Thursday, October 27, 2011

Abra-Cadbra! My job went POOF!

Yeah, that happened yesterday. Due to some restructuring of the customer service field within the company my position was eliminated as of Oct. 27th. Yay! I mean boo!

Its not like my wife and I weren't looking to purchase our first house which we've been saving money towards. Or looking to start a family and begin creating more little gaming geeks. No nothing like that.

In all seriousness it totally blows but there's not a lot I can do except get cracking and find something better so our plans aren't on hold for a long time. This is just a hiccup in the grand scheme of things. And one I'll overcome and come out better in the end. But I have to ask myself what do I want to do now that I'm freshly unemployed? What are the positives of not having a job? I've come up with a list of positives.

The Positives List

1) I can grow my beard back.

And that's all I can come up with for that. But what new occupation do I want to pursue? I'm at a crossroads, in a sense, so where do I want to go from here? What would be some of the careers I'd like to pursue?
Enter yet another list!

The New Occupation for Phil List

1) Man-Whore. This is self explanatory. However I may have to share a cut of my profits to my wife.

2) Reverse Exotic Dancer. Now I know what you're thinking....but hear me out. I start the routine naked and will put more clothes as I get money. I figure I could make a killing. For those who know what I look like just the thought of my shirt unbuttoned is nauseating so the full monty would make the audience look like the pie eating scene from 'Stand By Me'.

3) Illustrator. Yeah, I can draw a bit. I might be a tad bit rusty but I'd probably take commissions if asked.

4) Stand-Up Comic. Apparently I have a knack for self deprecating humor and decent timing. Hell half the routine would be just how I look. From there I could go into a variety of topics such as being fat, losing my hair, sexual inadequacy, and the list goes on from there! Public humiliation for money ahoy!

5) Professional Ghostbuster. And why the hell not? Have you seen 'Ghost Adventures' on Travel Channel?!? Dear lord its atrocious! The wife and I watch it for a laugh and generally can't stand the host (we think Aaron Goodwin is the bomb though). I can provoke. I can look shocked that the air got cold. I can stay up all night in the dark. I ain't afraid of no ghosts!

I also have my own PKE Meter.

And I also have my own trap too.

No job is too big! No fee is too big!!

6) Gaming Critic. I could keep practicing my writing and reviewing skills and apply at various gaming sites & blogs to see if I can get some reviews/criticisms posted/published. I enjoy gaming. I enjoy complaining. Its almost a match made in heaven.

7) Go to a trade school and get trained in something! Its vague but its probably the most responsible thing to do is to get skilled in a trade or craft. Maybe culinary arts? Pharmacy tech (I like medicine)? Computer training? Schooling may not be as glamorous as some of my other options but what the hell?

8) High Class Man-Whore. Its like number 1 but I wear a tie.

So that's some of the things I'm thinking about. Basically I'll do what I have to so Jess and I aren't totally screwed and we can get back to a sense of normalcy in our household. I don't want to keep our plans on hold forever cause that's just not a good way to live.

And if you have any other suggestions feel free to comment. It can't possibly be worse than what I've thought of.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

About the blogs I read.

Those that know me understand I have a 'dislike' to borderline loathing of older editions of the RPG that started it all for damn near all of us reading this. Just mentioning playing AD&D makes me want to throw a brick at the person who mentioned it (on a bad day). I'm a 3.5/Pathfinder fan. So why in Vecna's Colon do I follow so many blogs that adhere to the Old School Revival (OSR)?

Two reasons actually.

1) They are good reads. While I don't use the rule systems most write about in a positive fashion, its still an enjoyable read and there are alot of topics that any DM or player for any system can relate to. Also some are just funny. Its almost like listening to your grandparents complain about the 'damn kids on their lawn....rolling d20's and not having THAC0'.

2) They remind me why I got into this hobby in the first place. I find lots of information about players, how to DM better, how to be a better player, etc within these blogs. I read the comments and still see that there are kindred souls out there that like to play to have fun, to have their choices as players mean something, that adventure is still a valid reason to go out without a preset path. In short, they help me to try to keep true to my roots. And while I DM adventure paths for the two games I currently run it was more out of necessity due to time restraints.

Ideally the game I should be running would be more akin to those of old. Players roll up their characters within a world I created. I give them a hook to start their adventuring careers and then let their whims and desires dictate what happens to them. Let their actions speak for them. Let their choices have consequences both good and bad. Have them go out and experience the world on their terms not one set by a block of modules.

Sounds pretty good huh?

Yeah, my choice of rule set is Pathfinder. I'm proud to say that. But apparently my mindset is old school. And that makes me smile. And while I won't agree with some of the topics on the blogs I read (PFRPG gives you cancer! THAC0 isn't the devil [it IS by the way]) I feel it helps to remind me of the best times I had and reminds me to strive to not be a total douche and ruin what is a truly fun hobby to have.

*Knock Knock* Housekeeping!

Just a quick post to say I've been screwing around with the look of the blog. A few changes here and there.

The best addition was the list of blogs I follow so you can check them out at well. And if any of the Fellow Adventurers have their own blog they want to whore out, just let me know. If I like it, I'll follow it and list it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Great Googly Moogly! There was actual tabletop gaming this weekend!

Yes it actually happened. Honest to goodness gaming this weekend. And it, surprisingly, came about through a local meet up group. And I had a good time. And so did the wife. And so did Matt.

It was a smallish Halloween themed mini-con near to where I live with two main time slots, a costume contest, raffle for some goodies, and a chance to reconnect with some of the gaming grognards I knew from con's past and meet some new ones as well. All that was missing was that crazy Viscount Eric and his gnomish ways.

The game Jess and I signed up for was one run by a local legend in the greater NEPA gaming area. The man was known with running fun cons and I cut my teeth playing D&D and running TOON at his cons. And when I saw Mike Griffith was running an adventure I had to sign up. Cause I knew I'd have fun. Cause Mike runs a fun game. And 'Ghost Town' didn't disappoint. We spent sometime at the beginning fleshing out our pregen PC's (just to add some personal flair...and I appreciate that) and then we were off. Tax collectors heading to a town that's been tardy in its tax payments. And naturally when we arrive things are amiss.

The town is deserted sans a pack of malnourished dogs along the borders of the village. And as we investigated we found bones of people littered through out the small hamlet. And then the attack began. Swarms of these lamprey like worms boiled up out of the ground and began to try to eat us for dinner.

So the party began defending itself. And it took some time to get the situation under control but with a stroke of genius from the paladin, who thought perhaps fire was a better solution, the conflict came to a faster end. And then it was back to the hunt so to speak. Our investigating led us to the local cleric of Obad-Hai's temple and dwelling. We found her journal and that helped to point us in the right direction; towards a local mushroom merchant who seems to be the source of the wormy menace.

Over time we eventually find the merchants bride being assaulted by a large mutant plant creature. When we were done slaying the beast, and after she was calmed down by plying alcohol to her, the lady explained about how the mushroom merchant was building some kind of worm army to conquer the surrounding lands and she wanted nothing to do with it. She also led us right to his lair where more ghastly fungal creatures awaited us. And eventually the merchant himself. Who, while monologuing about how dare heroes come here, the fighter (me) stopped him and said we were just tax collectors and came to collect. This flabbergasted him and he dropped his guard allowing the party to assault him quickly and put his wormy dominion to an end.

It was great to play again under Mike's screen (so to speak). I've always enjoyed that he actively encourages role play and just having fun in addition to being very descriptive to the situations at hand (whether its combat, the local town, etc.). Hopefully I'll get another crack at playing in a game he runs again soon.

Also of note was seeing Dennis again. The ol' Higgipedia is a trip and fun to chat with. Coady was there too and its nice to see him again. Also Dave Cooper was there (another grognard of old) and it turns out he's also an Eclipse Phase fan too. Hell, he was at GenCon this past August when I was there and he stopped by during the game I was in to check it out. I *thought* I recognized him but was busy playing at the time to get a good look.

Jess and I had things to do after Mike's game ended but we stuck around until after the raffle drawing. There were some nice prizes up there too. Thanks to Kenzer & Co for the Hackmaster stuff (I was impressed to see the leather bound Hacklopedia of Beasts up for grabs... and tickets were only $1 each....Higgins got that one. Lucky guy cause it was a sweet book!). I actually did win a raffle too. I won the last prize of the night. A copy of Settlers of Catan.

So I now have wood for sheep.

It was still a good time.

From the Vault: The Orange Box - or - My name is Phil and I'm an achievement whore.

Every now and again I like to go back and revisit some of my older titles that I've played to see how they hold up. Well with the case of The Orange Box it was two fold. I get to play Half-Life 2 and Episode 1 & 2 again......and I also get to go after more achievements for my gamer score.

I'm a total achievement shill.

Quite frankly this is probably the *BEST* video game value you can possibly ever get for your money. It comes packed with Half-Life 2, the expansions Episode 1 & 2 (which expand the fight for humanity Gordon Freeman is embroiled in), Portal (which is ungodly awesome) and Team Fortress 2. All for the price of one game. And all on one disc. You can't beat the gooey awesomeness of this deal Valve packaged together.

And the coolest part of this collection is that the games STILL hold up. Heck, even the Source Engine (Valve's proprietary graphics engine) still looks pretty good too. Story is still engaging, action is fast paced, the horror elements is still freaky (cough cough Ravenholm cough).

And that's just Half-Life 2 and its expansions. Portal is still challenging. And for the first time I gave TF2 a shot. And its also, gasp, fun. Speaking of which I do have to point out the graphic style for TF2 is this cartoony cell shaded look. Its totally unrealistic compared to the looks of the other games on the disk and it works so well. My favorites have to be the Spy and the Sniper for appearances alone with the Heavy coming in a very close third place.

But what really inspired me to go back to play these games was the achievements. I noticed I only played Portal and Episode 1 & 2 when I first got the game and never played main game or TF2. So since I have some time I decided to pad my gamer score a bit more. Luckily I picked a game that is just a joy to play. And if for some reason you missed out on The Orange Box before you can probably track down a new copy of it for around $20 bucks and that is gaming value like no other.

If someone asks if you are a god.....

Well its obvious you say bed!


In a pseudo Halloween spirit this past Thursday evening the wifey, Matt and Brian all went to see 'Ghostbusters' in the theater for a special screening during the month of October. I'm happy we went.

When the movie came out in theaters back in the day I was just a little kid and my parents didn't take me to see it with them. Oh well. Over the years I've seen it on TV, VHS, DVD and BluRay. And finally I've got to see it on the big screen.

And what a treat it was. The print was cleaned up to be shown on a digital projector so it looked really crisp and clean. I did notice some parts where the matte paintings showed motion behind them but no big deal. Its freaking Ghostbusters in the theater!

I will admit that I tried my hardest not to throw quotes during the whole movie and the audience did the same for the most part. It was a almost packed theater, about 90% + full, and the talking and quoting were kept to a minimum. The laughter was on full force as we all laughed at the same jokes, puns, sight gags that we've all known for years like it was the first time seeing it.

I am hoping this becomes an October tradition and they show this every year for Halloween. And why not? We keep getting Rocky Horror every Halloween and Valentines Day so why not Ghostbusters for those that don't want to see Tim Curry in drag singing about being a 'sweet transvestite'.

And what I've heard and what I'm hoping for is this showing was a 'test' to see if the franchise can still attract an audience and is still relevant. Well it is. So get on with Ghostbusters 3 already. Cause I really want to get the gang back together.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday Festival -or- Shadowrun game got postponed & the rest of us still got together.

Early on last week we were trying to assemble the Shadowrun crew for a game and for various reasons it didn't happen. People had work, one went to the Ren Faire, and we didn't hear back from another. So the rest of us decided to do a board game/movie night instead. Then the idea of us doing a big dinner was also presented. And that turned into Matt cooking a delicious turkey with whipped potatoes. Jess & I make chocolate cake and cornbread stuffing. Evil Brian brought the drinks. So in honor of Canadian Thanksgiving we decided to hold our own dinner for it. It was a success.

And Jack even showed up. He hit reply instead of reply all on his email so only Evil Brian got it on friday. We now *could* have played Shadowrun but Matt was already set to not and the rest of us didn't have our stuff for it. Dammit.

So we played Munchkin Cthulhu with all the expansions. And 4 of the 5 of us won the game (thanks to a dungeon card on table that didn't let us win at all until dispelled and 4 of us were over the winning level 10 when it did).

Afterwards we watched some movies. First up:

This was hilarious! Quite possibly the best Star Wars related movie I've seen. Its about Yoda's padawan class going on a field trip where a young Han Solo tags along. Hi jinx ensue. Darth Vader keeps getting into the scenes & Lego George Lucas keeps coming on screen and getting him off set. Its ridiculous. I was laughing out loud for most of it. And I wish this was canon. It could make the prequels even better if it was.

Next up was a movie I had no interest in seeing and Matt was hell bent on showing me to try to sway my opinion that it just looked bad.

Well it didn't change my opinion at all. It wasn't very good. It kept losing my attention and I was bored with it to the point where I couldn't make fun of it just because it would involve effort and me actually paying attention.

It was approximately 1 1/2 hours of dull. And its a shame too. Because I could see how Ryan Reynolds (who I felt was mis-cast as Hal Jordan to start) could have actually shined here if it was written better than it was. It was a typical reluctant hero origin story. Very vanilla. The supporting cast was lifeless and drab, the CGI special effects were just garbage. It looked hokey. Oa looked like something out of a B rank video game. Its like Warner Bros realized this was a dog and stopped throwing money at it cause it was a stinker from opening shot. What really annoyed me was Hal's suit. It was all CGI and looked like his head was floating in air with a fake body hooked under it. It reminded me of a weatherman standing in front of the green screen in a green shirt doing a report. Floating head. Next time use a real suit and augment it with a glow. Or go the TRON: Legacy route on the costume.

And the saddest thing of all was the movie is just not memorable. I had a hard time paying attention to it when watching it and now two days later I can barely remember what about the story I disliked to write about it. I do remember my biggest complaint being there is really no frakking explanation in the movie as to why Sinestro puts on the yellow ring during the credits. Nothing. Matt and Jess both were hinting at subtle story hints but when you watch it this movie isn't subtle. And I was left with the impression that Sinestro was proud of Hal and they were going to have a other Lantern adventures. The turn was forced. Period. If they did a second movie that should be the fall of Sinestro and then he gets the ring. It felt almost like Venom in Spider-Man 3 with that.

All I can finish with is that I'm glad I didn't pay money to see this in the theater. I would have been royally pissed off if I had. I'm talking Spider-Man 3 pissed off. Sucker Punch pissed off.

And to finish the night we watched an anime I brought.

It involves a witch princess being sent to Earth to learn about other cultures, who uses magic and pro wrestling movies to kill anyone in her path. She's accompanied by a mascot pet who also wants her dead, she's battling her twin 8 year old sisters (who want to kill her and take her rights to the throne) and she animates vegetables as servants.

This is the potato she animated

This potato commits suicide in the show for failing her. Needless to say we were laughing so hard we were crying as its possibly the most frakked up anime I've watched in a LONG time. Its definitly not for everyone but for us we were quoting lines by the end of the DVD. Princess Figure Four Leg Lock indeed!

All in all it was a fun night. And I look forward to another movie night soon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Wish List: Gunstar Heroes Edition

Well here I am again. Due to some minor prodding...ok no prodding just a message from a friend saying that they wanted Gunstar Heroes. Well who am I to deny you reading about me gushing over one of my top ten favorite games of all time from all platforms.

I remember buying this game from Babbage's (before they became GameStop) shortly after it came out. I also vaguely remember it not being popular at all and it got reduced in price pretty damn fast to unload it. I also believe this is when the Genesis was at the end of its life cycle and the Saturn and Playstation were just around the corner. Ah 1995. What a good time for gaming.

So Gunstar Heroes is a tale about people named after colors fighting to save Gunstar-9 from a cybernetic organism named Golden Silver who was shut down ages ago. Golden Silver wants to devour all of our resources and leave G-9 a lifeless husk. Now The Empire discovered how to re-activate the threat and are looking to use G.S. to conquer Gunstar-9.

Nuh-uh says Red & Blue (player 1 and 2 respectively). The Gunstar Heroes don't back down. The Gunstar Heroes don't care if you're hungry. (I have to stop watching that damn Honey Badger video...)

Well helping the Heroes out are their sister Yellow (who gives mission help) and Professor Brown (who is formulating a way to shut down Golden Sliver). Apparently four gems power up Golden Sliver to its full power have been discovered and its up to Red & Blue to stop the Empire from succeeding. Little do they know their older brother, Green, is aiding the Empire (but he has amnesia and doesn't remember his family and that he is also a Gunstar Hero).

So its off on a non-stop action packed adventure. The game controls similar to most side scroller shooters out there. Eight directional shooting with four different weapon types: Force, Lighting, Chaser,Flame. All are the basic types of weapons in a cartoony sci-fi shooter (rapid fire, laser, homing shot, flame thrower). What made each weapon cool was that you could combine the types to produce new weapons of mass destruction. For example Lighting + Chaser produced a homing laser that would stay on a target until destroyed (or until you let got of the attack button). While two Force shots produced a powerful and very high speed rapid fire that could mow down most baddies in a few seconds. It was fun mixing and matching to get combos that worked well for your own play style.

I also liked when playing co-op two player you could interact with each other. A great example would be picking up and throwing my partner at a group of oncoming enemies. Now that doesn't seem very fair but the thrown player slams into them with a powerful flying kick destroying all in his path. And then its back to the shooting.

And then there were the bosses of the game. There were alot of bosses in this game. Black (pictured above) fought you in a robot suit that had different attacks based on the color tiles on the floor. And to reach him you had to play a dice game where you rolled a d6 and moved up the board and only by landing on his piece did you actually get to fight him. Otherwise you fought some other weirdly imaginative boss.

See? Weirdly imaginative bosses. The most notorious boss was one in the mine cart stage called 7-Force. He was Green's personal mecha that had, you guessed it, seven different forms to fight you. From a giant gun, to running green robot, to a bird and even a laser spewing sea urchin looking thing it was incredible to behold. There was so many moving parts, everything was just fluid in motion. It was impressive what the developer Treasure was able to squeeze out of the Sega Genesis processor.

So the game keeps impressing on all fronts for me. The graphics are big bright cartoony pixels, the art direction is vibrant and colorful, the sound is spot on for the game (music and sound effects) and finally the controls are picture perfect. If you die in this game due to the controls you are lying to yourself. It was user error not the controls. It all worked. It was F-U-N.

Now the game spawned a sequel of sorts years later on the Game Boy Advance (GBA) called

It was somewhat a sequel but not quite if you were American. The Japanese storyline for Gunstar Heroes is a bit different and this is the sequel. The American storyline....not so much. It felt like a re-telling than sequel. But it was very good none the less.

The graphics were improved from the original as the GBA seemed more powerful than the old Genesis. And the boss battles were also still big and epic too.

My only gripe was playing it on the GBA and not having a control pad in hand and looking at it on a large screen. I did have a Gamecube and the GBA adaptor but the Gamecube controller just sucked to play a action title like this on. I needed the Genesis pad.

Verdict: still fun. But Gunstar Heroes was better.

All in all I would love to see Treasure get back into this series and do a proper sequel. Next to the GBA game the original has been re-released multiple times all the way up to the current gen consoles. It just goes to show just how much the game got right if they can keep releasing it over and over again to a newer audience.

But I want a big budget sequel done by Treasure. Using the full power of a X360 or PS3. I want the boss fights on a enormous scale, big booming soundtrack, fast paced high action sequences and it still needs to be a 2D side scrolling shooter.

No 3D. 2D only.

So get to it Treasure! Your cult classic game with a rabid following wants a real deal sequel! I know a few folk who would pay good money for it.

And while you're at it, how about a follow up to Guardian Heroes.....

The Wish List

I've been thinking about video games that I loved when I was younger but for some reason or another the franchises died off. There are a few out there that only got one change and some had a sequel made and nothing else.

"The Wish List" will highlight the titles I would love to see the developer return to or revisit in some fashion down the line. And while I wanted to talk about Gunstar Heroes for the first column another game kept gnawing at the back of my mind. It kept reminding me just how much fun I had playing it. And it kept whispering that its a title that may help Square Enix get out of the Final Fantasy/Kingdom Hearts glut of garbage its been mired in. So lets talk about

 I can't believe that I've almost forgotten about this gem from my early teens. Much like any experience its turned into just memories of feelings and good times playing and replaying this game.

In ActRaiser you are playing god. Really. God. And you're people have all but forgotten about you because you've been hands off for so long but now its really bad for them and small amount of folk start asking for help. And you now are taking a direct hand in assisting.

The game itself is broken down into two distinct parts. First its a simcity-esque strategy game where you help purge the area as a cherub from assorted monsters coming out of spawn points on the map while using miracles to clean up the land and help the faithful rebuild the area.

Staring with your abandoned temple you work out and help the society blossom by helping improve housing, make farms, terraform the land into someplace more habitable. And once you build up enough of a following you are then able to advance to the second part of any stage....the side scrolling platforming hack and slash segment.

I can remember the first time I got to this part too. The SNES had a kinda gimmick called Mode-7 graphics. It was a pixel scaler that gave early look at scaling and rotation of objects on the screen before games became all polygon based and its standard. Back then it was mind blowing. Because the viewpoint is from the sky as you are plummeting towards the action level and it goes black as it hits the ground. It cuts to a statue of a knight that then animates and you begin the stage.

Depending on how well you did on the sim stage gives you extra health here and some powers too if I recall correctly. But man we these areas just cool. They showed off the graphic prowess of the SNES with its vibrant colors, layered backgrounds and some transparencies too. And the action was good as well. Fighting all sorts of monsters and the bosses were big in their own right. Just look at that centaur. I was awestruck how detailed it looked (back at that time) and even today I still think it looks great.

I also want to mention that the music was wonderful for this game too. The SNES had a sound processor that was far superior to Sega's and it showed here. The soundtrack is a orchestrated symphony score. Its big, bold and epic. And you couldn't get that on the Genesis. And this was a fairly early on SNES game too. A lot of love went into this game and it showed.

ActRaiser did get one sequel and I vaguely remember it. I know I played it but it didn't leave the impression on me that the first did. I miss this franchise. I miss the mixing of strategy world building sim and action. I miss being the paragon hero of the people. I miss the bold musical score. I miss the fact Enix made games like this and when Square consumed them all we've been getting are Final Fantasy games, Kingdom Hearts prequels and side stories and very few original titles worth talking about.

With all the prowess that Squeenix has when making those graphical masterpieces with confusing story lines and androgynous male characters I can only imagine what a new entry into this forgotten franchise would look like, play like and sound like today. It makes me angry and depressed at the same time. 

C'mon Square. Look at your forgotten franchises and bring back some of them to a new audience. The old audience would thank you as well.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Foolish Mammal....Frog God Games does The Tome of Horror for PFRPG

Frog God Games, a small gaming outfit, has taken upon themselves to be bitchin' and release all three of Necromancer Games Tome of Horror volumes in one gigantic book (damn near 800 pages!) full of horrible things to make a RPG gamers life to running out of Dew and Cheetos.

Yeah, its the three supplementary monster books from the D&D 3.0/3.5 age. And yes it's now converted into PFRPG rules. And when I preordered the unlimited version (2nd printing, different cover, no further changes) it came with a PDF copy as well and I spent literally 3 hours reading through it. I can't believe what was included in it and I can't wait to unleash some of this stuff into that Dark Souls conversion I'm attempting.

For the old and crusty gorgnards who read this FGG has a large book of monsters that have a very 1st Ed D&D feel. The relentless, death dealing, horrors that you wretched bastards kept unleashing onto your newbie gamer groups.....<starts sobbing uncontrollably>

Anyways, its good stuff. And for those who know my disdain for reading PDF's it must have had some good stuff within to keep me staring at a computer screen for 3 hours and not getting paid for it.

If you want to know more check out  or for more info and such.

Games I Own and WANT to Play.....NOW!!!

This is just more of an interest grabbing post but being a gamer isn't an easy life. No sir. You see we tend to accumulate alot of games and a good chunk of those never actually get played.


That is such a shame too. While I do have alot of games a fair number of them I use for inspiration for other things I want to do. And I do enjoy reading for pleasure as well. But here a few I do own that I actually want to play. And if you want to as well....just let me know.

Tactical warfare set in an alternate WWII era world where super science prevails. And its got mechs, gorilla soldiers and zombies. Why the hell not. Looks like a total rip. Nice change of pace from gnomes....

A sci-fi game where we choose who we are by downloading our consciousness into new sleeves (bodies). Be anything you can imagine (within the games structure) and survive in a star faring society who is just on the brink of Armageddon. My quick blurb doesn't do this game justice. Go here to read more.

See my previous blog post about this game and you'll know why.

One of the best comics out there becomes easily one of the most accessible RPG's in awhile. And you're playing as frakking mice with swords. C'mon! Medieval mice!

And finally playing mutants in a post apocalyptic world set after the Big Mistake. Changing powers, unique and crazy encounters, easy to grasp simplified 4E D&D rules. Its a beer and pretzels game of epic proportions. Next to Dark Sun its the only other 4E game I would ever run. Its fun in a box. WotC needs to make more games like this and do something totally different for its D&D fantasy lines.

And there you go. That's my want list. Whats yours? Comment are always appreciated.

About Dark Souls.....

And I just want to point this out about Demon's Souls. The only way to get a strategy guide for that game was to preorder it and get the collectors edition. I didn't know there was a collectors edition and thus I didn't get a guide book. It was hell without help but I managed.

Dark Souls has a guide book for sale.

Good luck trying to find it. My wife did for me and it is awesome. But I'm only falling back onto it when I really hit a wall and can't move on. I want to earn this like I earned victories in Demon's Souls.

For me the real joy of this book is this is the guide book for me to convert this to tabletop. Hell, just flipping through it looks more like an RPG book than a hint book. Its hardcover, full color, heavy stock paper with maps, info about the world, gear & magical items, monsters (with tactics), NPC's you encounter, some history of the world. Its better than anything WotC has produced in the past 5 years. Its better than what Paizo has put out in the past 2 years (mostly due to the fact there is no Wayne Reynolds in it... I'm so sick of seeing his work on most of the Paizo books. Find some more artists to use please! They are out there!).

Conversion will be a bit slow but it will happen. All I'll have to find are people willing to play through a rather dark setting where death will occur and the souls of the fallen empower you and are the currency for the land.

Sounds pretty good to me. Especially around Halloween.

Scary Difficult Games: Demon's Souls

To anyone who plays video games of any kind this game should give you a 'fight or flight' response at the mere mention of its title. To some this is an ungodly difficult game that was built only for the most hardcore basement dwelling virginal gamers still living at home with their parents. To others it was the supreme test of patience and tactics where every inch of the terrain gained was a major victory and each death was a learning experience. And some hear the name and say ' dis iznt HaLoEz! LOLLololll111!! Ur Gai N luv buttsecks'.

I hate those people. They need to have their controllers taken away and their parents need to send them to their rooms without dinner & take away all electronic devices so they can troll no more.

When I picked up this game I fully was feeling the old school call of proving my hardcore-ness from the glory days of the NES. I wanted something that the masses would deem too difficult and run away from. I could feel the raw testosterone pumping through my veins as I plunked this into the PS3 with the sole purpose of owning this game. I created my character, a knight (high defense & strength) and begin to plunge into the realms of Demon's Souls.

Two minutes into the first part of the first area I died. Respawing at the central hub, I returned ready to face the challenges ahead of me, and then died again.

And again.

And again.

This went on for close to an hour as I kept getting killed by the undead warriors guarding then entrance of the castle I was supposed to explore. I could feel the rage starting to build up. The controller was trembling in fear as it knew I was close to throwing it. Instead I turned off the game and stomped off somewhere to relax.

After such a sound thrashing from this wicked game I started to doubt my abilities. Actually I was quick in pointing out it was the games fault (even though I knew it wasn't true at all). I felt there was something wrong with what was happening. So I decided to change tactics. I was going to move very slowly, picking my targets deliberately, and using my surroundings for any and all tactical advantages I could get. And if that didn't work I'm returning this frakking game cause it MUST be the games fault.

Well I'm pleased to say that my second choice for play style was the correct one. And upon doing so I managed to work deeper into the castle than ever before. On the way unlocking shortcut passageways so I didn't have to traverse the direct paths when I died (and I still did....but not nearly as badly as day one). Over the next two days I traversed deeper into the castle, learning new tactics against the newer and more powerful enemies it held within. My least favorites being the gargantuan red dragon that did fly by fire breathing over the exposed bridge to the next area you had to run over and the infamous blue eyed knights that would chase you down and murder you like it was going out of style.

Every new area opened, every new enemy defeated was a well earned victory. And it felt good. And all I did was fall back into how I played D&D with some of my friends. We planned, we implemented, we learned and eventually conquered. It took time but the rewards was worth it.

I will admit that I never actually finished Demon's Souls. I defeated most of all the bosses in the game (plus 3 of 4 Archdemons defeated!) and reached a battle that I will have to grind for experience to get past. Tactics be damned but I just don't have enough defense and dexterity to avoid its attacks or soak more than 3 hits. So I put the game on the shelf where I will get back to it eventually and finish what I started. Besides, its spiritual successor just came out and I've started that and the craving to return to the dark fantasy world has returned.  

Oh and what is the name of its successor?

And its amazing. So amazing I'm thinking that I'm going to convert its world into a tabletop RPG. All I got to wait for is my Tome of Horror Complete and then I can begin.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rise of the Runelords: The Battle for Jorgenfist

Saturday the Runelords group assembled to keep pushing deeper into Jorgenfist in the hopes of breaking Mokmurian's forces and eventually breach his inner sanctum and confront the tyrant himself.

I would say the party is approximately 2/3 of the way through book four at this point. Depending on how they handle themselves they will either get to Mokmurian at the end of the next session or the beginning of the one afterwards.

But who is 'the party'? Here's the refresher on them:

The PlayersBruce - Marcellus (Human fighter 10 / damage sink / constantly hungry / Aerodus older brother)
Mike  - Seoni (human wizard 1/ cleric of Calistria 9 / Marcellus' girlfriend / scary lady)
Jim     - Aerodus (human sorcerer - destiny bloodline 10 / too willing to commit murder for his own profit)
Matt  - Nicholai ( half-elf bard 10 / wanna-be playboy / skill whore / Wren's....boy toy)
Jess   - Wren (human rogue 10 / pie thief of Sandpoint / linguistics master / Nicholai's lord & mistress)
Brian - Zatara ( half-elf barbarian 10 / damage monster / the party's conscious / afraid of Seoni/ saved AGAIN from death by a plot twist card!)
Me  - DM (slightly grumpy DM / storyteller / had a headache through out most of the night / master of the circle game)

In a bit of meta-DM'ing I had Jess triple check the party's treasure they have accumulated over the course of the four modules they have played in to check to see if they still had the Wand of Knock I know they got from an earlier book. Thankfully my wife doesn't throw out any of her notes and did find they still had the wand and didn't sell it either. Good for them as it expedited opening the ancient locked scroll case they lifted from the Black Monk ( a mummy/monk that was guardian over the ruins below Jorgenfist). Really I was glad they still had it because it would make a long process even longer as Wren needed to make 5 DC 40 skill checks in succession to open the locks. Failure meant they reset and they couldn't take 20 on the checks either. However each use of Knock opened 2 locks. 3 charges off the wand later and success!

A bunch of curse scrolls, a bunch of divine scrolls and one scroll with the password needed to get into the library under Jorgenfist...well to pass its guardian anyways. And my original idea was to give them the XP for now being able to bypass that hazard but I ended up forgetting until after the night was over and people headed home.

Now some people wouldn't give them the XP for it, well not until they reached and successfully passed the guardian. I'm not that type. I know the characters won't forget this information so there is no reason to penalize the players for a brain fart. Its just stupid and detracts from the fun of it. I'm not going for realism, I want enjoyment.

At this point in the session its really up to the players to dictate where they wanted to go. I mentioned that they would not meet Mokmurian all. Not that they wouldn't be ready (well....they could possibly get slaughtered) but I forgot to print out his info before they arrived and didn't have time to fetch it after we got going. The party decided to explore the other structures on the ground floor within the walls of the fort.

The first building they ventured into was a building dedicated to various nature totems (mostly bear totems). On a successful perception check they hear voices within. Four stone giants and another speaking giant in a strange dialect. Kicking open the door they found out this was also the resting place for a frost giant envoy to a frost giant tribe that is en route to join the war against mankind. And the battle began. It was a rough one and if it wasn't for a well placed plot twist card Zatara would have been a smear on the ground. The card (played by Bruce after I confirmed a critical hit on Zatara but before damage was rolled had the giant drop his weapon negating the attack...that's how I ruled it anyways). It was a giant sized great axe. That's 3x damage on a crit. I had 9d6 in my hands ready to roll.


Oh well, while I didn't like that cause I like rolling large amounts of dice, I knew the next building has a much worse encounter ahead. And I'm glad they plowed on ahead, down some of their resources from this fight.

So the next building, the feasting hall, the party did the same tactics. They snuck over to the building successfully, set up their attack formation outside the door and then rolled their sneak to open the door slightly and look inside. This time they were noticed by the head of the giants army, Mokmurian's general. He flashed a hand gesture to the giants inside after the party closed the cracked door to cast spells & buffs on themselves. Now the giants were expecting them. And now so was the building's guardian. A awakened dire bear named Embers. Embers was the real threat in here. The others baddies I was expecting to die fairly easily....not Embers though.

Now it was all up to the initiative rolls. And for a bit the party was handling the fight pretty well. Wren however got tangled up with Embers who pinned her to the ground getting ready to maul her next round. Nicholai, not wanting to see his honey-pie bite it, cast 'grease' on her so she could escape Ember's grip. And she did but she was badly hurt. While this was going on Aerodus was slinging lightning bolts at the giants while Marcellus and Zatara waded in swords swinging. Then Zatara got toe to toe with the general. He did a lot of damage to him with his three attacks (confidentially he almost killed him) but it wasn't enough & on the generals turn all hell broke loose and the desperate portion of the battle began for the party.

The general unloaded hell upon Zatara. Three attacks. One was a crit. The general was packing a heavy pick. 4x damage on a crit. He pushed 75 points of damage into the barbarian on the second attack and Zatara fell into the negatives. Then the pushed on with the third strike on the fallen barbarian ending his career of adventuring.

Knocking Zatara down made the players sweat. Killing him made them panicky and upset. And now risks were starting to be taken. Some worked and others didn't. Somewhere in the fight the party started to figure out that Embers was what they *should* have focused on first. He started with over 200hp and was a monster built for dealing a lot of damage. At one point he got his paws on the bard and damn near killed him but the bard was saved after a combined effort from the surviving players to unleash a full out assault on him, killing the bear.

After living up to the party moniker of ' by the skin of our asses', they survived and collected their fallen friend and retreated to their 'safe house' in the cliffs. By now they are preparing to plans to revive Zatara. The following day Seoni cast 'Raise Dead' on him and one application of 'restoration' to negate one of the two negative levels Zatara had. The next one could be removed a week later with another casting...providing they survive that long.

And after re-evaluating their plans they decided its time to go into the lowest levels of Jorgenfist. They didn't get too far into the lowest levels but they have started to encounter the more ancient and weird parts waiting for them. So far they fought a runeslaved hill giant in a trapped room that shrunk some of the party members (Wren did disarm the trap after it reset a few times). After about 10 minutes the shrunked party members returned to regular size. Then into the last room of the night the party battled a stone golem guarding a 12ft tall cauldron with the seven pointed star emblazoned upon it. When the fight ended I called it for the night.

I do want to add that I like how golems (and other creatures previously immune to precision damage) are now effected by it. Now rogues are no longer useless fighting constructs, plants or undead. When flanking they can still sneak attack. And why the hell not. EVERYTHING has a weak spot. And rogues are great at exploiting them. Its one of many corrections the PFRPG fixed from the 3.0-3.5 D&D rules.

All in all it was a good night. I believe the players all had fun. Everyone survived but there is a loss of supplies and some lingering battle scars. And now they are in the end game for book four. Which means that soon the Runelords game will be on hold for a little while. Then when break is over its onto the final two books. And its just gets harder from here on out. For both the players and myself updating an older rule system into the newer one. And I will touch upon that horror of DMing when we get to book five: conversions.