Counting Ku

Touching on games, life, and the intersection between

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Use Your Head: Weekend in the Realms

Posted by countingku on November 15, 2009

When people think of Living Forgotten Realms, they think combat. It is a fairly accurate stereotype. While authors are getting better at including more story in their work, the type of gaming tends to preclude a deep, overarching campaign storyline. However, there are opportunities to do something beyond beating things into submission. I would like to give two examples, from my experiences at Weekend in the Realms.

WEEK1-4 The Icy Queen’s Crossing

The group had fought their way into the final chamber, dealing with the demon summoning Creel, and noticing the dead wintery fey along the way. When we reached the bottom of the slide and saw the Icy Queen struggling with the demonic force, we decided to help her. My character was a Warforged Warden, so I didn’t have any obvious ways to help the parlay…  or did I? Looking at my powers, I decided to use my daily power creatively. We had a surprise round, so I used my daily to transform. Once in the Form of Winter’s Herald, I proclaimed to the fey that I served Winter and would like to assist the queen. I then requested to make a Nature check to attempt to show them I was a servant of Winter. The DM was surprised, but went with the flow. In the end, we rescued the queen and didn’t have to fight anyone but the feral dragon to do so.

WATE1-2 Dark Secrets of Downshadow

Our group had found a secret stairwell and the sneaks (a gnome warlock and a halfling rogue) went down the stairs to do some recon. They found two dwarves whom they evaded, and a key that they pilfered. The warlock signaled the rest of us at the top of the stairs to silently start down the stairs. I aced my Stealth roll, the next player aced their Stealth roll, the final player rolled an 11 (looks like trouble). The dwarves are alerted and the sneaks need to make a Stealth check to hide. The rogue rolls a 1, and is discovered by the dwarves. I hear this and I race down the stairs. When I reach the bottom of the stairs, I point at our sneaks and yell at them for disobeying my orders and running ahead of the group. I roll a 24 on my Bluff check(it is good to be a bard), totally pulling off the righteous indignation. I turned to the confused looking dwarves and apologized to them for my overly exuberant companions and showed them a token that I suspected would get me past them. The dwarves were convinced by my performance (ACTING!), and were very congenial as they sent us on our way.

At that point, the DM stopped the game and told me that I had scared the crap out of him. He had no idea what I was doing when I ran down the stairs and was about to tell us to roll for initiative. The players he usually DMs for believe in what I like to call “percussive diplomacy”, or as it is better known, beating the crap out of whatever was in the way. I apologized for startling him, and he waved me off saying how much he enjoyed the interaction.

Combat is easy, trying to avoid combat can be fun and entertaining for you and your whole table. Try it the next time you sit down at the gaming table.


Posted in Dungeons & Dragons, Games, Living Forgotten Realms, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Waiting for Diablo: Torchlight Bright

Posted by countingku on November 5, 2009

Diablo. One word. But for millions of gamers, one word says all that needs to be said. Diablo is a classic series, and one that every Action CRPG strives to match. Diablo III is currently in production by Blizzard, and we *may* see it in 2010 (if we’re very lucky). What is a Diablo fan to do while waiting? Obviously, Diablo 2 is still there to give us joy. Admittedly, while the gameplay is still solid, the graphics are really beginning to show their age.

Looking to satisfy the Diablo geeks in the universe, Runic Games has released Torchlight. How would I describe Torchlight in a sentence? Diablo meets WoW, falls in love, then trains the hunter pets to use jewelery, spells, and run to the corner store.

That’s right, kids. You all hate that “Your inventory is full” message. Well, why should you have to port to the store, when Snookums or Petey can run there and bring you back the money while you keep killing evil? It is empowering.

As soon as the game loads, the music flows over you. It is not overly ornate, it pulls you in and reminds of the sounds of Diablo past. It is equally suitable for running around the town of Torchlight or mowing down the varied hordes.

The gameplay is pure Diablo, everyone has Area of Effect abilities, and the game makes sure you put them to use by sending waves of ravening evildoers to swarm over you. The classes all manage to feel powerful, but retain their own style. Though, if you want to mix and match, the diverse skill trees make it so that the 3 classes in the game seem like many more.

The interface is a nice mixture of WoW and Diablo, you can use abilities by binding to the mouse keys or using the number keys that correspond to your ability bar. One key difference is that clicking on the skill bar brings up a Diablo style skill setting window, which will be a rude awakening to a WoW-familiar player trying to get off a quick button click.

The town has the vendors you would expect, but that is not all. There is a transmuter (think Horadric Cube), an enchanter (think making your awesome gear levels upon levels more awesome, or removing all the enchantments, or doing nothing at all), and an item salvager and gem salvager (destroys either the item or the gem and leaves the other).

I have only two minor quibbles with this game. There is a lack of multiplayer. This is understandable, considering the truncated production time frame, but it would be really nice to play with some pals online (though the upcoming free to play Torchlight MMO should resolve this issue). Second, there is no way to respec your skill trees. Maybe WoW has spoiled me, but I like being able to play with my build and tweak things.

Overall, this is an outstanding game that has sucked away hours of my free time, and I feel like the best is still to come. With its $19.99 price tag, Torchlight is a game that will end up costing pennies per hour of play time. That kind of value is hard to deny. What are you still reading for? Go get yourself a copy of Torchlight and ease those Diablo III waiting pains.

Posted in Diablo, Games, PC, Review, Torchlight, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Welcome to the show!

Posted by countingku on October 16, 2009

Welcome to my little corner of cyberspace. There are many others like it, but this one is mine.

I am a lapsed writer, and more and more have been feeling an urge to work at my writing again. They tell me these things happen when you start to get older.

Writing is work. If I am going to be working at writing again, I want to focus on a topic I will enjoy. Wish me luck in this task, and I hope you will enjoy reading this blog as much as I plan on enjoying writing it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »