Monday 30 September 2019

September 2019 Review

It feels good to clear out more back log stuff, and now that the weather is getting warmer perhaps the board game section will start moving along too. New for this post - I've also decided to put where I'm sourcing these games just to prove you don't need to spend any money to have a back log!

For some of this month I also tried eat vegetarian to help with the weight loss. Not super effective, but I was surprised at how delicious some dishes were. Might integrate those ones into my other usual carnivore meals.

    End 2019 with less weight (+1 kg from last month, running total: +6 kg)
    Complete web comic chapter 1 (remembering what Juris said, see below)
    Make board game prototype (no progress)
    Clean the roof (no progress
Juris, who is in fact a writer by night, has previously told me why I'm not getting anywhere with my comic planning: I don't have an ending. In addition to that, I'm trying to try still be historically accurate with guild events but that isn't really the project I want to do.

His suggestion (from long ago which I tried to foolishly ignore) was to make a story that happens to have Dragonarm in it, rather than tell the Dragonarm history (again). This will make for a wildly different set of events, but lets see if it goes any smoother than before.

Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt [gift] (done)
Enderal [free on Steam]
Borderlands 2 [gift]
Icewind Dale [gift] (done)
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice [gift]
Neverwinter Online: Uprising [free to play] (2/2)
+LEGO Batman [free from Epic Games]
+LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes [free from Epic Games]
+LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham [free from Epic Games]
+Try Shroud of the Avatar [free on Steam]
+Try No More Room in Hell? [free on Steam]
+Everything [free from Epic Games]

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


One Year Ago

I finished the Masters of Eador story as well as two TV series: the Originals and Versailles.

Five Years Ago

I discussed the opposing devils of Grinding vs Idleness, clearly inspired by my getting burnt out by all those Neverwinter Online dragons. I also was self diagnosing to see if I had video game addiction. Definitely probably!

Also, I was entertained by Mr.TVCow's youtube channel! Totally forgot about that guy. It's time for a revisit I think! :)

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

Hmm, same as last time? That's interesting. I'm curious how they are retaining that position. Maybe the counter is just broken? If they're still the same next month I might just ditch this section.

Top 3 Search Terms last Month assassin's creed odyssey language:en
forest commando how are the vegas golden knights so good? it's their first season and they hardly have any great players. language:en

Impressed an ice hockey search came up here, seeing as I don't post anything hockey related... Also that assassin's creed odyssey search is around 33 times more than the others.

Sunday 29 September 2019

The Cursed: Gambling with Many Things

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Near the portal down, which the party cannot activate, is a demon and his lackeys. Fortunately this demon knows Haer'Dalis and wants to gamble with the team with his deck of many things.

Catharina agrees to the game, winning the first two rounds and getting a nice sword and a scroll of "Wish" while only suffering minor curses but on the third round the demon wins, having bargained with the holy icon that grants freedom from the keep.

Catharina honors the deal and the demon and entourage leave. Thankfully he throws the icon back after stepping through his portal, giving the party the chance to escape - if they can find the way out of the damned maze.

Unfortunately she's not smart enough to just Wish them out.

Insight: The Wish spell here is more combat oriented, which seems to be a really bad time to summon a djinn and carefully word something.

Saturday 28 September 2019

The Cursed: A Tempting Maze

[Part of the Cursed story line]

To replace Anomen, Lu Lingqi begrudgingly asks Haer'Dalis (who has a clear crush on her) to join the team. The bard has an odd set of skills, but the most surprising is his fame. Almost everyone in town recognizes him.

The team returns to the Watcher's Keep and descends to Level 3, which is a bastard of a maze made of little rooms, some being magic dead zones. It's also filled with powerful, warring demons making it a slog to get through.

Aren't succubi horny little devils?

A room of succubi lustfully offer passage to the end of the maze for the prize of a kiss and Catharina agrees - getting level drained in the process. The succubi don't lie, but only after they leave do the team discover they don't have the key down, and must now go through the maze in reverse!

Insight: And that's what I get for trying to skip the level. Lol.

Friday 27 September 2019

The Cursed: Elemental Demon

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Nalia is a great asset as she disarms the traps on level 2 of the Watcher's Keep and assists the team in clearing out each of the elemental laboratories. This turns out to be easy when using the opposite environments against each guardian.

Yeah, pink magic is the opposite of... um... something.

Having assembled the key for the chromatic demon, they let him out to get the key for the portal down. Of course the demon decides to attack first, shifting into the various elemental forms they already faced. This is a long fight and towards the end, Anomen the coward has a morale break and turns around to flee.

The demon makes him pay for this mistake by beheading him before the rest of the party can destroy it. With one person down and exhausted from the fight they head back to the city to regroup.

Insight: The chromatic demon is immune to all damage save for the one weakness per shapeshift.

Thursday 26 September 2019

Evil Overlord: How to Fix the World. Evilly!

Warning: Dark rage post ahead!

Everywhere you turn these days there are people protesting things - most recently stuff in Hong Kong, Brexit, and climate changers.

This is mainly dealing with the last group, who at least have a solid goal in mind, unlike Brexit. LOL. Just want to say, what's the point in voting if your vote has no point right? NICE ONE BRITAIN! No one should vote there ever again coz you've proven it just DOESN'T MATTER!

Regular people don't actually have any say. Either the people who voted to leave (and won) are ignored or the masses protesting this decision (who lost because they... didn't vote? Voted incorrectly? Stupidly believed politicians/evil overlord?) are ignored. UTTER GOVERMENT FAIL.

Better yet, each time the EU agrees to delay the "result" also makes the whole lot of them look like spineless limp dicks who don't have the balls to actually cut ties. HAHAHAHAAH! "Oh, please come back Britain, we can't function without youuu!" WHAT WORTHLESS LOSERS!

Back to the climate changers - how do they propose we fix stuff? Save the trees, eat less meat, go green. Hell, make half the planet green (as long as it's your half and not mine right)? Those are all weak sauce solutions.

The main problem isn't emissions or sciency shit they spew. The main problem is people. Or to be politically correct: "OVERPEOPLIZATION". Yes, that's a word (a made up word, but its still a word). You want to have less of all those sciency shit problems? The solution is to have LESS PEOPLE. How? EASY!


Start with the old - a mandated death day of I dunno. 80 years. No too generous. 45... no, 40 years. Yes. Perfect!

Then go the Nazi route. Kill those who are unproductive to society. Those who are inefficient.  Any who are different. Any who are the same. In the end you'll just be killing almost everyone anyway so the order doesn't matter.

To get behind the whole recycling thing, there should be no more cremations or funerals either. Everyone should just EAT CORPSES! Trust the Evil Overlord when he says THEY ARE DELICIOUS! Hey, we already do that now, people are just another form of protein.

All because you want to save the PLANET right? Because the PLANET is more important than PEOPLE'S HAPPINESS? "Oh noes," they say "but we want all the peoples to live. Their pets too because of CUTE! Anything cute or sentient surely doesn't count towards carbon pollution! We just want everyone to live UNHAPPILLY!"

Now the EVIL OVERLORD is sad because the world's space programs aren't advanced enough to send these double-standard crazies off to the sun. Or, you know, colonize a new planet.

Obviously there will be no killings as above, just the killings that happen when people begin warring over dwindling farmable territory. Or food. Or passable internet connections. Warhammer 40K was right all along.

"Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim dark future there is only war."

Oh well, future problems for future people. As San Goku wisely once said "Fuck it, Gohan can deal with it."

Now lets all feel better by watching footage of the "peaceful" Hong Kong protests. Oh so peaceful. Even the gangsters are peaceful! Can you feel the peace? THE PEACE BEING SHARED AMONG ALL THE PEOPLE!?!?!

Ironically, this is the perfect time for them to SAVE THE PLANET! They just have to START THE KILLING! I mean, they're almost there or in the government's case, possibly already there but doing it all hush hush and making people vanish which is silly. Evil Overlord would just kill all who disagree as public entertainment and be done with it. None of this pussy footing around.

What, you think another country will actually step into it? It certainly won't be the limp dick "please come back Britain" EU. What about a USA led Trump? Unlikely if he wants to get re-elected. Even so, its still a win for the climate changers! Remember, LESS PEOPLE MORE PLANET!

>>> experiment end <<<

So, this stemmed from a post (the Seven Questions) to see if I can make people feel something from a post. Let me know if it worked! Did I manage to trigger anyone? It was certainly rage inducing to write so I don't think I want to do that again any time soon. :P

Wednesday 25 September 2019

The Cursed: Lich's Apprentice

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Having found the douche bag noble who has his son, Cernd and company are quickly forced into battle since the noble is actually apprenticing for a lich!? It is an easy victory, and the lich - who was just watching, is quite pleased by the result as the noble was a lousy apprentice.

The lich then teleports away, leaving the toddler with Cernd. The werewolf druid is at a loss for what to do and finally decides to leave the team to take the kid back to the grove where he will be safe.

Ironically they replace him with Nalia the noble, whose keep they previously saved. This thief/mage isn't that shabby, and even survives a short foray into the sewers to destroy a small illithid hideout.

I imagine they'll explain this plot in Baldur's Gate 3!

Confident with her abilities, Catharina decides to lead the squad back to the Watcher's Keep.

Insight: There are actually a LOT of liches resting underneath the city, but I'm doing my best to avoid them as they are difficult combats.

Tuesday 24 September 2019

Neverwinter Online Uprising: In Space, there is NOTHING

Uprising shouldn't even be called a mod, that's how shamefully shit it is.

The only good thing are the beautiful Stardock zones, which seems to be a plugin to an otherwise Undermountain focused war that heavily reuses previous environments. Apart from that, it's basically a non-event that doesn't even have a graphical representation of campaign progress and leads to a general feeling of not actually achieving anything.

At least everyone can breathe in space!

This is mainly due to the poor setup that immediately throws players into a grind even worse than the Heart of Fire. I should mention there's a new playable race, the Gith, and a new and supposedly really tough trial at the end.  While those don't interest me, hopefully they are fantastic for the people that do - otherwise this whole thing was just a big waste of resources. If they're lousy too then I have to wonder, why do people keep paying for this garbage?

Monday 23 September 2019

The Cursed: Level 2 Respite

[Part of the Cursed story line]

With the statues down the team takes the portal to level 2, which is a set of elemental themed libraries and laboratories around a caged chromatic demon, who happens to have the key to the next level. He asks the party to free him in exchange.

Easier said than done, for after battling kuo-toa, spiders, spirits and desert trolls the team is in pretty bad shape. Fortunately there's a portal out so they use that and return to the city to unload and recover.

This fan art is pretty accurate.

While Mazzy gets herself into a duel with an ogre (which she wins easily), Cernd discovers that the wife he left behind two years ago was with child at the time. Said child now lives with some douche bag noble, who possibly also killed Cernd's ex-wife but there's no proof. Anomen feels his pain but says the law must be followed. Cernd disagrees.

Insight: Level 2 is another place riddled with traps and again I find myself with no thief to detect or disarm them. :/

Saturday 21 September 2019

Today I Smiled: I forgot to post about Eurovision 2019!

Ah the perils of having lots of content prepared in advance. This one got quite buried and only now, months after the event do I remember that I wrote about it at all!

If you missed it, don't know about it, or just want to relive it - the Eurovision stage was lit this year up by musical acts of all sorts, including a quite bad one by Madonna. She might not look it but she's getting too old for this. It was a very weak performance.

Hatari won the award for weirdness this year!

This year the contestants had belters, awesome dancers, a guy in the shower, a giant chair, a singing dentist (who can't sing), a mandatory stripper act, bondage crew "arts group" Hatari (singing "Hate will Prevail!"), a sand artist, and Australia's Kate Miller-Heidke flying around on a pole. She should have won!

Of equal winning material was Sweden's John Lundvik, but as usual my picks never do well. Other acts I quite enjoyed were "Spirit in the Sky" from Norway, and the "S!sters" from Germany who deserved to place better than they did.

As a final bonus link: here's Kate Miller-Heidke with the same song again - but this time just with piano. I prefer it to her stage performance!

The Cursed: Statue Dance

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The team follows Mazzy's suggestion to visit the Watcher's Keep next as she heard the Knights of the Vigil were asking for aid. Upon reaching it, they learn that the massive fortress is to keep something in, not out, and the wards are failing... much like with the shade lord.

The knights stress that the imprisoned one must not be killed though, which is very strange. Provided with a holy symbol to grant access and a scroll to repair the seals, the party enters from the roof to work their way down.

Halls of statues always activate paranoia!

Shadows and spirits on the first floor are easily dealt with, but the old statues that come to life trick poses some really tough enemies who can take numerous mord-sword blows. Neera accidentally solves this by summoning a demon, which destroys all the statues before turning on the party.

Fortunately it's very weak by then and is easily slain!

Insight: It's official, combat in this game is much less fun than BG1. So many enemies have resistances and immunities, you'll be micro managing the swapping of weapons and using spell slots to breach or pierce magic shields instead of doing fun explody stuff. Such is high level D&D I suppose... bad high level D&D.

Friday 20 September 2019

The Cursed: Firkraag

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The red dragon is a dangerous foe, easily knocking back enemies with ease. The mord-swords and sword spiders still do their work while the mages and Yoshimo pepper it from afar.

Firkraag doesn't like this in the least and squishes the spiders and Yoshimo into paste. He also devours Rasaad and chews him into little gibs before finally being put down by Lu Lingqi. Anomen some how survived by bravely running away, the stench of urine and shit all over him.

It's like Lu Lingqi went super saiyan in this fight!

Fortunately there is some good loot, including a +5 two handed sword... that no one can use. Damn it! The team returns to Trademeet to sell stuff and while there recruit werewolf druid, Cernd, and that halfling they freed from the shade lord, Mazzy Fentan, into the party.

Insight: Firkraag lets you prepare before battle, so do it wisely. Fear protection spells probably would be useful in hindsight!

Thursday 19 September 2019

The Cursed: Windspear Dungeon

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The team returns to the Windspear Dungeon and enters the maze section filled with traps and false doors. While Yoshimo easily clears those, less easy are the wandering beholder and djinn.

A competing adventuring group also gets cloud-mord-sworded before the team runs into a wolfwere pack. Unlike on that island, these ones are much easier to put down.

Beyond them are golems, including a large golem which is only defeated by tanking mord-swords and Lu Linqi's +4 magic halberd. Another is defeated through door way cheese (too big to pass). At the end of that marathon they find the kidnapped boy and release him from bondage.

Good thing those doorways are sturdy!

All that's left is to go downstairs and to face Firkraag himself... in his lair. Turns out Firkraag is a red dragon!

Insight: I think there's a time limit to rescue the kid. If there isn't, Anomen certainly whines enough to hurry you along.

Wednesday 18 September 2019

The Cursed: Anomen the Coward

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The "battle ground" turns out to be a dungeon with a massive entrance. While the orcs and hobgoblin defenders are easy enough to beat, the second floor has stone golems and an undead horde including vamps, mummies and wraiths!

This is doubly annoying since Anomen, who is supposed to be front lining, always defaults to using a sling like the coward he is. It's a tough fight and many mord-swords and blade spiders are used but the team prevails, though now severely injured and level drained.

One of the most useless paladins in history.

They have no choice to return to the city where Anomen receives the bad news that his sister was recently murdered and worse, there is no evidence to arrest the prime suspect. Rasaad convinces him to stay true to his path and believe in justice - letting go of vengeance. Yoshimo scoffs at this, saying he'd never let his own kin down so badly. It does sound pretty cowardly.

Insight: This is what the pregenerated NPCs have over your own "silent" party members: banter. And it is terrific.

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Neverwinter Online: Tales of the Old - Dread Vault

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

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

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

Prepare for more of the same thing!

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

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

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

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

Monday 16 September 2019

The Cursed: Trickster in the Hills

[Part of the Cursed story line]

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

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

Sorry dude, you looked like an ogre.

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

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

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

Sunday 15 September 2019

Real Neat Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Impulse buying leads to disappointment. Always research first.

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

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

Saturday 14 September 2019

The Cursed: Monkey Business

[Part of the Cursed story line]

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

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

Choke points are fun with AoE spells!

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

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

Friday 13 September 2019

The Cursed: Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting

[Part of the Cursed story line]

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

He's much stronger in this game though.

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

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

She's so unreliable.

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

Thursday 12 September 2019

The Cursed: Web of Connections

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Meanwhile in Thay...

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

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

Symm sounds a bit like Crixus!

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

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

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

Wednesday 11 September 2019

The Cursed: Rewards of Diplomacy

[Part of the Cursed story line]

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

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

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

Mord Swords are fantastic tanks!

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

Tuesday 10 September 2019

The Cursed: Trapped in the Woods

[Part of the Cursed story line]

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

Valygar isn't happy.

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

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

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

Monday 9 September 2019

The Cursed: Schools of Magic

[Part of the Cursed story line]

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

Hmm, should have explored Krynn a bit more.

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

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

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

Sunday 8 September 2019

The Cursed: Fuel my Heart

[Part of the Cursed story line]

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

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

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

We have ignition!

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

Saturday 7 September 2019

The Cursed: Planar Sphere

[Part of the Cursed story line]

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

Iron golems are dangerous even without weapons.

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

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

Friday 6 September 2019

The Cursed: Shadow Boxing

[Part of the Cursed story line]

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

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

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

Yes, Rasaad is kicking the shadow dragon to death!

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

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

Thursday 5 September 2019

The Cursed: Got Rep

[Part of the Cursed story line]

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

Unimpressed dwarf is unimpressed.

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

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

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

Wednesday 4 September 2019

The Cursed: Druid Duel

[Part of the Cursed story line]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 3 September 2019

The Cursed: Trading in Problems

[Part of the Cursed story line]

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 2 September 2019

The Cursed: Troll Fort

[Part of the Cursed story line]

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

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

It was no hassle what so ever.

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

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

Sunday 1 September 2019

The Cursed: Breaker of Prisons

[Part of the Cursed story line]

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

These two also made it out. They always do.

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

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

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