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Video games, pen&paper RPGs and other nerdery

State of the Kadomi, October 15 edition

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Time flies by, and now it’s been two months since I last posted. Not for lack of nerdy endeavors, just for lack of making time to sit down and write. As always I’ll strive to be better, so here’s what I am currently doing:

MMOs:

I don’t know what happened, but after I hit level 59 in FFXIV, I stopped playing. Playing MMOs is a weird thing for me, because I have this thing with being very enthusiastic about games, and then suddenly dropping them like a hot potato when I reach the point of losing interest. It’s happened with so many games. WoW, Rift, SWTOR, just about every MMO I have ever touched, going from super-bouncy to not wanting to play. It’s really weird. I have no logical explanation for this. I had just gotten the quest for the Great Gubal Library, which is one of the most fun dungeons in the game, from what I have heard. I have hugely enjoyed Heavensward content. The zones are utterly gorgeous, and I took many many screenshots. If there’s one flaw with the zones, it’s that Sea of Clouds is no fun to navigate without flying, but because of the different levels and altitudes of the zone, the compass is next to useless when it comes to locating aether currents.

For the uninitiated, Heavensward introduced flying to FFXIV. To unlock it, you have to locate aether currents in each zone and do a mix of main story quests and side quests. I know some people hate it, but I thought it was absolutely fantastic. It gives you huge incentive to explore the entirety of each zone, without making quests too easy, as you usually require the final story quest of a zone to unlock flying. It means you’re basically done with the zone as far as it comes to leveling, but will enjoy the ease of flying when you return to complete hunts, e.g. or level your alt jobs.

Churning Mists, basically The Netherstorm in green with tons of dragons

Churning Mists, basically The Netherstorm with bits of greenery with tons of dragons

As far as story goes, the final story patch leading into Heavensward was absolutely outstanding, and Heavensward story has topped it even more. As far as story goes, they’re really knocking it out of the ballpark. So yeah, I am loving everything about Heavensward, am one level away from max level, have not made one negative experience in groups, and if I have any beef, it’s that leveling as a healer first without any DPS job is pure agony. There, I said it. Just the thought of questing and using Stone III over and over again to slowly kill stuff, while thinking I should really have picked scholar/summoner instead of white mage, maybe that’s why I haven’t logged in again for a while.

And then there’s Wildstar. Once upon a time, I was so pumped for this game that I thought I would be turning this place into a Wildstar blog. I blogged regularly about it, got linked on Reddit, and loved it. Then in the 30s on my stalker, the situation described above happened, and I went from hot to cold. I wasn’t the only one, and so pretty much every blogger I know went back to playing other games, especially when Warlords of Draenor was released. The game struggled, stuck with design issues from a time when playing MMOs catering to hardcore players instead of the many casual players of today was the norm. It transferred to F2P on September 29, and once I heard the news, I was determined I would at least dip my toes in again.

There’s a lot that was streamlined with the relaunch. When creating a character, you no longer have to do the first 3 levels on-ship if you’re a veteran. The stats that were confusing were removed. They added a new intro dungeon, and generally made the game more approachable, I think. Everything I loved about it is still there: addon support, fun stuff like shiphands (now called expeditions). I played Fragment Zero, a newer expedition, and it’s ridiculous how much fun that is. They made Espers actually able to be mobile, and there’s an intro quest to offspecs for healing and tanking.

I love Wildstar combat. Especially after playing FFXIV, it’s so fresh and exciting! I re-rolled a spellslinger, because I wanted a fresh start, and am having a lot of fun with my chua on Jabbit. Haven’t gone back to join the guild I was in back then, though I know the offer would be there. I have to see if this game sticks first. At the moment, I am excited about it, but I’ll know more a month from today. Their F2P model rocks though. I tried SWTOR once after their transition, and hated all the obvious restrictions. I don’t feel that at all in Wildstar. Which might bite them in the ass, if no one actually spends money, but we’ll see.

Video Games:

When I am not playing an MMO, I am currently playing two games: The Banner Saga on my PC, and Life is Strange on my PS3.

I don’t think I am good at the Banner Saga and people keep dying on me. For a while my caravan was traveling without any food and morale was terrible. A truly devastating feeling. I enjoy the story, and the art style is absolutely gorgeous. The turn-based combat is definitely more fun than King’s Bounty, but still, I don’t think I am very good. It’s a good game full of story-decisions, but you have to enjoy the combat-style. There’s also a mobile version, I can easily see that being excellent on a tablet.

Life is Strange is the episodic adventure by Dontnod, the studio that released Remember Me, a game I love, but which wasn’t a huge commercial success. Freed from the predicament of including combat in their game, Life is Strange explores one facet that was already prominent in Remember Me: what if you could change time? In Remember Me, you were able to change people’s memories of the past to change events. In Life is Strange, you play Max, a senior at Blackwell Academy, a prestigious high school with an art program in the fictional Oregon town Arcadia Bay. In the first episode, Max finds out that she has the power to rewind time to change events. At the same time, she gets sucked into events in Arcadia Bay, with a missing girl who also went to Blackwell, another student who got drugged and other sinister things. It’s got dark themes: drugs, sexual abuse, abortion, and yet there’s always a hint of the supernatural going on. In that way, it feels very Twin Peaks. And I love Twin Peaks. But it’s also very touching, in the vein of Gone Home. Max is a teenage girl, with issues of a teenagers, with teenage friends. Her best friend Chloe is kind of a shithead, but I still find their interactions so very unique in a video game. It’s an exciting series. Usually, I play it and my SO watches as if it was a TV series. I just finished Episode 3 and am still floored by the reveal at the end of the episode. Looking forward to starting the next one.

After playing each episode, I tune in to Felicia Day’s Let’s Play of that episode. I usually don’t do Let’s Plays because I find them totally boring, but this LP isn’t boring whatsoever. Her reactions to events in the game are hilarious and it’s interesting to watch her decisions and different takes. I just wish she didn’t stop playing to play Cook Serve Delicious so often! She’s done five streams so far, and I am looking forward to finishing the game with her.

RPGs:

Once upon a time, I joined the D&D 3.5 game of my SO’s co-worker, which eventually switched to Pathfinder. Then, I started my own Pathfinder campaign with co-workers a year ago, playing monthly (for the most part). But that didn’t satisfy the tabletop itch completely. The pitfall of having two monthly groups is that so much time passes between sessions that you forget where you were in the campaign, and that kills some of the buzz. I try to keep the buzz alive by sending out a summary newsletter to my Runelords group, but something always gets lost. To make matters worse, my players are almost universally new to tabletops, and with each session they forget about abilities their characters have, they forget rules, and it doesn’t flow as well as it could.

When my friend Rach from the UK told me about Critical Role, a Geek and Sundry show of a group of voice actors playing D&D weekly, and how much she would love to play too, the gears in my head started spinning and I had the crazy idea to start a campaign on Roll20, playing every two weeks if all goes well. I asked two Scottish friends of mine if they’d be interested and they were! All of us have a MUSH background, being used to roleplaying online, and this promises a very nice campaign heavy on the RP. Awesome! We had our first session on Friday, and it went fantastically well. I let the group vote on which adventure path to play, from a list of 5 choices I made, and even though I had rooted for Hell’s Rebels, Legacy of Fire, an Arabian-themed campaign, won. Which is also cool. The first adventure, Howl of the Carrion King, is outstanding. Because it was so much fun, I will post about it in more detail on Wednesday, actually keeping a session log.

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I will also try to be better about session logs for Rise of the Runelords. It’s still near and dear to my heart, and I can’t wait to finally conclude Burnt Offerings (maybe in two more sessions) and move on to The Skinsaw Massacre!

To make things even crazier, I was just invited to another Pathfinder game as player, which would make four Pathfinder games. I think my head will explode, but I am also excited. Currently thinking I will play a Magus. We’ll see.

Board games:

My SO is a board game fiend, and would love to play all board games all the time. Me, not so much, at least not competitively. I have come to accept that I am not good at any game that has strategic elements. I suck at RTS, at turn-based strategy, and usually place last playing board games involving strategy. Which is usually fine, I like having fun trying anyhow. It’s a social thing. But I seriously cannot stand playing at home with just my SO and losing every single game because she is a strategic genius. It’s depressing, it’s no fun, and it makes us yell at each other. We have been playing Forbidden Island which is cooperative, and that’s fun. We just picked up Forbidden Desert, which we’ll try for the first time tonight.

We went to a board game meetup in our area last month. They meet monthly in a community center. There, we played Epic, a kickstarted card game in the vein of Magic, but without the trading card component. We played a couple draft games, and I even won one of those. It was a very enjoyable card game, and I could imagine buying a box of it. The meetup was a bit of a sausage fest, with another table of middle-aged guys playing some kind of wargame. But they’re trying to expand a bit and also try to make people play more cooperative games.

We’re also hanging out regularly with a couple now who also love board games (we play Pathfinder with them too), and were introduced to Pandemic. It’s close to how Forbidden Island plays (same author after all) but so much harder, and also so much cooler. We have played two games so far, and haven’t won a single one yet, but it’s been oh so fun. Last game we would have needed one more round to win the game, when a chain outbreak in southeast Asia cost us everything. Aaaaaargh.

We also started playing Mice and Mystics with them, which is a cooperative, light RPG in which you are turned into mice and have to escape some maps as mice, using the special abilities of your character. I was the mage mouse and my SO was the fighter, but we still miserably failed the first map. It’s a sort of campaign where each scenario advances the story. I thought it was incredibly fun and am looking forward to continuing this game on Thursday night. But before we do that, we’ll have to watch Tabletop (Wil Wheaton’s very fun board game Geek and Sundry show) with the Wheatons playing it, because the rules of the game are not written as clearly as they could be.

I have another cooperative card game, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. I bought the second base set, Skull&Shackles, but my SO refuses to play with me. We tried it once and I didn’t get the rules at all, which she hates, and so it was 30 minutes of misery. Then we played it with our friends Anika and Benny, and I still didn’t fully understand the rules, and we lost again. Now my SO only wants to play it again when they play with us, and that hasn’t happened yet. I played two solo games, completing the first two scenarios, and thinks it’s a lot of fun once you actually understand the rules. It combines cooperative action with a bit of the Munchkin kick-in door effect, and getting loot that actually improves your deck is awesome. Note to self: must invite A&B to get to play it again.

If only my SO would play this with me.

If only my SO would play this with me.

Obsidian Entertainment (yes, the people behind KotOR II, Fallout: New Vegas and Pillars of Eternity) are working on a computer version of this game, which I think will be awesome!

Books:

Because I am reading so many Pathfinder source books this year, it feels like I have a lot less time for fiction. I have been reading Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy, for the past couple weeks and just started the final book of that trilogy, Assassin’s Quest. I don’t know why it took me so long to ever read this, it’s absolutely marvelous. If you haven’t read these books, you should! I will need something lighter once I am done with that before I dig into finishing “The Dagger and the Coin” series by Daniel Abrahams.

TV:

I had two weeks off in September, and binged on Netflix shows. Sense8 is the best show I have watched in years. It’s also utterly crazy, and has high potential to jump the shark in more seasons, much like Heroes did after its tremendous first season. Still, it’s hilarious, and touching, and exciting and tense. I love all the characters (with the exception of Riley) but Capheus and Sun are the absolute best! I am so looking forward to season 2.

After that I moved on to Daredevil. I had watched the first episodes with my SO but she bowed out after the scene where the Kingpin slams the car door on some poor guy until brain matter sprays about. At least that’s what she said, I was too busy covering my eyes with my hand. I don’t watch horror movies for a reason and don’t understand people who enjoy them and all their gore. Despite that, I was invested, and finished watching the rest on my own. I think Charlie Cox is outstanding as Matt Murdock, and I really enjoyed all the other characters as well. The show is maybe a touch too slow, some episodes a bit on the boring side. In any case I did enjoy the origin story of Daredevil, and am pretty sure that we’ll see more of the Kingpin in next season.

I am all aboard the Jessica Jones train now. I picked up the first issue of Alias to learn more about her, and she’s a pretty fucked up lady alright. The trailers look exciting, and I like the thought of David Tennant as a villain. Also, Carrie Ann Moss is kissing ladies, I hear. Yeah, I’ll watch that, alright!

And that’s it, for now. I need a time machine that gives me two extra hours each day to blog more often. Or maybe I need to be Max who’s just able to rewind as many times as she wants (until her brain leaks out of her nose).

One Comment

  1. I also have a weird time with MMOs. WoW is the only one I was ever able to really get into. All other MMOs I’ve tried will entice me for a couple weeks or a month, and then I get bored. I’m not sure what it is!

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