Monday, June 28, 2010

D&D Log: Session 7

We return back to the Spoony campaign to recap last night’s very eventful adventure. Before I start I must note that Sean was unable to make it due to weather knocking his power out, and Paw was unable to make it as something came up. Alright, back we go.

So last adventure ended with us having killed the Dretch, and escorting Garret out of the tower. We were awaiting word from Sarmanath’s clerics when one night a town guard alerted us to trouble at the Wiggins Farm. We rushed out to find a high elf and his elven squire under attack from orcs (and goblins) and us being the heroes we are, we rushed in to save them. I was NPCing Sean at the time, and I was very cautious about sending Darstine into battle because I didn’t want to get Darstine killed I decided to play it safe for a while until we started to finish off the orcs. Then I had her attack the spell caster, but dude had some kind of mechanism that when you attacked, he got to roll some massive interrupt. Hit Darstine for 21 damage, and the chick only had 27 to begin with. She came damn close to being killed twice, but thankfully with Andraste and Garrett nearby we ended up fine. The battle ended, and we managed to protect and save both the high elf and his elven squire.

We learned that the high elf was a diplomat from the Amber Woods speaking on behalf of the Witch Queen who was giving her response to King Donovan’s suggestion of allying the nations of man together. Had we not intervened who knows what would have befallen the message? Anyway, we offered to act as escorts to the high elf and his vassal, but Grae and Vane were opposed to the idea, mainly because the high elf was such a snooty douche. Vane was obvious because well, he’s Angry Joe, and Angry Joe wants to murder all, but apparently Grae hates all elves which is something I didn’t know about, and is very important later on.

So on our way to Sarmanath we passed the Clerics we sent for. Led by High Cleric Emmitt (no, not Emmitt Smith, Joe) they came to answer our request, so we directed them where to go, and continued to Sarmanath. Just to note, because their players were not there, we left Darstine and Andraste behind in Ahestas to do what they will (likely assist the clerics). Anyway, we arrived in Sarmanath to a royal precession given in honor of our high elf friend. Grae, so disgusted with the high elf diplomat, decided to decline going to the castle, and instead went to the nearby tavern. The rest of us (Vane, Juliet, Garret, and Viktor) went with the high elf to see King Donovan. Inside the castle we were told to give up our weapons, but I kept my totem, and Vane kept his staff posing them as useless objects. Inside the King greeted us with as warm of a welcome as he could, and told us that he would reward us with gold and titles for safely escorting the diplomat. The diplomat then presented Donovan with the scroll containing the Witch Queen’s answer. Donovan opened it, and to our surprise, we had just fallen into the villainess’ trap.

In a flash King Donovan became entrapped in solid amber, and three portals opened up. From two appeared two feral fey hyenas, and from the last appeared a young dragon made entirely of amber. With a cackle appeared the Witch Queen’s form as she laughed at Donovan’s form completely encased in amber. She told him that she would never ally herself with a fool who still bent his knee to a god, and that the only reward a kingdom like this deserved was complete and utter destruction. Alright, recap.

The only players here are Juliet, Vane, Viktor, and Garret. Only Vane and Juliet are equipped. There are six guards in the hallways that may or may not be initially hostile towards us. Beyond that there are two fey hyenas, an amber dragon, the high elf, the elven squire, and the Witch Queen’s avatar. We are royally fucked.

It’s rather surprising how quickly things fall to shit the moment your number advantages disappear, but luckily the guards were on our side. Their first turn they managed to attack the Witch Queen’s avatar which disappeared with her signature cackle. The guards were actually extremely useful, and helped eliminate most of the foes while some of us got stuck with some rather shitty rolls. When things started getting rough, the high elf and the elven squire used some magic bracelet that recalled them presumably back to the Amber Forest, and before long our only remaining foe was the dragon. Yeah, only remaining for, as if it were an easy fight. Although in truth it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. The dragon rolled rather poorly, so while it did manage to KO Garret, Juliet managed to heal him rather effortlessly while the dragon tangled with the guards and Viktor who was rolling on fire during the later rounds. Finally it came down for the final attack, and Lord Vane had been desperately been itching for a good kill. After Skitch botched a Vicious Mockery attack, Lord Commander Vane was up and he attacked and hit. His thunder surged into the dragon, tearing the beast apart and shattering it. At that moment the guards from outside came in to assess the situation. They saw their king trapped in crystal, perhaps dead. They saw the bodies of several dead guards on the floor, and they saw us, weapons raised. They immediately ordered us to drop our weapons.

Garret, Juliet, and Viktor quickly complied. Lord Vane said no. See, for Lord Vane he had just gotten his first big epic kill, and was on a high. In addition he was not friendly to the notion of surrendering and appearing to surrender when we were the heroes. His moment of defiance cost him far more than he expected. He was surrounded by four guards who attacked, and in an effortless string of attacks tore Lord Vane apart. You are not reading that wrong. Lord Vane was killed.

RIP Lord Commander Vane.

The rest of us were arrested, but before I get to that allow me to switch over to Grae for a brief moment. The man is drinking in a tavern when word spreads of the Witch Queen’s betrayal. The news is causing panic in the streets, and a growing anger in the citizens over the death of their king. Now I remind you, Grae apparently hates the elves, and when the news spreads, Grae, a tad drunk, grows irate. He suggests that the elves should be killed—that any elves in Sarmanath have their ears clipped, and any half-elves be under suspicion. He declares they should march on the elves that night, and even has two half-elves sitting in the tavern arrested and put in stockades. Essentially the dude just turned Sarmanath into a WW2 America where we round up the elves into camps. Wow, there is likely going to be a very serious confrontation about this later. If we live to have it though.

Back to our remaining heroes (Viktor, Juliet, and Garret), they were stripped to their underwear and thrown into tiny coffin-like cells to await the judgment regarding our involvement in the king’s demise. We were teased by the lock keeper who was a rather twisted individual who seemed quite eager to torture us, and unfortunately Garret was first up. Without weapons we couldn’t escape, and thinks seemed rather hopeless. Garret was interrogated be Elana, the daughter of King Donovan who seemed confused as to our allegiance, but was now doubting us being allied with the elves. Unfortunately, Talbot the cousin of King Donovan, did not think the same. He ordered Garrett tortured before leaving, and we could only assume tiny would tell before Juliet and Viktor were next. Then suddenly, a terrible scream and roar echoes throughout the chambers with the roar being so intense that it shook the very foundations of the castle. The next moment we hear the lock guard begging for his life before he was violently murdered. Suddenly the doors are ripped off our cells and we see Garrett standing before us with hollow eyes and a savage intensity. Freed from our cells we watched as Garret, in a booming voice, told us that our escape was “through the tombs”. Then he passed out. Woke a moment later without any idea what happened. With that the three of us are free, but we have no idea what’s going to happen. We’re prisoners who are considered to be king killers who have no idea how to escape the castle, and if we even can escape. Once again let’s recap everyone situations.

Juliet, Garret, & Viktor – Half-naked prisoners without any equipment who are under suspicion of killing the king with Garret in particular being possessed by some godly power warning us to escape through the tombs.
Grae – Helping spur on a very violent racial bias against the elves. He’s essentially trying to beat and murder everyone of elven descent, and is even suggesting marching to war against the elves that night.
Vane – Dead.
Andraste & Darstine – Back in Ahestas sipping on beer and playing fucking darts.

I have to say we did a fantastic job of splitting the party which is going to make next session even more interesting.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

One Piece Chapter 589 Rave

I complain about a lot of manga. Everyone knows my hatred of Air Gear, and my distaste for Fairy Tail is starting to become more obvious. Following these you’d assume I dislike manga, or that the medium is chock full of garbage, but that’s not the case. The only reason I harp on titles like Air Gear and Naruto is because there are so many better titles to compare them to. I want to give proper notice to these stories—in fact I want them to garner much more attention that any of the shitty series. So I will take note to really discuss some of the better stories and chapters out there when they come around, and this whole idea is spurred on by the most recent chapter of One Piece: Chapter 589, Sabo’s Ocean.

I love One Piece, and to discuss why I love it in every minute detail would take days. Instead, I’ll just say that One Piece always blows me away with its storytelling. Normally the battle shonen scene is pretty tame in terms of telling a good story, but One Piece never falls into that stereotype, and in fact it’s almost single-handedly changing that negative connotation. The latest chapter of One Piece has served as a full circle in Luffy’s personality, but a change that’s been in the making for years. A common complaint haters state is that Luffy is too stupid. Well, for starters Luffy isn’t stupid, he’s simple, but people dislike that his character simply shrugs off angst. It’s easy to say “well Luffy hasn’t had it so bad in comparison to other shonen heroes”, to justify his lackadaisical nature, but Luffy’s two flashbacks show his life wasn’t “easy”. Sure he didn’t watch his mother get devoured by a demon or his father murdered by an evil king as per the standard with bad anime heroes nowadays, but he did watch his idol have his arm ripped off in an incident that was entirely his fault. That’s pretty heavy stuff, but One Piece has never been a series to let a character mop around. If they do, then someone comes by and kicks them in the bottom, and we’re left with the important lesson that can be summed up in just a few words “this too shall pass”.

Even characters like Chopper, Robin, Nami, and Franky who had some really terrible, heart-wrenching pasts are still gleefully optimistic characters. We see them in their moments of weakness, but these are brief moments that highlight the struggle without dwelling on it. For every character who displays a healthy amount of angst, there are two or three more than dwell on how shitty everything is and are just overall depressing characters. One Piece subverts this by rarely letting characters get depressing, and instead keeps the characters upbeat and fun so that when things do get serious you know that “shit got real”. That’s why Chapter 589 is so important. For 500 + chapters we’ve seen Luffy as a very optimistic, wide eyed adventurer who rarely let the gravity of a situation affect him. The changes to his personality mostly involve going from goofy to serious when a villain crosses his moral event horizon, and until recently I can’t recall a time where Luffy got really “angsty”. That’s what makes this character development so powerful.

We see Luffy, our affable hero, down on his knees, crying about how weak he is. This came after watching his friends become split up and sent away one after another, and then watching his brother get killed. Again, it’s the fact that until these points, Luffy has never shown this kind of emotion before that makes it so meaningful. If Luffy always whined about wanting to be stronger than this chapter’s weight would be miniscule at best, but since we’ve always seen Luffy as this confident, good-natured hero, seeing him broken into a sobbing, broken mess is much more moving. The final page of 589 carries so much weight with only a few lines of dialogue show casing Oda’s skill as both an author, and as a storyteller.

Plus the foreshadowing! My God how much better could Fairy Tail be if Mashima Hiro knew how to foreshadow like Oda? So much in recent chapters has been alluded to for years. The faces on Ace’s hat, the crossed out “S” on Ace’s tattoo, and even the seemingly throw away “I’ll never die” panels at the end of Chapter 574 now carry so much more weight now that we know what they mean in context. Plus I absolutely love the little cameo with Zoro. Pretty much unnecessary, but awesome in the same respect.

I loved this chapter, and the wait until next week is going to murder me. More than that, I’m really looking forward to seeing how Oda gets Luffy back on track. For most mangaka I’d worry, but Oda has proven time and time again that my faith is well-placed in him. For those naysayers out there that ignore One Piece for being too goofy or having a bizarre art-style, I just want to say that you guys are missing out on the best shonen manga series ever. I feel absolutely no bias when I make that claim, and Chapter 589 of the series is perfect proof why I feel that way.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

LOST: The Answers

With LOST over, all I can do is sit and dwell on the show, watch old episodes hoping to spot foreshadowing missed before, and eagerly await the extra scene to be provided in the Season Six DVD. Of course after the finale of LOST the LOST Haters came out of the woodworks to denounce LOST for the piece of shit show it was. They’ll hit on bad storytelling and an overall decision to fuck the audience over with questions they could never answer. Even though time and time again I’ve explained that LOST was never a show about the island but rather the people on it, people assume that means we have no answers. To the contrary. We know most of the stuff about the island, but that’s not the stuff we care the most about. Regardless, I want to try to help alleviate the confusion in many LOST virgins regarding the show’s conclusion and the show’s biggest questions. *SPOILERS AHEAD*

1. Were they all dead and in Purgatory?

No. The island is NOT Purgatory, Hell, Heaven, Nirvana, Val Halla, or any other plane of the afterlife. The big reason people think the island is Purgatory is because the final season included a Flash Sideways world that revealed everyone in it was dead. Purgatory right? Wrong. As said, the final season included TWO storylines. The first was our storyline on the island that followed the adventures of our island survivors. The second storyline seemed to be a “what if” scenario where Oceanic 815 never crashed on the island. It was a puzzling alternate reality that mirrored that on the island but with key differences like Locke was still together with Helen and Sawyer was a cop. Originally we figured this sideways world was created after “The Incident” (an event in the Season 5 story that doesn’t need to be explained here at the moment), but the series finale revealed the sideways world was in fact an afterlife of sorts where those on the island were gathered together so they could meet one last time and conclude their lives before “moving on”.

Not to get too philosophical, but there was no “time” or “place” in this sideways world. We believed it was an alternate reality, but it wasn’t. It was a world the characters met in before moving onto Heaven, or meandering in this sideways world in some cases. People call that Purgatory. It’s not really since Purgatory was a place to be cleaned of Original Sin and this sideways storyline was more so a place where the survivors could say good-bye to each other and give each other closure, but the idea was that it was some form of afterlife. Fine, call it Purgatory and I won’t argue it.

However this sideways world DOES NOT affect the storyline in any way. The way I explain is that you can cut the Flash Sideways completely out of the story and it does not affect the island storyline in any way. It can’t. It’s the afterlife. I know people want to say everyone on the island is dead, but they aren’t. We found out a lot through six seasons of the show, in particular that leaving the island was possible. Just to prove my point: Walt. Walt was a survivor of the original Oceanic 815 crash. He was a young boy who lived with everyone else on the island, but eventually (the end of Season Two), he leaves the island with his father. After leaving the island he lives a normal life. He goes to school, lives with his grandma, and exists in society. People can leave the island and return. The island is not a state of death. If you die on the island you die just as though you died off the island. Shot on the island? No different from being strangled off the island.

People want to believe the island was Purgatory as was a common theory at the start of the show that the creators shot down, but the existence of the Flash Sideways world leads people to believe they were right all along. They weren’t. The island ISN’T Purgatory. I’ll explain my thoughts on the island later, but we have proof the island exists in the mortal world just like New York City and Seoul do.

2. What was the Black Smoke Monster?

I’ll admit, what it is can’t be answered completely, but I will tell you what we know. The Smoke Monster is actually a person. Said person is known solely as “the Man in Black”, and this Man in Black was a human just like you or me. His mother came to the island pregnant, and she gave birth to two sons, Jacob and the Man in Black before she was murdered. Jacob and MIB were raised by a woman on the island (before you ask, no we never find out who she is, but presumably the island has been habitually bringing people to it since the dawn of time, so she’s just like everyone else). Long story short, MIB discovered the truth about his mother and wanted to escape the island, but his mother destroyed his only method of escape. In his anger, MIB killed his mom, and in revenge Jacob tossed MIB into the “Source” of the island which is a brilliant light that seems to symbolize life. MIB went in, but the Smoke Monster came out. MIB is the Smoke Monster, and since then the Smoke Monster has been trying to leave the island.

The Smoke Monster has actually been attempting to manipulate things behind the scenes. His goal is to convince somebody to kill Jacob (something he can’t do as Protectors can place special rules in effect, and Jacob and MIB not being able to hurt each other is one their Mother placed in effect), and we see him trying to perform this task. He’s also selfish, and malicious, hence constantly killing people he deems unworthy. One other thing to note is that MIB believes all men are inherently cruel and sinners. He believes that if you present a man with an option he will always sin and destroy. It’s a trait he picked up from his mom, but it’s important to note because some of his actions are seen as judging. Mr. Eko for example.

Now when I say I don’t know what the Smoke Monster was I mean I don’t know exactly how he was created, or why he takes the form of black smoke. There are hints to these answers, but not enough to base real speculation on it.

3. What was the Dharma Initiative?

I answer this one solely because Howard Stern made such a stink about it. This is simple. The Dharma Initiative is a group of scientists who came to the island to study its unique properties; in particular its bizarre source of electromagnetism. They set up different stations around the island all for varying reasons. Some were scientific (The Swan, the Orchid), some were related to communication (The Flame, the Looking Glass), and some were used for other purposes (The Pearl for surveillance for example). The Dharma Initiative existed at odds with the Others who were people who lived on the island as a home. They maintained a peaceful co-existence for years, but the Others wanted them removed. They got their opportunity in Benjamin Linus who was the son of a janitor in the Dharma Initiative. Ben hated his father, and was told by the Others that if he helped them kill the DI he could become their leader. Thus Ben helped them use poison gas to kill the DI, and the Others assimilated their stations to use for themselves to protect the island. That’s it. Not too complicated.

4. What’s up with the Numbers?

Ah… 4… 8… 15… 16… 23… 42…

These numbers were pretty important in LOST. They were the numbers that Hurley won the Lottery with, and the same numbers that was on the hatch. In addition they were the same numbers that needed to be entered into the computer every 108 minutes (the sum of the above numbers), and in the final season we learned the numbers then coincided with a survivor (4 – Locke, 8 – Hurley, 15 – Sawyer, 16 – Sayid, 23 –Jack, 42 – Jin). So what were the numbers exactly?

We sorta know we sorta don’t. An extra in the DVD reveals the numbers were core values in the Venzetti Equation which was a formula used to predict the end of the world, and the Dharma Initiative was attempting to change one of the values to put off the end of the world. You can accept that answer if you want, but personally I believe they didn’t mean anything. Sounds like a cop-out I’m sure, but LOST always hinted at a variety of themes, but one in particular was Coincidence VS Fate. Most of the show sided with the latter, but really, what if these numbers really didn’t mean that much? We attached so much meaning to theme, but in the end they’re just numbers. Yeah, Hurley won the lotto with those numbers which then had to be added to the computer, but couldn’t this be coincidence? Or rather it’s a string of fate designed to make you believe there’s something more to it, but in truth there isn’t.

It’s up to you. You can believe they are numbers to an equation that tells the end of humanity, or you can choose to believe whatever you want. I don’t believe they were all that serious, but that’s just me.

5. Polar bears on an island? How?

Ugh. When the Dharma Initiative came to the island one of their tests involved seeing how animals reacted to the island. They brought rabbits, sharks, and even polar bears to the island for this reason. At some point in time the polar bears escaped their cages. Because of this they were wandering the island. Mystery Solved.

6. What is the island?

Ah, the real question. What is the island? Well we never got a definitive answer, but we get enough clues to debate an answer. In my opinion the island was a place people came to so they could be tested. Everyone who came to the island was flawed and needed to change in order to be happy. Sawyer was a man obsessed with revenge. The island gave him a chance to get his revenge and learn to overcome his more sinister side. Sayid was a man who believed he was a bad person. The island gave him a chance to prove that even a torturer and an assassin is not defined by his titles but by rather his actions. For Jack it was letting go. For Locke it was his cowardice. For Charlie his addiction. For Claire her fear of motherhood. For Hurley his fear of bad luck. For Bernard his inability to live life and stop worrying. For Eko it was to come to grips with the sins he made in the past. Everyone had a challenge to overcome, and in my personal opinion the island was a place where people could come to change.

For example let’s look at Jack. Coming to the island he was obsessed with fixing everything. His brash nature led him to make poor decisions and he refused to even consider the idea of “faith”. As time went on he continued to butt heads with John Locke over the idea of there being a higher purpose to this island, but when Jack finally left the island he knew he had made a mistake. He returned to the island to “fix” everything, but only ended up making it worse. He finally came to grips with the fact that you can fix everything, and that somethings are left to faith. In the final season he exhibited acts of pure faith, and our Man of Science became the Man of Faith. The island brought out this change in Jack, and finally he could learn to let go. He died happy.

The castaways all suffered this to degrees. Charlie got a die a hero. Jin learned what it meant to truly love his wife again. Sayid learned that a man is defined by his actions. Again this all comes back to the fact the story is about the characters. What is the island? A place for people to come to so they can be tested. What’s the Smoke Monster? A person. What are the numbers? Something for the people on the island to debate about. Hopefully this answered some people’s questions about the show. Look, I’ll admit the show had its faults, but we learned a lot. Much more than I could post here. Are there stuff we don’t know? Absolutely. I still don’t know why pregnant women die on the island or why the Dharma food drops still occur. Maybe we’ll get answers to those in time. Maybe not. Either way, LOST was still one of the most amazing shows on television. Period.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Side Campaign Log: Session 3

Alright, time to return to the wacky adventures of Dubois the Blade, Abaddon thePaladin, and Erik the One Without a Title. After a week we return to our tunnel crawling adventures one member richer as right off the bat our group meets the wizard Racon played by everyone’s favorite Hebrew, JewWario! Yes, I am culturally insensitive. Anyway, JewWario is our Wizard, and with him in tow we set off into the tunnels to locate and murder just about everything we’ve seen. Actually I killed two puddles so I think we actually are killing everything we see. Anyway, our adventure this time was very simple. We explored tunnels, and fought zombies and skulls. And floating armor. And a maw. And a puddle. The holy light of Pelor came in handy in destroying these puddles that are restorative, and Racon’s magic helped destroyed tons of the zombie minions for us, so this came went rather smoothly. Not too much to talk about aside from Spoony becoming upset that chat members called bullshit on his character having empty burlap sacks and vials to store stuff. Throughout the night we heard quite a lot about Spoony’s sacks.

However we did have a small moment regarding our final encounter. After vanquishing a maw and navigating through a tunnel we found a room with four zombies and two dark skulls huddled around another pool of evil regeneration. Dubois, ever the smarmy bastard approached with his same cocky demeanor, but even as he uttered out another badass line Jason told us the skulls didn’t notice. So Dubois takes out his crossbow, and fires. Hit. Kills a zombie. No one notices. Racon is up. Fires a blast of fire that kills two zombies, but misses a Dark Skull. No one notices. Slowly we’re just trying to pick these guys off, and we do eliminate the zombies when finally we get the skulls attention, but little did we realize we actually had four Skulls on us. Luckily the skulls aren’t as bad as they could be. They would often blast people away with their roar, so we managed to get through them without too much trouble, but that changed when the regeneration pool managed to create an even nastier skull. This one had twice the attack, a few extra powers, higher AC, and a pretty strong Daily. Now I must let people know that at the start of the Encounter I activated my Daily Utility Bless Weapon. Until the end of the encounter I gained a +1 bonus to attack. I also do 1d6 extra damage per hit. I also score a critical hit on a roll from 18 – 20 with any Radiant attack, and my Virtuous Strike now creates 3 vulnerability to Radiant with a hit. So to note, I have a +9 to attack naturally with my longsword. With Blessed Weapon I have a +10. If I hit I do 1d8+4 + 1d6 damage, and if I roll and 18, 19, or 20 I automatically do 18 damage. If I hit, by Divine Challenge will now threaten the enemy with 10 Radiant Damage, and on my next turn if I hit with Virtuous Strike I would do 1d8+7 + 1d6. At will, consistently. + 10 to attack. That was a good +3 higher than everyone else in the party.

I fucking missed everything. God, the rolls were not with me in that fight, and in about five rounds of fighting this thing (who continued to mock Pelor in front of me), I couldn’t hit for dick. Even when I charged into a flank so I had a +14 to attack, I STILL MISSED!!! The worst part is that after all this damage the best I had taken I couldn’t lay what I knew was going to be the killing blow. Racon with his +4 to attack would nail against Reflex, but I just could not hurt this fucker, but I knew I would eventually do it. Next turn he was going to be mine. I’d strike at him and sunder his skull in half and then use him as a mug—oh wait no Spoony walked by and fucking killed it. Excuse me, BUT WE WERE FIGHTING LIKE MEN!!! AND I HAD A +10 TO ATTACK! I know Joe’s pain completely. All I wanted was to dig my glowing sword right into this monster’s temple, but no, some wimpy assassin who still smells a little dead has to come over and steal my epic man kill! Seriously, the monster was targeting me (as he had to thanks to Divine Challenger), so this guy was lashing out at me, blasting me with his strongest moves, and literally tossing me around in the cave, but I would stand against him and continue to engage. Meanwhile he’d laugh at the weakness of Pelor and how I was pathetic, so this was personal. The light of Pelor would be driven into his face and he would burn beneath its light—NO FUCKING ASSASSIN WALKS OVER AND FARTS ON IT TO STEAL MY KILL!!! I WAS +10 TO ATTACK!!!

… Seriously, my rolls were utter garbage. A +14 to attack, and I roll a 2? Fuck me.

We ended the campaign after that, and if seems like we didn’t do a lot just know I’m abridging much of the adventure. Most of it was combat. We found a few key details regarding the plot including that it seems the City Watch knows a lot more about these tunnels then we let on. In fact, from what we gathered, the Watch should know the entire layout, so once again Mahoney is a douche. I’m just waiting for us to find out that Brother Walken is behind all of the monster attacks. Wait for it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fairy Tail Chapter 187 Rant

Ugh, someone really needs to teach Mashima Hiro how to write a good twist. I’m referring to the recent chapter of Fairy Tail (Chapter 187), and the absolute abysmal quality of the chapter due to a poor twist, a ridiculous ass pull, and a rather disturbing implication brought on solely for fan service.

The plot twist I speak of related to Erza. Due to the current arc taking place in… Otherworld (I forget the actual name, but I’ve also stopped caring so, works out) everyone here has an awkward counterpart. In most situations it’s just a flip in personality (Lucy is brave and outgoing while Natsu is a ridiculous coward) but for Erza, her counterpart is a member of the enemy and her goal is to hunt down Fairy Tail. When Earthland Erza meets up with Otherworld Erza, the two fight, but the content, and winner of the fight is left as a mystery. Then at the end of Chapter 186 we see Otherworld Erza find and capture Gray and Natsu. Or we’re supposed to believe it’s Otherworld Erza, but anyone with a brain should have been able to instantly recognize this plot twist as soon as it happened.

Since the Tower of Paradise Arc (which was where they story took its iconic nose dive in quality) Erza hasn’t lost. The closest we get was her getting knocked out against the Oracion Seis, but she was outnumbered and distracted by her allies. Oh, and she sorta decided to fight in a jungle thong. I question the logic in being an “Armor Knight” if your armor amounts to a leopard skin bikini. Bet she really wished she had armor on her arm didn’t she? Anyway, that fight can’t really count since Erza wasn’t in a position to win, and she never actually lost. We saw later that pitting her one on one with any of the other guild members would have been a victory, and again confirms that Erza can never lose to anything ever. So knowing this, how could anyone in their right mind honestly believe that Earthland Erza would lose off-screen? It was obvious that it was just Earthland Erza Ex-Quipped into Otherworld Erza’s outfit, and this was the old “hey guys I found the prisoners oh wait psyche I was totally your enemy all along” trick.

Again, no one with a brain was fooled by this, so why bother? Well Hiro really believe he’s a great story teller. He tries to pull emotion out of his audience, but most of the time it’s rather abrupt and poorly handled like the infamous Fantasia Finger Point (ripped straight off from One Piece) and the Wendy’s Guild Good-bye. Hiro does everything with a rather abrupt haste to it that you never have time to dwell on it. Had Hiro used misdirection and a few chapters of suspense to get us to believe that Earthland Erza was actually defeated then I might have doubted the twist. Without it, I’m just ending one chapter saying “that’s Earthland Erza” then starting the next chapter saying “I was fucking right”. Surprise surprise it turned out that it was Earthland Erza all along (shocker) and they are going to try their awesome plan of firing the McGuffin Magic Chain Cannon Thing into the Magic Crystal Friend Island thing. Unfortunately they can’t use the controls correctly, and the original plan of swinging the Magic Crystal Friend Island thing into the Floating Island of Magic Cats begins. No, I’m not insane.

Furthermore, Otherworld Erza arrives to finish the fight! What a twis—hey wait, what the hell is she wearing?! Holy crap, she’s not wearing anything! Sure, she wasn’t wearing much before, but she did have a bra, gloves, boots, and those towel things that people wear as skirts except there’s nothing on the sides, but now she’s wearing just a thong and a cloak to cover her top. This implies one of two things. Either (A) Earthland Erza defeated Otherworld Erza, and after the battle nearly completely stripped her, or (B) during their fight Earthland Erza destroyed all of Otherworld Erza’s clothes.

Now (A) doesn’t make sense because Erza’s magic is designed to let her wear whatever armor she wants. We’ve seen her use it for bullshit fanservice purposes before (bunny girl, gothic Lolita, pajamas, etc.), so she shouldn’t need to strip anyone, and that also implies she knocked Otherworld Erza the fuck out. But (B) isn’t much better. That implies that throughout the fight Earthland Erza managed to slash off this woman’s gloves, boots, skirt, and bra. I mean I’m not a woman, and I don’t do a lot of swordplay, but I figure it’s strange to approach a battle trying to cleave your opponent’s bra off.

Well anyway, it seems like our heroes are trapped when suddenly, help arrives in the form of… a dragon? Wait, what? I forgot something right? I clearly forgot when they said that people from this world can call upon dragons because I refuse to believe Fairy Tail would pull something as stupid as this. This is the very definition of an ass pull. You can’t just say “oh yeah, I’m best friends with the dragons. Let’s go!” You especially can’t do that in Fairy Tail considering how important dragons are to the overall plot. Seriously, it’s like when James Bond was strapped to that metal sheet with the laser beam coming towards him, and instead of freeing himself with ingenuity or clever thinking, his pet lion just smashed into the room and destroyed the machine. Yeah the problem’s solved but it leaves a pretty big question like: “why the fuck does he have a pet lion, and why has no one mentioned this before?!”

Really, someone please tell me they mentioned this before because I really don’t want to suffer brain damage by slamming my face into my monitor. Anyway, Otherworld Erza demands her troops follow and then… cuts her hair? Why? I know you could say she’s doing it to ensure no one mistakes her for Earthland Erza again, but that Erza is currently riding on top of a dragon in plain sight after just performing that trick. I really don’t think she’s in the position to start deceiving people, and even if she were, what’s to stop the other Erza from just cutting her hair? Really, the only reason for this is to appeal to the short hair fetish, but jeez, didn’t we do the exact same thing a few chapters ago when Otherworld Lucy cut her hair so that people could tell her apart from Earthland Lucy (aside from the fact Otherworld Lucy dresses like a dominatrix)? Seriously, why is up with Hiro constantly shoving his fetishes into his story?

I mean throughout this arc alone Lucy has been locked barefoot in stock, then went through a fetish costume marathon, then fought an entire battle in nothing but a bikini (I think she’s still in the bikini too), and 10 year old Lucy was chained up an tortured (but it’s shonen, so it’s the kinky torture, and not the mental torture that never leaves you). Plus this is the same manga that had a guitarist, who turns women into his sex slaves and then orders them to go strip other women, and had Evergreen demand Erza get naked and prostrate herself before her. The amount of bondage in this manga is through the roof (drinking game worthy honestly), so why does Hiro feel the need to include even more fetish fuel? I’m honestly shocked we haven’t seen more furries and gender bending, but I guess those aren’t his thing.

Well anyway, the chapter ends with Natsu and crew riding the Mystical WTF Dragon over towards the Magic Crystal Friend Island thing in the hope of saving their friends, but good God what a shitty chapter. The Erza twist covers nearly the first half of the chapter, and again, it was a stupid twist that no one believed for even a moment. Then you have the weird implications that Erza enjoys stripping herself, and then the ridiculous ass pull that random little girl in this world just happens to have a dragon on her side. Again, please tell me they mentioned this before and I forgot, because I can’t wrap my head around it otherwise.
Fairy Tail has recently been put in my bad manga category with Bleach, Air Gear, and the rest, but I remain optimistic that the series can improve. I think Mashima Hiro does actually possess the ability to tell an engaging story, and I have hope that by the time this is all over, I’ll be able to enjoy the story of Fairy Tail again.

And if not I can take solace in the fact that One Piece, Toriko, Bakuman, and Beezlebub still kick ass.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

DnD Lessons: Roles

Before people start carrying pitchforks, yes I am still working on Inside the Koma episode one. I’m a little over 33% done and it’s a matter of finding time to edit. Likely some will be done tonight, and with luck I hopefully can finish this weekend assuming I don’t get distracted too much—oooh a butterfly…

Anyway, some of you might notice I’m becoming really involved in 4th Edition D&D. From the massive campaign with Spoony, LordKaT, Y Ruler of Time, and the rest, to the side campaign LordKaT is DMing, to the request to start up a third group involving only fans, it may seem like I’ve become obsessed. To be blunt, I have since I’ve really enjoyed the game and never found a chance to play much before, but also because I’m doing research to potentially do a D&D education show with Skitch and (maybe) LordKaT that we can use to help teach people how to play D&D 4E starting with the basics, and moving on to more advanced abilities. I’m playing a lot because I’m trying to get as much experience as I can, and thus I’m also interested in taking and answering questions that any of you might have regarding how to play D&D effectively. If any of you have a question, send it as a tweet to @RolloT or leave a comment here, and I’ll try to answer it. For today I want to respond to a comment by The Lost Sorcerer who wanted to know my opinion on the different roles in D&D 4E, so here we go.

For those unaware, the “roles” in 4E are the different jobs each class is built best to perform. Each role requires a different mindset and a very different play style to use effectively, and they model the roles commonly seen in MMOs (the tank, the healer, the debuffer, etc.). In 4E there are four roles: the Striker, the Defender, the Leader, and the Controller. I will try to briefly describe each role’s unique job, and how best they are utilized.

The Striker (Avenger, Assassin, Barbarian, Monk, Ranger, Rouge, Sorcerer, and Warlock) – New comers flock here for you are welcome. The Striker is the “damage dealing” role dedicated solely to doing damage in loads. Most classes include some way for the character to add extra damage to each attack (the Rouge’s Sneak Attack, the Warlock’s Warlock Curse), and their goal is to bring down enemies swiftly and consistently. This is important because without a Striker a party can face a long battle, and find themselves overwhelmed, but in return a Striker without the party is a target who will be overrun and ripped to shreds. Every lightning bolt flinging Sorcerer needs a big sturdy Paladin in front of him to absorb the blows, and a wise Warlord to move him out of danger.

Again, this is the role most newbies flock to if they aren’t sure what they’ll like. As you’ll notice they have the most options available to play as, and the influence they have on battle is impossible to miss. It’s often very easy to forget that the Defender neutralized the elite boss for four rounds while everyone else picked off the soldiers, or that the Controller nerfed a large number of enemies’ rolls, but you’ll never mistake the Barbarian sundering the dragon’s skull in half. The goal of a Striker is to make sure he does as much damage as possible, but a word to the wise, don’t leap into portals you aren’t sure about. When you’re surrounded by an army of ghouls it really doesn’t matter how many d6s you roll.

The Defender (Battlemind, Fighter, Paladin, Swordmage, and Warden) – My favorite role, but a very polarizing job. To put it bluntly you will either love playing the Defender, or you will fucking hate it with a fiery passion. The Defender’s job is to put herself in the front line of every battle, and make sure the enemy focuses on her and only her. This means two things. One, you are going to be the toughest son of a bitch on the battlefield. On the other hand, you will be the character getting pummeled, and it’s not unbelievable to spend a majority of the epic battle unconscious at the feet of Lord McEvilson. To most, this is an embarrassment, and not very fun, but look at it this way. You know that 3d8 +12 fireball you took to the chin that brought you in the negatives? Yeah, well had that hit anyone else they would have been vaporized into dust. Take solace in the fact that when they heal you after the battle they all owe you drinks for the night.

The Defender is a good role for people interested in always being in combat. The fact of the matter is that most Strikers will stand five squares back from the action, but there’s no such thing in the world as a “Ranged Defender”. Each and every battle you’ll clash swords. When the party faces off against the insidious Demon King, Scribbles you’ll be the guy in his face roaring and cross blades with. Yes, the role is extremely dangerous. Yes, you will often times be a bloody mess. And yes, there’s a very good chance you’ll die, but in return, the party will have you to thank when everyone returns home safe, and you’ll have some sexy new war stories to tell your buddies down at the bar.

The Leader (Ardent, Artificer, Bard, Cleric, Runepriest, Shaman, and Warlord) – Most will initially hear this role and think “healer” and “support”, and with Cleric and Bard in there, it’s an understandable mistake. However, the Leader’s job is much more important than throwing out a heal spell and wishing everyone the best of luck. Instead of thinking of a frail whelp running around in robes tossing magic at his allies, think of tall, noble warrior, dressed in armor, engaging the foe while shouting formation orders to his allies in the thick of battle. Think of a general in the heat of battle rearranging his allies to support the to the moment strategy dedicated to giving his allies the ultimate positioning to ensure they can never lose. THAT is the Leader. He’s the strategist; the mastermind. He’s the guy who looks at the battlefield and shapes it to his will, and with him the battle will always be yours.

Again, going into this class thinking “healer” is wrong. Yes, your job is to provide healing and bonuses to your allies, but those are only one part of your job. When your Rouge has been surrounded by ogres you won’t be “healing” him out of danger. You’ll rearrange the battle to open a path for your ally, and then help maneuver him into a more advantageous position to ensure he’s performing his job correctly. Each Leader class has powers to do it all, but they focus in their own unique ways. The Cleric works well as a healer, while the Bard and Warlord are most effective at shifting the battlefield. Then you have characters like the Artificer who work to increase everyone’s attack and defense then sends them into battle, plus they all have ways to deal damage. Instead of thinking of this role as the White Mage, think of it as the Red Mage: versatile and nearly essential in every battle. If you’re playing the role correctly, then you will never run into a battle you can’t be an asset in.

The Controller (Druid, Invoker, Psion, Seeker, and Wizard) – Rounding off the list is the opposite of the Leader, the woman destined to bring down the opposing army with a smarmy grin on her face. This role is tough to use, and the most underrated as many teams can survive battles without one, but an effective Controller will ensure that her effect is felt on the field. With massive AoE (Area of Effect) spells, she can clear out the tiny minions to help free up the battlefield from these pests, and then when the vile Demon King, Scribbles appears she will drop enough effects on him to neutralize his hellish powers. Think about it, the Orc Barbarian only finally manages to free himself from your immobilization spell and now charges at you. Suddenly his mind is assaulted by horrors that distract him enough for him to miss his major attack. Then next turn the Defender greets him with a battle axe to the brow, and all you have to worry about is the blood you’re going to wash out of your clothes later.

That’s an optimized controller. The sad truth is that Controllers will often find their well laid out plans completely destroyed by one minor effect. There’s nothing more irritating than having a perfect line of sight to drop your vicious status effect inducing Daily on a big group of enemies only to have your Fighter run into the fray and getting in the way of the attack. As tempting as it might appear, it is bad form to attack her. But sometimes sacrifices must be made, and certain feats will even help to make such a situation advantageous. A Controller’s job will be to make the DM’s life an utter nightmare. When he wants to do something, it’s your job to deny him. As the Leader will ensure your team wins, it is your job to ensure the enemies lose. Don’t become distraught if you aren’t very useful in a given fight. You will be remembered always for the time you turned a helpless battle into a hard fought victory.

Those are the roles in a nutshell. It’s hard to define a role completely when each individual class has a unique way to do its job. For example while a Swordmage is a Defender, their job isn’t to engage an enemy like everyone else. To detail how each individual class performs their unique job would take too long at the current moment, but hopefully by reading this you will understand which role might best suit your playing style, but I would recommend that you task a risk and try something new!

Well, that was a quick lesson on roles. If anyone has any questions regarding anything else about D&D, again send me a message @RolloT on Twitter, or leave a message below! You can ask about any of the classes, races, mechanics or anything. Want to know how to build a character? Ask here. Want to know something about formation? Ask here. Ask anything and I’ll do my best to help. Until next time friends. Namaste.

Monday, June 7, 2010

DnD Log: Session 6

What a session last night. In total we played the campaign over seven hours, and at peak I believe we had over 700 viewers. Pretty good for a bunch of nerds sitting around rolling dice. Anyway, this long session featured quite a few golden moments along with a heavy dose of story elements. Let’s start off from the beginning.

Just to note, Paw was not able to make the campaign.

We started off where we left off. Having fought like men and killed Verreketh we found a trap door leading into the tower. Cautious (and with several members of our group weakened) we spent the night in the fortified chamber of the alchemy lab, but in the middle of the night we heard loud banging on the drums from beneath the tower. We placed a heavy bookcase on top of the trap door, and then finished our night. The next morning we prepared to enter the depths…

Opening the trap door we found a staircase leading into a darkened basement. Andraste has night vision, so I instructed him to go in first and I would follow afterwards in a beast form. People were angry I had Andraste take point considering Paw wasn’t here, but in my opinion he was the most apt for the job. My darkvision is the byproduct of crossing with an owl. His is natural. All I wanted to do was check the room out to make sure zombies weren’t hanging from the wall because I’ve kinda been down that road before. Unfortunately, me and dark places (along with heights) don’t mess well. Andraste and Juliet were jumped by two swarms of Needle Drakes which resemble those nasty little spitting dinos from Jurassic Park. Juliet was torn apart by them, and considering the chatroom declared she was raped by wolves the first time was knocked prone, I can only imagine what they thought as she was knocked prone by these guys. I fully expect to see a picture of Juliet gang banged by miniature raptors in the near future. Truth be told I was slaughtered in that fight. I was down to 9 or so HP, but luckily as quasi-Defender this wasn’t too bad. I was saved, and our group went on the offensive. The problem we faced however was that the room was extremely small (4x4 with a ten foot long hallway off the northern side). This meant that positioning was extremely difficult, and burst spells were highly ineffective. Since melee and martial ranged attacks were not very effective on these creatures this meant magic was our best bet, but area spells were dangerous to use with so many allies around. You’d think this would Lord Vane’s time to shine, right? Afterall the guy does big magic damage against single targets, so perfect fight for him right? Yeah, well Joe’s contribution to the fight was flying around in a room no larger than 9 feet tall. Oh, and then he cornered himself off. It was actually Garrett and Andraste who saved the fight with repositioning, and the few burst effects we could use being SUPER EFFECTIVE! We won, but little did we know we had a much greater foe waiting for us afterwards: the standard wooden door.

Again, reaffirming our stance as the Dethklok of D&D groups, our party of seven adventurers, fresh off killing the corporal form of a goddess, were completely halted by a wooden door. After our Rogue broke the lock, we tried to smash it open, three times to no effect. In fact our big strong fighter failed three times in a row, and only ended up hurting his foot. After that Lord Vane zapped the door with electricity, I suggested we set it on fire, and Joe even contemplated using Shocking Magnetism on it. I repeat, Joe contemplated using his Daily… on a door. Oh, and our end decision? We spent twenty minutes hacking down the door with a pair of axes. Yeah we were stopped by the door completely, for likely almost an hour in game. Unbelievable. I honestly believe we are the Dethklok of D&D groups. I’m Nathan Explosion though, cause I want to talk in his voice.

Anyway, having vanquished our greatest foe, and leaving him in splinters at our feet, we entered a hallway full of several paintings and a few statues. When Garrett attempted to investigate the statute, he triggered a trap and was smashed in the face with a sludgehammer, and then deafened by the horrid scream of a statue. After that we sent our Rouge in. Yes, we sent Darstine in to check for traps AFTER Garrett was nearly killed. He found a trap, and I, in all of my genius, disarmed it harmlessly. Cause I’m awesome. We were now faced with five doors. One at each of the hall (with the Southern door barricaded), and three doors along the eastern wall with one door surrounded by statues of a goddess (always a good sign). We started from the top and worked our way down, and to our surprise the northern door was very safe. Inside we found books, and a wand. Yay! No danger at all! We’re awesome!

Opening the next door however, things were not as awesome. Viktor and Juliet make up the parties front lines, so we’re the first things enemies see at each door, and when we entered this door we were not expecting a room filled with vile steam. Luckily we’re the two characters with a good Constitution, so he could survive not vomiting at the smell, but we couldn’t tell what was inside. As a test I had Juliet attack the room with a Grasping Tide, and we could hear water sloshing inside. However with no idea what was in the room, and the smell starting to wear on us, we slammed the door shut. We never found out what was inside that room…

Next up was the middle door surrounded by the statues. Obviously this was the main room, and after opening the door we entered a small hallway leading to another door, but Andraste noted that whatever evil he was feeling was coming from that room. So instead of trouncing into the room of unadulterated pure evil, we decided to explore. The next room was a pantry with two corpses sitting at a table, but Juliet’s high Perception allowed her to notice creatures scurrying along cobwebs in the ceiling. Both Vane and Juliet tried to use lightning to set the webs on fire, but we botches, and instead we ran like cowards! However this wasn’t a bad plan because we got the jump on the creatures. As Vane, Andraste, Garrett, and Juliet sat in the back of the hall, Grae, Darstine, and Viktor laid in wait for the spiders to go after our casters so that they could get the jump on them. Our plan actually worked rather well, and I feel we should all be proud of for once in the campaign coming up with a potent strategy. Good job you sexy bastards (especially me). The spiders were actually rather weak once we focused on them, but the spiders also rolled very poorly. Spoony warned us that had the spiders managed to hit with their bite attack on a restrained target then nasty shit would have happened. Either way, we investigated the pantry and found the corpses were wearing peculiar cloaks (I curse myself for not remembering what they looked like because this came up later). We took a ring and a golden necklace off these corpses, and then faced the final door: the barricaded one.

Now because getting through the first door was such a massive process, we figured this barricade was self made and that they were hiding in that room and fortifying a defense. We cleared out the debris, steeled ourselves, and opened the door to find… and empty room. Just a few cots and one bed that was covered in some blood. We wanted to investigate some wardrobes against the far wall, but Darstine too initiative to investigate the bloody cot. Bad idea. The moment he did some foul, fiendish creature with sharp talons rose from the bed and told us that he was going to devour us. This fight was a lot tougher than any of us expected. You’d think “Phf, who cares if he’s got good attack or defenses? It’s 7 on 1 for Pete’s sake!” Well screw Pete because this nasty bastard was built tough. Over 20 AC and Reflex with over 17 Will and Fortitude. Hitting this guy was near impossible, and several Dailies were spent on him. Furthermore he had a +13 to attack with his claws meaning he could critically fail and still hit Lord Vane. To put this in perspective, our character with the highest AC is Viktor with 18. All the demon had to do on a claw attack was roll a 5 or higher meaning he had over a 75% chance to hit our most well armored character. Yep.

Plus the nasty son of a bitch hit us with a daily power that caused Viktor, Darstine, and Juliet to all take massive damage with an ongoing 5 fire damage effect thrown on for “fuck you” measure. Viktor was the hero of this fight as not only was he playing the Defender role to the tee, he was also the one dealing the big damage. He nearly single handedly took the demon out, and deserved the killing blow, but Andaste’s Lance of Faith did MASSIVE DAMAGE to its weak point for the kill. Still, big kudos to Nik for playing that battle extremely well. Defenders are quite skilled at one on one combat. After searching the room we didn’t find much initially but again Juliet’s high perception led us to find a loose plank filled with 50 gold and two health potions. With that, we had only one room left to explore in our mission to find the two Anders boys: the room of unholy pure evil!!!

There was a debate on whether or not we should take an extended rest to recover our Dailies and Surges, but we decided against it. Instead we prepared to charge into battle against the evil! We opened the room to find a demonic Dretch toiling over a portal with two crocodiles hanging off to his sides. Our epic battle began with: SLEEP! The Dretch casted SLEEP on us, but our Will was too strong… except Andraste who fell victim to the SLEEP! I was ready to have Juliet perform a combo of Faerie Fire and Call Forth the Spirit Pack, but the turn before I could go Juliet along with I believe Viktor and Darstine was hit with an effect for Weakened and – 2 to hit. This meant that when I finally tired to perform my combo, I of course missed… with everything. Actually no, I hit the Crocodile’s shitty Reflex with CFtSP and knocked him prone, but I was annoyed. A controller is next to useless if her spells miss, and this fight emphasized that. As Viktor, Garrett, and Vance tore crocodiles apart with swords and lighting, I sat in the back casting my reliable miss each turn. Eventually I threw my headset in anger over not saving, but twas a joke for those unaware. I’m not the type to get that upset over a D&D game. Still, I was ticked that I was made useless in that fight. Alas, the rolls were not with me last night. Well, Lord Vane managed to kill a crocodile, and demanded that he be given a cool death description.

Apparently the crocodile’s bones exploded from the lightning attack. Joe is a simple man to please.

The Dretch was formidable, but with this group once it becomes 7 on 1 it’s an easy fight to win. The Dretch was killed, but we now had a decision to make regarding the swirling portal to the Abyss, and once again returned Team Dethklok. I can’t believe how many people wanted to explore the portal. Inside was the Abyss, basically all fire and brimstone and demons. Even if the Anders boys were still in there, they were dead. No one could live through it. My plan was to cover the portal and then exit, but Grae wanted to dive in (with the old rope trick), and Vane wanted to send his pet familiar Trogdor. A reminder, Grae is played by Jason who played Jonn from our early campaign where he and Sayid died from leaping through portals. Jason needs to be died down when there is dangerous shit to jump through.

We had to make a decision because Garrett fell into a trance and started to move towards the portal, and we eventually covered the portal… only to have the heavy bookcase age and turn to ash almost instantly. Again, this group is beyond stupid. “We’ve got a swirling portal of evil here.” “Throw my badger into it!” Tell me right now you couldn’t see Dethklok doing the exact same thing. Anyway we had to forcibly drag Garrett from the power, and tie him to a tree outside. We managed to wake him up, and he started screaming, and people seem to disagree with my action: turning into a bear and punching him out. Look, I know it sounds silly, but the dude was obviously in a trance. We all know he was tainted from the scorpion queen, so clearly he wasn’t in his right mind. When he finally came to he starts fucking howling and screaming. He wasn’t having a seizure or something, he was having a freakout. It would be best to just knock him out and let him wake up without remembering. Apparently it was a stupid idea (whatever), but I did punch Garrett. Anyway, Garrett got better, and after this point we did some story telling. Now I’m not abridging this because I don’t like role playing, but rather because… this is a long damn recap. Anyway, the group told Mr. Anders that his boys were still missing, but likely dead (still think it would have better to give him closure and tell him the bodies we found inside were his sons).

I sent message to the clerics in Sarmanath to come to Ahestas to help us deal with this portal. I then spoke with a follower or Melora (nature goddess), and received some insight regarding the wizard who once owned that tower (I found a page of his journal in the tower). I also got a nifty +1 magic totem, and now the group is waiting for the Clerics to arrive to deal with the portal.

A long, but fulfilling section. We’ve conquered another quest and made another good amount of cash. Plenty of new plot details have emerged, and now Garrett seems to be even more cursed that we originally believed. He’s quite susceptible to the dangers of the abyss, and his visions seemed to indicate the world would be plunged into anarchy in death in a millennia. Scary stuff, but exciting. Might we be the brave adventurers chosen to stop the apocalypse? Curious… In all we had a lot of fun moments last night, but the door was by far the memory I am forever cherishing from this session. Seven people, and we couldn’t figure out how to pass a door… “It’s so brutal~!”

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

DnD Log: Session 5

Well everybody, it’s time for another update regarding the D&D log, and this session is the only session that does not have a recording. My Pamela was not working, and Jason was not recording via UStream, so this log will have to serve as a detailed reminder of the ins and outs of the session. This will also be a long one since we played this campaign for about five hours that night. Without further ado, let’s continue.

Last session we left off on a hook for a sidequest. Lord Vane (now Lord Commander Vane) wanted to travel to the harbor to find a drug dealer known as “Fish Eye” who was known for selling “red sand”. Vane wanted to extort the guy for enough money to buy the staff, though even after experiencing the plan and having time to dwell on it, I still haven’t the faintest idea what his plan was which is becoming quite a common theme for myself and D&D. Anyway we approached the dock, and Grae’s first idea was to sneak up and approach the bar. Since it was maybe early afternoon at this point I just have a hilarious image in my mind of Grae slinking across a wall in broad daylight trying not to be seen. We find out the bar (The Blue Light Tavern or something to that effect) is a rather crowded settlement full of dock hands, sailors, and etcetera. Thus the beginning of the most Awesomely Idiotic Plan Ever began. What I can gather, Joe’s original plan was to kick open the door and start throwing around lightning expecting money to fall at his feet. Finding out the bar was full of around sixty patrons, his plan disappeared and instead we were supposed to find where we could meet Fish Eye. The first group to enter was Grae and Garrett (the party face now). They approached the counter, dropped a couple gold on the table and got the ear of the bartender. I believe Garrett asked for Fish Eye by name, and that sorta set the bartender off. He pulled out a crossbow, and Grae and Garrett left ten gold poorer.

Our next option was potentially better. Juliet would enter under guise of a girl experiencing her first taste of city life. She’d want to experience all of the more wild side of the city, and Viktor would come with her to assist. We pulled together twenty or so gold, and entered to buy drinks for the tavern. They asked who to owe the drinks to, and I kinda brain farted and said Bosco. I can’t say why Bosco entered my head, but I had to give a name, and I didn’t want the name of Juliet spreading (not sure why, it could be a common enough name), but essentially Bosco became the hero (heroine?) of the tavern. To truly earn their trust I attempted to down the Gut Bender; a dwarven brew seen as a rite of passage for manly men, and a potentially dangerous concoction. I downed it, and rolled high enough on my Constitution check to keep from dying or passing out, but I did get completely shitfaced. So while Juliet was in the minstrels singing how the knob on the wizard’s staff was bright and shiny, Viktor approached the bartender about getting the sand. We could get some, but it would be costly, and unfortunately Viktor failed his earlier Perception Check and managed to get robbed during the commotion at the bar. So he left, poorer, and with a plastered Juliet.

Okay, the summarize, after two attempts at Lord Vane’s plan to get gold, our group only left poorer then when we entered. Also, now Juliet was useless for the night as the poor girl couldn’t even stand up anymore. So Viktor went to take her to the inn, and the rest of the group prepared to break when they suddenly found themselves approached by a mysterious Halfling in an alley. Said Halfling (Antoin) warned the group that continuing to find Fish Eyes would result in their own misfortunate, and he pleaded that they leave. Garrett absolutely murdered his Diplomacy check (34 after Words of Friendship) and the remaining group (Vane, Andraste, Darstine, Grae, and Garrett) went with the Halfling to Fish Eye’s supposed hideout, and at that point a net fell on the group, and it turned out Antoin was conning them. Thus, the group was robbed of their extra gold and weapons, and Lord Vane suffered a series of blows from angry party members. Vane initially wanted to chase after the Halfling, but was convinced against it, and decided instead to continue on and investigate the homesteads we earned from King Donovan. Okay, another summary.

Last session ended with the hook that Lord Vane was going to lead this sidequest to dealing with this drug cartel. During the hour and a half we devoted to this plot line solely dedicated to earning money, we accomplished nothing but getting robbed. Our first plan ended with us losing ten gold. Our second plan ended with Viktor getting pick pocketed, and with Juliet plastered. The third plan ended with rest of the party getting held up and robbed. With the exception of Juliet, the entire party get robbed, and with the exception of Juliet and Viktor, the entire party then had to purchase all new weapons and implements for their items. Our mission to get richer ended with us all poorer. I’ve officially declared us the Dethklok of D&D groups. Seriously, this group just managed to kill the corporal form of a goddess, yet we got duped by a Halfling and a bar full of sailors. We dumb as hell.

That embarrassment aside (excluding Juliet and Viktor who are finding the situation quite hilarious) we traveled along the King’s Road to this smaller city whose name I can’t remember. There we received our plots of land, and in addition a new quest. We were to investigate the nearby woods to check out why people have been mysteriously disappearing. After stopping by the home of a lumberer whose two sons were the most recent disappearances, we set off with a map in hand. Grae took first crack in leading the party, and his expert map reading got us two miles off track (this is on foot mind you). Yeah, he totally Zoro’d us. Juliet took lead instead, but nightfall came and we all went to sleep. Now, I set up a guard rotation so that Juliet (Wild Shaped as a nocturnal animal) and Andraste (Eladrin and thus dark vision) took the darkest hours. In the middle of the night Andraste, a fey sensitive creature, felt a horrid presence of evil in the area. Freaked out he woke us all up, urging us to not rest, but rather continue on our trek. Juliet then questioned why, in the middle of the night without any sleep, we would walk FURTHER into what was likely the source of said evil. So instead we walked a half mile away from where we first set up camp, set up a new camp, and then slept knowing the evil was there anyway.
Morning came and we were all devoured by a demon. Wait, that wasn’t what happened? Oh, then fuck Andraste for waking us all up and raving about this “evil” he’s feeling. Since no one else in the group is from the Fey we all dismiss Andraste as the insane Cleric, and continue on our way. Eventually we come across a ruined tower and proceeded to investigate only to be met by a trio of bloodthirsty demon dogs. With the terrain being rough, we were put into a compromising situation—most especially our spellcasters as none of these characters could shift away to cast their spells. For Andraste and Vane who were in the back, this never became a problem, but for Juliet who as a Druid relies heavily on switching between melee and ranged, the fight became problematic. This fight became a lot more difficult than anticipated only because we had poor rolls against the monster’s strongest NAD (Non-AC Defense): Reflex. Before anyone accuses us of being stupid, let me say I knew their Reflex would be high, but due to the difficult terrain I couldn’t shift away to cast Grasping Tide which is my only At-Will that doesn’t attack Reflex. Stuck in Beast Form I had to settle for attacking their toughest defense, but in this battle I really saw the way a Controller can completely fuck up the DM’s strategy. After being knocked down to 0 HP, Andraste was Helpless when a monster approached to attack. If the monster managed to hit, Andraste would be killed no matter what. One dog leapt after Andraste provoking OA (Opportunity Attacks) from Juliet, Darstine, and Garrett. While the latter two could do damage, I managed to attack with Savage Rend which, on a hit, allows me to slide the opponent one square. I slid the dog back to his original square. I kept the pup cornered there at twice, and helped save Andraste. I could tell Spoony was particularly irritated that I can use both of my Beast Form At-Wills as Melee Basic Attacks.

After the fight we all healed up, and at this point Paw left for the night. The rest of us continued on and entered the tower to find some mysterious demon reading over some books. Juliet was the one investigating, and unfortunately, she is not so good at stealth. We alerted the demon to our presence, and started another encounter against a quintet of Dire Rats and their master, the Vermin Lord Verreketh (or something like that. It was a weird name, that’s all I remember).Compared to the fight against the dogs, this fight went a lot better. We managed to slowly eliminate the rats without much of a problem using a good combination of tactics and respective roles. Viktor as the defender stood in between most of the enemies and took the damage while Garrett, the leader, healed him when appropriate. Meanwhile Grae and Vane, as strikers laid out big damage against the rats while Juliet, the controller, threw out spells that kept the enemies from moving and overwhelming us. In the end only a single rat remained when the Vermin Lord finally lashed out in battle. His target? Lord Vane.

Now I left to get something to drink at this point, but when I returned the situation was thus: Lord Vane was face to face with the Vermin Lord. Vane was poisoned, prone, immobilized, and due the creature’s foul odor, taking a -5 penalty to attack. Had it been me (or likely anyone else) I would have been crying for someone to save me, but Joe in all of his anger, was shouting about how he’d tear the demon apart. He was legitimately ready to beat this dude up even with all of his status effects. And fight they did. Lord Vane and Verreketh exchanged blows, dailies, and some nice hits, and to Joe this was the most epic battle of it all. He wanted this drag out battle between men to continue on until only one remained standing, but Grae’s turn was next, and with two good attacks and fell the demon while Vane watched.

The next thing out of Joe’s mouth was a string of profanities suspended in disbelief. He was legitimately upset that Grae killed his opponent by just shooting him with arrows. We could hear Joe screaming as he left his PC that they “were fighting like men”! And after about twenty minutes of solid laughing, we continued the game for a tad bit longer. We investigated the tower, took the demon’s book along with some of his potions (four we know, one we couldn’t identify). Before leaving I wanted to really check out the tower, and with Juliet’s high Perception check (plus a natural twenty) we found a trap door hidden very well on the ground. With our decision to take an extended rest to restore our dailies and health before venturing into the trap door, Spoony ended the game.

All in all this game was our best yet by far. The infamy of Joe’s plan plus his outburst at having his epic man duel with Verreketh interrupted will be part our game lore for years to come, and for anyone curious why people play D&D, it’s for reasons like this. These are the ultimate “Inside Jokes”. Just like most people won’t understand the hilarity of the “Rape Tiger” from a campaign I played in years ago, people who are unfamiliar with this campaign will never understand the hilarity in “WE WERE FIGHTING LIKE MEN!!!” Yet for us, it’s one of the moments that will define this campaign. In addition everyone seemed to role play a lot more this time around, and just about everybody did something worth noting this time around. Combat also flowed a lot better aside from a few hiccups, but that’s to be expected. This was a great session, and I just really wish one of us had recorded it because I’m really going to miss not hearing Joe’s epic tirade over having his kill stolen. Still this is a big part of the reason I love D&D, and now I am really excited to see what happens next week when we open the hatch. Oh, and LOST reference FTW!