Monday, April 25, 2011

Wyrmwick Log: Session 10

Hide your wives and hide your kids, it’s another edition of the D&D recap! This time our sessions were stretched over the course of the weekend, but in shorter segments. Thankfully this will be a one post recap (hopefully), but that isn’t to say stuff didn’t happen—far from it. Heck if you thought Caitlin got fucked up… well actually she’s still far and away the most fucked up party member, but shit happened to Grieg too. Let’s not waste time and get right into the recap!

Having just finished off the gnolls and cleansing the temple of Bahamut, we found ourselves searching the town for any other survivors. Caitlin smelled a very dark energy radiating from a manor inside the city. We went to investigate, but when we snuck into the basement we found ourselves blinded by this magical darkness. Figuring it was best not to wonder into the pitch black cube of hell, we decided to try the back door, though it was half barricaded with chests. I rolled a trap check and Caitlin sensed she didn’t feel there were any traps, but it seemed too suspicious not to be. To satisfy Caitlin’s curiosity we stood back and let Grieg fire an arrow at chests. Nothing happened. Oh except for the enormous explosion that took out nearly a third of the manor. But you know… no biggie right?

As a moment of douche-ness Jason told us we found a tiny scorched teddy bear that to me meant we had just killed a group of children which quite frankly would kill Caitlin emotionally. This was just a joke though, and the teddy bear was just left behind. In fact all we found in the manner were corpses that made this D&D session feel more and more like a Silent Hill title. All we needed was some symbolism, eerie music, and a retrospective by Dena and we’d have been good to go. Instead all we found was a magic circle that when activated produced an eldritch candle. Figuring this arcane light might break the darkness, we took it with us into the basement.

Dhother decided he’d be the one to enter the darkness first, and to our delight the candle worked! To our horror though, the candle worked, revealing a room full of the mangled human corpses, mostly children, imbedded into the wall. The floor was slick with blood and viscera, and crimson stained spikes lined the ceiling. Dhother proceeded to freak out, though none of us really judged him. Oh Dhother you’ve got a little bit of baby brain on your shoe.

The other thing to note in the room was an altar with a strange man upon it. We debated for quite some time whether we should try to wake him or not, but eventually he extended the length on the room so that we were all inside. We were all trapped in what I can only image Hell must look like, and our mysterious man, cloaked in shadows, woke up and began to move. We tried to sneak up and attack him while he was still shambling around the room, but our attacks just passed through him. Eventually we rolled initiatives and began our battle, but for the sake of brevity I’ll sum up the important shiz-nit (as Snopp Dogg says): Shadow man couldn’t be hurt, he said Grieg was chosen, and we eventually figured out we needed to burn him with the candle.

After the shadow man died an orb of shadow hovered over his altar. Since it told Grieg he was the one chosen for it, Grieg attempted to grab it only for the orb to latch onto his body and cover his body in shadows. Before long Grieg looked more like Noob Saibot (Ha-HA! Mortal Kombat reference), and the shadows began to fade away. Once they were gone it seemed Grieg was back to being normal old Grieg—to everyone else that is. Grieg knew he had changed, and that was most obvious when he heard the orb speaking to him telepathically. It appears these orbs attach themselves to a host and feed off their energy and emotions. In return they grant the user extended life, and special abilities. Grieg’s was the orb of Shadow, which granted him many insidious abilities though it should be noted that his powers aren’t intrinsically evil, but rather very “dark”. If Mickey Mouse shows up and starts talking about the door to the Light, I’m quitting (Ha-HA! Kingdom Hearts reference).

Following that battle we left Holmin Falls via abandoned ship, dubbed the Mighty Gauntlet. Considering the other names that Jason’s name generator has come up with, we were very fortunate. Back in Wyrmwick we reported about the damage to Holmin Falls, and revealed Caitlin’s condition to Muzarog to explain why she might have the ability to counteract Tiamat’s influence. It went well (well as well as “hey I’m a dragon” discussion can go), and Muzarog suggested we head to the Felbrigg Stronghold to discover how they combated the Demon Baron. He would provide us with a bribe and the use of his personal carriage driven by… and I’m serious… Pantikrabs. Yes, his name is Pantikrabs. See what I mean about us getting lucky with Jason’s name generator?

Caitlin used Pantikrabs services to travel to the temple of Bahamut, and from there prayed to the Big B. After a long discussion between father and sorta-daughter-thing, Caitlin learned a bit about Grieg’s orb (protip: don’t let Grieg die), and the source of the Glass Roads. The roads receive power from towers that act as hubs for the Demon Baron’s power, and destroying the towers will revert the lands back to normal. One such tower was in Watchman’s South, and another already destroyed tower was near Felbrigg.

Admittedly I goofed here. When we spoke to Councilman Muzarog, I thought we already agreed to bribe the leader of Felbrigg, and that we already had his money. I misunderstood that he wanted to see us, so when we left without the money I honestly thought it was on board the ship. That was my fault, and I wanted to clear the air there so people didn’t think we were just rushing through things. Also I farted, so clearing the air was necessary. So long story short, we couldn’t get into Felbrigg but we found the destroyed tower anyway.

… Also magic.

With the information we gained we headed back to Holmin Falls and marched on the South Tower. We cleared out the Gnolls guarding the tower (and the one demon who leapt off the tower just to fight us), and made our way upstairs to find a glowing white orb hanging from the ceiling. We started to knock it down only for Dhother to warn us that doing so would kill us all! So we left the tower and knocked it down from the outside via Grieg’s crossbow. The orb fell and tower went boom! It would have looked more glorious and awesome if we hadn’t decided to immediately book it afterwards just in case any reinforcements heard Hiroshima go off. We returned to Wyrmwick, victorious!

Suffice it to say, Muzarog was still very confused as to why we left without his money, but since we figured out the whole “tower” thing on our own, we saved Wyrmwick that bribe money. That’s a positive, right? Sadly we did learn a negative due to a dream with Bahamut. The Demon Baron is Tiamat’s chosen one, so basically Caitlin’s polar opposite cousin. In addition Bahamut fears we won’t be strong enough to take down the Demon Baron, and is suggesting we find the other orbs like Grieg’s and hopefully with their power and the systematic elimination of the Demon Baron’s towers, we might just be able to do it. Unfortunately Caitlin’s mutations have taken a turn for the worse: her sense of smell is now completely changed, she’s starting to grow talons, and she now has complete control of her breath weapons. In general these aren’t bad (in fact the breath weapons are a huge plus), but it’s enough that Caitlin refuses to enter Wyrmwick due to her appearance and she’s contemplating finishing the ritual to see if it will make her stronger. I asked the party to give my best to Alpert, but they didn’t so lord knows what Caitlin will look like the next time she sees him. Stupid party.

And with that we set off to Colingrove and from there Vante’s Tower. Along the way we were attacked by pirates, and Caitlin got to intimidate people with her dragon wings for once. This battle went our way as Jason’s Saving Throw rolls were awful. We knocked half of the pirates off the ship, and they all drowned shortly after. We killed two more, and the last surrendered. We tied him up and interrogated him. His name? Skynet Anti-Gravity. No, I’m not shitting you. Again, see why Jason’s name generator sucked? We retconned that shit immediately so his name is Doll, and he’s pirating to help his family in Felbrigg. Caitlin spared him on the condition that he give himself up to the clerics in Colingrove and repent for his sins. In return we’d find a way to get his family out of Felbrigg… in due time. He agreed, and we docked the Mighty Gauntlet in Colingrove.

From there we picked up some supplies (i.e. some new magic armor for Caitlin and Grieg, plus the rest of the dragon ritual liquid), sold off some items, and then purchased horses to take us to Vante’s Tower. Along the way Dhother continued to investigate the rosary he found in Zalelah’s Crypt, and finally figured out all he could about it. It seems to rosary acts as a GPS on a “Hot N’ Cold’ system to show the user where “home” is. It also can act as a homing beacon for the vampire, and Dhother realized the vampire only disappeared and we weren’t really sure we killed her. Dhother attempted to drop the rosary, but found it followed him like a dog. Yay! Now Dhother can join Dragon Caitlin and Shadow Grieg as having a horrible problem hanging over his head! Huzzah!

We finished off the night in Vante’s Tower learning the origins behind the orbs. We found that at least six orbs exist, though their locations are unknown. The only other orb we know about it the white (Light) orb which seems to be near Attesfield, across the sea to the north of Vante’s Tower. Also Dhother traded the rosary to the mages in exchange for Caitlin’s bodily fluids, so Caitlin can rest easy knowing someone doesn’t have a salt shaker full of her tears.

The session ended there, and next week we have to decide where to go. Looking on the map (courtesy of Sable this time) you can see our options. We could head south back towards Colingrove and try to liberate Watchman North. Or we could return to Colingrove directly to pick up our ship and sail to Attesfield to get another orb. Or we could get the ship and head to Felbrigg Stronghold to find Doll’s family, investigate the source of the rosary (does anyone believe for a second we won’t wake up next time with the rosary?), and try to find out the locations of the other towers. Again, we have a few ways to go about this, so we’ll need to prioritize accordingly. What do you guys think? Where would you go if you were us? Any thoughts or predictions for the future? Are you pumped for the Tiamat V Bahamut Chosen Showdown? Do you like my vest made of real gorilla chest (Ha-HA! Simpons reference)?

Images credited to big sexay DarkVolt.

Until next time, Namaste!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wyrmwick Log: Session 9 Part 2

When we last left, our heroes were left in a desperate situation and in a last ditch effort they shattered a dangerous device and became enveloped in a white light. When we return we see the survivors back on Oceanic 815, but when the plane should be torn apart by the island’s electro-magnetic fields, nothing happens sans a wee bit of turbulence. It’s then we realize that this is a world very different from the one we knew, and the island itself has become deeply submerged under the ocean!

Okay fine, I’ll stop with the LOST references and just get back to the recap. This is going to be another long one guys. I told you that you should have gotten snacks.

So yes, after Jonn smashed the crystal containing the strange shadowy figure we all found ourselves conscious and alive in the same sprawling field from Caitlin’s dreams with the shadowy figure standing just a few feet away. Was he a friend or foe? Did he bring us here? Why was he trapped in the crystal? What happened to Owayne? There were so many questions to ask, but instead of answering our enigmatic man simply rose a single finger towards Caitlin and covered her in a bright white light. When the powerful glow faded away Caitlin still remained… but her sword was now pink.

Our enigmatic man revealed himself to be Wez the Mad, or rather the person we knew as Wez the Mad. To our surprise it turns out the insane old man locked up in Wyrmwick’s jail wasn’t the same Wesley that was betrayed by Owayne like we believed—instead that man was none other than the Platinum Dragon himself, Bahamut. As it turns out Zelalah was not a follower of Bahamut after all. Rather she turned her loyalties to Tiamat and trapped much of Bahamut’s soul inside the crystal used to power her staff. What remained of Bahamut found its way into the body of Wez the Mad, but that part wasn’t aware of itself. By shattering the crystal we released Bahamut’s power and freed him. Eternally thankful he granted us one request, and the answer was simple: kill Owayne. Bahamut said that wouldn’t be a problem, and then he turned to address his “daughter”.

It appears it is true that the ritual Caitlin entered into was one to turn the user into the first born of Bahamut, and against her will Caitlin was slowly becoming the daughter of the Platinum Dragon. Face to face with her “dad” Caitlin was asked if she wanted to continue being the child of Bahamut. She was given the option to decline and be returned to her normal form, but to the shock of many Caitlin tentatively declines. She didn’t agree to be the first born of Bahamut either, but many found it shocking that when giving the opportunity to return to her previous form, Caitlin didn’t immediately take it. Even later Dhother pulled Caitlin aside to ask her about her decision, and Caitlin explained that she wasn’t sure if she should revert back. To players confused as to why I had Caitlin make that decision, I had her not turn back because at this point Wyrmwick (and the world for that matter) has a lot of enemies. Though the random mutations were painful and unpredictable, they also provided great benefits. It’s not the perfect scenario, but with evil and danger this ubiquitous, Caitlin felt it was worth enduring the mutations for a while before she makes her final decision so that they can have access to many powerful abilities in the meantime.

Our conversation with Bahamut over, he agreed to bring us back to Owayne’s Hold, or rather the site formerly known as Owayne’s Hold. Our paranoid demeanor ensured we had to find Owayne’s body before we could declare him dead, but when we arrived we were stunned to find nothing. No Owayne, no clerics, and not even the shattered rubble of Owayne’s Hold. The entire area was flat and charred black as if some great cleansing fire had just purged the area of all life. It was an solemn, quiet moment… and it was right then that we realized we’d now have to walk back to Collingrove. Curses.

We made the journey back to Collingrove (begrudgingly), and arrived to great news: Timmy’s condition has radically improved and the Duke wants to celebrate our victory over Owayne with a lavish feast and a gift of 2,000 gold for each of us. Plus a house, so now I have another integral piece in my plan to make a Wyrmwick sitcom spinoff where Eli and Captain Bearbossa own a hotel together and Dhother is the slutty pool boy. “Well A Lookie Here” coming to CBS in the Fall of 2012. Watch for it.

We all used what money we had to purchase magical weapons/equipment of some kind, though I don’t know what everyone picked up. I know for Caitlin I picked up a Lightning Short Sword +1 (because I just fucking know DarkVolt will make that shit look badass), and +1 Hide Armor because well… I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted at the moment. I’ll have to go through again because honestly an extra +1 to AC isn’t all that worthwhile considering my AC is never going to be very intimidating. Maybe I’ll look for a headslot item. Might as well grab a pair of goggles considering how I crit failed a mutation roll and now Caitlin’s eyes are yellow with fiery blue pupils and second pair of eyelids. Seriously, to walk around town Caitlin has to wear a blindfold, a gag (to hide the occasional wisps of smoke that come out of her mouth), a cloak, and a hood. It’s gotta look like our party is dragging some poor girl around like a gimp at this point.

After our shopping was done we boarded a ship headed for Wyrmwick where we reported the good news of Owayne’s passing to Khan Muzarog. Muzarog thanked us and informed us that the Glass Roads leading from the Demon Baron’s tower have now passed the South Tower meaning that they are slowly making their way to Wyrmwick. Sadly though we couldn’t immediately join the fight as Caitlin had (sigh) “prior engagements” with the mages at Vante’s Tower, and the party would be accompanying her. As we were eager to get this obligation out of the way, we found a mage who teleported us to North Pass, and took horses from there to get to Vante’s Tower. We arrived and Ghadi was all too excited to begin his… “testing”.

Now how to I properly phrase this? I think Kreia said it best in KOTOR II when she said “I suffered indignities” to explain how Darth Sion raped her with his patchwork pecker. Similar situation with Caitlin. Ghadi did very “intrusive” tests and we can just skip over dwelling on this particularly harrowing moment in Caitlin’s life. All you need to know to get the “squick” factor is that Ghadi collected all of Caitlin’s bodily fluids which I can only imagine he put into tiny organized vials in his pantry like some cum and spit spicerack. So yeah, shockingly, Caitlin was very eager to leave the tower, though Ghadi, ever eager to beat Vern as the “creepiest motherfucker in this campaign” asked if Caitlin would marry him. Dude, you’ve got my piss in a jar—fuck off.

I will have it be known that I do have plans to deal with Vante’s Tower in the future once we handle the more pressing issue of the Demon Baron. Ghadi will pay—count on it. Even if for some reason Caitlin dies, I will assure you my next character would solely exist to fuck with this world’s mages and get that sweet karmatic retribution. Alright, with that duty behind us (though forever remaining in Caitlin’s nightmares), we were ready to start the offensive against the Demon Baron, and after returning to Wyrmwick we had our first mission: find out the fate of Holmin Falls. If you check the campaign map(this one made by DF, though there’s a colored version by Sable also on the wiki) you’ll see Holmin Falls tucked into that corner by the South Tower, so the idea was that we were heading into a shitty situation.

We set off for Holmin Falls and as we neared our destination we found the Glass Roads heading towards our beloved Wyrmwick. The roads themselves were cold and obsidian, and seemed to wither and destroy life it its immediate radius as our verdant meadows has shriveled and faded away to hopeless hills of sandy dunes. As a test I dropped just a few blades of grass on the roads only to have them burst into flames. Sadly Dhother did not agree to test his face next. Yet, low and behold, Caitlin found her tattoo reacting to the roads and against better judgment decided to place her hand on the jet black road. To the bewilderment of the party, the road began to revert at her touch; though the moment she pulled her hand back began the ground became twisted and tainted once again. Still, Caitlin temporarily returned the land back to normal wherever she went, and as such the party cloistered around her as she led the way to Holmin Falls.

We found out this was a good thing too because as we neared Holmin Falls the ground turned completely into a sandy wasteland, and when Grieg dared to step onto the sand he was attacked by a series of hands that were trying to pull him in. We saved our new friend, but we were very careful from then on to avoid stepping on the sand. Luckily Holmin Falls, despite being decimated, still had paved streets for the party to stand on, so we didn’t have to investigate the city attached at the hip. Sadly, Caitlin couldn’t smell any human life in the city—instead only smelling some foul stench coming from what Caitlin recognized as a temple of Bahamut. Peering inside we found a group of gnolls and fire elementals socializing inside the ruins of this Bahamut church, and Caitlin wasn’t going to take that short of disrespect in her father’s house! We attacked!

This battle was one of the more enjoyable encounters we’ve had in a while. I really do believe the best way to make a challenging encounter is to have a near equal number of monsters to players, that way the party can’t gang up on one monster too quickly. I think this was a challenging encounter, even though I wanted to rip the head off that Gnoll who kept dazing us. That black asshole. We won a very hard fought battle, and upon touching the altar Caitlin seemed to cleanse the temple of the evil plaguing it. However she found symbols of Tiamat laying on the ground insinuating that Bahamut’s greatest enemy was in league with the Demon Baron, and that this battle was going to become very personal.

And we ended there. I could talk about more like Caitlin and Dhother having their emotional talk that ended in handjobs, or the brief battle against one of Tiamat’s chosen, but this was one long sessions and fuck some stuff you’ll just have to watch for yourself sometime. Enough happened this week that honestly I could have split this into three parts and still missed some stuff, so there should be plenty to talk about. What do people think of the Bahamut twist? What about Caitlin not jumping at the offer to stay Caitlin? How about the budding relationship between Dhother and Caitlin and all the kinky sex involved? Are people enjoying Grieg? What other good magical equipment should I buy? How do you think the meeting with Auntie Tiamat will go? Why do Jonn’s farts stink so god damn much?

There’s much to debate, but one thing is universal: fuck the mages in this game. Fuck them in the ass with a dildo wrapped in barbwire and soaked in salt water & tobasco sauce.

Until next time, Namaste!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wyrmwick Log: Session 9 Part 1

Holy crap, I still don’t know how this group finds ways to play over seven hours of D&D in a weekend. This time it was all on one day, but in one long session that started at five and ended a little bit past midnight rather than broken up over two days. However I should note that we wouldn’t have bothered playing that long if we weren’t having fun, so obviously there was a lot to enjoy this session. If you decide to read through this whole thing I commend you because this is going to be a long one. You should probably get some snacks.

So our campaign continued about where it left off with the party at Vern’s cavern, and the White Dragon agreeing to fly us to Owayne’s. However we decided not to assault Owayne’s directly at the moment as we could use more information, and thus we convinced Vern to take us first to Vante’s Tower, a tower of mages far to the north where we could perhaps learn more about how to defeat a Deathknight and more about Caitlin’s condition. The dragon could only carry three of us though, so Dhother, Denora, and Caitlin readied themselves for the journey while Greig and Jonn headed towards Colingrove where we would meet up with them once we completed our journey. Oh, but before we left Vern smelled Caitlin and said, and I quote, “This is gonna be a good journey”. Ew. A thousand times ew. Vern is one creepy dude, though shockingly not the creepiest guy hitting on Caitlin this session, but I’ll get to that in time.

So during the long travel to Vante’s Tower Caitlin began to grow a tail, horns, and a new sense of smell meaning that as the days continue to pass by Caitlin becomes even more of a dragon. With renewed urgency we entered the tower and spoke with Ghadi, a mage in the tower. He said he could help us out with both of our problems by providing us with a device that would prevent Owayne from teleporting, and by putting a ward on Caitlin to slow her metamorphosis. Figuring we just walked into a good deal, we headed up to the room where the ward would be performed only to find a room littered with corpses. To our bewilderment though Ghadi wasn’t actually trying to trap us or trick us—he and the other wizards of Vante’s Tower are just completely batshit insane. Obviously when we saw the floating corpses we decided Caitlin wouldn’t take part in his ward, but he refused to give us a decent deal on the orb that would prevent Owayne’s teleportation. He did tell us that this orb could be trusted as a more permanent version of this orb, along with a device to prevent changes similar to what Caitlin is experiencing are currently being used by the Goblin King who’s prison rests just beyond the Mountains of Madness and the Boreal Maze.

We contemplated briefly about just heading to the Goblin King’s prison and taking the stuff he had there, but without the luxury of time, Caitlin made a deal with Ghadi. If he gave us the orb, then after the battle with Owayne she would return and allow Ghadi to run his tests on her on the condition her companions could supervise it. Ghadi anxiously agreed, and we had the orb, so we quickly headed off to Colingrove where we reunited with Jonn and Grieg.

At this point we had to make our final preparations to go up against Owayne, and we started by speaking to the city’s clerics to have them bless our weapons and provide us with support against Owayne’s undead legions. After that we visited the mages only to find Arwyn, who was quite eager to see Caitlin. He explained there her blood had turned silver and that currently they aren’t aware what it meant, which is rather annoying when all you want are answers and instead the mages just say “hey look this happened! I don’t know why, but it did!” After that he provided Caitlin with an amulet that he said would allow us to see Owayne should he turn invisible. Caitlin asked if Death Knights could do that, and Arwyn responded that he didn’t know. Then we found out the amulet wasn’t magic, indicating that Arywn is also batshit insane. Apparently studying the arcane arts in this world leads you to be a complete freak. Note to self: kill all mages.

That night Caitlin was disturbed in her sleep by a dream where she found herself alone in this strange field with the crystal we found back in Zelalah’s Crypt. She wandered up the crystal only to see a strange shadowy figure within the crystal who would stare at her while banging on the crystal. After that Caitlin woke up and immediately headed into Dhother's room to find the crystal. To her shock the same figure she saw in her dream was staring at her in real life, but she couldn't tell who it was. As she tried to speak with the shadow, Dhother woke up leading to an interesting exchange. After sharing some words, Caitlin punched Dhother in the balls and took the crystal for herself. I can't remember why I had Caitlin punch Dhother in the balls, but he probably deserved it.

So with preparations made it was time for the big moment when we would attack Owayne. Our plan was in place: let the clerics handle the undead, and then have Vern attack the tower and bring it down on top of Owayne. The plan started off almost flawlessly as Vern brought the keep down and Owayne was crushed underneath his own palace. Then the clerics handled the undead and left us to deal with one pissed off Death Knight. Around here though is where the plan fell apart—and we all sorta knew it would. The problem is that Owayne had gone too far (attacking Alpert and Timmy) to really justify ignoring him any longer especially if he was going to remain a constant threat while we tried to combat the Demon Baron.

But the downside is fact is that Owayne is a level 19 motherfucking beast so he jacked our monkey asses up. No lie, he seriously fucked us up, and we just about party wiped. To be completely fair we fought far better against Owayne than any level 4 party should have. We took him down to bloodied and I think everyone got at least one good hit in on him. The problem is that his health easily outclassed our damage output, and every time he attacked it was pretty much a guaranteed hit. With a few of our party members already down for the count, Caitlin handed off the crystal to Jonn for him to smash into the ground. Once it shattered, everything went white...

And like the Season 5 finale of LOST, that's where I'm going to leave you right now. To be frank this session was long and full of stuff to talk about, so I really can't sum it up in one long post without basically writing the Time Cube (sans the racism). Expect the rest of the recap to come up in the next few days, but until then reminisce about how fucking stupid it was for us to attack a Death Knight at level 4.

Credits go to Sighter and DarkVolt for the images.

Until next time, Namaste!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Wyrmwick Log: Session 8

“Well hello-hello what’s all this now? Another D&D recap? We just had one of those on Tuesday! How can there be another?” It’s interesting you ask that, Oddly British Personification of Potential Fan Confusion, because yes, we did. See the session we had on Saturday was so memorable and fun that we decided to play again on Sunday. This was a shorter session, only about three and a half hours (which is actually pretty standard for a tabletop group), and it was a lot more on the story side. Also the hot kinky angry flying sex between Caitlin and Dhother sadly happened off screen. Maybe we’ll get to see it next session, or someone will grace us with fanart. That’s what the internet is here for, right? To draw porn and stuff?

Anyway, this session began with Caitlin and Dhother heading to the temple of Correlon to see if they can receive any guidance from the followers there regarding the “dragonification”. The cleric couldn’t give us too much information, though he did insinuate the followers of Bahamut would know more, but that Caitlin should hide her condition from them because they would likely either see her as the avatar of the Platinum Dragon, or as a heretic to his teachings. So obviously when we later investigated Bahamut, Caitlin stayed back. I should also note we left a copy of Caitlin’s tattoo with the cleric of Correlon and the Arryn, the mage. I’m beginning to think that might be a mistake because they could easily spread that information around. Once it gets out that Caitlin is this way the party will be attracting a lot of unwanted attention.

As I said, we went to the temple of Bahamut to try and find out more information, and Dhother tried to get what information he could out of the cleric. From what we gathered, the ritual seemed to involve turning someone into the first born of Bahamut, so basically it’s a ritual to make you Dragon Jesus. No lie. We decided to wait to hear back from the mages regarding their investigation, but in the meantime still work towards solving one of our major problems: the most notable being Timmy. We had to get the Duke’s son back, though doing so meant going back to Owayn’s Keep which none of us particularly wanted. Still, we’re the heroes so saving hostage children is kind of the one thing we have to do.

At this point we were introduced to Skitch’s new character Grieg. Grieg isn’t for sure a definite addition to the party, but is a character Skitch wanted to try out for a session or so. He’s an Archer Warlord, and the in-character reason for meeting him is that Duke Ned sent him to help us rescue Timmy. Now I should note that we had a direct portal to Owayne’s Hold, but it’s in a closet in the temple of Pelor. We had to sneak into this portal several times this session, and our methods of doing so weren’t brilliant. However since we kept disappearing before the guards would spot us, the head cleric was arrested for being insane, and the temple was closed down. We sorta have some repenting to do on Denora’s behalf.

I’m going to skip over a very long section of the game that amounted to nothing. Basically we got stuck trying to enter Owayn’s Keep via the portals, and we left to enter through the harbor like we did the first time. Along the way we had to fight some spiders, but they died relatively easily. We do seem to fight a lot of spiders though. I get this terrible feeling that in our quest to find a way to offend every god out there, Lloth is secretly near the top of the list and she’s just biding her time.

Back to the plot, we snuck into Owayn’s Keep, and we found Timmy down in a dungeon below. Unfortunately with Drew gone, lock picking and trap finding falls on Caitlin who isn’t incredibly skilled at Thievery. She couldn’t pick his locks, and Jonn wasn’t strong enough to rip the chains out of the wall. We all took a turn trying to attack the chains, but for some reason we all suck when it comes to hitting chains… except Denora. She fucking clobbered it. I suspect Denora’s got a secret badass side we all haven’t seen, and one session will end with Denora standing on top of a pile of bodies wearing nothing but a loincloth as she smears enemy blood on her chest and screams at the heavens. Or it was a lucky roll. Whatever—we got Timmy, and that’s the point.

We returned to Duke Ned with his son at hand, but apparently spending time with Owayn had very negative consequences on Timmy’s body. The clerics of Collingrove spent all night working on him, but the news we got wasn’t great: Timmy might never walk again. Everyone pretty went through the same emotional roller coaster from “D’awwww” to “You’ll pay for this Owayn!”

Following that we decided we hate to return to Wyrmwick to see how the city fared and to see if we couldn’t find the White Dragon who assisted Dhother and Jonn back at the South Tower. After Jonn failed twice to sneak into the church of Pelor, we finally made it back to Wyrmwick, and the first thing we went to do was visit Alpert only to find Owayn in his chamber and Alpert’s body on the floor. Cue “You just killed Santa Claus! DIE MONSTER!”

This was actually where Dhother got to look like a completely awesome badass as he whipped out Zelalah’s rod (mind in the gutter), and blasted Owayn with it. It sent Dhother flying as well and he took a healthy dose of damage, but the shot absolutely blasted the Death Knight and weakened him enough that Denora managed to hit him with Smite Undead. After taking two brutal attacks Owayn fled, and Denora managed to stabilize Alpert just before he died. Following a few “this is personal” lines, the party left Alpert in care of the Wyrmwick medics, and ventured off to find the White Dragon.

Along the way Caitlin’s mutation continued, and now she possesses the eyes of a dragon meaning she now has dark-vision. With each day Caitlin has another chance to continue her mutation, but so far I’ve been very lucky on my rolls. If I don’t avoid or undo a mutation completely, I roll something that at least has a benefit to it. However stuff like the tongue, the claws, the tail… that stuff is going to get messy. Jason even mentioned a mutation that messes with my speech, so fingers crossed that I avoid that one.

After a few days we found the dragon’s cave, formerly the hideout for Wez the Mad. The dragon was inside sleeping, and we started speaking to him. At first I had Caitlin ask about the mark, but the dragon really didn’t know what was going on, which is rather concerning. So far we know enough that Bahamut followers will either love Caitlin or crucify her, and the general consensus seems to be that Caitlin’s mutations are making her more enemies everywhere she goes. The problem though is that no one we’ve spoken to yet seems to know anything. We’ve got some people looking into it, but that research is going to take time and every day that passes is another chance for Caitlin to get worse and for her secret to get out.

We still wanted to speak to Vern (a shortened version of the dragon’s full name that I can’t remember) about Owayn, and after Dhother brought up that Owayn is the one supplying the mind control devices that nearly enslaved Vern to Wez, he agreed to help us with any traveling we needed. Then he said it was a shame Caitlin wasn’t a dragon because she smelled good. I don’t know what’s worse—the Caitlin smells like a dragon, or that she smells attractive.

The session ended there, and we are ready to play this upcoming Saturday. We learned a bit about Caitlin’s condition and started our offensive against Owayn, but we’re still in the dark and underpowered regarding those plot points respectively. For the former we have to be careful because honestly I don’t think it will be long before Caitlin gets a bounty on her head from the church of Bahamut, Tiamat, or even just a hunter interested in taking down a dragon-elf. I can see Caitlin attracting a lot of bad attention, and right now we have very few ways to curb it. I don’t think it will be long at all until Caitlin has to start avoiding towns completely and sleeping in the wilderness to avoid detection. For the latter we certainly managed to hurt Owayn, but not enough to kill him and both in and out of character I know we aren’t strong enough to kill him yet. The problem is though that he’s gone too far by kidnapping Timmy and attacking Alpert. Our characters can’t just sit around waiting to get stronger, so we have to figure out some way to stop him.

Next session should be very interesting as we try to figure out what our next move will be. Curious to hear what you guys think we should do, and don’t bother suggesting angry flying sex… Caitlin and Dhother already got that handled.

Until next time, Namaste!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wyrmwick Log: Session 7

Oh my… things sure can change in a week can’t they? We got together this Saturday to continue the Wyrmwick campaign (and again on Sunday, but that’s for later) and this was quite the pivotal session. There were plenty of battles, instantly memorable conversations, and a rather interesting metamorphosis. With that kind of buildup I really can’t waste time dicking around, so let’s get right into the recap!

So the session picked up right where we left off: our party was in Zelayla’s Crypt searching for Zelayla’s Staff, and after a nice extended rest we were back on the classic adventurer pastime of murdering everything. The first victim was a Fire Elemental, but to our shock and bewilderment, this monster didn’t seem interested in murdering us right away. In fact he was pretty kosher with just chilling while we walked around. Dhother performed his ritual to Comprehend Language, and heard the monster saying that he was “part of [a] key”. With no way to understand what else that might mean, we attempted to see if we could provoke the monster. Caitlin drew her swords and instantly the elemental got ready to battle. It was a short but thrilling battle than ended when the elemental teleported away, and then Caitlin took it down via throwing dagger. It was a totally ninja moment.

When the elemental died it left behind a talisman that was set ablaze. The party was a bit too cautious to touch it, but eventually Caitlin grabbed it. Instantly it set her hand on fire, but eventually the fire started to subside and instead left her with a strange tattoo of a snake wrapped around a flame. Cue people already getting ready for the idea that my character is cursed and it’s the Book of Morgana all over again.

After a bit more exploring we found an Air Elemental, and started to sense a pattern. Before fighting we found that Caitlin could now understand the elemental’s speech indicating that she could now speak Primordial. Probably not a great sign, but it allowed her to her the Air Elemental speaking about also being part of a key. Cue the battle, and Caitlin sorta-kinda raped the elemental. I crit on my Rapier attack and then rolled near max damage on my Power Attack and follow up short sword attack meaning my damage clocked in at around 48. It was rather disappointing to come that close to 50 and fail, especially since I forgot to roll my 1d6 for criting, but it was still pretty cool. After the elemental died it seemed to become absorbed in my hand, and now my tattoo shifted from flames to a tornado. Again, we’re sensing a pattern.

With two of the elemental keys in hand (quite literally), we ventured down the only path not traveled which sounds like the lyrics to a Johnny Cash song. After opening the gate we found evidence of a Gelatinous Cube in the area, and for those new to D&D Gelatinous Cubes are basically big moving cubes of Jello filled with acid, so in other words not something you want to be surprised by. Thankfully Caitlin has a high enough Perception to notice the cube was actually standing right in front of us, so we avoided being surprised and thus digested by the blocky blob. Instead we battled it, and there was no love lost for this fiend as we rather mercilessly pummeled it which was rather sad when you consider the Cube only has an Intelligence of 1 so it pretty much just exists to glomp. All he wants to do is hug! Too bad we killed him before he could really hug any of us, but luckily the Cube gets his satisfaction through fanart.

Moving along we found a strange room filled with three altars each carved into the shape of a dragon and containing a copper chalice full of a strange unfamiliar liquid. In addition there was a tiny piece of glowing moss in the middle of the room that Jason noted was “unnatural”. To me I figured that meant it was the third elemental, Earth, but instead Jason meant it wasn’t naturally glowing moss and instead it existed to illuminate this room. We didn’t find that out until much later—far after we had started pouring the liquids on top of the moss expecting it to change into some golem of dirt and mud. Whoops. At that point we couldn’t figure out what we were expected to do with the liquids and figured we’d need more clues to complete this puzzle.

Not to be stumped, we continued on in hopes of stumbling upon some clue to enlighten us to the mystery behind the cups, but instead we stumbled upon our third elemental: Water. To sum it up: Caitlin heard the elemental talk about being part of a key, we kicked ass, and the essence of the defeated elemental was absorbed into Caitlin’s hand. At this point Caitlin was just two elements away from being Captain Planet.

Through another corridor we found a Bulley Pit. Well, I don’t know how to spell their names, but apparently they’re like land sharks, so in complete terror our group ran through the pit waiting for the Bulley to pop out at any minute. They didn’t, and instead we found the diary of Wesley clutched in the hands of a skeleton. Through this diary we found out the secret history between Wez, Owayn, and Zelayla. Turns out the former two were pupils of Zelayla, but Owayn tried to seize control of everything she built and killed her. Wez had mastered a ritual that would allow someone to transfer their soul over to a new body hopefully to revive Zelayla, but he had to use the ritual on himself to survive.

Beyond that we didn’t get too much from the Diary, but we did learn quite a bit more about Wez. Sadly nothing regarding that dragon altar puzzle which was disappointing. Instead we stumbled upon the last elemental, and thanks to an early crit, defeated him rather easily (the only way to defeat the earth elemental was to crit against him). With the earth elemental absorbed, we know had all of the keys… unless we were also using fake elements like lightning, ice, mud, light, darkness, poison, love, dragon, normal, and iridium. Oh wait, that last one actually is an element… nevermind.

We found another chest containing seven golden daggers, and whenever Caitlin held them they seemed to respond to her tattoo and let off a particular feeling that corresponded to one of the elements: fire, water, earth, air, light, darkness, and chaos. We figured they’d be some part of the puzzle later on, so Caitlin held on to them. After that we came upon a coffin with a vampire sleeping in it. Figuring we’d probably have to kill her anyway, Caitlin decided she’d take the dagger of light and try to plunge it into the vampire’s heart before she woke up, but as you can imagine the vampire was well aware of what we were doing and bit Caitlin as she tried to attack.

Thankfully one bite doesn’t make a vampire, so Caitlin was spared vampirism on top of the other conditions she received in this dungeon, but we’ll get to those in a moment. As it is now, the party vanquished the vampire, Dhother swiped her rosary in case it came in handy, and the group used the seven daggers to open a door leading to a room with a massive chasm. On the other side of the pit was a golden coffin, but sadly no one in the group could figure out how to get across. After deliberating Caitlin decided to test her luck and tried drinking from one of the cups on the altar. It caused her to double over in pain, writhe in agony, and grow a pair of dragon wings. Yes, I am quite serious; Caitlin grew a pair of dragon wings.

With these new wings she flew over to the other side of the chasm (with a rope attached so she wouldn’t fall just in case the wings failed). After crossing, she opened the coffin to find a spectral Zelayla and her staff sitting in a pile of her ashes. Zelalah was waiting for someone to bring her a body, but since Caitlin didn’t have one, she instead demanded to take the elf’s body instead. With that demand Caitlin acted quickly, and grabbed the staff, avoided the ghost’s grapple, and was pulled back over the pit with the staff in hand. The entire conversation was much more humorous and you can find the entire conversation here.

With the staff at hand we tried one last time to figure out our predicament regarding the dragon altars. Drew and Jonn both tried drinking from the chalices (one of the altars refills the cups) hoping to see if they also received draconic transformations, but instead it just poisoned them and knocked them out. Dhother tried to feed them the moss from earlier but well… Okay I think we can safely say this group is Dethklok Part II. Dhother fed them glowing poisonous moss and surprisingly their conditions didn’t improve. After they woke up we found that Caitlin’s tattoo allowed her to move the statue blocking the entrance, and after collecting a cup of the liquid for study, the group left the crypt. Thankfully Wez was sleeping peacefully in the elevator the whole time, so we collected him, returned to Wyrmwick, and reported back to Khan Muzarog.

Well actually we returned to Alpert first so that Caitlin could reveal her new wings to him (which he responded was “kinda hot”), but the conversation mostly turned to Muzarog where we presented him with the staff and a crystal we found inside the cavern that is used to charge it. Unfortunately we learned the only way to recharge the crystal is to power it with someone’s soul. Since that wasn’t very appealing to the group of mostly good characters, we were told to investigate the weapon more thoroughly and the mages at Colingrove were our first stop. However after arriving we received bad news from Duke Ned: Timmy has been taken hostage by Owayne who is still waiting for the party to kill Thoran Hawklight. Dun dun DUUUUUUUN!!!

There was a bit more to this sessions including a conversation with an annoying mage who couldn’t get over the fact that Caitlin was an elf with wings, but this recap is already long enough. I suppose I should use this change to address Caitlin’s changes because they’re far from your normal fair. To be frank, I like that Caitlin has this story bit. Sure it’s never fun to see your character undergoing a transformation you can’t control, but at the same time there’s a lot of enjoyment to get out of character development you don’t have total control over. I like the way things are going with Caitlin and I’m curious to find out the root of all of this. I just hope that until we discover what the dealio with her dragon-ification is we don’t run into even more problems.

Credit for the images go to DarkVolt.

Until next time, Namaste!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Building Character: Starting at Scratch

Since I started posting my character backstories and the From Their Eyes series I’ve been receiving compliments on the way I build and craft my characters, and I figured I could take advantage of this praise and give it back. See, I know a lot of people struggle to make their characters anything more than assorted numbers assigned to different stats, and they’d like to build a character with y’know… character. I want to help in this aspect, because if those people appreciate my characters, then they might also be able to learn from the process I use to make them. That’s what this short series, Building Character, is all about. I want to take you all through a step by step process of how I build my characters (with Caitlin Cormac as the headline example), and how you can get into the roleplaying aspect of the character during any part of the process. Without further adieu, let’s start at the beginning of character creation: conception.

Before any idea comes to fruition it is first thought up, and since I’ve yet to reach a point where I can manipulate the fabrics of the dimensions of time and space I am also bound by these rules. When I decide to create a character I decide whether I’m building this character to compliment or contrast an existing party, or if I’m building whatever the fuck I want. Some players subscribe exclusively one way or the other, but for me I try to go based off of the party composition and who has decided on what. If no one has any clue and isn’t in any rush to decide I usually take initiative and create what I want, but in general I find I enjoy characters the most when they’re pigeon-holed during the creation process as it often lets me come up with concepts I might not normally consider.

In the case of Caitlin I built her to fit into what the party needed while also building her partially to be own whims which I’ll get into down the line. To explain what I mean you have to notice the party’s composition: Dhother (Controller), Denora (Leader), Drew (Striker), and Jonn (Defender). With all of the major roles covered I had the ability to pick any role I wanted. I eventually settled on either a Striker or a Defender as it had been a while since I played a Striker and I just love playing Defenders. After doing some test builds I decided upon three “Test” characters: a Drow Sorcerer, a Human Swordmage, and an Elf Scout. At this point these characters were labeled “Test 1”, “Test 2”, and “Test 3” respectively, but character was still on my mind as I’ll speak about in a moment. First I want to note why I picked those classes.

For Sorcerer and Swordmage I decided upon those classes so the party had someone arcane related in the group. I’ve noticed that Arcana checks can be quite important to the game from a mechanical and storytelling perspective, and I thought it would be essential for the group to have someone skilled in that art. At the same time I saw that Nature checks can be just as important, and without Kithra the party really didn’t have any character well versed in Nature. There was also a secondary bonus to the Sorcerer class because their main stat is Charisma and the group also lacks a CHA-based character to help with Diplomacy and Bluff checks. All of these characters fit a purpose in the party, and could be essential to the group dynamic.

In addition the races also held a bit of importance, or at least the Drow did. When I looked at races I tried to find races optimized for what I was trying to do because while I’m not necessarily a min/maxer, I do try to build strong characters so I get to enjoy playing them in the inevitable encounters. For the Storm Sorcerer I was building I found the Drow to be perfect and after thinking back to the second session of the campaign I figured I could work the history very easily into the Drow slaving angle. I even had a vague backstory that my character was taken from his/her home as a slave but escaped via their natural magic with the added twist that in order to escape in time he/she would have to leave a very close friend or family member behind. I even came up with an added twist on top of that, but I’ll keep that one in my pocket.

I came up with stories for the other concept as well, but again these were vague. For the Swordmage I just had the idea that this character was a soldier who came across an ancient lost magic either by accident, or it was forced upon him/her by an old mage. For the scout all I decided on was that I wanted to be a soldier of some kind, but more royal and urban in concept than some mercenary who spends their lives living in the woods. As you can see, these backstories were far less detailed during the conception phase because they didn’t work off of something established by the campaign. Usually working off what the DM has already set up works far better than trying to introduce a new concept into the campaign. If the campaign is one where Dwarves are a forgotten race that hasn’t been seen in years, try playing a Dwarf. If Warforced are mechanical golems built by the Dwarves as guardians (as they were in my brief campaign a few months back), try playing a Warforged. If it seems like the way a story is built excludes a creature, work with your DM to come up with a way to work around that rule, like the Drow above; he/she was going to become a slave, but he/she escaped.

So when I narrowed it down to those three concepts I eventually eliminated the Swordmage for solely one reason: the race. I am tired of playing Humans, and I couldn’t find another race that worked well with what the Swordmage needed to do that wasn’t outrageously silly. For example I could have been a Genasi, but then I force Jason’s campaign to justify why walking physical manifestations of elemental chaos are chilling with the humans and half-elves. I’ll explain more in a later edition of this series why the Human thing bothered me so much, but suffice it to say I was tired of playing Humans and thus I turned down the Swordmage.

Looking between the Scout and the Sorcerer I had a hard time picking. The Sorcerer, by nature, was far more useful to the party in my eyes. Their main attacks key off Charisma which would help with Bluff and Diplomacy, their arcane power source meant he/she would have at least a tolerable Arcana check, and at the time I was under the impression that Drew was solely a front line fighter (I forgot he did the crossbow stuff), so being in the back would be beneficial. Still the Scout had advantages too: high Nature and Perception checks to help out the party, added bonuses to Stealth and Acrobatics which might come in handy, plus the overall simple nature. I’ve been falling in and out of love with 4E recently, and the Essentials Scout felt like a nice step away from the massive assortment of powers I had to debate on picking for the Sorcerer.

The Scout was simple. Pick a few class features, and then go to feats. I would love for the Scout to get supplemental material down the line (especially for their piss poor Wilderness Knacks), but I appreciate the simplicity in building a class who simply uses MBA (Melee Basic Attack) each round and works from there. Obviously I don’t need to tell you which class I picked unless for some reason you were convinced Caitlin was an albino Drow who her manifested lightning into pointed blades and decided to run into the frontlines of combat like she had a death wish. Why did I choose Scout over Sorcerer though? Again, Sorcerer really had more advantages to it especially with the added Drow backstory, but I just really wanted to pull back from the heavy power emphasized classes that I’ve become a bit overwhelmed by. Also I have a soft spot in my heart for the Scout class because it was the first class I ever played in D&D… but that’s a story for another day.

So how do you turn this concept of a character into a story? Simple. As I’ll say often during this series, ask questions while you make the character. When I first picked Drow for the Sorcerer I asked “How would this character react to the Drow slavery” which then got me to asking “What if this character was involved with the Drow slavery?” It really doesn’t have to be specific as that though. This is the concept stage and at this point you should have a vague idea. Consider your character to be a round featureless blob. By the end of conception you should see contours and curves along the circumference to show that progress is being made, but save the big stuff like details for later on. Right now, keep it blob-like because marrying yourself to a story at this point might shackle your own creativity.

That’s all I’ve got to say on conception right now. This stage is basic, but the principle is important: play what you want. Even if you’re building the character to fit into the party’s dynamic, make sure you’re allowing your own personal preferences to influence the decision; otherwise you’re just wasting your time. However at the same time, be open to experimentation. Even ideas that seem bizarre or out of your comfort zone can be a lot of fun and help expand your ability to be creative. Give certain obstacles a try, and remember to have fun. I shall return again soon with the topic on how to turn mechanics into character.

Until next time, Namaste!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

WrestleMania 27 Thoughts & Review

So yeah, on Sunday night I watched WrestleMania as is my tradition ever since I first watched it back in 2001 with WrestleMania 17. WrestleMania 27 is getting a lot of mixed reviews from great to god awful. I’ve heard described as brilliant by some and then a clusterfuck by others. My thoughts range somewhere in between the two extremes. While it certainly wasn’t my favorite WrestleMania, I've seen much worse (WrestleMania 20 anybody?). This was an up and down show, but in general I liked it so let’s get to the card.

U.S. Title Match: Sheamus VS Daniel Byran – Taken off the card at the last minute, and never actually happened as advertised. It’s a shame because I was really looking forward to this match and I thought it would have been a great opener to get people excited, but alas… I can’t get too upset mostly because this is not the first time a good match has been bumped from the Mania card. Heck, Lance Storm never got to wrestle at a live Mania because both times he got bumped. Once for the Miller Lite Catfight girls. No, seriously. Shame we didn’t get to see it. Heard these guys were having great house shows.

World Heavyweight Title Match: Edge VS Alberto Del Rio – This was a strange match to start the night off with and honestly I thought this match would have been better in the middle of the show. As it was this was a fine match, but it was a bit too slow to work as the opening match. Del Rio actually looked very credible in this match, and considering what happened in the main event I’m glad Smackdown’s new heel is being booked as a threat. Great ring work with some nice spots and it ended with Edge getting the pin off a Spear. A bit anti-climactic, but it worked. Solid match.

Cody Rhodes VS Rey Mysterio – This match was amazing and honestly might have been my favorite of the night. The storyline leading to this was stupid, and I’ll continue to say this would have been more interesting if Cody’s face was kept hidden most of the match only to reveal mid-match that it was fine. Still, Cody looked very impressive in this match, and Mysterio got Rhodes over big time. I actually sort of like Rhodes’ gimmick now as he’s a bit more mysterious and psychopathic which could work wonders for him in the future. The finish saw Rhodes taking off Rey’s knee brace, then sliding out of the ring to hit him with it while the ref was distracted. A great finish and these guys put on one hell of a match for something that really didn’t interest me going in.

CORRE VS Big Show, Kane, Santino, and Kofi – A squash match essentially, but for the wrong guys. The current Intercontinental and Tag Team champions were utterly destroyed here in a match that was basically one hot tag. Some nice athleticism from Kofi, but that’s about all I can say positively about this match. Even if they had to make CORRE lose this match, they should have lost with a bit more style. You’d never realize that three guys in that match were champions, and the fourth guy they’re trying to build as the next Batista. Very poor match.

Randy Orton VS CM Punk – As I’ve said plenty of times, Randy really is a bad face--even if he is a tweener. It’s tough to really root against Punk considering this feud all started because Orton was a dick two years ago, and the build has been Orton systematically killing Punk’s partners. Still, I thought this was a great match due to some amazing ring psychology. CM Punk is amazing at this and he worked the leg all night long. Orton sold it great too and he really looked crippled out there. The finish saw Orton going for the punt then falling, and Punk narrowly escaping a surprise RKO. He attempted a diving crossbody only for Orton to come out with another surprise RKO. It was a great ending showing Punk narrowly avoiding one move just to fall into it again, and it really sells the RKO as the new Sweet Chin Music—i.e. a finisher that can come from anywhere. I heard reports saying Orton was pissed that this match was so low on the card and a bit shorter, but honestly I thought it went great. A nice mid card battle with some great ring work. Kudos to both men.

Jerry Lawler VS Michael Cole w/ Special Guest Referee Stone Cold Steve Austin – This was both a great and awful match. On one hand Michael Cole got the living shit beat out of him at WrestleMania which was the only thing anyone wanted. On the other hand this match was painfully long during Cole’s offensive, and the ending was baffling. They had the chance to kill the Cole heat at Mania, but instead they’re giving Cole the overturned win via DQ which suggests this feud will continue. I don’t know how it could, and honestly it was a pretty big downer ending to match that should have been a feel good “everybody leaves happy” sort of match. Very strange.

Triple H VS The Undertaker – This was an amazing match put on by two great veterans. You can tell these guys aren’t as fast as they once were and some of the time things didn’t go perfectly, but honestly Taker just can’t do a bad Mania match anymore. The emotions were overwhelming in this match and Taker, God bless him, absolutely destroyed himself for this match. Seeing Taker kick out of a Pedigree and a Tombstone Piledriver was amazing—even I thought HHH was going to win once he hit the Tombstone. The finish wasn’t as impressive just because it didn’t look like Taker got the Hell’s Gate locked in correctly unless I was mistaken that it was supposed to look like a chokehold. Triple H tapping for the finish was great though, and I can’t say anything bad about this match that wouldn’t be nitpicking. Some people think the end wasn’t planned and they had to cut the match short because Taker was hurt, and that’s entirely possible, but if that is the case then even more props to Taker and HHH because that definitely looked planned. A fantastic match.

Dolph Ziggler & Laycool VS John Morrison, Trish Stratus, and Snooki – People were dreading this match as soon as it happened, but I actually was surprised by it. First of all this was really Trish Stratus VS Laycool featuring others, and it was very refreshing to see Trish in the ring again. She looked sharp, she was entertaining, and it all flowed rather well. The finish saw Snooki getting the hot tag and doing some cartwheel moved to pin Michelle McCool. I was actually impressed by this because Snookie could have totally gone the easy way out and done some stupid slap or horribly botched DDT. What she did didn’t exactly look threatening, but it took some athleticism, and I can appreciate that.

WWE Title Match: The Miz VS John Cena – This match was terrible from almost the very beginning. It started off actually pretty nice with a promo for Miz showing his time on the Real World intercut with scenes of great Mania moments. It built him up as this new heel that, like it or not, was going to make a WrestleMania memory. It was all downhill from there. Cena then had his own promo and honestly it was a complete clusterfuck. It was this very religious prayer played over images of Cena that came off extremely awkward, and throughout the match Cena looked distracted. For a promo all about him being an inspiration and a symbol for children, Cena pretty much ignored the crowd which did nothing to help the already dreary energy of the night. People wanted excitement, but more than that people wanted The Rock. Instead we got a very boring match full of way too many pinfalls. Every few seconds someone would go for a pin, and it really killed the match’s tempo. The only cool spot of the match came when Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment, and then Miz kicked out. That sole moment made Miz look credible, but it ended after that. The “finish” came with Miz attempting to leave the arena when Cena attacked him and the two got counted out. A double DQ was not going to sit well with the fans, so The Rock came out, ordered the match to restart as a No DQ match. He then Rock Bottom’d Cena, and Miz scored the win.

Again, this was a clusterfuck. The match itself was boring and filled with too many pinfalls on banal maneuvers that killed the tempo for me. The match absolutely destroyed Miz’s chance to look credible which he honestly desperately needed. Miz needed to look good here to come out looking credible, but instead he was your standard chicken shit heel. He didn’t look dominant or memorable, and aside from kicking out of the AA he was mostly forgettable. The end just stank and again, killed Miz’s credibility as he only won after having the match restarted and The Rock laying out Cena for him. I thought this was a terrible match and honestly the worst way to end the night. Even ending the night on the shitty 8-Man tag match would have been better because at least the faces won. Nobody got what they wanted here. Cena fans saw Cena lose. Cena haters still had to endure Cena looking like the dominant combatant. Miz fans can’t really cheer this win as a legitimate victory, and Rock fans can’t cheer because honestly he came off like a heel.

This was a horrible way to end Mania and really dropped the show’s appeal in my eyes because even more than Taker & HHH, this was the most important match. Taker/HHH was a match that defined a generation, but Cena/Miz should have been a match to showcase the next generation, but honestly came off looking flat and pointless. Overall I still liked WrestleMania 27. I loved the Rhodes/Mysterio, Punk/Orton, and Taker/HHH matches immensely, and the rest were relatively good. All three of the above matches were WrestleMania caliber to me, and I’d definitely love to see those programs continue—though I doubt the latter will. I’d give WrestleMania 27 a 7/10 or a B if you will.

Until next time, Namaste

Monday, April 4, 2011

Caitlin's Backstory

Since people seemed to enjoy Juliet’s backstory and From Their Eyes was popular enough to make it a full-time series, I figure I’d indulge those curious about Caitlin and her backstory. Admittedly her story is a lot less whimsical than Juliet’s which is a big reason why I have no real qualms about spoiling it—it’s really not something will come up naturally in the story, and even if it did we wouldn’t be able to see it from the perspectives that matter, so instead I’ll share it with everybody. Hopefully you guys dig it. Without further adieu, let’s get into Caitlin’s backstory.

Caitlin Cormac was only a child when her parents left the Glitterhold Forest in their attempt to find a new way of life. With very little to their name they made the long arduous journey overseas, but due to dire circumstances regarding funds they were not able to procure a direct route to Wyrmwick and instead had to settle for reaching the continent and walking from there. Though perilous, Caitlin’s parents felt it was in their daughter’s best interest to be able to grow up in a society where her future wasn’t dictated to her by the whims of one man, however such an exodus came with risks—not only were Caitlin and her parents declared as heretics for abandoning the forest, but the road to Wyrmwick was rife with danger not suitable for a child and two adults who were far from proficient with a weapon.

It seemed as if fortune would shine upon the couple though as they found themselves only a few miles outside of Wyrmwick and had yet to encounter a single problem. However the elves let their guards down, and were completely unaware of the predators following them. Stalking the family was a trio of beasts with mangled teeth, knotted muscles of flesh, and crocked claws leaking lethal venom. Just as the Cormac family thought they were safe the beasts attacked, and in mere moments the situation became chaos. Caitlin’s father, moderately sized for an elf, was the first target, and before anyone could recognize the dangers at hand he had been stricken several times. With his brief knowledge of medicine, Caitlin’s father recognized the venom he was now infected with was very deadly, and without much time to grieve he accepted that his fate was already decided. In the brief moments he had left he wanted to ensure his family escaped, and he desperately tried to hold off the beasts while ordering his wife to escape. Though it pained her to do so, she knew her husband’s conviction wasn’t worth questioning and she began to flee with Caitlin. Unfortunately one of the fiends managed to strike Caitlin’s mother in the back as she ran, but due to the final efforts from her father, the beast was held back for the mere moments necessary for Caitlin and her mother to escape, and for the beasts to decide to finish off the meal they already had.

A mile outside of Wyrmwick, Councilman Alpert stared down at a grave. His wife, Moyria was six months pregnant with their child when she was stricken with an illness. Even for a man with as much money and power as he, curing her was just impossible, and all too suddenly he lost the family he never had. It had become habit for the Councilman to wonder out to the cemetery and stare at his wife’s grave for hours, and people were starting to question the sanity of the recently widowed husband. But fate has a strange way of working as Alpert heard the strained breathing of a woman staggering towards him with a child tucked tightly in her arms.

Alpert stared at the woman who seemed to be stuck in a horrible fever. Thick beads of sweat pouring down her face already tinted a faint red. Her eyes seemed barely focused, and she was muttering something in elven—a lullaby. The image was an all too painful reminder of his own wife’s final moments, and quickly the councilman wrapped his jacket around the mother and tried to diagnose her problems based off his own limited knowledge of medicine. His efforts were in vain though, and Caitlin’s mother died less than an hour outside of Wyrmwick. Now an orphan, Caitlin was all alone in the world, and Alpert knew it. He couldn’t stand witnessing someone else endure the tragedy of living alone, and thus he employed the young Caitlin to be his servant so that she would have a home to stay in and a life inside of Wyrmwick.

However the relationship between Alpert and Caitlin extended far beyond a simple handmaiden. As she aged Alpert would employee elves to help teach her the ways of her people. She was taught the ways of the hunter, the ranger, and the scout. Due to her near constant supervision by either Alpert or one of her trainers, she adapted quickly to the ways of combat, and at the age of fifteen she was hired on as the official bodyguard of Councilman Alpert. She always knew she owed her life to him, and never questioned any task he asked of her. To her, Alpert was an amazing mentor—far more magnificent than any she deserved. To Alpert, Caitlin was the child he lost years ago, and the chance to live a life with a real family.

On her twentieth birthday Alpert pooled together a large amount of resources to have Caitlin built a custom rapier forged by true elven blacksmiths in the style of her people. This sword, called Corellon’s Thorn, holds very significant meaning to Caitlin. Not only is a treasured gift from the man she respects more than anyone else, but it was custom built for her, and the names of her parents are carved into the inside of the hilt.

Caitlin would do anything for Alpert which is why she never questioned him when he asked her to lend her skill to the resistance armies battling the demon horde. Though it pained him to send Caitlin, Alpert knew that the city of Wyrmwick needed her strength more than he did. Without hesitation she left her home behind to find what remained of the resistance army, and bring the threat of the Demon Baron to an end.

So yep, that’s Caitlin’s backstory. Less thematic than Juliet’s, but I still like the emotion. If you guys enjoyed reading this, I encourage you to check back in the next few days as I’m going to detail my process for creating Caitlin from start until finish. Hope you guys enjoyed.

Until next time, Namaste!

Wyrmwick Log: Session 6

Alright, so before I get into this week’s D&D recap I want to address something—mainly the same thing I imagine a few of you are also wondering. “Didn’t you just make a blog like two weeks ago saying you were done with D&D?” Yeah, I did, and now I’m back and I feel I should explain why before I start to come off like a YouTube personality who says “I’m quitting YouTube” just to come back a week later and act like it never happened *coughPhillyDcough*. The reason I left D&D was to hopefully alleviate some tensions between the players. I had hoped that my lack of presence would allow some personalities to calm down and get back to playing a game we’d enjoy, but sadly that didn’t happen. Within the week things fell through and more people left the group. Considering the people who left were the ones I had a problem with, there was really nothing keeping me from playing, and honestly a lot of people wanted me back. I didn’t go emo or make the blog post to get traffic—I was honestly dead set on not coming back, but things changed. They just weren’t in the way I had planned.

I still have no plans to return to the Dethklok campaign, though from what I’m hearing it sounds like that won’t be returning either—at least not in any recognizable form. But that’s coming from someone not playing in the group, so I don’t know. What I do know is that this past week we had an amazing session in the Wyrmwick campaign, and I’m going to recap it right now.

So this session was my return to the game, and since ArcLight rolled up Denora, a Half-Elf Suncleric to replace Eli last week, I rolled up a new character so as not to overlap two characters essentially doing the same thing. My new character is Caitlin Cormac, an Elf Scout from Wyrmwick who I honestly had a lot of fun playing. She’s a bit more to the point than my past characters, and in general I just really enjoyed the change of pace. The chat really seemed to dig her as well which was a pleasant surprise. Plus this was the first time since Sayid that I got to play a Striker character! We’ll see if I can beat Sayid’s session count of “two” next week.

The session began with Caitlin arriving to meet the rest of the party after their escape/investigation of the south tower. She was to the point. After meeting with the rest of the group and learning that Khan Muzarog had returned to Wyrmwick, the party was told to head north to Collinsgrove to speak with Duke Ned about the fate of the resistance army and to request aid. The party headed north, and on one night they came upon an abandoned camp ground. After investigating, the party found it completely abandoned. It seemed like a good place to sleep, but the party felt it was too convenient to risk it, and there was nothing wrong with the way they were sleeping. That night Caitlin spotted a group of thieves approaching the camp asking why we didn’t take the bait. Yeah, we sorta avoided being ambushed and attacked in our sleep, and the chat was quick to praise our “underp” moment to me rejoining the group. I don’t think the group would have slept there regardless, but I did find it funny we just left after that. I hesitate to think LordKaT set up an entire encounter for us, and we just decided to walk right passed it.

So on our way to Collinsgrove we spotted what looked like refugees on the side of the road. Most of them were battered and mangled, and it wasn’t a pleasant sight. We were allowed entrance to Collinsgrove and we spoke with Duke Ned, the dwarf. He asked for our report and then told us to stay around and speak to him again the next morning. After that we did some shopping leading to two infamous moments: Jonn asking for “defensive” armor, and Bomar the baker who was too stupid to be bluffed. Both segments were hilarious, but this recap is already going to be long, so we’ll skip over them for now.

The next morning we returned to Duke Ned to find out what was going on with the resistance army only to be told that Wyrmwick was attacked and the refugees outside were actually from Wyrmwick. This was sort of a big deal to Caitlin as someone very important to her named Alpert lived in Wyrmwick. In fact the entire party seemed devastated by this news, but there was very little they could do about it as it seemed we’d be screwed if we attempted to invade Wyrmwick directly to find out what happened. Duke Ned wanted us to stay to bolster the defenses of Collinsgrove, but again, telling us Wyrmwick was destroyed meant a few of us were in a rush to get back and see what befell of the city. Before we could leave though we were interrupted by the Duke’s son, Timmy who told us about a staff of power held in the crypt of some mage. After more questioning we learned that crypt was now in Owayn’s Hold, and we made Owayn’s Hold our next destination. Caitlin at first suggested stealing a ship to get there, but the rest of the party remembered how well that went over the first time. Instead we asked Duke Ned for a ship, but he only allowed the party a trip to an area about a day’s away from Owayn’s Hold which we were forced to accept. Before leaving I muttered “eat shit and die” under my breath, which apparently set off Duke Ned’s very fragile relationship with his son which before we left deteriorated to Duke Ned threatening to beat his son with his dick. I love this campaign.

We were let off a mile away from Owayn’s Hold and were forced to walk through the swampy marshlands to get there. We rested for an evening in the swamplands only to be attacked by a vicious spider during the evening. This bastard spider was actually a tough one to take down mostly because it had a high attack and whenever it hit it would knock you unconscious. It happened quite a few times to Caitlin, but thankfully Dhother and Drew managed to avoid being hit (for the most part) and collectively took it down while Denora spent time bringing Caitlin and Jonn back up whenever they got knocked out. It was good team work, and we found a bag full of money in the spider’s belly that totaled to 130 GP which we desperately needed.

After that we finally reached Owayn’s Hold, but to our shock it was completely barren. No one in sight, and even Owayn himself seemed to be resting peacefully. We ignored him and used the elevator to head into the basement where we found the crypt that contained the artifact of power we were looking for—presumably. We couldn’t open it, and the only way to open it seemed to involve a key held by a “Wesley” and yes, that meant we had to return to Wyrmwick to find good old Wez the Mad. Luckily we managed to find a portal in one of the other chambers in the hold that took us back to Wyrmwick, and from there we quickly discovered that only the poorer districts were destroyed by the Chain Devils, and the rest of the city was fine. We reported back to Khan Muzarog (after speaking briefly to Santa Claus—er… Alpert), who basically told us that they fended off the first attack, but surely more would be coming. Until then however, we were free to pursue whatever mad fables we wanted, and so we took Wez with us to visit the tomb back in Owayn’s Hold. After Wez turned Caitlin’s weapon pink of course. Fucking Wez.

So we took Wez to the crypt, and to our surprise he seemed to react with the statue in the room and before long found himself surrounded by a strange energy. The statue lifted into the air revealing a staircase that descended into the lower crypts. Unfortuantely we couldn’t figure out a way to bring Wez with us, and when we descended the stairs Wez ended the spell and the statue fell, sealing us in the crypt. Kinda messed up on that one, but we had no choice if we wanted to move forward. Don’t in the crypts we found a collection of wraiths and skeletons that we did battle with, and it was quite the epic encounter—except for poor Dhother who failed almost constantly to make an attack that would hit. His effects were still appreciated, but he had bursts that would attack several enemies at once, and he’d still miss. Also the same bad rolls spread to Denora, but thankfully she was amazing at support. She even handed Caitlin a +4 bonus to her attack rolls for a turn which for a Scout translated to +8 damage. Yep. Pretty fucking sexy. Not as sexy as this though. Sorry, just had to reference that picture in here somewhere. And then this follow up picture. Okay, I'm good.

In general everyone filled their roles excellently. Caitlin and Drew laid some big damage down, Jonn took a beating and kept the agro on him, Denora kept everyone in the party from going down, and Dhother, despite missing, still did an excellent job controlling the battlefield. I actually thought we had great tactics, and our team was very anti-derp for the first time in a while. We ended the game shortly after that, but this game ran about five or six hours. Thankfully even combat seemed to flow a lot faster I think due to partially to the fact that three of our characters are Essential classes so they’re rather straightforward and the fact this party isn't nearly as large as Dethklok's. I had an absolute blast playing this session and it felt very reminiscent of the early sessions of the Spoony campaign where everything just felt a lot more enjoyable. Great atmosphere, great friends, and a great game. I’m very eager for next week.

Now before I sign off, I want to give a bit of heads up on what’s coming up for me. I have plans to reveal Caitlin’s backstory either today or tomorrow so that you all can see what’s the deal with her and Alpert. I also plan to do an article detailing how I came up with Caitlin as a character from a mechanics and storytelling perspective to give people some insight into the way I make characters. I also plan to do an article regarding my thoughts on WrestleMania 27 tomorrow. Busy week, but I should also have a new episode of Weekly Manga Recap this Sunday. Fingers crossed.

Credits for the images above go to DarkVolt and CallingCthulhu.

Until next time, Namaste!