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!