Friday, May 15, 2009

I think we should call it your grave!

Not sure how well the above screenshot shows it, but I'm in a new guild! I wasn't raiding enough in my old one (which wasn't really their fault, and I'm not going over it here), so now I'm in one with some old friends from IRC. In a week and a bit, after I leave my job, I'll be a proper hardcore MC Raider! In Ulduar, though.

Anyway, Mage. So last week, we were told that we'd brought the attention of some bad guys called Technocrats to the area, and should go fix that. We headed out into the nearby town/suburb, and after Kase (our Virtual Adept) hacked into the local police station's network and planted a wild goose chase for the Technocrats' Agents to follow, we chased them down. While the rest of the cabal argued about whether or not to enter the shop we'd led/followed them to, I headed in anyway. They didn't actually notice me until Jenna (the rock chick Ecstatic) came in to drag me out, at which point they recognised me as the guy who'd exploded their pal in the last session, and scarpered.

After we (the Agents and I) got into their car - Did I mention that I have an absurdly high stealth roll thanks to my magical subtlety? Yeah - I unsuccessfully attempted to put them to sleep, then successfully made them angry at each other. Meanwhile, the rest of the cabal had noticed I was in the car too, and managed to stop it by puncturing the tyres. Anyway, thanks to some magical help from me, the driver reacted to his car stopping by punching his passenger, knocking the man unconscious and almost putting his head through the window.

A brawl ensued with some locals, and I escaped with the unconscious man to a local park where we all met up to interrogate him. I kept watch for people following us from the kid's roundabout in the park while they talked to the man. I didn't hear any of that, in character because I was elsewhere, out of character because I was reading Wolverine: Origins. The only thing I know is that there was a mobile involved, because I was told it was in front of me but had no reason to care, and then after a while it disappeared because one of the guys summoned it.

Anyway, after a while we were all compelled by our Avatars (the things that fuel our magic, kinda like souls) to walk into a cave that had just appeared in the woods, and once inside the cave to drown ourselves in a lake inside. We all fell unconscious, and when we woke up we were back outside, the cave was gone and we were all more powerful. Susumu can now stop bullets and give himself super-speed.

Anyway, this week, we were told to go and take out the chief Technocrat in the area (presumably based on last week's interrogation - shut up, it was a good comic) and so we traced him to a nearby farm where he was threatening a farmer's family for no explained reason. He saw us coming, shot tear gas at us, then got shot by John (the Hermetic gunslinger)'s bullets and Julius (the priest)'s holy light laser pulse thing. I ran out of the gas at super-speed, only to find he'd already been killed while I was gaining super-speed, and jumped through the window anyway to land in front of the rather surprised family. Kase stopped his gun exploding by exploiting the world's RNG, and apparently there'll be a conclusion next week.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Seriously guys, wtf?

This totally counts as Wednesday.

So yeah, Exalted. The campaign I'm running, that is. When last we left our heroes, they were about to decide whether or not to fight a Solar Exalt that had just appeared inside their ship. Well, they raced downstairs, and a stalemate ensued. Guns were aimed, swords were brandished, it was all very unpleasant. The Solar, who turned out to be Roja the cabin boy (think about it), was very confused as he'd just found out that in a previous life he'd created the very ship he was now the lowest-ranked person on. The band were very confused, as despite his rippling muscles and white glow, the person in front of them was clearly just a boy in his early-mid teens. After a while of shouting at each other about how they wouldn't put their weapons down because of how they'd probably get killed, the party whore, Lucrezia (for whom it took about a session to gain the nickname Lucy) slinked up to him, flashed a bit of skin, and abducted him to her cabin.

See, this is the great thing about RPGs. The players will almost never do what you expect them to. If they'd tried to kill the guy, he was weak enough in combat stats they probably could have done, but I also forgot to give him good social defenses, and so now he's the party mascot. Well, that and Lucy's booty call, which I'm determined to avoid as much as possible because yeah, cybering? Not really my thing. But in any case, I accidentally ended up with a GMPC (GM's player character, ie an NPC who's as powerful as or more powerful than the PCs and in their party) rather than a corpse. I'm keeping him around rather than railroading him out of here for a couple of reasons, the main one being he's damn useful for exposition.

After seducing him to their side, Roja revealed to the band that in a previous life he'd been a Twilight caste Solar Exalt, who'd made this ship. He also said that it wasn't at its full power, and that they should go and find a powerful hearthstone in the Western Ocean to power it. Then there was more commotion downstairs, and a sharkman jumped on board. Now, I went to look up the stats for the sharkman (a standard beastman) and accidentally started using the stats for  a siaki-man (a minor deity). So after almost killing one of the band in the first session, I positioned the enemy near a window and when Zasz hit him with a large ball of wind essence (think air-zooka, but magicker) he flew out of said window (which I'm sure has a special name on a ship, but what the hey) and didn't come back.

A week of RL time passed, and the next session picked up that night at dinner, with noone really caring that they'd just fought a sharkman, and Roja being very tired out thanks to an afternoon spent with Lucy (off-screen). Later that night, a Peleps (a house from whom Zasz had stolen the ship, head of the dragon-blooded navy) boat was spotted coming toward them. Naval combat rules were learnt as chase was given, and after Lucy blew up the boat's sail the band closed in on the boat to loot and plunder.

Unfortunately, the boat slipped around the back of the Strange Mountain, and a lovely couple appeared ready to get butchered. The man was shot off the back of the ship by Zasz and left unconscious in the ocean, and the woman was killed with a single slice from Revvie's sword. Then their two friends appeared, a large armoured fighter with a greataxe, and an Immaculate Monk (who are Exalted's equivalent of my Mage) with claws. Fong, Alindre and Alindre's bear Grumbles all charged straight at the monk, who redirected Fong's attack the the axe-wielder (who blocked it easily, just as Fire Emblem taught me) and Alindre's and the bear's to Zasz. Alindre did a bit of damage to Zasz, and then I left it on a cliffhanger.

Next session should see a conclusion to this combat (hopefully quickly, as the monk's used enough of his mystical energy that he's surrounded in an aura of lethal water.) and some NPCs who's template I'll get right.

Thousands wouldn't

A fact about me you may not know: I'm terrible at time-keeping. I just have a terrible internal clock, at least when it comes to estimating how much time has passed between two events. I cannot estimate journey times except for in relation to other journeys, and even then only by estimating the distances. "Well, it takes me 20 minutes to get to work, but uni's nearer to work, so... under 20 minutes?" (actually somewhere between 5 and 10).

This sometimes means I struggle to find the time for doing things, this blog being a prime example, that aren't on a fixed schedule. It hardly helps that I had a reasonably active last week. In addition to work, I:

-Ran another two sessions of Exalted (the second of which finished just before I typed this)

-Played a session of Mage

-Hunted down more pets in WoW and started getting reputation with some of the factions from the Burning Crusade who sell pets.

-Handed in my notice at work (come on, 23rd May)

-Applied for a new WoW guild run by some friends of friends in IRC

-Saw Star Trek, which was awesome (though I can't help but feel I missed a lot by not bein a Trekkie myself)

-Had my end-of-year interview at uni, which went alright. I think I'm going to have to redo an essay over the next month or so, and possibly polish up another couple bits of coursework, if I want to pass through into the next year.

Anyway, yeah, busy, albeit some of that stuff's frivolous, but hey, so am I =P

Coming soon: a summary of the first two proper episodes (full sessions) of the Exalted game, a summary of last week's Mage (probably on Thursday along with a summary of this week's), some WoW stuff, and a GMing rant about GMPCs (which I managed to miss last time round). One a day at least is my plan, but we'll see how it goes. Feel free to harass me if nothing appears on Wednesday proper.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

It is a silly place

It can be hard picking the right title and picture for a blog post. Today I am going to write about WoW's 3.1 patch and the Argent Tournament, and - cliche that I am - I figured a picture of Camelot from Monty Python and the Holy Grail would be apt. But google image search failed me (also I realised I should cut down on the cliche, I hear it's high in saturated fats) so you get a paladin's horse.

So, patch 3.1. Yes, it was a while back, but bear with me. Firstly, the class changes that affected me:

-Molten Armour now scales with Spirit instead of being a fixed value.

Ok, with that out of the way, why am I playing my mage so much nowadays? Because these past few weeks have been some of the best for "Casual" players in a very long time. The Argent Tournament, a small area in the far north of Icecrown, is a hub of daily quests, mostly revolving around getting on a horse, equipping a lance and hitting other people on horses with lances. There is a basic progression which goes as follows:

-For the first 3 days, you kill 10 undead nearby, go out to find swords, and fight with practice targets. For the right to fight in the tournament.

-For the next 5 days, you kill 10 undead nearby, a bunch of mounted lieutenants and their minions a bit further away, go out to find swords, and fight with easy-mode AI NPCs. For your city!

-For the next forever days, you kill 15 undead nearby, a larger bunch of mounted lieutenants and their bosses a bit further away, go out to kill a dragon that (debatedly) requires a group to kill, and fight with hard-mode AI NPCs. For gold! Also for a special currency used for awesome minipets!

-For the first 19 of those forever days, you repeat the previous 5 days (actually 4 on the last time round due to an amusing bug) for some other city. After that you are a champion of your faction, and this doesn't actually get you any more gold or currency, just a nice title.

Now, this sounds monotonous, and it sort of is, except that, being WoW, it's one of the most enjoyable bits of monotony out there. I have so far become a champion of two cities, am nearing my 3rd, and have got a very nice dagger (worth 1/2 a minpet) that was a weapon upgrade for me.

After the Argent Tournament was around long enough for us to get used to it, Noblegarden (WoW's denomination-free version of Easter) came along, inviting us all to run around finding eggs in our low-level villages, throw bunny ears onto female characters (only if they're over 18 though!) and plant flowers in deserts. Which was fun, and I got another new minipet (a cute bunny that hops after me) and a new version of my polymorph spell: bunny rabbit. This inspired me to go and hunt down the other two versions of polymorph available to me (I already had sheep and penguin): cat and pig. There's also turtle, but I was tired by this point and a raid boss drops it. Admittedly, a level 60 20-man boss, but still.

And just as Noblegarden was drawing to an end, everyone's favourite WoW holiday (mainly because it's nothing to do with any real holiday), Children's Week! That's right, time to pop down to the orphanages, grab a cute little kiddywink, and drag him/her around Azeroth showing her/him the sights. There are two orphans: A human who's very dull and gets laughed at by his heroine, and a draenei who, having been made a couple years later, is much more interesting, and has ominous foreshadowing covering her. After taking the little draenei girl through a few achievements with me (exposing her to the harshness of war, teleporting home leaving her behind, and showing her the grind that her future life would be), I turned both in and got another pair of minipets. And then decided I wanted even more minipets, so set about flying about buying and questing for all the easy ones. I'm 12 away from a free skunk, and starting to worry about how much I like this game >.>

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Never thought I'd see the day...

So, Exalted. I promised a friend this post would be about the campaign I recently started running, complete with the above picture/link (NSFW, though I'm sure you can find a clean version if you youtube search "I'm on a boat").

So, I hang out in an IRC channel with a group of friends who were enthusiastic about WAR a while before it came out and decided to make a guild for it. Needless to say, when it did finally come out, most of us left it for WoW about a month later, but by that point the channel wasn't really about that any more anyway. But I digress, a couple weeks back someone started asking, as he often does, if anyone wanted to run an Exalted campaign over IRC. Now, as Scion had recently finished, I said yes.

After a bit of brainstorming, we recruited some other people in the channel into the game and decided on the setting: a Dragonblooded campaign set on the high seas, a group of adventurers sailing about beating up bad guys, that sort of thing. Since then, it was decided that the boat they were on would be an artefact made of Jade, so that it wasn't flammable. And in fact, despite it being a possibility, none of the PCs were aspected with Water, indeed most of them chose Fire. The ship's captain is aspected with Earth "so I can use the crew as armour" (yes Exalted works that way), and there's an Air-aspect there as well. The other 3 are Fire.

The PCs in more detail:

-Cynis Lucrezia: Fire-Aspected daughter of a house renowned for its hedonism, this sorceress and demon-summoner has decided to go out and experience the world before coming back to the Isle and proving her family's credibility.

-Mnemon Zasz: Despite being an Earth-Aspected son of a house renowned for its powerful sorcerers and nobles, Zasz is a brutish fighter obsessed with big guns and the ocean. After being outcast by his family, he found a ship and has taken to the seas to claim the Isle's navy as his own.

-Alindre, Found Egg: Daughter of servants, noone expected Alindre to Exalt, but her family were the servants of a noble house, and so she was more prepared for the life of a Fire-Aspected Exalt than most "Lost Eggs" are. Now she's decided to head out into the Western Ocean to find her brother, a soldier in the army.

-Tepet Revvie Edalalaika: Favourite daughter of a proud military house, Revvie lost an arm and a hand in an assassination attempt about a year ago. She was taken in and cared for by peasants until she was well, and during this time her family's armies were decimated. Now calling herself "Tarnished Orchid," she goes out to take on the world with her swordsmanship, and track down the source of her would-be assassins.

-Sesus Fong: Originally a Lost Egg, Fong Exalted into the Fire Aspect early and was adopted into a house of cut-throat politicians. However, his humble beginnings meant that the world of politics never suited Fong, and now he's stowed away on a ship heading west to escape it all, even for a while.

The ship on which they sail is the Strange Mountain, a small battleship which can fold itself down to the size of a suitcase, and which needs no crew to sail it but a skilled captain. Zasz has armed it with a pair of Essence cannons and a pair of seige ballistae, and they were about to set sail when golden light and the sound of screams spilled out from downstairs. Apparently a Solar Exalt, or "Anathema" has appeared. As Dynasts of the Realm, the band should slay this person, but they tend to be rather powerful and 2 of the 5 of them lean toward the social aspect of the game... it's going to be an interesting 2nd session.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Ludicrous Kill!

Mage last night was pretty cool. We'd just broken into a warehouse in the middlish of Glasgow, and found it to be full of educational textbooks, that most evil of products! Ok, so we later discovered they were full of subliminal messages that supressed magic in the minds of the young and so really were evil(ish), but still. Books. Anyway, the security guardwent for a piss as we were discussing how to deal with him, so we locked him in there through some nifty magic by one of the Hermetics.

Inside the security guard's office, we found nothing except for a tracking device (which none of us identified as such, and were about to leave when the Technocracy burst in! Snipers shot one of us unconscious immediately, and everyone dived for cover. Then Susumu realised they were all cowards with guns instead of real weapons, so ran out into the shelves to fight them properly. He surprised one of them and hit him so hard, his head disappeared into his torso and his legs crumpled. Which was cool. Also, it scared away the rest of them, so we were free to burn down the warehouse and escape to get our downed comrade healed up. There were some latin mutterings about god from the group's priest-mage, some ominous mutterings about karma from one of our superiors, and then we discovered just how evil those books were, and also that the fire we'd started in that one warehouse had spread to burn down the whole warehouse district. Oops.