Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Neverwinter Online: Tales of the Old - Dread Vault

Tales of the Old is an interesting event that revives some of the previously removed dungeons with some updated foes and challenges, all to earn tales currency to buy rewards. Unlike normal runs you are limited on time, unable to use consumables (no heal pots), and have a party wide total deaths limit for starters (because you can make it harder).

I don't have any problems with that, though death is annoying due to the run distance from the campfire but I think that mainly stems from dungeon design - and one of my main gripes about lengthy dungeons.

In Dread Vault your team must work your way down a lengthy cavern to ultimately fight an elder brain. Unfortunately the whole journey is just move forward, kill trash, repeat over and over for more than 10 minutes. Even without the enemies it will take a decent amount of time just to walk from point A to point B.

Prepare for more of the same thing!

While some players like Syncaine enjoy massive instances dungeons, I personally find them to be fucking boring. Sure you have mini bosses before the main villain but that makes what, 20% of the dungeon interesting? And then you are expected to run the entire dungeon over and over? That just reeks of dumb design and I'm starting to see why Cryptic removed it in the first place.

The only place massive dungeons have in MMOs is if they are not instanced at all, so that you are able to randomly encounter other players and not the automatons that are the NPCs. They did this right in the general Undermountain zones.

Meanwhile instanced content works best when it gets right to the point. Tiamat, Demogorgon, and Baphomet (my favorite) all drop you right into the boss fight itself. I'd much prefer a similar event centered on those, though obviously "Tales of the Old" wouldn't be a suitable title.

Better still, just hold a Boss Rush event with the option of soloing. There are enough bosses and mini-bosses in the game to pick from now to make that happen. Anyway, Tales of Old - thumbs up. Dread Vault - also thumbs up, but only for the boss fights. The rest of it is just a waste of time.

Monday, 16 September 2019

The Cursed: Trickster in the Hills

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Returning to Athkatla to sell loot from the temple the team find the Planar Sphere under attack by a group of magic hating mercs! Unlucky for them, the friendly guardian golem patrols into them and wipes them out, their employer suffering a similar fate soon after.

Anomen then suggests to investigate an ogre problem at the Windspear Hills, so they go and sure enough encounter the oddly well spoken brutes. Upon slaying them however, it turns out the ogres were paladins - one of whom was ex-ally Ajantis!

Sorry dude, you looked like an ogre.

A passerby offers shelter for the party and warns them that they are being targetted by the local trickster Lord Jierdan Firkraag, the same person who told Anomen about the ogre problem. As if on queue, a bunch of orc mercenaries working for Firkraag then show up and attack. While they are easily beaten, they do manage to abduct the good samaritan's boy in the chaos.

A lone messenger then appears issuing a challenge for the team to rescue the boy at the "battle ground" in the North East. They accept.

Insight: For some reason enemies respawn quickly in this area. Be prepared.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Real Neat Questions

Roger, who Contains Moderate Peril, has left another question thing open for anyone to answer so... for a break from my usual postings, why not?

1. How do you explain your passion for games to those who don't "get it"?

I don't. Not aiming to convert anyone as it's just a hobby. If they push then I just retort with a hobby of theirs that I don't get. Such as drinking or smoking or going to the beach.

2. Do you have faith in your country’s political institutions?

Uh, I suppose I am indifferent, though there are much worse ones out there - such as the one led by a buffoon and that other mob that ignores what their citizens vote for.

3. Do you regret anything that you've written or said on a podcast?

Not really. I usually regret not doing a thing at all rather than doing it and failing miserably. The same goes for my posts.

4. Do you find common place social conventions, such as going for a drink after work, or inviting colleagues’ round to dinner, a pleasure or a chore? (Feel free to replace examples with something more appropriate to you if required).


I'm quite anti-social so I don't do any of those. I imagine that puts me in the "chore" category.

5. If you played games as a child, did your parents place any restrictions upon your pastime?

Yep! Mostly time based restrictions. Now that I'm all grown up I'm annoyed to find I still have time based restrictions! It's quite frustrating.

6. You are standing behind someone who is unaware of your presence. Armed only with a seven-inch filleting knife, what is the most efficient way to kill them?


What the hell Roger? That's rather dark! Provided the knife is sharp, multiple stabs from the side underneath the rib cage (or in the underarm, but that would be hard to pull off) with the blade towards the heart would be ideal for most people. Followed by running away to a safe distance to let the victim bleed out.

7. Do you consider video game ratings to be important?

Yes. As much as I'd like to play all the games there just isn't enough time to do so. Thus low rated games don't make it to my radar at all, unless there's something in particular that grabs my curiosity.

8. Do you ever find that your own personal values, principles and ethics put at odds with the wider gaming community?

Of course. The first to come to mind on what I term as "cheating" and my opinions on lock boxes.

9. Share a valuable lesson about life that you've learnt the hard way.

Impulse buying leads to disappointment. Always research first.

10. Is there a blogger or podcaster who has quit the scene or retired that you would like to see make a return?

I can't remember her name, but she was a deaf girl whose blog I came across in a Newbie Blogger Initiative years ago. I really liked how colorful she made everything. If you might know who this is please let me know! Also Missy Mojo and Ravalation!

Saturday, 14 September 2019

The Cursed: Monkey Business

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Having been abandoned by Jaheira, the team recruits pretty boy paladin Anomen before heading to the evil cult temple in the mountains. Rasaad is immediately concerned, letting slip that he likes Catharina. She assures him the annoying paladin is not a threat.

The planned "infiltration" of the base again doesn't go smoothly as upon walking in Rasaad simply challenges everyone to combat (yay for lawful stupid). Turns out the entire cult was an elaborate ruse simply to weaken the Sun Soul monks by giving them something to defect to and to fight among each other.

Choke points are fun with AoE spells!

The real enemy - the Dark Moon monks, then attack in force and Rasaad and company opt to help the tricked cultists to defend themselves, resulting in an easy victory. The new cult is liquidated, with the members sheepishly returning to their old orders while Rasaad and Catharina have a romantic evening on the roof of the temple.

Insight: Practice at estimating the radius of your AoE spells. This game assumes you can throw fireballs and skull traps far enough back to hurt the charging enemy but not hit your own front line.

Friday, 13 September 2019

The Cursed: Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting

[Part of the Cursed story line]

While in town, Rasaad finds a lead to the cult he was hoping to infiltrate so the team journeys to an abandoned amphitheater for the initiation. Unlike Neera, Rasaad is unable to play it cool which results in a massive battle against the evil monks.

He's much stronger in this game though.

Catharina gets to try out Mordenkainen's Sword (or as I call them Mord-swords) and finds they are fantastic! The floating blade easily cuts down foes while being totally immune to non magic damage itself. Basically doom for the unarmed monks. Especially fighting in cloud kill!

Luckily, a map to the cult base is found on one of the bodies but since the team is quite fatigued after the battle they opt to camp in the woods for the night. In the morning, Jaheira is gone - having left a note that she needs to try clear her name and more importantly, so that the party isn't a target for the Harpers.

She's so unreliable.

Insight: To make Mord-swords even better, cast haste on them. Haste just makes everything better! (Though in RP terms, everything hasted would be aging much quicker)

Thursday, 12 September 2019

The Cursed: Web of Connections

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Meanwhile in Thay...

Sir Erland and Party Girl spend some time meeting the other captives and it's clear that most are scum, even asking for gold (they were all given some to shop for equipment) to assist in each arena fight. One, a cleric named Timmoth Goodtree, even flatly refuses as he would rather spend his energy finding a way out. Not such a bad idea, but someone has to fight upstairs. Guess who.

The four prisoners they best get along with join the team permanently - Alias the warrior and her saurian companion Dragonbait as well as Shinordium the mage and his evil compatriot Arzang the sorcerer. For the first round against orcs, they also get the dwarven gladiator champion Symm Haximus who is the only fighter there voluntarily, for the pay and the glory. He has no interest in escape.

Symm sounds a bit like Crixus!

Round two is against Thayan gladiators and minotaurs, and the team picks the unliked wild mage Gerrod to assist. He is just happy to make friends and clearly wants out. The third round they are joined by Mercy the archer to kill lizardmen, and after the battle she agrees to keep an eye on the guard routines.

To face umber hulks in the fourth match they bring crazy Lea who is immune to their confusion due to her insanity. Unfortunately due to the same condition, they can't tell if she and her imaginary frenemy will assist in any escape attempt.

Insight: Web is very handy for these fights and the arenas are small enough to get some good coverage.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

The Cursed: Rewards of Diplomacy

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Returning after doing some tasks for the sanctuary, they find it destroyed! The lone survivor says they were discovered by Thayans and the others were captured and taken to the Thayan secret base in Athkatla. Humorously, this base is right beside Irenicus' starting dungeon - posing as a shop front.

Neera wants to go all terminator within, but Catharina calms her down enough so that the team can talk their way in, even buying supplies from said Thayans and reaching the back rooms which hold some angry gladiators and underpaid mercs.

With a few underhanded tactics, the mercs are made drunk and the gladiators freed. Having the support of both groups makes the red wizards easy prey, and the surviving wild mages are freed from their cages. For safety purposes they opt to split up again, with Neera remaining in the party.

Mord Swords are fantastic tanks!

Insight: Those Thayans have some really nice spells for sale, Mordenkainen's sword summon being one of them. Be sure to get it!

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

The Cursed: Trapped in the Woods

[Part of the Cursed story line]

While the forest is home to low level enemies, it is laced with magical traps (thanks Neera) one of which transforms Valygar into a squirrel. Due to the wild magic zone, the casters can't dispel this and so abandon him to his tiny, furry fate.

Valygar isn't happy.

Trying to navigate this place without a rogue (trap detector) is terrible so the team returns first to the city where Jaheira is again approached by Harpers who warn her that her execution has been mandated and that attacks on the party are going to increase soon. 

While she ponders on that Elizabeth is swapped out (and goes deep in her cups) for the Yoshimo, who helped them escape the Irenicus dungeon at the start. With him detecting traps in the party the team easily reaches Neera's wild magic sanctuary and they begin helping out with the numerous fetch quests given by the inhabitants there.

Insight: Definitely bring a thief to the wild forest. Not only do you get XP from disabling traps, you also avoid the adverse effects of said traps! Poor, poor Valygar...

Monday, 9 September 2019

The Cursed: Schools of Magic

[Part of the Cursed story line]

After a quick side trip to return the Knights of Solamnia, Valygar drives the sphere back to the Athkatla slums where it finally runs out of gas. At this point the cowled wizards show up and begrudgingly grant the Planar Sphere to Valygar, on the condition that they can use it as a school for apprentices.

Hmm, should have explored Krynn a bit more.

The team have no problem with that, and Catharina gets the first three students crafting a lowly magic items. From them she learns about a magic refuge in the Southern woods and so the team investigates and finds Neera there!

Her wild magic teleported her out of that bottomless chasm, and now she has created a refuge for other wild mages being hunted by the red wizards of Thay. The only problem is she forgot how to get in. Catharina decides to help her but soon finds this entire area is a wild magic zone, making the most regular spells go awry.

Insight: Bring health pots here. Casting heals will most likely not result in healing.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

The Cursed: Fuel my Heart

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The sphere is huge, and using broken golem bits Catharina assembles one of her own which helps in destroying a wandering beholder within. They finally reach the cockpit and find the lich that owns this thing waiting for them.

It is a tough fight but Catharina's pierce magic does the trick in lowering his defenses until his defeat by Valygar's blade. Of course, he had flown the sphere to hell during this time and in his dying breath laughs, saying they need demon hearts to power it up once more.

"Good thing he brought us to hell then," said Lu Lingqi. True enough, disembarking they found a good number of demons just waiting to be slain and have their hearts taken as fuel. Not too hard a task with invis scouting, cloud kill, and summoned sword spiders.

We have ignition!

Insight: While not poisonous, sword spiders are great summons as they attack very quickly. Anything not physical resistant is in big trouble against them, especially if they are hastened as well!

Saturday, 7 September 2019

The Cursed: Planar Sphere

[Part of the Cursed story line]

With the Umar Hills safe, the team returns to the city and Jaheira is again accosted by Harpers. While violence is avoided once more, she does take the drastic step of quitting that organization! The group proceed to the Planar Sphere which Valygar does open. Inside they find misplaced Knights of Solamnia (from Dragonlance) who warn that this place (it's a space ship) is very dangerous.

Iron golems are dangerous even without weapons.

This is true, not so much for the cannibal halflings on board but for the numerous golems guarding the place. The large iron ones in particular are very tough as they are both weapon and magic resistant.

Insight: Iron Golems are towering menaces, but that also means they can't fit through man-sized doors. Use that to your advantage!

Friday, 6 September 2019

The Cursed: Shadow Boxing

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The search for the missing folk leads to a dark, forgotten temple full of shadows (the enemy) which somehow Rasaad can still punch and kick to death. He's improved heaps! Inside they find the halfling Mazzy imprisoned and rescue her.

She info dumps that her team came here to be heroes too, but they all got caned by the shadow dragon further in. The dragon's master - a shade lord who was once imprisoned here, was saving her as his next "host".

Mazzy is sent back to her home in Trademeet while the team delves on through undead and traps which are very annoying without a thief! Eventually they reach the shadow dragon and literally kick its butt. The shade lord afterwards is laughable, being weaker than most of his minions.

Yes, Rasaad is kicking the shadow dragon to death!

With his destruction, light returns to this forest. Quest complete!

Insight: There's a wardstone that makes you invisible to the Shadow Dragon until you attack or interact with him, so use the time to prepare buffs, summons and traps!

Thursday, 5 September 2019

The Cursed: Got Rep

[Part of the Cursed story line]

After solving a few more minor issues at Trademeet, Korgan has had enough of the goody-two-shoes routine and leaves the party as they head on to the Umar Hills where people have reportedly gone missing.

Unimpressed dwarf is unimpressed.

While searching the woods, a band of Harpers comes for Jaheira but are convinced to stand down and leave. They also come across the criminal wanted by the Cowled Wizards, Valygar Corthala hiding in a remote cabin.

He claims innocence, saying he's only wanted for his blood which can open the mysterious planar sphere in the slums district of Athkatla. Lu Lingqi decides to give him the opportunity to prove it, and lets him join the team.

Insight: Reputation is a two edged sword. The high reputation my party had here caused Korgan to leave but also prevented the fight with the Harper group.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

The Cursed: Druid Duel

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The druid grove is home to spiders, trolls, and druids being turned to the extremist shadow druid way by their new leader, Faldorn! It seems she survived that flamestrike after all. Fortunately, the druids chose leaders based on ritual duels so Cernd steps up.

To everyone's surprise, Cernd is actually a greater werewolf and rips Faldorn to pieces and subsequently staying to redirect the druids back to a more peaceful path.

It's like fighting a random tribesman only for him to turn into this.

More problematic is the rogue rakshasa who is found hiding nearby, as the team has no weapons capable of killing it. They retreat and opt for the other solution instead - killing all the djinn in Trademeet instead. This works out better, though it does leave Raven Skinnybastard petrified.

Since he's pretty safe here in that form (even used as decoration in town), the team take Rasaad to fill his spot.

Insight: Cernd's greater werewolf form is awesome, but he can't equip/use/cast anything while in that form.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

The Cursed: Trading in Problems

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The next stop from the De'Arnise keep is the city of Trademeet which for some reason is under attack by wild animals. In addition to that, a number of djinn have set up camp outside and have basically stopped all trade to the city (through charm buying everything) until the rakshasa they are hunting is killed.

You have it backwards - the genies make the wishes and you are the slaves!

Because not enough is going on, a recovered Rasaad is spotted here as well - fighting and defeating others of his Sun Soul monk order. When questioned after, he claims that this is a ruse to infiltrate a new monk cult. They leave him to do that and go chat with the mayor who has a druid scapegoat locked up for trial.

This druid, Cernd, claims to also be investigating the animal attacks, and with a little diplomacy the team secure his release and in return he shows the way to the nearby druid grove, the likely source of these problems.

Insight: You won't be able to trade with anyone here other than the Djinn who have terrible prices. Sell your stuff back in the city before coming here!

Monday, 2 September 2019

The Cursed: Troll Fort

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The closest stop outside Athkatla is the De'Arnise Keep, where the daughter of the household, Nalia De'Arnise was encamped outside with a few guards. The keep itself had fallen to troll and yuan-ti invaders, and she was trying to reclaim it.

Having had experience in sieges before, Catharina agrees to help. Much like Dragonspear Castle, there is a secret tunnel to access the fortress and unlike Dragonspear, the enemies here are weak and easily wiped out.

It was no hassle what so ever.

Nalia is thankful for the assistance, but now faces the reality that if she takes ownership of the now empty De'Arnise throne, she would be stuck to a previously arranged marriage to a douche bag. Catharina suggests a life of adventure instead, and directs her to the Copper Coronet to make her own group of explorers.

Insight: In case you forgot, you need fire or acid to finish a downed troll. Leave them long enough and they get back up at full health.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

The Cursed: Breaker of Prisons

[Part of the Cursed story line]

With the cult of the Unseeing Eye destroyed, the team decide to check up on Haer'Dalis and his theater troop - only to find them being abducted by inter-planar bounty hunters! The party follow into the planar prison, and defeat the demons in charge of it. Of course, most of the slaves actually die during this but the theater company is fine.

These two also made it out. They always do.

They opt to teleport on to Sigil, but Haer'Dalis returns with Catharina's team back to Athkatla in hopes of adventuring with her (specifically Lu Lingqi) one day. Keldorn, happy with recent events, invites them all to his house to meet his wife and daughters. This doesn't go so well as his wife is upset at the job hours he keeps and admits to having a relationship with another man! Distraught, Keldorn leaves to report this to the courts, leaving the party one member down again.

They decide to visit Jaheira at the docks and find a Harper inquisition waiting for them! Unwilling to be magically imprisoned for eternity the team slay all the Harpers present with the exclusion of Jaheira who wisely decided to side and rejoin with her old team. Having had enough of the city, the party decides to leave it to follow one of the many quest hooks outside but before doing so, they pay a quick trip to the adventure mart to gear up properly. At this point they had 94k gold anyway.

Insight: The Robe of Vecna at the Adventure Mart is very handy as it reduces spell casting time. Instant skull traps? Yes please!

Saturday, 31 August 2019

August 2019 Review

Wilhelm aka the Ancient Gaming Noob has an interesting Blaugust 2019 post about having review posts to better steer and refine his blog. Since I've already been doing a monthly "to do list" post routine I thought this would be a good time to add this data underneath and see how it goes. He does have way more experience at this than me after all! That also means I'll be doing these at the end of the months, rather than the beginning.

    End 2019 with less weight (0 kg from last month, running total: +5 kg)
    Make board game prototype (no progress)
    Complete web comic chapter 1 (worldbuilding planning)
    Clean out wardrobe (done)
    Clean the roof (no progress)

BACKLOG
Baldur's Gate 2 (done)
Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
Enderal
Borderlands 2
Icewind Dale
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Neverwinter Online: Uprising (0/2)

Board games:
Zombicide: Black Plague Campaign (10/11)
London Dread Campaign (1/4)
Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage (0/13)

BLOG STATS

One Year Ago
I started the Masters of Eador story and participated in Blaugust where I gave some hints about myself.

Five Years Ago
I found a random knife in the garden and was watching some very violent and ultra gory movies. I was also upset at Wizardry Online closing and enjoying Mabinogi's G18 and Neverwinter Online's Tyranny of Dragons.

Most Viewed Posts last Month
The Cursed: Another Detour
The Cursed: Iron Shortage
Neverwinter Online: The New Workshop is STUPID

Top 3 Search Terms last Month
two female skyrim adventures go into...
d&d candlekeep part 17
charrus kitchens

Kinda wish I could see what the rest of that first one is... for scientific reasons, naturally. :P

Friday, 30 August 2019

The Cursed: Looking and Unseeing

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Having had enough of the Graveyard, the team heads into the Temple sewers next to hunt down a new cult forming below. An encounter with a well equipped band of brigands sees Minsc getting killed by a magical throwing axe which Korgan claims for himself before kicking Minsc's corpse down one of the many shit pipes. Taking his place is the paladin Keldorn, who is also looking for this mysterious cult down here.

Instead, the group finds the secret lair of a wizard who has enslaved the local actor Haer'Dalis. After rescuing the hapless actor the team goes deeper into the sewers and finds the base of the Unseeing Eye cult. It doesn't take much to learn that these self-blinding crazies worship a beholder who is looking for half of a powerful artifact, since it already has the first half.

The team finds it first in a long forgotten temple even further down before hopping into the beholder's lair to face the monster. There are a surprising number of undead servants here too, but most of the trouble comes from the random beholders and gauths (little beholders) in the area. Catharina makes use of all the summoning scrolls she has been hanging onto, letting her own skeles, efreeti and fire elemental handle all the dirty work. As for the Unseeing Eye, Korgan uses the assembled artifact (it's a plasma rifle) to almost one shot it, making it the easiest enemy in the entire place!

Beware of dwarves with plasma rifles!

Insight: Buying the Shield of Balduran at the Adventure Mart would have saved a lot of headaches here as it reflects beholder rays, but summoned fire elementals are a good fall back as they are immune to most of what the eye tyrants can throw.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

The Cursed: Thief Lesson

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The mystery of Montaron is not much of a mystery. The Harpers killed him since he was spying on them for the Zhents, just like they kill Xzar when the team goes to report back to him. Jaheira decides to leave the team to work for this Harper branch, so Catharina finds a replacement in the somewhat crazy lady Hexxat at the Copper Coronet. Hexxat has a burning desire to revisit the graveyard so that's where they go.

They also kept his corpse in a chest. Nasty.

As a thief, she is much better than Raven at detecting traps (and she teaches him a bit) which is handy as she leads them down into one particular crypt and right to... the vampire that's mind controlling her. The vampire "Hexxat" kills her thrall and begins making demands of the party, which isn't really great for first impressions so Catharina and company just end up killing her too.

They hire the dwarf fighter Korgan nearby, who is hunting for a tome in one of the crypts but finds that his old crew have beaten him to it. These vagrants seem to also have raided the house of the collector who wanted the book, killing all inside so Catharina has no qualms in tracking them down and ending them in the same fashion.

Insight: Detect traps never turns on automatically for Raven as he is player generated, which is why Hexxat seemed to be so much better at finding them. Simply remembering to press that button makes him much more useful.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

The Cursed: Graveyard Visit

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The team is invited to the graveyard by a mysterious woman, so they go during the day but still find the tombs teeming with undead and giant spiders. The spiders in particular have built a massive hive that connects a number of the deeper tombs in such a way that triggers my arachnophobia. Good thing the party has no such problems, since gassing them with cloud kill is pretty effective.

They do take a bit of damage down there so are forced to surface to regroup - finding that night has now fallen. A vampiress named Bodhi appears and tries to get the team to side with her against the Shadow Thieves and in return she will help find Imoen, all for the low price of 15,000 gold! This offer is turned down because vampires suck, and Bodhi leaves disappointed.

Bonus points for trying to charm the party.

On the way back to an inn the party comes across a man almost beaten to death in an alley way. At his request they carry him all the way to the docks where he is delivered to a large building which turns out to be the local Harper base. The necromancer Xzar, who was once believed dead but is better now, then appears and tasks the group with infiltrating the base to find out what they did with his buddy Montaron. Jaheira is unhappy that the group agrees to do this.

Insight: The tombs in the graveyard are painful. Lots of strong, draining undead and the lower levels are riddled with traps.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

The Cursed: Copper Coronet

[Part of the Cursed story line]

At the docks district the squad is employed by the Shadow Thief guild to investigate a possible rebellion within their own ranks, and sure enough with the surprising assistance of Edwin, they find the splinter group which Catharina deals with solo. Invisibility lets her get past the guards, then the usual cloud kill and skull traps with an ice storm on top.

"Feel the backhand of Justice!"

Outside, Jaheira runs into an old enemy of hers, who curses her with some wasting disease before fleeing. The team gives chase, looking for clues at the Copper Coronet tavern where Minsc gets into a bar brawl and Raven discovers that the place is run by slavers! They slaughter the scum and free the slaves who take over the establishment. This also involves traipsing through kobold infested sewers to hit the nearby slaver base. Jaheira's curse giver is among them and his death lifts her curse.

Insight: Jaheira's stats drop by the day if you ignore the curse for too long, so don't do that.

Monday, 26 August 2019

The Cursed: City of Problems

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Athkatla is a city of problems, the first being a circus tent being toyed with by a djinn. The team investigate, killing a number of illusions and the illusionist posing as said genie to free the people within. This includes the wingless elf Aerie, who is eager to go adventuring one day. Soon after they meet a thug called Gaelan who offers aid of a "large organization" to assist Imoen, for the price of 20,000 gold pieces.

Needing to do some "fund raising" the team explores the city finding many opportunities of work, but first Catharina visits the government district and buys a license to cast spells in the city. While there they also witness Viconia being put to the stake, and Catharina watches with glee as the deserter is immolated into ash.

Burn baby burn!

They also find Dorn who is openly plotting to murder one of the high priests so the team kill him before he does any damage, and are subsequently hired to deal with some fallen paladins. An easy task with a few skull traps and cloud kills.

Insight: Buying that license is super handy, do it early and don't worry about the gold. There's lots of it just lying around.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

The Cursed: Lab Rats

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The prison transport never made it to Baldur's Gate, as Catharina was abducted by the mage Jon Irenicus. Deep in his dungeon, she endured his experiments for sometime until the location came under attack by some rival faction. With Irenicus distracted, Catharina is freed by fellow captive Imoen! Hey she's not so useless after all. The pair also rescue familiar faces Minsc, Jaheira, Elizabeth, and Lu Lingqi as well as the pair of thieves Yoshimo and Raven Skinnybastard on their way out, all of whom were lab rats to Irenicus.

Irenicus thinks too much, look at all those veins.

Alas both Khalid and Dynaheir were also prisoners here but they did not survive the torture. Reaching the surface they find themselves in Athkatla, Jewel of Amn. Irenicus is nearby absolutely annihilating the opposition which draws the attention of the local enforcers, the Cowled Wizards - a number of whom he slays as well. During this Imoen takes a cheap shot to magic missile Irenicus, and since magic is outlawed in the city the Cowled Wizards eventually capture both of them and whisk them away.

Yoshimo, having had enough of this shit, peaces out and leaves to go to the pub. The rest of the group, Raven Skinnybastard included, decide to try help Imoen from her legal issues.

Insight: Don't rush to escape the prison. There's lots of EXP in there and you can camp as much as you like.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

The Cursed: Black Pits Too

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Party Girl found Sir Erland drinking his sorrows away at a tavern, having been shaken with the horrible acts he committed during the siege of Dragonspear. She needed to get him straightened out quick as to meet the others to try rescue Catharina from her arrest. Fate had other ideas.

Najim the genie they rescued from Baeloth's Black Pits appeared and to give warning that they were being hunted but he was too late. A squad of hunters - "the Planar Hunters" - suddenly portaled in, led by a powerful fallen planetar (almost a minor demi-god) and easily thrashed all of them.

When they came to, they found themselves in a large, anti-magic underground facility among others victims stripped of their belongings. In short order, their "host" Dennaton made his appearance and declared that each of them was chosen because they were "champions". Now, they would fight for the entertainment of his crowd here in Thay or die. Having the fallen planetar at his side made even the most stalwart hesitate on fighting back.

"Don't worry," Sir Erland said quietly, still recovering from his bender. "We'll get out of these Black Pits too!"

The arenas aren't underground this time.

Insight: Apparently you can win that initial fight in the tavern, though I'm not clear on the "how" as those hunters are really tough and get a free round to fully buff before combat.

Friday, 23 August 2019

Swamp Thing (TV Series)

There's something special in that swamp.

A strange epidemic brings CDC scientist Abigail Arcane (Crystal Reed) to Marais, but it's the even stranger things in the swamp the keep her there. If you like your superhero flicks with a good dose of horror, then this short lived 10 episode series focusing on the titular Swamp Thing is for you.

Pruned before his time.

Apart from the obviously rushed end, the story, CGI and acting is decent while the sets, props and costumes are all fantastic. The "man in a suit" works particularly well here. I can only imagine what it cost to maintain that swamp set. Not the best superhero show for me, but it wasn't bad. I give it three vines out of five.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Today I Smiled: The Sword of Reddit

While I was supremely negative about reddit before thanks to games hosting official conversations there rather than their own forums, it has really grown on me as a place for news, shocks and entertainment. There are some really odd channels too... did you know about the great Emu War? I do highly recommend the two sentence horror channel for any writers though.

For those more inclined for visuals there are some cool instagram sites floating about, and for the more stalkerish you can even keep those stories you find. Someone's even made money selling other people's photos (Richard Prince and his "New Portraits" gallery)!

For those interested in medieval combat here are some nice HEMA clips I've found. The more "modern day" version looks so out of place in comparison. Speaking of out of place, what the heck is Geralt doing in Soul Calibur, or Negan in Tekken, or Franky Zapata flying across the English Channel on a hoverboard? Ok, that last one is kinda cool.

I'm going to wrap this up with some music courtesy of our bardic guildmate Lyv with her songs "Priestess Priestess" and "Little wings can do Grand Things"!

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Developer Appreciation: Impromptu Player Made Content

Another Blaugust themed post just in time for Developer Appreciation week!

As someone who has experience in making content in out of the box mediums for MMOs, I really appreciate the often unappreciated and certainly underpaid effort and creativity taken when random players decide to make quests or run events when the tools for doing so aren't present in game.

In today's example, said tools were actually removed from the game but that isn't stupping Sandukutupu from Neverwinter Online to hold one such event: "The Fires of April" and I for one am definitely planning on participating.

I've often found that sometimes the best content comes from the people who aren't being forced, paid, or are only doing so for a different agenda. It's the ones passionate enough to make content just for the sake of making content that often have the richest stuff.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Couch Co-op Replacement

If your split screen co-op console choices are becoming limited, switch to board games. Odds are you can play with more people (including those not tech savvy) and have a more interactive time to boot. Good co-op starters for those who don't know what to look for are Pandemic: Fall of Rome or Forbidden Desert. At the very least it gives you a few more choices of things to play.

Monday, 19 August 2019

What We Do In the Shadows (Movie)

Even you will love Stu.

The supernatural live among us and in this mockumentary film a crew documents the lives of a quartet of vampires living in a flat in New Zealand. While they are dangerous, they are also funny, silly and very entertaining.

Just your average vampires.

The effects, acting and comedy (which is impressively mostly improvisation) are all above average and despite the theme and the more than occasional gore, it is a very light hearted movie. I highly recommend it for anyone that needs a laugh. Isn't that everyone? I give it 4 Stu's out of 5 and would definitely watch it again.

Also, if you enjoy this there is a spin off series with the same name that is equally good and follows a different but equally silly group of vampires based in America. I'm currently waiting for Season 2 of that one. :)

Sunday, 18 August 2019

The Seven Questions

Dipping my toe into Blaugust 2019 as a non-participant since this question thing looked like a fun distraction to participate in!

What hobbies or interests do you have that you might not regularly include on your blog?

I'd say the biggest one is music - looking for songs, learning songs, getting annoyed when songs just don't work well with me or vice versa. Yes, it's a skill thing but also some beautiful pieces are simply just not suited for my style. Especially with voice, things get out of range fast. Since I just perform for family and friends this stuff never really makes it onto the blog.

Are you learning any skills at the moment? If not, what would you like to learn?

This will sound silly but I would like to learn perfect pitch. Being able to start on key without an opening note would be fantastic. Also finger tutting, just because.

If you were invited on a one-way trip to Mars to establish a new colony, would you go?

Before getting married, definitely. I actually talked to my family about this years ago with the serious intention of applying if it ever came up. Of course, there's no way I would have passed whatever physical/mental tests would be required (more so now!) but the willingness to leave everything and everyone behind? Tick. Why? It's not that I'm unhappy here, but mankind's future lies out there. Also I'm a bit of a loon. :P

Now, I have more than myself to think about and can't even get to Pripyat, much less Mars.

What is the one thing that you most want readers to come away from your blog with? A feeling, thought, or understanding.

Hmm, that's a good question. Mild entertainment is the current answer, at least for those who enjoy my stories. Attaching a feeling to the blog sounds like a good idea, though I'll have to be careful if I'm going to attempt that.

What excites you most about having a blog?

I get to pour out some of my insanity to infect the world! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Or, you know. At least my tiny corner of the world wide web. Ultimately, it just makes me feel good.

If you could make one thing from a book, TV show or movie real, and in your possession, what would it be?

A functional Wave Rider, the time ship from Legends of Tomorrow.

They say everyone has at least one book in them — if you were to write a book, what would it be about?

It would be very loosely based on my guild, though it will be less book and more web comic if I ever get past the world building stage, which is surprisingly difficult.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Sometimes, it's about letting go.

With Toothless' improved standing from the last movie, Berk is now bursting with dragons especially since Hiccup and company keep rescuing those trapped by the dragon trappers (of whom there seem to be no end) and send "the" Nightfury killer in retaliation.

Everyone is pairing up.

More importantly though, is that both Hiccup and Toothless are gaining more responsibility and independence, and that what's best for one might not make the other very happy. While this is still a happy and funny tale with lots of bloodless action that lets all the dragons and dragon riders shine, it is also one of melancholy.

While I would definitely watch this well produced flick again, is it better than the first two films? Mmm, no but it's still very good. I give it four disguised sheep out of five. Certainly a series worth watching though, even if it's just the movies!

Friday, 16 August 2019

Sheet Music Printing Tip

Never print double sided as it is less manageable when you are shifting pages around in your folder, or are performing and want to see everything face up.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

NWO: Everyone should be Equal... Equally Crap

While the full version can be found here, this is the short version:

Players - Hey, we noticed that 3 of the available classes are much weaker than the others and much less fun to play probably due to some math bug. Can you please fix them so they match the others?

Cryptic - Oh yes, there is a math bug! We will fix it by making all the other classes weaker and as much less fun to play too!

Me - Way to remove fun and add more artificial challenge. Also, don't you guys ever test stuff before going live? -_-

I like challenging games but only if they are that from the outset. If a game starts out as easy, light, and fun then extremely ramps up the difficulty or has a clear design shift to just make things harder I get very annoyed.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

The Cursed: Avernus

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Avernus, the first layer of hell. With no way but forward, Catharina and company help the quickly diminishing crusader forces against hell cats, lemures, imps, and a variety of colorful devils. They eventually catch up with Caelar, who is facing off against the treacherous Hephernan and his actual master - Belhifet. Catharina offers to assist, and Caelar joins the team for this battle! Good thing too since she's really strong.

Yeah, she'd win against that in game.

Hephernan is taken down first, but then Glint is gibbed by Belhifet and Jaheira and Khalid are KOed by demonic reinforcements. Fortunately between Caelar and Party Girl, Belhifet is destroyed (haste and ultra magic arrows) and Caelar uses the greater demons blood to send the survivors out of hell while she herself has to remain to seal the portal.

Khalid and Jaheira are taken to the medics while Catharina and Party Girl are celebrated as heroes... for one night. This is because Catharina has a bad dream coming from hell and all, and in a sleepwalking state murders Skie. She is immediately detained by the Flaming Fist and sent back to Baldur's Gate in shackles... (and onto Baldur's Gate 2)!

Insight: Caelar is a fantastic tank, especially if you toss her some health pots.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

The Cursed: War is Hell

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The team find themselves back in the crusader supply tunnels and this time follow the path into Castle Dragonspear itself where they begin poisoning the remaining food supply. It's only at this point that the alarm is raised because through sheer bad luck, they run into Hephernan!? The mage is too powerful, and too clever (running back to guards) to defeat so Catharina and company get out of there as quickly as possible, with Baeloth making good use of his chaos spell to get the crusaders to fight each other.

By the time they get back to the war camp the crusaders are on the offensive, sending waves of attackers to try break through the siege. Having fantastic timing, Baeloth decides to abandon the party and the war here,  but the team is still successful in holding ground. Once the crusaders are on the retreat, it is the Flaming Fist's turn to attack, launching a full scale invasion of Dragonspear castle.

The giant moon looks down upon the battlefield.

The walls are breached and the crusaders are smashed, with Catharina cloud killing, ice storming and skull trapping their leadership. With their army in disarray, Catharina advances into the keep - locating Caelar and her few remaining crusaders in the vault. Hephernan is here too, and uses this moment to show his true colors, sending everyone to HELL!

Insight: Once you breach the walls the Flaming Fist have an infinite stream of soldiers running in. Let them do all the dirty work.

Monday, 12 August 2019

The Cursed: Dark Magician

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Before going into the tunnels the team returns to pick up Khalid and Jaheira, and to visit Dragonspear castle itself where Skie is busy doing some recon. Apparently the crusaders are dumb enough to let anyone wearing a Caelar necklace in which gives the team a good opportunity to scout around and generally mess with them, like stealing supplies and murdering the entire troll handling team without notice.

They then enter the tunnels where again, the depot guards just let them through. More than that, they actively assist in fighting monsters from a nearby corrupted grove (which Jaheira fixes eventually). In one corner the team discovers ruins guarded by a dragon ghost. The ruin is actually home to a cabal of dark sorcerers who are preparing to raise a massive army once the war outside is complete. They turn out to be a really difficult fight, but thanks to Neera the ghost dragon comes to their aid after her wild magic frees it.

Because there weren't enough types of dragon.

Alas, for her trouble one of the dark mages magic missiles her off into a bottomless chasm. The ghost dragon avenges her, and once the dust settles tells Catharina that Caelar is just being played by her advisor Hephernan - the leader of this cabal. The dragon then vanishes to the after life, and the team heads back to camp to rest up and recruit someone to fill the spot. Baeloth, having forgotten that he previously quit, accepts!

Insight: While you have to attack the cult speaker to free the ghost dragon, you should definitely let the dragon do most of the fighting here. Note, if you don't attack the speaker fast enough the dragon will show up as an enemy.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

The Cursed: Might and Magic

[Part of the Cursed story line]

With Dragonspear castle now fully under siege, most of the troops are dedicated to containing the crusaders within. It is up to Catharina's team to keep her troops healthy and find a way to make the crusader troops dead. For this she recruits Rasaad and Dorn who immediately dislike each other. Rasaad's fantastic speed is key when collecting curative herbs from the forest though, herbs that cure a large group of sick soldiers as well as Neera's madness.

The orc is unhappy with the lack of attention going his way the idiot openly attacks Catharina in the middle of her own war camp. Dorn is arrested within seconds and dragged off like the bitch he is while Neera cheerily takes his spot as the team scouts the forests surrounding Dragonspear castle since the crusaders seem to still be managing to get supplies in somehow. The previous scouts undertaking this task, Minsc and Dynaheir, have not returned.

That's a really good drawing of those two.
 
There are lots of terrible things in that area, and a random encounter against a sizable orog war band Rasaad is wounded out of action, and M'khiin is slain. They do locate the well guarded crusader tunnel though, and thanks to Catharina allying with the local druids and ogres, they manage to eliminate the top side defenders with a bit of might and a lot of magic.

Insight: There is an un-killable vampire wolf in that first forest, and it summons more wolves. It's pretty slow though, and Rasaad could run circles around it.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

The Cursed: The Battle of Bridgefort

[Part of the Cursed story line]

While scouting the crusader camp the team find Dorn "the sackless" imprisoned within. They free the abused orc and send him to join the army then use the magic stone to teleport into Bridgefort where they find the defense is being led by Khalid! Apparently he survived his swim from that werewolf island. Also present is the wild mage Neera, but she is crazier than usual now.

After helping the defenders a little, Catharina organizes a counter strike - opening with a feint of surrender. Many crusaders are killed by the skull traps she had left earlier, and a pincer attack from Bridgefort and the Flaming Fist column easily routs the crusader force. Unfortunately Edwin and Baeloth call it quits right after, both annoyed at M'khiin's continued presence in the party - effectively ending the Alphastrike team.

They blamed the dancing goblin.

At least they don't abandon the army though, unlike that deserter Viconia who has vanished entirely from the column roster and isn't among the dead either. Once all is settled, the army goes on the march once more - pursuing the broken crusader force back to their stronghold of Dragonspear castle.

Insight: You have the option to surrender the fort here and save lives on both sides, but what good is having an army if I don't get to use it?

Friday, 9 August 2019

The Cursed: Hearing Voices

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The voices in the underground cult base grow louder and their leader seems to have totally lost the plot, summoning a pair of aerial servants which rip Captain Corwin to shreds. During the retreat, Safana is stung by a wyvern and has to be brought all the way back to camp for aid. To fill their slots Catharina recruits Voghiln and the happy go lucky gnome Glint who just appeared in camp.

Glint's curiosity leads the team into a nest of spiders and beetles where Baeloth saves the day with his sorcery. Back in the cult HQ, the voices are found to be coming from a mindflayer and while it manages to eat Voghiln's brain it is no match for a magic duel against Edwin.

With the teleporter stone in hand the party heads on to Bridgefort, picking up the goblin shaman M'khiin to fill out the roster. A level 10 goblin with 97 HP!? Edwin is displeased. Sure enough, Caelar's crusaders are still laying siege to it but thanks to Catharina's earlier decision to save crusaders captured by the cult the party is let in as allies (Caelar herself is absent). This would prove to be their undoing.

Mingling with the enemy and setting traps...

Insight: Glint is a very handy character as a cleric/thief, disarming traps, picking locks and helping with the heals. He's also quite funny! Very unexpected.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

The Cursed: Alphastrike

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The company makes camp in the forest near Boareskyr Bridge, a forest teeming with trolls! While it is handy to be able to lure the monsters back to the soldiers one particular infested cave convinces Catharina to switch up her team, taking Party Girl, Corwin, Safana, Baeloth and Edwin - dubbing themselves "Alphastrike".

The reason is simple: upon entering combat the magic heavy team unleashes their strongest AoE spells in an attempt to end combat in one strike. It is very effective! Further down the path they meet the skald Voghiln and Jaheira who has recovered from that previous backstab. She reports that Caelar's forces are besieging Bridgefort nearby, and that the pair were after some cultist who stole a magic stone that can open a portal into the fort.

Funny that Baeloth and Edwin are the ones in melee range.

The Alphastrike squad takes up their mission. Tracks lead past some wyvern woods and into a cave occupied by a green dragon standing guard but even it has no chance against them! Beyond it is the cult barracks, and they are annihilated easily along with their neolithid pet - possibly because they are all hearing voices in their heads.

Insight: Haste lets you cast faster. In this group which opens with 3 fireballs, that was pretty amazing.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

The Cursed: Fresh Lich of Dead Air

[Part of the Cursed story line]

While exploring the woods the team finds a nearby dwarven dig site that seems to keep spewing undead. The remaining dwarves who are barricading the entry admit to digging too deep (a common flaw according to Tolkien) and tunneling into some cursed burial chambers. Naturally, the team investigates and discovers this was intentional by the expedition leader who has transformed himself into a lich!

This fresh lich is bad news as he keeps getting up after being downed, and is only killed when the team destroy his phylactery. The tide of undead is halted, and the remaining dwarves agree to join the army. This delay also lets a few others join as well, namely Edwin the Thayan and Rasaad the monk who wants to redeem himself from his ridiculous defeat to a dart throwing bandit previously.

Catharina then scouts the bridge her force needs to cross in the morning and finds Caelar's troops already there. In the ensuing scuffle the crossing is destroyed, and Catharina and Caelar have a stare off on opposite ends of the broken bridge, both forgetting that in this world of magic a simple gap doesn't really offer much safety. It's now a race to the next crossing, Boareskyr Bridge.

Oh man if only I had some sort of ranged attack...

Insight: This turned out to be a difficult dungeon. Remember to use crushing weapons on skelies, ranged on slow things, and to return to camp to undo level drains.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

The Cursed: Baeloth's Shallow Pit

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Good thing Corwin has some pull with the Flaming Fist, as the captain manages to recruit a good number of them, including Skie - the runaway daughter of a prominent lord. Catharina doesn't mind, an extra sword is an extra sword.

A few random mercs also join the line up, one being Viconia who keeps conversations short and shares many awkward silences with Safana. Catharina decides this retinue is large enough and begins the march North to meet the incoming threat.

The column makes camp once it nears Caelar's territory, and gives Catharina and company an opportunity to explore the woods... finding a small animal fight pit run by... Baeloth? Turns out his "disintegration" was just another of Neera's wild magic teleports.

Fight pits still exist to this day.

The team put a stop to his sorry arena, freeing a very thankful goblin shaman named M'khiin. Both are sent back to the camps to join the campaign.

Insight: While skull trap is still very useful, the designers mitigate it somewhat by having critters running about. Nothing is quite as annoying as having your trap triggered early by a rat or a squirrel.

Monday, 5 August 2019

The Cursed: Friends Old and New

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Flaming Fist Captain Shael Corwin is assigned to Catharina's team to help her assemble her squad, and the first step is funding! Alas, all of the hard earned gold from the previous adventures have been lost thanks to an inept guard and desperate refugees.

Corwyn has a lot of facial scars, I imagine to represent her combat experiences.
Personally, I think it just shows that she likes to block with her face.

The guard is berated, and the thieving refugees once found explain they already shared the sizable wealth with all the other needy refugees pouring in. They don't seem to understand that the reason doesn't matter (nor does it ever when it comes to crime), so Catharina and company execute the lot of them on the spot.

By chance, both Minsc (and Boo) and Dynaheir are in this same tavern having survived their ordeals with ghouls and injuries from gnolls. Safana too, though the thief doesn't say what she and Viconia had to do to get out of those kobold tunnels. They all accept to join the campaign.

Insight: Going after the gold as hard as I did was probably a more "evil" approach, but I am very possessive.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

The Cursed: Useless Girl

[Part of the Cursed story line]

For her actions in defeating Sarevok, Catharina is hailed as a hero of Baldur's Gate and is rewarded by the cleric lord of the city the resurrection of her allies Lu Lingqi and Sir Erland (who had been shipped in from Ulgoth's Beard).

Along with Party Girl and Elisabeth, they are given rooms in the Ducal Palace and get to relax for a few weeks. Imoen comes to visit, and is soon attacked by (really weak) assassins that manage to wound her.

Assassins so weak, just like Arno from AC: Unity.

Correspondence indicates that both she and Catharina were the targets of this attack, and that the men were in service to some rebellious knight up North named Caelar Argent. Reports from refugees indicate that she had assembled a rather large army and was marching towards Baldur's Gate.

Catharina immediately volunteers to assemble a team and mount an expedition to stop said force while Imoen immediately backs out, due to her new injury. That girl is useless.

Insight: When importing your final save from the last game, all characters are revived fully leading to some surprising revivals for me. :)

Friday, 2 August 2019

August 2019 Status

Having mostly recovered from being sick, I'm hoping to get a move on these stagnant tasks. Also, the Cursed story is going to start up again soon as well as more Baldur's Gate content is completed, which is what I'm playing at the moment while Borderlands 2 occupies the co-op game night session.

The plan is to then hit the next Neverwinter module: Uprising, then finally getting a start on Witcher 3. Speaking of the Witcher, I'm quite hopeful with that Netflix trailer!

    End 2019 with less weight (+3 kg from last month, running total: +5 kg)
    Make board game prototype (simplified, test board created)
    Complete web comic chapter 1 (world building is annoying!)
    Clean out wardrobe (no progress)
    Clean the roof (no progress)

Backlog Update:

FROM GIFTS (or freebies)
Baldur's Gate 2
Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
Enderal
Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear (done)
Borderlands 2
Celeste (done)
Icewind Dale
Inside (done)
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
+Neverwinter Online: Uprising (0/2)

Board games:
Zombicide: Black Plague Campaign (10/11)
London Dread Campaign (1/4)
Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage (0/13)

As one of the game group is averse to cold (as she's 80+), Zombicide and Waterdeep are on hold. Instead we've been playing Forbidden Sky lately, and can't get enough of the victory "launch" sound.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Today I Smiled: Scattershot Links

Been awhile since I did one of these, but I found these links to be entertaining if not informative. First up, is a story from the realm of r/MaliciousCompliance which is quickly becoming one of my favorite haunts.

As I've also been trying (and failing) to do some world building, here's a nice clip about creating fictional geography. When you are good enough at that, you might be able to make amazing D&D posters like this fellow too!

Speaking of D&D, here's a method to "win" as a sharpshooter and if that's not enough, how about a list of ways to defeat the Tarrasque, one of the most powerful creatures in the game?

Overcoming impossibility is not just in the realms of fiction though as proved by tarantulas that keep pet frogs, or Count Felix von Luckner who used an out dated three masted sailing ship to capture 16 enemy vessels in World War 1.

Usually I end these with a music clip but this time, here's the trailer for Death Stranding which looks both amazing and WTF at the same time.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Chernobyl (HBO Series)

"What is the cost of lies?"

This five episode series revisits the events of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, including the mind-boggling steps taken to rectify it as well as the equally mind-boggling decisions that led to it happening in the first place.

These guys do a great job!

While it's a bit odd that all the Russians are played by English actors (and almost everything is in English), the cinematography, sets, effects, script and acting are all fantastic with Jared Harris and Stellan Skarsgard leading the way.

A great series even for those who have never heard of Chernobyl before, I highly recommend it and give it five graphite blocks out of five. I'd definitely also watch the whole thing again. :)

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Blaugust Approaches

Prepare for the flood!

The Festival of Blogging, also known as Blaugust, is just around the corner for both blogging enthusiasts and those curious about starting up blogs of their own and usually sees an increased activity in cross blog postings and events. If you haven't already, sign up now!

This is also my main avenue of adding new links to my nav bar, so expect that to explode out again in the coming weeks. I'll be taking a back seat to it this year due to events out of my control but might steal some post ideas and chime in when I can get the time. Looking forward to seeing what it brings. :)

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Celeste

The mountain teaches you about yourself.

At a glance, this certainly isn't the prettiest platformer with blocky sprite graphics - but the music and story are definitely top notch. In it, you play as a girl who has decided to reach the summit of Celeste mountain but is not so secretly undermining her own quest.

There are deaths a plenty (mine got to just under 1700) but the game is always encouraging, and difficulty wise the main story is far easier than Super Meatboy and IWTBTG. If you are aching for punishment though, there are plenty of secret levels that will scratch that itch.

It's a bit of a slog to reach the summit!

It also comes with an "assist mode" which can help if the game is still too tough, but if you don't like platformers, you aren't going to like this - assist mode or not. If you DO like platformers, then this one is highly recommended. I give it 3 strawberries out of 5.

Insight: Grab and jump with no direction key will let you leap directly up a wall.

Friday, 26 July 2019

Middle Earth: Shadow of War

Because everyone likes some orc on orc action.

Last time we saw the half-dead ranger Talion, he had just "killed" Sauron in a not so epic QTE and was on his way to Mount Doom to forge a new ring (because that's a good idea). In short: things don't go as planned and Talion has to sneak his way around Mordor once more, assassinating and recruiting orcs to fight the forces of Sauron and the Witch King.

The Nemesis system from the first game is back and really shines here, not just when you are hunting them or vice versa but also when you get to the siege parts of the game. You want to field your good orcs and not that scrub who runs away from flies, fire and caragors! Speaking of caragors, there are mounts to help you traverse the large maps and/or annihilate your enemies and Talion gets a lot of skill upgrades to keep the killing "fresh".

I love this part!

Most importantly the story is really good. I especially like fighting the Nazgul. Afterwards is a grindy epilogue for those who really like the sieges, which is quite optional. Even for just everything before that it is worth a play though, and I give it four an a half Gondorian relics out of five.

Insight: Unlock fatal counter ASAP to make fights less tedious.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Jessica Jones

AKA the girl that doesn't smile a lot.

The last of the Defenders whose show is now cancelled after three seasons, this series follows the powered Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) who works as a small time private investigator and her loads of baggage. I'll be honest, season 1 wasn't great as the protagonists were really hard to get behind, thankfully the fantastic villain (David Tennant) was enough to keep it interesting.

She does a lot of drinking in the show.

Season 2 fixes up most of the issues in season 1, and there are again clear improvements between season 2 and season 3 - enough for me to now lament that there will be no season 4. If you are a Marvel fan then it's definitely one worth watching, and even if you aren't or don't really like the whole super hero vibe, this is probably one of the easier shows to try out as Jessica's powers are downplayed significantly, unlike her compatriots who tend to get into fisticuffs half the time.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Inside

A game about control.

From the makers of Limbo comes another 2.5D platformer which has better graphics, game play and story. There's also a decent Easter egg hunt throughout the this very messed up place and the ending doesn't really fill one with "achievement" but it is better that Limbo's abrupt one.

Well, that can't be hygienic...

Don't let that stop you from trying it though, as there are lots of great bits on the journey there. Scary bits. The underwater sections and blast chamber come to mind. Even if you aren't a platformer player, the puzzles here aren't too hard as your protagonist has a relatively small move set - and using them fully will get you through everything. I give it three and a half water girls out of five.

Insight: Keep an eye open for those yellow cables!