Now Playing: Dungeons & Dragons

I know a lot about Dungeons & Dragons for someone who has never really played Dungeons & Dragons.  My husband has been playing D&D since he was about 10; his group of friends has been playing together since high school, switching between various roleplaying settings from classic D&D to Pathfinder and finally now to Exalted.  They frequently play at our house, so I know many of the details of their campaigns, and my husband loves telling me about the adventures their characters are having.

Not to mention I’ve read a lot of Forgotten Realms books, including stories featuring Elminster and Drizzt.

And yet I’ve only played with them a few times (not for lack of encouragement from my husband).  Even though they are my friends, too, I just felt really intimidated about starting to play a type of game that they’ve been playing for half their lives.  (I was really intimidated by MMOs at first, too, and I would still never play SWTOR with my husband’s friends.)

I finally got a chance to change that last month and really see what all the fuss is about with tabletop roleplaying games.  One of my coworkers wanted to try her hand at running a game (or being Dungeon Master aka DM in D&D parlance), so she got a small group together at work and we successfully completed a one-shot campaign!

We started with one session of character creation. Our DM brought some pre-made character sheets, so I started with one of those and then did some customization.  My character is Temerity, a lawful neutral Tiefling Warlock. Tieflings are a race a wasn’t previously familiar with; they are creatures who made a deal with a devil (in my case, The Fiend) in return for great power.  Temerity was previously a hermit, prefers logic to emotion, and is willing risk much in the quest for knowledge.

20181214_191150

We did a “point buy” system to pick our stats.  My main stat was Charisma (I took Intimidation), and Strength was my dump stat.  I like playing magic users (like my Jedi Consular healer in SWTOR), and I was looking forward to the challenge of roleplaying Temerity.  The other characters in the party were a half-elf ranger, a drow rogue, and a bard.

Our DM had picked a one-shot for level one characters called The Happenings at Barralon Manor (the setting info is all online if you are interested in running it, too).  All our characters began as members of the Ducal Investigative Service (DIS). We were called to a small town by the mayor to investigate some mysterious disappearances at a manor house there.

Our first combat, a face-off with some zombies, was a little slow as we all figured out which dice to roll, but pretty soon we got the hang of it and it became second nature.  As a warlock, I was using d10s a lot to roll damage.

20181214_180336

When we finally reached the manor, we were attacked by a flock of birds.  I didn’t think the combat was going well; if the whole party wasn’t going to die, then I certainly was.  So after taking a few hits, instead of making a stand, I bolted for the manor door. Luckily it was unlocked!  In retrospect, I probably should have warned the rest of the party that I was going to do this.  But they got the message pretty quick, and we got through mostly unscathed (I did have to pull the bard’s body through the door after us; luckily I had the Medicine skill).

The DM did a good job shepherding us through the story, as well as just going with the flow when we did the unexpected (like bolting for the door).  At the beginning of the story, for example, we came across a family murdered by the zombies, and none of us had any interest in going after the children that had been left alive.  We went back to the tavern instead.

20181214_221443
The final dungeon.  The Erlking-looking orange guy is the boss.  My character (white with the staff) is naturally at the back of the party, avoiding getting hit.

At the end of the adventure, my character got to have some extra fun.  Temerity had discovered a powerful temple to an evil deity during her hermitage; it seemed to me that the big bad was trying to locate it, so she took his notes and burned them.  Although this was a one-shot, if we ever play the characters again that could have some big implications.

And who knows? Maybe we will play these characters again.  I don’t have a lot of time at all for gaming right now, but we all had a good time.  I would definitely be interested in playing D&D in the future. It really was a lot like playing a video game RPG, so I think my experience with SWTOR helped me enjoy this experience, too.

Do you guys play tabletop RPGs?  What’s your favorite campaign setting?  (Yes, of course there is a Star Wars setting, but I have yet to find anyone interested in playing it with me.)

Advertisements

Now Playing: Final Fantasy VII

If you play video games at all, especially RPGs, you’ve probably heard of Final Fantasy VII.  It released in 1997 for the PlayStation and has come to be known as one of the greatest games of all time.

It is certainly one of my husband’s favorite games ever, and he is greatly anticipating the upcoming high-definition remake of the game.  He’s been wanting me to play the game for years; I’ve started it multiple times and never progressed very far (I didn’t even get to the open world map).

So we’re taking a staycation this week and playing FFVII.  Or more accurately, he’s watching me play it (the reverse of what usually happens).

WP_20160718_16_06_43_Pro
I’m playing on this actual PS1 and a tiny TV that B first used to play the game in the 90s.

The game follows soldier-turned-rebel Cloud Strife and his party on their quest to save their planet from the evil Shinra corporation and the godlike Sephiroth.  I already know the basic story, and “spoilers” for a 20-year-old game is kind of a silly concept.  I’ve also already seen Advent Children, a movie set after the game.  So I know all the characters, and I know who dies.

My goal for Monday was simply to get farther in the game than I had before (aka, leave the Shinra building), and I was successful!  B gave me a mod that started me with tons of XP and money, so combat is super easy and I don’t have to grind.  This is speeding up the game a lot, and I might actually be able to finish it this week.

As I said, B is watching me play so he can give me advice and help me when I get stuck.  He knows exactly what to do to get specific outcomes.  This is really helpful, because I’m used to relying on game journals in RPGs to remember what I’m supposed to be doing, but FFVII doesn’t have one, and I’d be wasting so much time just wandering around.

WP_20160718_14_47_15_Pro
B told me to get the one that shimmers so I get picked by the Don.  But then B fell asleep, and I couldn’t figure out how to get the tiara or makeup.  Aeris got picked.  Oh well.

My biggest challenge starting out was figuring out how to walk in a straight line, and where the paths go.  In my defense, the graphics are not what I’m used to haha.  But I’m getting better.

I’m about 14 hours into the game now, and I’ve gotten out to Midgar onto the world map, crossed an ocean, and learned more about Cloud, Barret, and Red XIII’s backstories.  Red XIII in particular is a favorite of mine; I call him “Red Shii” because of this video.

I’m really enjoying way the story is told, with lots of unfolding mystery and flashbacks.  I also already loved the music, which I’ve seen performed live, and I find myself humming along.

WP_20160719_22_41_03_Pro
Shiva, my first summon.  Aren’t the pixels great? >_<

My party is generally either Cloud/Tifa/Aeris or Cloud/RedXIII/Aeris.  Basically, a fighter, a thief, and a magic user.  The materia system is also really fun and I’m trying lots of combos with different characters.

I can already see a little why this game had such a big impact on so many young gamers, including my husband, in the 90s.  Maybe I’ll be playing the remake when it comes out, too!

Homemade dice bag

Honestly, I’m not sure I ever thought I would be at the level of geek where I sewed a bag to hold dice for a role-playing game.  But here we are.

My husband B has played Dungeons & Dragons since before I met him in middle school.  He recently started a game of Exalted, another table-top RPG, with some friends; this game requires, like, three sets of d10 dice or something ridiculous.  He wanted a separate bag for these dice, and drew up a picture of what he wanted.

dice bag

It looked pretty simple, so I told him we could make it.  We bought some fabric but then never got around to doing anything with it.

Just before last Christmas, B was gone for business for about a week, and I saw an opportunity.  I have a terrible time surprising him with anything, because he notices the tiniest details and changes, but he is excellent at surprises for me.  I figured I could make a dice bag in a couple of days (I also enlisted my mom’s help in planning).

We made a quick pattern out of newspaper, basing the size of the bag off another dice bag B uses (that one is made of chain mail…).  I cut out the colored triangles and sewed them together as shown in his design.  Then I cut a black lining approximately the same size, sewed the two “inside” faces together.  I added an extra seam at the top and threaded some black string though.

I did this bag quickly, so it’s not perfect.  My grandmother is turning over in her grave because my seams didn’t match up in some places.

But I did finish it in time, and B was definitely surprised.  He’s been using it for his Exalted dice ever since.  I didn’t add any decal to the front yet, but he’s said that instead of the dice in his sketch, he wants a yellow circle like a sun, which is the symbol of his Exalted character’s caste, Zenith.

Some action shots:

Kotaku’s Q&A with KOTOR II lead writer Chris Avellone

You’ve probably seen that I’ve been replaying KOTOR II, and blogging about it, so I was quite excited that Kotaku had a Q&A session with the game’s lead writer Chris Avellone, who works for game developer Obsidian.  He’s also worked on other famous games such as Fallout 2 and Planescape: Torment, which happens to be getting a Let’s Play treatment by William Hohmiester over at the Sourcerer blog.

2015-03-06_00001

You can check out the whole session here; there were actually quite a few questions about KOTOR II.  Avellone mentions that he loves Empire Strikes Back, and its tone probably influenced him to take a darker direction with the KOTOR sequel.  He also says he appreciates the fans mods that have fixed bugs and re-added a lot of cut content (I’m playing with the Restored Content mods this time).

He also touches on one of my big problems with the KOTOR games, that the morality system rewards only going strongly lightside or darkside, when I would prefer to play a grey character.

Lastly, Avellone says that if they were to do the game again, he would have reduced the number of companions (great!) and cut the minigames (NO!).  Not that I play pazaak (it’s no Triple Triad), but it just wouldn’t be KOTOR without it and swoop racing.