Monday, 31 December 2018

The Cursed: A Horrible Death

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

Alleon's troop finds the old man at the standing stones who welcomes them openly. He says "The bonded serve one more master," and then grins as he turns into a demon. "Me! You want your freedom? Come find me at Myth Drannor."


"Detect Evil" totally failed I guess.

With that the man vanishes, and Alleon decides to march on to said location in the middle of the forest reaching the outskirts which looks to be an overgrown cemetery. Thrikeen patrol the place but apart from dealing with a few grave robbing insects they generally stay away from the explorers.

Elven spirits are also present and generally help the team with information and equipment. Everything is looking up, until Gavion accidentally steps into a sink hole sending the entire party into a nest of giant spiders!

Spells are let loose and steel hacks into chitin as the squad attempts to escape. Aika is the first that gets bitten, and is immediately slain by the toxin. Meanwhile Olive is jumped and dragged away screaming to be used to feed the young. They are almost out when Alleon is also bitten on the ankle, and vomiting into his helmet, dies a horrible death.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

The Cursed: Full Circle

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

With Moander defeated, all the monsters including swarms of vegepygmies that had skulked away earlier came on the offensive and the party had to fight their way tooth and nail out of that pit but followed Dragonbait's nose to finally reach daylight.

Tiny plant men. Ridiculous.

Once there Alleon's contingent headed to the river to meet up with Ragner and Rollo and their stolen ferry which they used to escape upstream to Daggerfall (wait what?). Reinforcements in the form of Faeris, Kelaide, Shelumu and Gavion joined the squad here and a visit to the magic shop saw them loading up with expensive gear to hunt down the last curse master.

Before they could depart, alarm bells rang throughout the town as a mob of ettins had descended from the nearby hills to attack! The party leaped into action, driving them back but Mercedes was brutally squashed by a giant club in the encounter.

Alias and Dragonbait opted to remain to hunt down the troublesome ettin tribe, leaving the rest to board the ferry once more and sail down the river fork, almost back to Tilverton. From there Alleon instructed Ragner and Rollo to go find reinforcements while the remainder began the march up to the standing stones that Siegfried heard Dynrigg speak of back at Hap.

Saturday, 29 December 2018

The Cursed: Garden Goblin

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

Finding the main cultist temple on the deeper floor was made easier as most of the inhuman creatures steered clear of the party. This turned out to be intentional, as upon arrival Alleon's bond was activated while the others were held in place by a burst of tentacles holding them in unbecoming places.

The head priestess then channeled the power of the bond into a huge pile of corpses, intent on raising Moander, the god of decay. Fortunately as the power drained away, so did the bond, leaving Alleon free to rescue the others and begin combat against the cultists in earnest.

Apparently Moander knows MJs "Thriller" dance.

Despite Aika head shotting the head priestess, three massive segments of Moander made it through the closing portal. This was Gevlon's time to shine, as the bone wand he had looted was one of defoliation - almost specifically designed to combat shambling mounds and plant life, which happened to be what Moander was made of. And so, with the others tanking, the little goblin destroyed the god.

Friday, 28 December 2018

The Cursed: Common Foe

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

The fully rested team heads out into Yulash city at dawn, and encounter a number of Zhentarim "terror teams" in the ruins who prove to be much stronger than their counterparts who were working for Fzoul - mainly because of all the enchanted gear they were equipped with.

Ulfert also proves to be his own undoing when he strikes a fleeing Zhentrim mage, killing him but also triggering the fire shield around his target which does double fire damage in return, melting Ulfert's flesh from his bones.

They also run into shambling mounds dragging bodies into a pit, and while the plant monsters are tough adversaries, defeating them leads to a reward in the form of a bone wand which Gevlon quickly pockets.

Finally they find an entrance to the underground pit and descend, only to find a whole bunch of cultists already dead within. Following the bodies, they find two other adventurers - Alias and Dragonbait (the Saurian) already clearing the way. Clearly having a common foe, they decide to join forces.

An odd pair, and an oddly descriptive scent.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

The Cursed: Short Ones

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

The team doesn't get far before they run into Olive Ruskettle and her associate, a greedy goblin mage named Gevlon, looking for their employer. After delivering the bad news, the two short ones lead the squad out, fighting past a few more drow and manticores.


That's a spikey winged lion.

With the keep now in full riot, the team escapes to the next town of Yulash which happens to be a war front between the Zhentarim and the Red Plumes of Hillsfar. Having experienced the "hospitality" of the Zhentarim, the team decide to try ally with the Red Plumes and are successful when they aid in slaying some Zhentarim spies.

At the local barracks they find another curse bond bearer, Commander Alleon, who takes charge of the party as their new employer and explains that a strange cult has taken up residence beneath the crumbling, war torn city... and one of them is the next curse master.

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

The Cursed: Eleran and the Medusa

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

Using fireballs to clear a way through the melee, the team fights past minotaurs, drow and Zhentarim before finally reaching Dexam and his column of minotaurs. The lady in purple also reveals herself to be a medusa!

The mages open with their biggest spells, with Eleran intentionally incinerating Dimswart who was too smart to live (and whose usefulness had come to an end). This infuriated Dexam who quickly was running out of minotaurs. The medusa used her petrifying gaze on Eleran, but the mirror he brought reflected it and turned her into stone, killing her.

Unfortunately, Dexam also used a petrification ray at him at the same time turning Eleran into a stone statue. This left an opening for Melia to backstab the beholder but it wasn't enough to kill it - resulting in her disintegration next.

How does this thing fly... or poop for that matter?

Finally it is Sir Siegfried that slays the eye tyrant, then leads the injured survivors onward to search for an exit, leaving the statues of Eleran and the medusa behind.

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

The Cursed: All Part of the Plan

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

Rescuing Dimswart the sage was easy as he was totally unguarded. Eleran then cast a small spell that summoned a lady in purple. "As promised," was all Eleran needed to say for the woman to open a magic gateway.

Stepping through, the group found themselves in a large underground chamber filled with minotaurs and their beholder leader, Dexam, who was overjoyed that the sage and his knowledge was now in his possession. Dexam doesn't get to celebrate long before more portals open with Zhentarim troops pouring out led by Fzoul himself!

That mustache means business!

"Dexam! You..." Fzoul was cut short as Dexam disintegrated him in a single blast, removing another of the cursed bonds from Eleran's arm. As both sides then clashed into battle, Dexam now disinterested, left with his entourage and Dimswart in tow.

"Was that part of the plan?" questioned Ulfert. "After him!" was the only answer Eleran offered.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

The Cursed: Not the Quest we signed up for

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

Upon leaving Hap all the Drow gear the team is carrying dissolves in the sunlight so they stop by another small village and restock with the best available gear and also take the time to level up. Eleran then leads the team Northeast to the sea where they catch a boat and are promptly beset upon by pirates!

Said pirates are terrible though, and surrender after they are easily defeated. Ulfert recognizes two of them as Ragner and Rollo who he once fought alongside. Eleran decides to hire them as transport and messengers for the other Curse Bond teams.

Eventually the group reaches the Zhentil Keep, home of another bond master - Fzoul. They bid farewell to the pirates then make their way into the city filled with worse scum and undesirables. Eleran has a way of talking to them that keeps them out of trouble though, and at the local magic shop they stock up on potions and the like.

Follow me into this dark alley...

Afterwards they meet Eleran's contact, a halfling thief named Olive Ruskettle, who shows them a secret way into the local temple before vanishing into the shadows. It's only at that point that Eleran gives the specifics of the job today, and the team is surprised to learn that this is in fact, a rescue mission.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

The Cursed: Second Team

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

Outnumbered and standing in the open against a spell caster is never an ideal combat situation so Siegfried ushered the others back through the door and got Aika to enchant it with a stinking cloud. As expected, Dracandros just hung back and ordered his troops to charge.

Doorways, the MVP of combat.

With the warriors holding the door and the spell casters shooting through the fog, the enemy was thinned out slowly until only Dracandos was left. Granted, the survivors lost Wilrech in the melee towards the end, but there was still enough of them to rush the mage at the end, with Melia finishing off Dracandros with a sneaky backstab. 

Finally free, the survivors Aika, Melia, Mercedes, Siegfried and Ulfert, made it back to Hap and told the villagers of what transpired much to the interest of the visiting mage Eleran, one of the branded, who then offered them an exorbitant amount of gold to continue the quest of breaking the Azure Bonds. Either from greed or from a sense of righteousness, they all agree.

Friday, 21 December 2018

The Cursed: Wizard's Pets II

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

On the next floor the team finds the warriors Siegfried Baranor, Wilrech and Ulfert who had also been branded by Dracandros to assist in abducting women. When he disabled the bonds the trio also had been freed and offer to assist to make up for their mind controlled crimes.

Knowing there is strength in numbers, Dynrigg accepts. The Drow also know strength in numbers, and shortly attack the group with a huge army of owlbears which rip apart Winter2Silence, behead Marogund and consume Aelinore before being fought off.

Wiser than the average bear.

A staircase trap then lands the team in a wyvern pen where both Dynrigg and Irthorn are stabbed by their poisonous tails and succumb into melted puddles of flesh. Sir Siegfried manages to get the remaining survivors out of there to a courtyard where Dracandros and a small army of guards were making their slow escape.

The Cursed: Wizard's Pets I

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

Following blindly, Dracandros leads them to the top of the tower where a flight of black dragons awaits. Using the bonds the wizard then uses the team to try insinuate a movement against the dragons, but the black reptiles are not fooled and command he unbind the party who then easily convince the dragons of Dracandros' lies.

By this point Dracandros, who was slowly backing away, fled down into the tower and the dragons fly off - letting the team deal with him. They give chase, fighting past more Drow and Efreeti, but run into trouble against a Drow Lord who slays both Pendrianne and Eineron with his blade before finally being put down.

They work as pub bouncers on the side.

He was guarding Dracandros' slave harem who the team rescue - composed of Aika Lazuka, Melia, Winter2 Silence, Mercedes and the Duchess Aelinore. Aika in particular is useful during their rescue as she manages to win a magic duel against another tower mage by pushing a small sphere of annihilation into him. The team gives the naked women their spare gear and continues the pursuit.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

The Cursed: No Saving Throw

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

After the celebration, Nesturs is approached by a town elder who asks that the team continue the fight to the Drow's boss - a wizard at the top of the nearby mountain. Nesturs agrees and Akabar shows them the way into a cavern system at the base of the cliffs.

Within the tunnels the team fight through Drow and Salamanders, as well as one group with trained Ank Hegs whose poison spit melts through Akabar's face - killing him painfully. Deeper in they find a lair of Crimdrac the dracolich who guards the wizard's tower.

Because a living dragon wasn't bad enough.

Nesturs is the unlucky recipient of a dual fire and ice breath which reduces him into frozen pieces of ash. The rest of the team defeat the monster, and continue on to the tower where they meet the wizard Dracandros. Before they can do anything, he chants some magic and all of their cursed bonds activate, enslaving their will. Apparently no saving throw allowed!

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

The Cursed: Saviours of Hap

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

Since the old man's tip was as good as any, the party journeyed South to Hap but encounter three black dragons on the way! The fight is difficult, with Phiruno getting eaten and Stenriya melted to the bone by acid breath.

That's one hell of a random encounter!

Morale drops even further upon reaching the village as they find it being oppressed by Drow. They manage to reach the inn where they can recouperate a bit, and are joined by old allies Irthorn and Marogund as well as the local Akabar Bel Akash.

The team starts taking out drow patrols on the streets, finding magic to be not as effective on them. On the plus side, the Drow equipment is superior to their current gear so after enough patrols are taken down, the team in full Drow gear heads to the barn and deals with the Efreet commander without much hassle.

The village rejoices and celebrates them as heroes!

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

The Cursed: Mobilization

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

The King himself shows up in the sewers to rescue his daughter, who somehow avoided being turned into ash. While he is thankful to Nesturs team for the aid, he can't trust them and banishes all of them, except Assagh who died from becoming a arrow pincushion, from Tilverton.

He's a very hands on King.

The rest of the team make their way up the road and eventually find an inn, but it is under attack by displacer beasts! Magic is used to slaughter the beasts but one of the tentacle cats manages to rip Thellaphes in two before it is put down. For their efforts, the inn keep lets them stay for free while they recover. During this time Nesturs orders Pendrianne to summon his other champions.

Wizard Phiruno and rangers Dynrigg and Faeris arrive in a few days, confirming that the others are also branded the same way and have started searching for a remedy across the land. Nesturs gives Faeris some instructions and sends him back as the messenger while Phiruno and Dynrigg join the party to do the same.

On their travels they come across a set of standing stones that are home to a strange old man. The fellow seems to know about their predicament, stating that they are servants to four more masters, the next of whom is to the South.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

The Cursed: Fire Knifed

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

While Stenriya could barter past the other otyughs in the sewers, it was back to mass fireballs for the rest of the inhabitants including trolls, crocodiles and of course, Fire Knife bandits as the team ventured deeper in the muck, eventually finding their hideout.

Tired of the running around Nesturs decides to surrender to one of their checkpoints, and the team is brought before their mage leader, just as he had hoped. He hadn't counted on the army of Fire Knife archers with said leader though, nor the fact that he had the princess bound and gagged beside him.

Fortunately the princess saw the opportunity presented and knocked the leader over before he could compel the team to do anything, resulting in a very messy battle where everyone but Nesturs went down to the rain of arrows. Fortunately, Nesturs necklace of fireballs wins the day for the heroes, leaving everyone else a smouldering pile of ash.

It's a staple of Fantasy magic!

At the death of the Fire Knife leader, one fifth of the magic tattoo vanishes.

The Cursed: Shitty Friends

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

Eager to find the culprit behind their bonds, Mencor tracked the Fire Knife foot prints down into the sewers where he was promptly set upon by disgusting otyughs! A surprise tentacle broke his neck and threw his lifeless body aside into the piles of excrement.

One of the grossest monsters ever.

Fortunately the wizard heavy team fire balled the monsters to death. After the battle, they were surprised to find a familiar face hiding in the piles of shit. It was Stenriya, once an enemy to Nesturs. She had made a deal with the now roasted Otyughs for protection as she too had the magic tattoos worn by the others and had been serving them ever since her defeat, living in and consuming their filth.

Having a common goal, Nesturs offered Stenriya to join their endeavor and with her protector / masters gone she could only accept.

Friday, 14 December 2018

The Cursed: Stolen Massacre

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

The royal guards were no match for Nesturs team, but when they found the King absent from the carriage the bonds suddenly released and they were free to process what they had just done.

Before the rest of the guardsmen could reach them, a group of thieves *abducted* helped the team escape into some tunnels underground while the thief leader kept spouting on about a rival gang called the "Fire Knives" trying to take over and using the heroes to do their dirty work.

Thellaphes was just about to ask a question when a small army of said Fire Knives appeared and attacked, causing absolute mayhem as they dressed exactly the same as the allied thieves. To ensure that all enemies were slain, Nesturs made sure to kill everyone that wasn't of his original party. In the end, only he and his squad remained standing in the midst of the massacre.

They should have worn different armbands or something.

The Cursed: Hangover

[Part of the Cursed story line.]

Nesturs groggily woke in an unfamiliar room. Apparently, the anniversary "victory" party got very out of hand this year. A few of his compatriots, Commander Mencor and the wizards, Pendrainne, Thellaphes, Assagh and Eineron were here too and slowly rousing. It was then that Nesturs noticed that all of them had a strange, matching tattoo on their arms... and worse, Nesturs could feel that he was now mortal.

Whoa, that's a lot of ink!

Once they were all ready, they warily explored the hallway outside finding that they were in an inn at some place called Tilverton. Definitely not where the anniversary party started. They took to the busy streets right away, finding a large presence of royal guards patrolling with talk of the King visiting the town soon.

Nesturs didn't care about some piddling King. Instead, the group sought answers at the tavern, the sage shop and the temple but found nothing about their clearly magical tattoos. Now expecting the worst, Nesturs agreed to Mencor's suggestion of visiting the local weapon shop where they all bought the best equipment their substantial purses could afford.

As they exited they came right into the path of the royal carriage and suddenly were compelled to attack!

The Cursed

Starting up a new story today while playing through an old game - Curse of the Azure bonds! Since it's also D&D related I'm adding my Baldur's Gate story here as well.

Book 1 - Curse of the Azure Bonds
Chapter 01 - Hangover
Chapter 02 - Stolen Massacre
Chapter 03 - Shitty Friends
Chapter 04 - Fire Knifed
Chapter 05 - Mobilization
Chapter 06 - Saviors of Hap
Chapter 07 - No Saving Throw
Chapter 08 - Wizards Pets I
Chapter 09 - Wizards Pets II
Chapter 10 - The Second Team
Chapter 11 - Not the Quest we signed up for
Chapter 12 - All Part of the Plan
Chapter 13 - Eleran and the Medusa 
Chapter 14 - Short Ones
Chapter 15 - Common Foe
Chapter 16 - Garden Goblin
Chapter 17 - Full Circle
Chapter 18 - A Horrible Death
Chapter 19 - Middle Finger
Chapter 20 - Tyranthraxus
Chapter 21 - Unbound

Book 2 - Baldur's Gate
Chapter 22 - Baeloth's Welcome
Chapter 23 - The Bloodsport Begins
Chapter 24 - On the Tabletop
Chapter 25 - Hold the Wands
Chapter 26 - Unfair Trappers
Chapter 27 - Highest Tier
Chapter 28 - Baeloth's Goodbye
Chapter 29 - Gorion's Foolishness
Chapter 30 - Baeloth's Return!?
Chapter 31 - Bridge Closed
Chapter 32 - Stopping the Unstoppable
Chapter 33 - Patience
Chapter 34 - Team C
Chapter 35 - Another Detour
Chapter 36 - Jokes on Me
Chapter 37 - Iron Shortage
Chapter 38 - Shortcut to Death
Chapter 39 - That was Wild
Chapter 40 - Firewine
Chapter 41 - Bandit Hunt
Chapter 42 - Cloakwood
Chapter 43 - Mine Later
Chapter 44 - Durlag's Tower
Chapter 45 - Durlag's Basement
Chapter 46 - Is this Azkaban?
Chapter 47 - Faceless City
Chapter 48 - Unfinished Business
Chapter 49 - Durlag's Guardians
Chapter 50 - Shipwrecked
Chapter 51 - Den of Wolves
Chapter 52 - Alphas
Chapter 53 - Beast Masters 
Chapter 54 - Durlag's Cheese
Chapter 55 - The Depths of Durlag
Chapter 56 - Durlag's Legacy
Chapter 57 - Secrets of Candlekeep
Chapter 58 - Fool's Crown
Chapter 59 - Sarevok
Chapter 60 - Useless Girl
Chapter 61 - Friends Old and New
Chapter 62 - Baeloth's Shallow Pit
Chapter 63 - Fresh Lich of Dead Air
Chapter 64 - Alphastrike
Chapter 65 - Hearing Voices
Chapter 66 - The Battle of Bridgefort
Chapter 67 - Might and Magic
Chapter 68 - Dark Magician
Chapter 69 - War is Hell
Chapter 70 - Avernus 

Book 3 - Baldur's Gate 2
Chapter 71 - Black Pits Too
Chapter 72 - Lab Rats
Chapter 73 - City of Problems
Chapter 74 - Copper Coronet
Chapter 75 - Graveyard Visit
Chapter 76 - Thief Lesson
Chapter 77 - Looking and Unseeing
Chapter 78 - Breaker of Prisons
Chapter 79 - Troll Fort
Chapter 80 - Trading in Problems
Chapter 81 - Druid Duel 
Chapter 82 - Got Rep
Chapter 83 - Shadow Boxing
Chapter 84 - Planar Sphere
Chapter 85 - Fuel my Heart
Chapter 86 - Schools of Magic
Chapter 87 - Trapped in the Woods
Chapter 88 - Rewards for Diplomacy
Chapter 89 - Web of Connections
Chapter 90 - Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting
Chapter 91 - Monkey Business
Chapter 92 - Trickster in the Hills
Chapter 93 - Anomen the Coward
Chapter 94 - Windspear Dungeon
Chapter 95 - Firkraag
Chapter 96 - Statue Dance
Chapter 97 - Level 2 Respite
Chapter 98 - Lich's Apprentice
Chapter 99 - Elemental Demon
Chapter 100 - A Tempting Maze
Chapter 101 - Gambling with Many Things
Chapter 102 - Keep to Yourself
Chapter 103 - Guild Wars
Chapter 104 - Onwards to Insanity!
Chapter 105 - Soul Taker
Chapter 106 - Beneath the Madness
Chapter 107 - Battle for Spellhold
Chapter 108 - Underdark
Chapter 109 - What happens in Ust Natha
Chapter 110 - Being Drow
Chapter 111 - Backroom Bargains
Chapter 112 - Triple Cross
Chapter 113 - Sharing a Laugh
Chapter 114 - Between the Lines
Chapter 115 - Return to Dust
Chapter 116 - Lichless City
Chapter 117 - Whining Woods
Chapter 118 - The Old Gang
Chapter 119 - Forever Alone
Chapter 120 - The Sorcerer and the Wizard
Chapter 121 - Summoners Rule
Chapter 122 - Deadly Marilith
Chapter 123 - Imprisoned One
Chapter 124 - Free the Genie
Chapter 125 - Suldanessellar
Chapter 126 - Irenicus
Chapter 127 - Merciful Victories
Chapter 128 - Time of Prophecy
Chapter 129 - Paranoia at Saradush
Chapter 130 - Marching Mountains
Chapter 131 - Burning Yaga-Shura
Chapter 132 - Symm Haximus
Chapter 133 - Amkethran
Chapter 134 - Unexpected Aid
Chapter 135 - Slave Rebellion
Chapter 136 - Mirrors of Sendai

This story is ongoing! Come back later for updates!

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Juuni Taisen: Zodiac War

A few shinies but mostly dull.

Every twelve years, twelve warriors from different clans gather to compete in a battle royale style tournament for glory and the opportunity to make a single wish - which is resolved in the course of a single season. Needless to say, this is a very violent anime that is quite well animated when the fighting takes place.

All the competitors.

Unfortunately there's a lot more talking than fighting, and while there are some great dialogues in there, the pacing is weighed down by many flash backs and predictability which quickly deflates what little plot there actually is. Unfortunately it is not one I recommend as there are simply better shows out there.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Now I want a big cat.

When the dangerous revolutionary Grindelwald (now Johnny Depp) escapes from prison, it falls to the timid Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to recapture him, much like he does with his other magical pokemon. This second installment of Fantastic Beasts fixes many of the issues I had with the last one.

First, there are less hijinks with the creatures which is a plus as there were some really silly moments in the last movie. This leads to more appreciation to the bits that do focus on the creatures and more importantly gives people (namely Newt) more character development time (finally)!

That's a strange looking cat! I want one!

The villain is more compelling this time around and having segments at Hogwarts is a great addition to the plot. As usual, the music and effects are great which overall makes for a superior movie to its predecessor. I give it 3.5 Dumbledores out of of 5 and would watch it again.

Neverwinter Online: The New Workshop is STUPID

Packaged with the latest module was a major change to crafting in the game, removing the floaty but pretty simple "professions" function with a full fledged workshop instance. Along with it comes the management headaches of hiring people, paying for the creation of goods, using the daily boost to pump out production, and a TON of reading to work out what is needed to make what.

Unfortunately, Cryptic has made numerous stupid design errors in the implementation. Firstly, you can hire a bunch of artisans (20 with a level 3 workshop) but only 3 of them can work at any time, and only 3 can go adventuring to gather material at once. With a full house, that's 14 people idling.

Not that you want to do that, because you have a delivery crate that has a fixed amount of space (24 slots at a level 3 workshop) where the constructed or harvested goods are returned. Run out of space and they stop working, or backup orders so that you have to wait for them to fill the box before you can use the daily boost.

Then there's the matter of actually paying your artisans because this entire thing is meant to be a gold drain. Why you would hire someone who asks a higher fee, or works slower, or both, is beyond me. The most/only profitable equipment to trade is usually found on the easiest tiers and making higher level stuff to sell usually results in a net loss. Nice business logic there.

Why you would want to make higher level goods? To upgrade your workshop! A ridiculous grind which requires 500,000 trade points to reach level 3, and 5 MILLION to reach level 4. What do you get at level 4? 6 more spaces in the delivery box, and more room for more artisans to sit around and do nothing. Really? That's it? Not exactly a fantastic carrot for people to chase.

Sure, for those interested in crafting you can make the highest level gear currently (score wise anyway, functionality wise it would still be hard to beat dropped loot) but you don't need an upgraded Workshop to do it, just a high enough level stronghold.

For a casual like me? I'm using this gold drain to actually make gold (to convert to AD) - which is easier now with this system in place. It's a shame because there's a lot of work that went into this system and it has so much potential.

Monday, 10 December 2018

The Defenders

Because the Avengers aren't available.

When a syndicate of mystical undead ninjas threatens the city, the local heroes Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist must band together to stop them! Crossovers are always fun, and while the writers had been sort of building up the ninja threat in some of the individual shows it still feels clumsily put together.

Possibly one of the reasons so many of their shows got the axe.

Most of the fault lies with the bad guys I believe, who are simply power scaled to whatever the plot requires. Regardless, if you like any of the shows of the aforementioned heroes then this one is definitely one will entertain you - though by that same token, you probably already have.

Due to Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Daredevil getting the axe, I think this doesn't have much of a chance of coming back, or if it does - it will probably be with a totally different team. We can always hope.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

House Wars IV: Heavy Stander

Just a small update from the last House Wars entry - a metal collar turned out to be the fix from the Storm King's attack, and while things have been quiet since then, nature has been slowly bringing its forces back to bear. Flourishing weeds and hedge plants have started going out of control, though these were easily handled with a couple of bottles of Roundup (it's super effective) and a few hours of intense hedge trimming.

My main problem are the huge trees in the back, sitting on neighboring properties. Their long branches now overhang my house which is somewhat worrying and annoying (due to critter poop), especially as I can't reach them myself. I'll need to hire some mercenary arborists to cut them back.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Daredevil (TV)

Charlie Cox does a fantastic job playing Matt Murdoch - lawyer by day and vigilante pugilist  by night. For the most part he hides his super human senses behind his blindness, just as he tries to keep his two lives separate from each other.

With a strong script, actors, cinematography, as well as fantastic fight scenes this is easily my favorite of the Marvel Universe shows. Yes, there are some parts that falter quite badly (looking at you S2 Elektra), but for the most part it is very enjoyable mainly due to Daredevil getting fantastic foils.

He's like a punching bag that keeps coming back for more.

These are in the form of Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin, Jon Bernthal's Punisher, and Wilson Bethel's Bullseye to name a few. My only other complaint is the conversations in foreign languages (especially early on) - I don't mind if a conversation is all in French or Japanese, but don't make one character speak one language and the other speaking English. It's just so unnatural!

Maybe that's part of the reason the show got cancelled after 3 seasons? Or maybe like Iron Fist and Luke Cage he just got Thanos-ed? Who knows! It's still worth a watch if you haven't seen it already. As a bonus the series ends on a non-cliffhanger so thumbs up for that!

Special thanks to Redbeard for giving me a heads up about the cancellation of this series.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Neverwinter Online: Red Dragon Cultist Recruitment

[Part of the Gallery]

Shintar previously asked if there are Red Dragon Cultists in Neverwinter Online, and while they are truly elusive I can confirm they do exist!

I wish we could multi-class!

You can find one for yourself in the Well of Dragons, he spawns in the final wave of the big heroic encounter called Cult Gathering.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Luke Cage

"Always forward, never back."

After being subjected to illegal human experimentation in prison, Carl Lucas (Mike Colter) gains super strength and near indestructibility then uses said powers to escape back to Harlem to lay low from the law, changing his name to the titular "Luke Cage", and reluctantly becoming a hero to that crime filled neighborhood.

There's a lot to like with this show, the acting is good, the lead is likeable, most of the villains are decent, season 2 has capoeira (always get bonus points from me), and most episodes showcase a band or music group which is fantastic even though half the songs aren't my sort of thing.

That said, for me this is the weakest series when compared to Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist. The first season in particular is very slow paced and all the black references just for the sake of solidifying that this is a black show for black people just reeks of racism didn't do it for me.

It's like a punch to the face!

Fortunately most of that is fixed up in Season 2 but apparently it wasn't good enough to save it from the axe. Still worth a watch, and definitely better than the DC counterpart "Black Lightning" which was just way too ghetto for us to even make it past episode 1.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Neverwinter Online: Blue Dragon Cultist Recruitment

[Part of the Gallery]

Of the dragon cult groups, this one seems like the easiest to sell, though one always needs to pay attention to the small print...


Also, in-game any enemy with a shield has the same property so maybe it's not such a good selling point after all? Now if the armor behaved like a Faraday cage that would be awesome.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Iron Fist

The Shaolin Superhero.

After surviving a plane crash, Danny Rand (Finn Jones) is taken to the mystical land of Kun Lun where he masters the martial arts and attains their highest achievement: becoming the Immortal Iron Fist.

At this point, instead of fulfilling his protector duties, he decides to leave and return to his father's multi billion company, upsetting basically everyone.

While it doesn't help that the first season has a weak villain, more problematic was Finn Jones not actually being up to the skill level of said Iron Fist. Despite that I quite enjoyed it and quite liked all the other characters, especially Jessica Henwick's Colleen. Even the weak villain. Just not the almost unrelatable Danny Rand.

My favourite character.

Season 2 fixed this by bringing Danny "down to Earth", Finn Jones skilling up in wushu, having a better thought out adversary, and a better plot all around. That last shot was quite the WTF though, and due to cancellation may only be explained in a crossover with the other Marvel Defenders.  

Still a decent compared to some others out there though obviously your mileage may vary. I preferred it over Luke Cage.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Pandemic: Iberia

Less technology, more difficulty!

Pandemic is one of my most played games currently, so getting Pandemic: Iberia was a natural progression for me. Much of the game play from the original is familiar. The disease cubes, epidemic cards, trading of cards and researching disease are all the same.

It's the differences that make it harder, for one diseases must be researched to win, but they can never be "cured". Secondly, there are no airplanes which means travel is slow - until you build up the railway system, which is one of the highlights of the game for me. A single move action can take you to anywhere connected by the placable rail tracks. It's very cool!

It also has cool art!

This is one of those games that is easier with less people though so be warned! Bringing a full complement of 5 characters means winning (or losing) by the skin of your teeth. On the other hand, if the game is too easy you can try run the "patients" version where the cubes move, or face historical viruses which makes those cubes more deadly.

A good challenge and a good game. If you are tossing up on getting regular Pandemic or this one, get this one. I give it 3.5 hospitals out of 5.

Siberia

The bear never escapes.

Through bad luck and a sequence of bad decisions a shady diamond trader (Keanu Reeves) gets into trouble while trying to make money off a Russian mobster, mainly due to the fact that the product he promised to sell has gone missing.

Nope, no diamonds here.

First things first - there's very little fighting in this romantic crime thriller, instead putting in a lot of emphasis on "romantic" through copious use of sex scenes which I suppose is meant to help the slow pace of the "investigation" part of the film.

My wife hated it saying it's a "terrible movie". With that in mind, I can only give it 1.5 candles out of 5 and probably won't watch it again.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

December 2018 Status

Just like that, December is upon us. I'm going to call it and say that anything still not done on this list yet is unlikely to be done this hectic month. I'm also reviving the "Compy Can't run" section for the sake of completion. It's amazing how the board game and web comic listing have just sat there for 11 months and barely moved. Maybe next year will be different? :P

    End the year with less weight (-2 kg from last month, running total: -5.9 kg)
    Draw 12 drawings of anything (13/12)
    Make board game prototype (no progress)
    Complete web comic chapter 1 (no progress)
    Clean out wardrobe (socks done)
    +Deal with overhanging trees   

Backlog Update:

FROM GIFTS (or freebies)
Sims 3 (done)

COMPY CAN'T RUN (but I want to play)
Batman: Arkham Knight
Dying Light
Alien Isolation
Shadow of War
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Satellite Reign
Assassins Creed Unity
Astroneer (Alpha)

Board games:
Mice and Mystics Campaign (6/11)
Zombicide: Black Plague Campaign (5/11)
London Dread Campaign (0/4)
Play Adamastor (0/2 modes)

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Mission Impossible: Fallout

Getting hit by lightning is nothing!

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is tasked in stopping a nuclear threat and assembles a team of familiar faces to do so. His plot armor has also grown thicker in this movie as things go his way through sheer dumb luck, especially towards the finale.

The cast do a good job though, as do all the stuntmen in the extended vehicle scenes and hand to hand combat near the start. Props to Tom for all that sprint training too!

He's really good at running!

The movie has a lot of gotcha moments which are both cool and annoying, having a penchant of showing 5 minutes chunks of events that don't actually happen.

Being the sixth in the franchise, it's obviously a good idea to watch the predecessors, and while its not one I'll actively seek to watch again, I suppose I will if nothing else is on. Definitely only for action and or MI fans, I give this 3 rubber masks out of 5.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Activance

It's always odd to talk about real life products, but hopefully this might be of help to someone.

Ever since I had my appendix removed over 10 years ago (thanks to eating McDonalds for lunch daily for 2 years - yeah, don't do that), various people have commented that my hair seems to be thinning. It's not that I'm bald or have that genetic disposition, but my hair is fine/thin compared to my brother DL.

It's a strange phenomenon, having full hair but still being able to see your scalp outline. Anyway, a month ago the barber suggested I try Activance since it worked for his wife - and because it's super easy to use I said "sure, why not". The application is dry your hair after a shower, massage some Activance in the desired spots, comb it, and leave it.

It does make your hair look wet for a bit afterwards (though if you could rock a mohawk or pompadour then you don't need Activance anyway). Some people have already noticed the difference so that's pretty positive. In case anyone has a similar issue, this one might be worth a try. I use the blue coloured bottle "Total Hair Health Hypoallergenic Leave-in Treatment" version.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

What, no save points?

A bunch of teens come across an old game and decide to play it, quickly finding themselves transported into the world of Jumanji as the characters they chose, which happen to differ wildly to who they are in real life.

Meet the intrepid heroes!

Great liberties are taken in the Jumanji world where not a lot makes sense, but most games (especially older arcade types) never did so in this instance its fine. More importantly while the action is ok, the comedy is great which makes for a very entertaining show.

Might be too silly for some viewers, but it was just the right amount of silly for me. I give it 3 weaknesses out of 5 and would like to watch it again.

Monday, 26 November 2018

The Witching Hour (Witcher Adventure Game / Coop)

It's a vast improvement.

The Witcher: Adventure Game has long been at or near the bottom of my favorite games list, mainly because of the dull game play mechanics combined with the dumb idea of making the game PvP.

That doesn't really fit the group of characters provided, since they are almost always allies, and more importantly - a good PvP game makes you care when your opponent is taking action. See El Grande or Lords of Waterdeep.

Great components deserved another picture!

In the base game you can and will often zone out while other players take their turn because its rare that anything they do will really affect you.

Not willing to let the investment, or the nice components go to waste, I decided to try out The Witching Hour fan mod variant, which adds a page of rules for a coop variant to the game and it is a significant improvement.

Chasing the fast moving enemy token on the victory track adds tension, and suddenly you are trying to coordinate with others to chase it down. As far as I'm concerned, this is a must have add-on and actually gives this game a chance of making it back to the regular gaming table.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Jurassic World 2: Fallen Kingdom

Humanity takes another step towards extinction.

After the events of Jurassic World, the now defunct and abandoned dinosaur theme park faces near total extinction thanks to the active volcano on the small island which is perhaps the best outcome for everyone involved.

Alas, thanks to human greed and misplaced animal rights activism (our heroes!) a bunch of people, including a few characters from the first movie, set out to save them... by bringing them to the mainland because nothing could go wrong!

Spoiler: Everything goes wrong.

While the action bits and CGI are all up to par here, the level of stupid in the plot is just too high for me to enjoy. It's also a problem when your heroes (apart from Starlord) are unlikable. I say this is a step down from the last outing and am not keen on watching it again. I give it 2.5 ships full of dino turd out of 5.

Tomb of Annihilation (board game)

Acererak awaits!

Having defeated Ravenloft, Tomb of Annihilation was quite refreshing with all the new yet simple mechanics thrown in. Firstly 2/3rds of the tile stack are outdoor and spacious jungle zones, while the last 3rd is a tight, trap filled tomb.

It's amazing some of these minis are only used once!

I also appreciated the enemy progression this time, and increasing the amount of experience required to cancel an encounter card is an eloquent way to make things harder and drive home the theme.  The spell deck is the biggest feature, yet is only used a handful of times, more often than not by adversaries! All up, a very fun adventure romp that is an improvement on all the previous iterations. I highly recommend it and give it 4.5 zorbos out of 5.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Ant Man and the Wasp

One size fits all!

Scott Lang aka Ant Man (Paul Rudd) is the only hope to save someone from the quantum realm in this action comedy sequel where he continues making bad decisions. Fortunately, this is mostly done in a way that makes him more likable which is great. Also Evangeline Lilly fixed her hair from the first film - yay!

All the actors charisma, humor and those high budget special effects and action sequences are almost enough to hide those niggly plot holes such as "why not just stay shrunk?", "why is [x] still alive then?", "magic hands? what?". The villain is somewhat weak character wise too, but serviceable enough.

What plot holes?

Despite the gloss-over treatment for the above, I really enjoyed this movie. It's also suitable for kiddies since it's pretty light in subject matter (until you hit the mid credit extra scene). Definitely would watch this one again, and give it 3.5 "other-stuffings" out of 5.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Neverwinter Online: Gold Bars Tip

While I am reserving my thoughts for the latest module, The Heart of Fire, and the workshop / profession changes that came with it for a later time, I did want to share this tiny thing that is probably old news to many but for me it's totally new!

At the Driftwood Tavern in Protector's Enclave, you can buy a treasure item called "Gold Bar" which trades at a 1:1 ratio for a gold coin (regular currency). Why is this of any use? Because you can then sell the bars at the auction house to make Astral Diamonds!

That gave me a small windfall for enchantment upgrades, so for those with extra gold lying around, it might do the same for you. :) As to why the tavern sells gold bars, it is a mystery! I'll just put it down to money laundering.

The Great Wall

It's to keep the rabbits aliens demons out.

On a quest for black powder, a dwindling team of foreigners (led by Matt Damon) go into China where they stumble upon The Great Wall manned by The Nameless Order - a color coded army of crazies who have devoted their lives to defending it against swarms of monsters. This is obviously a Chinese production, where there are lots of people, lots of nice props, and fair bit of wire work. There's a good deal of Chinese spoken too, but it's cleverly done in that you get most translated (for Matt Damon's sake).

Suicide squad go!

While the opening CGI is worryingly weak, it is really neat in the movie proper. I thought the monsters of this fantasy action film were also quite well done and well thought out apart from one bit right at the end. The story is a bit crazy but it's entertaining, and I quite liked the female lead played by Jing Tian.All up I rather enjoyed this one and would certainly watch it again. If you are looking for a "turn off your brain" action flick this is not a bad choice. I give it 2.5 magnetic rocks out of 5.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

BattleTech: A Final Duel

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

While Lady Kamea's evil uncle is taken into custody and sent for trial, Lady Victoria is not so easily convinced to surrender - still holding a bunch of captives hostage. She challenges Lady Kamea to a ritual BattleTech duel in which both sides will field a lance to determine their true worth. Lady Kamea accepts, and requests the Marauders to be her backup. Gabriel knows he needs his best pilots on this, especially as the previously fielded mechs, including their Highlander trump card, are still severely damaged from the relay station conflict.

With Kamea in her Atlas, she is flanked by Silverlight piloting the Orion, Rattlesnake in a stock Thunderbolt and Gabriel himself in the Battlemaster as they enter the arena. Lady Victoria is in a King Crab, supported by a Jagermech, Cataphract and an Awesome. While the Marauders go left and take care of the Jagermech and Cataphract while luring Victoria's King Crab by slowly damaging it with LRMs, Lady Kamea has difficulty against the Awesome on the right.

When Gabriel realizes that the King Crab is getting too close with it's deadly close range weaponry, he knows there is only one thing to do. "Rattlesnake, take care of the Highlander for me," he orders over the comms as he charges Lady Victoria, drawing fire from his team mates. She blasts limbs off his mech as he does so, but he somehow still reaches her for a headbutt before she finally unloads everything she has on him. Everyone screams as he explodes into blinding array of light and scrap metal.

The sight finally galvanizes Lady Kamea who eliminates the Awesome then flanks her cousin for one final alpha strike to the rear of the King Crab and coring it, killing Victoria once and for all. In the aftermath, Lady Kamea Arano is crowned queen of her people and her coronation also doubles as a remembrance for those who died getting her to the throne.

Long live the Queen!

As for the Marauders, Kid is reunited with her family and leaves the company.  Rattlesnake being the most veteran is now in charge and pilots the Highlander as Gabriel requested while his wife Silverlight rides the Atlas Lady Kamea once used. Unable to settle the life debt to Gabriel, Charybdis stays on with the Marauders as does El Duce, ready for whatever adventures come at them next.

BattleTech: Broadcasting Victory

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

With the planetary defenses down, Lady Kamea's army began descending in earnest with numbers that would easily topple her evil uncles reserve troops, yet he refused to surrender and the reason soon became clear enough: Ostergaard and his Taurian Fortress dropship was on the way. The only chance of stopping him is through another "treasure" from Castle Nautilus - a terrible computer virus that has no known cure.

Gabriel, El Duce, Kid and Charybdis along with a few APCs make a lightning raid on the main relay station up in the mountains, guarded by a Directorate heavy lance and turrets. The Marauders cover the APCs well enough for them to reach their locations, at which point the soldiers within disembark and take control of the turret systems, making them fire upon the defenders.

More Directorate heavy lances are dropped right into the compound but are dealt with by the Marauders who are now taking a beating. The mission is successful though, and with minutes to spare Charybdis transmits the virus to Ostergaard's ship just as he is monologuing about his revenge plot. The result is his thrusters go into full power - towards the planet and there's nothing he or his crew can do about it.

Pwnzored.

With a massive, ear piercing and ground shattering crash the mighty Fortress Drop ship crashes and explodes into a massive ball of fire, killing Ostergaard and everyone on board. The spectacular sight is enough to make the remaining Directorate forces surrender on the spot, and the Marauders gain a fully functional Orion for their troubles.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

BattleTech: Skill beats Gear

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

By the time construction of the low gravity pool on board the Argo was done, the previously out of commission Kid, Silverlight and Rattlesnake were finally back on their feet. Based on security footage of the new recreation area it became clear to Gabriel that Rattlesnake and Silverlight were also more than co-workers and friends. He let them have their time together and took Charybdis, El Duce and Kid who was now eager to make up for her earlier failings, to fight against the Magistracy of Canopus who were raiding a planet on the border.

The Canopians brought some high class mechs, but unskilled pilots who kept overheating their bots and were easily flanked and defeated - earning the Marauders a springy Grasshopper mech. Soon afterwards, Lady Kamea made contact again - this time for the final push against her evil uncle. The first task would be to silence the orbital cannons by destroying 3 generators before her main force arrives. Leading the way in the Highlander, Gabriel took Charybdis in the Battlemaster, Kid in a Catapult and El Duce in the new grasshopper onto the field.

Artillery fire is pretty!

Being a timed mission, El Duce and Kid quickly sped off on separate paths to take down the further generators while Gabriel and Charybdis handled the defenses which now included Spider Spotter mechs who called in artillery strikes. It was still an easy mission however, as the strikes were predictable, and the defending lances unskilled. Additional defenders arrived too late afterwards, and were easily flanked by the fast moving Kid and El Duce. They stood no chance.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

BattleTech: Royal Guard

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

When Lady Kamea contacted the Argo for their next job, her voice sounded far more urgent than usual. A personal friend of hers who had been sent to collect data on the Directorate on a remote planet had been captured - and due to the positioning of her forces only her own ship and the Argo could mount a rescue mission. Gabriel explained that while the mechs were ready to go they were a number of pilots down due to the viral attack. Kamea's solution was simple: she brought her own.

With Gabriel in the Highlander, Charybdis in the Battlemaster, Reynard supporting in the Kintaro LRM platform, and Lady Kamea in her Atlas the team made planet fall and began wrecking the prison transport convoy, only to find it to be a decoy. Lady Victoria's voice came over the comms laughing at her cousin. This was a trap for her! Soon Directorate forces were dropping in almost as fast as they could destroy them.

Getting punched by a 100 ton mech has got to hurt!

It wasn't all for nothing however, as the spy left his intel at a nearby mountain outpost. The four of them made their way there quickly and held position under fire while the data downloaded. During this, Reynard suffered an internal explosion when he was flanked and he and the Kintaro exploded magnificently, what with all the tons of missiles still in their racks. The rest weren't doing that great either with Charybdis being saved at the last minute from flankers by Gabriel. Finally the download completed and the extract ship whisked them away before the Directorate forces overran the base. The data recovered was proof of just how much of a scum Kamea's evil uncle really is.

Lady Kamea returned to her main force afterwards to plan the next move, but Charybdis opted to stay with the Marauders as she now held a life debt to their commander.

BattleTech: Kick Starter

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

In between hunting pirates, Gabriel recruits a shady character called El Duce who literally pays 100,000 credit to join the team / escape from his planet. He is a better pilot than usual because apparently he's a Kickstarter backer!? He also has interesting information in that Kid working as a spy for the enemy. A quiet investigation supports this but instead of firing her, Gabriel keeps her on to feed her misinformation. El Duce also takes her spot on in the Catapult on the grounds that he has "more experience" (though Gabriel knew Kid was better than him by now).

I wish you were allowed to field more than 4 units.
The enemy has no such restriction.

Not long after Lady Kamea requests the Marauders aid once more, this time for some base defense against a large Directorate force. Fortunately it is mostly composed of light to medium mechs supported by a fleet of APCs. With good positioning, multiple base turrets, and misinformation fed to the enemy, they are easily wiped out. Kid, realizing she's been made, attempts a last ditch attack on the Argo using a virus vial. Rattlesnake and Silverlight manage to tackle her into a sealed room when the vial breaks though, exposing only the three of them to the sickness.

They are immediately taken to the now high tech medical facilities of the ship, and while treatment would take awhile - all of them would live. In tears, Kid explains she was forced to do this to try save her family who had been enslaved to Kamea's evil uncle. Despite the damage she caused, the team promise that they'll do their best to help her.

Friday, 16 November 2018

BattleTech: The Front Lines

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

Gabriel, Viking, Rattlesnake and Silverlight (now in a Catapult mech) arrived at the spaceport just in time to help defend it against waves of Taurian lances. Even with the allied turrets and ground forces assisting, it was a close fight but ultimately all the Taurian mechs fell and all the evacuation ships took off with full loads of refugees. Almost immediately afterwards they went to intercept an elite Directorate recon team composed of very skilled pilots - not as skilled as the Marauders though, and as they walked away from that victory with a Battlemaster.

Using a dense sand storm as cover from radar detection, the squad then advanced to capture Directorate silos in a nearby canyon - a very easy stealth mission for the crew.  The Directorate then sent out their big guns, a lance composed of mechs they retrieved from Castle Nautilus composed of a Black Knight, Grasshopper, King Crab and a Highlander - much like the one Gabriel was piloting!

Strong armor and deadly weapons at close range.

It's a tough fight, and despite their superior tactics the King Crab manages to get in range of its devastating weapons and shreds Viking and his Thunderbolt into pieces. The Kid, who had just mostly been honing her skills in the training module until now takes his place as the Marauders withdraw to do side missions to recoup the losses. She pilots the Catapult while Silverlight upgrades to the Battlemaster.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

BattleTech: Federated Suns

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

Before Ostergaard's Fortress dropship could lift off again, Lady Kamea ordered her fleet to scatter to make pursuit more difficult. The Argo went its own way, laying low in House Davion's territory (also known as the Federated Suns) and hunting pirates for them. Gabriel was most pleased with Lady Kamea's latest gift, a thank you from Castle Nautilus, in the form of a Starleague Highlander mech - a good blend of speed, power and armor.

"So, when do we get to try out the Highlander?" Rattlesnake would ask. "Over my dead body," would be Gabriel's semi-serious reply.

It's a very good robot.

The pirates had begun fielding some serious numbers now, but through careful tactics, Gabriel led his squad to victory after victory, assembling more fearsome war machines, and celebrating with a party in the new garden aboard the Argo.

After a few weeks Lady Kamea finally called, and she had an urgent task for them. Instead of pursuing the fleet, Ostergaard went to the prison Lady Victoria was being held at and freed her. For good measure, he also started killing everyone on the planet who "support Lady Kamea". The citizens fleeing to the star ports needed protection and since this was obviously a trap to lure Kamea out, the Marauders would be sent instead.