All words presented in this blog are purely opinion, not fact - unless specifically stated otherwise in the post.

Wednesday 29 July 2020

Favourite Spells: Vicious Mockery

So as you may know I like D&D a lot. To the point that with some friends its all I talk about. To the point that I sometimes wonder if I'm getting annoying.
So I though that rather than continue to pour a steady stream of random D&D over my friends outside of our sessions I'd start pouring it over you.
Thats right, before now I didnt consider that a steady stream of D&D, just isolated D&D posts.

With that in mind I thought I'd start one new segment with others potentially to follow, titles 'Favourite Spells'.

In this segment I will pick a spell and talk about why I like it, and under what situations.
For our first spell, we have;
I have not played many games of D&D, I've DM'd a lot, 2 and a half years of this campaign with 1-2 games a month for the first 2 years and weekly since the pandemic started.
In fact I've probably played three games. Two in D&D 4e 10 years ago and 1 in D&D 5e.
In my 5e game I was one of the most D&D knowledgeable players and so wanted to give the others a chance to shine how they wanted to shine, and then be there to pick up the pieces, so I picked a Bard. Someone who could be the face if nobody else was comfortable with RPing, and had some healing to help the others and also had some Debuffs to make sure that the others were on able to feel great about themselves.
The character sheet of my Bard, Cyran Scepter who is one of the main shopkeeps in my regular campaign can be found here.
So the only offensive spell I had was the vicious mockery cantrip, and that is the spell I will be talking about today.
So the spell reads;

You unleash a string of insults laced with subtle enchantments at a creature you can see within range. If the target can hear you (though it need not understand you), it must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or take 1d4 psychic damage and have disadvantage on the next attack roll it makes before the end of its next turn.

This spell's damage increases by 1d4 when you reach 5th level (2d4), 11th level (3d4), and 17th level (4d4).

 So first of all the spell isn't a huge damage dealer. Despite it being one of the only 2 ways I could deal damage, and the only way my character was willing to do it, considering I was playing him as a bit of a coward, I chose it over a spell that would have given me more damage for a couple of reasons.
First of all it fit with my character concept of a non-combatant croud controller. He didn't do much damage and didn't get into the fight, but he helped everyone by keeping the enemies off their game.
This spell in particular helped me by giving the enemy disadvantage on it's next attack, making it so that other players would be less likely to hit.
But the main reason I like the spell is because it's a fun role playing spell and it leads to some of the best moments.
You literally insult a person so viciously that it hurts.
This spell offers the players an opportunity to throw out creative insults, which if they're paying attention can be great fun.
When I played my bard we were fighting a dragon construct made up of wood and I was able to kill it from an insult. And that moment was just fantastic.
Imagine, if you will, we were on the back foot, one or two or our players were down and Cyran was gettign frustrated. Stuck inside a building, as a last bout of frustration welled up inside him, he poked his head out and yelled up at the dragon 'Why don't you just piss off, you glorified rocking horse' and the thing came falling down from the sky and died as it crashed face first into the earth.

One of the most important things for me is how a spell functions in play, and especially roleplay. Yes firebolt is a much better damage dealer, but it just isn't that interesting from a role playing perspective.

P.S. Since the last post I have completed an additional 4 games to get me up to 22 games since lockdown began.
my full list is now;
  1. Control
  2. Infamous First Light
  3. Beyond 2 souls
  4. Titanfall 2
  5. God of war (2018)
  6. Red Dead Redemption 2
  7. The Witcher 3
  8. Assassin's Creed Odyssey
  9. Horizon Zero Dawn
  10. Star Wars Battle Front 2 + the expansion story
  11. Rise of the Tomb Raider
  12. Devil May Cry 5
  13. Uncharted 4
  14. Dishonoured 2 (as Emily)
  15. Life is strange 2
  16. Hitman 2 (2018)
  17. Last of Us 2
  18. Observation
  19. Desperados 3
  20. Little Nightmares
  21. Uncharted The Lost Legacy
  22. The Council
Next I'll be playing Kings Quest (2015). I'm starting to run out of games at this point. I'm planning to move away from home later this year and I was hoping to use my backlog of games to save myself some money since I will not have as much disposable income, however this pandemic has put that plan in serious jeopardy.

I hope everyone is well.
 - James
Recently the Drawfee youtube channel which I have posted a video of in the past, was let go of from CollegeHumor and have become independent. They really are a great relaxing channel where they draw cool things and chat about it. They seem to be genuinely friends and it's great to watch/listen to.

Tuesday 14 July 2020

The art of changing editions

I've been running my D&D campaign for about 2 and a half years now, and at the beginning of the year one of my players moved away, but he was one of the most invested players and didn't want to lose the game, so I made a decision I'd been considering for a while, which was to transition from D&D 3.5 to D&D 5E.
Pretty much everything we were using transferred 1 for 1, but there were some things that we lost. one of our players was playing a beguiler in 3.5, which was basically a half wizard, half rogue with a leaning towards the magical side.
Transferring over the closest to that we could find was a bard, which had a lot of the magic, but none of the rogue. So to explain this discrepancy I put together a plan, one that would take six months to come to fruition.
Over 6 months of gaming I paid careful attention to what everyone was doing, kept notes of all of the things that they might want to do that could involve a rogue and finally sent them on a quest to a small town that the leaders of the city they lived in had lost contact with.
It took a little over a week to get there, and they had some adventures on the way, but when they finally turned up things were strange. The town was far emptier than it should have been. There were a lot of buildings that looked recently built and never used. People were acting odd, going up to these empty buildings and then looking confused and walking away, some were crying for no reason, others were giving strange pieces of information that didn't make sense, but they truly believed, like there was no town lord and never had been, but the manor was built in case one turned up.
Finally things started to come to a head the following morning when the party woke up. One group awoke in the tavern to find that the bartender that they had spoken to the previous day wasn't there and nobody knew who they were talking about, almost as if he hadn't existed.
What was even stranger however was the second group who slept out of town found an adventurer's bag in their camp that they didn't recognise. Searching through it they found a bunch of equipment, all of which they remembered as their own gear. Looking through their own packs they found the gear missing. amongst the items in the new bag they found this diary.
The Diary was written by a young rogue named Lyra, who, if the diary was to be believed, had always been a part of the party, but they had forgotten her. It  depicted all of their adventures together with small differences that included her into their adventures. It talked intimately about each member of the party and even had her final will, a message to each of them.
Reading the diary together with the group left my players with all the feelings, and a feeling of 'oh this is what D&D can be'. And that's where I ended that session.
The following week was chaos. Characters going all over the place in a frantic bid to figure out what was going on, until finally realising that while deafened everything changed. The buildings became run down buildings with many years of use and several months of neglect.
Every time they were no longer deafened I acted like I didn't know what they were talking about, and every time they were deafened again I acted like it was all new information.
One player had the idea to talk to a tree, which couldn't hear and it led them to the basement beneath the mansion. Finally making their way to the mansion they explored it, some deafened, some not, until they found their way to the basement, where they found a disgusting creature that they couldn't explain, as well as the bodies of many others, including a small halfling woman, dressed as they would have expected of Lyra. And that was the end of game 2.
Game 3 was a battle to the death against this creature, which they eventually won, though they got closer than ever before to death, knocking all of them down to below a third of health. Once they killed the creature  Luro, the one that the Diary said was Lyra's husband carried her up to his flying mount and left, flying back towards the previous city.
Even now, after the creature was dead, they did not remember this sixth member of their party. The game ended there.
We had to wait a game after that as Luro's player was sick, so we followed the others chasing after him back to the city, but the following game we watched as Luro found the ingredients to the spells he wished to cast, took Lyra to a church of Pelor where they helped him to cast Raise Dead, bringing her finally back from the dead.
And she did not remember him and the party either.

We continue the game even still, with Lyra alive, and friends with the party, but no longer knowing them as she once did.
What I did, in short was take Goblin Punches False Hydra combined it with the missing pieces of their characters  and put them together into a team member who has been lost from their memory. The player and characters memories remembered Luro doing each of the things that Lyra did because that's how the False Hydra's ability works. It takes things out and the character's brains fill in the gaps as best as they can.
My players loved it, and yet were broken hearted. It was one of the best things I've done to date.
Specifically I used the mature version Oats1321's false hydra stats, and added 200hp and +1AC.

 - James

P.S. Since my last post I have completed a couple more games. I'm now at 18 games. I've completed Last Of Us 2 and Observation, I started to fall behind, playing Desperados 3 from 2 weeks ago and having a break to play through observation last week, but I'm hoping -HOPING- to finish Desperados 3 this week, and maybe even something else like Uncharted Lost Legacy.

Wednesday 1 July 2020

Down The Road - Red Dead Redemption 2

Finally after however long I got to finish Red Dead Redemption 2 on the PS4, so I'm going to talk about it.

Red Dead Redemption 2 for PC: How to Fix Exited Unexpectedly Error

Red Dead Redemption 2 was the long awaited sequel of the adventures of cowboy with a heart of gold, John Marston. It's set a couple of years before the events of Red Dead 1, following John's kind of adopted brother Arthur Morgan as the events that lead to the end of the gang of Dutch Van Der Linde play out.

So I have to say up front that overall this game was good.
Not amazing but good.
I started Red Dead 2 when the game came out, like everyone else, but after several chapters and many hours my motivation got a bit weaker, I reached a bit of a slow patch and I stopped playing. It wasn't exactly because the game was bad, but because it was providing something I wasn't looking for at the time, which brings me to my main gripe with Red Dead 2, Time Wasting.
Now this is something that I feel like other people really liked in this game, but it annoyed me to no end. there was so much time in the game spent on not doing things, because in real life you wouldn't be able to do them so quickly, that it made the game feel really slow and boring to me in a lot of places. The main way this came across was in the travelling. Red Dead 2 has a fast travel system, but it doesn't want you to use it. You have to wait a while and spend a bunch upgrading your camp before you even unlock it and it only works from your camp to somewhere you've been. The rest of the time it expects you to ride your horse around or take a train. Now the riding does have a nice cinematic mode that lets you stop controlling so that it takes you there, but not only are the cinematic ride and the train ride all in real time, but the horse ride doesn't stop random encounters from happening, so you could very easily be halfway through a journey, when your not playing and suddenly a bunch of bandits are shooting you, and you have to get back into the controls very quickly.
So when you finish up a quest and you're far from your base you have to ride all the way back, which can be up to fifteen real world minutes. I found this very frustrating because it meant that in my 1-2 hours of gameplay per night I would find that I've only been able to do one or two missions because I've spent a little under half my time just travelling.

The other gripe I had was the epilogue, for the same reason mostly. It felt like a waste of time.
Without giving away spoilers, it's a 4+ hour epilogue, most of which you spend building a farm, doing ranch work and mostly just being a rancher. The final part of the epilogue was a big fight on a mountain as you try to get your vengeance, but waiting 3-4 hours between the admittedly excellent main story finale felt like a massive break in the pacing that didn't feel nice at all.
I kind of understand what they were doing, they wanted to show you how things came to be in the original, but the things that they showed felt a lot more like how in 'Solo a star wars movie' they gave the dice on his mirror significance and a history, like it wasn't important before but you're acting like it is. showing where wolverine got his jacket in the x-men origin movie, I would have been happy with 'he bought it' but you've given it significance. In this they show how John got the farm from the original game. I had always assumed that he bought it. As it turns out i was right so I'm not sure why I needed to learn that over 4 hours.

What I will say though is that it's a game that knows how to make you care. It knows how to pull on your heart strings.
The end of the main story, the music, the slow deterioration of the gang and your family... it's brutal and beautiful.
The characters for the most part were great. I had the same problem early on with the game that I did with Last of us, where the main character was just kind of an ass hole and I didn't like him, but as the game wore on and I did more and more honourable things to improve his outlook the more I cared. To the point that I simply cannot imagine the game played dishonourably.

Overall I think it's a good game that just requires more patience than I have. By the end I loved the story, and it was almost enough to get over the time wasting.
Right now Red Dead 2 has a metacritic score of 97 and  a user score of 8.2. I think that the user score is pretty close to the mark. I'd give it an 80%, maybe so low as a 75%, but no lower. It was a genuinely good game that just happened to be asking for something I wasn't willing to give; my time. Something that at the time of playing was a high value commodity so the constant having to manually go everywhere in real time was frustrating.

 - James
Red Dead Tube

Recently completed Hitman 2 and then had a couple days off of games and now I'm playing Last of Us 2!