Posts Tagged ‘RPGs’


RPG Adventures – Weeks 1-3: Introducing the Band of the Golden Sun

October 26, 2015


Earlier this fall my weekly gaming group kicked off what’s estimated be a two-year-long Pathfinder Adventure campaign, The Mummy’s Mask. Since things have gotten a bit quiet here at MMOGC lately, I figured this blog could use some sprucing up with updates of our RPG exploits (especially ever since I took on record keeping duties for the group) so I hope you’ll enjoy reading about our shenanigans.  However, if you plan on playing the Mummy’s Mask campaign, I suggest averting thine eyes now. Here there be spoilers.

To start, we have our cast of characters:

  • The Dungeon Master (@pidtms)
  • Miles Blackhand CN Human Rogue (@paganrites)
  • Damira Dakari CG Gnome Barbarian (@MMOGC – moi!)
  • Ellis Whisperwind LN Halfling Bard (@RyanHVND)
  • Tekema Khat-nofru LG Human Cleric of Osiris (Mr. @MMOGC, my dear husband who still hasn’t gotten himself a twitter account)
  • Nefrekeptah CN Human Magus (@TrevorWhitaker)

Most of the game screenshots you will see are from Fantasy Grounds which is a real nifty VTT program, which you can find more info on at their website or over at Steam if you’re interested. Thank you also to Paizo, the creators of the Pathfinder RPG and the Mummy’s Mask adventure path campaign.

So without further ado, I give you the adventures of The Band of the Golden Sun! Weeks 1-3 will be posted first, with weeks 4 and 5 to follow later in the week, and then we should be all caught up. My thanks also to Pid, who is also posting these write-ups at his Random Encounters blog and helps me proofread these before they go live.

Week 1:

The Band of the Golden Sun assembled before the Grand Mausoleum and the leaders of the followers of Pharasma anxiously awaiting assignment of their first location to explore within  the necropolis of the City of Wati. Standing with a couple dozen other adventuring parties, the band listened to a brief history of the city of Wati and learned the rules for exploration of the necropolis. A banner with the party’s crest was hoisted into the air and a representative of the group obtained the adventurer’s assignment, the Tomb of Akhentepi.

The following morning the troop ventured into the necropolis and found the tomb. The tomb entrance was half buried in sand and sealed with no handles. The group barbarian luckily had some tools and after a few minutes of shoveling the door was pried open with the help of a crowbar. The party entered the tomb only to find a large stone wheel barring their way. While the group focused on opening the stone door, the party Rogue was busy examining the ornate carvings in the tomb when he was attacked by a scorpion. Succumbing to the venom of a scorpion sting, the rogue’s strength was sapped, but the group managed to dispatch the foe with the help of a mighty swing of the barbarian’s greatsword and ultimately opened the door with a group effort.

Moving further into the tomb, the group found a 60′ deep shaft. The magus descended the shaft via a secured rope and examined the tomb floor. Unfortunately, the party rogue and cleric had difficulty climbing down the shaft and ultimately fell over 20′ nearly claiming their lives. A couple of cure spells from the cleric and the two were back up to fighting strength. The magus discovered the remains of a previous tomb raider and claimed two bottles of alchemist’s fire. After the barbarian descended successfully into the tomb, the party moved through the door in the chamber into a long hallway.

Aware of the potential for traps, the party rogue moved in scanning the area with the party following closely behind. Unfortunately for all, the rogue missed a trap switch on the floor, and the party suffered the consequences. Hundreds of darts peppered the party and the rogue and magus took massive damage. The magus dropped to the ground bleeding out. The cleric channeled the power of his deity to bring the magus back from the brink of death. The party retreated to the previous room while the rogue proceeded to disable the trap making the path passable without risk of harm. The party moved into the next room to see what more they could uncover within the Tomb of Akhentepi.

Week 2:


No, uh-uh, *I’m* the warrior doll.

Recovering from their near-fatal encounter with the dart trap, the adventurers of the Band of the Golden Sun prepare to move deeper into the Tomb of Akhentepi. Meanwhile, the silent bard who has been following the party tumbles down the ladder to rejoin the rest of the group. They open the door to the western chamber and peer in. The room is a foyer of sorts, containing some general grave goods. The party moves on towards the south chamber, with the rogue checking for traps. They find a small flight of stairs descending to another set of doors. Inside this room is a magical mirror which the bard and the barbarian step up to inspect. The mirror turns out to be enchanted with some nasty spells; the bard howls as the word THIEF is branded on his forehead, while the barbarian leaps back to safety. Thinking quickly, the cleric hurls his hammer at the mirror and shatters it.

The party heads east, into a room with an altar. Without warning, a couple of giant spiders spring up from behind it, and attack the adventurers. After a frenzied battle, with spider guts and blood flying everywhere, the party manages to dispatch the creatures, though the bard was grievously wounded during the encounter. He is thankfully stabilized and healed by the cleric before he could succumb to his injuries. The party decides to barricade themselves in this room in order to rest up and regain their strength.

After their rest, the adventurers backtrack to the foyer, deciding to head through the doors to the north. A chest in the corner of this room catches their attention. The rogue attempts to unlock it, but unknowingly triggers a trap and a poisoned blade flies out and slices him in the arm. Shaking off the damage, he continues working and finally succeeds. Inside the chest are some books with gold plated pages along with three vials. It is decided that the heavy books can be left here for now, though the vials are divvied up, with the bard taking one cure light wounds potion, and the rogue taking the other one as well as the dark vision potion.

The party ventures further into the room, where they find more potential treasures. Before they can look too closely, they are attacked by several small animated warrior dolls. After a short fight, the little figurines are vanquished, and the adventurers are able to investigate the rest of the chamber. They collect an assortment of valuable weapons. The cleric picks up a Scarab Shield, the bard picks up a short bow with a broken string, the barbarian picks up a khopesh, and the rogue picks up a spear. Looting through the chests in the room, they also find a good sum of money and a lot of old official documents. These documents are donated to the bard’s order for posterity. There is also old jar containing some perfume. This, the barbarian empties over her head to cover up the horrid stench of spider guts clinging to her skin.

The adventurers return to the room to the south. They travel through the western doors, which lead to a crumbling staircase going down to another chamber. All of a sudden, the ground erupts from beneath the rogue’s feet, and the sand and dust around them coalesces into a sandling. The creature tears through the party, walloping several of its members senseless before it is finally brought down. A little worse for wear, the party continues down the stairs to the set of doors at the bottom. They go through and enter the next chamber, which has doorways leading off to the north, south, and west. The rogue checks the north door first, which is locked. He jimmies it open and steps through, finding more stairs going down and more doors. As they descend, their surroundings appear more and more lavish and ornate. They end up at a large octagonal room with a grand sarcophagus sitting on a raised platform at the center.

Week 3:


The Band of the Golden Sun starts this off this week a little worse for wear.

The adventurers enter the room with the sarcophagus. The magus steps on the platform to investigate further. As he does so, the four pillars surrounding the sarcophagus shoot out bolts of lightning, giving the magus quite a shock, in more ways than one! The sarcophagus then springs to life, bearing down on the party. As the adventurers engage the target, the security system triggered by the magus begins to take its course, the doors to the south slamming shut while torrents of water start pouring into the room through the northern doors. Ellis Whisperfoot, fancying himself a clever bard, leaps upon the sarcophagus and rides the thing like a gambling house whore. In his eagerness, he casts an unwitting spell which mends the animated coffin. Impervious to the bard’s actions and everyone’s collective facepalms, the sarcophagus continues to attack, even managing to encase the magus within its receptacle. All the while, the water level is rising, rising, rising.

After a long struggle, the adventurers finally manage to bring down the hulking sarcophagus. The water ceases to rush into the room and levels off, allowing the party to search the area. The barbarian starts scraping the sarcophagus, collecting valuable scraps of gold from its decorated surface. The rest of the room, however, is conspicuously bare. The bard asserts his belief that this room along with its sarcophagus must have been constructed as a decoy, designed to lure unsuspecting tomb robbers to their watery graves. So after a night of rest, the party decides to forge onwards. Since the northern door here appears to be stuck, the adventurers head back to the room to the south, where doors to the west remain locked and unopened. The rogue jimmies these doors open and steps through.

There is a corridor here, ending in a staircase leading down. The rogue also spots a secret door nestled in the northern wall. As everyone searches for a way to open this door, the barbarian heads down the stairs and disturbs a couple of mining beetles. The bugs are quickly crushed, and the party responds to a call from the bard, who has been exploring back in the sarcophagus room. Here he has discovered another secret door to the west. Miles works his skills on this door and manages to open it. These western doors lead to a small landing, with another hidden door! This one easily unlatches, opening to a rough tunnel. A hidden passageway! Alas, this just ends up anticlimactically linking up with the first secret door.

The party backtracks to the landing, and takes the stairs to the north, which opens up into a chamber with a lot of chests containing a whole bunch of ancient, moth-eaten clothes. Other than a solid gold scarab clasp that the rogue found, there’s not much else of value. As the party divvies up some other items they found (a masterwork longbow with a wrecked string, two vials of silvery liquid, and ten cold iron arrows), it’s becoming clear that there should be more to this place, that perhaps the party has missed the main tomb. Suddenly, a swarm of roaches bursts forth from out of nowhere as the bard sets off a magical trap. As his companions stab, stomp and swat at the critters, the magus tosses in a couple bottles of alchemist’s fire, burning the roaches and his fellow adventurers both. Thankfully, the swarm is taken care of before the party can get themselves spectacularly killed in a raging inferno of their own making. They exit to the east through a secret door that they found after the skirmish.


Damira attempts to throw her torch at an angry swarm of roaches. Sets own feet on fire.


Ambrov X: A Sime~Gen RPG Kickstarter

September 5, 2013

Ambrov X

Just wanted to share something cool I discovered recently — well, credit actually goes to my friend M.L. Brennan who first brought it to my attention. She’s an author and went to Worldcon last weekend where she got to chat with Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah, two impressive women writers in the world of sci-fi and fantasy fiction, who are also now involved with the development of a video game based on their Sime~Gem Universe. By all accounts, they had a fascinating discussion into the representation and role of women in the business.

Anyway, an indie dev studio out of Cincinnati called Loreful is the company behind the game, and they now have a Kickstarter up for Ambrov X, a single-player, action-adventure space opera episodic RPG featuring story-driven gameplay and diverse characters:

Set in the award winning Sime~Gen Universe by Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah, Ambrov X casts players in a far distant future as leaders of an unlikely but elite crew tasked with planting space beacons which allow for faster than light space travel. The Ambrov X saga unfolds into an action-packed story of first contact. Complete with epic battles and emotional decision making, Ambrov X brings to life the single-player, story-driven RPG through a thrilling space opera adventure. Ambrov X is scheduled for a 2015 release on Windows, OS X and Linux. With alternate releases for XBOX, PS4, iOS and Android to be released at a later date. On Sept. 3rd, check us out on Kickstarter to JOIN IN THE ADVENTURE!

Ambrov X also made news earlier this week with the announcement to bring in Jennifer Hepler (video game writer extraordinaire who wrote for BioWare and did work for Dragon Age and also the story for one of the coolest classes in Star Wars: The Old Republic — the Smuggler, of course!) when the Kickstarter reaches it $750,000 stretch goal. In a recent update, Hepler says, “We are reaching out past the “straight white male” demographic and trying to create a game for anyone who loves a good sci-fi story. Players can play any gender and romance any gender they want. Because who am I to come into your living room and tell you how to play?”

So check it out! I’m really excited about supporting this nifty indie game, it’s pretty awesome looking. You can visit the Kickstarter page and look at the details here: Ambrov X


Let’s Revive This Thing A Bit…

March 27, 2013

Okay, so my little break actually turned out to be a pretty long break. You know how it is when things get busy; you say to yourself, “All right, I’m just going to put this blogging thing aside for a next little while just until I get back on track.” Except 2013 has been crazy from the outset, so the obligations just keep piling up and before you know it’s been more than two months gone and your poor blog has gone from “on a little break” to flat-out neglected.

Well, I’m back to change that. Part of the reason for my absence also had to do with the types of games I was playing. In January and February, I used most of my spare gaming time to catch up with the Xbox360 titles, some of which had been gathering dust on my shelf, still enclosed in their original shrink wrap:

  • Assassin’s Creed II: Brotherhood (if you ask me, this game is where the AC franchise reached its peak)
  • Assassin’s Creed II: Revelations (I just couldn’t bring myself to do everything, so I breezed through it for the story)
  • Assassin’s Creed III (I had to give up on this for now, the gameplay proved to be grindier than I expected)
  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (loved this, loved this, LOVED THIS)
  • Dishonored (I may be too incompetent and inept to ever become truly good at stealth games, but I don’t care what anyone says, I love my dark ending)

Um, yes. That would have been an overabundance of assassins.

In terms of MMOs:

  • Rift (Hey, I finally bought the Storm Legion expansion!)
  • The Secret World (TSW Mondays are still happening every week, and as always I am dressed to kill)
  • World of Warcraft (golden rule: when you’re married to someone who doesn’t have as much time to game as you, play what he wants to play during your mutual game time. WoW will ever be my husband’s MMO of choice, and I’ve been having a lot of fun raiding in Mists of Pandaria too, so I’m not complaining)
  • Neverwinter beta (very excited for this)
  • Defiance beta (with the game’s release right around the corner, you’ll no doubt be seeing me write about it now that the blog’s also been sufficiently revived)

It has been revived, yes? Yes. I shall endeavor to post regularly again. Thank you, and good night.


My Top 5 Gaming Highlights Of 2011

January 6, 2012

I’m always so behind on these kinds of things. I realize we’re already six days into 2012 and almost figured I would skip the rundown this year, but oh what the hey…for tradition’s sake.

The five things that gave me much joy in the past year:

5. Rift

If I didn’t give Trion a tip of the hat it would be a great disservice — considering they kept me playing their game for much of last year, quite a feat when you take into account the influx of F2P MMOs in 2011 to distract me. Looking back, there were quite a few games that excited me but ended coming up short, but Rift wasn’t one of them. In fact, it was one of those pleasant surprises that caught me off guard; the rifts and flexible class system were what drew me in, but it was also the impressive number and frequency of updates from Trion that made me go back for more.

Oh, and the advent of area loot. Best thing since sliced bread.

4. NaNoWriMo

Last year I included Goodreads on my highlights of 2010 list, which wasn’t exactly related directly to gaming but regardless made an impact on my gaming life because of the social aspect behind it. I include National Novel Writing Month this year in my list for pretty much the same reasons. In November 2011 myself and a handful of my fellow gamer bloggers/tweeters took the leap and participated in this challenge, and I have to say any activity is more invigorating and inspiring when you’re doing it with a group of friends.

3. Launch of Star Wars: the Old Republic

Duh. This game has been on my radar since I was still in college, so yeah, I would say the launch of SWTOR was kind of a big deal to me. At one point on the eve of December 20, 2011 I had to pinch myself just to make sure it was really happening.

SWTOR’s impact remains to be seen, but already I get the feeling that story and voiceovers in MMOs are going to be a big deal. Even last year I noticed more games adding their own VOs and cutscenes — from Star Trek Online to World of Warcraft. I mean, after five years of not caring and saying shit all to me, Thrall finally wants to get chatty? How timely.

2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Every once in a while I like to indulge in the single-player experience, and I’m so glad in 2011 I had Skyrim. The last time I was so absorbed by an RPG was probably Dragon Age: Origins, and my game time in Skyrim was probably close to double the amount of time I spent in that. I bought the guide, I bought the soundtrack, I read the Books of Skyrim compilation, and quite honestly, if I could I would go back in time and buy the collector’s edition. The game isn’t without its bugs, but it’s the whole experience that counts — and for me it was such that I would happily throw money at Bethesda if it means they will continue making immersive games like this.

Now if only BioWare and Bethesda would have a hot night of sex; their lovechild will probably be the RPG to end all RPGs.

1. Republic Mercy Corps and Imperial Mercenary Corps

I won’t lie, getting into the SWTOR beta and being able to play it for six months was pretty damn exciting. But actually being in general testing wasn’t what made the experience a highlight for me. As much as I enjoyed reporting bugs and writing up my feedback every week, in point of fact, it was the friends I made and the relationships I forged over that period of time which made it memorable. As we all know, finding a good guild can be a challenge. Early last year, I was content on waiting until closer to launch to start guild-hunting, but lo and behold, during testing I was fortunate enough to meet an amazing group of players. The result: the RMC and the IMC, a pair of great guilds I am happy to be a part of.


Read Lately – Star Wars: The Old Repubic: Revan

November 28, 2011

I wanted to like this book, I really did. A month ago when I was so eagerly anticipating the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan, I didn’t expect I would be starting a review for it this way, and I really don’t like having to be negative, but what can you do.

Granted, it is possible that my high expectations may have clouded my judgment. For one thing, I’m a big fan of Drew Karpyshyn — he wrote the Star Wars Darth Bane trilogy and also the Mass Effect novels that I found I really enjoyed. But more importantly, I’m also a big fan of the character Revan, having been obsessed with and emotionally invested in his story from the Knights of the Old Republic games. Still, I have a feeling that even the most  casual of readers picking this up will find many problems with the writing and execution of this novel.

To be fair, I’ve been following Drew K’s blog for a while now, and on it he occasionally talks about the pressures of looming deadlines and the challenges of meeting them. His writing in Revan appears to be the latest victim of this restrictive time crunch, as it’s definitely not his best work. This is a shame for two reasons: 1) He’s usually capable of much better writing, and 2) I would have pegged him as the perfect author to tell Revan’s story, as he was intimately involved with the development and writing of the first KOTOR game.

Another reason why I think the book was a rush job is how well it started out in the first handful of chapters, versus how everything started unraveling and falling apart in the second half. I’d glimpsed some of the not-so-positive starred reviews prior to finishing the novel, and thought to myself, “Nah, this isn’t that bad.” But then I hit part II. And I began to understand.

First of all, in retrospect so much of the book felt like filler, lengthy exposition sequences and drawn-out descriptions. While I understand the need to bring readers up to speed with the events of KOTOR (for those who have never played the RPG or need a refresher — it’s been about 8 years since the game’s release, after all) I lamented the fact it came at the expense of scenes that actually required details and a more in-depth look. Instead, important action sequences and scenes that actually drove the plot forward or called for more emotion were completely glossed over.

Second, the book was so short. It’s not like there wasn’t enough to write about. Like I said, so much of the novel could have been fleshed out and made better. It just felt like the author needed it to be over and done with, fast.

Third, there was a very noticeable shift in focus by the end of the book. I thought I began by reading about Revan, but little by little, he started taking more of a background role, and by the final chapters it was clear the emphasis was more on the Sith character of the novel, Lord Scourge. I just found this odd, and I still don’t really understand the purpose.

Nonetheless, there is still plenty of Revan, which is one of the reasons why I couldn’t just toss this book aside. There will be answers to some big questions left behind by the ending of KOTOR and KOTOR II, and for this reason I don’t regret reading it at all. The Jedi Exile also plays a huge role, and it is in this book that she is finally identified and given a name — Meetra Surik.

However, speaking of characters, don’t expect many of the companions from the games to make an appearance. The three that get the honor are Canderous Ordo, T3-M4 and Bastila Shan. The rest like Mission Vao, Zaalbar or HK-47 are only mentioned in passing, or given some weak excuses why they couldn’t show up. Carth Onasi doesn’t even get a mention, and while admittedly he was one of my more whiny and annoying BioWare boyfriends, I couldn’t help but notice the snub. Ouch.

I don’t want to make it sound like Revan was all bad. I personally liked a lot of the dialogue, though I think I’m probably in the minority with regards to this. I definitely think dialogue-writing is Drew Karpyshyn’s forte, but while some lines might work well in a video game, I admit they don’t always translate well onto a page in a novel. Some plot points were predictable, but in general I enjoyed the story. And finally, like I said before, the book does manage to bring some form of closure. Sort of.

This does beg the question: Is closure — that is, a truly satisfying conclusion that emotionally invested KOTOR fans have been waiting almost a decade for — even possible for an epic story like Revan’s? Honestly, I believed the answer is yes. And I still do. Which is why I had such high hopes for Revan. Despite my biases, I still think it could have been the book to bring ultimate closure to the KOTOR series. If only Drew K had been given enough time.

So, to wrap this review up, you may find Revan interesting if you’re into Star Wars novels or game tie-ins in general. I say read this book if you’re fan of the character and the KOTOR games. You might end up disappointed, but you’ve come this far, so might as well finish up. Also read this book if you’re really into the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO. There will be quite a few mentions of Revan and his adventures in the game, so knowing the character’s background might enhance the story behind those quests for you, but it’s definitely not required knowledge.

But if you don’t know much about the lore behind SWTOR and the Old Republic era and are thinking of picking Revan up to get pumped for it, I would rethink that decision. For that, you’d probably be better off playing KOTOR instead of reading this.


Awed And Augmented – Thoughts On Deus Ex: Human Revolution

September 19, 2011

Last Friday I made the push and finally completed Deus Ex: Human Revolution, refusing to relinquish the Xbox360 until I was done. And now that I’m finished the game, I believe one of my commenters said it best when they used the term “class” to describe the experience of DE:HR. I mean, have you ever appreciated a really good movie or read a book you just couldn’t put down, because its plot elements were just so well put together that they flowed almost effortlessly? I can’t remember the last time I was so impressed with an RPG, which is good because I mostly bought DX for its story, and I wasn’t disappointed.

In the end, I did come to enjoy everything DE:HR had to offer. In fact, to cut to the chase, the only two major issues I had with the game were 1) the so-named “tacked on boss fights” (but more on that later), and 2) the numerous times when my delicate senses were accosted by the horrible voice acting by the main character (who was probably advised to act too cool for any line of dialogue he speaks, which would certainly explain why everything was delivered in a laughable monotone).

What I really liked about DE:HR was the flexibility it offered. At first, I admit I wasn’t all that crazy about the game mechanics or the augmentation system (which arguably forms the basis of these Deus Ex games), but I did learn to love it. In fact, it’s where much of that flexibility comes from. Once you play the game a bit and start to “get” where it’s coming from, the whole world of DE:HR opens up to you. It also gets easier and gives you a lot more room to play with once you gain more Praxis points. There are so many ways to tackle the situations in this game, even two players with completely different play styles can have a lot of fun with it.

I for one have neither the skill nor capacity for sneakiness, instead preferring bloodbaths to stealth runs, so I played the entire game like a shooter.

My husband on the other hand, he of the seemingly endless fount of patience, challenged himself not to kill anyone or even be detected. Needless to say, watching him play was an infuriating cycle of “oops-pause-reload last save”, “oops-pause-reload last save”, “oops-pause-reload last save”, bringing me dangerously close to just grabbing him by his collar bone from behind and re-enacting a classic Adam Jensen takedown on his ass. And that’s why he’ll probably get the “Pacifist” and “Foxiest of the Hounds” achievement, and I…didn’t.

The only parts of the game I dreaded were the boss fights. Most of the complaints you’ll see about this game will probably involve them, and for good reason. I didn’t think they were going to be so bad but after experiencing them for myself, they do somehow feel apart from the game. First of all, the boss encounters in this game are all straight-up fire fights. So for those who were totally digging the whole stealth and sneaking around thing and not having to kill a single soul, I can see why they would be pissed.

But even as someone playing as a trigger-happy mercenary, I can’t say the boss fights felt all that great for me either. Simply put, they can be difficult. While I don’t normally mind a challenge, the problem is I don’t think the game prepares you for these boss fights. Much of the beginning emphasized and even encouraged stealth and taking enemies down quietly and non-lethally, making it look like a bad-ass bag of fun. Then just as you’ve gotten all your stealthy augments and started falling in love with your stun gun, they throw you into death trap to fend for yourself against some heavy-rifle toting meathead nicknamed “The Bull”. I had damage reduction and all my guns upgraded, and the first time I still flailed around like an oiled-up squid.

Yet, if you know what you’re getting into, DE:HR is still a rock solid game. And the world details are phenomenal! Even when you think you can get away with something, the game’s just too “smart”. Just like real life, someone might catch you moving behind even a tiny window panel in a door and the next thing you know a dozen guards will be alerted to your presence. And as someone who can read a bit of Chinese and French, I was also amazed at the number of Easter eggs I found in Hengsha and Montreal; everything down to the emails to the graffiti scrawled on the walls meant something significant (or was just plain old fun).

I also developed a knack for hacking, and poured points into that as well as social persuasion. Both to me were like little mini-games related to the story, scattered throughout the game. This is where I think the game excels, by giving you many ways of dealing with a situation (with the exception of the boss fights), leading to different branches of the story in a way which I think is even more elaborate than a BioWare game. Picture all the game elements like its plot, features, or mechanics each being an individual thread, and all of them coming together to make a perfect web, and that’s how I felt throughout my playthrough of DE:HR.


Dragon Age 2: Making Terrible Decisions And Loving It

March 19, 2011

I’m still currently in the middle of the second act of My Dragon Age 2 playthrough, and already the life and friendships I’ve so carefully cultivated for my Hawke are unraveling faster than a ball of cheap string. Everything is going straight to hell…but strangely, I am totally okay with this.

You know, it wasn’t so long ago that the impetuous little old me would fly into a fit of rage every time something didn’t go the way I wanted them to in an RPG, and I would revert to a previous save to desperately try and salvage the situation. Needless to say, fluky outcomes and mechanics like random rolls always had a way of sticking in my craw. I was, and in some ways still am, a pretty big control freak and a stickler for perfection, and it used to drive me completely bonkers not to have a good idea of where my character’s story might be going. Not surprisingly, whenever my character would come across an important decision, I’d always agonize, fighting the urge not to jump onto the internet and look up the results on some wiki or read the forums about what other gamers did.

More often than not, I’d loose that fight. Spoilers be damned, even as a child, I was never above flipping ahead to see what would happen in those old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, making sure I wasn’t going to get eaten by a dragon or fall into a pit of spikes or something before making my decision. Yeah, it was cheating, but I didn’t care, as long as I got to make the “right” choices and get the “right” conclusion.

I used to think that was what I wanted, until RPGs in recent years have made me change my whole way of thinking. Choices in games don’t just come down to multiple endings anymore; favorites like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the Fable series, and BioWare titles have all allowed players to make game-altering decisions in both dialogue and events throughout the entirety of the game, some complete with impressionable NPCs and dialogue systems. Somewhere along the way, our RPGs became elaborate affairs encompassing moral conundrums, twisting plot lines and unpredictable variables. Difficult choices became even more difficult, and point A did not always lead to point B.

I can go on forever about the complexities of the games we play nowadays, but in the end it all relates back to one thing —  RPG stories getting a lot more personal. Admittedly, part of it has to do with recognizing the futility of trying to micro-manage every decision, but ultimately, it’s also the realization that it’s no longer so important for me to nail the “perfect” playthrough. Instead, what I really want to do is to play “my” playthrough.

Despite even my best intentions, not everything in my DA2 playthrough right now has turned out the way I wanted. I thought I’d be raging by now, but I’m not. Sure, the events of this game are turning out to be more unpredictable than I expected, but I’m actually enjoying that aspect quite a lot.

I think it’s unfortunate that bad things have come out of my good decisions, but even with my Hawke’s life in shambles right now — friends hating me, family all but gone, failures abounding —  I don’t regret them. I didn’t read any spoilers or look up any guides at all, so I know everything that happens will be a result of my choices, of the things I felt were right at the time. So my ending’s not going to be all sunshine and lollipops! But oh well, it’s mine.

(And at least I still have Anders!)


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