Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim -or- My wife is cheating on me with a fucking X360 game.

I kid, I kid.   Maybe....

Anyways this is the titanic fifth installment of Bethesda's long running PC series turned into a console series with part 3 Morrowind. Is this game worth playing? Is it worth losing contact with all friends, family, kids, pets, job, school, etc., for the next foreseeable four months. Hell yes it is. Is it worth possibly giving up sex to enjoy killing dragons?

No. Never. Poontang is *always* better than video games. And if you disagree, well, I guess its because you must be banging a corpse or something. But I digress....

Lets just get this over with right now. I'm having to compete for time to play this game with my wife. She apparently can turn into a video game zombie as fast as I can with the latest AAA title. Her selections are more limited than mine, because I'm an achievement whore an play almost everything, so RPGs are her addiction. I've also noticed she got snippy with me when she found out I had 40 more gamer score in Skyrim than her. She actually sounded pissed off that I was getting to see more of this game than her! Don't worry gang, she quickly (read: two massive 8+ hour marathons) beat the shit out of my score. But I do get the system back after she goes to bed.....and the war will continue.

Ok, I'm off track here. The meat and potatoes of this game isn't the main storyline about the return of the dragons to the world. Its about the freedom to play this game however you feel you want to play it. And Bethesda does that very very well. I can see where they learned from their mistakes from Oblivion and corrected them ( for example every enemy in the game doesn't level up with you so a damn mountain lion can't kill your level 50 heavy armor warrior....hated that in Oblivion) and they also took some of the cooler play tweaks from Fallout 3 and applied them here. Heck, they refined them here. Lock picking is more Fallout style than Oblivion. It works better.

Character creation is just bliss too. If you play around with the creator enough you can make practically any type of character your heart desires. You start by manufacturing your look but how you play determines what you want to be. There are no character classes. You want to excel at doing something, lets say smithing, well the more you keep doing it the better you get at it. And the more you improve your skills you will eventually level your character which grants a boost in Health, Stamina or Magicka as well as a perk. Perks are similar to Fallout 3 but not as limiting. I don't think limiting is the best choice for that statement yet I can't find another way to say it. Perks give you boosts and bonuses to the skills you want to improve. You can also hold onto a perk selection for later when you reach the requirements for one you really want. I like that choice.

So how does the game look?


The graphics are excellent. Its a vast improvement over previous Elder Scrolls entries and the more recent Fallout series. From the changes in weather to how the rivers flow, to the animations of the people and monsters.....they done good here!

Speaking of people. It was well known that the people you encounter in the prior games looked...well....'off'. Like "I took a doody in my pants" off. 'Tethered Swimming for gym class' off. Well they don't look bad anymore. They look much better!

 See? Dramatic improvement. Even the enemies of the game look this good.

Burn you fucking Ice Troll! I hate Ice Trolls!

And I will say that while the enemies don't scale in difficulty with your level progression Bethesda has put some beasties in this game that will kick your ass all over the place. Yes you will be a bad ass and murder bandits and wolves and giant spiders at higher levels.....but then you run into the terrors of Skyrim. No, not the dragons.....

"Its Mr. Honey Badger to you little man!"

The giants are the total bad asses of the realm. I've watched them beat the shit out of dragons, while on fire, and then go rampaging into a bandit stronghold for a murder spree just because one farted in their direction. The giants are uncaring beasts. They will kill you. Alot. And they don't give a damn what you do to them cause they won't stop.

I will also mention that the sound design is great, the score is epic, the voice acting is great. It has to be when Max Von Sydow (The Exorcist, Dune, The Seventh Seal, Ice Pirates...yeah no shit) is in the cast. So is Christopher Plummer, Joan Allen and Wonder Woman herself Lynda Carter.

The game also handles well. I don't have any problems with the control set up. Everything is really responsive with the only lag really showing up when the game auto saves. Speaking of that the game will do that frequently but it is highly advised you save multiple times of your own accord so if you screw up doing something you can go back and try again without losing a ton of progress.

I also have to give props to Bethesda for getting all of this content on 1 disc. One. Uno. The game is streaming info in the background constantly and its pretty damn smooth. I can only guess which dark force they struck a deal with to accomplish it.

So I have to say this is a worthwhile game. Its worth a purchase. Don't GameFly this. BUY it! Its a no brainer that you won't regret. But there is one glaring problem I have with the game.....

...getting my wife to stop playing and go to bed so I can get another crack at terrorizing the country side with my Orc Battle-Mage member of The Dark Brotherhood assassin's guild.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Carrion Crown: The Final Push Into Schloss Caromarc

Saturday our intrepid adventurers travelled into the final areas of the Scholss Caromarc to search for The Count Caromarc, creator of The Beast of Lepidstad. Lets recap the party and go into the meat and potatoes of the session.

The Players

Matt - Thredorik Trapspringer (male dwarven rogue 7 / uncouth / becoming the master of the DFA)
Jess  -  Nisha  (female tiefling fighter(weapon master kit) 7 / combat monster....literally / not a fan of leech swarms)
Charles - Zuri (male aasimar wizard 7 / varisian wanderer/ harrow reader / coldest finger in Lepistadt)
Charles - Dragos ( Zuri's raven familiar / smart ass / smarter than the dwarf)
Me - Julian Du Marc ( male human cleric of Pharasma 7 / NPC/PC / stoic / makes 'short' jokes at dwarf)
Me again - DM (DM / rules dude / story mover-along-er / still bribed by pie or hot cocoa/ still no bribes of pie or hot cocoa presented...again)

We picked up after getting beat on while crossing the rickety wooden suspension bridge from last session. Getting into the third building of the Schloss wasn't a problem for Thredorik. And this building was a store room for all sorts of parts to various monsters that...well....we were not sure what the hell they are for. Examination? Experimentation? For creating more flesh golems?? Until we run into the Count we'll not know for sure.

So we began searching around the main floor of this building and in one room Thredorik noticed a out of place section of wall which behind that was a secret staircase going up onto the next floor. We go upstairs into this new storage room which contained more creepy things in bell jars suspended in some kind of liquid. There was also a ladder than went to a trap door in the ceiling. Thredorik went to check it out.

One failed perception check later he opened the trap door and unleashed a magic trap on the area. The room began to fill with an acid fog trap. While this burned our lungs and started to eat away our attire we hastily retreated down the secret stairs to safety. And then we heard a loud crash coming from the main foyer. Nisha peeked in to spot a large, eyeless, flesh golem being led on leashes my a few homunculi (like seeing eye homunculi). Combat ensued, people were injured, Zuri struck with ray of frost to slow it,golem was defeated, band-aids applied liberally by Julian.

Exploration continued. We followed where the golem came from and entered into an antiquities room. Within contained two sarcophagi from Osirion, assorted other historical things and a pile of heavy chains in the center of the room. Thredorik, again, started to investigate the areas for traps starting with the sarcophagus closest to us. "Looks safe to me guys!" he said as the front of the sarcophagus twisted into a gaping maw of teeth and tried to eat his face. A mimic and a hungry one at that. Combat begins.

Now we are keeping the mimic at bay when the other sarcophagus opens up and a mummy rises from within its depths. Great....and we were all in range of its fear aura. Luckily we all saved from fear and on his turn Julian proceeded to channel positive energy into the undead menace (successfully I might add). Nisha and Thredorik resumed combat tactics of norm (get flanking asap) and ended its monstering career.

However.....Thredorik was exposed to mummy rot over the course of the battle (failed his fortitude save by 1) and was now contagious. He looked a Julian for help and my cleric said 'Tomorrow. I can't remove the curse until I pray for assistance.'  Thredorik looked worried. And then the crotch-rot jokes began for the rest of the night. For example, even after he was cured the following day, Thredorik would say 'Hey <insert party member name>' and we'd reply with 'Yes Crotch-Rot?'.

Good times.

Well we checked out the rest of this building and located the passage along the cliff to the final buildings up high. One was the tower with the lightning rods on it. In the meantime it was getting late in the day so we returned to the main house where we slept before and after checking on our horses slept. The next day Julian cast 'Remove Curse' and with a successful caster check got rid of the magical side of the mummy rot affliction while Thredorik chugged a 'Remove Disease' potion to end the physical affliction. Julian also readied another 'Remove Curse' spell just in case another mummy was encountered in this insane menagerie.

Off adventuring we go! Up the sheer cliff side passage to a building comprised of four large silos. The door was rusted shut and after a mighty effort (and a few charges from a Ring of the Ram we pilfered off the ex-mummy) we pulled it open to be overwhelmed by a torrent of water. Apparently the inside of this building flooded out and the water pressure was hampering our effort to open it. Now the passages were partially flooded and we get to go through them (about three feet of water).

Thredorik led the search of the split corridor starting with the right branch. He located a pit trap in the floor and disarmed it and led us to a double door. This opened much easier and into a room that the center dropped twenty feet lower than the main corridor....all of this was flooded. Across the way was another double door which we would have to reach by swimming and thirty feet up in this silo was the remnants of a metal walkway (which now lie at the bottom of the pool of water) and two doors up there. Well we ain't swimming so we leave to check the other passage.

Naturally it isn't that easy. Julian hears the water splash lightly behind him in the silo. He turns around to be staring into the gaze of some kind of translucent slimy basilisk. Julian made his save to keep from becoming stone (thank Pharasma) and the rest of the party began to assault the beast. The fight lasted all of one round as all the party members went before the beast. Soon....dead beast. Continue with the exploration.

On the other side of the main corridor Thredorik missed another pit trap (Matt rolled a 2 and with his bonuses didn't come close to the target DC) and he sunk under the water out of sight. Within this pit was two leech swarms....hungry leech swarms...and they had dwarf on the menu. Thredorick swam as fast as his nubbies could propel him back to the hall and the leeches followed. The flowed onto him and Nisha and started to feed. Nisha screamed and begged Zuri to get them off her. Just because she is a combat monster doesn't mean she's not a girl and gets squeemish. Matt got squeemish too. No further comments needed here folks.

Anyways, Zuri magically altered 'Burning Hands' into electical damage and shocked the water. It damaged the swarms but didn't drive them away. It also injured all of us but we knew this before he let the spell loose. Julian released a burst of positive energy to heal the party some. Zuri then cast 'Lightning Bolt' into the water frying the leeches and making the rest of us look like Frankenstein's bride. Julian applied band-aids and we continued into the next silo. Where, naturally, more monsters awaited us. This time flying vampiric heads of three girillions. More combat. More ban-aids and then we managed to make our way to the upper floor of this chamber via the partially collapsed walkway. And now on the upper passage we managed to find our way out of this place and into the tower with the lighting rods.

When we breached the tower we were greeted by another flesh golem, one that looked like a girillion (multi armed large ape).  Big combat ensued. Lots of healing. And then we checked out the room. We find blueprints and instructions for two devices: The Storm Caller and The Bondslave Thrall. One calls lighting storms to collect electical energy to power the Thrall. The Bondslave Thrall controls The Beast. Oh my. Was the Count controlling The Beast to break into the college and steal the Seasage Effigy? Well we can only go up from here so hopefully we can find him and ask.

On the next floor we find the room choked with webbing and some chalk notes scribbled on the wall pertaining to using The Bondslave Thrall. We also attract the attention of this little homunculi (named Waxwood) who approaches us and begins to pantomime answers to questions we ask. Eventually Waxwood pantomimes writing and Zuri hands him parchment and charcoal. Waxwood, in a very small handwriting, lets us know his master (Count Caromarc) is trapped on the next floor in an cramped iron prison and hasn't eaten or drank in a few days. Also the bad men that did it let loose a terrible construct the Count created and its patrolling around there. Waxwood mentions The Thrall and we need to call The Beast to aid us. So we prepare for a rough fight. Zuri cast 'Haste' and 'Mage Armor' and Julian cast 'Bull's Strength' on Nisha. Thredorik drank two potions; 'Invisibility' and 'Spider Climb'. When we breached the next level and the creature was in sight Julian cast 'Prayer' to give us some aid in the fight.

And it was a really rough battle too. The creature, known as The Aberrant Promethian, was a flesh golem composed of chuul, choker, cloaker, ettercap and other nastiness. It hit HARD, had resistances, had two seperate vocal attacks, could grapple, had paralitic tentacles......its bad. Really bad. In game terms we were level six taking on a challenge rating eleven encounter. We *need* The Beast! Thredorik sprinted to the ladder leading to the ceiling where the Storm Caller and Thrall were kept while the rest of us had the priveledge of playing with the creature. Thredorik (with assistance from Dragos) got the Storm Caller going and got the Thrall activated. Touching a control orb the dwarf saw where The Beast was (nearby) and told him to come help. And of course The Beast was happy to come save his new friends even without the Thrall's commanding.

A side effect to the Thrall's use is that a PC can convey a class ability to The Beast while in control (like sneak attack for a rogue) however you can also see and experience The Beast's memories too. So being a good DM I started to describe the immense sorrow and pain The Beast has felt over its existance. Specifically targeting the moment where he carried his dead friend (the little girl from the trial Julian cast 'Speak with Dead' on) and how painful that was to him. And Thredorik's heart grew three sizes larger....so now its the size of a raisin.

Meanwhile on the lower level we were holding our own pretty well for a while. Zuri slowed the flesh golem with 'Ray of Frost' and Nisha kept hacking away with her great axe. Then the creature grabbed Nisha by the throat and carried her to the ceiling. It transferred her to its tentacles which started to crush her and paralized her too. Then it grabbed Julian by the throat stopping him from casting but he could silently channel positive energy to heal the party in range. This left Zuri all alone. And when Zuri cast another 'Ray of Frost' (crital hit too if I recall) the creature AOO'ed him into a wall bringing him to 1 hit point. The creature then dropped Julian (with the help of Thredorik doing a daring DFAonto the Promethian) and released the paralized Nisha and began to climb to the roof to assault the Caller and Thrall. Fortunately The Beast arrived to assist us then and the fight took to the rooftop admist a raging lightning storm and pounding rains.

I mean it was a cool as hell image of this fight going on with this background too. Eventually the party with The Beast's help took down the Promethian who fell over 350 feet to its demise on the rocks below. Healing ensued. And we released The Count from this iron grinning idol the Whispering Way agents stuffed him into. He tells us they used the Thrall to control 'Adam' (The Beast's name...my addition BTW) to steal break into the college for something. The stuffed him in there when he refused to help them. He also told us he overheard where they were going as well; The Shudderwood behind the Schloss. The Count offered to pay for an expedition to track them down and stop them from harming others. We agreed.

So we rested overnight at the main house of the Schloss, the Count more than happy to host us. He also clued us in on his experiments and what he was trying to do here. Also we promised Adam that when this was done we would stop to see him again. On our way back to Lepistadt to the bank (the Count gave us a writ for funding) we found where the angry mob stopped before returning. Apparently angry hillbilly idiots don't like getting rained on and gave up when the weather got really bad. We're happy they were on foot and not horseback like we were. At the bank in town we recieved a total of 300 platinum pieces that we used to by supplies and prep for our journey after the agents of the Whispering Way. Afterall, payment or not, we were tracking down those bastards for what they did to our friend Professor Lorrimar.

And when we got onto the trail past the Schloss I called it for the night as we finished book two of the Carrion Crown AP. The next book, Broken Moon, we'll begin in January as family obligations and other stuff interfere with gaming. All in all it was another good game and we all had fun. My players can correct me if I'm wrong.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Muhna-muhna....doo doo dee doo doo....muhna-muhna.....

Superb. Go see it. I laughed, I laughed more, I cried tears of joy, I laughed even more.

I got weirded out at how Miss Piggy and Kermit were dealing being around each other after their marriage fails. Actually that was a starkly adult revelation during the course of the movie and it was handled well but I found it jarring among all the light-heartedness that permeated everything else.

Yes its a musical. Yes its childish, whimsical and as corny as Fozzies *BEST* jokes. Its never as bad as Fozzie's worst jokes though. And the best part of all I took from the movie is that The Muppets still work and are relevant today.

I loved the cast of Jason Segel and Amy Adams (who is just too damn cute). I loved Chris Cooper as the villainous oil tycoon who was purchasing the old, unused Muppet theater because there was oil to drill under it. I also have to give credit to Jason Segel, who also wrote this film, because there was a very honest and caring reverence to the material presented in the film. Not just dialogue, but visual style, music selection, jokes & sight gags, amount of screen time the different muppets get, which muppets were present (damn near all of them BTW), the celebrity cameos.....it felt like this was a movie written by a true Muppet fan that from the start wanted to do something right. I wasn't let down and I'm still grinning like Gonzo when he doesn't have to pretend to Camilla anymore.

As for the music...you'll get classic Muppet music (Rainbow Connection got to me...I'll admit it) and new songs as well. Camilla and the chickens rendition of Cee-Lo's 'Fuck You' was hysterical. Its all done with clucks. Priceless. And I want this as my ring tone.

I also loved how the movie kept breaking the fourth wall through out to keep the audience tied right into the movie. Not as just a viewer but it felt like you were participating. And after the credits rolled I still wanted more.

More of Statler and Waldorff ripping on the movie, more of The Great Gonzo doing classic Gonzo stunts, more of Fozzie telling bad jokes with Jack Black, more of the honest moments like when Kermit was deciding if it was worth getting the gang back together to save the theater or not. More Animal.

I will own this movie when it comes out for purchase. I can't wait to see the new Muppet show in 2012 (I believe). Hell I just might go see it again just because I want this movie to succeed and I despise knowing Twilight is making money over more quality films. Most of all this movie took a franchise that was near and dear to my heart and didn't do it wrong (unlike Transformers, G.I.Joe, relaunch of Spider-Man, Superman,etc).

This movie made me happy. Go see it.

Muhna-muhna.....doo doo dee doo doo....muhna-muhna.....doo doo dee doo.....

So another Shadowrun game happened....

....and for the first half of it (by my estimation) I was barely paying attention due to lack of sleep for two days prior. Lets recap the runners and I'll try my best to recollect the finer points of the criminal activities in the elven nation.

Jess - Aki (female elf physical adept/ ronin samurai / has family issues)
Brian - Grey (human shaman/party band aid (healer) / no fan of the elves)
Evil Brian - Sanzo (male elf ranged adept/gun slinger/ shoots stuff)
Jack - Jumpstart (orc rigger/wheel man / master of being uncouth)
Thya - Dot (ogre brawler/fashion diva / cybered out troll chick)
Me - 8-Bit (human technomancer/squatter with no I.D. in the system / can hack a cyber-zombie)
Matt - GM (guy behind the screen making our lives difficult/alpha Shadowrun weenie/ wings the adventures old school style)

So I had only gotten a grand total of 5 hours of sleep in a two day span and was practically dead to the world while the game was going on. We played last sunday and I wanted to go especially after attending a wedding for one of my wife's co-workers and having almost no fun at all. Not because I was anti-social but because I knew three people there (including Jess) and was bored to tears. Shadowrun was the 'fun' I needed to salvage the weekend.

Anyhow I wasn't paying attention for about the first half of the game. I got the impression we were going to liberate (read: kidnap) a target out of Tir Tairngire (the elvish nation in the pacific northwest....used to be Portland, Oregon). I knew I was playing a tourist. I knew Grey doesn't care for elves. I also knew Aki has family there.

And then I played Angry Birds on my phone for the next hour. Not to the fault of Matt who does run an interesting game but because sleep deprivation turns my attention span into that of a goldfish. I just couldn't pay attention to the other players role-playing. I had nothing to add on the subjects at hand so I zoned out sending green piglets to their demise.

Next thing I remember was the players asking 'So 8-Bit, any ideas on how to get the mark away from this corp?'.

Huh? What? Not able to brain today.....come back later. I think I rattled off something lame and not worthwhile while I struggled to get caught up on the situation and tried to focus. 8-Bit would have the plan. Phil the player had shit. So we kind of winged it.

It started with recon of the corp building our mark was working in. I hacked into the system and got all the floor plans, staff, etc. After that Aki asked me to check into something else linked to this corp. I checked into the family name and its link (with an extended test....took two hours....rolled 9 hits hour one & 7 hour two...my target was 16....I got all sorts of info...and my dice betrayed me for the rest of the evening after two awesome rolls).

I report back to Aki in private with my findings and I have my suspicions I just located her father and also was looking for info about her brother's disappearance. She would not confirm that but said she owed me a huge favor and I could name my price. Let's see: hot elf female with tattoos saying I could name my own price for this favor....well....

Giggidy Giggidy Giggidy...

No not really. In fact I have no idea what 8-Bit will ask for in return but its not 'teh secks'. Probably I'm going to need protection or need to have someone killed. I'll know when I need it.

Well we started to set into motion a newer plan. One revolving around picking up our mark from her hotel an hour early  than usual with us in the corporate security vehicle (read: van). Using my admin clearance in the corp computer system I authorized Jumpstart to pick up a van for 'general maintence' so we got that free and clear. I also emailed the mark through the corp mail service that our meeting start begins at 8am instead of 9am so we'll be there to pick you up at 7am. She said good to go & I then deleted all records of that conversation from the system so nobody else could see it.

I'm also becoming more focused and active in the game by this point. Caffeine kicked in finally.
While this was going on Aki ran into her father and exchanged 'pleasantries' and ended on a hug good bye. The rest of the gang what checking out the hotel. Through astral perception they noticed a void of mana on the upper floors of the building across the street. An investigation turned up nothing but they were looking out for this anomaly if it showed again.

The next morning the plan goes into effect. We show up, Sanzo goes up to fetch the mark....and all hell breaks loose. The anomaly returns and it turns out to be a Aki's brother who is the leader of the security detail to protect the mark.

Also he's a cyber-zombie. A being augmented to the point of death with cybernetics that after death they graft the soul back into the body with magic. Its a model T-800 for all intensive purposes. And its coming after us. Frack. And he has back-up as well. Double frack.

And combat ensues. Jumpstart runs over two security personnel with the van. Aki jumps out to start slicing and dicing but is promptly stunned by a stun bolt from a corp mage. Grey goes after the mage with stunning spells of his own. Dot stays in the van to help give cover to Sanzo and our mark when they come out.
I should also mention that the mark arranged this 'kidnapping' to reset the time limit on a corporate merger/take-over. So she was compliant with coming with us.

Now 8-Bit (me) was in the matrix searching for a wireless signal for all the cyberware on this guy coming for us. I find it, jump into its matrix nodes, realize its all machine and no man, and try to disable it from the inside. While I'm doing that he's currently trying to bust into the van that Sanzo, our mark, and the rest of us are in. Dot grabbed Aki and pulled her inside before Arnold got to us. We sped off and he was still gripping the back doors and pulling himself in. I locate his shut-down mode (sleep mode) and put him in it. Night night. He lets go and we speed off to the trainstation to GTFO of Tir.

We board a bullet train for Denver and go thinking we're safe. Naturally we are not. We find this out when Aki called her dad from the phone and she hears a phone ring in the seats behind her. He followed us. How? Well he tagged Aki with an RF I.D. tag when he hugged her. He was the head of that corp security and his son (The Terminator) was his prized piece of work. He had his men in the car and brought Aki's cyber-zombie brother along as insurance.

Well he marched Aki into the next car where Sanzo and Dot were (Jumpstart, our mark named Mercedes and I were two cars up from that and didn't see this part), Aki then plainly in japanese stated to kill everyone behind her to Sanzo. Fortunately her father and other security personnel didn't speak japanese...or pick up on the fact their lives were fucked.

She let the security guards make the first move. They shoved her forward. She then responded by, in one motion, drawing her blade and lopping off her father's head (he was right behind her). Jess rolled so many hits on the attack that when added to the damage rating of her sword and minus his armor she filled all of his physical wound boxes killing him outright. Total Kill Bill style decapatition. And the poor guards were doubly fucked as Sanzo unloaded his hollow points into their skulls and Dot started beating the hell out of the others.
The gunfire alerted Jumpstart and Mercedes to trouble. I was in the matrix at the time and didn't go into the cars to see what the hell was happening. I found out through message that her brother was on the train. I frantically searched for his signal to jump into his cyberwear to shut him down again but couldn't find it. So I went into the trains controls to slow then stop the train (trying to keep collateral damage to a minimum).
Now Aki, Sanzo, Dot and Grey are fending off the cyber zombie. And after more massive combat he finally falls. Aki scoring the killing blow. It was her brother after all. It was an honor thing.

Our mark, Mercedes, had her corp fly out a T-Bird for us on get on and GTFO. And now we're on our way to Denver. 8-Bit isn't happy. *His* family is in Denver. And that was it for the night.

I just wished I was more alert so I could have been a bigger help with the planning stage. I kind of feel I let the group down a bit but I just wasn't able to fall asleep at all. I promise next time I'll be well rested and the Shadowrun journal will be better written and with more detail.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: Saints Row the Third

I've always looked at the Saints Row franchise with a bit of disdain. To me it was the 'me too' game that THQ put out to cash in on the popularity of the Grand Theft Auto franchise. And I can't say that statement was too far from the truth just from looking at the original Saints Row. So I kept away. I also skipped Saints Row 2. I didn't care. Then I heard about this game and I was in a state of 'who cares' until I saw what you could do in this game.

Saints Row the Third is not a GTA clone anymore. It dances to its own drummer now and has taken ridiculousness to a level not before seen in a video game in my opinion. The introductory level has the Third Street Saints robbing a bank by using explosives to blast the roof off the high rise building to have a helicopter airlift the vault out only to be thwarted by the SWAT team when they brought out armored attack choppers. The player is controlling the leader of the Saints while hanging off the side of the vault while gunning down wave after wave of SWAT team members.

Eventually the Saints are bailed out of jail by the leader of The Syndicate (a conglomerate of rival gangs that want the Saints the hell out of Steelport City). After the ultimatum is given to the Saints (while 10,000 feet up in the sky in The Syndicate's private jumbo jet) you tell them to heartily fuck themselves and blast your way out of the plane which leads to a free-fall gunfight while trying to catch one of your fellow Saints (cause you have the only parachute).  And I'm not doing this sequence justice. I don't want to ruin all of it but I also still can't believe how damn batshit crazy these first 20 minutes of the game were.

The rest of the game is equally as insane with missions having you rescue a pimp who needs an auto-tuner to speak after a tracheotomy from an S&M compound called The Safeword. You find him in the pony play* stables hooked up to a carriage (complete with saddle on his back and ball gag in his mouth) and you have him pull you out of the complex while an ensuing gunfight erupts around you involving more pony play wagons loaded with gimps with assault rifles.

Or how about training to take on a lucha-libre champion and your training involves driving around town with a fucking TIGER in the passenger seat of the car and once in awhile it swats at you. If the SPCA-esque organization gets within range the tiger flips out and starts mauling you as you careen down the highway. The only way to calm the beast is to power slide.

This is a *VERY* small glimpse into the insanity that you can partake in. Also as crazy are the weapons as you level them up as well as some of the ones earned through completing story missions. Speaking of weapons....

This is the Penetrator. A 4-foot long dildo bat that swings and sways with shocking appropriate physics. The balls bounce too.

The main campaign will take a few hours to play through if you bypass the additional challenge missions through-out the map. You will want to complete these as you earn more money to upgrade your weapons, vehicles, strongholds,gang members and your own avatar.

For your avatar I commend Volition for just how damn excellent its character creator is. You can create damn near anything that fits your sick and twisted personality. And as the game progresses you earn more and more goodies to outfit your character. Hell if you decide you don't want to be a guy anymore you and go have surgery and get your wangus removed and re-do your character as a female. You can also upload your creations to the Saints Row website as well as download other peoples creations. I also appreciate that everything is done with the in game graphics engine and that your avatar is in the cinematics. This game is all about you (the player) having fun and being the center of the universe.

The soundtrack is also something worthy of this title. Its diverse and loaded with all sorts of good music. Just like most games of this kind, it uses fictitious radio stations to highlight different genres of music and then loads each station with songs & artists that are appropriate. From The Black Keys, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, DJ Benni Benassi, Mastadon....it just goes on. Its a well thought out and well selected soundtrack.

The writing is also really well done as well. The story, for how crazy it is, makes sense and keeps you interested. You *LIKE* the Saints and care about them and what happens to them. Except Pierce....nobody gives a fuck about Pierce. Its funny, sharp dialogue that you really enjoy listening to. My favorite pieces are the non-story conversations between the characters, lets say in a car just driving around. Coming into Steelport my avatar and Pierce were driving around when "What I Got" by Sublime comes on the radio and they both start singing the lyrics. And there are more little gems like that through out the writing. It makes one smile.

There are some bad things with Saints Row as well. Mainly the overpowering enemy AI and the glitching (whether environmental or AI behavioral). On some of the harder missions the computer is just relentless on how hard and how many enemies you have thrown at you. There was a point when I was on a 'rescue mission' that nine rival gang cars all piled onto me before the passengers got out and (since I was pinned down) unloaded their SMG's into my skull. This kept happening especially on side missions labeled as 'hard'. Its not hard per-se its totally bad AI scripting. Other glitching are enemies getting stuck in walls, achievements not unlocking after requirements are made (X360) and the game has froze up about 3 times since I've gotten it.

The controls are also decent when doing average tasks but are not as responsive as needed when the action is ramped up to high action gonzo insanity of the harder missions. AI allies will also sometimes get hung up on the environment or decide to stand still and be shot at instead of getting into the get away car that you are already inside and there is a clear path to it. That said even with these flaws the game is 100% playable and you can complete it. And its still a boatload of fun.

So as you can see I'm recommending Saints Row the Third. I feel that's obvious by my babbling on about it. But I will share with you the exact moment when I completely fell for this title and embraced it.

I was on a rescue mission early on in the game to 'save' ho's from their abusive pimps....to bring them back to Zimos (our pony-play* auto-tuned pimp friend) so he can 'watch after them'. These missions are appropriately called 'Snatch'. Anyhow I have a car full of hookers and I'm in a car chase to the safe house while a rival gang is trailing me shooting assault rifles and RPG's at me and all the while the song "I Need A Hero" by Bonnie Tyler is playing on the car's radio. Blissful irony.

I love this game.

*And if you don't know what pony play is go look it up your damn self cause I'm not going to try to explain that shit.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Rise of the Runelords: Battle for Jorgenfist Finale

So this past weekend the Runelords group assembled to *hopefully* successfully finish Book Four or the Rise of The Runelords AP. Did they come out victorious or did they fail valiantly? Read on to find out. But first a recap of the party.

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)
Me  - DM (rules-keeper-upper / storyteller / master of the circle game / just loves the spell Reverse Gravity)
Before the session began I was into my pre-game ritual of setting up my dice, getting out the minis I required and reviewing my encounters for the game ahead. All I could do was just stare at the sheet for Mokmurian (the leader of the stone giant army and transmuter level 14) and sigh to myself. For somehow I knew that things would go badly in some fashion this evening.

Now the party left off after defeating the stone golem guardian of the Runeforged Cauldron (an artifact that converts people into slaves to serve the Runelord and/or whomever was in control of the cauldron at the time also known as Mokmurian). They were a little bit battered and bruised but none the worse. Pushing on they entered into a chamber full of suits of armor. Specifically ogre and giant sized suits of armor. Naturally some of the armor were baddies waiting to spring on them as they passed through the room.

And they did spring on them. Four hill giant zombies in full plate and their leader too. The Headless Lord was in command of the zombies; a intelligent undead beastie that pumps up other undead attacks/resistances/etc while also being a bad ass too. Until Zatara got into melee with him and promptly eradicated The Lord in two swings.

Two. Swings.




More and more as this goes on I'm fully giving into the thought that the barbarian class in the PFRPG is irrovocably broken beyond recognition. Granted the first attack Zatara landed on The Lord was a critical hit (dealing around 80 points of damage....dropping The Lord to around 40 hit points left) its *still* horribly frustrating dealing with barbarians in Pathfinder. I'm still having a difficult time placing something in its (Zatara's) path that he doesn't outright destroy.

The rest of the group was focused on the four zombie hill giants and they at least lasted a few more rounds. Seoni, who channels negative energy, managed to take control of one to turn it on the fellow zombies but that was short lived as the others were slain quickly before the commanded zombie would be able to attack. And then Zatara dispatched that one too.

Coming through a long hallway our intrepid adventurers managed to locate multiple double doors, including a fancy looking brass door with lots of runes on it. Naturally that was the entrance to the Thassilonian library they oh so wanted to raid for info. Wren checked out the door and then attempted to pick the lock (unsuccessfully). Wren also forgot to speak the password at the door learned from the ancient scrolls that were on The Black Monk from a previous session. Oopsie.

So a Shining Child of Thassilon was summoned into existence (extra-planer nasty) to defend the library from intruders. I get the map set up. I get my minis ready. Heck there was even another monster that was following them around and they were unaware of it and it was going to join in the fight. So initiative begins and the party runs away like the bastard child of Brave Sir Robin and Forrest Gump.  And then they hid away and waited until The Shining Child was recalled back to its place of origin. Also the 'other' creature stayed in hiding biding its time.

Eventually the worked their way back to the brass doors, spoke the pass phrase, and through a charge from a Wand of Knock opened their way to a land of lost knowledge. After introducing them to the clockwork librarian within and letting them take in the scope of all this lost and ancient texts I made sure to re-inforce that Mokmurian was likely close by and probably won't wait for you to get done dicking around in the stack.

So they healed up and plodded on into another chamber down the long corridor. Within these walls, which are smoothed so there are no hard edges within, they encountered a pack of Hounds of Tindalos and the arrival of the Forgefiend (which has been following them with its earth-glide ability for awhile now...waiting to strike when they were deep in combat). Battle ensued. Party won. Party healed and then it was onto the final room in the dungeon. The lair of Mokmurian.

And the fight lasted for about two hours as well. Mokmurian had ample time to prepare for them. He opened up with a fireball and proceeded to cast quickened scorching rays as needed. As the battle proceeded, and the party was getting beat up, Mokmurian silenced Nicholai (who was singing his Dirge of Doom) by turning him to stone (Flesh to Stone) then later cast defensively Reverse Gravity on the melee combatants around him causing Zatara and Marcellus to be flung up towards the ceiling 70 feet up. And the battle kept raging on.

Jim (Aerodus) used his plot twist card causing Mokmurian to vanish out of sight. However due to the fact the chamber was under the influence of a dimensional anchor spell teleportation out of the area wasn't possible. Unfortunately for Aerodus he re-appeared behind him. And with a few arcane gestures  unleashed a volley of scorching rays into the sorcerer....ending his adventuring career.

Which this just enraged this remaining party members further. First the bard is turned to stone and now this. And the fight is renewed with new vigor (read: pure hatred) and they threw everything they had on Mokmurian. Even Marcellus & Zatara got into there at the end as Mokmurian dismissed the Reverse Gravity on them so they would fall. Jess's (Wren) plot twist card halved that falling damage and the rest was soaked by their stone skin spells put in place earlier.

Eventually the tyrannical stone giant was brought down....but not before the real threat, the REAL villain, took control of the dying giant to deliver a message. The Runelord of Greed, Karzoug, spoke directly to them and let them know that all they've managed to do by killing off his minions was fuel his return faster and that there was nothing they could do to stop him. A fabulous way to get the party fired up to keep going to try to stop this newly revealed power.

Now, however, the party needed to regroup. They gathered back in the library and Seoni began work on trying to restore their fallen comrades. Firstly she reversed the stone effect on Nicholai (much to Marcellus' displeasure as his brother was dead). Seoni told him to shut it and this was the easier of the two to finish. Now the next day she went about bringing about Aerodus back from the dead. Raise Dead was cast and.....nothing. Aerodus was gone for good. His spirit refused to return. A ally was lost.

And Jim decided to roll up a new character instead. His run with Aerodus was fun but perhaps Aerodus' 'destiny' from his bloodline was to die heroically fighting Mokmurian. Some of the other players were a little thrown by this but have accepted it as best as possible. Now when we reconvene Jim will have his new character fully fleshed out; a halfling cavalier with riding dog. It should be fun.

This is also the break for the Runelords game. Our next get together will be to play under Jim's hand in book one of The Council of Thieves AP. We will go through all of book one and then come back and finish the last two volumes of the Runelords saga. It will be good for a break too. I'm looking forward to not sitting behind the screen and a few sessions of that will scratch that itch nicely. I'll also be writing up an adventure log detailing this groups adventures as well. That too should be fun.

For the final thought of this entry all I say is this: Goodbye Aerodus. You will be missed but be remembered as a hero.

Friday, November 11, 2011

And in a single instance....I'm a widower.

My wife has actually been sick for a few days now. It hasn't been something worth talking about as I felt it was not needed to spread amongst friends and family unless it got worse. Last night my wife was very ill; worse I've seen yet and I told her to take today off to rest and re cooperate. She took my advice to heart and decided to stay home and rest.

This morning after getting dressed I went out to get some breakfast for us and to do some shopping. That was around 930am. By 11am this morning my wife was gone. I got back from shopping and she just slipped away. I lost her.......

.....to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

That was part of the shopping this morning; to pick up her copy of Skyrim as the Gamestop opened at 10am. And it wasn't the regular edition either. Oh no dear readers, it was the Collector's Edition. Have I mentioned how much my wife loves playing Elder Scrolls games?

The box was frigging huge! Its around a two foot by two foot cube. Its got the game, making of DVD, fold out map of Skyrim, a leather bound art book (which is just amazing....the art is inspiring) and its got the big honking statue of the dragon Alduin the World Eater.

She has had a fever most of the day. As of my writing she is feeling better. But as sick as she was she was drawn to Skyrim like a crack-head going after a case of RedBalls. I could see her eyes glaze over when I got home with the game. Her nose was red from it running, she was flush in the face as well but I could see the wheels turning in her eyes thinking about what type of character she wanted to create and how she wanted to experience the game.

The plan was I pick up the game while she was at work and she can play it when she got home. I'd take care of dinner. Well that changed as she got legitimately ill (I can vouch for the fever, congestion and other earmarks of 'the ick') and now she's been such a good trooper playing her game today. I honestly believe that nothing short of the world ending could stop her from playing this game.

And she's been smiling all day. That to me is worth every penny I hid away to pay this off and get this for her. I know she loves things like this. As the release date has been approaching the mere mention of Skyrim to her has her giddily bouncing around squealing 'DRAGONS!'. I love my wife.

I've also learned an important lesson in this too. I now know what it feels like to be a gaming widow. I'll be better in the future I promise (Mass Effect 3 is exempt from this though...).

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Welcome back Dark Knight.

Yesterday I was tempted to write a partial write up about the game I've been playing since monday. Last night I ended up finishing the campaign and I'll just write the real deal review. Spoilers ahead if you haven't finished the game...but its been out for over three weeks now so the people who were stoking boners over it will have finished it before me.

I was impressed by this game. From the opening moments of playing as Bruce Wayne post arrest and interrogation from Dr.Hugo Strange within Arkham City's walls to the final moments dealing with Strange in the midst of Protocol 10 to the rather dark and shocking ending to the game. I was impressed.

I have nitpicks as well. I still hate the combat in this series. I hated combat in Arkham Asylum (non-stop button mashing with alleged "skill" somewhere there) and now its here and they throw more enemies at you. Blah. I also found the game to have a much slower pacing that Asylum. Mostly I feel that its due to the size and scope of the playground you are now in versus being on a smaller island and staying mostly inside buildings. It just felt slow at times....this changes after Protocol 10 is active. Then its breakneck and very tense. Still not a deal breaker.

My one major nitpick is just what the hell is Rocksteady games going to do for the third game? What do you mean Phil? Well did you not pay attention to the body count in this game? Joker: dead. Ra's Al Ghul: dead. Talia Al Ghul: dead. Clayface: dissolved in lava. Hugo Strange: dead. Solomon Grundy: Batman pulled what I would assume was his heart out of his chest so probably dead again. As I said for a Batman story the rogues gallery got thinned out a bit and the MAJOR villain in his life is gone. Mark Hamill also noted this was the last time he'll voice Joker in a videogame and I know why now.

Granted Two-Face, Penguin, Killer Croc, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze and Bane are still around. Some are still roaming around in Arkham City but with Two Face and Penguin I don't remember what happened to them after I encountered them. I also don't know what's going to happen to Riddler as I haven't collected enough of those freaking 400 icons/challenges to unlock more than three of the hostage situations out of the six available. I have completed over 220 of those collection/riddle answer/challenges and have only unlocked three hostages to save. FFFFFUUUUUUUUU.....

But I'm an achievement whore so I'll continue on. I also haven't played the Catwoman stages as I'm borrowing the game from a friend and its available as a DLC or unlock code with the game. He did it so I don't know how her adventure fleshes out the story. I don't think not having access to Catwoman has diminished my experience though. I'm here to play as the Goddamn Batman!

Graphic are excellent. Rocksteady is using the Unreal 3 engine as that is the choice of developers this console cycle. And I can't fault them. It looks great. Sound is also well done. Voice acting is superb. Having Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill back as Batman and Joker is bliss to me. And the rest of the cast is also great. I loved Penguin's british accent. I thought Victor Fries (Mr.  Freeze to you) sounded like I would expect him to sound like. So all good on the voice front.

Replayability is medium. After about two solid plays of the campaign I feel you would have seen everything in the story mode. The Riddler additional ranked and campaign missions are there for more skill based challenges if you so desire. I want more story missions. Hopefully Rocksteady will have some other tricks up their sleeves on that front later and not more challenge missions with Robin and Nightwing.

So I do say play this game. If you want to play the best videogame based on a comic book franchise Batman Arkham City is the game. And the former title holder was Batman Arkham Asylum. Hell I'm even considering buying this game so I can play it some more down the road. Its that good people.

Its Bat-tastic. Its Bat-crazy awesome. Its The Goddamn Batman in a story that rivals even The Dark Knight feature film. Play it and enjoy.

Honey....why does my X360 say I'm playing Fifa 12 when I don't even own it?

This was a statement I blurted out sunday night when I realized my Xbox was hacked into and my account was hijacked. But let me build up to that moment with what transpired that evening.

It was around 520pm when I was playing Half-Life 2:Episode 2 on my X360 when I got a message saying I disconnected from Xbox Live. Well no big deal I thought as sometimes our router tends to freeze up or after long periods of not playing 'online' games it seems to disconnect here and there.

So around 530pm I saved my progress so I could go grocery shopping and for some unknown reason I wanted to sign back into Live to check my achievements and shoot a message to play Gears later to some of my friends. Instead I got a message saying that my account was invalid and to contact customer support. This resulted in a stream of profanity from me and my wife logged into Xbox website and began chatting with a customer support person through a chat window. After some general questions and me having to change my password cause I forgot it from 2006 when I first got my X360 I logged on through their website. When the tech person (who was very helpful) was checking in what happened I decided to check my achievement progress through the site and saw it saying that I was currently playing Fifa12 when my tv screen was saying my account was invalid. I don't own Fifa 12. I don't have sports games. So then I exclaimed the title of this post. And told this to the rep in the chat window. "Uh-oh. Check your purchase history please." was the reply and when I did apparently someone got into my account, spent 1800 MS points (or banana bucks as they are known as) I had on account for all sorts of purchases. Motherfuckers wiped out my game points for DLC or arcade games or whatever. You know fun stuff I could get that I didn't have to spend more $$$ on since I'm out of a job now.

And that asshat locked out my account from me accessing it. The rep flagged my account and provided me with a phone number to call immediately to report the theft and spoofing of my account. Apparently when it comes to Xbox security Microsoft is all over it. Now I had to speak with another very polite and helpful rep who locked my billing of my account, walked me through reclaiming my gamertag without losing my score or achievements, took down my info, told me I'll get my points back after the investigation (up to 25 business days), and notified their 'reclaimation department' who I can only assume are the Nazgul from Lord of the Rings who are going after that asshole who ripped me off.

And the fucked up thing is they can't figure out how the person accessed my account. I don't give my personal info out on Xbox Live, I don't give my gamertag or info out on websites offering to boost my score or some other bullshit. I don't know and they're not sure either. But I've got my case number and they will be getting in contact with me soon.

At least I was able to play again. Granted I can't purchase any extra content through their servers since that part of my account is locked until this is finished. No problems though. I can still play.

I do have to give a hearty 'Thank you!' to the support staff at Xbox Live on a sunday. They were great, helpful, polite, fast and genuinely gave a damn. And since I pay for the Gold membership....they better care. They showed they know the value of helping a long term customer and I appriciate it.

I also wish their Nazgul happy hunting.

And for those who forget what the Nazgul are....

Nazgul.....sic balls.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Carrion Crown or The peanut butter is where?!?

On Saturday the Scooby Gang returned to continue their adventure deep into the Ustalav countryside with a trek up to Schloss Caromarc. How did it pan out? Read on!

The Players
Matt - Thredorik Trapspringer (male dwarven rogue 6 / uncouth / belly-flopped onto a troll)
Jess  -  Nisha  (female tiefling fighter(weapon master kit) 6 / combat monster....literally / gruff /DFA'ed a troll successfully)
Charles - Zuri (male aasimar wizard 6 / varisian wanderer/ harrow reader / arcane electricity savant)
Charles - Dragos ( Zuri's raven familiar / smart ass / almost became an ex-raven)
Me - Julian Du Marc ( male human cleric of Pharasma 6 / NPC/PC / stoic / diplomatic / was playing Captain Band-Aid this session as required)
Me again - DM (DM / rules dude / story mover-along-er / still bribed by pie or hot cocoa/ still no bribes of pie or hot cocoa presented)
The session started off with with show and tell of Charles's swag from NYC Comic Con recently. I will have to go next year. It looked and sounded like a lot of fun. Eventually we pried ourselves away from swag to roll some dice.

We continued on just after releasing The Beast to his freedom after successfully arguing his innocence at that wretched trial we became embroiled in. We returned to town and the rabble was assembling a mob to deliver some tea party justice. Fortunately it takes awhile for a large scale mob to get going and we had approximately a full day to prepare for it. We also had to meet with Justice Daramid to claim our reward for working for her on the side to ensure The Beast got a fair trial. 100 platinum pieces later (our reward) and we were encouraged by Justice Daramid to head to the home of The Beast's creator ( and disposed former ruler of the area) and speak with Alpon Caromarc about how to keep the creature under better control. Basically to see if The Beast can be watched so this won't happen in the future.

But first......shopping! We had cash to spend and it was burning a hole in our coin purses. Julian purchased a Handy Haversack and gave it to Thredorik. Well he didn't want Nodwick to get really bogged down after all. For thanks Thredorik gave Julian his masterwork backpack so he can haul some more healing stuffs. Which is always helpful....and tonight it was needed. But I'm getting ahead of my self here.

Also the teasing of Nisha continued and she kept threatening the dwarf for selling peeks of her exercising in her briefs to the townsfolk of Ravengrow. The words 'five gold' were uttered repeatedly over the course of the session.

And while I'm thinking about this I know a peanut butter joke was cracked at the table (hence the title of the post) and it was then used by the PC's for a chunk of the night but I can't remember for the life of me the context and what was said there after. Damn. It was funny though. We laughed alot that night.

So a couple of other shopping goodies purchased (rings of protection, cloak of resistance and a few other odds and ends) and we rested for the evening before racing out ahead of the mob on our horses. The mob was on foot but Schloss Caromarc (the home of Alpon Caromarc) was about 24 miles away. We got there in the late afternoon, well ahead of the mob, and were greeted by Alpon himself who gave us pie and cocoa and thanked us for warning him. He also gave us all the XP and we won.

And I'm lying.

We were actually greeted by trolls and their trollhounds at the gatehouse. Yes you read that right. Trollhounds. If a troll got busy with a dog this is what you get. Its a four legged, angry, nasty, regenerating menace. And there were two of them.

Plus there was a larger troll up on the peak of the gate house taking pot shots at us with a heavy crossbow. And he sent his two troll buddies out to help the hounds beat us up for encroaching into their raid. Remember I mentioned Julian being Captain Band-Aid......here's where it starts.

There was spells being thrown, trolls being hacked up, healing applied and this was all before we got inside. Also the trolls had three goblin captives who switched sides and helped us out when Thredorik offered to pay them, you guessed it, five gold to switch sides. Now this was before we got into the gate house too. The goblins told us about some kind of construct dog guarding the bridge past the gatehouse and keeping the trolls out. Then the fled.

Then we when into the gatehouse and Thredorik and Nisha went upstairs to the roof to dispatch the crossbow troll. This left Zuri and Julian alone downstairs where another troll burst in from the far door and charged. The wizard and cleric held their ground admirably and our luck changed as Nisha and Thredorik beat the one on the roof. Now Death From Above began. Starting with Nisha who dropped off the roof, greataxe first, into the troll. She landed on her butt after the strike.

Thredorik now tried to do the same thing. He belly flopped onto the troll and rolled to his feet. And the spell casters started talking about its raining dwarves and how that would be an awful song. In the middle of combat.
Moving ahead, they secured their horses in the gate house, challenged and beat a flesh golem hound guarding the way into the next building (and more healing needed). Thredorik disabled the trap on the door and they entered the next building in the Schloss. I want to point out that Caromarc's home is actually many buildings built along side a cliff over looking many waterfalls. In the new building, they were immediately set upon by some strange animated metal and flesh creature/guardian. Smackies were given out. Searching the building began (and the building looked like it has not been used in a few days. Searching thoroughly we don't find the Count but access into the next building. By this time its dark out and we take up the bedrooms upstairs to sleep. Nisha and Zuri share a room while Julian keeps one to himself. Thredorik takes the one that had blueprints detailing the repairs of the next building.

The next day we were awoken by a thunderstorm and heavy rains. And now into the next building. It was apparent it was a lab of some kind but due to a massive explosion is in ruins. As was the building and northern wall. And the bridge to the next building that was now replaced by a rickety wooden bridge. But first we were attacked by three rust monsters hiding in the rubble of the lab. Two were slain and the third ran away after sustaining injuries. Now onto the wooden suspension bridge. The bridge at the end of Temple of Doom was more stable than this bridge. Thredorik was checking out the bridge and missed an arcane trap set there (oopsie) and a Erinyes devil (former fallen angel) was summoned in the air above us and started on unload on us with her flaming longbow.

Can you say 'OWIE OWIE OWIE'? We did. And it kept getting worse. We hustled back into the ruined lab to brace for a fight and the devil engulfed us in an Unholy Blight that did the following.

1) ALOT of damage cause we all failed our saving throws. It almost killed Dragos outright.
2) It nauseated us for a round.
3) Knocked our guard down long enough for the devil to fly down into the building and engage us in melee with its longsword.

And Captain Band-Aid began to use his positive energy burst to heal us (and with selective channeling feat I made certain the devil didn't get healed either). Nisha and the erinyes were going toe to toe with Julian keeping Nisha alive. Zuri kept throwing magic, some was successful and others just fizzled out due to the devil's resistance to magic. Thredorik was trying to flank and assist Nisha. And it was all very painful.

When the combat was going on I noticed in the erinyes stat block that the Unholy Blight was an at will ability and she was caster level 12. That power does 1d8 per every two caster levels up to a max of 5d8. Well....she's at caster level 12 and unless my math was wrong she was throwing 5d8. I think that was a bit overpowered as an 'at will' power so as DM I chose to do it once as another casting would have likely causes a TPK and killed our fun. And contrary to some belief I'm not trying to kill the party (that's in the Runelords game only).

After we made it through that beating we called it for the night and will continue into the next building next time. All in all it was alot of fun for everyone. And we're looking forward to the next game coming up in just a few weeks. There is a possibility that we will finish this chapter in the Carrion Crown AP then. And what comes after Pathfinder's take on Frankenstein? Werewolves of course! I can't wait.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Power Outages, Puss in Boots and Pathfinder. Oy!

Well the past few days since the last post have been full of large quantities of bullshit. What bullshit you say?
How about an early nor'easter that dumped about 4-6 inches of VERY heavy and wet snow on the area that caused all sorts of power outages through out the north eastern United States for starters.

And my wife and I were right in the middle of it all. This storm started in the early afternoon and by 4pm we lost power. So it was a night by candlelight, drinking Red Stag and Coca-Cola, and talking. Only talking. I will go on record saying that I was not in trouble or being punished. The 'talk only' policy came about due to...well....you can figure it out.

By sunday it was warming up to about 50F and we could smell that our food in the fridge was going. And we threw out everything. Not fun. Sunday afternoon we paid a visit to my folks to shower and sunday night we stayed in a local hotel. I was surprised that this new Holiday Inn Express had a gym, spa, indoor pool and the rooms were really damn big! And it was reasonably priced plus we got our AAA discount. As Jess said it was a camping trip.

Monday we took clothes to the laundromat and stopped by the folks to use their internet to catch up on some stuff. And fortunately by 1pm we got a call saying the power was restored at our home. Elation ensued. Groceries purchased. And trick or treaters were given candy. All nine of them that showed up.

While we got lucky on the power front a large chunk of our friends are still without power and we wish them the best and will do what we can to help out.

Skipping back a bit I mentioned Pathfinder in the header too. We were supposed to assemble the Carrion Crown crew for the final leg of the second book; a journey into the Schloss Caromarc to visit the creator of The Beast. Snow fucked that up on saturday. No power or heat fucked that plan sunday. So we are aiming for this coming saturday to get this going. And I swear I will hunt down any errant weather deities and smite them if they throw any more bad weather at NEPA. Weather....you're on notice.

In other Pathfinder related news a book I ordered back in september arrived today and I'm happy.

Now I will start working on that Dark Souls homebrew conversion I mentioned in an earlier post. I've had some quality time with this 799 page beast and I'm happy with the purchase. I can see this getting alot of mileage at my table when I'm not running an adventure path. Hell I may just throw in a random encounter out of here just to keep them on their toes.

Lastly to keep our dwindling sanity this weekend (and to find something to do when we were out of power) the wifey and I went and saw a movie. And our friends Matt and Brian joined us as well.

Funny. Very funny movie. It made me almost totally forget about the Shrek franchise. And I'd like to (to be honest). It was full of really good action, it looked great in 2D (again.....no need for 3D unless the movie is designed and filmed only for that format), voice acting was superb with Banderas and Galafanakis as the standouts. From the opening monologue from Puss talking about all the names he is known by (Chewbacca-cabra is my favorite) to the one liner that his cat nip is for glaucoma I had no problem laughing through out. The only weak link for me was Salma Hayek as Kitty Softpaws. She wasn't a strong enough character to the uber-charismatic Puss and at times it felt that they could have cast anyone in that role instead of Salma. And its a shame as she and Banderas have worked together so often and have good chemistry. Its a small nitpick to an otherwise excellent time at the theater.

And it really helped. I feel that if we didn't go to the movies and have some fun there would have been stress induced fighting all the way up until power was restored. Essentially Puss in Boots may have saved my life. Cause it was only a matter of time that I would say/do/think something stupid and my wife would have obliterated me. And then I wouldn't be here to share this with you. And you would be sad.

All two of you who actually read this.

Hi mom.