As it’s been another month since I last posted, I decided I’ll just go with a State post and might post those more frequently as a thought dump. So, how’s life? I’ve been incredibly busy. I got a promotion at work, hooray, and picked up a new, old hobby. More about that below.
After finishing up Black Flag, I did a quick Twitter poll and was urged to play Kingdoms of Amalur. Maybe it’s my dislike of anything written by R.A. Salvatore (aka the most generic Mary Sue fantasy ever), but I just couldn’t get into this game. Mostly, because I am a snob. The graphics are just unbelievably bad after having played Black Flag. Additionally, the story and the quests just don’t grab me. A Dragon Age they are not, for sure. There’s one chain of quests that I thought were interesting so far, and that’s it. There’s also way too many of them. So many quests. It’s like playing an MMO, just with kinda more boring quests. The combat is fun though. My favorite part. Plays really nicely with my Xbox controller. I intend to finish this eventually, but maybe not with a completionist approach. I felt justified with my ennui about the game when I read Azuriel’s review. I don’t quite understand why so many people recommended it excitedly, maybe I am missing something obvious. I am only 11 hours into the game, so it’s possible.
I am currently wrapping up the last of Remember Me, and am enjoying the hell out of it. More people should play Remember Me. It’s absolutely underrated. I will post a full review asap.
My current plan is to follow it up with either Arkham Asylum or The Witcher 2, in another attempt to play the latter. Now that I am mostly using a controller to play, I think I will have more fun.
I am still not playing MMOs again. I pulled the plug on Wildstar this week, which makes me sad because it was so awesome to be excited about an MMO again. But you can’t turn back the time. If even Blizzard is pulling the plug on future MMOs, it’s maybe a sign. If you want to read some thoughts about the cancellation of Titan, I really enjoyed reading Gazimoff and Spinks’ thoughts on this. Speaking of Spinks, is anyone else excited to see her writing again? I sure am!
I set myself a goal of 50 books this year, and while I was way ahead most of the year, I read a few clunkers that really slowed me down. I wish I could say I read more outstanding books than I did. So far I finished 37 books. Three months left to read 13 more! In September it’s only been two books. The Iron Duke, which was, uh, let’s say, not my usual fare in books. Even the cover screams romance novel and I don’t read those. The book should win the award for ‘Potentially coolest Steampunk setting ever’ and then get booed for being terrible porn wrapped into a decent Victorian-style murder mystery plot. The protagonist is a female Detective Inspector, and there’s lots of travel on airships to exotic settings. There are zombies, the Mongol horde and strange nanotechnology. And smut, let’s not forget the copious amounts of smut. The Iron Duke himself is one of the most unlikeable characters ever. Just ugh. The follow-up is supposed to be better, so I might eventually brave that.
The second book continues my trend of reading alternate history stories set in the United Kingdom. His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik is an enjoyable story set in alternate 19th century, with Napoleon at the helm of the French empire trying to conquer the world. Only in this world, there are dragons on all sides of the conflict as well, being ridden into battle. Our protagonist is Captain Will Laurence, a naval commander who plunders a French vessel with interesting loot in the hold: a dragon egg close to hatching. As the guy chosen to put a harness on the newborn dragon fails in his duty, Laurence goes ahead and thus bonds himself to Temeraire, a rare breed of Chinese dragon. From there, Laurence has to move to training, because they will be needed in the war. Napoleon and his fleet, plus dragons, want to invade, and it is up to the British dragons to stop the invasion. It’s a very militaristic book in its way, but I really enjoyed reading about Temeraire’s training, felt angry at a rider mistreating his dragon and liked to see the inclusion of strong female members of the aerial corps as well. Looking forward to the next book in the series.
I am currently slowly plodding through Empire in Black and Gold. Plodding only because of lack of time and so many other things to distract me. It’s a very traditional fantasy setup, with a questing group of young heroes set up to save the world with the assistance of a wise old master, but with a twist. The world of this series has so called Kinden. Different breeds of humans who all share traits with an insect, which grants them special powers through an Ancestor Art. Fly kinden have wings but are small, beetles are stocky and industrious, spiders are manipulative and political, and often poisonous. Some of the Kinden are Apt, which means they can use technology, which gives this world a distinct Steampunk flavor that is very enjoyable. The Empire in question are the wasp kinden who threaten to invade the lowlands of this world, and only beetle Master Stenwold and his protegees know what the wasps are really up to, trying to stop them.
The world-building as far as the races goes is fantastic. I just wish I had more time.
The bulk of my time has been eaten up my new obsession. I am an obsessive person by nature and when something grabs me, I give it my all and want to do nothing else. For many years this used to be WoW. Right now, it’s my obsession with Pathfinder. A brief history of Kadomi and pen&paper RPGs. When I was 14 or 15, I bought a box I had seen at the toy store: Das Schwarze Auge. It’s the biggest RPG system in Germany. I played it with three female friends from highschool. They thought it was ridiculous, and mocked the story of the module. I was disappointed, I thought it was very cool. Around the time I graduated from highschool, another female friend introduced me to a local game store, and I was in awe. So much stuff like DSA. So many colorful sourcebooks, most of them in English. I picked up AD&D right that day. I picked up the original Forgotten Realms box. I wanted to play. I joined a local game group from the store to just play AD&D as a player, but that didn’t really work for me. I just didn’t connect with the strangers, a bunch of fairly hardcore players. I convinced friends to play with me, and this time it stuck, because my friends were actually interested in fantasy and boardgames now. Eventually the group fell apart though because couples broke up, and the like. Eventually, when D&D 3E was released, I managed to start a new group and tried to run the Wrath of the Immortals box for them. We stopped playing just about 13 years ago. I sold all my books on Ebay and that was that.
Fast forward to earlier this year. A former co-worker and friend of my SO is a dedicated player and GM and has been for many years. He wanted to start a new D&D campaign with folks who are maybe more interested in roleplaying than roll-playing, and asked me and the SO to join them. So we did. We play about once a month, and hence we’re only lowly level 3s. We play halfling twins Euphoria the asocial ranger (my SO) and Discordia, the rogue who is convinced she’s a diplomat because her mentor taught her that’s what she’s doing. It’s fun, and enjoyable, though sometimes the guys in the group like to control the group too much, which I find is a problem. We’ll see how that works out.
Now, I haven’t really set foot into a game store for years. I used to be a Dragon and Dungeon reader, and felt like I was up to what was going on in the RPG world, but that was before I quit. Nowadays, whenever I hear someone talk about RP on Twitter, it’s usually about Pathfinder. So I investigated what this Pathfinder is. I read the PRDs and was blown away you don’t even need a rulebook to play. Then I looked at their adventure paths, and the whole Pathfinder society concept and kinda fell in love. But what to do? I didn’t want to invite my D&D group to play, because a) they’re way too hardcore to a certain degree and b) I think I am not that great a GM. But I make up for poor GM skills (I suck at rules, I really do) with a great ton of enthusiam.
Now, let me wax poetic about my co-workers. In a way I am the luckiest girl ever because the majority of my team is full of nerds. Gamers, fantasy fans, Lego and Star Wars enthusiasts, the list goes on. So first I asked the one co-worker who played the German game, DSA, for a couple of years. Then I asked my SO. Then I asked my co-worker Anika if she and her boyfriend might be interested. Yup, they all were. On a lark I asked my desk neighbor, the Lego enthusiast. He was also keen on it. Then another of my co-workers asked me if he could play too. Suddenly I had six players, with four of them who had never ever played and didn’t even know how it might work. I invited them over to roll characters. I installed a forum for the group and posted tons of information there. It’s on my to-do list to create a Wiki as well, because it’s just easier to do links and cross-references than in a forum. I threw myself into it. I am loving it.
I decided to go with the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path. The Anniversary Edition is really of such high quality, it’s outstanding. It’s really perfect for someone who wants to GM but doesn’t really have the time or skill to write their own adventures or setting. We had our first session 1.5 weeks ago, and we started at 6 pm and played til 2:30 am. I think everyone had a great time. I sure did. I got to sing in a goblin voice, what’s not to love? As expected, I was clumsy with rules, but I think everyone did absolutely fantastic understanding the Pathfinder combat rules and skill checks and all. It was grand. I can’t wait to play again.
Unfortunately our next session will be hugely delayed, as we’ll be in the US for two weeks in October, and everyone’s busy. November 15 seems very far away. Gives me plenty of time to prep though, install a Wiki, test more apps, play around with Hero Lab some more, and be excited all over again. I think you’ll get to read a lot more about this.
Last but not least, we are continuing our Friends marathon in honor of the 10-year anniversary of the show. We’re currently a little over halfway-through with season 6. The alternative history episodes in that season are pretty lame. Looking forward to starting a Netflix trial next month because Netflix just came to Germany, huzzah.
And that’s a wrap.