Monday, 17 June 2019

KCD: Money solves Everything

[Part of the Kingdom Come: Deliverance journal.]

To the surprise of no one at all, money can solve everything in this game! Not only can you buy better gear or better horses, you can also use it to buy things NPCs want (rather than find them), or to bribe people and pay fines. Fines?

Well, when you are seen committing a crime such as picking a lot, robbing a place, pick pocketing, or knocking people out - you get a fine (remember to surrender to the guards "G" unless you want to try killing everyone). The highest I've seen is 750g which is chump change for someone walking around with over 100k.

It's also worth noting that in Rattay, the guards have a mandate to search you randomly while in the city and will confiscate and fine you if they find stolen goods on your person. If said stolen goods are on your horse you are fine. Or, bribe him with 20g to let you carry your high value illicit goods as you please. :P

The correct answer is always to pay.

Lastly, remember to buy Saviour Shnapps - the "save game" potion. Yes, you can only save the game by drinking this or by sleeping in a bed allocated for you. These restock daily and can be found at inns, taverns, bathhouses, alchemists, and regular traders.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

KCD: Cloak and Dagger

[Part of the Kingdom Come: Deliverance journal.]

Since we're talking about all things shady, now is a great time to cover the basics of the stealth mechanic. Crouch walking will only get you so far, and a big help will come from your choice of attire. Armor and spurs make a lot of noise while bright colors attract attention.

This means I'm mostly in dark leathers and cloth when I'm in sneaksie mode, the only trade off being that NPCs think less highly of me since everyone knows noble born like faffing about in loud and bright gear.

Speaking of gear, having a supply of nighthawk potions (night vision) is really handy since you won't want to be holding a lit torch while sneaking in the dark. Also most important, always have a dagger with you.

Let the bad guys carry torches for light,
that way you can swing with both hands or use a shield.

The game never makes it clear but you need it to stealth kill (once you get that perk) and to harvest bits from woodland animals such as antlers and skin. Note the animal bits are random, so just because you know how to skin a rabbit doesn't mean each rabbit will supply skin. It is slightly annoying.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

KCD: Getting into their Pants

[Part of the Kingdom Come: Deliverance journal.]

While pick pocketing has its merits, I've found the simplest method is to simply knock out the target and loot them dry (faster than looting individually). How can you do such a thing in a crowded city or town or tavern though? Turns out the answer is "easily".

Uh, you can do that type of getting into their pants too...

There are areas which are off-limits to Henry, and simply standing in them makes a relevant NPC of that area come to keep an eye on you and warn you to "get out". So use this in your favor to move people into rooms or behind corners others can't see (remember to close doors). And then crouch dance! Crouch dance?

Out of combat NPCs are slow to pivot on the spot, so if you crouch and side step around them quick enough you can get to their back and will get the auto-knock out option (Tap E on PC). Be careful not to kill them accidentally though (hold down E on PC). Once they are no longer resistant, have your way with their belongings and then get the heck out of there before they wake up.

If you picked your spot well, you shouldn't even need to carry and dump their body anywhere, which is always risky in high traffic areas.

Friday, 14 June 2019

KCD: The Millers Guild

[Part of the Kingdom Come: Deliverance journal.]

An interesting theme in this world is that most millers are scum. That is, to say they are the "thieves guild". It does pay to help Peshek (the first one you meet) out as this unlocks more traders to sell loot to, and he can teach you the basics of lock picking and pick pocketing, both of which are very illegal activities and will get you in trouble if there are witnesses.

Lock picking is simple fare here. Simply move the mouse till the cursor becomes a big, gold circle and then press "D" (on PC) to turn the lock anticlockwise. You need to move the cursor and keep it in the same "spot" as the lock turns to succeed. A lock beyond your skill level will say so and not even let you attempt. That's it. The only hard part is unlocking everything you find to skill up.

"I'm actually a master burglar."

The pick pocketing mini-game is much more dicey, and honestly less useful. As Peshek says, it's best to practice on sleeping folk in out of the way areas to not get spotted, but this is ridiculous as there's a much simpler way to get into someone's pants. I will cover that in the next post. 

Thursday, 13 June 2019

KCD: Ninja Horse

[Part of the Kingdom Come: Deliverance journal.]

Travel is always better by horse and not long into the game you get old "Pebbles" to ride on, unless you are overburdened in which case no riding for you! While Pebbles is a fantastic upgrade from walking and also helps by being able to carry around three dead bodies worth of loot, you should seriously consider upgrading your steed when you can.

You can dress your horses up too!

My preference is Bucephalus from the Neuhof stables. He's not much faster than Pebbles but can go much further due to his larger stamina pool and can get you across the entire map in under a day (of manual cross country gallop). Remember to also buy saddlebags upgrades when you can. With the noble four pack saddle, he can carry around nine dead bodies worth of loot!

It's also worth mentioning Pebbles will throw you at the first sign of trouble (melee enemy) which is another negative. Fortunately all your horses are of a ninja class though. Whistle for them and they shall appear from thin air, behind you!

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

KCD: You had One Job!

[Part of the Kingdom Come: Deliverance journal.]

You are Henry the peasant and Henry sucks at pretty much everything so you'll need to pay attention to the fantastic (and somewhat lengthy) intro that gives you the bare basics of the game, such as when faced with a strong enemy force, RUN THE HECK AWAY.

Now would be a good time to do that.

Since the map is huge, you might be tempted to use the fast travel system that unlocks as you find villages, towns, and random encounters. Good news, it will save you the player some time! Bad news, Henry also sucks at fast travel and will take the slowest route possible. You also can't stop midway to go exploring.

In a game where you have timed quests and missions where you must be at location x at a particular time, this isn't really ideal. Going cross country with stamina management is faster in game (handy to remember during races), but makes it more walking simulator for you. Especially if you are overloaded with gear, because if you are - you can't fast travel anyway!

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

This was a surprise for me as it wasn't even on my radar until Juris gifted it and as soon as I tried it I knew... that I had to tone down the graphics settings! Yep, it's a beast of a game and fortunately it is still pretty on lesser settings. Most importantly it is very immersive, and a prime candidate for my next journal.

Now I'm going to try something different this time and write less about story and more about mechanics. Hopefully it will still be as fun to write and read about... and it will definitely be shorter! :P

Entry 1 - You had One Job! 
Entry 2 - Ninja Horse
Entry 3 - The Millers Guild
Entry 4 - Getting into their Pants 
Entry 5 - Cloak and Dagger
Entry 6 - Money solves Everything 

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

The Revenant

Never get in between a mama bear and her cubs.

Due to a string of unfortunate and painful events, Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) finds himself struggling to survive the wilds and to return to civilization. Now while I had some trouble understanding Tom Hardy's character, acting was great across the board and it had to be.

There are many shots that just keep going and don't cut (or cut obviously), which is something I really enjoy in film and TV. This means everyone has to do their bit perfectly or the whole take is ruined! Having fantastic cinematography and locations to shoot also helps as does the decent plot.

A bear springs from hiding!

My only negative is that it doesn't end as strongly as it starts, but it still gets my recommendation to watch. I'd certainly watch it again, though maybe not so soon, and give it 3.5 maulings out of 5.

Monday, 10 June 2019

Romeo must Die

Neatly portioning gangs through racism!

When Han (Jet Li) learns of his brothers death due to gang violence, he goes to get to find the guilty party and makes a friend in Trish (Aaliyah), the daughter of ther rival gang boss.

The average acting and script is what most lets this movie down. There's definitely a sound issue too with loud rap songs drowning out character conversations early in the piece - making it much better when Aaliyah's quieter songs are played later on.

Wire-Fu is present in this film.

There are still funny bits, some of which being the heavy use of wire work that they don't even bother to try hide and Jet Li does get to kick some ass, but not as much as in some of his other films. I give this one and a half "baby girl's" out of 5 and only recommend it for fans of Mr. Li or Aaliyah, everyone else can give this one a miss.

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Project A

There's just no safe way to fall from a clock tower. Ow.

An elusive pirate needs to be brought to justice and who better than Dragon (Jackie Chan) and his ragtag band of police hating coast guards to bring him in using the titular "Project A"? Well, probably anyone else actually but none would be as entertaining to watch!

The kickass trio.

There's a particular appeal to these old flicks, especially since special FX use was still quite low and relied more on physical stunts and wondrous fight choreography that is often lacking these days. It's a contrast to the "light" plot that's heavy on humor.

While there are no surprises in the story, this is still a very entertaining watch especially for martial arts fans. I give it 3 bicycles out of 5 and would definitely see it again.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Deponia: The Complete Journey

You are your biggest enemy.

This point and click adventure follows the adventures of Rufus on his junk home planet and is actually three games rolled into one (Deponia, Chaos on Deponia, and Goodbye Deponia). The art style is great, and so is the humorous story along with the short musical interludes. There are also various mini games peppered in which helps keep things fresh.

Some memorable characters for sure!

That said, it is also hard, despite the clues that you can spot in hind-sight, as some puzzles verge into trial and error. Chasing an animated toothbrush in the first room gives you a taste of this. Later on there's a part where you need to turn down the in game music volume in game because the protagonist keeps getting it in his head while trying to remember a different tune. Good luck working that out!

On top of that, Rufus is a selfish prick which doesn't really make it easy to root for him - especially since his antics often put everyone in jeopardy. An amusing game but one I definitely needed breaks while playing, I give it 3 petting zoos out of 5 and only recommend it to fans of this genre.

Friday, 7 June 2019

Avengers: Endgame

There is only one way to win.

In this continuation of Avengers: Infinity War, the heroes band together once more to "avenge" what happened previously. It's safe to say you probably want to watch Infinity War first despite the decent Hawkeye opening that fills in what happened for new comers.

Like the previous movie, there are a lot of characters here and all but the main ones get very few lines or do one move then leave the scene especially at the end. I didn't mind it, and was quite entertained by the high budget "everything" that we've come to expect from the Avengers movies.

The gang's all here!

I did feel that there needed to be a higher body count though, especially on the good guys side. I guess everyone is wearing plot armor? Or perhaps they couldn't really dismember people (one exception that was sort of take backsies) viscerally on screen in a Disney backed film? Whatever the case, that weakened it a bit for me, and that bit where all/most of the female heroes manage to group up mid fight was literally bull-cheese. As if Captain Marvel needed back up anyway... lol!

All up I give this 4.5 power stones out of 5 and highly recommend to watch it (provided you've at least seen Infinity War). I'll definitely want to see it again. :)

Thursday, 6 June 2019

The Cursed: Sarevok

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The team appears in the thieves guild, which is odd, but the residents helpfully point out that Sarevok ran down through the maze below so the girls follow fighting through middling monsters and traps with ease. After Durlag's tower, everything is easy in comparison.

It eventually leads to a large underground ruin populated by lesser undead. Inside a skull themed temple they find Sarevok waiting so Catharina cloud kills him from a distance. To her surprise he aggros and charges! Lu Lingqi gets in his path and despite Elizabeth's best healing, she dies to his blade.

Sarevok's allies then start arriving but it is too late as Catharina finishes him off with magic missile, killing her step brother. The remaining foes flee as Sarevok's corpse crumbles into dust, ending the story of Baldur's Gate.

Game over man.

Insight: Magic missile is one spell that is always better cast rather than using a wand. The reasons are two fold. One it is pretty fast to cast naturally so it's rare to get interrupted, and second a wand fires one missile while higher level mages launch multiple missiles by default.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

The Cursed: Fool's Crown

[Part of the Cursed story line]

After breaking out of prison (again), the quartet head for the Iron Throne headquarters and find it in shambles with the remaining people furious at Sarevok for taking their funds to become the next Grand Duke. Only one Sarevok loyalist is found and killed, holding proof of his treachery.

The girls then use the sewers to avoid the guard patrols but instead run into an assassin pair employed by Sarevok, who have already killed Scar and Duke Eltan. The assassins are defeated and their invites to his coronation ceremony looted from their corpses. These trump being wanted apparently as the guards at the palace just wave the party through.

Sure enough, Sarevok is there wearing the same armor he used when killing Gorion. Half the audience shift into doppelgangers and attack the other lords but the party manages to save one of them who then looks over the evidence gathered and agrees that Sarevok is an asshat. The mighty Sarevok then runs away (via gate) like a little bitch but the duke manages to divine his location through his god (holy sheet!) and teleports the party in pursuit.

Because clerics can be bad ass too.

Insight: This is the only time you need to make sure you hang onto those important documents as they actually come into play.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

The Cursed: Secrets of Candlekeep

[Part of the Cursed story line]

With all things Durlag finally out of the way, Catharina, Elizabeth, Lu Lingqi and Party Girl return to Baldur's Gate where Scar introduces them to Grand Duke Eltan who sends them immediately (via gate) back to Candlekeep to investigate the Iron Throne leadership. Wait... so the bad guys were there the whole time? Lol!

Back to the beginning!

Despite a cameo of said guys, Catharina is distracted by the presence of doppelgangers within the walls, finding out via letter from Gorion that her real father is actually a dead, murderous god and her blood brother Sarevok (same guy leading the conspiracy) is acting out a highlander style, "there can be only one" deal.

The team is soon arrested and convicted of the murder of those Iron Throne guys (framed) but manage to escape using some doppleganger filled tunnels. To speed things up, Catharina just turns everyone invisible and walks past them all escaping easily only to then wind up right back in prison when they return to Baldur's Gate and are arrested by the flaming fist.

Insight: You actually run into Sarevok here, but can't kill him since he's immune to damage.

Monday, 3 June 2019

The Cursed: Durlag's Legacy

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The team returns to Ulgoth's Beard to return a knife taken from the demon knight. Alas, they are jumped by a band of cultists who put up a decent fight. While this group is slain, one of them does manage to steal said knife and escape.

Turns out this knife holds the soul of the greater demon Aec'letec, whom Durlag had defeated long ago. Party Girl tracks the cultists to the arch mages home and after dealing with the guards, Catharina (while invisible) finds the remainder performing a summoning ritual in the basement.

Greater demons still can't see invisible things though!

A cloud kill deals with the last of the cultists but it is too late - Aec'letec (also magic immune/resistant) comes forth. Fortunately he doesn't see Catharina slip by invisibly to prep her team upstairs. Using the same plan that defeated the demon knight, the team engages and slays the mighty demon - though Sir Erland gives his life in the process.

Insight: These cultists were actually bad news, as they had hidden back stabbers! Remember to use cover when you can to lower the dps of enemy archers and mages. As for the hidden guys, they are opportunistic and go for who they can reach so keep your weaker members in the center of your formation.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

The Cursed: The Depths of Durlag

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Taking stairs down from the chess chamber, the party ventures through a large labyrinth of surprisingly more manageable traps and monsters. The focus here is to answer historical questions about Durlag, which isn't too hard since the material is easily accessible on this floor and the floors above.

Passing all the tests, Durlag's spirit opens a door to the deepest part of the tower. There the team finds the last surviving member of another adventure group - this one losing her allies to the demon knight and his magical mirror. Apparently it makes evil duplicates of whoever looks at it.

A chair is important when waiting for heroes.

Sure enough the demon knight waits in the next chamber, and he can't be cheesed as he is magic immune. Catharina opts for the next best thing then, casting haste and invisibility on the party. This lets the heavy hitters close distance safely and in a fast but intense confrontation the demon knight and Yeslick lie dead on the floor. Thankful for their service, the ghost teleports all the survivors out of the tower.

Insight: Haste is an amazing buff for fighters as it increases their attack rate. Useful for encounters such as this where direct spell damage is less effective.

Friday, 31 May 2019

June 2019 Status

May turned out to be a mess but not for the reasons I expected. Death is never expected I suppose. The loss of my dad last month really threw a spanner into scheduling stuff, and into being inspired to do pretty much anything. It's amazing how much work is involved in arranging a funeral, and this is for someone who already had many things decided and paid for in advance with the funeral parlor. That might be worth a post all on its own.

    End 2019 with less weight (0 kg from last month, running total: +3 kg)
    Make board game prototype (no progress)
    Complete web comic chapter 1 (no progress)
    Clean out wardrobe (no progress)
    Clean the roof (no progress)

Backlog Update:

FROM GIFTS (or freebies)

Shadow of War
Assassin's Creed Odyssey
Baldur's Gate 2
Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
Vermintide 2 (story done)*
Enderal
NWO: Undermountain Campaign (0/2)

Board games:
Zombicide: Black Plague Campaign (10/11)
London Dread Campaign (1/4)
Escape from Colditz (1/2 modes)
+Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage

*Note: While Vermintide is marked as done, we're still having a blast grinding our way up the difficulty levels!

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

The Cursed: Durlag's Cheese

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Good thing nothing respawned in Durlag's basement, so the team can continue where they stopped previously with Catharina using the skull trap nuke to eliminate all four doom guards in the guard chamber. Lu Lingqi then has to face tank a x10 fireball trap to the face to get a wardstone and only survives through severe potion use. This finally opens the stairs down.

The next floor opens with a perpetual explosion room but moving individually avoids any damage. They then find another adventuring team here (there was a way around the doom guards lol), and they join forces to slay greater wyverns guarding the bones of a large dragon. The other adventurers all die in the process.

After that are chambers of elemental guardians. The polar bear is easy enough, and Sir Erland can tank the air aspect. The phoenix guard fails his save against confusion making him easy pickings which leaves the fission slime the worst of the lot as it splits into two upon death. This is a problem solved by fireball.

Stupid rules only govern stupid people.

The team is then teleported to a giant chessboard complete with rules given by a mysterious voice. Catharina ignores this and just cloud kills, fire balls and skull traps the opposite end, wiping out all opposition without playing the game.

Insight: Enemies only aggro when they see you. Using AoE spells means you can blind fire and win without ever entering combat.

The Cursed: Beast Masters

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Needing party members Catharina decides its finally time to return to the basilisk garden, this time fully prepared for the beasts and wiping them and their crazy mage master out easily. Unfortunately the mage seemed to have had his fun with Yuria, and her mangled statue which looks more like a pleasure toy is in no shape to be restored.

Fortunately Lu Linqi, Sir Erland, Elizabeth, and one other random victim are freed with the first three rejoining the team. They head into Baldur's Gate where Scar, impressed by their investigation in the merchants league, tasks them with unraveling the mystery of vanishing citizens.

Close, but not quite.

A quick jaunt through the sewers reveals the culprit to be an ogre mage feeding his pet carrion crawlers. With the easy warm up out of the way and new tactics learned from lycanthrope island, Catharina decides that it's time to return... to Durlag's tower.

Insight: I've pretty much used all the game party NPCs at this point so I had to get my original characters back. Really not sure what happened to Yuria though as her statue was just gone.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

The Cursed: Alphas

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The alpha wolfwere's fast regeneration is very problematic for the three remaining heroes so Catharina has to get creative with her spells, and is thankful she spent all that time at the Baldur's Gate library earlier. The solution is... Skull Trap.

These floating skulls explode like a fireball but do magic damage (magic missile) instead of fire. Also, they only detonate when something walks within range and most importantly, they persist for a long time if untriggered. Catharina stacks six of them which nukes the alpha as soon as Party Girl lures it into range. Somehow the baby it was carrying is fine though?

Not making this up.

Turns out the villagers are also lycanthropes, but of the opposite type: werewolves. Despite the party helping them out tremendously the scum still decide to kill them so they are eliminated instead as none of them are as powerful as the alpha wolfwere (which makes sense or they wouldn't have had a problem in the first place).

They also lied about not having a boat as one is found ready in a secret cove, they just didn't have the sea charts to navigate. Using this vessel, the trio returns to Ulgoth's Beard and discover the knowledge seeker is actually the alpha werewolf. He's nowhere near as trouble some though as he doesn't regenerate. A simple hold spell is enough to do him in.

Insight: Skull trap is the bomb, literally. Never pick to memorize fireball or lightning bolt over it as there are wands a plenty for those. Also while many enemies have elemental resistance not many have pure magic resistance. If you can hurt something with magic missile, you can hurt it with skull trap.

Monday, 27 May 2019

The Cursed: Den of Wolves

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The huge boat is home to packs of wolves and wolfweres, and the team does their best to lure out the hordes to the larger spaces outside. This works a few times before a number too large to handle pursues them. Khalid leads half the herd away into the forest while the others fight, killing the rest despite Alora having her jugular ripped out.

Bad dog!

When they finally get to Khalid all that is left is his gear, and a good number of enemies left to slay. Catharina, Party Girl and Yeslick finish them off but still have the upper levels of the ship to clear. It is now that Catharina learns the value of invisibility as it lets her do more than scout - it lets her have first attack, provided she is out of view when casting.

Lightning bolt, fireball, and summoning wands deal with the next floor up and on the highest floor a single chaos spell leads most of the monsters to kill each other, except for the ultra dangerous, regenerating boss wolfwere. Party Girl ends up luring him away too, but she escapes using the boots of speed.

Insight: This invisible mage strategy is amazing. Use it when you get into difficult spots.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

The Cursed: Shipwrecked

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The team returns to Ulgoth's Beard to turn it what few quests they can from their last foray to Durlag's tower, as well as hand in the stolen sea maps to a curious knowledge seeker who then asks the party to sail on his already prepared vessel in hopes to find a special shipwreck. Sure, why not?

We can swim in plate mail, surely!

One storm later and it is the team that is shipwrecked on a distant island, with the only other surviving crew member, Alora the halfling thief, joining them. They find a stand-offish community who also seek to leave the island but are stuck due to the man wolves that guard the forest / timber supply.

Their leader tasks the party with clearing out the monsters who turn out to be shape shifting wolfweres that have a penchant for lure traps. While they are easy enough to slay, they always seem to do damage due to their fast and accurate attacks. Soon the party finds their lair... a large shipwreck of the vessel they had set out to find in the first place!

Insight: There are no vendors on this island so make sure to bring supplies.

Friday, 24 May 2019

The Cursed: Durlag's Guardians

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Despite knowing there is a demon knight lurking about, the party descends into Durlag's basement and finds the locked doors that stopped them before to still be an obstacle as both Tiax and knock spells have no effect on them! Instead Quayle finds hidden levers that manipulate the portals and let the party deeper into this floor.

While the traps are still deadly and numerous, so are the guardians this time around - with greater doppelgangers and spirits of Durlag's past haunting the halls. Tiax rejoices when one such spirit drains all the life from Quayle, but isn't laughing for long when he steps on a trap that makes a hallway literally crush him to death. Ew.

It's pretty dark but that area used to be a hallway.

A circle of inward facing, lightning shooting wyvern statues is used against some of the defenders but upon reaching a guard chamber with four doom guards the team is just too demoralized (and too weak) to continue. Once more, they abandon the tower for other pursuits.

Insight: If it wasn't obvious yet, Durlag's tower is hands down the hardest adventure zone in the game.

The Cursed: Unfinished Business

[Part of the Cursed story line]

After much searching through the city, the team finally finds Catharina's poisoner at a tavern and slays him for the antidote he carries around with him. What an odd assassin. The party then has to do some "evil" aligned stuff to placate Tiax, such as stealing a telescope from a museum and stealing some sea charts from a shipping company.

Pleased that they aren't "goody-two-shoes" Tiax agrees to accompany them back to the Cloakwood mines and with his skills, and the knock spell Catharina learned at the city, they free the slaves of the lower levels and finally flood the mine.

Evil parties can do this much earlier and just drown everyone!

One of the freed prisoners, a dwarven cleric named Yeslick, offers to join the party. They accept as healers are in big demand where they are heading next... back to Durlag's tower. A tourist group from Ulgoth's beard is present this time around in the main entry but they are slaughtered when a demon knight appears out of nowhere, declares the tower his own, and fireballs the room before vanishing again.

Only the party, and one tourist who somehow avoided the blast, survives.

Insight: If you gain too much reputation by doing good things, evil party members will complain and ultimately leave. The same is true the other way around.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

The Cursed: Faceless City

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Only now do we finally reach the titular city.

Having lost yet another party member, the team heads to Baldur's Gate proper to look for new blood - but despite finding numerous thieves in random houses none are willing to join the group. Indeed, all they find is trouble when they find out an assassin has poisoned Catharina and she now only has 10 days to live! Good thing it wasn't one of those instant death poisons huh?

Knowing that timed-quests are a thing, the party focuses on city exploration and soon run into the Iron Throne head quarters where without hesitation, they launch a full assault. Instead of finding a cure, they find that most of the Iron Throne leadership has been replaced by doppelgangers and a greater one incinerates Faldorn before they are all slain. The druid barely survives and abandons the party to recover back in the Cloakwood.

This goes for the other merchant leagues in the city as well and it seems someone named Sarevok is to blame. Needing a drink from all this knowledge the party gets into a bar fight against a competing adventuring party whom they slay, which attracts the attention of the murderous Tiax - who asks to join. Since they've been looking for someone with his skills, they accept - much to Khalid and Quayle's disapproval.

Insight: Baldur's Gate is a huge city and some districts are divided by walls. The direction you take to enter those areas dictates which side of those walls you will appear.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

The Cursed: Is this Azkaban?

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Down the well the party runs into a dead end by way of locked doors and without a thief or knock spell, they have no choice but to leave Durlag's tower for now. Instead they head North across the previously closed bridge at meet Flaming Fist captain Scar who asks them to investigate the Merchant's League at Baldur's Gate.

The smarty pants gnome cleric Quayle joins them for this task, but Catharina decides to detour to the unexplored Northern lands first - helping a farmer against a zombie horde and discovering the small settlement of Ulgoth's Beard. This quaint village is curious due to its fascination with Durlag and his tower. They even have regular tours to the place!

An arch-mage runs the town and he asks for aid in recovering his cloak. A simple task on the surface, but when Catharina accepts she her team are teleported to a wizard island prison where most of the inmates equal parts powerful and crazy. Shar-Teel is immolated by a flame strike early on, but the team manages to clear all the scum and recover the cloak, which earns them a return trip to the village.

Flaaaaamestriiiike!

Insight: Damage over time attacks such as Melf's acid arrow or poison works well against spell casters as it increases the odds of having their spells interrupted - basically wasting their move.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

The Cursed: Durlag's Basement

[Part of the Cursed story line]

With the higher levels secure the team heads downstairs and finds a thief NPC who is leaving the grounds and basically acts as a EULA that the dungeon below is more than unfair. This doesn't stop the team from descending and being welcomed by a twin fireball trap! Fortunately Faldorn is pretty good at healing now.

Soon, they meet four ghost warders who each ask for a quest item before letting the team access the deep well down. While the ghasts and spiders on this floor aren't very dangerous, progress is terribly slow due to all the cheap traps but the team quickly learns to be on their toes around anything where there are already dead bodies.

Of course, upon giving the last quest item to the warders they all turn hostile and are walking cheat codes. One is a walking cloud kill generator for example. To defeat them, the team hides in an engine room while Party Girl, equipped with boots of speed, protective spells and lots of healing potions baits them into the "long hallway trap", easily spotted by the pile of bodies on either side of it.

It's called using the room to your advantage!

Her speed and buffs let her avoid most of the damage (I think it is lightning bolt x 6, fireball x 3) while the ghosts face tank the full blast... 3 times. Yep, she has to run laps before they are all destroyed.

Insight: A character moving fast enough evade lightning bolt traps as they are directional. Arrow traps and fireballs seem to be homing though, and no matter how fast you run you will get hit. Even through walls!

Monday, 20 May 2019

The Cursed: Durlag's Tower

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Rather than head for Baldur's Gate, Catharina opts to try explore the remaining areas on the map first and thus the team finds themselves at Durlag's tower, a massive abandoned fortress. The two initial Battle Horror guards set the tone right away, as more undead defend the place in sporadic groups.

One such group is led by a Doom Guard, who manages to slay Eldoth before Faldorn's summoned dread wolf can tear it down. The tower interior is quite cozy, despite all the ghouls and traps lining the place. At the top floor they manage to free a succubus, and on the inner parapets encounter greater basilisks.

Yeah, I failed my saving throw.

Fortunately by this time, the party has many potions of mirrored eyes and Khalid just drinks one then holds their aggro while the rest of the party pepper the lizards to death from range.

Insight: When properly geared, basilisks are pieces of cake. They don't move and only have the gaze attack, which they only use on the closest target. If that target is immune to gaze then they basically become experience pinatas.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

The Cursed: Mine Later

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The mine boss is a talented mage, but seems to be restricted to where he teleports to. A cloudkill does the job of interrupting his spells and killing him but his two summoned battle horrors certainly live up to their name, slaying Branwen in melee.

That's pretty close to a battle horror.

Catharina manges to sun fire one to oblivion and then ice storm the second while Khalid holds it in place. From the letters recovered after the battle it seems the Iron Throne is in cahoots with the conspiracy had plans to capitalize on the iron shortage. Handy that their head quarters is in nearby Baldur's Gate.

As for the mine, the slaves suggested to flood it but without a way to unlock the lower cells this would mean drowning some other captives too. Instead Catharina just asked them to wait for her return. On the way out, the team actually catches up with Eldoth who is still lost in the forest and let him join them to rest and recover at the Friendly Arms Inn.

Insight: I figured I'd be able to recruit another thief elsewhere, but a knock spell would have also sufficed. Alas, it's not one any of my casters had at the time.

Friday, 17 May 2019

The Cursed: Cloakwood

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Following the clue from the bandit camp, the team heads next to the massive Cloakwood forest - home to a multitude of wolves, ettercaps, annoying web traps, jihadi druids, a nest of wyverns and lots and lots of spiders. Poison is abound here, so Branwen prepares all the curatives she knows.

As they work their way deeper the meet the bard Eldoth who is thinking up some plan to get into a girls pants, the ranger Coran who wants aid in hunting wyverns, and the druid Faldorn who wants the new mine deep in the forest to be shut down. Coran and Faldorn are recruited while Eldoth is told to take a hike.

Not a cave sane people would enter.

Coran manages to kill his wyvern but is stung in return, forcing him to leave the party while waiting for his antidote to kick in. Just a bit further the team finds the mining operation setup by the Iron Throne traders using slave labor. No cursed iron here! The defenders put up a good fight, but are unable to stop the party from reaching their mage boss on the bottom floor. This teleporting bastard is a difficult fight.

Insight: Items of free movement will reduce your annoyance in the spider parts of the woods. Otherwise, you'll be waiting a long while like I did for the web traps to expire. Alternatively, bring a thief who can detect and disarm traps.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

The Cursed: Bandit Hunt

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The Firewine Ruins are home to more kobolds who have rigged traps galore. As the party gets separated while wandering through the tunnels, both Safana and Viconia are dragged off into the dark by the little bastards while the rest of the party locates and defeats their ogre mage boss and finds a clue where to find the main bandit camp. It seems all these baddies are working in unison!

Gold is a great unifier!

This also accidentally saves the halfling village of Gullykin, as stairs up lead to a hidden place well behind their town walls. Here they encounter the man hater Shar-Teel once more who was helping to defend against the kobold infiltrators. She joins the group and convinces them there is no time to waste and to abandon the two missing girls in favor of scalping bandits.

There are plenty of victims for her at the bandit camp hidden deep in the woods - a combination of humans, hobgoblins and gnolls making up their number. None of them are a match for the team with Party Girl one shotting most with her heavy crossbow. Their boss seems to be away though, and correspondence indicates something about a mine in the Cloakwood forest.

Insight: Summoning creatures, especially via wand, works well when out numbered against ranged opponents - as I learned in the thief battle of Black Pits. Get a mass of them and send them in as meat shields / distractions for your main party. It's more fun than casting protection spells.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

The Cursed: Firewine

[Part of the Cursed story line]

On the return trip from the goblin lands the party goes by Firewine Bridge, a ruin rumored to contain great treasures - and even more kobolds. Outside they find a hapless adventurer with a cursed box, and she explodes when the ogre mage contained within bursts forth.

Catching the party by surprise, this foe manages to do massive damage and in a flash of light both Neera and Baeloth vanish into ash mid combat. That's enough to dissuade the survivors from exploring the underground below and they move on, crossing paths once more with the dark elf Viconia who joins their number.

Only the unworthy would fall to little blue men.

With her they achieve many things, exterminating a Xvart village, culling a gibberling horde, saving a berserking captain from a cursed sword, securing a dig site where Viconia decides to take a cursed Netherese idol for herself, and helping the thief Safana to raid treasure underneath a lighthouse. Safana is impressed at the group and offers her services. They accept, knowing they'll need her skills in the Firewine Ruins.

Insight: The cursed idol makes your party the target of a number of undead each time you sleep. This interrupts spell memorization and healing, but you also get all the extra experience for killing them.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

The Cursed: That was Wild

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Down to half strength, the party returns to the Friendly Arms Inn to recruit Dorn the orc as well as Neera and Baeloth who (seem to be getting close) returned there from Nashkel . Neera is particularly annoying this time, saying the team owes it to her to escort her to an elder wild mage so that she can learn to control her powers.

Catharina obliges her and they follow her lead to a goblin infested area. Fortunately they pass a bluff test to convince the goblins that they are friends, letting them skip right to the boss' cave - who happens to have the elder wild mage hostage.

The boss goblin isn't fooled though and attacks, and Dorn "the ultimate warrior" is defeated by the little green man. I assume the orc was castrated before being kicked off the cliff into the underground ravine below. It's only after defeating boss gob that the Thayans chasing Neera show up, and put up a good enough fight to warrant the use of summoning wands.

Frankly, Baeloth is preferred.

Despite the victory it is ultimately all for naught as the old wild mage has zero wisdom to impart and accidentally teleports himself out of there. Possibly to the moon.

Insight: Wild mages are potentially really strong if you are willing to reload unfavorable random effects. They can literally kill themselves and their party each time they cast any spell.

Monday, 13 May 2019

The Cursed: Shortcut to Death

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The "shortcut" exit leads into a plateau littered with small tombs. In one such cave, Minsc (and Boo) are dragged under the soil by a trio of ghouls, removing them from the party and causing Dynaheir to cry.

Xan also gets beheaded by an ogre berserker with a magical two hander, which triggers Khalid's PSTD. Still, the team accomplish a few other tasks such as saving a crazy sculptor from a bounty hunter and turning in a deserter to the flaming fist authorities.

He's got everything under control.

The team also encounter the "legendary" Drizzt Do'Urden fighting a huge pack of gnolls. Faced by her familiar captors Dynaheir crumbles during combat. Once all the gnolls are dead Drizzt whisks her away to get healed instead of helping to unravel the goings on in the region. Thanks hero!

Insight: You can actually fight Drizzt if you so choose, but be prepared for an ass whooping as he has unfair stats.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

The Cursed: Iron Shortage

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Khalid finally leads Party Girl, Catharina, Minsc, Dynaheir and Branwen to the Nashkel mines. On the way the team encounters yet another assassin group but have the unexpected ally of Dorn the angry orc who wants payback on his ex-crew.

With all the scum cleared Dorn thanks the team and suggests that if they ever need a "real" warrior, he'll be waiting at the Friendly Arms Inn. The team proceed to the still active mine and find (four floors down) that a team of kobolds had been corrupting the ore veins with a strange fluid, causing the iron shortage.

Seems that they also work for money!

They are led by a human though, and based on his correspondence he is just one small cog in a bigger conspiracy. Also found at the base of the mines is the elven mage Xan, once adventurer now prisoner/bitch. They free him and make their way out the "back way" which is a massive shortcut to the bottom floor. That would have been handy to know about on the way in!

Insight: All those "important" letters? Junk them after reading them to save bag space. It's only at near end of the game where you need to hang on to a few of them.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

The Cursed: Jokes on Me

[Part of the Cursed story line]

On the way to the stronghold the party encounters "the fastest dart thrower in the West". This joke brigand manages to hit Rasaad right in an eye, proving how terrible an adventurer he is. The monk is immediately sent back for medical aid.

Other than that, there are no encounters worthy of note. Even the frontal assault on the gnoll stronghold is made easy with Catharina in the lead and waving wands of fireball to incinerate the packs of enemies easily. Dynaheir is found in a pit, having been the gnolls plaything and Catharina opts to rescue her which infuriates Edwin enough into leaving.

The team returns to Nashkel to sell and recover, visiting the nearby fair grounds while they are at it - finding one of the attractions is a "stone warrior maiden". They purchase an expensive stone to flesh scroll from a peddler and release the petrified person who turns out to be the cleric Branwen. In thanks, she decides to join the party.

Glad it wasn't some stone golem instead!

Insight: The stone to flesh scrolls are much cheaper if purchased at a temple. Again, I still didn't know about those at this time and was very tempted to use it to free one of the original Black Pits characters before ultimately opting to free Branwen instead.

Friday, 10 May 2019

The Cursed: Another Detour

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Finally convinced by Jaheira to go to Nashkel as the situation is dire (really? doesn't feel that way), Catharina and company run into more elite hobgoblins who almost kill Neera with poisoned arrows. Fortunately Jaheira can cure it, but in doing so leaves herself open to a hobgoblin backstab which cripples her. Khalid is in tears as his wife is put on a random wagon back to the Friendly Arms Inn for medical attention. As usual, Baeloth makes snide and inappropriate comments.

"At least she wasn't backstabbed with a flaming sword... up the ass!"

This results in the drow sorcerer being voted out of the party at Nashkel proper. The low HP Neera is also side lined to recover from her near death experience after defeating yet another would be assassin at the inn. Replacing them is Rasaad the monk who immediately gets along with Khalid, Minsc (and his miniature giant space hamster Boo) who want to save a woman named Dynaheir from gnolls, and the Thayan Edwin who wants to kill a woman named Dynaheir. Party Girl wonders if it's the same woman. She has low INT.

While almost everyone else is asking that the party investigate the nearby Nashkel mines to solve the iron shortage (because random adventurers are qualified to do that apparently), Catharina wants to avoid having another walk out like Montaron so they delay heading there again and instead head West to the gnoll stronghold to find Dynaheir.

Insight: If left to their own devices, party members will converse with each other. This can also lead to in party fighting if they don't get along - mainly stemming from alignment differences. If you keep everyone busy though, they'll never get a chance to act out.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

The Cursed: Team C

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The party heads to the ruins of Ulcaster's school in hopes of finding the main bandit camp but instead run into kobold commandos who are dangerous thanks to their magical arrows as well as a great number of undead in the form of zombies, ghouls, and skeletons - a horde of whom manage to slay Kagain, and severely wound Ajantis.

Still not one lootable skull among them.

While exploring the tunnels underneath the ruins Kivan steps on a trap that Imoen fails to detect, and is killed by the ensuing fireball. The survivors return to the Friendly Arms Inn where Ajantis retires to recover and Imoen, still wracked with guilt leaves adventuring to get her head straight.

Catharina and Party Girl look for replacement members and the couple Khalid and Jaheira volunteer right away. Wild mage Neera also comes along as she owes them, and so does Baeloth because... well, there was space. Upon returning to the Ulcaster ruins, they find Kivan's charred corpse being eaten by a vampire wolf whom they slay.

Insight: For some reason I find it helps to run your cursor over tunnels and passageways to aid in detection of traps and secret doors. Otherwise going slow with the thief (or save scumming) helps in avoiding traps if you want to play that way.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

The Cursed: Patience

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Imoen's crew encounter Ajantis on the road and recruit the paladin to the team, deciding to help him hunt down the bandit threat. They successfully slay a number of ghouls, sirens, half ogres and a mass murdering necromancer as well as finding an idiot who polymorphed himself into a chicken.

Pretty. Pretty evil.

Ironically, a skull is required to undo his spell but no one had been picking them up and now no skeletons were dropping them. He'd have to live as a chicken for awhile longer!

Despite the moderate success the party still suffers a loss when Montaron loses his patience and decides to abandon the team to go ahead to Nashkel mines, solo. The wandering ranger Kivan, who is also hunting the bandit menace, eventually takes his place.

Insight: As I learned in this entry, the game NPCs have timed quests. It pays to do them if you want said NPCs hanging around. Also, you might want to hang onto one skull for the silly chicken. 

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

The Cursed: Stopping the Unstoppable

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Catharina gets quite a shock when her group reaches an area that is home to basilisks as the slow lizards manage to petrify Lu Lingqi, Sir Erland, Yuria, and Elisabeth - removing them from the party! Catharina and Party Girl flee for their lives all the way back to Beregost.

They can also be found in Neverwinter Online's Undermountain!

After a good wash of their soiled clothes they encountered Imoen at the tavern and meekly asked to join her team Xzar, Montaron, Garrick, and Kagain who is always looking for more female talent for his escort business.

Imoen accepts, and shows just how lousy her leadership is when the party heads to visit the nearby mage tower as both Xzar and Garrick are slain by knife throwing bags of bones (skeletons).

On the plus side, Catharina finally learns the identify spell from said mage and finds out that half the magic gear they are carrying is actually cursed.

Insight: For the more prepared, petrification is actually easy to get around with protection spells, mirrored eyes potions and stone to flesh scrolls but I didn't know of these at the time. When I finally did learn about them I decided to play this out as it was anyway so that I wouldn't curb stomp the game with six overleveled characters.

Monday, 6 May 2019

The Cursed: Bridge Closed

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Continuing North through the forest the team comes across elite hobgoblins and bandits who are also being hunted by the wandering paladin Ajantis, but it is the giant spiders and ettercaps who actually pose a threat with their poison. Luckily Elizabeth is well prepared with slow poison prayers.

The team also saves the dark elf Viconia from a flaming fist enforcer, but are less successful in saving a missing farm boy from ankhegs. They eventually reach the bridge to Baldur's Gate but find it closed by more flaming fist guys, stating it is required due to the large bandit presence currently plaguing the area.

Not even the pretty type of bandits!

Annoyed at this the team heads back to exploring, encountering the man-hating warrior Shar-Teel who duels with Sir Erland. Needless to say she loses in a humiliating and disgraceful manner. It's amazing how unstoppable this team has become.

Insight: Slow poison is a misleading name as it actually removes the poison status altogether.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

The Cursed: Baeloth's Return!?

[Part of the Cursed story line]

On the way to Nashkel the party enter the town of Beregost where they immediately kill an abusive drunk, save the wild mage Neera from some Thayans, and meet Kagain the dwarven proprietor of an "escort" business. They also put the bard Garrick out of work by killing his manipulative boss.

At this point Catharina doesn't really feel like heading to the mines so she and the others opt to "see the world" and start randomly walking through wilderness areas as adventurers do.

They are caught by surprise at a ruined tower late one night when a portal opens and out pops... Baeloth!? Apparently Najim honored his final wish which was "protection from death". Being on the surface certainly seems to make the drow suffer though, so Cath and co. decide to spare him, sending him to the Friendly Arms Inn to wallow in misery.

He does seem to be suffering. Good.

Insight: Inventory management in this game is a chore. Take only the items that you need or will sell well (gems) to speed things up. Weight is also a consideration. If you want to make things easier, be sure to buy a gem bag, a potion bag and a quiver/case/bag of plenty (infinite ammo) when you can.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

The Cursed: Gorion's Foolishness

[Part of the Cursed story line]

In hopes to protect her, Gorion spirits away with Catharina only to run right into a band of assassins led by a heavily armored scum. Gorion tells Catharina to flee while he gets slaughtered by said crew who then abandon pursuit for some reason.

But looking scary is tiring!

Fortunately, Catharina's childhood friend Imoen tailed her, and brought her other party members too. Since this adventure is going to be too dangerous for the troublemaker, Imoen is instructed to go back home but she refuses - instead deciding to make her own party of adventurers starting with the two psychos on the road Xzar and Montaron.

Catharina wishes them luck and heads on to the Friendly Arms Inn as per Gorion's last instructions. There the party meet a sulky orc named Dorn, and Gorion's friends Khalid and Jaheira. The couple try convince Catharina to look into the iron problems in the Nashkel mines but Catharina just says she'll think about it.

Insight: Playing the Black Pits first and importing the characters to Baldur's Gate makes most of the early fights really easy.

Friday, 3 May 2019

The Cursed: Baeloth's Goodbye

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The final battle against Baeloth is super easy as the team is so high level (and fully prepared) at this point. Even with Catharina "silenced" (a spell that prevents casters from casting), it is an easy victory with the rakshasa being the most difficult opponent on the field.

Finally free of his geas, Najim the genie teleports the team out of there in thanks. It takes awhile for the squad to get their bearings before Catharina realizes that this is near her home of Candlekeep.

 Wish Najim could join the party!

They travel together in high spirits and reach there in no time, with the locals already asking her for mundane favors. However there also seem to be assassins lying in wait for her (all of whom are easily gibbed), and her step father Gorion quickly instructs her to prepare to leave again.

Insight: While you can "Game Over" in the Black Pits by having your main character at 0 HP when the fight ends, simple healing a downed main to 1 HP and ensuring you have the last man or woman standing secures victory - and when that happens Baeloth prevents any permanent deaths / revives downed party members.

This courtesy does not extend to his own fight. I accidentally went into it the first time still injured from the fire giant and he and the rakshasa wiped the party out with petrifies, power word kills, disintegrate etc. all of which are character removing "perma-deaths". After that game over defeat, I came in ready and the result was the story above.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

May 2019 Status

And here we go, the remaining games on this list are really long ones so its going to take some time to clear them. On the plus side, their probably going to give me a lot of things to write about! This month is also not going to be anywhere as relaxed as the last work wise and is already throwing spanners life wise so lets see if that influences anything.

    End 2019 with less weight (+1 kg from last month, running total: +3 kg)
    Make board game prototype (no progress)
    Complete web comic chapter 1 (plotting history/world building)
    Clean out wardrobe (no progress)
    Deal with overhanging trees (done)
    Clean the roof (no progress)

Backlog Update:

FROM GIFTS (or freebies)
Shadow of War
Assassin's Creed Odyssey
Baldur's Gate 2
Kingdom Come: Deliverance (done)
Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
Deponia: The Complete Journey (done)
Vermintide 2
Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China (done)
+Enderal
+NWO: Undermountain Campaign (0/2)

Board games:
Zombicide: Black Plague Campaign (10/11)
London Dread Campaign (1/4)
Escape from Colditz (1/2 modes)
Pandemic: Fall of Rome (done)

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

The Cursed: Highest Tier

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Baeloth turns up his cheating ways to 11 in this next tier, and it is only thanks to Ghorlak's advice that the team gets through. The fight against trolls requires fire to win (other wise the trolls get up at full health).

Against the clay golems and shambling mound, crushing weapons are needed or you do no damage. Against the ice salamanders fire really hurts them bad (the easiest fight thanks to fireball). Finally against the fire giant and fire elementals you need...

Turning up the heat!

Health potions. Lots and lots of health potions. Sure, fire resist and ice gear would be handy, but potion spam is the only thing that let the party win this round.

Furious at the outcome, Baeloth declares that he will fight the team next - along with a duergar ally and that smarmy rakshasa...

Insight: You can prepare buffs prior to entering each fight. Haste, bless and protection are almost mandatory in this tier (apart from the ice salamander fight).

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

The Cursed: Unfair Trappers

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The next fight is really unfair, as it is against a band of thieves who have booby-trapped the arena. They cleverly stay at range with bows which makes them troublesome to deal with too.

Bows are really strong in Baldur's Gate.

It takes all manner of wands to win this fight, including some monster summoning ones just to serve as meat shields. On the plus side, the next two "difficult" battles are not really harder, since it's just a portal summoning Ogre Mage (killing the mob summoning portals first) and a band of well armed Thayan adventurers afterwards.

This completes another "tier" which both delights and frustrates Baeloth, who orders Najim to conjure up a 40,000 gold coin reward. Again, this is spent rather quickly on the even better magical gear now available at the shops.

Insight: I struggled severely with that thief fight, until I found you could replay any previous fight and get the EXP and minor gold reward. I basically farmed the ankheg battle until the party was ready both in level and gear.

Monday, 29 April 2019

The Cursed: Hold the Wands

[Part of the Cursed story line]

After the necromancer is a difficult fight against an ogre mage and his ogre buddies. Catharina's wands of fear and fireball win the round for the team here, and back at the cells she discovers Ghorlak the beholder, trapped by Baeloth's antimagic field, who takes an interest in becoming the teams "coach" for upcoming fights.

Baeloth fields a proper adventuring party in the next round, but being human they are all susceptible to Elisabeth's hold person spell which makes them easy pickings and moves the gladiators up to the next "tier".

Their reward is 25,000 gold which is quickly spent on the new magic items now available from the stores. Party Girl is the MVP in the next two fights with her magic bow, taking down the majority of the rabid ankhegs that burrow into the arena and a spider summoning druid. Catharina still has to fireball (wand) said spiders into ash though.

Area of effect is handy after you get used to the radius!

Insight: Wands are plentiful, cast pretty fast, and don't get interrupted by taking hits (I think). Because of this its almost always better to use a wand of fireball (or any wand spell) than memorizing and casting the spell yourself.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

The Cursed: On the Tabletop

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Party Girl makes the mistake of insulting Baeloth after their previous victory so he places a geas on her to dance seductively on the merchant tables outside combat.

Insight: This is actually a bug where your party members can get stuck in furniture - while you can work through it in the Black Pits, having it happen in the main game of Baldur's gate requires a reload so have multiple saves just in case!

The next round the team faces a hobgoblin horde, and because they didn't notice one of them was a mage early - they take severe damage from casted lightning bolts bouncing around the arena. Fortunately Lu Lingqi still wins that round for them with her berserk rage.

Stinky hobgoblin mage!

They don't make the same mistake in the following round against a skeleton summoning necromancer, burning down the necro which shatters all his summons.

Friday, 26 April 2019

The Cursed: The Bloodsport Begins

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Gifted with 2,500g conjured by Najim the genie on Baeloth's instructions - the team got to know each other and their new accommodations. A small set of cells leading to a merchant hub where they could purchase pretty much anything.

The one room market is suprisingly well stocked.
 
The merchants were mostly slaves to Baeloth too - even Najim who the drow had somehow put a geas on. Indeed only one cruel Rakshasa was there by choice as he quite enjoyed the bloodsport.

Soon it was time to fight again - this time against diseased gibberlings, then healthy gibberlings (Baeloth has a sense of humor), followed by a random group of people abducted from a tavern. Needless to say, these were all easy fights.

Insight: It's often prudent to take down the "support" enemies first (mages, clerics, and archers). You want to remove anything with low HP or that adds HP to your enemies ASAP.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

The Cursed: Baeloth's Welcome

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Sir Erland came to in a strange, circular arena of the Black Pits with the most basic of weapons available to him. With him were five women, equally equipped, who looked like they had been through hell. Little did he know that Party Girl, Yuria of Londor, Lu Lingqi, Elizabeth and Catharina were veteran survivors of the Darkest Dungeon.

Before any introductions could be made, a swarm of tasloi portalled into the opposite end of the arena and attacked with crude spears but they were easily cut down by the six disoriented but very competent gladiators.

"Congratulations," came the booming voice of a genie who appeared before them. "You have passed the qualification round. Meet your new master..."

Equal parts cool and scary...

"Hello!" came a shrill, campy voice from behind the menacing djinn. It was a drow mage with a large grin. "I am Baeloth the entertainer, and you are my new toys! I'm sure the crowd is going to loooove you. Come, let us show you around. You need to eat, sleep and prepare for the games ahead! This is going to be fun!"

Insight: In Baldur's Gate, tasloi always appear in numbers but they are just experience fodder for the party and rate low on the threat scale.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Assassins Creed Chronicles: China

Platforming like the Prince of Persia!

Shao Jun, a disciple of Ezio Auditore, is out for revenge as the Templars have slaughtered almost all her other Assassin comrades. This is the first in the series that is a platformer and it pulls it off rather well.

Guards have viewing cones to help you hide.

Apart from extra equipment there are also animus fragments for those that like to explore but that is risky business as Jun is much more fragile than the other protagonists in the series. Not only do the bad guys hit hard but her life bar is pretty low and combat can be a clunky affair.

That said it is still quite enjoyable and a worthy addition to the Assassin's Creed series and I give this 2.5 rope darts to the head out of 5. If you like platformers or Assassin's Creed, you will probably enjoy this. If you want a "better" stealth platformer then I recommend Mark of the Ninja instead.

Insight: Slide/Jump kills are very handy once you learn them. Till then, hanging ledge whistle followed by rope dart to a curious guard is a handy autokill.