Saturday 30 November 2019

The Wild Hunt: Clues

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

With legal papers in hand, Geralt's next stop was to find one of the Emperor's spies for information about Ciri. Unfortunately the Wild Hunt had visited first, and with the spy dead the witcher had to piece clues together from his hidden ledger instead. He didn't expect one such clue to lead him to an old acquaintance.

"Burn everything" is an interesting search method...

Keira Metz, once a member of the Lodge of Sorceresses, was now in hiding in a nearby village from Redanian Witch Hunters. Despite her situation, it doesn't take much convincing to get her help in the search for Ciri and she takes Geralt to a cave that might hold more answers.

All the pair find instead is the Wild Hunt, who leave one of their members behind to battle Keira and the witcher. This does not end well for the Wild Hunter, who shatters the illusion that the Wild Hunt are invincible. Tough? Yes. But also still kill-able. Geralt's hopes rise a little at this revelation.

Insight: Rolling is great to put distance between you and an enemy, like to get away from a wall or from an exploding rotfiend. However if you want to strike back, using the small dodge step (Alt on PC) is much more versatile. Just don't move into an attack with it.

Friday 29 November 2019

The Wild Hunt: Squirrels

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

Since a forged pass was now out of the question, Geralt asked the local Redanian soldiers about getting a proper document. They agreed to make it his payment if he tracked down the beast that kept attacking their supply wagons.

Beasts and men can all be monsters.

It would have been easy to blame the alghouls he found loitering in the woods but upon closer inspection the beast was actually a group of "squirrels", better known as Scoia'tael: militant  racist, non human commandos.

Geralt agreed to surrender his weapons to be taken to their hidden camp just to make sure he wasn't missing anything, but as he expected - they were no better than common bandits. Not one to mince words, he says exactly that to their leader who responds by giving the order to kill him. Try as they might, they are still no match for the unarmed witcher.

Insight: Alghouls are like ghoul porcupines that sprout spikes in combat. Attacking them in that state will also damage you so use Aard to break the spikes first!

Thursday 28 November 2019

The Wild Hunt: Vultures

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

Yennefer gave Geralt a task he couldn't refuse: finding his old ward, Ciri. While officially they were working for Ciri's father, the Emperor of Nilfgaard, Yen had discovered that the malevolent force known as the Wild Hunt was also after her for some mysterious reason.

To cover more ground the two decide to split up with Geralt heading Velen, a no man's land between the territories of Nilfgaard and Redania. Knowing it would be easier to move around with a pass, the witcher accepted a job to assist a forger and his "vulture crew" to pick clean a nearby battle field of all the free loot just lying with the dead.

The local vultures are also pretty monstrous.

As expected, the necrophages are here too and while the ghouls are more numerous this time and led by a rotfiend (zombie that explodes) they still aren't a problem for the veteran monster slayer. What he didn't expect was for a nearby mounted bandit patrol to get involved, resulting in the deaths of all the vultures - the forger included.

Insight: The fire sign, Igni, is effective in startling horses to throw off mounted enemies.

Wednesday 27 November 2019

The Wild Hunt: Yen

[Part of the Wild Hunt story]

Geralt wiped away the ghoul blood from his silver sword as he scanned the battle field. The corpses of the soldiers that died in the recent battle had drawn the necrophages here, a fact the witcher used to his advantage by bombing their nest first before finishing the exposed monsters.

The victors of that battle, the Nilfgaardians - also known as the black ones thanks to their armor, now garrisoned near the village. The populace was understandably shaken by recent events, going so far as to fight each other simply because some perceived others to be willingly aiding "the enemy", even if it wasn't the case.

He had only made it a few steps back into the village when a group of Nilfgaarian soldiers blocked his path. In their midst, a ravishing woman in black and white attire. A woman he knew all too well.


Insight: Meditating with high quality alcohol in your pack will refresh any potions and bombs you've used, so you don't need to carry around all the ingredients to make them again.

The Wild Hunt

Welcome to my play through of the Witcher 3. I intentionally didn't do a story for the previous Witcher games but since this seems more open worldy I thought I'd give it a go. If you haven't played it yet I highly recommend you do so as there will undoubtedly be spoilers here, even if I try to skip some details.

Chapter 01 - Yen
Chapter 02 - Vultures
Chapter 03 - Squirrels
Chapter 04 - Clues
Chapter 05 - Rats
Chapter 06 - Coin
Chapter 07 - Letho
Chapter 08 - Baron
Chapter 09 - Monsters
Chapter 10 - Dijkstra
Chapter 11 - Junior
Chapter 12 - Escape
Chapter 13 - Doppler
Chapter 14 - Explorer
Chapter 15 - Outlander
Chapter 16 - Djinn
Chapter 17 - Kingmaker
Chapter 18 - Bears
Chapter 19 - Witchers
Chapter 20 - Allies
Chapter 21 - Siege
Chapter 22 - Generals
Chapter 23 - Politics
Chapter 24 - Conjunction
Chapter 25 - Retirement

That concludes the Wild Hunt story! Thank you for reading!

Tuesday 26 November 2019

The Cursed: Charming Lady of Murder

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The Mariliths require severe magic piercing/negation to damage, and even force Catharina into slayer form to defeat. However, with all the focus on them - a sneaky succubus charms Sarevok who then relentlessly slays Imoen before Catharina can dispel it. Obviously he does the same to the succubus after. Alas, Imoen is in too many pieces to revive.

Healing up with potions the remaining pair destroy the last well and face Melissan and her glabrezus for the final showdown. They basically throw everything they have at her, and with Catharina down to 20% health, Sarevok and Melissan exchange killing blows and both crumble to the ground. The remaining minions vanish as a Solar sent by the gods appears.

She says Catharina is strong enough now to make a choice: relinquish all her power to become mortal and destroy Bhaal's taint for good, or take the throne and ascend to god hood. Covered in blood and shivering with power, she chooses the latter - becoming a balancing force for the world: The new Lady of Murder.

All hail the Red Lady!

Insight: Charm protection. It's a thing. I even had a helmet that auto-does it, but was it equipped? Nope!

Monday 25 November 2019

The Cursed: The Last Well

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The second well of power is defended by ice themed guards led by Cryonax (Prince of Evil Cold Creatures) and while his minions are easy enough he is quite resilient. Catharina uses a projected image to time stop and imprison him while Imoen destroys the well.

Cryonax is one ugly customer.

As expected Melissan appears again, this time with shadow slayer demons who are kept busy by summoned skeletons and sword spiders - just long enough for Sarevok and a planetar to beat Melissan down again. Once more she retreats to power up and the team heads for the final well, guarded by a fallen Solar and high level demons!

The Solar destroys the teams planetar but Sarevok manages to finish it off. Catharina's images don't work in this battle so she and Imoen go through many summoning scrolls to handle the others - using djinns, efreets, mord-swords, an adamantine golem and demons of their own but those Mariliths just won't go down!

Insight: Unlike the Black Pits 2 finale which is super intense and short, this is a marathon of a fight since you cannot rest on the platform at all. Though, if you have high enough wisdom (naturally or via potion/gear) a wish spell can rest/recover all your spells and fatigue. That's why Catharina has it memorized. ^_~

Sunday 24 November 2019

The Cursed: Contingencies

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Upon arrival at the Throne of Bhaal, which is a large platform floating in Abyssal space - the pocket plane is destroyed by Melissan, aka Amelyssan the Blackhearted now in her battle gear, grinning on the notion that she's trapped her prey. She is caught by surprise then at the instant trio of horrid wilting cast upon her as Catharina has learned the chain contingency spell (Insta Cast 3 spells of your choice on nearest enemy upon sighting an enemy).

So... what are the feathers for? Vanity?

She quickly flees to absorb more Bhaal essence she was collecting to power up... the fool didn't expect Catharina to be so strong! This gives the team the opportunity to destroy one of the wells of power nearby guarded by spirits and Yan-C-Bin (elemental Prince of Evil Air) whom Sarevok thrashes easily.

Melissan returns to fight again, summoning bone fiends and spirits this time but they are ineffective as the trio have protection from undead active (all attacks from undead insta-miss, letting Sarevok and his simulcarum beat her down with greater whirlwind attacks. She retreats to power up again, and there are two more wells of power to go.

Insight: Defeating Melissan also auto-defeats her summons!

Saturday 23 November 2019

The Cursed: Not Winning

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Meanwhile in Thay...

Alias and Arzang survey the field of the fallen and are soon joined by the survivors of the rear guard, equally amazed that the Planar Hunters have all been defeated. Even a bloodied Symm shows up from another exit and proclaims that Dennaton has been "taken care of".

Suddenly the arena scribe appears and says he is actually a sorcerer of no small power, and with Dennaton out of the way he can take them all home, away from Thay. While some are hesitant, they eventually all agree. 


The scribe then throws off his disguise revealing himself to be Baeloth, whom each of them has heard of from Party Girl and Sir Erland. All weakened from the fighting, they have no opportunity do anything before Baeloth opens a gate underneath each of them. As they fall in, all they can hear his evil laughter as the world goes dark.

Insight: Wow, they went with a downer ending for Black Pits 2! It's like they've been reading some of my stories! Lol.

Thursday 21 November 2019

Neverwinter is going to Hell

Isn't it already there? Lol.

There's a new event up in Neverwinter Online called the Hell Pit which is likely the precursor to the next module: Infernal Descent (which in turn I assume will be loosely based on Baldur's Gate: Descent to Avernus, but maybe without the Mad Max cars).

You must survive the solo level 80 arena for a few days to be able to buy some nifty rewards, one of which is a legendary mount which is awesome for free players like myself! The bad news is these wins are tracked at the account level, so only one character per account will have enough time to earn it. Also the horses bonuses aren't great compared to other legendary mounts available but hey, beggars can't be choosers right?

Update: Looks like Cryptic made a devilishly sneaky adjustment... now if you want the horse, TOO BAD! Only 1 Token of Achievement will be awarded during Hell Pit. Subsequent events throughout the year will each reward 1 Token of Achievement for minimum participation PER event. 

Yeah, and it's anyone's guess how far apart those events will be time wise... so that's a massive "F-U" to your alts! Nice one Cryptic, showing once again you are the king in stupid design decisions as this has pretty much killed all my excitement for doing this event!

Just to clarify, that's like doing 75 days of work (split up into 5 across the year, without any pre-warning of when they are) in which you will only get paid after all 75 days of work are done. You miss even one and tough luck buddy! No main reward for you!

Oh well, I've survived without a legendary mount this far, and it doesn't look like I'll be getting one from this bullshit either.

Insight: If you are still interested, you'll need 15 wins to earn the "main" token.

The Cursed: The Hardest Fight

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Meanwhile in Thay...

The fallen planetar only has two allies left, so Shinordium (now an adamantine golem) goes to combat the salamander while the other, some wimpy looking mage, is ignored for now so that everyone else and their summons can focus on taking down the boss, who is weakened thanks to Gezzthemin's mass produced scrolls. Sir Erland goes in fast and hard, taking her down to less than half health before he is vorpaled (insta-killed / exploded) by her sword. A number of summons and Najim the genie meet the same end before the planetar is finally put down. 

The "wimpy" mage also turns out to be incredibly bad, slaying Dragonbait with a back stab. Party Girl sacrifices herself against his fire shield, burning herself alive, to hold him in place so Arzang can remove his shields, while Alias beheads him. In this time, the salamander has destroyed Shinordium but is equally almost dead and out of magic protections letting Arzang finish the battle with the most basic spell of all. Magic Missile!

The most reliable spell ever!

Insight: The wand of resurrection and mass resurrection abilities are almost mandatory here. I just edited out how much I actually used them (a lot). It's an insanely tough battle, the hardest in the entire series I think!

Sorry, second hardest. The hardest would winning at the tavern right at the start where they are full strength and pre-buffed while your team is surrounded and flat-footed.

Wednesday 20 November 2019

The Cursed: Test of Ravaging

[Part of the Cursed story line]

After selling loot and spending all their gold on potions and scrolls the team returns to the pocket plane which Sarevok says can take them to the Throne of Bhaal. Unfortunately it refuses, as Catharina must pass two more tests first.

In one, Cyric himself sends his three favored champions to battle the team but they are easily dragon breathed to death. The final test is much more difficult - the Ravager, what Catharina will turn into if she lets the Slayer take over for too long, is a powerful demon that enjoys summoning bone blades.

For some reason the Ravager looks like these guys in Hexen...

The team fields all the summons they can and with Imoen and Catharina repositioning frequently to avoid the flying weapons and dragon breath and horrid wilting the monster till it finally dies. The pocket plane is finally happy to take them to their desired destination so the team rests up one last time before their battle with Melissan.

Insight: Dragon breath is quite handy in the Ravager fight as the blast also pushes back the bone blades. Your own summons are crucial though, since they too hold back the bone blades and the Ravager. Killing the blades just makes them respawn on your mages so focus on the big guy.

Tuesday 19 November 2019

The Cursed: The Big M

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Upon returning to Amkethran the team finds that they are now being hunted by Balthazarr's monks and mercs. This doesn't stop them from selling loot, buying supplies or restoring that girl with her soul stone that Hexxat was borrowing. Once ready they find a quiet way into the monastery via the graveyard cavern, avoiding all the guards.

The unarmed guards.

Summoning up a small army they then confront Balthazarr, who wants to be "the one", and his few monks. As expected, fists and feet can't do much against planetars and mord-swords. Balthazar himself is cut down by Sarevok. At this point Melissan appears and reveals she was actually Bhaal's high priestess but instead of using the Bhaalspawn souls she's been collecting since forever to revive him, she's going to do a Jon Irenicus and use it herself to become the new goddess of murder.

Because she doesn't have a handy magic tree to drain, she just needs Catharina's soul as the final piece. However its now too strong to take here in the prime material realm so Melissan challenges her to battle at the Throne of Bhaal before vanishing into thin air.

Catharina just stared blankly at the space Melissan vanished from, then after a short silence she suddenly asked "Sarevok, you know where that is right?"

"Sister, you are an idiot," Sarevok sighed.

Insight: Yay, after the slog of getting through Sendai and Abazigal's lairs, Balthazarr is a breath of fresh air. He also doesn't cheat too much (that I saw) and is around the level of combat I enjoy. The designers really need to put it more normals / low level fights.

It's absurd that all those nameless soldiers after Irenicus have +1 to +3 gear and are backed by what must be a surplus of level 20 casters. Just like how liches are "common" now, it's a sign that the creators just wanted to make artificial challenge than follow the role playing world their game is set in. Stupid design!

Monday 18 November 2019

The Cursed: Preparation is Half the Battle

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Meanwhile in Thay...

Gerrod, crazy Lea and Voghiln head back to assist in the rear guard while the team moves on to the next arena - this one occupied by guards led by Symm Haximus! Through careful dialogue Party Girl talks him down and with him abandoning the field, the remaining guards do the same.

They then proceed to the last arena where Dennaton awaits... with the Planar Hunters who have just returned in time to save him! Now is the time all that prep work pays off: Najim throws off his disguise, Joker suddenly turns into a man-sized mushroom and dies due to her earlier poisoning, and Shinordium uses the spirit transference scroll to trade bodies with the adamantine golem.

He then promptly smashes his old body with his new one in a single hit. It is now 7 against 3 in the parties favor. Dennaton wisely leaves his box seat to retreat elsewhere.

"The Winged" - Dennaton's Planetar still doesn't look concerned.

Insight: While not explicitly mentioned, the other preparations include being loaded with scrolls and potions to buff before entering the big fight. Since this combat system is ultimately based on math, everything counts!

Sunday 17 November 2019

The Cursed: Abazigal's Bath Time

[Part of the Cursed story line]

A summoned planetar (who happen to be fantastic healers) is able to resurrect Sarevok and restore him fully - leading to Imoen and Korgan making fun of him a bit. No such luck for Hexxat though - she's gone for good.

The interior of the lair is a network of underwater tunnels guarded by lesser enemies - frost salamanders, kuo-toa with water elementals including a very weak Olhydra (Elemental Princess of Evil Water), a lair of strange eyeballs and a geas-ed dragon whom Catharina just imprisons while it's monologuing.After the fight outside, she's had enough of dragons.

Olhydra is one gnarly wave dude.

There is one more to defeat though, Abazigal himself who transforms from fighter mode to a blue dragon! He's not as clever as his son but is immune to time stop meaning its back to waves of planetars, mord-swords and dragon breath spells for him. He manages to fatally toss Korgan against the cave wall before Imoen's summoned pit fiend (she was getting desperate) can finish him off.

Due to the state of his corpse, Korgan is unable to be resurrected.

Insight: If you're wondering why I'm not just casting Imprisonment of everything it's because most of the "bosses" are immune to it somehow. Just like being immune to time stop. It really undermines any "power gain" you as the player might feel wasting a slot on a spell that doesn't work against something - especially without any hints before hand that it won't work. Aka terrible design.

Saturday 16 November 2019

The Cursed: Biting Back

[Part of the Cursed story line]

With Sendai's demise a new "pocket test" is unlocked that the team easily passes: defeating Catharina's second demonic form: the slayer which happens to be good foreshadowing of what is to come. After selling stuff at the village they proceed on to Abazigal's lair which, unlike Sendai's, is not hidden at all.

The entrance is huge, opulent and guarded by one wizard, Abazigal's son. A fight ensues and Hexxat manages to sink her teeth into the fool. To her surprise, he then transforms into a green dragon and bites back - ripping her to shreds! Sarevok is also killed via claw impalement.

With things not looking good, Catharina uses the next cheesiest method to win the fight. Spell Strike (remove all magic defenses of target - no save), time stop, shape shift into a mind flayer, and then attack physically. Creatures affected by time stop are counted as "at your mercy" since they aren't moving so you will always hit, and mindflayers do tiny damage physically but each hit reduces INT by 5. When INT reaches 0... dead dragon.

So much for all your shields and hundreds of hit points.

Insight: This took me a few attempts to win against this guy as he was regularly re-upping his shields, using invisibility, full healing, using haste on himself and dispeling summons - projected images included. That's on top of the regular dragon abilities!

Thursday 14 November 2019

Blizzard: Tiananmen II

It's amazing how a few hollow words and the promise of entertainment can quell a crowd about to riot. It worked for the Romans, and it seems to be working for Blizzard too. For those not up to speed, here's a recap:

Blizzard is openly kowtowing to China. Business wise one assumes it would be big money for them at the cost of a little thing like morals and human rights, the same cost China is currently extracting from Hong Kong protestors - a few of whom Blizzard silenced. Game wise, things are being slowly changed for their market (which they deny). Less boobs and bones + more mobile games.

People got angry so Blizzard issued a statement of remorse (not an apology), and did not retract any of the offending actions. They then dazzled people with promises of cool games coming soon, which earned them redemption for some while their other supporters just have a general sense of apathy over the whole thing. It's an interesting disconnect.

I wonder, if an event like Tiananmen Square happens, will Blizzard supporters feel anything or will it just be "Blizzard just makes games man - they didn't pull the trigger", "It's not my fault they support China, I just like their games!" and "What they do with the money I give them is their business, not mine!"

While we ponder that, here's what's happening in Hong Kong now since it's not well covered by mainstream news:

Police are arresting students.

Use of force has been escalating.

As of late, they're also openly shooting people too.

From point blank.

They were also trying to storm the universities.

Students barricaded defended said locations all night.

The general public is supporting them by delivering supplies.
(Perhaps not this dude in particular, he just looks cool getting his lunch!)

Meanwhile the police are getting a special unit in to assist them.

Is it a massacre waiting to happen?

Do you even care?

If so, spread awareness of what's happening in Hong Kong and/or boycott what you can of China. Realistically Blizzard is low hanging fruit, but doing even a little is better than doing nothing. If you really can't let go of Blizzard, you might find some other way to help.

Remember: If you're not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

Wednesday 13 November 2019

The Cursed: Mirrors of Sendai

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Sendai's base is quite well concealed in the forest, and humorously guarded by Drow disguised as woodland critters. Inside, more Drow, a lair of myconids, pet umberhulks, a slave army, a lich, mindflayers and minor demons all serve as guardians but they are all planetar-ed out of the way.

Even Ogremoch himself, the elemental Prince of Evil Earth (yeah, "Earth" not Faerun), is present but doesn't get to do much as Catharina imprisons it as her opening move. Finally they reach Sendai who proves to be an exciting battle as she makes seven statue clones of herself and has constant Drow reinforcements arriving during the fight.

You can imprison the Prince of Earth, in the Earth? Okay then!

Catharina and Imoen make good use of breach (anti magic), pierce (anti magic), horrid wilting, planetars, mord-swords, true sight and the dragon breath ability (20d10 fireball with knock back) coupled with projected images to prolong spell use (as their spells aren't tied to the original casters memory somehow). After an epic fight, Sendai finally is slain when Catharina "wishes" all magic defenses down and lands a Melf's acid arrow on her.

Insight: For extra cheese, project image also makes copies of the quick slot items so that one powerful scroll you have can be used as much as you like, as long as it is only ever used by a projected image. Obviously, one scroll means each image can only use it once though.

Tuesday 12 November 2019

The Cursed: Slave Rebellion

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Meanwhile in Thay...

The time to escape is now. Joined by Dulf, Hort, Mercy, Gezzthemin and that douchebag Timmoth Goodtree, the squad begins their escape but quickly finds guards in their way. Guards alerted by Symm Haximus. Luckily, the other guards they bribed come through and turn off the anti-magic field making it an even fight. Even the two sous-chefs join the melee.

Alas both of them and all the guards save one, as well as Timmoth are killed when a group of Thayan knights and wizards arrive. The survivors fight through to the market area and loot some supplies, including the vault now open thanks to Brother Elraish. Unfortunately, his corpse is found within.

Thayans have some pretty funky armor.

The extras decide to hold position while the main team goes through the arenas to get to Dennaton, the first of which has a match in progress - umberhulks versus Voghiln, crazy Lea and Gerrod. The monsters are easily killed and Gerrod hands over the spirit transference scroll he just completed.

Insight: You can use the NPCs to do the fighting for you, and while not very RP-ish you can also rest at particular spots to recover spells.

Monday 11 November 2019

The Cursed: Unexpected Aid

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Eager to rest outside the pocket plane for a change, the squad goes to the Amkethran tavern where they are surprised to find the vampire Hexxat! Since she wasn't staked last time she's survived and using a day-walking cloak has found herself here, to ask Catharina for help with a lich. Not to kill it, but to enslave it for her master.

Guess we didn't kill her good enough last time.

That sounds all sorts of wrong but since help is hard to come by, Catharina agrees as long as the vampire helps her kill a few Bhaalspawn first. Hexxat finds this acceptable. There is a local lich in the village (these things are everywhere!) but this soul trader is not Hexxat's target. They do manage to get a young girl's soul stone from it though, by trading the one of her stupid father.

Instead of using it to restore the child, Hexxat keeps it for herself as it gives nice bonuses. With that, it's finally time to hit one of those Bhaalspawn bases so the team votes to head for the closer one: Sendai's enclave.

Insight: While the day walking cloak lets Hexxat not burn out in the sun, remember to take it off in dungeons as it significantly reduces her stats when worn.

Sunday 10 November 2019

The Cursed: Amkethran

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Whatever protection Amkethran village has going on is pretty powerful stuff, as the pocket plane refuses to teleport the team there. Instead they have to walk across the desert and at an oasis encounter a sizable force of Tethyr soldiers wrongly hunting Catharina for the crime of destroying Saradush.

Korgan was tempted!

After slaying and looting those idiots dry, the team finally reaches Amkethran - a quaint little place that is brimming with mercenaries. Seems Balthazarr is also assembling an army of his own. The team ends up killing a few: the ones being ass hats to the locals and the idiots tricked by a weasel smuggler that the team, not him, are the smugglers.

For this, the team subsequently assists the mercs take out the local smuggler base which earns them a brief meeting with Balthazarr who follows Melissan's instructions and points out the base locations of Yaga-Shura's allies. Before leaving, the team finds another survivor from Saradush, a magic scroll vendor, whom they spend all of their 305k gold on in preparation for the battles ahead.

Insight: It pays to loot everything. Portable containers will help with that: gem bags, ammo bags, potion bags, bags of holding. Also don't forget your handy and accessible pocket plane that has three boxes you can use if overloaded!

Saturday 9 November 2019

The Cursed: Symm Haximus

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Meanwhile in Thay...

Arzang is again one of the last standing (hiding) in round sixteen facing six fallen devas (just one step down from planetar) while Symm wins it for them somehow using insta-kill moves. Not to be outdone Hort and Dragonbait get their chance to shine against twin demi liches whose penchant for mazing doesn't work on enraged berserkers.

One of the hardest fights!

Still, it is Symm who is taken for the last two fights: the first against a trio of dragons and the second against two Bhaalspawn, one of whom goes into slayer form both made really easy as he insta-kills the "boss" creatures easily. Upon returning to the pens, they learn that the Planar Hunters are out - making this the most opportune time to escape.

As the gladiators make their way to the meeting point, Party Girl asks Symm one more time if he wants to escape with them. He flatly refuses, saying they all should get used to being gladiators and returns to the training area. Why are the strongest always so stubborn?

Insight: Don't take Symm into battles where he can get charmed or confused. Obviously his axe has an equal chance to insta-kill your party members!

Thursday 7 November 2019

The Cursed: Burning Yaga-Shura

[Part of the Cursed story line]

With the ritual done, the team pocket plane deploy right into Yaga-Shura's face for an anti-climatic battle where Korgan beheads the fire giant, causing his army to scatter and flee. It is too late for Saradush though, as while they were gone Yaga-Shura's army breached it and killed almost everyone inside.

Fire Giant vs Dwarf!

Only a few non-Bhaalspawn folk remain, including Melissan who warns that Yaga-Shura's allies and their armies will most likely come for Catharina next. Catharina, eager to destroy these threats before they can react, is instructed to use the desert village of Amkethran as a staging point as it is protected by Melissan's friend, Balthazarr - apparently a person of some power having somehow survived a cataclysm long ago.

The team agrees but first faces the second "pocket test" which involves fighting a Catharina not raised by Gorion. This is very tough as evil Catharina exclusively hunts her twin, and is only solved by Imoen casting improved invis on good Catharina and making her "sit out" of the combat. Fortunately Imoen can also summon planetars at this point!

Insight: Enemies will swarm endlessly until Yaga-Shura dies. Don't let him live for too long.

The Cursed: Marching Mountains

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Melissan is upset at Gromnir's death, saying that the only chance Saradush has now is for someone to kill the general of the attacking force: Yaga-Shura. A towering fire-giant, said to be invincible and also a Bhaalspawn. Learning the squad can teleport around via pocket plane, she suggests they investigate his home in the Marching Mountains to find a weakness.

Since it sounds like a solid plan, the team do as instructed and are soon marching up those appropriately named mountains where they encounter a witch who knows a ritual to undo Yaga-Shura's invulnerability. She just needs the reagents found in his fortress, which is a lava filled sweat bath.

Looks like some of them have played Dark Souls.

The planetars actually take some serious damage here, but when backed by mord-swords and two crazies (Sarevok and Korgan) the fire giants and fire themed guards all die. The witch does her ritual, then tries to overstep and kill the party. Unlucky for her, Catharina has been working on a new spell that was previously used on her party in the Watchers Keep: Imprisonment.

There is no save.

Insight: The pocket plane is fantastic as you can port back to it at any time and then gate exactly to where you left off. This makes it the ideal place for uninterrupted rest.

Wednesday 6 November 2019

The Cursed: Paranoia at Saradush

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Having passed the test, the pocket plane spits out the party at the besieged city of Saradush and meet Melissan, a nun of sorts who has been working to collect and protect all the Bhaalspawn here, and there are many - most of whom are just commoners and cowards.

While the militia do their best to hold the walls, the actual lord of the place - Gromnir Il-Khan is more interested in saving himself. Melissan asks the team to try talk sense into him and they accept though getting to him is tricky as he's barricaded in.

It takes blackmailing a priestess to gain access to the old, vampire filled prison - then clearing it out as well as a number of Gromnir's orcs before getting to him. Gromnir, a Bhaalspawn himself, is filled with paranoia and claims Melissan is out to get him and all others like him. With no chance to reason with him, the general attacks the party and soon finds himself very, very dead.

Orcs are stupid cowards. Have always been. Will always be.

Insight: Don't idle out on the streets as fireballs from the attacking army seem to heatseek the party every now and then.

Tuesday 5 November 2019

The Cursed: Time of Prophecy

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Imoen and Catharina spend a good amount of time with the elves, but the peace is broken by the arrival of a Bhaalspawn hunter who happens to be a Bhaalspawn herself. Unfortunately for her, she and her mercs are not equipped to deal with a planetar and are promptly killed.

Pretty sure this fella classifies as a Planetar too!

Right after she falls, the step-sisters are brought to a pocket plane dimension created by Catharina's subconscious where they meet a Solar (one step up from planetar) who vaguely says they must train as the prophesied time is at hand before vanishing again. Also present is ghost Sarevok, for whom the small price of a sliver of Catharina's soul lives again and joins the party!

Catharina is also able to summon any living previous ally which turns out to be a one name list. Korgan, the evil dwarf beserker is called and rejoins the team. He and Sarevok pass the first "pocket test" for the party, killing angry civilians and knights out for Bhaalspawn blood.

Insight: Sure hope this game is solo-able (winnable with a one person party), as it seems to quickly be heading that way!

Monday 4 November 2019

The Cursed: Merciful Victories

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Meanwhile in Thay...

Apart from freeing Najim, Party Girl also meets with a guard lieutenant whom Mercy had used her charms on and bribes him 20k gold for his squad to assist in their escape. Voghiln also has a drink session with Joker and poisons her with one provided by the team (Concocter's poison). It is then back to the fight pits as the show must go on.

The next battle has monks whom "Brother" Elraish helps with, an easy fight since their speed is matched by a haste spell and they have no immunity to imprisonment. The same with the lich battle, where Dulf helps with the accompanying bone fiends and Rakshasa round where crazy Lea remembered she also has spells (she must be fighter/mage/thief)!?

Dulf also helps in the mind flayer battle, summoning a planetar of his own to aid against hapless illithids. The most difficult fight in this tier is against a clay "shattering" golem who kept splitting into two, and the team only wins thanks to Mercy's archery and skill. She and Arzang were the last ones standing, though in Arzang's case it was "just barely, invisible, and hiding in the far corner".

Are these ever in the shape of a fat dude?

Insight: Remember you still need to spell strike (or otherwise remove protections of) the magically protected foes before imprisonment will work. Always worth trying off a save for a quick win but some enemies are just immune to it, no matter what. Obviously if it works you'll get no loot though.

Sunday 3 November 2019

The Cursed: Irenicus

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The duo find Irenicus sucking the power of the great tree to become a god and promptly kill him with summons. Unfortunately, since he still has Catharina's soul, she and Imoen (maybe he took some of hers too?) follow him down into hell where a small gauntlet of tests await them to see which one deserves to be Bhaalspawn.

Both Catharina and Irenicus pass, leading to the actual final confrontation where Irenicus transforms into his demon form and summons greater demons to aid him. The girls summon their own assistance as usual, and because they have more experience with summon tactics - as well as copious amounts of Horrid Wilting spells - they win. Catharina takes her soul back, and Irenicus dies.

Sucker got horridly wilted.

She and Imoen then wake in Suldanessellar, where the Elf queen declares them heroes and lets them stay for as long as they need to recover from this whole ordeal.

Insight: The only trick to beat Irenicus both times is to remember to reposition as needed.

Saturday 2 November 2019

The Cursed: Suldanessellar

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Upon returning to Athkatla, Catharina finds Imoen at the Copper Coronet who needs help with that lead for the missing elf city. Together they return to the Harper house at the Docks District and planetar the evil mercs now residing there. Upstairs they rescue Jaheira, who was reduced to being their play thing this whole time.

As Imoen suspected, she knows where Suldanessellar is and using the magic lantern reveals the city once more. Inside, the elves are still bravely fighting Irenicus' forces which are mainly comprised of golems and rakshasas. He has also magically sealed the palace of the great tree, and the team needs to summon a woodland avatar to open it.

A wood land avatar that looks like Swamp Thing.

Collecting the items for the summoning ritual is mostly easy, except for the one item held by Irenicus' black dragon. It is a long fight, and Jaheira is melted by dragon vomit before it is slain. Catharina and Imoen then proceed into the palace for the final confrontation.

Insight: I quite like big maps now. Just summon the planetar early, haste it and send it forth then supplement mord-swords as needed. It was also interesting to see it solo a balor and a pit fiend, this is because its sword has a chance to auto kill anything it hits.

Friday 1 November 2019

The Cursed: Free the Genie

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Meanwhile in Thay...

Dulf's Drow "equal", Gezzthemin, has no senility issues but is a much lousier companion to the arena team in round nine against a halfling mage and his elementals as the Drow basically acts like a shielded tank for most of it. It ultimately takes time stop and comets to bring the halfling down. Fortunately Gezzthemin is still of some use, as he can make something from the planetar's wing the team stole previously in the Hunter's Lounge: a scroll to weaken her. Due to an odd bug, he starts mass producing these - making enough for everyone!

I keep mentioning Planetars - this is what they look like.

Round ten has demons versus devils and the team in between. Luckily they mostly kill each other after eating the murderer Feldrak who was left behind as bait. The remaining enemies are planetared down. After this fight the shops have a better stock of equipment which the team eagerly purchases. Using it, they free Najim the genie and defeat the Efreeti hunter. Najim then locks up this foe into the jar that once contained him and shapeshifts to take his place to ensure that no one will notice he is missing.

Insight: Mass invisibility is very handy in the arena matches and is often one of my opening moves.