Dragon Age: Inquisition Part 1

This is part one of at least a two parter…I will try not to make it three.  It ends with character creation as there are a ton of choices and I had a lot of fun going through it.

I finally get around to playing Dragon Age: Inquisition.  I have played the previous installments, the first one a couple times through.  I really enjoyed the first game and being a Warden.  While I thought the second game improved a couple things, one of which was combat, it did feel anti-climactic when compared to the first game.  You weren’t a Warden and you weren’t really continuing the adventure from the first game.

This is the first game I am playing on my Xbox One.  I tried using the Kinect for a while, but I don’t really care for it much.  I really haven’t had much time to console game recently and that is a shame since console gaming is where my heart is.

I am very excited to see that I can be a Qunari in this game, I have always wanted to play one.  I am going to play a rogue this time around which is something I haven’t played before.  So, first time race, Qunari, with a first time class, Rogue.  I am also going to leave it on Normal difficulty because I get very frustrated with my failures in more difficult settings.  I do try to get as many achievements as I can, but I always skip the difficulty setting ones.

I am really hoping that I can be a Warden again in this game.  It made what you were doing in the first game more fulfilling.  You were a force in the world trying to defeat the evil menace.

What did you think about Dragon Age 1 and 2?  Which one did you prefer?  Please leave a message and/or share on Twitter.

Gaming Breaks

In the course of being a gamer, we sometimes get completely engrossed in one game and ignore all others.  This is why, in a video I will be posting later, I mention that I haven’t had much time, if any, to play games on my various consoles.  I got completely engrossed in Elite: Dangerous on top of actively tackling garrison missions daily in WoW.  However, my recent vacation to the great cities of Boston and New York City allowed me to get away from gaming.  I could have gamed while there, but I didn’t bring a laptop that could handle those games and I was far too tired after waking around all day to even think of playing a game.  I have been back now for a two weeks and I still haven’t thought about online gaming.

Image Credit: http://www.arabianbusiness.com/should-i-have-any-free-time--540228.html
Image Credit: http://www.arabianbusiness.com/should-i-have-any-free-time–540228.html

This brings me to the topic I wanted to talk about, taking a break.  Taking a break from our regular routine of gaming can be quite refreshing.  It opened up more free time than I thought and I found myself looking for things to do.  I caught up on some TV shows (I can now say I have watched all of Breaking Bad), but I really was kind of bored and didn’t know what to do.  Kind of a good problem to have, no?

The added benefit of my new found free time is that I was finally able to look towards playing some console games again.  I truly have a huge backlog of games I still have to play.  While I will most likely continue playing Dragon Age: Inquisition until I beat it, I still have the original Assassin’s Creed to beat (just need to do the last couple kills).  I even bought a PS4 and Bloodborne because I kept reading so many good things about it.  If I was still spending all my time online gaming, Dragon Age and Bloodborne, along with a couple other Xbox One games I have, would still be unopened.

This doesn’t just apply to video gaming.  Sometimes we need to take a break from our board game groups and our tabletop roleplaying groups.  The break helps us realize how much we enjoy and how much we get out of our gaming groups.  Fortunately for me, the breaks I get from my board gaming and roleplaying groups are because people are out of town.  I really enjoy these groups, and believe I could go without the breaks (not regularly gaming during the week completely throws my schedule off), however it is most likely that these shorts breaks I get keep everything fresh and fun when we get to game again.

What do you think?  Do you take breaks from your gaming routine and find yourself with a lot of free time to enjoy something else?  Do those breaks allow you to go back to other games that you still need to play?  Please leave a comment and/or share on Twitter.

Pathfinder Character Creation

While I was out on vacation, a misfortune befell me.  I made a classic mistake of not leaving my character sheet before I went out of town, knowing that I was going to be missing a session.  So, needless to say, while I was in Boston and New York City on vacation, my fighter was killed.  He was a Viking archetype fighter and I really enjoyed playing him, but now I have to make a new character.  This video is a brief look into the process I go through when making a new character.

The first thing you need to do is make sure you have all the necessary books available in some format before you start making your character.  I find Ultimate Equipment to be an awesome, must-have book, but even more important than that is having the Core Rulebook.  The character I am going to make is a 20 point buy, level 5, two trait fighter.

The first thing I come up with, when creating a new character, is a concept.  For this build I am going with a two-weapon fighter named Comm Red (yes, like comrade), who is going to fight with a hammer and sickle (yes, this is a reference to the Soviet flag…I couldn’t help myself).  He’s going to use the sickle to trip you and then he is going to hit you in the head with a hammer.  After I come up with the concept, then I start building the actual character.

For this character, instead of starting with the stats and building everything on down, I am, instead, going to start with the feats.  The feats are going to be the most important thing for this build that I need to focus on because I need to make sure I get the correct ones.  There’s a whole tree for two-weapon fighting, so I am going to start there.

I am happy that I looked at the feats first because the start of the two-weapon fighting feat tree, Two-Weapon Fighting, requires a Dex of 15.  Had I not looked at this first, I might not have put enough points into Dex and would have needed to redo my stats.  The other feats I need to focus on are those for tripping, since that is a major part of my fighter’s concept.  The start of that tree is Combat Expertise which requires and Int of 13, which I probably would have also skimped on.  I am really glad I looked the feats first instead of building my stats, because I would have made several mistakes due to my unfamiliarity with two-weapon fighting.

Even though I mentioned I would post this on Friday or Saturday, that was 12 days ago.  I reference my vacation in the video and decided I was going to post the two videos I took on vacation first.

As I mentioned in the video, there might be an archetype for a two-weapon fighter.  There is.  It’s in the Advanced Player’s Guide and called Two-Weapon Warrior.  Instead of going with that archetype, I just built a straight up two-weapon fighter.

As promised, here’s the scans of my Happy Camper character sheets.

First page of my fighter's character sheet
First page of my fighter’s character sheet
Second page of my fighter's character sheet
Second page of my fighter’s character sheet
Third page of my fighter's character sheet
Third page of my fighter’s character sheet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did make a mistake with my armor choice, as having Armor Training 1 allows me to move full speed in medium armor.  I will be looking for medium armor to rectify this error, though doubt I will be able to get any before we tackle the final dungeon in Mummy’s Mask book 2.

I also double dipped into Weapon Focus.  First one was to give me a +1 to trip with my sickle.  The other was to open up Weapon Specialization for the hammer as Weapon Focus is a prereq.

To give you an idea how crazy I am with my extensive character sheets, my Magus, which I mentioned in the video, covers seven character sheets.  Yes, I am insane.

What do you think about the Happy Camper character sheets?  Do you think I did my feats correctly?  Are there any I should have taken?  Please leave a comment and/or share on Twitter.

Thoughts about An Act of God and being a nerd

Another video from my time in NYC, but instead of broadcasting from the beautiful Central Park, I am coming to you from my hotel room.

I went to the Broadway play An Act of God starring Jim Parsons from the Big Bang Theory.  I want to do a quick review of the play and tie it into the topics I discuss on my blog; basically being a nerd is cool..ish, but definitely awesome.

The show was fantastic, truly funny from the beginning to the end.  Jim Parsons started off by making a joke about how God was coming down to possess the body of Sheldon Cooper.  This ties into why I think Jim Parsons was able to have his own Broadway show and that is because of the success of Big Bang Theory, a show l love.  The show does have some negative stereotypes of nerds, but the passion they show for “nerdy” things in the show is definitely true in real life.

Because nerd culture is kind of the new thing, Big Bang Theory is incredibly popular.  Because of the popularity of Big Bang, Jim Parsons was able to land his own Broadway show and be awesome.  There’s a lot of humor in the show where the premise is God came down to have a chat with us.  He is flanked by a couple angels, Gabriel and Michael, who have their unique roles and tie everything into Jim playing God and going over his new 10 commandments.  There is a bit of politics in it, but regardless of your political affiliation, it was very funny.  He goes through the creation of the universe and it was awesome.  I definitely recommend this show to anyone looking to see a Broadway show.

It was in Studio 54, which provided a fantastic venue to see a show like this.  Definitely picture worthy, but, unfortunately, no pictures are allowed.  It would have been worth it to try to sneak one, but I am a rule follower and didn’t risk it.

Again, basically the popularity of nerds and nerd culture contributes greatly to the success and popularity of Big Bang Theory, which then allowed a cast member of that show to have their own Broadway play.   Without the existence of nerd culture, I do not believe Jim Parsons having his own play would be possible.  10 years ago I don’t think this would be possible.  While there were nerdy shows back then, none really brought nerd culture to the forefront as Big Bang has.

If you have had a chance to see this play, please leave a comment and we can start up some dialogue.  If you agree with me on how nerd culture being in leading to this Broadway play happening, please leave a comment.  Comments are always appreciated.  Thank you.

Learning to Adapt

We all game differently.  While playing a board game, roleplaying it up, or playing a video game online, chances are we are playing something while in a group.  And not all groups are the same.  In my board gaming group (going on nine years now) everyone at the table has a fairly strong personality.  This carries over to my roleplaying group as a lot of us are in both groups.  However, this isn’t the case for all groups all the time.  Sometimes we are thrown into a different situation and we have to adapt to those around us.

This adaptation can be as simple as toning down the amount of curse words; I admit, I have a pretty dirty vocabulary at the gaming table.  However, if I am with a group where they don’t appreciate colorful language, or there are kids around, I need to tone it down and I do.  I do not complain about it and the group doesn’t need to keep reminding me about it either.  I do it because it is polite and I want to keep gaming.

This carries over into roleplaying groups as well.  Not everyone in the group can be super boisterous all the time.  Depending on what everyone is playing, we might need to drastically tone down our conversations in and out of character so someone else can have their turn in the spotlight.  Some GMs might not appreciate a lot of side talk while roleplaying is happening.  Others might require you to pay very close attention to what is going on as they will only give you a few seconds to decide what your character is going to do on their turn.  Again, this requires us to adapt to the situation.

This carries over into games like WoW too.  During MoP while we were working on taking down Garrosh for the first time, the guild, as a whole, was on edge and didn’t appreciate screw-ups.  There was very little chatter at all while we were attempting bosses we hadn’t killed yet.  However, after we took down Garrosh and everyone one else quit until WoD, the new guild I joined was all about messing around.  They had taken down everything on a more difficult tier so they were more about having fun and helping everyone else out.  It was incredibly fun raiding with them.  Everyone was constantly throwing out jokes or saying complete nonsensical things to get a laugh.  The raid leader would even modulate his voice to add to the entertainment.  Had I ran with them with the mindset I during my old guild’s first Garrosh kill, I wouldn’t have had as much fun.  I had to adapt to their playstyle.

A picture of the Settlers map my friend took when she was at Strateicon this past February.
A picture of the Settlers map my friend took when she was at Strategicon this past February.

When heading to a gaming convention or trying to get into competitive play, multiply this need to adapt 100 fold as you will encounter all sorts of different people with a wide variety of personalities.  My friends who go to gaming conventions always share stories about some of the people they met at the gaming table.  They would go from wisecracking at one table to complete silence at the next.  They were always adapting to their fluctuating situation.

The adaptability you can learn from gaming with different groups is invaluable in everyday life.  If you are trying to branch out and experience new things and meet new people, finding a gaming group might be the way to go.  You’ll have something in common with the new people and you all will be there for the same thing; gaming.

What is your experience with different gaming groups?  Were some very open and joking often, while others were very on point and serious?  Please leave a comment and/or share on Twitter.

Thoughts from Central Park

Some of my thoughts on tabletop roleplaying as I sat down for a brief rest while walking through Central Park.

To me, making a character in Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition is very different from Pathfinder.  I found the transition from D&D 3.5 to Pathfinder to be very seamless and easy and the order of everything is the same or very similar.  With 5E, I felt that I was flipping back and forth between the sections a lot while generating my bard.  This is mainly related to the background that you generate for your character.  While I do like the background system, I didn’t realize that there were more specific backgrounds depending on what class you were playing; this is good as the generic, random one I generated initially made zero sense.  However, having the “archetypes” closer to the class section would make more sense to me, and would have helped streamline the character building process.  This disjointed feeling is most likely due to lack of experience with 5E.

One definite positive for 5E is the stunningly beautiful artwork found throughout the books.  To me, 3.5 lacked art.  There was plenty in the books, but, especially with the monster manuals, you could go a few pages before seeing a picture of some hideous beast.  A good GM could fill in the description holes, but having a picture is very nice.  Pathfinder did an incredible job with this; every monster has a picture so you know exactly what you are dealing with.  Pathfinder also did an incredible job keeping all the information on a monster on a page.  You don’t have to flip pages to get the rest of the description nor are multiple monsters described on the same page; this is very handy.

However, the artwork put into 5E is another notch above the rest.  Wizards did an amazing job with it, and a lot of my friends, on their first flip through the books, commented on how beautiful it was.  I think this beauty is a definite boon for tabletop roleplaying books.  If someone is on the fence about what system they want to play, they will most likely choose a book with good artwork.

This brings me to my final thoughts; all the systems that are currently out there.  I primarily want to try several systems, Monte Cook’s Numenera specifically.  Whenever we have a break from one of our lengthy campaigns, I always want to fill the gaps with one offs or short campaigns from other systems.  Unfortunately we always seem to settle for more Pathfinder.  Not that there is anything wrong with Pathfinder, I just want to branch out more.

For those watching that have played numerous systems, how do you do it?  Have you found a method that works for playing different systems simultaneously?  Do you play, say, Pathfinder one week and then Numenera the next and rotate between the two?  Do you play one for a month or so before switching over to another for another month?  Please let me know if the comments.

The beauty of games

We play games when we hang out with friends, we play them online with people from all over the world, and we play them while sitting on our couches.  There is literally a game for any occasion on covering a wide range of themes.  The reasons for playing are as wide as the assortment.  I have mentioned before that I use games as a stress relief, which has been true since high school.  I also play games, specifically video games, because I love the universes and stories they introduce.  However, there is another side to these games that I haven’t put much thought into and I think it is about time that I do.

A picture I took of the Tiefling race from my D&D 5E book
A picture I took of the Tiefling race from my D&D 5E book

Games nowadays are extremely beautiful and have become an art form.  Tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition has incredibly gorgeous artwork throughout the books.  Not only does this artwork give you a better understanding of what a character or setting is supposed to look like, they also serve as an advertisement for themselves.

The very first thing my good friend brought up when he picked up the Player’s Handbook was how beautiful all the art is.  If you have a chance to flip through D&D 5E, and you should, you will be amazed at how beautiful it all is.  And this is not just limited to D&D 5E, Pathfinder also has incredible artwork, artwork that I think far exceeds that of D&D 3.5 which it is very closely related to in spirit.  You can find amazing artwork in pretty much any tabletop RPG out there.  This beauty is not just limited to roleplaying books, the current crop of video games also are quite beautiful.

I shot I took of the galaxy
I shot I took of the galaxy

This brings me to a reason people play games that I was completely ignorant of until a couple months ago.  A WoW guild mate of mine got me into Elite:Dangerous, which I have blogged about before.  Since I wrote that blog, I have been able to get a decent combat ship and greatly enjoy flying around, collecting bounties off of wanted ships.  We were also able to get several other WoW guild mates to try out Elite, and it was something a couple of them said that really caught my attention.

A shot of my Eagle with a planet in the background
A shot of my Eagle with a planet in the background

They wanted to get enough money to buy a nice exploration ship and just fly around the galaxy exploring all that is available.  All the while they were doing this, they kept saying how beautiful the game is, and it truly is.  Because they thought the game was beautiful, they decided to explore.  Exploration has been a part of Elite ever since it came out, but I never put much thought into it.  I thought it would be boring as all you do is fly from one system to another scanning everything you can find.  However, after hearing a couple of my guild mates talk about how beautiful the game was, I started paying closer attention.  The images of Elite that I have included in this post were taken after I opened my eyes a bit and really started looking at the game.

My Type 6 on an outpost platform overlooking a planet
My Type 6 on an outpost platform overlooking a planet

So, it turns out, people also play video games to appreciate beauty.  Now I know beauty is subjective, but the human race, in general, has been fascinated with space for centuries.  We have constantly wondered, and still wonder, what is out there.  Elite:Dangerous shows us an idea of what could be, and it is magnificent.

Have you ever checked out a game just because the artwork was appealing?  If so, what game was it?  Please leave a comment and/or share on Twitter.