Tuesday 31 December 2013

New Year's Resolution

Happy New Year! I thought that for a change I -would- list out stuff I wanted to accomplish this year, and to give you a heads up of what you may be able to expect on this blog in the future! :)

Next year I'd like to:
  • Lose 12 kgs. That's just 1 kg per month! Maybe we should all try do this? :P
  • Start writing out the guild history, one chapter per 2 months would be good.
  • Complete 10 quests for NWO.
  • Make a silly game of my own.
  • Continue the Today I Smiled series with 2 per month.
  • Finish composing another song.

Coming up in January (see here for previous list):
  • The Darklands story will be coming to an end / pause (done)
  • Review of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare (done)
  • Review of Redshirt (done)
  • Review of Descent: Journeys in the Dark (done)
  • Today I smiled x2 (2/2)
  • Top 10 Reasons Why I Stop Playing Games (done)
  • Review Brothers: A tale of two sons (done)
  • Lose 1 kg. (lost 3kg!)

And sometime in the Future:

  • Review of Hearthstone (beta) (done)
  • Review Forced (done)
  • Review Damned (alpha) (done)
  • Review Lost Planet 2 (done)
  • Review of Police Precinct (done)
  • Diary of a Marked One may continue with Far Cry 3 (done)
  • Dead Island Diary may continue with Dead Island: Riptide (done)

Monday 30 December 2013

Darklands: The Great Monastery

This is part of The Darklands story.

It is an uneventful journey from Hamburg to Lubeck (same city as in Stalker Online I wonder?) and again to Flensburg which is ruled by the King of Denmark himself. Unfortunately all the monks within the walls (of all those cities) have no knowledge they wish to share of St. Thomas the Apostle, which Liore diligently checks to avert any Wild Hunt attacks. This doesn't bother her though as the Wild Hunt hasn't chased them recently, and more importantly because their destination was in sight.

After resting up at Flensburg the team journeyed across a large plain to the Great Monastery, ready to face anything. The exterior simply had a graveyard and two guard houses. Opening the door to the first they are surprised to find a squad of templar knights!

The bad ass kind, like the ones you find in Priest!

These traitors are well trained and well equipped, and the team just scrapes through for a victory with River sustaining heavy,  near death damage. After looting their chamber with Liore finding a strange bone they then come across a second group of templars and having been so weakened from the first fight Syncaine and Doone get knocked out early. Before anyone is killed Liore decides to surrender instead of abandoning her comrades. They are taken prisoner and brought to the dungeons below.

Sunday 29 December 2013

Darklands: To Flensburg

This is part of The Darklands story.

At the city of Paderborn, Liore studied the map on how to get to Flensburg since that's where the lead was to the witches "Great Monastery". For this task she decided to recruit veteran soldiers, men who enjoyed dealing out death and punishment in the name of God. 30 year old "Doone the Red", 25 year old "River Highlaten" and 45 year old "Syncaine Hardcore", a grumpy tough as nails warrior.

They set out North, dispatching of more bandits and giant spiders before running into another Tatzelwurm. The lizard is a mighty opponent but it too falls as Syncaine manages to tear its face in two with his bare hands. A few alchemists try accost them for reagents too, but since the party isn't carrying any they are easily bypassed.

They do get into a bit of strife trying to cross the Elbe river though, with Liore stepping into a peat bog / quicksand by accident. Fortunately the other three manage to pull her out with the loss of minimal equipment. They also lose a day as a storm causes the river to flood, leaving them stranded and soaked on a small rise but not even this can dampen Liore's fury.

That last option is there for A--holes I guess.

Saturday 28 December 2013

Darklands: Graves of Vengeance

This is part of The Darklands story.

Through another horrible blizzard Tobold and Liore make it to their destination and are rewarded by the Medici for their trouble, using the coin to buy gear and to get new members "Lani Yammob", a 25 year old travelling merchant (and thief) and her companion "Grinmir Grudgely" (wrong spelling for Grimnir - apologies!), a hunter/soldier of 35 years. The Medici had also asked the team to take care of a robber knight in the area and they make that their first stop.

Tobold decides to try use the "Be invited in then kill the host" method he heard from the tales of the two that died at Hoxter, and it works on robber knight Hans Behaim. Alas, the "killing" of the robber knight does not go so smoothly without proper gear and Tobold receives a fatal blow before Grinmir and Lani can finish Hans off.

Enraged, Liore then leads the team back to the nearby hamlet of Hoxter (who were obviously in league with the robber knight), against her companions wishes and demanded vengeance for all the dead. She got her wish, eliminating the evil cultists with ease and then burning their village. They then went to the altar where Liore challenged the resident demon to combat.

Pretty close to "Get off my lawn!"

The beast accepted, and swiftly tore Lani and Grinmir into pieces before Liore could cudgel it to death. With a scream of rage, Liore vowed to destroy all these unholy abominations and all those who worshiped them.

Friday 27 December 2013

Darklands: Running like Mad

This is part of The Darklands story.

While taking refuge Jewel and Vagabond are taken under the care of "Liore Herder" a 30 year old nun and her 40 year old mentor "Tobold the Stout", a soldier turned friar who was interested in studies of the occult witches and hence their interest in the pair that survived the High Sabbat. Upon learning of the prayer books wanted by the Medici he convinces the group to go adventuring once more, easily retrieving the items from a den of giant spiders which killed hermit Wipo by running like mad.

Actually there was a lot of running... from bandits, wolves, boars, the wild hunt. It's very hard to put up a defense without basic adventuring gear - the cons of being poor. It is for this reason that they attempted to get the books back to the person that asked for them so that they could get some coin for their trouble.

Their mistake was trying to spend the night in the hamlet of Hoxter while trying to avoid a blizzard. The satanists there attacked the party in their sleep, and their schulz killed both Vagabond and Jewel while capturing the other two. He and his men left them to hang on a nearby tree but fortunately Liore managed to pull herself up and slip her ropes while they were distracted, saving herself and Tobold from an aspyxiating death.

Turns out evil chanting is handy after all.

Thursday 26 December 2013

Darklands: That was Unexpected

This is part of The Darklands story.

Jewel knew there was only one way to prove that evil sucked and that meant letting the cultists summon up their demon and then challenging it in the name of God. The winged beast accepted and flew right at the team with blinding speed (strangely the minotaur was faster) and though it was tough (HP wise) in a few minutes it lay broken and defeated on the ground as the heroes stood proudly over their defeated foe.

Well, shit.

Unlike the groups that follow the robber knights who flee once their leader is slain, these psycho cultists all attacked and suddenly the team was in combat in the midst all of them, with a high priest and a few witches to boot. The overwhelming numbers saw Jewel, Stubborn and Vagabond knocked out while Belghast was killed and sacrificed to satan.

When the other three awoke, the cultists were gone and they had been stripped of all worldly possessions. Hungry wolf familiars also came after them shortly after forcing them to flee into the swamp. While they eluded the dogs, they ran into a tatzelwurm (speedy lizard creature) that devoured Stubborn whole while Jewel and Vagabond escaped back to Gronnigen, visibly shaken by the experience.

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Darklands: The High Sabbat

This is part of The Darklands story.

First stop is the feast preparation area where the cook is preparing some unbaptized babies for everyone to eat and asks for your help. Interestingly there's an option to baptize the kids first -then- cook them but Stubborn instead decides to do the more logical thing and just try convince everyone that eating babies is bad. Most of the crowd agrees and leaves in shame, some taking the babies with them to put into orphanages (or maybe eat them later). The cook is then disappointed that he only has regular food for the feast. No, there was no option to kill him.

Next up was the broom riding crowd where Vagabond totally convinced the them that Harry Potter was bad, so they too left in shame. Belghast tried next at the evil baptism ceremony but those guys were too hardcore in their belief which resulted in a combat that saw all the cultists dead. Jewel also did not have luck at the main altar, being unable to dismantle it before a high priest and two cronies came by, forcing the team to murderize them before anyone noticed.

Things were going well. The team even learned from a fat lady that their Great Monastery was located North West of Flensburg, a point of interest the team would have to visit later on. And then began the main event... at the main altar, a group of cultists were summoning up a demon.

Bring it on!

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas Everyone! :)

Just breaking regular posting today to wish everyone a safe and very happy, blessed and joyous Christmas! Thank you for reading and putting up with all of my silliness. I've been inundated with presents of the game variety so you can expect a few posts regarding those in the new year. In the meantime, go relax and enjoy whatever it is you do in this holiday season.

As my brother would say, "Take care and God bless." ^_^

Monday 23 December 2013

Darklands: Party Crashers

This is part of The Darklands story.

Just to irritate the Wild Hunt further, Jewel decided to destroy a random pagan altar they came across as they journeyed to the town of Speyer. Alas the monks there did not know of St. Thomas the Apostle, but Vagabond did learn of a job for the Medici - to collect ancient prayer books from a hermit called Wipo South-East of Bremen - which was a long way away. After more slayings of wolves and a pair of giant spiders, as well as hiding from the wild hunt, Stubborn scaring bandits, and Belghast killing bandits the team comes across the satanist village of Buckeburg which they purge of evil.

As usual, one of them yells out something about revenge as they flee - this time North West of Gronnigen on September 22. For a change the group decides to actually go see what this "revenge" is, and to their surprise when they get there on that day it is the witches high sabbat! A huge throng of people has gathered there in the marshlands for an unholy evil time.

Cunningly, Jewel convinces the perimiter guards that they are new initiates of evil and while the accompanying guard wolves growl a bit at first they are let through into the main grounds of dark revelry. With so many people and places to go, the team decides to plan out on how best to sabotage this event.

Nearly a hundred? Need to kill 25 each!

Sunday 22 December 2013

Darklands: Wanted

This is part of The Darklands story.

In the next second it was on them.

The delay of saving the caravan caused the team time and by the very next night the Wild Hunt had found them. It wasn't hell hounds this time, just one incredibly fast and powerful minotaur like creature which almost won against the party. Almost. The next morning the group was fortunate enough to find a group of pilgrims headed to Koln which they joined for a safer journey.

Strangely upon arriving at the city the guards wanted to arrest them! With Jewel unable to talk their way out of this and the others (Stubborn and Belghast are slow :P) unable to outrun them they had no choice but to fight a few waves of the law men before finally melding with the bustling crowd, selling off the Tarnhelm to that foreign trader for a good sum of gold. They also decided to hire the 30 year old sneaky thief "Vagabond Walker" to help them elude further guardsmen and hopefully, the wild hunt too. As a bonus, Vagabond knew his way around firearms.

Not wanting to tarry in Koln the team quickly departed via a sewer grate beneath the walls and once more were chased by the wild hunt but Vagabond's stealth and speed managed to let them out distance their pursuers easily. Not long after they were approached by a Holzfrau (perhaps the same one they saved previously) who advised them to learn of "St. Thomas the Apostle" as only he could protect them from the wild hunt.

Saturday 21 December 2013

Today I Smiled: The Magic Barber

My family has a few funny tales that we like to revisit from time to time so I thought I'd share one of them.

We used to live at the very back corner of a residential subdivision that enjoyed very little traffic. On it my father decided to build a full scale basketball board complete with painted lines for a half court. While it was mostly used by my brothers and our neighbors everyone was welcome to play, and indeed it would strike up some competition with the guys who played on their own street courts elsewhere. In one such game against visitors who played a bit rough (as usual for street ball, no referee) one of my brothers went for a lay up and on his way down landed his foot badly, right into the sidewalk drain beneath the ring (the only design flaw). Further, the guy guarding him landed on his foot and after an audible crack the game was stopped and my visibly injured brother brought quickly to my parents.

As expected they freaked out and immediately took him to... the barber?

Bert the barber was a thin, lanky old man who was missing the last section of one of his little fingers. I remember him mostly because he gave me my first haircut and because he would always do awesome back rubs and shoulder massages afterwards. Apparently he also moonlights as a wizard, because once my brother was there all it took was some prayer and a bit of massage and he immediately got better. No doctor or fractures or anything were involved. If Bert has magical powers or divine favor is beside the point - what got me smiling was that my parents rushed their injured son to a barber instead of a doctor! ^_^

Friday 20 December 2013

Darklands: That Tarnhelm

This is part of The Darklands story.

Wenzel Linck and his cronies are no match for the team, and it is with high spirits that they continue their quest for the Tarnhelm supposedly nearby somewhere. Alas their spirits are dashed when a large mercenary bandit unit ambushes them and slays Ravanel before being defeated themselves. They try to take refuge at the nearby Altenberg Hamlet afterwards only to discover it is home to more satanists who try to murder them in their sleep!

The team succeeds in slaying them all, again with one giving a specific date and time for revenge which again the team ignores, instead setting the place on fire and going to their nearby evil altar which Jewel successfully dismantles through crafting. Or, reverse crafting in this case. They push on and soon come across an underground tomb where they find the fabled Tarnhelm!


While getting in was easy, getting out is a little more challenging as a whole bunch of skeletons spawn to block their path. Fortunately these are easily shattered by Belghast and Stubborn and they flee the scene as quickly as possible, setting their course directly back for Koln while the trumpets of the wild hunt began sounding ever closer with each passing night.

This still doesn't prevent the virtuous trio from saving a merchant caravan under attack by bandit scum. Their reward is a high quality bronze pistol - too bad none of them know how to use it... or have ammunition for it either.

Thursday 19 December 2013

Darklands: Jewel of Leipzig

This is part of The Darklands story.

After another run in with giant spiders (tough bastards), the team managed to catch a caravan to Frankfurt which saved some travel time, but their destination to find the Tarnhelm was still a fair bit away. After slaying some mercenary bandits, they once again heard the trumpets of the wild hunt but to their surprise they weren't the prey this night. Instead it was a strange Holzfrau woman. Unable to let this stand Stubborn (and by proxy everyone else) leapt out from hiding to confront her pursuers, a pack of four hellhounds who were laid low.

No in-game pic so I guess she looked like this?

They then came across the castle of robber knight Adolphus Schedel and tried to use the same robber-knight murdering tacting they used in the past. Unfortunately Adolphus had heard of this and when the team burst into his room he was waiting with a bunch of armored guardsmen. The team still saw victory through the difficult combat with Belghast slaying the robber knight, but Astalnar got axed to death in the melee.

After taking out some anger on random thieves and another pack of wild hunt hell hounds, as well as running away from more Schrats trying to get into Ravanel's pants (maybe the same persistent Schrats as before) they team finally reaches Leipzig where Schulz Wenzel bids them farewell to return to his duties elsewhere. While in town they recruit "Jewel the Healer" a 25 year old nurse and crafter as well as pick up another bounty hunting mission for the local robber knight Wenzel Linck. Boy there sure are a lot of these clowns.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

State of Decay

I got State of Decay as an early Christmas present and I must admit I've been playing it for weeks now. For those who don't know what it is, it's a zombie apocalypse survival game where in you form a ragtag band of survivors and try to eke out a continued existence while foraging for supplies and defending your base from the seemingly infinite undead. For the most part it is a very good game, and certainly has the best car to zombie physics/mechanics I've seen. Combat is simple and smooth (unless you get grabbed in which case it becomes button mashing) and there's even a low-level base building component that cater to those who are strategists.

You can and will need to swap between any survivor in your group as your people get hurt, sick, or more often - just tired and perform worse. Other able bodied survivors will go off and do their own thing as well, which usually results in you having to save them from stupidity and depression. There is a plot too supposedly, but for me I think it broke because no more storyline missions are appearing so that kinda blows. My biggest gripe however is that it is too easy. You will never lose people if you are patient, careful, never travel alone, and have a vehicle nearby.

 Probably still wouldn't want to do this though.

All that is fixed (for me) in the Breakdown DLC. The storyline goes out the window and it becomes a case of how long can you survive while "unlocking" achievements complete with larger spawns as you progress via RV from stage to stage. Yeah, the stages are still on the same map and you are never really pressured in advancing - until you run out of foragable supplies I suppose. Still on Stage 1 at the moment, preparing as much gear as I can. Just for kicks, I'll set a goal to reach stage 10 now - but I want to get all the unlocks on the way so we'll see how that goes. State of Decay: I give it eight out of ten zombie body parts. Definitely a good game, especially with the Breakdown DLC.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Darklands: Oh, look at the time

This is part of The Darklands story.

By the time the team reaches the site West of Aachen where they were trying to catch the witches high sabbat it is Febuary 3, two months too late (I only learned how to look at the calendar then) and were only welcomed by a pair of giant spiders instead. After dispatching them, an annoyed Ravanel decided to search for local work instead and got a task to kill the robber knight Wichmann Baldung in the North, joined by Schulz Wenzel (I didn't realize they had names). It is an easy job, Ravanel even manages to scare off Wichmann's lackeys with sinister threats since her speech ranking is getting pretty high.

Only when it works.

Back at Koln they got another job from a foreign trader to look for the magical helm of Siegried called the Tarnhelm last seen South of Leipzig, so without wasting a beat the party marched back East through the dragon's territory stopping only at a local tower they hadn't been to before. The peasants here wore faces of hardship and abuse and knowing that her old bishop friend wouldn't have stood for this Ravanel marched to the gate to demand an audience.

Surprisingly they were allowed in, and it became clear that the dread lord here was a bad guy. He even has the word "dread" in his title. Unlike the robber knights he doesn't let the team stay overnight though, instead kicking them out to the nearby forest for the evening. Undeterred the team scales the walls at midnight using Astalnar's dexterity and with Belghast and Stubborn's combined strength they manage to overpower the dread lord and his posse, ending his reign of terror. Violently.

Monday 16 December 2013

Darklands: The Beast of Luveh

This is part of The Darklands story.

The group agrees to help Sir Diepold to track the dragon so the team scours the area for a few weeks, slaying a few starving wolves and two robber knights who refused to lend aid to combat the greater threat (Ravanel is now an expert at the getting invited in, then killing them while they are alone thing). They also meet the priest, Kaspar of Zollern who is also assisting Sir Diepold. Ironically the idiot priest seems to be the one who woke the beast up in the first place.

Speaking of Sir Diepold, the next the team sees of him is near a destroyed town - his squad is dead and he himself is near death, basically giving out a laundry list of items and tips on how to face the dragon. Luckily for him, Belghast manages to patch him up. Unfortunately for the team, the laundry list is pretty much full of items they don't have and can't afford. Stubborn merely shrugs it off.

While musing on this dilemma, Astalnar spots the dragon and hurriedly the team follows it back to its lair where it rests upon a mountain of treasure. It took supreme self-control for the party to then escape while evading a firey blast, knowing that they couldn't face this beast yet (because I tried ten times and always got a total party wipe). Instead they headed on to the nearby city of Koln and informed the local government of the beasts location. Surely they were not the only adventurers out there, someone else could handle it.

This totally did not happen. Ten times.

Saturday 14 December 2013

NWO: The Architects of Thay

In the latest campaign released on Neverwinter Online, veteran players find themselves sent forth to finally face the game's big bad, the eponymous lich Valindra "Shadowmantle" at her stronghold within the Neverwinter Wood, a blasted area called the Dread Ring which is crawling with not only her undead lackeys but also her allies, the demon conjuring Red Wizards, who have established portals to their distant homeland of Thay. In my opinion, this is the best zone in the entire game so far (I haven't done any of the epic or Gauntlgrym dungeons though) with recognizable hero and ally NPCs from the rest of the game being present in the zone, handing out random daily missions.

She can look pretty cute when she wants to.

It's also not segmented like in the previous Sharandar campaign (still need to slay that Malabog guy too), where you have to "unlock" each path in order. You just have the entire, awesomely designed zone to work with giving that feeling of space. One of the three individual dungeons here also gets my vote as current best dungeon setting currently (keeping in mind I haven't seen everything). I'm talking about the Phantasmal Fortress which is found after you jump into one of the rather poorly guarded portals to Thay (which gives off a strong Persia/Egypt vibe helped by all the snake motifs).

While I think it is actually the easiest dungeon in the zone, the multiple physics and mind breaking layouts of oddly angled stairs, upside down hallways (with people walking in them) and many other strange mind tricks really make this place tick for me. It's been awhile since I've actually stopped in a dungeon just to watch the scenery, in this case I intentionally go back for it! Those Thayans may be demon worshipping scum but they sure know how to make impressive structures. I highly recommend giving it a visit today! :)

Friday 13 December 2013

Darklands: The Hunt is On

This is part of The Darklands story.

Uh oh.

Not long after the encounter with the witch does the party realize that "the Wild Hunt" (a supernatural witch allied group) is after them. Fortunately Astalnar finds an empty cave for them to hide from whatever that is and continue their journey West to Aachen in the morning. They come across a small hamlet called Burleburg where Belghast voices his concern that the inhabitants are actually satan worshippers. Ravanel confirms this by confronting the Schulz and he and a few cronies attack after admitting to it.

They are easily dispatched and as one was fleeing he yelled out that they would have their revenge South East of Goslar on April 13. That's a pretty long thing to just blurt out on the fly, and Stubborn openly questioned why in the world would they -want- to be there to experience whatever revenge was planned? Shrugging it off the team then set the hamlet on fire and then proceeded up a nearby hill where an evil altar had been setup by the satanists. Unfortunately nothing they do can destroy the taint so they decide to continue on their journey.

Soon they come across a blasted landscape with dug up cemeteries, poisonous rivers and acidic rain that damages their gear. Even the local robbers seem "friendly", easily disuaded from combat as if there's something else to be worrying about in these parts. Their fears are confirmed when they meet Sir Diepold Rumer and his knightly entourage. His group are hunting "the beast of Luveh". A dragon.

Thursday 12 December 2013

Darklands: The Source?

This is part of The Darklands story.

Back at the town of Goslar, Ravanel was tempted to simply call it quits but realized that by doing so meant her friends died in vain. Instead she decides to recruit a new party and given the recent mine closure it is easy to find a group ready for a more adventurous life. Joining her now are "Stubborn Sheep" a 35 year old labourer, "Astalnar the Sly" a 25 year old labourer with a larcenous past and "Belghast Aggronaut" a 30 year old labourer with some military background.

After purchasing some low quality gear from the local pawnshop with the remaining funds, the party decides to revisit the mines but find that the entrance has been blocked and they can no longer enter. Those firey Vulcar couldn't be natural though thought Ravanel, something must have summoned them. For a few days they scoured the nearby area, scaring off a pack of wolves by following Stubborn's advice of jumping and shouting and having to flee from some Schrat's (giant men) who wanted to mate with Ravanel.

That's how I read it anyway.

They even escorted some pilgrims to a nearby shrine of St. Mary before finally coming across a simple thatched hut with a blonde lady inside who ordered the party away. Ravanel thought this suspicious so the team advanced anyway and sure enough this woman turned out to be a Witch! After defeating her and her wolf minions they questioned her about her cabal and she said their next high sabbat would be on December 28, West of Aachen. Satisfied by this, Ravanel let her go and she disappeared into the forest, never to be seen again.

And by that I mean either the Schrats got her or Astalnar knifed her when no one was looking.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Darklands: Flamed

This is part of The Darklands story.

The second floor of the mines were even more claustrophobic than the last, and this one was inhabited solely by hell hounds. The fast firey canines tried to make use of the narrow passages but the team was always one step ahead, leading them back into open areas to put them down.

There were numerous treasure chests here too, but after failing to disarm the trap on the first one twice Ravanel decided to leave them alone. Despite this, Lyle managed to get his hands on a dwarven battle axe and before long Lothiriel found the stairs to the next floor. Here they were confronted by three doors, and behind the first one they opened was what they can only guess was Vulcar.

It looked like nothing at first, just fire on the ground - until it threw a glob of flame at Lyle, exploding him into little bits. The rest of the party charged, but even with all their skill the creature was too powerful - knocking Ravanel out and immolating Schulz and Lothiriel with its fiery magics.

Sorry all, I got curb-stomped.

The dwarves and miners must have dragged Ravanel out of there, because when she opened her eyes she was back at the miner's camp. They had packed up all their stuff and were beginning to head back to the city, abandoning the mine to the dwarves. One even tried to cheer her up saying not even the Queen's Guard could have cleared the threat. A sudden alarm then scattered the miners into the wind as wandering bandits attacked the camp. Weakened and alone Ravanel had no choice but to run and hide until they passed before making her own way back to town.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Darklands: The Mines of Goslar

This is part of The Darklands story.

The miners at the topside camp tell the party of their problems with the "knockers" or elves of the mine. Lothiriel translates that apparently elves means dwarves in this case. Anyway while these knockers have previously been benign and even beneficial they have lately began attacking the mining crews forcing them to stop all work. The party heads in to get to the bottom of this.

The first floor is a maze of mining tunnels filled with foreboding emptiness and the occasional groups of green dwarf men. They are all easily dispatched, and even two great stone guardians near the end of the floor are eventually brought down with good tactics and using the narrow terrain as an advantage. Ravanel in particular, is getting pretty good at sword play though not yet a match for her more martially inclined companions.

Flanking the Stones.

The team finally manages to speak to one of the dwarves at the end, and upon asking for an explanation of their actions the dwarf apologizes - saying that they were forced closer to the surface by the fiery "Vulcar". If the team could sort out the Vulcar problem, then the dwarves can go back home and the miners can get back to work. Lyle rolled his eyes upon hearing this.

It sounds like the start of a long chain, what's at the bottom - a balrog? Did the dwarves dig too deep? The team has only one option to find out.

Monday 9 December 2013

Today I Smiled: Reading the Narrative

A big thanks to Jeromai who blogged about his experiences in the game "Sleuth", in which he randomly put some blogger names in as participants - myself included! If you haven't read them yet, I suggest you do. It certainly put a smile on MY face this morning. :)

Let’s Play: Sleuth (Sometimes The Simplest Games Create the Best Narrative)
Let’s Play: Sleuth (Who Murdered Gypsy Syl?)

I totally feel bad now that his character got killed in my latest Darklands post... :P

Darklands: A Cold Winter

This is part of The Darklands story.

Winter is setting in when the party leaves Berlin, continuing on the road to Goslar. The usual thieves on the road are easily dispatched but for the first time the group is caught in an ambush by bandit-soldiers. These heavily armored troops have the team flanked, forcing them to fight on multiple fronts against superior numbers.

Something like this!

It is a difficult fight, the end of which sees all hostiles and Jeromai laying dead in the snow. Saddened by the loss the team pushed on to Braunschweig to recuperate, spending a week or so there without being able to find a replacement party member. They are left even more short handed when they leave the town as the first Schulz decides to head back to Kolberg. There's nothing anyone can do to stop him.

The remaining Schulz, Lyle and Ravanel then push on and finally reach the town of Goslar where Ravanel prepares by buying rope and torches while Lyle manages to recruit the 20 year old courtier and skilled fencer, "Lothiriel Wanderer" who hopes to earn some fame in helping to solve the problem in the nearby mines. Once all their preparations are done the team of four leave the city gates and proceed South to their nearby destination.

It wasn't long before they reached the mines of Goslar.

Saturday 7 December 2013

Papers, Please

An old friend of mine gave me this indie game and for something where the graphics are intentionally blocky old-school and your main task is stamping "approved" or "denied" on passports it is surprisingly fun (and stressful)! Having won the "work lottery" you are tasked as the sole operator for a new border gate that sees an infinite queue of people wanting to enter your militaristic state.

The working day goes from 6am to 6pm which translates to around 10-15 minutes in game time so you have to be quick. For each person you process correctly you are paid $5, while each person processed incorrectly deducts your total salary by $5. At the end of the day your meager earnings have to pay for the ever increasing rent and optional food, heating, and medicine for the rest of your family too.

While the first day is pretty straight forward, each new one adds requirements that you need to verify quickly. So far I've had to deal with expired passports, mismatched names, incorrect tickets, forged stamps, and a crazy dude who enjoys wasting my time with false documents. Terrorist attacks also make your day shorter so you'll have to make sure their weight matches what is on the scales in case they are carrying bombs and the like.

Basically it's a timed memory game whose difficulty rapidly increases with each level which includes some interesting moral choices to boot. I think it is something that everyone can enjoy (though there's a nudity setting in there so, minors be warned - guess some people may try to flash their stuff to distract/delay you later on). Papers, Please - I give it two out of two stamps up.

Friday 6 December 2013

Darklands: Folkwin of Kyrburg

This is part of The Darklands story.

Back at Kolberg the replacement Schulz (since the original one is in the party) tells us they were still raided by bandits recently, this time those of Folkwin of Kyrburg based East of Berlin. That's a surprising distance to be raiding, but the replacement Schulz offers to come with the team to help slay him and since it is on the way to Goslar there is no reason to not accept.

The team, now composed of Jeromai, Lyle, Ravanel and the Schulz twins begin the long journey South West, scaring a wolf pack with fire, defeating many bandits in the woods, resting at a friendly lord's tower and learning some stuff from Aerbo the hermit before finally reaching the ominous castle of Folkwin the robber knight.

Because Hermits always know stuff!

The same plan as before works yet again because it seems these robber knights are stupid. It isn't long before Folkwin is caught alone in his room almost literally with his pants down, and this time the robber knight is slain without any friendly casualties. The team rejoices... and sets his castle on fire, because that seems to be tradition now. After watching it burn, they decide to head to the nearby city of Berlin to celebrate.

Thursday 5 December 2013

Darklands: Lothar of Bar

This is part of The Darklands story.

After resting up in the hamlet the team proceeded East into the forest where the robber knight kept his base. Apart from an empty cave and some misguided brigands the journey was pretty smooth. Ravanel and Bhagpuss decided to try the same technique Bishop Syp had used before, walking up to the gate and asking for food and shelter. Proving she was an excellent student, Lothar let them in again and offered a room for them to spend the night.

Two handed swords hurt.

Sneaking out and finding him alone was almost too easy thanks to Lyle's tracking skills, however it turned out that he was a much harder adversary than their first robber knight. Even with five of them, Lothar managed to wound all of them with his sword skills and in one fell stroke slew his most dangerous opponent, Bhagpuss.

Enraged at his mentor's demise Jeromai went berserk and with a combined team effort managed to bring the big man down. As before the yellow bellied thugs fled upon the sight of their dead leader leaving the team free reign on looting the place, and then setting it on fire in Bhagpuss' memory. Feeling the loss, the Schulz of Kolberg agreed to stay on the team awhile longer which was welcome news.

The sombre trip back to his hamlet was only interrupted by a pack of wild boars who were easily slain and turned into a delicious, revitalizing dinner.

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Grinding Gears of Warframe

Unlocking all the missions in this game is turning out to be an interesting challenge, especially the in the further reaches of the solar system. As you might expect, having better high level weaponry will assist you here but first you must have the required mastery rank to use such gear. To gain mastery you must level up your suit (the titular "warframe") and your weapons which both max out at level 30 after which you'll no longer gain anything from using them. If you wish to advance your affinity more, you need to use suits and weapons you previously have NOT levelled and since those are weak, you will most likely be staying away from the harder fringes of the mission paths unless you have a strong team to carry you.
The Gravidus Conflict was a good levelling experience.

I can see the merits of the system - not only does it slow down your progress from "finishing" everything but it also encourages you to keep trying out the various equipment the game has to offer. Anyhow, I've only just reached mastery rank 5 right now and the weapon blueprint I want to use requires rank 7+ (fluctuates with updates). This means my further exploration / unlocking is going to slow down a bit until I reach there. Rank 12 is currently the maximum mastery level if you were wondering. Not sure if I'll ever get there but I certainly enjoy the tests that you need to pass to move from rank to the next, not all of which are combat.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Darklands: Providence

This is part of The Darklands story.

Bhagpuss insisted on travelling North East as that's where he felt the town of Goslar was. It was surprisingly difficult to find a map or reliable directions Ravanel realised and now more than ever she missed Syl, her gypsy friend. Fortunately the bishop had taught her well in talking her way out of tolls so entering other towns and random road tax enforcers (other than those employed by the church) were easily convinced to let them by.

There were much fewer bandits while following the road, and those that did show up were easily dispatched of by the soldiers Lyle, Jeromai and Bhagpuss. There was even a wandering merchant caravan they managed to sell some loot to. Eventually they reached the northern sea, and entered a friendly little hamlet called Kolberg.

The Schulz of the town, who acts as their leader, informed them they were headed the wrong way. Pointing out where Goslar was on the map (I seriously only found it then). However since they had already come this far he asked if he could use their help in solving a problem they were having. A problem by the name of Lothar of Bar, the robber knight. In addition he offered to come along to assist the team in putting an end to this evil sinner.

Sounds like a bad guy.

They agreed without hesitation.

Monday 2 December 2013

Darklands: Rogues of Prenzlau

This is part of The Darklands story.

Walram's men fled upon seeing their leader's corpse, leaving Bishop Syp, Bhagpuss and Ravanel free reign on looting the castle. As they left Bhagpuss decided to set it on fire, since that's what he wanted to do from the beginning. They then travelled to the nearby city of Prenzlau where Bhagpuss said an old friend was staying. This friend was named "Jeromai Wolf", a veteran soldier or 30 years.

It was no surprise to him who set the fire.

Jeromai agreed to join them if they'd first help clear Prenzlau of the local thieves, a task the Bishop was more than happy to accommodate. Not long after dark they came across their first group, and Syp managed to simply persuade them to not be bad with his high speech skills. Unfortunately the second group did not speak Latin, and during the scuffle one managed to backstab Syp with his falchion, killing him instantly.

This only spurned on the remaining three in slaying those scum along with the next three groups they encountered that night, being joined by a young 20 year old night watchman recruit named "Lyle Grinder" as they wandered the streets. As the day broke they returned to the tavern to mend their wounds in silence. Directionless, Ravanel prayed for a sign as the old bishop had once taught her.

It was then that young Lyle Grinder spoke up, telling the others about a rumor he heard - troubles of a supernatural variety in the mines of Goslar. With renewed purpose the team sold the extra gear they looted from the previous evening and headed out to find this new adventure.

December Difficulties

Hello all. Due to my father having a stroke recently the updates to this blog will be fluctuating somewhat,  as real life always takes precedence over my virtual one(s). This will probably mean December will see less activity than usual but I thought I'd still put up a list of the things that I'd like to try get done game or blog wise. Some items have carried over from the last list and as usual if it's on there hen there's a good chance I'll blog about it, though I doubt I'll get through all of it this month.

My to do list for December (no particular order):