Old School meets New School

I’ve recently started playing a D&D 4e campaign. We’re going to be playing online using a web based tabletop in combination with Google+ Hangouts. Old school pen & paper gaming meets new school online gaming.

We played through a test encounter last week and I have to admit that the combination of the bare bones tabletop provided by the fine folks at Roll20.net with the video chat of the hangout made it feel like we were all sitting around a big table throwing dice. The Roll20 site basically provides you the tabletop map and a dice roller. It’s up to the players and GM to figure out what they need to roll and when so everyone has their character sheets and the books handy just like you do around a physical table.

It took us about 3 hours to get through a single encounter but a lot of that was figuring out the software and learning our new characters. I figure we’ll get faster over time but remembering some of my past pen & paper experiences it wasn’t unusual for us to only get through a single encounter in a session then so maybe not.

Pakts Dabagars - Gnome Warlock

Pakts Dabagars – Gnome Warlock

Still, I’m looking forward to getting into the adventure. I’ve written a backstory for my character – that’s his picture there in the post. Instead of adding it as a post here I think I’m going to create a page for it and just post it there. Maybe I’ll add a sub-domain with a blog to journal all of his adventures if I have the time.

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Soldiers of Fortune

If you have the new Age of Discovery expansion you can now hire mercenaries to help you out if you have to solo or to fill in a needed spot in a group. Lore and I have been using them since the launch and I have to say they are game changing for a small guild like us. Now when we only have 2 or 3 players on we can still field a full group and do some of the harder instance content that has been denied to us. On the solo side they made getting Sisca, Acsis and Casis from 85 to 90 much easier than it had been getting them from 80 to 85.

I know that on first glance the price for hiring and their upkeep cost seems prohibitive – 5P to hire and 50G an hour upkeep at level 80+ though it does scale with level – but it’s really not. In the month+ that they’ve been out I’ve pretty much had one up on all of my characters and I’ve still banked well over 200p just from selling loot to the merchant – not even trying to broker spells and such anymore. You’re much more likely to get a chest drop with a Merc since you’re technically in a group so you tend to get a lot more high value loot to sell.

So if you’re interested here’s a list of the various classes and where to find them:

  • Qeynos Harbor :  Wizard, Paladin, Troubador, Swashbuckler, Templar, Monk
  • Freeport: Warlock, Assassin, Brigand, Dirge, Inquisitor, Guardian
  • Neriak: Shadowknight, Necromancer
  • Gorowyn: Berserker, Defiler (no cure on abilities)
  • Kelethin: Ranger, Warden
  • Halas: Conjurer, Mystic

Classes no merc available: Beastlord, Bruiser, Fury, Coercer, Illusionist

In Qeynos they’re in Fish’s in Qeynos Harbor, easy enough to sneak in the backdoor if you’re evil. The only one that might prove a problem to hire is the Pally since he’s standing outside.

In Freeport they’re at the tavern in – I believe it’s East FP – it’s right on the water and there is a bell that drops you on the back porch. Again, easy enough to get into if you’re good and want to try one of those classes.

In Gorowyn they’re right up the first ramp from the lower level and of course the Sarnak don’t care about alignment as much.

In Halas they’re in one of the wooden roofed buildings – not the stone ones – that look like great halls and, much like Gorowyn, the guards will ignore you.

In Kelethin they’re in Josalyns Pub and, again, the guards here ignore you.

In Neriak they’re just past the first gate at the entrance from Darklight Woods. These are the two that will be toughest to get if you’re not evil since that gate is guarded by 2 level 85 epic x 2 raid mobs. It can be done if you have an evil friend that’s either a Conjurer with call of hero or has the call of veteran vet reward token. They just need to summon you to the area over by the forge and you should be able to hail them. Be careful though there is another x2 guard inside the tower that they’re standing outside of. If you need help getting to one of these try to hook up with Lore or myself and we’ll get someone over there to summon you.

The good news is that if you replace the merc with a different one for whatever reason they’ll be available in either Qeynos or Freeport depending on your alignment should you want to hire them back. This means you only have to do the whole sneak around thing once. If you do it at low enough level they’re even relatively cheap at 5s per hire at level 20. You could take a new character around and hire them all so that they’ll all be available as you level if you wanted. At higher levels this could be costly at 5p per hire but, as I said, you tend to make up the cash pretty quick (I know this probably won’t work for Reyder since he tends to squeeze every copper so hard that the guards have a warrant out for him for assault on Antonia’s likeness).

(Crossposted from Revellers.GnomeDepot.Net)

Categories: EverQuest Epics | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Spandex Evolved

Having read all of the uproar over Champions and their lifetime subscription plan, but only if you order now and not after you actually get a chance to play the game, I was glad to see that they had relented somewhat and actually opened up the beta to pretty much anyone before the deadline for making a decision. I was also curious since a lot of the bloggers seemed to be disappointed with what they had seen of it. I wondered if this was a fault of the game or just a case of the hardcore MMO fans looking for something, anything, to be the second coming and dethrone WoW.

So, first my overview of the game play experience. I know that much of this has been posted elsewhere but I think it’s important to put down what I saw while playing so you can see why I’ve formed the opinions that I have.

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Categories: Reflective Reviews | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Weekend – Open Beta Version

Lately I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed in EQ2. There are so many different things I want to do that I find myself paralyzed by choice.

This weekend I decided that what I needed was a change of scenery and since both Champions Online and Fallen Earth had open “betas” I figured I’d give them look. I plan on writing a more detailed post on each of them later but here’s my one line review.

Champions: City of Heroes 2.0 or maybe CoX evolved and that’s not a bad thing.

Fallen Earth: The love child of Fallout 3 and Eve with a crafting system that I find very compelling.

More later – the iPhone is ok for short posts but not so much for longer writing.

Categories: Miscellaneous Madness, Theoretical Thoughts | Leave a comment

Fan Faire Day 2 in Review

I know a lot of this has been posted elsewhere by now but due to traveling and having to upgrade my main computer to Windows 7 when I got home – the beta build is expiring so I have to upgrade to the RC – I never managed to get this stuff posted. Still, I want to get it out there and I hope I can help clear up some of the confusion that I’ve seen here and there over the last couple of days.

The first session we attended on Saturday was the premier of EverCracked, the Jace Hall documentary about the creation of EQ. I can strongly recommend that you grab a copy of this when it comes available it as hilarious as well as an interesting look at the people behind the game.

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Categories: fan faire | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Fan Faire Day 1 in Review

We only managed to take in a couple of sessions today but, between them and the announcements from the keynote tonight there’s going to be a lot of new stuff coming for SoE games. I’m just going to go through my note book and give you the stuff that I remembered to write down along with some impressions.
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Categories: Reflective Reviews | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Learn 2 Play!

Yesterday in my Twitter feed (@sisca if you want to follow me) and I saw this from @spouseaggro:

Silly Far-Stretched Comparison of the Week: “..Free Realms looks and feels like an overly cutesy, yet still grindy, version of WoW..”

To be clear this was a quote from some blogger and not the opinion of the fine folks over at Spouse Aggro

That got me thinking and then this morning I was reading through the comments over on Broken Toys post about the game and it kind of congealed.

For all of you out there that are trying to compare this to WoW – or whatever your favorite flavor of the month is – I just have one thing to say…

LEARN 2 PLAY!

You know like you did when you were a kid.

No, really. Put your achiever, must get to max level and get the uber gear mindset back on the shelf and just go out and learn how to play again.

I’ve got 2 young nieces, 7 & 9, their parents don’t really like them watching TV and they tend to regulate how much time and what they can do on the computer. They don’t seem to mind that much though because they have more dolls and horses and such than you can shake a stick at. They even have a small tent setup in an otherwise unusable area of their house that is filled with these dolls and such that they call their cloud castle. They spend hours playing together, making up stories or acting out stories from their books. They also spend time competing, racing each other, playing soccer etc.

I can see them playing Free Realms now and jumping from job to job, game to game, achiever to explorer to socializer.

If you really think that this is just a “overly cutesy, yet still grindy, version of WoW” then this game is not for you! This game is only for the truly hardcore PLAYer’s that really understand how to go into a world and make it their own and to do so for nothing more than the FUN of it.

Categories: Unknown Ululations | Tags: | 2 Comments

Ding!

FINALLY!

EQ2_000120

Almost 4 1/2 years after launch and I’ve got my first max level character. In fact this is my first max level character in 10 years of playing MMO’s.

Even scarier is that the next day:

EQ2_000022

Acsis only took me almost 3 years to cap.

Shortly after that Lore also managed to ding 80, I’m not sure what her played time is but I did manage to snag a screen shot of her ding

EQ2_000020

I also managed to get Sisca to 80 in Alchemy over the weekend so now I just need to get Acsis 10 more levels of Tailoring and I’ll go from 10 years of no characters at any level cap to 2 characters with both tradeskills and adventuring levels capped.

We also started doing the daily quest for Void Shards and managed to get the first 2 pieces and by the end of the week we’ll have the third. I think our next goal is to get Lore’s mage caught up and I wouldn’t mind getting my ranger leveled so we have a scout class to give us some versatility. I’d also like to spend some time mentoring guildies to see if we can put together a group and maybe start in on some of the TSO instances. I also want to get the crafting epic done with Sisca and Acsis is about halfway through the harvesting cloak so he’d like to finish that off as well.

So still plenty left to do and I haven’t even started in on my other 12 alts :)

Categories: EverQuest Epics | Tags: | 3 Comments

Grinding Levels

I think it all started a couple of weeks back with Tom Chick explaining why MMO’s are Broken which was basically a re-hash of every “Why this game suxors” post on every MMO forum out there. The next day Trembling Hand jumped on the bandwagon. Scott Jennings over on Broken Toys tried to explain to both of them that first, MMO <> WoW, and secondly, while most MMO’s are fantasy based, they’re not developed in Fantasy Land.

As I said earlier, all of this is stuff that those of us that have been playing these games awhile have heard thousands of times and Scott pretty much nailed the response that we’ve all hashed out over the years. However, yesterday a friend of mine, Pentane, linked this Scientific American article on the Expert Mind. I highly recommend it for all you armchair game designers – even you real world designers will find it interesting but I’m guessing quite a few of you have already read it or some of the books that have been written from those studies. Also yesterday, Psychochild, posted the first in a series of articles on How to Replace Levels.

These two articles combined got me thinking about the whole levels in MMO’s debate again but in a slightly different way and I came up with a kind of challenge – design a multiplayer that doesn’t have levels of some sort.

The trick here is to think of a “level” as a game mechanic that meets the criteria in Psychochild’s post. In other words anything that is used to mark Achievement, provide others Information or help with Pacing through your game world is considered a level. So far I’ve only come up with one way that it can be done and while I think the game might have some interest it would be a decidedly niche game and I wouldn’t want to propose it in today’s market.

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Categories: Design Deliberations, Theoretical Thoughts | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Bountiful Harvest

Just after Thanksgiving I decided that my next EQ2 goal was to get Sisca and Acsis to 75. This would open up almost all of the game to me and put 80 well within reach. Last weekend Sisca, Acsis and Lore all managed to hit the target as well as ding their 100th AA. So, Sunday evening I was casting about for something new to focus on and for some strange reason I decided that I just had to start in on the quest for the Cloak of the Harvesters.

I knew that this was a long quest that involved harvesting in every tier but I actually enjoy harvesting and, being 75, only tier 8 would have me harvesting in zones with agro mobs. How hard can it be, right?

It started off simply enough, go to any tier 1 zone and bring me back 10 or so of multiple items from the various nodes. This took me longer than I thought it would mainly because shrubs were almost non-existent – right, who’d a thunk it since it wasn’t that long ago that you could zone into T1 or T2 and find nothing but shrubs up. Next up was T2, I had Acsis port us over to Antonica and we were able to complete everything but the fishing without even getting out of site of the spires.

Next up T3 and this is where it started to get complicated. He wanted you to harvest equal quantities of the same items from both Thundering Steppes and Nek Forest. TS was no big deal, I know several good harvesting spots for all of the various nodes there but Nek has never been one of my favorite zones so I haven’t spent a ton of time there. Still I managed to find an area that I could run back and forth through and get most of the harvests, except for dens. T4 was a repeat of T3 except he wanted stuff from Zek and Enchanted Lands. Again, easy enough and, being 75, I went deeper in to both zones to leave the easier to get to harvest for the lower levels.

For T5 it was off to Rivervale and Feerot. Much like Nek Forest, Feerot has never been one of my favorite zones so I decided to put that off. I know Rivervale, I’ve harvested in Rivervale even when it was still green, this should be a snap. Two hours later I was finished with everything except DENS. In that entire time I had seen maybe 10 dens tops and you didn’t just need 20 or so of the pelts but also 20 or so of EACH type of meat from the dens. Frustrated, I gave it up for the night and started thinking about finding something else to focus on.

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Categories: Unknown Ululations | 1 Comment