trek back to the city.

Friday, 9 June 2017

TESO: Forlorn Crags

Adventures of Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Having defeated Molag Bal, I venture next to the vast expanse known as Craglorn where a lot of my crafted goods have been being sent. A new threat has arrived in this zone: Aliens Celestials. Namely the Celestial Serpent, who managed to corrupt the Celestial Mage and Celestial Warrior. A band known as the Star Gazers, asks that I help them put these things back in the sky where they belong.

Easier said than done though as this zone is intended for group content, excluding me from at least 70% of the area. Still, I do manage to cleanse the Warrior's Apex stone, and assist a time traveling soldier to destroy an ancient emperor who uses terracotta warriors.

I also slam the local Iron Orcs, who have a penchant for feeding victims to their troll pets. After slaying their entire leadership structure I mess with the Scaled Court's research in making new beasties (Mantikora) and atronarchs (six armed air elemental)! Ultimately I also save the Celestial Thief from the Serpent's grasp, forcing the Serpent celestial to withdraw.

Ugly beasties.

Alas the actual final fight against it is blocked behind a "Trial" gate (requires team) so I doubt I'll ever get to see that. Worth noting the ATITD Pilgrimage idea is alive here - in the form of visiting six delves within two hours. Pretty cool, and still easier than the ATITD version! 

Having done most of the available content (I don't have the DLCs) I think it's time I take a well earned break, and thanks to one merc band in this region being called the Greycloaks, I have a good idea of where I'm headed back to.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

MMOs: TESO Level Scaling

[Added to my MMO Design folder.]

Years ago I did a post about the problem with levels in an MMO. Having now experienced the Elder Scrolls Online, I now get to see the other / another side to it and that is level scaling.

Much like in Skyrim, the bad guys always match your level - irrespective of map zone. This is a truer scaling than what Guild Wars 2 tried to do, where a level 70 who is "down leveled" in a lower level zone can still steamroll everything. Here's a quick Pro/Con tongue in cheek list for what TESO does:

Pros: You can now go in any direction immediately and not his "Foe Walls" to your quest progression. Wandering into a level 60 zone while level 5? No problem! Those enemies will hold their punches for you. Also, this means your friend who just joined the game can come into that uber, end of game quest with you. Nice!

Cons: Missed the tutorial happy cake dungeon (that doesn't exist - just my example) and are going back as a max level character? Expect those tutorial monsters to have a lot of new DPS heavy moves and hundreds more HP - enough to actually challenge you! Also, congrats - you just finished the game after 3 months? The guy next to you finished it in 1 day... while level 5.

I can understand why people both like and dislike the system, and while I don't mind it since I do prefer people to be able to immediately play together in games, I still think having no "over all" levels is the best approach.

By that I mean, don't attach Life or HP to levels, or if you must make it by the smallest of fractions. A new player gets 100hp. And end of game character might have 110 at most. Getting hit by a bus, or more likely stabbed with a sword, should still one shot either.

And don't even get me started about level based gear either. Blargh.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

TESO: Molag Bal

Adventures of Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Beyond the torture chamber is the path up to Molag Bal's fortress, and by powering up the magic amulet via absorbing the life of the prophet, I gain a temporary boost of super saiyan strength - literally one shotting the armies of dremora that try get in my way. Even flights of demon dragons and thick fortress walls are no match as I blast my way up the mountain to the towering daedric prince trying to throw down meteors at me.

I like how my pet monkey is just casually following me at this part.

I get up to him and blast him down to a more manageable size, fight him in a more standard fashion and ultimately chop off both his arms! This forces Molag Bal to flee and Meridia is kind enough to restore my missing soul as a reward.

Winning pose!

With that victory, Lyris and Sai head off to the sunset together and Abnur, who is missing, is reported (by Meridia no less) to have taken the cheat amulet with him to Cyrodiil for his own use - though he won't be able to do anything with it for a few generations. Now re-souled I am free to do whatever I want, and I get a nice cauldron hat for my trouble. I suppose chasing Tharn into Cyrodiil is an idea, but that's all PvP land. Regardless, main quest complete!