The weekly Pathfinder RPG group took a week off to let their DM watch the NY Mets lose the 2015 World Series and I took my sweet time posting this recap. I needed some time to mentally recover from that ordeal.
Catch up with week 4 here.
Band of the Golden Sun Week 5 – Headless Corpse Edition
All six skulls descend upon the unfortunate magus, who was the first to enter the room. The other members of the party rush in to engage these undead, flying foes. Luckily, the skulls are not too formidable and after receiving a few relatively harmless headbutts, the adventurers are able to dispatch them all quite quickly. Looking around after the fight, the party discovers a collection of finery lying atop the stone pedestal—six silver goblets and six silver plates. After collecting their loot, they head south to continue exploring the house.
Their investigation leads them to the west side of the estate. Miles is the first person of the group to step through a set of western doors into the courtyard, where he suddenly spies a humanoid figure poking its head out of a reflecting pool to the south. Catching a glimpse of the adventurers, the figure quickly drops back into the empty pool, disappearing from view. The rogue hurries back to tell his companions what he saw. They decide to attempt communication. Miles gestures for the barbarian to take the lead and Damira starts walking towards the pool shouting, “Hellooooo! Is anyone there?” at the top of her lungs.
Expecting to see a person come forth from the pool, everyone is horrified when a giant centipede crawls out instead. The monstrous creature immediately lashes out at the party. What follows is a long and grueling fight, but eventually the party emerges victorious. Stepping over the gory remains of the centipede to check the pool for any other surprises, they only find sand and other kinds of gritty accumulation at the bottom of the empty pool, though Miles is still pretty sure he had seen a person. Broken and battered from the fight and suffering from poisonous ability damage, the party decides to head back into town to recuperate their health and pick up more supplies. (Centipede bites hurt, yo!)
As the party passes through the main gates, a loud wail rings through the air, frightening the rogue and the barbarian. In their panic, the two of them take off running in opposite directions and Miles ends up in the eastern side of the estate, huddling in fear beside a small one-room structure. Suddenly, he shrieks as a two-headed death dog steps out of this building, alerting the other members to the danger. The party engages the death dog, battling it until it succumbs to its wounds and dies. However, while the adventurers were occupied with their fighting, a large snake had noticed the scuffle, slithering over from its hiding place under a table to take advantage of the chaos, hoping to score an easy lunch. It is denied; however, as the adventurers kill it dead with what’s left of their remaining strength and spells. Not wanting to wait a minute more, the party packs it up and hobbles out of the estate, desperately in need of some rest and restoration. Nearly having to carry the cleric all the way back to town due to the poison damage, the group sleeps off all their ills and injuries, and also takes this opportunity to sell off their silver goblets and plates. The group uses the gold to help pay for more potions as well as healing for the cleric, who had sustained so much poison damage that he was found walking into walls and falling out of chairs. Everyone was ready to tackle The House of Pentheru again.
The next day they head back into the estate, picking up where they left off in the eastern courtyard. Miles takes the lead again, exploring a couple of side structures in the northwest corner which appear to be servants’ quarters. But as he steps into one of the buildings, three skeletons in the room come to life and attack him. Clearly they were a little upset about their minimum wage jobs in their former life. The rest of the party quickly helps him clear the place. There is nothing of interest in here, so they move on to explore the adjacent room, which turns out to be a granary. Here they find a scarab swarm, which the adventurers quickly burn up using some not-so-well placed oil and fire, covering the whole place (and a couple of party members) in a slick fiery mess. After dousing the immediate area and making it safe again, Damira peers into the granary and finds a heavy flail constructed of some otherworldly metal. Nefre determines that it is not magical, but it appears to be extremely well crafted.
With the first floor completely explored, the party heads for the stairs going up to the second floor. In the first room upstairs, they find a dead body which appears to have been lying there for quite a while, though the corpse is missing its head. On closer inspection, Nefre notes that instead of a clean decapitation, the head looks to have been pulled off with great force. On the dead body they also find a simple gold wedding ring with a loving inscription. No one recognizes the names on it, so the rogue pockets the ring just in case they find out more about it later. The next room they enter looks to be an office, with a worn out desk surrounded by crumbling bookshelves. Nefre searches the desk and finds a brass key in one of the drawers.
Everything seems quiet as the party continues to search the second floor, moving steadily in a counter-clockwise direction. However, inside the third room they come to, the adventurers only have time to spy something large, scary, green and bat-like flying at full-speed towards them as Miles eases open the door…
In this week’s episode, the newly minted level 2 adventurers meet the competition and then delve into what appears to be an ancient haunted house. Catch up with earlier exploits of the Band of the Golden Sun here.
The Band of the Golden Sun travels back to town, lugging their spoils with them. The local merchants are eager to see what the returning adventurers have brought from their expeditions, so the party decides to rendezvous at a tavern called the Tooth and Hookah where they hope to sell off some loot and lighten their loads. The cleric, rogue, magus and barbarian stop by the bar to grab a drink, while the bard heads off into a dark corner with a saucy sitar player, sure to be occupied for the rest of the night. The rest of the party spends a relaxing evening drinking and sharing news with other groups who have returned from their assignments. A good time was had by all. This funky tavern even has a pet crocodile!
After selling their treasures, the party ends up with a good sum of gold, totaling 1755. They spend 500 of that on potions of cure light wounds, which they divide among themselves.Their spirits bolstered by the fact that they were one of the more successful groups, the party is at the town square again the next day, chomping at the bit for more adventure. A number is drawn, and thus the Band of the Golden Sun receives their next assignment: the House of Pentheru.
The House of Pentheru ends up being a very large estate, surrounded by high walls. The party decides to take the direct approach, boldly entering the property through the front gates. As soon as they step through, however, horrifying screams fill the air, sending the adventurers running in fear. In a panic, the magus, barbarian and the cleric run to the east. While the three of them cower in a corner, Miles and Ellis appear to be made of sterner stuff, and begin exploring this side of the courtyard. Here, they find a side door leading into the main house. Once everyone is recovered, they all go inside together.
Immediately, they are attacked by a trio of skeletons emerging from further inside the house. As members of the party move forward to confront the skeletons inside their room, haunted voices emanate from the walls, leaving the adventurers anxious and unsettled. At one point the haunting voices befuddled the mind of the barbarian and cleric and the barbarian nearly hacked the cleric to death.
After the skeletons are vanquished, the party gathers itself and moves north from the foyer. Miles enters first, and here he encounters a monstrous creature. Slowly, however, the creature’s fearsome visage coalesces into an image of a woman. Beckoning to the adventurers, she calls herself the spirit of the house and asks for the touch of the barbarian’s flesh. Recoiling in horror, Damira lashes out with the flat of her greatsword, swatting the woman’s hand aside. Enraged, the figure of the woman transforms back into the horrible creature and attacks the party, activating a sleep aura that sends a couple of the adventurers collapsing to the ground during the course of the fight. After a while, the creature finally succumbs to its wounds and dies.
Digging through the sand in this room, they find the creature’s hoard: a suit of scale mail, a very well-crafted light crossbow, 5 cold iron bolts, 10 regular bolts, a golden holy symbol of Sarenrae, and a little bag containing 3 platinum and 37 gold pieces. Damira equips the scale mail, and Nefre claims the crossbow and bolts. The party presses on, exploring the northern side of the house. In what appears to be a kitchen, Nefre finds a skeleton with a knife wedged into its chest. He then leads the others down a western corridor, which opens into a room with a stone table, on which rests six skulls. However, before anyone can investigate further, the skulls suddenly come to life, flying towards the five intruders who have disturbed their rest…
Continue the adventure here.
Double feature this week to catch up with our fearless band. See this post for where we left the adventurers last time. Thanks to @MMOGC for picking up the weekly scribe duties.
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.
End Week 2 Begin Week 3
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.
This leads to a small chamber with a huge sarcophagus. However, before they can investigate further, an iron cobra crawls out from its hiding place behind a crate and strikes at the rogue. The slippery metal serpent evades our adventurers for many rounds before it is brought down by a mighty strike from the barbarian. Finally, the party is able to search this room in peace, which turns out to be the tomb of General Akhentepi. The magus scores a magical piece of padded armor. The rest of the party also divides up 500 gold pieces, an ornate jeweled pendant and assorted precious stones. Inside a very well preserved box they also find two vials, a dark vision potion and a lesser restoration potion. Thus ends the Band of the Golden Sun’s explorations into the tomb of Akhentepi.
The party heads back into town to see how other groups have fared on their own expeditions.
Read more here!
Things have been dark here at the old REB. Oddly, the website still gets a hit or two a day. Kind of surprising really. Who knew there were so many accidental clicks on the 15th page of a google search. So why am I posting then? Just to add that extra hit? Au contraire mon frère, I have a little treat for you. I will be publishing the exploits of my weekly gaming group as they tackle the Pathfinder Adventure Path campaign, The Mummy’s Mask.
First off SPOILER ALERT! If you plan on playing the Mummy’s Mask campaign you might want to stop reading now and move on. Along with spiders, zombies, and other monsters, here there be spoilers!
Second, the cast of characters:
- The Dungeon Master (a.k.a the man with the plan) played by yours truly @pidtms
- Miles Blackhand CN Human Rogue played by @paganrites
- Damira Dakari CG Gnome Barbarian played by @MMOGC
- Ellis Whisperwind LN Halfling Bard played by @RyanHVND
- Tekema Khat-nofru LG Human Cleric of Osiris played by Mr. @MMOGC
- Nefrekeptah CN Human Magus played by @TrevorWhitaker
Third, the VTT software. We will be utilizing the Fantasy Grounds VTT which can be found at their website or over at Steam. I may be posting screenshots from our adventure and if I can convince the crew, I might post a youtube video or two. We’ll see.
So without further ado, The Band of the Golden Sun begin The Mummy’s Mask…
Begin Session 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.
End Session 1
Project Gorgon Impressions from Sypster of Massively fame.
I… don’t know what’s come over me. I really don’t. A few days ago, Project: Gorgon was that interesting indie MMO with a terribad name, and now I’ve become a Kickstarter supporter (my first pledge ever) while raving to anyone I can find about how innovative and clever and funny this title is. Maybe it needed the bad name and 2003-era graphics to ward the mainstream off, lest it be overrun beyond control? I don’t know, but I will tell you that merely going through the tutorial the other night severely impressed me with the potential on display.
I mean, most tutorials and beginner zones in MMOs are tame affairs with killing, a light story, and not much else. Here, I lived a full RPG life merely trying to get through a cave. That says something to me.
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In memory of Christopher “River” Cavelle. Twitter friend and fellow blogger.
“It’s a fragile thing, this life we lead.”
So long @theeriver thanks for the laughs and endless entertainment. #Godspeed
It is with the heaviest of hearts that I make this post today.
Although I haven’t posted in a while, River and I have remained friends, mostly keeping updated through facebook. When I logged in yesterday I saw hundreds of posts from River’s friends and family being made to his facebook wall. As I read through them I was met with the news that River passed away yesterday.
The messages from his friends and family are so touching. It is apparent he was loved and appreciated by so many people. I know he impacted my life in a very positive way.
Although we never met in person, he was my friend from afar. He gave me advice, he stood up for me, and he always made me laugh. I know he sometimes struggled to find a balance in life, because he was so giving of himself. He was the first…
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If you Google my gaming alias Maric you’ll likely find comments disparaging Carbine’s labor of love and new MMO darling Wildstar in a few opinion pieces here and there. Not out of meanness. I’m really sick of the MMO communities attempts to destroy every MMO out the gate in recent years. I just was not impressed with Wildstar in beta. To me, Wildstar looked and for the most part felt like Blizzard’s behemoth World of Warcraft. While I loved WoW for years, I know I’m done with any real time investment in the game. That ship has sailed for me. Wildstar was so reminiscent of WoW, both visually and core design-wise, I wrote it off. I’m here to tell you today I made a mistake and I was wrong.
I was extremely excited for Wildstar. The MMO genre badly needed a change of venue as fantasy is overwhelmingly the dominant setting. The pedigree of Carbine studios is one of proven talent. I expected a great game and had very high expectations for the game.
I was afforded a Winter Closed Beta key by a good friend. I was overjoyed to get the key as the beta pool to that point had seemed to be fairly exclusive. Another friend who had been in Beta awhile told me that he wasn’t impressed. I chalked his opinion up to maybe not liking the campiness of the art direction and writing. Fair enough. I was confident I’d be hooked as soon as I stepped foot on Nexus. I was wrong.
Playing the early levels of Wildstar, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had “played this before.” Character creation was extremely underwhelming. Especially after Guild Wars 2 and The Elder Scrolls Online raised the bar for the ability to create unique, varied characters. The ‘!’ quest system felt right out of World of Warcraft (Wildstar isn’t the only MMO to be guilty of that design lift). Even the audio clip upon accepting a quest sounded identical. I didn’t want a fresher version of WoW in Wildstar. I wanted a game that had it’s own character and who’s design felt new and different. I ran around accepting quests and running kill and collect missions in a world which did not feel organic and dynamic (something I felt ESO did extremely well). I felt that Wildstar didn’t have any spirit of it’s own. I stopped logging into beta and wrote it off as a game that just wasn’t for me. I didn’t hate it. I just was not interested in this type of theme park WoW clone anymore.
A few things kept my fingers on the pulse of Wildstar as the game grew closer to launch. For one, the community and general air about the game was refreshingly positive. Over the last several years I’ve noticed that there is a contingent of people that infiltrate MMORPG news sites and spam hatred in comments. Even among my Twitter community I see opinions posted that, in the interests of respect, would be better off published on a personal blog. I’ve watched guilds collapse because a few members decide they no longer like a game and start talking negatively. The negativity becomes an infection in the community, and it’s easy to let that negativity ruin enjoyment in a game. I personally had this happen to me with SWTOR. It wasn’t long before I was among the darksiders and I totally left the game. I’m as guilty as anyone, though I’ve started to recognize and redirect any cynicism or negativity away from public forum so as not to ruin the enjoyment of others. Once in awhile I have a relapse. I’m only human afterall!
Secondly, Carbine has done an outstanding job when it comes to community interaction. I’m not sure I’ve seen a developer work harder to stay actively engaged with their community. Many Carbine developers are on Twitter having dialog with fans on a daily basis. Most notably game design producer @StephanFrost, Artist Peter Sung, and many others. More than coming across as a sales pitch, I always got the feeling these people were genuinely enthusiastic about the game they were working on. Wildstar wasn’t just a job for them, but an obsession they believed in.
Lastly, I am involved in a gaming circle that is full of fun people. We are a culmination of guilds and people with the common interest of PLAYING ALL TEH GAMEZ! While this isn’t always the healthiest environment for stability in any one game (not to mention bank accounts) it is nice to be able to hop around and enjoy different games with our various circles. Most recently we consolidated our guilds and became The Alliance of Awesome (@AofAStuff). And as usual, we had members who were very much looking forward to Wildstar. I hemmed and hawed and put my foot down I wasn’t going to play Wildstar. I just felt after my beta experience the game wasn’t for me, though I supported their enthusiasm and wished them luck. Hell, we were split over Exile or Dominion factions, and I went through that hell with SWTOR. The motto NEVER AGAIN was tattooed on my brain from the disastrous, guild killing decision to run two factions in Bioware’s space opera. But in the end, the enthusiasm of my peers and desire to play with the crowd led to that fateful day when Greenmangaming sent me a 25% off coupon. Yeah, I’m that easy.
And while I continued to scream to all corners of the Earth “Wildstar isn’t for MEEE!” the positive vibe leading to early start did manage to crack my resolve and make me slightly giddy for launch.
I don’t know if it’s because I went Dominion (I played Exile exclusively through Beta as I like their races more) or if it’s the casual friendly design that Wildstar offers, but I have found myself very much enjoying the game.
I think one of Wildstar’s problems is that on the surface there doesn’t seem to be much to the game that I haven’t already done before in countless MMORPGs. In fact, when you peel back the layers, Wildstar has a fairly deep class system. I also have noticed that while I was not impressed with the game visually in beta, that I find the game beautiful at times. The poly count is much higher than I expected it to be, and the animations on the player characters are fantastic. ‘I’ still find The Elder Scrolls Online to be a better game in many respects (especially PvP, dynamic quests and writing, and the dark fantasy art direction). But ESO also requires more of an investment both in time, and mentally. I find that I can sleep walk through Wildstar in many ways and make progress, which is something I could never do in ESO. With work, family, etc. Wildstar in many ways is a better fit, even though it is ideally not the game I would have as my main.
Funny thing is, I find myself logging in everyday and spending hours in Wildstar. Why? For reasons I have already mentioned. The people of AoA. The general community, and the positive vibe they generate. I don’t have to be on my ‘A game’ which I’m often not after coming home from work. And lastly, because in the end Wildstar is a good game. When all is said and done, I find myself having fun and I’m enjoying the game. So much so I read the quests because the storyline is fun, and there is an underlying mystery to Nexus which is interesting and makes me want to know more.
I would still say to some extent that Wildstar is a WoW clone. I know I may get flack for saying that but when it comes down to it, the game still very much feels like WoW to me. I know the combat system is different blah blah blah. But the game design feels so familiar for a reason. The color palette for the art doesn’t help much either. It’s not a slight on Carbine or Wildstar. It’s just an observation and my opinion.
In the end, I have learned to stop worrying and love the clone. At this time in my life, it’s the easiest method to gaming with my friends and enjoying the genre I love. Do I believe Wildstar is for everyone? No. I totally get those that have no interest in the game. Do I think Carbine has a polished gem in their hands? Yes. The production value and feature rich content that Wildstar has launched with may be unsurpassed in the history of the genre. Housing at launch? Pretty remarkable.
So yeah. I’m playing a game I thought I had no interest in. So it goes.
Maric aka Paganrites
Recently our guild planned a Thursday Night event in The Secret World. I logged in a little early and was treated to a show of people celebrating the Chinese New Year, TSW Style!
I’ve been spamming Twitter over the last year about most every Kickstarter MMORPG that has been proposed. Some of them I’ve believed in wholeheartedly (Mark Jacob’s Camelot Unchained). Some of them are more of a gamble but have interesting ideas that I would love to see implemented in the genre (The Repopulation, Pathfinder Online). One question I am asked over and over, is what do I see in these projects that gets me on such a soapbox?
The answer is simple. I firmly believe we need more flavors in the MMORPG genre. Most every game since Blizzard’s World of Warcraft has been a design clone. Sure there might be improvements made, or small changes to differentiate games, but at least in my opinion, the overall feel of current games is WoW (one exception is Funcom’s The Secret World). I see this trend continuing with the MMORPGs coming out this year, and I’m deeply saddened by this. Why can’t we have more diversity in our most beloved genre of gaming?
The issue here is that because WoW has been so astronomically successful, most anything that followed it did not stray too far from Blizzard’s design. Quest hubs, linear quest paths, instances to deal with hundreds of thousands if not millions of simultaneous players, fast travel, etc.
I guess game design today is also a victim of today’s fast paced, instant information at your fingertips world we live in. And if you are commuting two hours a day into San Francisco, when you get home to relax and game the last thing you want to do is wait 45 minutes to try and grab a rare spawn, or have to gather four of your friends to make it back to your corpse.
I understand the need/desire for instant gratification, or being more efficient with the time we have. Many of today’s gamers blow through months of content in days, want zero wait dungeon pops, don’t want to run for 20 minutes across digital fields to group with friends, etc. That’s a symptom of the world we live in. The need to save time permeates our lives, and carries over into so many aspects of our culture, including gaming. We ask our phones what we should eat for lunch, as it’s too much of a bother to pull that info from our brains. 😛
So while we have our socio-driven reasons for the more casual direction of today’s MMORPGs, there is no reason we should not have other choices that deviate strongly from what the status quo is today.
My first MMORPG was Origins’s Ultima Online. I was actually a tester for UO. In the first hour of that game, I watched a group take down a wyvern. I promptly walked up and looted the corpse. The other players had no clue what had just happened, and I had just committed an act so out of character my heart was pounding. On my way back to town, not two minutes from safety, I was jumped by another player and robbed. It was then that I fell in love with the sandbox, open world game design that the genre could offer.
I had a discussion on Twitter today with a friend who inspired this post. He asked why I keep pushing EQ veteran Brad McQuaid’s new MMO project he’s Kickstarting named Pantheon. I told him, I miss non-instanced, open world exploration. I miss corpse runs. “You like corpse runs?”
Emphatically YES I miss corpse runs! Sure they could be a pain, but the sense of community and the bonds made when you had to rely on your guildmates because of game design elements like corpse runs made for some great memories. I miss that need to group, because it was just too dangerous to solo. I miss the games where if you went out at night, the world was a different place and you were asking for trouble.
So I ask myself, why isn’t anyone offering these choices in MMORPGs today? Darkfall somewhat does and I played Darkfall for quite awhile before the reboot and enjoyed it. The issue with PvP centric sandbox games for me is that the community is a little more venomous than I prefer to deal with. For me, a game like Mythic’s Dark Age of Camelot struck this perfect balance between community, PvE, PvP and open world. I very much miss the consequences of old school MMORPGs. This was most recently apparent to me as I played a very enjoyable game of Diablo III hardcore with a group of friends. Knowing that if I died in game, my character would be gone for good made playing D3 a highly exhilarating rush to play. I cared so much more about every action I took, every mistake made. For me, that danger made for a much more fulfilling gaming experience.
Which brings me back to the soapbox. I very much feel like I need to support the classic MMORPG veterans like Richard Garriot, Mark Jacobs and Brad McQuaid in their efforts to once again create worlds for people to get lost in. I am actually amazed at the hatred spewed in forums against these men, who are in many ways the digital gods that forged the paths for the most popular games we play today. I know Garriot and Jacob’s have millions of their personal wealth invested in their projects. The most vicious attacks I’ve seen have been on McQuaid, usually regarding the collapse of Sigil. If you hate this guy, I ask you to watch this interview. I think you will change your mind. If you do not want to watch the entire interview, start at 20:50. (I highly recommend this interview in it’s entirety, at parts very touching).
I am also very much impressed with indie studios like Above and Beyond, and their MMO The Repopulation. I do not see major studios publishing games like this. They are too niche and will not generate the revenue that publicly owned companies demand. This is perhaps the most important reason to be open to crowd funding. Even if you do not have the means to do so, or do not particularly like the product being offered, crowdfunding is a powerful tool. Choice is good for everyone. You never know where the next revolutionary game design choice will come from. I love what SOE is doing with Landmark. The tools to be creative seem vast. I bet Notch is flattered. 😛 (I kid I kid!) Who knows what impact a little developer like Above and Beyond could make in the genre. Who knows what three old school industry vets might come up with that improves Blizzard’s next big game. And in the end, because these games are offering something different from today’s choices, I can’t help but support their cause. The more flavors the better.
That’s why I fight the good fight. Someone has to do it.
Please consider backing these games if they interest you.
The Repopulation – https://www.therepopulation.com/crowdfunding/
Camelot Unchained – http://camelotunchained.com/en/builders-tiers/
Pantheon, Rise of the Fallen https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1588672538/pantheon-rise-of-the-fallen