To Boldly Nerd…

PC games, pen&paper RPGs and other nerdery

by Kadomi

Media Monday #204

Off we go again, to my from now on regular Monday post. Hope you all had a great weekend, while I am enjoying Whit Monday as extended weekend. As always, the original questions are posted here (in German).

Frodo Baggins, professional Ring bearer

  1. An Extended or Director’s Cut that really greatly enhanced a movie, was the one for the Lord of the Rings movies, because it added important scenes or extended existing ones to make it a better flowing movie trilogy of the books that shaped me and my interest in fantasy literature when I was a 13-year old. It’s possible that there are even better Director’s Cuts, but I wouldn’t know, not being a huge movie buff. I do want to watch the Final Cut of Blade Runner. One of these days.
  2. The best film-musical is Grease. It has the catchiest songs, and is pretty much All-American silliness. It made me long to go to a drive-in movie all my life. I’ve moved past that desire though, especially as there are very few drive-ins over here.
  3. Many people like Bloodborne whereas it aggravates me because of people discussing that it means the PS4 is the hardcore gamer console, and that this is the renaissance of hardcore gaming. I personally haven’t played it, but friends of mine have and their descriptions of the game were colorful, to say the least. I am sure there’s a market for games like Demon Souls, Dark Souls, and Bloodborne, but it’s certainly not me. In a world that’s shown last year that there’s a very ugly side to gamers, I don’t know how to feel about the most-highly celebrated PS4 game of the year being a game that ‘puts hair on your chest’, quoted from a review.
  4. Pathfinder Online seems like an old-school MMO because of its design approaches. Its list of features pretty much reads like a mix of Dark Age of Camelot with Ultima Online. My only interest is really that it’s a Pathfinder game, set in Golarion’s River Kingdoms, so basically being Kingmaker, the sandbox Adventure Path. I don’t do sandbox, and the pricing is shocking. How can you be making so much money with selling access to an alpha game with no release date, actually making people sub to a game that’s not really anywhere near release-ready? When you already got all the money from Kickstarter? It doesn’t help that the creators are asking for a recruitment drive in a very pushy manner. Sometimes I feel morose about MMOs in general. I think if I wanted to play a Pathfinder multiplayer game online that’s not a VTT, I’d probably go with Tenebrae MUX.
  5. Tasty!
    The subject is guilty pleasures: I don’t care, if you all find King games stupid, I however love playing Candy Crush Soda saga on my phone. It’s my daily ritual. Whenever I come home from work, I plop down on the couch and play through 5 lives in Candy Crush Soda Saga to unwind from a long day. It’s brainless, sometimes annoying when they run one of their sales, but above all, it is very relaxing and most of my friends play it, so I could burn through many lives daily, if I wanted to. Yesterday, I finally beat level 145, after being stuck on it for two weeks, woot.
  6. I gainfully used the long Pentecost weekend, to play lots of Darksiders. I also am blogging, and I did some prep work for Saturday’s Pathfinder game. I prepped the loot list that they got last session, because I am sure they will head off to sell stuff or get the magical stuff identified. As next step, I will prepare the campaign newsletter. A couple days before the next session, I always mail a newsletter, with a session summary, some helpful campaign background, usually notable NPCs they have met and a deity from the Golarion pantheon, and local gossip around Sandpoint, as RP hooks. It’s always fun to write.
  7. With the passing of this week, May is over. That’s okay, because in June my SO will likely be allowed to give up her crutches and fly like a bird. Or rather, walk on both feet. That’s going to be momentous.

by Kadomi
1 Comment

Yay for long weekends

Today is the last day of my Belghast experiment and I can draw my conclusions now.

  1. I still enjoy blogging.
  2. It takes me entirely too long to blog at night, about 1.5 hours.
  3. I don’t have the time and the energy to blog every night.

So there’s that. I will never write daily like Belghast, but I don’t actually need to, I think. I think I can pull off twice, maximum three times a week. Media Mondays will help me with focus and keep me writing. Also, if I have an idea, I should write about it the same day, not push it back, because then I lose the inspiration. I was very happy about the comments I received here and on Twitter. Thanks for reading, guys. :)

Her Little Pony

As I probably mentioned many times before, my spouse had a horse riding accident in March when her horse spooked and she landed on her right foot, snapping the ankle. It’s now 2.5 months later, and she’s still not on her feet, though she is allowed to put 20kg weight on the foot now. She will probably be allowed to walk without crutches in another month. That’s a long time to be sitting on the couch. She pines for her horse like I pine for delicious food and awesome games. Actually, she pines for him more. So today right after work I picked her up at home and drove her to the barn, where she spent happy time brushing her horse while I played Candy Soda Crush. I have been stuck on level 145 for two weeks, it’s driving me insane.

It’s really hard for me to understand why she pines for her horse that caused her to have such a grievous injury. I mean, the wound where the bones broke her skin is still not completely healed. Horse riders are strange folks, honestly.

Rider of the Apocalypse

That pony looks as evil as my spouse's! I honestly can say that I had never heard of this game before, like ever. I thought I know pretty much most PC releases, but Darksiders totally flew under my radar. It’s from early 2010, which is when I was playing Dragon Age: Origins more than any other game. I think as a game, it’s far more suited to a console than PC, so I am happy I am only playing it now.

You’re War, one of the Four Horsemen, and at the beginning of the game, you are tricked into starting the apocalypse which brings about the demise of humanity, and the forces of Hell beating the forces of Heaven. Accused of having done ill, it’s up to War to prove that it was not his doing. You do so by swinging a giant sword, jumping and running and exploring. It’s as if Diablo had a love child with a jump and run game, as far as the combat game play goes and the aesthetics of an Earth ruled by demons and devils.

Arthas' love child with Jaina? We'll never know.

Arthas’ love child with Jaina? We’ll never know.

War kinda looks like he’s the Lich King’s better-garbed son, with giant clunky boots and a red cloak with hood. His enormous sword is called Chaoseater. It pretty much looks like a WoW death knight’s dream sword. The more I look at him, the more War looks like Arthas in his death knight days. The WoW references don’t end there. War’s voice actor is Liam O’Brien who is probably most familiar to people from the following line:

Oh, there’s also chests you can open, treasures and weapons to collect, Zelda style. It’s a little bit of everything. It’s a bit cartoony, it definitely is incredibly gory, and I am having fun hacking and slashing my way through it.

So far I can’t fault my RL friends with their PS3 recommendations, games have all been quite excellent.

The long weekend

As mentioned in the title, we’re having a long weekend. It’s Pentecost, another religious high holiday, and we love ourselves our public holidays in spring and early summer. No work on Monday, hooray. I am looking forward to another much-needed break. So far, we don’t have a lot of plans. Tomorrow, we’re trying to buy Thai and Indian spices at the Asia grocery store, then pho for lunch. At least that’s the plan. On Sunday, we have an invitation to have barbecue at a good friend’s house, friends who we haven’t seen for a looooong time. That night there’s also the company anniversary party, but I am not sure yet if I’ll go. No plans for Monday, though maybe friends will come over. We’ll see!

I have a lot of reading to do, because I am behind my Goodreads challenge goal this year, oy. It really doesn’t help that I am not digging The Quantum Thief as much as I’d hoped to. I also need to start prep work for next week’s Pathfinder session. But more on that in another post.

Hope you’ll have a great weekend, long or regular.

by Kadomi

Roll20, or technology is awesome

Ever since I started GMing pen&paper games again, I have been struggling with getting maps across to my players. I am terrible at drawing. I seriously was the worst art student ever and deeply admire anyone with a talent for art, and when it comes to RPGs, map-making in particular. Back in the 90s, I actually bought a copy of Campaign Cartographer after seeing an ad for it in Dragon Magazine. I wanted to create beautiful player handouts for my sessions and create. Well, let me tell you, it didn’t work out. At the heart of it, CC is a CAD software, and hardly what I would consider intuitive and user-friendly. I messed around with it, but never created any full map myself. To this day I am disappointed. It’s entirely possible that version 3 is much improved, but I wouldn’t try it again.

With the campaign I am currently GMing, I am very lucky that there are crazy amounts of community-created stuff to help GMs with running the adventure path. There are also gorgeous maps. But how to bring them across to the players without spoiling anything? I tried with one print-out for the Glassworks in Burnt Offerings and what happened was that the players took in all that was visible on the map and meta’d like crazy, using knowledge of the map. I vowed I would never do that again. Hand-drawing everything was out of the question because once again, I suck at drawing. I am very jealous of people with custom made gaming tables using projectors or integrated monitors. (As an aside, I would love to have a gaming basement, let me tell you).

Now that I have a TV, I was looking for a way to connect the laptop via HDMI cable and display a player map on the TV, with me control the GM map on the laptop. I looked into two solutions for using maps for Virtual Tabletop games, short VTT. First, I tried MapTool. It’s free, game-agnostic, and a lot of people with custom tables were using it. I played around with it a bit, and found it to be somewhat hard to grok. Also, the setup to use a GM map and have a player map involved running it as local server, and it all seemed a bit much. Solid piece of software, but I think it’s for the extremely tech-savy.

I started watching the Rise of the Runelords videos (they’re in German) which is a VTT game through Google Hangouts, using Roll20 as VTT. I was really impressed by what I saw. Cool tokens, fog of war, and it looked slick. It’s a browser-based VTT that’s also system-agnostic, with nice support for Pathfinder. It’s primary purpose is to actually run online games, and I can totally see that. I would run an online game like that, if I actually had friends who would rather play online. Not so much with the strangers.

Roll20's page bar

Signing up is free, and though there’s a subscription model, for the basic thing I want to do, it’s already perfect. Once you have created a campaign, you launch it, and end up on your start page. From there you can create additional pages, as many different maps as you might need for it, with a simple click of a button. Importing maps onto any given page is incredibly easy. Either you upload your own, no bigger than 5 MB, or you use the search function. Which is pretty nifty.

Let’s assume you want to run one of the published adventure paths, and are looking for a map for the Catacombs of Wrath. You can select Maps, Tiles, enter your search term and voilà, your results that you can simply drag and drop into your current page. Incredibly easy to use.

The art library

I am currently preparing our next session, and I didn’t like the maps you have access to in Roll20, so I will be uploading my own, or rather, those of a very talented artist at Deviant Art. I would link to it, but my players read my blog, and I just don’t want to risk them peaking ahead. They wouldn’t be able to resist. Now, once you have set up your map, it’s time to hide it, or reveal it, as you see fit. In the page settings you can enable Fog of War, which does exactly the thing you might be used from RTS games. When you do that, a dark layer that is opaque is laid over the page. You can then click on Reveal Areas and drag and drop to select the area you want to have visible on the player map.


And that’s pretty much it on the GM side. But how to display the player map now? I created a second free account and added it as player in the campaign. I logged into Roll20 on the laptop which was connected to the TV with an HDMI cable, using Firefox. I opened another browser, Chrome, to log into Roll20 as the player account, then dragged the window over to the TV. I created a token representing the group, which is a turtle (don’t ask). As they explored the Catacombs of Wrath, I moved the party token and revealed rooms. It worked fantastically well. Whereas I have an opaque GM layer, the player map really only shows whatever you have revealed right now, and it’s just as easy to hide areas again or reset the fog of war.

The revealed room where the party had their last stand against a quasit.

The revealed room where the party had their last stand against a quasit. Why yes, I am using a photo of Sophie Ellis-Bextor as my gravatar. *coughs*

The only downside was that I have to turn my head to see the TV, and that hurt my neck. But that’s really what we call ‘Jammern auf hohem Niveau’ in German, whining when you’re actually doing great. My players loved it, and so did I. Next time, I am trying the next technological trick, using a bluetooth speaker in the center of the table with Syrinscape on a tablet. One of my players has an excellent one. It should really enhance the game some more.

Am I a giant nerd, or what? Next weekend I’ll actually take a photo of the TV and how it looks in action. :)

by Kadomi

Hump Day Blues

It’s Wednesday, before a long weekend, so I should be celebrating, but once again I am feeling particularly exhausted today. Especially when it comes to this blogging project. What do you blog about when you have been at work all day, did some online business and it’s already 8 pm, the evening feeling half over? Ugh. Being an adult sucks. I am also cooking dinner right now as we speak, a hearty meal of fried potatoes with sunny side eggs.

My cats are enthusiastically cheering me on to blog while dozing and bathing. Really.

My cats are enthusiastically cheering me on to blog while dozing and bathing. Really.

In good news, my replacement credit card arrived today. I keep looking for my wallet everywhere, in dubious hopes of it not having been stolen but just been lost by me, but no dice. Now I only have to order a new debit card and get a new ID card. Which means taking new biometric ID photos. So much hate.

Completely Uncharted

I have been trying to be very systematic with my gaming when it comes to the Playstation 3. I played Heavy Rain first, and followed it up with Uncharted. Then UC2 and since last night I am done with the series. For now. I had planned to buy a PS4 with the release of Uncharted 4 later this year, but Naughty Dog shattered that plan by announcing it’s been pushed back until spring 2016. Bummer. But maybe not so bad. Maybe it means they will fix Nathan Drake’s face.

This is not the scoundrel I have come to adore!

This is not the scoundrel I have come to adore!

Sure, that’s very photorealistic, but do I need it to look like that? The Uncharted series is an Indiana Jones movie as a game, with a more modern protagonist, and characters you come to care about. It doesn’t need to be 100% real for me, because I don’t think the average, realistic bloke runs and jumps through a desert city collapsing in a giant pit of quicksand either!

Why is everything collapsing around this guy?

Why is everything collapsing around this guy?

All in all, I was not disappointed by the series. They were all fantastic, offering different wow moments. If I have to pick a winner, then I would have to say Uncharted 2 is the best game of the series. It’s longer than the other two, and more diverse. It has a museum heist, and so many amazing action moments, plus the best start sequence of any game with jumping puzzles. There’s always this utter sense of emergency, that everything around you is going to hell. By the way, whoever at Naughty Dogs came up with those disgusting spider/crawler/bug things that keep chasing you, thanks for making me itch all over. Yuck.

When people compared the Tomb Raider reboot to Uncharted, they weren’t wrong, only that Nate really doesn’t have all those gross deaths that Lara Croft has to experience. Way less gory, for sure. I am very fine with that. What Uncharted is really good at is character building. You care about Nate, and I was very much rooting for him and Elena. Chloe for one has the sexiest voice actress of all times, Claudia Black, making me swoon over her about as much as I did for Morrigan. Plus Sully, especially in part 3. The villains need some work, but I enjoyed Marlowe and Talbot in Uncharted 3 the most.

What to play next

Based on the recommendations of my friends, I should play Darksiders next. I have no idea what it is about, other that you play one of the Horseriders of the Apocalypse. I am also plotting further purchases. The Last of Us really needs to be next, but I do worry it will be too hard for me. I am not so great at the shooting, and a game where ammo is actually limited? Uh oh. For coop play, I want to pick up one of the Legos, my SO requested Harry Potter. Hopefully fun! I am also hunting for a good platformer to play occasionally, so Child of Light is still on the table. I wanted to download a demo.

I am also debating picking up a wireless XBox Controller for my PC and connect my PC to the TV to use Steam’s big picture. But that seems like so much work. If I could use Steam on the TV without having to put an HDMI cable across the living room, that’d be something. So many games I could play then.

Recommendations for outstanding PS3 titles are very welcome!

by Kadomi

Media Monday on Tuesday

In recent months, I have added a lot of Roleplaying blogs to my RSS reader of choice (feedly, btw), and one of my favorite German blogs is Greifenklaue. It’s a multi-purpose nerd blog with a focus on pen&paper. But really, just a little something of everything. Every Monday he participates in something called Media Monday, and I want to join in. It’s a very creative way to blog about nerdy things when the inspiration won’t strike me myself. Ahem.

As Media Monday is a German thing, I will briefly explain how it works. Every Monday, the Medienjournal blog posts posts a couple statements with gaps in it, and you fill the gaps with your own thoughts. I will translate the sentences, because I happen to blog in English. The italics part is the original sentence, the normal text is mine.

media-monday-203This is Media Monday #203:

  1. One of the most frequently used exaggerations in MMO history is the term ‘WoW-killer’. The only thing that will kill this game completely will be when Blizzard officially pulls the plug on maintaining the servers. Overall, I think the playerbase will shrink further. 6.2 will probably see a lot of people re-sub, eat their way through content and then drop it again. With no expansion or even further patch news in sight, I think the numbers will go down, maybe below TBC numbers. I don’t think we’ll ever see another MMO reaching the lofty heights of WoW in its day, and with the drastic failures of triple A games like TESO and Wildstar last year, I think new MMOs are going to be a niche market again, e.g. Crowfall. There’s a Pathfinder MMO in the makings, and I fear it will be dreadful. Not that I wouldn’t love stabbing the iconic Pathfinder goblins.

  2. Twin Peaks I thought was very artistic so that I believed I was really into David Lynch, back when the original show aired. I was a serious fangirl. I owned the soundtrack, recorded all episodes on tape, loved it. But the truth is that I am too chicken shit for David Lynch. I have never watched Blue Velvet or Mulholland Drive, despite being fascinated by the stories and not really being able to understand anything about them. Just reading about Blue Velvet’s plot (and the ear the protagonist finds) weirds me out. Even Dune, which I watched when I was a teenager, really grossed me out. I continue to believe that Twin Peaks’ first season was an incredibly mysterious and amazing TV show which was the most mainstream David Lynch ever was. I would rewatch the classic TV show over and over, despite the mess it turns to in its second season. I would never ever EVER watch the Twin Peaks movie again, because it’s been years and just thinking about Laura Palmer’s death scene in the train car makes me want to curl up in a ball. What a fucked up movie. I don’t know what to think about Showtime’s plans for a new season.

  3. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is something I really want to dip my toes in further, but feel like I am sitting on the fringes of something everyone loves. That’s most likely because I never go to the movies. I would love to, but my SO is not interested which makes it hard. My nerd friends at work are all very into the Marvel universe, and I don’t even know the order you watch them in. While in the US last fall I watched The Avengers on Netflix, then went home and watched The Incredible Hulk, ending up totally confused because of different actors. I know I should have watched Iron Man and maybe Thor first (I don’t really know) to get my full value out of the Avengers. It doesn’t help that Netflix Germany only has an eclectic selection of Marvel movies. I am looking forward to watching Daredevil. I really enjoyed the first episode.

  4. The ZEITGEIST Adventure Path recently really wowed me because it is such an intelligent and creative Pathfinder story with an amazing scope. I would chop off my pinky toe to be able to GM this for a close group of four people regularly. The full adventure path is 13 adventures strong, and I believe issue #9 will be released soon. It’s Steampunk meets fantasy, the PCs being members of the Homeland Constabulary, defending their kingdom from outside machinations. It’s not about killing monsters and finding loot, it’s about politics, conspiracies and dealing with the effects of Industrial Revolution in a magical world. It’s outstanding. If that gets your interest, there’s a free intro pack with a full campaign guide, a player’s guide and the first adventure.

  5. Amongst all the podcasts I wish there was a single one that held my attention. I have tried popular WoW podcasts. MMO podcasts. Pathfinder Podcasts. Know Direction probably held my attention the longest. I don’t know why that is. Usually, they’re way too long, the voices put me to sleep, I can’t follow the discussions and if I do anything else but listen to them, I tune them out. I know they’re incredibly popular and I know lots of people who love producing them, but I just can’t. How can I turn into a podcast listener, staring at the wall for 2 hours trying to listen without getting bored? I don’t know. Is it easier in German? I might try that, but I have my doubts. The same applies to audio books, btw. Booooring.

  6. What I always hope for from movies is that there’s the one movie that turns my SO into a fan of regular movie nights at the theater. Off the top of my head I can only recall four movies that I actually watched with her in the theater: Wallace&Grommit, Inception, Bridesmaids and Brave. If there were any others, I don’t remember. I want a movie buddy. I want to be wowed again by a blockbuster. I wish!

  7. The Big Bang Theory is positively magical and so it doesn’t bother me particularly that there’s some casual sexism involved. I wish Amy was less of a science nerd and a bit more of a gamer on the show. Why did Bernadette have to be so dumb while playing SWTOR with the boys? Ah, whatever. I don’t care, because the show makes us laugh lots, and we love it. Time simply flies by when we watch it on Netflix.


by Kadomi

Impressions of an RPC 2015 newbie

So when I meant I would post every day for a week, I obviously meant every weekday. coughs I’ll just have to extend this blogging experiment for a week to make it worth anyone’s time.

Along comes the weekend

Saturday was one of those weekend days that I really enjoy, wish I had more of and am glad I don’t have them all the time anymore. Absolute vegging. I continued my current book on my Kindle, read some comics, started reading Cities of Golarion in my never-ending catchup-game of reading all Pathfinder campaign books. I swallowed my gamer pride by first switching Uncharted 3 to Easy and then Very Easy to get past Chapter 16’s fucked up stealth stuff and got rewarded with a crazy ass scene that has you chasing a departing plane on the runway and then crash it in the desert. We also continued our Big Bang Theory marathon and are in early season 6 now. I am already sad that there’s only 7 seasons on German Netflix. Come here, season 8!

RPC Germany on Sunday

rpcSunday had all the components for a great adventure, but came out with a huge letdown. Together with 3 players from my Pathfinder Rise of the Runelords group we were setting out to Cologne for our first ever visit to the Role Play Convention Germany. This was the fourth one. In previous years, we’ve gone to the Spiel in Essen, which is the largest boardgame con in the world, but from what I have read, the RPers were slowly moving away from it to go to the RPC instead. My SO is still on crutches and is not allowed to put weight on her right foot, but we really wanted to go with her. We managed to organize a wheelchair and wheeled her around. Which was hard work, the insides of my hands are still a bit raw from the rough handles of the chair. So far so good.

We took the train to Cologne and when arriving there, I went to a store in the train station to buy some water. Only my wallet was missing. I had still had it in my pocket at home, so what happened? I had gotten out a lot of cash to spend at the convention, so that was a real bummer right there. I was hoping that it maybe fell out of my jacket pocket while parking the car at the train station or that I simply forgot it at home. Fast forward to the solution: no, it wasn’t at home. Or in the car. My only guess now is that someone from the people getting onto the train used the opportunity of me helping with the wheelchair to pick my pocket. Damn rogues! It’s pretty shitty. It contained pretty much everything. My debit card, my credit card, health insurance, ID card, etc. Plus some rare pictures of my SO that I will likely never get back. Pish on the cash, that’s not the worst. I am now waiting for a new debit and credit card and have to get new pictures taken for all the rest. Ugh.

We still went to the convention anyhow, because we already had tickets and were determined to have fun. Now, I have never been to a con where there were so many people in costumes as this one. The convention itself is a pretty weird mix. It’s about role-playing in all forms which comes out as four interest groups: LARP, Cosplay, Pen&Paper RPGs and MMOs. The last bit is a bit weird to me. There was a lot MOBA stuff going on, plus large booths for ESO and FFXIV. The FFXIV area looked quite busy, but we could have played if we wanted to.

We spent a good amount of time outside. Around the convention center was a medieval fair, with lots of leatherwork, more LARP weapons, people whacking on each other with nerfbats, and a large stage with bands. When we were out there it was mostly a Swedish pirate band. There was a lot of Ahoy going on, let me tell you. There were also birds there for a falconry show. They had the most adorable tiny owl I have ever seen and I really wish I had taken a photo. In general, I should have taken a lot more photos.

The Swedish band Ye Banished Privateers

The Swedish band Ye Banished Privateers

Food was terribly overpriced, IMHO, even though a lot of it looked utterly delicious. Our friends had pork skillets that were charred and juicy. We also got curly fried potatoes on a stick which were…okay. They could have been a bit crisper than they actually were. We also managed to sample a lot of delicious kinds of mead and bought a bottle of cherry mead. I normally don’t drink stuff like that, but the cherry mead is incredibly tasty.

Look at the fierce monster devouring her potatoes!

Look at the fierce monster devouring her potatoes!

My friends had a great time, which surprised me, because there was a certain amount of trepidation initially. They’ve never played pen&paper before I asked them, but seriously, they’re giant nerds. I knew they would be fine. Especially my friend and co-worker Anika really got into the spirit of the thing by being dressed up in a long black velvet dress with a corset. She then got herself some creepy contact lenses that freaked me out for the rest of the day, and looked as if she goes to fantasy cons just about every weekend.

Does she look like a Steampunk pro or what?

Does she look like a Steampunk pro or what?

I haven’t really ever thought about LARPing, but there were tons of cool booths for that. You could watch people making foam weapons or armor, and there was a dazzling array of lethal-looking weapons light as a feather. Really cool stuff. There was also more realistic weaponry like beautiful wooden longbows. Anika plays a gnome ranger in our game, so we made her shoot a longbow. What can I say, she’s talented. She didn’t hit the bullseye, but she came close.

Now she only needs to shrink and have wilder hair to be a real gnome ranger.

Now she only needs to shrink and have wilder hair to be a real gnome ranger.

On the pen&paper gaming front, I was a bit disappointed. I felt that tabletop gaming was overshadowed by LARP and Cosplay. Ullisses, the German publisher of Pathfinder, Battletech and tons of other games, including their major game DSA, Germany’s biggest pen&paper system, had a large booth. I would have been interested in testdriving the Pathfinder Adventure Card game, but there wasn’t time for that. We also wanted to look at minis and I hardly saw any. I wish there had been more vendor booths, as I don’t get a chance to support local gaming stores much. I did manage to buy something cool though, a D3 at the Chessex booth. It looks like a lovely ruby pebble. I love it. :)


We only managed to sit down for one game, Love Letter. I had read great reviews about it, and know there’s a Munchkin version, Munchkin Loot Letter. The other three were at another booth and my SO and I were taking a break at a boardgame booth. We were just starting to check out Love Letter when another couple popped in, eager to try. The game supporter explained the rules and off we went. My verdict was that it was good, but not as amazing as all the reviews make it out. It’s a cardgame with strong memory elements. You should always know what cards your opponents have to play most efficiently. It was fun. Just not as a 2 player game, for just 2 people it felt terrible. Needs four for maximum fun, I think.

Newsflash: Pathfinder Goblin scared off by mighty wheelchair knight!

Newsflash: Pathfinder Goblin scared off by mighty wheelchair knight!

All in all we all loved it. You could spend hours just watching people and I saw lots of great costumes. There were quite a few WoW cosplays. A very nice Crest of Lordaeron shield! The obligatory blood elf paladin in full Judgment armor, etc. The most outstanding, cool costumes were of people in steampunk gear, which makes me long to GM the Zeitgeist adventure path even more. I was most impressed by the booth of the Amt für Aetherangelegenheiten, which is a German steampunk webseries that looks pretty ambitious. I will have to start watching that. But seriously, too many awesome costumes to name. A good time was had by all, and I think this is going to be an annual thing for us now. Only next year we’ll have to convince at least our other resident nerd and comic book lover Manuel to come along and have fun.

I watched a predator stuffing roasted almonds up its nose. It was hilarious.

I watched a predator stuffing roasted almonds up its nose. It was hilarious.

But next year I’ll actually go to workshops, shows and play more games. Rar!

by Kadomi

By Friday, Life has killed me

At least that’s what it feels like today. For those who don’t appreciate him as much as I do, this is a quote from Morrissey.

Today is the first day that the daily blogging deal feels like an impossible task, so expect a lot of random blabbering today. It’s been a short work week, with a public holiday on Thursday, Ascension Day. However going back to work for just today made today incredibly draining. The holiday itself was very relaxing. I managed to squeeze in reading, comic books, video games and watching Netflix all in one day, while also having kickass barbecue for dinner. Not bad!


shadow-and-boneI recently started reading The Scar by China Miéville and after about 30 pages in decided that it goes back on the to-read shelf. It’s not that the setting isn’t exciting. When I read Perdido Street Station, I already had much love for the vibrant steampunk setting. However, I just cannot deal with the language right now. It’s like a thesaurus threw up all over the place. It’s too much for me right now. I moved on to The Quantum Thief which in weirdness is right up there with China Miéville’s work. It’s science fiction and despite being 10% in, I really haven’t understood anything about what’s going on. Yet, I want to keep on reading because it’s interesting. How that goes together, I don’t know. While I am talking about books, I want to recommend a series, The Grisha, starting with Shadow and Bone. It’s YA fantasy, which I often stay away from because of all the tired tropes, but this one’s really fantastic. Set in a fantasy pseudo-Russia with a king instead of a czar, it’s the story of Alina Starkov, an orphan who has joined the military. Ravka has been split into two parts by something called the Shadow Fold, an area of impenetrable darkness full of monsters. While trying to cross it with the army on a trip, it is discovered that Alina is a grisha, a mage, and she has a very rare power that is supposed to be able to remove the darkness. It’s a bit as if Harry Potter was an older teenage girl who settles down at the Ravka version of Hogwarts. There’s a love triangle, of sorts, because duh, YA fiction, but I didn’t find it grating. The setting and the plot were fantastic. I can’t wait to read the next two books and the novellas.

Comic Books

sagaThis is a new obsession, and might be my downfall. I got my hands on a couple Pathfinder comics, which led to experiments with my Nexus 7 tablet to use it for reading them. I have been trying to use the Nexus much more as reading device, but to be honest, a 7″ is very small for reading PDFs on it. I have to zoom a lot, which doesn’t make for a great reading experience. So I was doubtful about reading comics on the tablet. Syncing Comic Rack from my PC to the tablet was amazingly easy and quite cool. I have a bunch of DRM-free comics and Comic Rack is really amazing to organize them on my PC, much like Calibre for my e-book collection. Reading the comics on the tablet was a joy, unlike with PDFs, they have a perfect size. I rarely ever had to zoom. Then I pondered how to actually get more comics. I bought the first Saga book in London last year, and really would like to read it every issue. So off to Comixology I went, and really was blown away how easy it is to buy comics, and then read them. It has something called Cinematic Reading experience, which means you don’t get the full page but rather it switches from panel to panel, always following the flow of the story. It’s fantastic, and I am loving it.

Here’s some comics I have been reading:

  • Pathfinder Vol.1 – Pathfinder’s iconic heroes are investigating unusual goblin activity near a small town on the Lost Coast of Varisia: Sandpoint. That sounded awfully familiar to the start of the Rise of the Runelords campaign, and there is some overlapping. I enjoyed the story of volume 1, but wouldn’t recommend the series for the comics alone. The artwork is terrible. In some panels Valeros looks like Wolverine, Merisiel has creepy spider eyes, and seriously, the iconics look different in every single panel. In some panels you can’t actually tell what the fuck is happening. Disappointing. However, I would still recommend the comics for the Pathfinder content. Every issue has a section with game info. There are detailed encounters, and maps, and NPCs, tons of stuff for any Rise of the Runelords GM to dump into their games as side treks if they want to spice it up. They range from low-level stuff to really high-level encounters in the final comic.
  • Saga – what a blast this series is. Imagine Romeo and Juliet in space, eloping together, having wild sex and then having a baby, and they’re being hunted down for it by various factions. It’s a space opera with dollops of fantasy and interesting characters. Content’s a bit spicy, so expect to see lots of sex and not just boobs but dicks, the horror! It’s up to 28 issues now, and I am going to catch up, if it kills me. Just bought issue 15, woot.
  • Aphrodite IX – I only grabbed that because it was free. Is there a lot of free stuff on Comixology? I just don’t know! 😮 I really enjoyed the art style so much. It’s set on post-apocalyptic Earth, with two groups of survivors. Genetically modified folks on the one hand and cybernetically enhanced on the other. There’s also dragons, and of course Aphrodite IX herself, a sort of cybernetic assassin who is found by one of the dragon dudes. I would read more of that!
  • Other comics to read: Rat Queens, and all of my Fables comics. I have a lot of them. Plus more Pathfinder. Recommendations welcome!


I don’t really find a lot of time to play games at the moment. It’s not as bad as it is for Liore, but sometimes I don’t know how to get gaming into my life. I put FFXIV on the backburner because of lack of time. Sometimes I sit here and want to play games, but then something else comes up or I change my mind. I mostly play two games at the moment. Candy Crush Soda Saga doesn’t count, does it? Ahem. Yeah, games. On the PS3, I am currently playing Uncharted 3. I consumed the first two games like an addict, and I will say that Uncharted 2 is the most cinematic experience I ever had playing any game. I thought it was Tomb Raider, but noooo, Nathan Drake wins that title. Uncharted 3 has been fantastic too, but it’s not quite as awesome as the second game. Also, I think it’s harder or I just suck more. The amount of times I die is absolutely ridiculous. I am currently in Chapter 16, and I just cannot get past this one checkpoint.

Will I ever reach this goddamn airport? I really don't know.

Will I ever reach this goddamn airport? I really don’t know.

You are supposed to reach a plane on the airport, and there’s a checkpoint where the game strongly hints at a stealthy approach. Well, guess what, I suck at stealth, apparently. I failed after killing two dudes and since then have been fighting the same hordes over and over again. It’s always a grenade or those heavy armor shotgun assholes or the goddamn rocket launchers taking me out. I wanted to fling the gamepad against the wall, seriously.

It was a Sierra game, hah!

It was a Sierra game, hah!

The other game I am playing was released in…1999. Wow, I feel old. I first got Pharaoh in the year I met my SO, heh. It’s a city-builder, and the damn finest one, if you ask me. Back in 2000 I got fairly far, but then stopped playing, I don’t even know why. Now I have gone back and I want to beat it. However, just like MMOs it’s also a game that’s quite time-intensive. You have to build monuments, lots of mastabas and pyramids and realistically, they take years of game time to build. There’s a lot of micro-managing you have to do, because if you don’t export enough goods, you run out of money, but if you export too much, your people move out very quickly. I always enjoyed it because it’s wonderfully linear. Developing your housing means you have to meet all the needs in order, and it’s a joy to see your meager shanties turn into glorious estates. There’s a reason it’s got fantastic reviews on GoG, so if you are into city-builders at all, check it out.

Friday 5: The Five Games I want to play the most in 2015

  1. The Last of Us – it’s one of the reasons I wanted a console, because watching a Let’s Play was not good enough for me. Just waffling if I should wait until I have gotten a PS4 or get it for the PS3.
  2. Dragon Age: Inquisition – yeah, I know. I already own this game. I am about halfway through even. But I want to play this on a console instead and that means starting over. Sometime.
  3. Lethis – Path of Progress – never heard of it, have you? Neither had I, until I daydreamed about how it would feel to play a modern game like Pharaoh or Zeus. Lethis has been greenlit on Steam, and is pretty much a Pharaoh clone in a strange steampunk setting, and it looks fantastic. I’ll buy it!
  4. Uncharted 4 – I fully intend to buy a PS4, just for this game.
  5. Pillars of Eternity – it’s massive, and it’s oldschool, and hopefully I can get my hands on it and actually have the time to play it.

How about everyone else, any games you are waiting for?

by Kadomi


Sometimes I feel like I have to turn in my nerd card, because I have not jumped on what others are wholeheartedly embracing. I have never helped crowdfund a game or item using Kickstarter. The only reason I have a Kickstarter account is because I submitted a request to take a Kickstarter for that creepy dating advice for dudes book down.

Now, I know some fantastic games or RPG items have come to exist because people threw their money at the projects. I even own quite a few of them. Shadowrun Returns is in my Steam library, for sure, and it’s a wonderfully oldschool game of one of my favorite RPGs settings ever. I fully intend to buy Pillars of Eternity, which looks to be fantastic and I am totally keeping my eyes on Torment: Tides of Numenera. I am really interested in Numenera as RPG system, and combining this with a Planescape: Torment style game? Awesome. I bought Green Ronin’s Advanced Bestiary for Pathfinder, which is supposed to be an outstanding book assisting in making monsters more challenging and exciting with new templates. I’m happy to give all these developers my money. Once the product has been finished.

shut-up-and-take-my-moneyKickstarters, especially when it comes to video games, often remind me of Early Access and Paid Alpha games. You are really placing your faith and your money in games that either don’t actually exist yet, or still need so much development time that your early access means you are a beta tester who pays for the privilege. By wholeheartedly embracing Early Access games like that, the amount of games like that increases because why not? Precious money to pump into further development. But what if the money is being squandered away? What if the game you helped fund never actually materializes? What if it’s actually quite crappy? What, if this article is absolutely correct, and on Kickstarter, everyone is Peter Molyneux, promising the world and delivering very very little? It’s been a while since it was published, but I thought the Peter Molyneux interview on RPS was absolutely fascinating.

There are also plenty of Kickstarters out there regarding tabletop RPG stuff, and those, I am generally more positive about. For one, they have far lower development costs than video games, and thus, you can also expect to hold the results in your hands much earlier. I think I would happily have supported the World of Calidar Kickstarter, because I looooved Mystara, and I cannot state enough how much I am wowed by the ZEITGEIST adventure path. And yet, I much prefer finished goods. Which is why I decided that instead of crowdfunding I would prefer crowdsupporting.

Barbarian swan, totally raging.

Barbarian swan, totally raging.

I am a great admirer of Raging Swan Press. It’s a very small publisher of mostly Pathfinder-related RPG sourcebooks and adventures. Mostly GM aids, really. There’s a lot of free stuff, e.g. their monthly series called GM’s Monthly Miscellany. A few months back I mailed their head (who has a great RPG blog too!) a couple questions on how to best tie their adventures together if you wanted to run them as a campaign, and he responded very helpfully. I mentioned to him if there were maybe plans for a subscription, because they release very regular content, and I really enjoy my adventure subscription I have from Paizo. He mentioned he was thinking about it, and a short time later, their website announced they now have a Patreon.

I think Patreon in general is far less known than Kickstarter, but maybe that was just me. The first time I ever consciously heard about Patreon was when WoW Insider died to be reborn like a Phoenix as Blizzard Watch. They use a Patreon to finance the new site, and it appears to be really successful. Unlike Kickstarter, you don’t just throw your money at a project but you commit to support something with a monthly payment. I can put my money behind such a concept, and I do.

Some Patreons have different backer levels, much like Kickstarter, and they set Milestones to reach to meet their goals. Raging Swan Press created their patron ultimately to be able to pay their freelancing authors more money. Creighton Broadhurst laid out how hard it is for 3rd Party Publishers for RPGs like Pathfinder or D&D to actually make a profit on their products. It’s a niche market in the first place and if it doesn’t say Paizo or Wizards of the Coast on the book, it’s even more of a niche. Because of the Patreon, RSP’s freelancers now get 3 cents a word. That’s still very little, but better than before. I back the Patreon by supporting every new game supplement with 2 USD. As RPS is very prolific, I capped my monthly contribution, and because of my backing level I get all the products that would cost less than 2.45 USD. Which is a lot of them, so it’s basically the subscription I had originally wanted.

I found once you jump down the Patreon well, it becomes increasingly easy to support other endeavors. I am also pledging money to EN World’s Trailseeker, because I love the concept of printing out articles and have something that comes close to my beloved DRAGON and DUNGEON magazines from the past. I am also pledging some money to because it’s by far the best Pathfinder System Reference Document out there.

I realize that I am comparing apples to oranges, really. On Kickstarter you help fund massive projects, whereas on Patreon you help support content creators. The latter is far more ideal for bloggers and tabletop RPG creators. I just find the latter more appealing because it feels far more personal and there are immediate results. I am far happier buying fully released and financed computer games.

How about you guys? Am I really the only nerd girl who has never backed anything on Kickstarter? :)

by Kadomi

MMOs: Why WoD was a 3-monther for me

Ouch, that's a steep drop

Ouch, that’s a steep drop

I briefly touched on why I am not playing WoW at the moment. When I purchased the expansion and started playing WoD, I expected it to be similar to MoP, which I played from its launch day in September 2012 pretty much consistently until late December 2013 when Siege of Orgrimmar and general fatigue set in for me. That’s a decent run. WoD on the other hand I played from November until late February, early March. Three months. I have to say, I wasn’t surprised when I heard about the steep decline, losing nearly 3 million players. Now, I am certainly not saying that I am the typical WoW player, but I can at least explain why I left.

WoD’s leveling experience is probably one of the most refined and enjoyable experiences out there. I enjoyed most zones (I ultimately didn’t care for Nagrand much) and thought WoD made it easy to have your character feel involved. That was until I experienced the Garrosh finale, which was disappointing, to say the least. Effin’ green Jesus. Now that I have played FFXIV where your character is the shining superstar, no question, WoW’s approach to have you be the underling to NPCs who will always inevitably be greater than your character seems a bit grating. So, for what it’s worth, the 6.0 content was quite stellar. My shameful secret: I patched 6.1 but didn’t once login to play it. Not a single thing in the patch notes had me excited in any shape or form. Not a single thing.

I am not playing WoW anymore because WoD’s approach to endgame failed to appeal to me in the long run. Leveling alts is a chore because of the garrison. Focusing on a main and not having alts has me ending up twiddling my thumbs. My average WoW playing day turned out to be: log in Kadomi, my warrior who sadly didn’t work out as main. Do garrison stuff. Log in Yatalai, my MOP main. Do garrison stuff. Go farm traps in Nagrand for Savage Bloods to pimp my main. Log in Yacoran, my WoD main. Do garrison stuff. Do the weekly campaign quests. Look at the apexis crystal gear, roll my eyes in disdain. Half-heartedly farm legacy raids for transmog gear. Btw, farming legacy content for transmog and mounts is not my idea of brilliant content. Two nights a week get excited about being able to raid with the guild. Once a week deal with the pain that is LFR. Done.

5-mans are a joke. Not because they are faceroll easy, but because aside from achievement runs they offer ZERO incentive to run them. They’re entirely obsolete as a step in the gear treadmill, and they’re not enjoyable enough to be happy to run them with strangers for the fun of it. Hell no. Have you ever done Grimrail Depot as healer with a group that had no idea how mechanics worked nor cared? Have you ever been forced to wall-jump in the Everbloom to skip trash because that’s all everyone wanted to do?

I do miss my shiny cow. Holy paladins are my favorite healers since TBC days.

I do miss my shiny cow. Holy paladins are my favorite healers since TBC days.

Pike, who is back to WoW blogging (read her blog, her posts are so enjoyable and make me wish I enjoyed WoD as much as she does without lecturing others about it), wrote a post that reverberated with me, about lack of goals to chase. My only huge exploration was to achieve the Ahead of the Curve cheese for the first raid tier. Yet I didn’t have the patience to stick with it. Apologies to my guild. It’s not because I didn’t enjoy the WoD raiding. I thought Highmaul was fun. It had a nice difficulty curve culminating in Imperator Mar’gok, one of my favorite fights ever to heal through. I love mechanics-based encounters and Imperator certainly was. I got to kill a couple heroic bosses in Highmaul too, and overall really enjoyed my time as a healer. Not so much as a melee DPS, I’ll tell you that. But if all you have left that’s enjoyable in the game are 5-6 hours of raiding and the rest makes you loath yourself for wasting your time idling in your garrison when you could be doing so much else that’s fun (watch Netflix, play other games, read a book or even the newspaper), that’s not time and money well-spent.

I killed Gruul in BRF, and none of the other bosses. It didn’t feel as fun as a zone to me as Highmaul was. Maybe that was just me.

When I stopped playing WoW, I didn’t mean for it to be a permanent break. I wanted to be back for more content. Quality content. Just a short break until 6.2 brings the goods. I changed my mind however. Let me quote the sentence that settled it for me from Wowhead’s 6.2 guide to Tanaan Jungle: Tanaan Jungle, an improved version of the Timeless Isle, is filled with quirky treasures and rare spawns that drop toys and gear. No. Just no. I realize this is not my first farewell to WoW post. The last time I whined and bitched about why I was done with WoW in 5.4, I stated that I cannot stand Timeless Isle. Never has a concept bombed as much for me as it has on that blasted isle. I realize that WoD is full of Timeless Isle content. All the treasures and rares, it’s Timeless Isle all over again. But while leveling, and even later, it’s optional. It’s not all there is. It’s not compelling content. Within a short amount of time, you will have a Handy Notes update that will lead you to all treasures and rares. There is no more true exploration in WoW. I mean, there’s probably going to be a vendor eventually to buy a Tanaan Jungle treasure map from, for those who frown upon addons. From what I hear there’s another story campaign, so yay, one interesting quest a week. Really? Other than that, it’s grinding mobs to get more apexis crystals and a currency to do missions? Plus improved Timeless Isle style content. YAY! Except not for this girl.

Now you are just bitter and mean, Kadomi, some might say. I will say, kudos to you who are still enjoying WoW. It’s good that you still dig it. Surely, 7.1 million people still seem to do that, that’s a lot of people. Just don’t begrudge people who are not having fun with the streamlined, bloodless world that is Draenor, once the nostalgia wrapper is peeled off. This Reddit post lists several other great reasons why I am not enthralled with WoD.

If you are interested in reading more takes on the subscription drop, the outstanding Rohan is always a good read, and so is Azuriel. I never thought he’d go back to WoW.

Which leads me to a final point I want to make. We don’t know when the next expansion will drop. Knowing Blizzard, they will hype everyone up for it at the next Blizzcon, making it the biggest brainwashing cult hype train in the world people actually pay money for. People will be so pumped for it, they’ll happily cash out another year until the next expansion launches. In the meantime, Blizzard always comes up with a fancy trick to keep people paying for game. I really resent that. I probably shouldn’t, but it feels like playing dirty with loyal customers, offering very little at high gain for themselves. First, it was the Annual Pass, tiding people over from the Cataclysm BlizzCon until MoP launched. It kept people distracted with a mount and free D3, and I had TONS of friends who went for it. Between MoP and WoD, they dangled the carrot with the pre-order offer of the boosted character. Again, I know tons of people who immediately went for the pre-order for the character boost and then stuck with it. Why? I really don’t know. I pre-ordered about 2 weeks before WoD for the boost as well, but at least I didn’t raid Siege of Orgrimmar for a year. The dangling carrot from WoD to whatever’s next for now seems to be the WoW token. I have enough gold to buy like 12-15 tokens, and I still might pick up some, for later use. But why, really? If the final patch is already in sight with 6.2, and no other plans have been revealed, I’ll pass.

I really feel when it comes to content cycles, Blizzard should really take heed of what Square Enix are doing with FFXIV.

I will say, those three months, WoD? They were quite fine. You were a fantastic three-monther. Nothing more, nothing less.

by Kadomi

My Belghast Experiment

blockIn case you haven’t really noticed it, the Newbie Blogger Iniative has started again. It’s an annual event in May when seasoned MMO bloggers provide advice for people looking to break into blogging. I have participated in the past, but am not officially this year, because seriously, my blogging track record is less than stellar and has been for a while. I haven’t consistently blogged since I quit the WoW blog, and that was in early Cataclysm days. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just not working out the way I want it to.

But then Belghast inspired me. He’s been blogging actively every single day for years now. He’s participating in the NBI of course. He just posted something that really hit the spot for me, as far as blogging advice goes: Finding your time. What’s changed for me since Tank like a Girl days are my life circumstances. From 2003 til 2011 I was working tech support and between calls you had all the time in the world to be creative. I was working in an environment full of WoW players, I was really enthusiastic about the game, and I was able to blog at my perfect time, which is late morning, early afternoon. It’s when I am most creative, and also get the most work done.

Things changed. I got laid off. WoW ceased to be my central hobby. Sure, I keep going back to it, but it’s never something that fills me with the crazy fervor to type up gearlists, write addon reviews and help others with being awesome. I wasn’t able to blog at my next job, a job that I wasn’t particularly good at to begin with. I got laid off again. I was unemployed for 8 months, half of which were spent in training course that was pointless. Then I had a part-time job that was afternoons-only. There went my blogging window. Now it’s 2015, I have been at my current full-time job for 1.5 years, and I am so busy that I can’t even look at Twitter, much less blog.

It’s not that I don’t want to blog. When daydreaming at work, or driving home, I have fantastic ideas for blog posts. Very briefly, work was slow enough that I actually wrote draft ideas into Evernote, at least working titles. At the moment we are so swamped that I don’t have time for that. I still play games. PC games, console games, MMOs. Since I started playing pen&paper RPGs again, my life is nerdier than ever. I read a ton of books, and really want to review them all here as well. I now have a Netflix sub and watch more great TV shows as well. I am just not finding my time.

By the time I am home from work, I don’t want to sit down and write blog posts. A full post takes me an hour minimum, if not longer. After work, I want to lounge on the couch, play Candy Crush Soda Saga for a while (sue me), and do something relaxing. Now that I am in my 40s my interest in PC gaming is waning, because I would much rather sit on the couch in comfort than spend hours at my desk. Then there’s dinner to cook, my SO would like to spend time with me, the kitties have demands and bam, it’s bed-time.

Belghast found his time by writing in the morning before work. That is absolutely impossible for me. I hate getting up early, and am really pressed for time. I get ready for work in about 30 minutes, there’s absolutely no way that I would get up at 6 am or earlier to be able to blog. The only window I have available is the time after I get home. Once I sit down, I’ll never get up again to blog.

So here’s my grand, Belghast-inspired experiment: I will blog daily, from today, until Sunday. I will blog after work. I will get a post out before 8 pm Central European Time, 2 pm EST, every day, with the final day of the project being the exception, because I am going to a convention I want to blog about that day. It involves meeting Kristian Nairn aka Hodor, so be jealous!

If things work out, I’ll fall into a steady rhythm and will have my mojo. I might continue to blog every other day, or maybe even daily, who knows? In the worst case, we’ll just go back to me blogging every other month, about my WoW yoyo patterns, whatever. I really really want to blog more about Pathfinder, which is currently probably my biggest creative passion. Here’s to hoping it works out, and sacrificing an hour every time will not be too much to ask of lazy me.