Monday, May 28, 2012

Orcunraytrel - Preface

So I gamed with some guys the other day, that'll be in a different post. This post will be about the campaign. This campaign is still in Hekinoe, but it takes place on a continent called Orcunraytrel. The premise of the campaign is that the pirate nation of Haven is expanding to the north and doing so by setting up colonies in a continent to the north. That continent is called Orcunraytrel and it is already full of nations and races unheard of in The Known World. The players are fresh off the ship pirates of Haven seeking plunder and glory and whatnot in this new land. The basic goal is for the players to inflict mayhem and bloodshed upon the native inhabitants of Orcunraytrel to give Haven an opportunity to gain a permanent foothold in that land. Lance is convinced we are heading towards a western theme, rather than a pirate theme, but there has been some talk of piracy implemented via zeppelin. Not that I object to a western theme in any way, as The Known World was supposed have a sort of Sixguns and Sorcery feel to it, rather than Dungeons and Dragons.

Anyway. This campaign gave me the opportunity to implement some new rules I've been working on and to revamp the campaign book (it now has bookmarks and is a pdf!). The work on the campaign book had lulled significantly even before I ended the Psychogenic Fugue Arc campaign and it was nice to get excited about it again, in only for a short while. Added in a few feats and clarified some rules, it was swell.

Very central to this campaign is the idea of factions and bounties. Each faction has specific goals in mind for their time here in Orcunraytrel, and to achieve those goals they offer monetary rewards to pirates that take care of them. New Haven is primarily interested in military matters, they want to know where all the Asosan fortifications are and want all their soldiers dead, so they offer cash rewards for those sorts of things. The Kussethian Merchantmen Association is interested in securing slaves and riches to ship back to Kusseth, so they offer rewards for those sorts of things. The Tradesmen Guild is clutched in the iron fist of Haven and unable to get supplies on their own, so they are forced to use Haven supply lines and are charged exorbitant prices for their goods and services, so they are interested in things like ore, animal skins, farmland, and so on. The Haven Raiders like to get drunk and start shit on fire, so there are bounties for both of those things.

In addition to this, each player has an affiliation score with each of the factions, and as those scores rise, they unlock special abilities that come from being a popular member of the faction. For instance, the first rank of the New Haven affiliation allows the player to use scouting information obtained by other pirates. I should explain.

So I have a map of Orcunraytrel, all filled out with all the cities, fortresses, mines, and special events, the players have a similar map, but nothing is filled in on it besides a few spots around New Haven and Je'Clre. Mostly mountains and hills, one special event, and a tower. So, they have to explore stuff to find out where stuff is, as there is no filled out map of the entire continent. The scouting ability fills in a few squares for them and then an additional one every week. This gives them an idea about the terrain of the continent, but unfortunately, they won't get any bounties for discovering stuff in those squares and there is a chance that any mines or fortresses or things like that have already been taken over by other pirates. So the whole thing is kind of a mixed blessing at best.

As your affiliation with the Kussethian Merchantment Association rises, you get better interest rates on any deposits and loans you make. You also can be made into a Lord of Kusseth. The Goebleen have a scouting ability for the underworld, and eventually the Goebleen King rewards you with an entourage of Goebleen Gunslingers. The Haven Raiders give you explosives.

Basically all it is is adding another semi-complex system of numbers tracking to the game, but I like that sort of thing. Since some factions are interested in the same things or don't like one another, it does offer a certain amount of choice and deliberation for the players to do as they figure out who they want to be most allied with. I recommend the Goebleen.

In addition to the affiliation I have a table that explains what happens as each faction grows in power. This table is based on mark payouts for bounties, and as the players are paid for tasks it adds up to a certain point, at that certain point, changes occur. These changes can be simple, like a population increase, or Je'Clre gaining electricity, or somewhat interesting, like a thieves guild now performing paid assassination. At a certain point, most of the affiliation will have enough power to expand and found their own outpost, assuming a suitable spot has been found for one. Each of these improvements that occur have specific effects, population increases result in a stronger economy and increased resources for Je'Clre and New Haven, so they reduce the inflated prices slightly.
I am really interested to see how this campaign progresses, Orcunraytrel is big and full of stuff and I very much like the idea of them being explorers in a completely unknown land with no shared language with the natives. I can't wait until they break out the blankets, hehe. Also interesting to note is that I think this is the first time we've played an evil campaign since the Black Claw Clan days, I wonder if they'll be able to top Kane, Algar, and Bic the Red exterminating an entire city of dwarves. They already tortured a guy in the first scenario.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The EVE of Diablo III

So lately I've been sort of hanging with a new crowd, some guys I work with. Mostly dick and fart jokes and trolling and trying to outhomo one another, badger calling, and faux-southern accents. Also, nonsense like Epic Rap Battles of History and Neature Walk. (Insert twenty minute interlude while I stare at Youtube.)

So one of these guys tried to get the three of us to play EVE Online with him. Somewhat reluctantly I downloaded the free 21 day trial and decided that I really like mining asteroids and blowing shit up in space. The thing I like most about the game is that it is basically lawless and everything about it is basically player driven. Players alliances and corporations can drench entire systems of war that basically make those systems impossible to traverse. Those same wars increase the demand for ships in the game, which causes the market to fluctuate and let players sell ships and materials for ships for higher than normal costs.

The game is very interesting in that there are no npc vendors. All of the stuff on the market is stuff that has been mined, created, or looted from wrecks by other players, aside from certain things. The game is basically just a massive pile of spreadsheets full of statistic and percentages that basically just give me a nerd boner. You can even insure ships to have a payout when you get your ship blown up, and there was even a time where people were engaging in insurance fraud to make cash off of buying and blowing up their own ships.

Pause for a moment while I obtain more scotch.

Anyway, I love the game. It has a lot of aspects to it that channel what I love about running games. There's a lot of data management that goes into playing. You need to have the right skills trained to use certain ships and modules. The twelve (real time) days of training required to allow me to use tech II heavy missile launchers were a lot of patiently waiting with a fairly nice payoff, as fury missiles pack a helluva punch.

The game is an MMO, but not an RPG or flight sim or anything like that. Maybe an economy sim, heh. Anyway, there aren't levels, but you do train skills. Oh Dog. I just had a revelation. EVE is the GURPS of MMOs. My nerd boner is so hard it hurts now. Your skills train while you are offline, so you just have to set up your queue and let it tick down as you accrue skill points based on your attributes. Those skills you learn qualify you for progressively more specialized/powerful skills. For instance, you need to train standard missiles and missile launcher operations up to a certain point before you can start training to use heavy missiles. It is a neat game, but you have to like spreadsheets and percentages to really develop an affinity for it I think. Also, this doesn't hurt as an introduction to EVE tactics. Or at least that is what my corporation told me when I joined up. Heh. John tried to get me into EVE a few years ago, and I think Tony tried it for a while, but I never did. I regret that decision immensely now. Sigh, these things happen.

To continue with the video games theme, perhaps you've heard of it, but there is this PC game series called Diablo. Diablo III dropped on the fifteenth worldwide, and those guys I've been hanging with convinced me it would be a swell use of time to buy it. Due to working nights, I was up at 3:00 AM when it launched and was playable. It was not playable. Massive errors and server issues caused it to immediately be shut down for maintenance due to the heavy workload placed on the servers by the entire world trying to play the same fucking game at the same fucking time. It was so bad a launch that it screwed up the World of Warcraft and Starcraft II servers as well. Good job Blizzard, you fucktwits. Who knew people would want to play Diablo III when it released? Right?

The awesome thing is that you have to have an active internet connection and be connected to at all times to play the game, even if you are playing without your friends. Mind you, Diablo III is a single-player game, not an MMO.

The game itself is pretty good, it is more Diablo with nice graphics and a streamlined system of character advancement. Diablo has never been anything more than a click fest of murder and looting, ever. It is the iconic action RPG. There are no hard or moral choices to make or any sort of real character development. You click and click and click some more until your fingers gain muscle mass and definition, and you love every second of it.

There is definitely a bit of World of Warcraft in Diablo III, but there was a heap of Diablo in World of Warcraft in the first place, so it is basically still based on itself. I have to say, I enjoy the more focused levelling system. You no longer distribute skill points or attribute points. The attribute gain is specific to each class, and your class abilities don't have ranks, but they can be modified by runes you unlock. They've also relaxed the inventory Tetris aspect of the game, which is helpful. I guess ask yourself the following: Do you like Diablo? Would you like to play more Diablo? If yes to either of those questions, you'll like Diablo III. That is assuming you aren't infuriated by the stupid fucking online at all times requirements and the periodic server errors that crop up. If those are deal breakers for you, go play Torchlight, which is a glorious game.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Scotch and Kittens

Let's not make this awkward, I'll just lay it out on the table, it is entirely possible that I may have taken an unplanned break from the blog due to general weariness with life. Whoopsie. Not going to lie, things may have gotten out of hand in my personal life for a moment. There was a girl, she had...problems. There may have been an incident involving half of a fifth of vodka and a knife, among other, far darker, things. There was another girl, a betrayal of sorts, and some other stuff. But now I have kittens! As adorable as they are, they don't pay any fucking rent, which is irritating. One likes to sit on my shoulder and sleep while I play video games, which isn't irritating. She's a fatty though, so this situation is rapidly becoming impractical.

So for a while there, I was breaking down the Psychogenic Fugue Arc of The Known World because I had quit gaming for the time being. That didn't last terribly long, and now we're gaming again, but we didn't continue the Psychogenic Fugue Arc campaign. I'll get to that later.

I ceased efforts on the blog portion of breaking the arc down because Jeremy and Eric expressed very strong interest in doing some sort of conclusion to the arc. Something to put a final cap on the campaign. I'm not going to lie, that was something I was excited about. It has been going...wellish. I mean, it is fairly simple, I pose a few questions to the group and they respond. The rules are that if more people desire to do something than don't, it happens. There are no long drawn out discussions or back and forth allowed. It has worked out nicely at times, Jeremy discovered something interesting about D'alton, and the group found out some very interesting things about A'lst and Hekinoe.

My goal is not simply to do Q&A with the guys, I would like a few situations to have actual scenarios to go with them, even if it is just a single battle or something. I don't know how we would manage the logistics of it, as Fred and I have the opposite weekends off, and Eric has minimal time off on my weekends off as well.

Pause for a moment while I wallow in a scotch soaked sigh of sadness which is rapidly replaced by scotch fueled anger. That weird, directionless rage that periodically creeps up on me since the divorce is still lingering, though it is less directionless lately. Heh. Moving along.

The email communications seem to move slowly and at times I have been forced to skip allowing people to have their turn to respond simply to move things along. We're only on question number ten and we have been bouncing emails back and forth between the five of us for almost two months. I dunno, I'd really like it if we were making faster progress, but that would necessitate me being fairly draconian with time limits, and since it is the story of Eric, Fred, Jeremy, and Lance, I hate to cut people off without giving them an opportunity to get their ten cents in, as that is the entire purpose of this exercise.

I guess I'll keep at it for the time being, at least until interest drops of completely, or I become more draconian in my responsibilities as the shepherd guiding this flock.