The Adventures of a Cyberpunk 2020 GM and her players, part 4

It has been a while since I’ve written one of these, but with the move to a new job on the horizon I’ve been a bit busy. Combine that with some scheduling issues and we just haven’t had a session for a while.

Following on from the previous session’s conflict, our player character roster has changed slightly. We have:

  • Edward “Crossfire” Caine – A retired corporate security member who has found himself feeling rather useless, so has taken to edgerunning to keep his skills sharp.
  • Zheng “Hard Truth” Huo – A… paranoid conspiracy theorist vlogger who is obsessed with his job to show the real truth to the masses.
  • Yuveleva “Loader” Konstantinovna – A Russian netrunner with a day job who seeks to earn mega-money through edgerunning.

Important NPCs that came up in this session were:

  • Iron Hawk – A relatively new fixer who is interested in bringing the PCs into the edgerunning scene as new talent.
  • Corrupted_Angel – A young netrunner under Iron Hawk’s employ who has started making a name for herself after a few successful clean up operations
  • Ghost – An edgerunning driver who works for Iron Hawk. New to the area and with weak English, but has a fancy katana.
  • Doc Locke – A fully qualified doctor and medtech working for MediCare who has taken to edgerunning as a means of gaining practical experiences, as well as truckloads of cash.

We picked up the day after we last left off, with Hard Truth recovering from the wounds he suffered in his fight with Plata. He wanted to move, but couldn’t afford to pay a full month’s rent for what would have been about half a week, so he took his chances and waited for the month to be over before he moved apartment. During this time he decided to put his plans into motion and started a smear campaign against Plata, which gave mixed results. He successfully convinced one of the Jackals that Plata was a child molester and all around awful guy, hoping to get some rumours spreading within the gang that they both used to be a part of, but his attempts online were met with failure. He set up a fake profile on social media, spent a few days making “normal” posts, before making posts implicating Plata in sexual assault and pedophilia, however a netrunner by the name of n3t_sh4d0w uncovered the falsification and exposed it to the public.

Plata simply got out of hospital and was told by one of his colleagues that there was this smear campaign that someone tried to do on him, but the account was shut down shortly after being exposed as fake.

Meanwhile, Crossfire decided that he wanted to be homicidal and decided to go into the combat zone, going into Jackals territory in the middle of the night. He crit his streetwise check (hitting an almighty… average difficulty DC. He’s really not streetsmart) and managed to not get lost or stumble upon a group of angry combat zone gang members. Instead he found a pair of mildly intoxicated lovers, waited for the street to be clear, crept up behind them and shot the man in the back of the head, before grabbing the woman and choking her to death. He then put the bodies on top of each other, shot the woman in the back of the head and started to sneak away.

Now, for the record, I’m just as confused as you are, intrepid reader (unless you are Crossfire’s player, as I’m sure you had your reasons). Apparently, this was done to gauge reaction times of the Jackals, but I’m finding myself wondering if it was really necessary. Regardless, Crossfire was spotted sneaking away (as eight nearby Jackals heard the gunshot and one of them crit his awareness roll) and started trying to lose them in the alleys. Not being the most streetsmart of individuals, he got a bit lost and couldn’t seem to shake them. He eventually decided to climb up a building, rolling an impressive athletics check to start the climb, but he was seen by four of the Jackals who opened fire on him. Fortunately, they were unable to hit him before he managed to climb onto the roof of the building. He then managed to lose them while they worked out what to do about this and made his way back to the safety of the checkpoint and the moderate zone.

The PCs were then summoned to a meeting with Iron Hawk as she had a new job for them. They convened at a bar in Syndicate territory, where the PCs were introduced to Loader, a Russian netrunner who was to help them with this job. Iron Hawk’s motivations for giving the PCs this job were mixed. She has her reasons which I cannot disclose here for wanting Loader on the job (can’t say it because then the player could find out and it’s super secret right now!), but the reasons she’s giving this fairly big job to the PCs is a bit of forced development. Either the team will die on the job, or they will learn how to work together and not screw up as much. She used a bird metaphor and no one had the all-important zoology skill and I was disappointed, talking about how birds learn to fly. It seemed to go over the PCs’ heads.

The job itself was an important corporate extraction. The party were to extract an anti-AI researcher and bring him to a secure location in the combat zone. The party asked who was hiring for this job, but Iron Hawk advised that she could not divulge such information, but assured them this was not a kidnapping, as the target desired the move. Furthermore, Iron Hawk informed the party that three of her other more competent edgerunners were unavailable for hire as they were taking care of another job for her; these edgerunners were Corrupted_Angel, who had led the clean up operations following the PCs’ latest screw ups, Ghost and Doc Locke.

The PCs then spent the rest of the session planning what to do and considering purchases on the 40,000eb expense account they had been given for the job (they were told it would be a bad idea to run away with it. Spoiler alert, it would be an absolutely awful idea to run away with it). Loader demonstrated her netrunning prowess, subtly setting up a meeting between her and their target, as his email and phone contact details were undoubtedly tapped, so she hacked into a speaker at his home and made it play a message for him. As I had work the next morning and all most of what was going to happen was planning and purchasing, I decided to end the session there.


I thoroughly enjoyed this session, even though not much really happened. I’ve been waiting to spring proper jobs on the party for a while, and felt this was a good opportunity that would make sense. It’s a fairly substantial problem that the PCs have to tackle and multiple ways to go about it. It will be interesting to see how they go about it.

Furthermore, it will be interesting to compare how the PCs do it compared to the other team who are on a very similar job. The NPC crew, I will admit, were given the bigger, harder job, as Iron Hawk really needs the bigger job done right and didn’t want to risk giving it to this dysfunctional group of PCs she has; they are doing another extraction, but on an Autosoft executive. I have mapped out their plan, done the rolls and bought the gear they would need and I said I would show a comparison of the expense reports for the two teams and the two jobs, as anything bought on the expense accounts needs to be documented.

I can’t wait to see how it all pans out next week / the week after (depending on how long it takes).

The Adventures of a 5e GM and her players, part 4 + 5

Because I’ve been super duper busy this week with work (things are looking somewhat up!) I didn’t have time to write this up. However, I am here now and I am writing this up from memory of what happened, as I largely remember everything last week and definitely remember this week. Well, enough excuses, let’s get on with the juicy details.

As a reminder, the group consists of:

  • Joey “Gruzark” Smith – Half-orc barbarian (berserker)
  • Ownka Bronson – Half orc bard (college of lore)
  • Hank – Human ranger (beastmaster)
  • Andarius Rhyn – Half elf druid (circle of the moon)

Our adventurers found themselves outside a village that they had been heading towards last session. They couldn’t see much activity and saw that the village did not have any walls or farmlands. The group, conscious that most of the world outside was rather xenophobic, approached the town cautiously. However, they weren’t met with torches and pitchforks; or rather they weren’t met with anything. It was incredibly quiet. The streets had no activity and as the group continued into the village they started to notice it was strange. They headed towards the centre of the village, finding the local tavern. They knocked on the door and were greeted by a human in chainmail, wielding a greatsword.

Now this human was… a tad hostile. He didn’t attack the PCs, but also had no interest in talking to them and it was only due to one of the other citizens stepping forward that the PCs were even allowed into the tavern. This civilian told the PCs that a strange man had come into the town last week, but had left soon after. However the next day the town found themselves under siege by the undead. Most of the village population was dead (and risen into undeath) and most of the survivors were sick and injured. The armor clad human turned out to be a paladin of Ghyllis, the god of death, and was protecting the town as best he could, but was only one man.

The PCs rested, but were rudely awoken by an undead attack during the night. A flesh golem was at the head of the charge, with a pair of skeletons and a pair of zombies. Joey looked out the window and took an arrow to the shoulder immediately. He proceeded to jump out the window and go into a rage, which started the combat in full. It was not a particularly challenging fight, with the main issue really being the fact that the flesh golem seemed to absorb their attacks and took a while to go down. Well, and the fact that my players were introduced to undead fortitude when one of the zombies just refused to go down until the paladin hit it with some radiant damage.

The group rested and then tracked the undead the next day, following their tracks to a small, wooded area (where Andarius failed a nature check to notice something plot related. Oh well…). Within this area they found a tunnel that led underground that seemed to be a natural cave (though Joey was insistent they were elven. Rolling a 0 on an intelligence check will do that to you).

This is where the session really ended. It was a bit of a shorter one as I think one of the players had to go and I didn’t want to start the dungeon crawl at that time as I knew what was coming up in room number 1…

Zombies. And skeletons. A whole lot of them. The PCs got into a fight with a room full of undead as soon as they entered. Due to torchlight, the PCs were well illuminated and got shot by crit archers. I call them crit archers because the number of natural 20s I rolled with them this session was disgusting, though they were all firing from out of the PCs’ darkvision and torchlight, so they were getting advantage. The PCs took a surprising amount of damage from the sheer weight of numbers, but were able to come out on top, though Andarius triggered an explosive trap when he cast a spell over it without knowing it was there, dealing Joey a hefty blow as Joey was standing on the other side of it. Joey then proceeded to charge right over the next explosive trap, the blasts totally incinerating his pet mouse.

After a short rest, the party moved ever onwards, more cautiously since the two explosive traps almost incinerated Joey as well. Joey felt wind from one way, so they decided to take that tunnel, managing to avoid the trap that lay in wait for them there. Exiting the tunnel they found a huge underground chasm and some spider webs. Andarius decided to start burning the webs like the good(?) druid that he is, which saw the PCs get attacked by a pair of giant spiders. However, the two spiders were quickly dispatched by the players and Hank harvested enough venom for a single dose of spider poison.

The PCs walked along the chasm, which Joey discovered had water at the bottom by dropping a pebble down and hearing the (very) faint splash. As they made their way along the chasm, using a dancing lights cantrip from Ownka to light their way, they found a naturally formed bridge across. While they debated whether or not to cross, Ownka’s lights came into sight of more undead who immediately attacked the party, firing arrows at Joey. It was here that the dynamic lighting feature in Roll20 came into its own. Joey, having been shot, went into a rage. He could see a pair of zombies advancing through the tunnel and charged down to them. As he reached them he noticed there were more than just two and quickly got swamped by zombies and skeletons, while the archers continued to harass the others as they came around the corner. As they were all grouped up, Ownka used shatter on the melee, hitting the entire crowd of undead but also hitting Joey in the process.

And this is where something big happened. Joey went down in a flurry of zombie attacks. The first one didn’t drop him. The second caused his half-orc endurance to trigger, as it would’ve knocked him down but instead reduced him to 1 hit point, the third attack dropped him unconscious and the fourth caused two failed death saves. Once again, for the third time this campaign, Joey’s survival came down to a d20 roll, but this time luck was not on his side and he failed his third and final death save. Yes, we had a player character casualty this session.

The party eventually managed to fend off the remaining undead, with two zombies being particularly stubborn and causing more damage than they really should have through constant undead fortitude successes, but a fog cloud cut off the archers sight lines so they were unable to harass the back line and stopped causing the multitude of failed concentration checks that they were causing. The party retrieved Joey’s body and retreated outside the cave system to lick their wounds and plan their next move.


I enjoyed this session, though the death of a player character is never an easy thing to deal with as a GM. This particular player character went down with very much a fight, but the PCs were just unable to carve a path to him in time as he was surrounded by zombies and skeletons. I (hope) it has put some foreshadowing into the players’ minds that their three months of jail time has meant that things have definitely progressed in the world and the threats are very real.

I do like that this is a very threatening location. Necromancers in this setting are incredibly dangerous and should be approached carefully; there are reasons why the majority of the non-elven population fears magic and I feel like the PCs are encountering one of them now. I was happy to start introducing another aspect of a big bad as well, rather than just bandits and wild animals.

I believe that next session the players are diving back in, but I sincerely hope they re-evaluate their approach. There’s a lot of potential XP on offer here, as well as a very decent reward, but there’s also a large risk associated with this.

I look forward to see what next session brings.

The Adventures of a Cyberpunk 2020 GM and her players, part 3

This session was a typical “made plans, didn’t get to them” session. However, it was part of my plan that we wouldn’t get to my planned job, so I’m not disappointed. I knew that the players were going to have “things” to do this session, and was I right or was I right!

As a reminder, our PCs are:

  • Eduardo “Plata” Gayoso – A former ganger who joined the police force as he saw it as a way to gain more power (and beat people down legally).
  • Edward “Crossfire” Caine – A retired corporate security member who has found himself feeling rather useless, so has taken to edgerunning to keep his skills sharp.
  • Zheng “Hard Truth” Huo – A… paranoid conspiracy theorist vlogger who is obsessed with his job to show the real truth to the masses.

And our named NPCs who came up this session were:

  • Iron Hawk – A relatively new fixer who is interested in bringing the PCs into the edgerunning scene as new talent.
  • StR33t_Sa1Nt – An enthusiastic and fun loving netrunner who is eager to impress and has a massive crush / hero worships Archangel (a world famous netrunner)
  • Cold Snap – A more experienced fixer who doesn’t like new talent and prefers hiring more experienced edgerunners.

So I will be brief with most of what happened. There was a lot of sleeping and first aid and seeing ripperdocs as two of three party members were incredibly wounded following the previous job. I won’t bore you with the details, but this happened for a while. Hard Truth vlogged about stuff that happened in the world while he rested, however one his way to get first aid from Crossfire on one day he was mugged by some Jackals gangers, one of which got a massive crit roll for their brawling and punched him in the face, bringing him back into serious wounds.

Following on from this, Plata started his revenge-quest, trading some information that he pulled from the police archives to Iron Hawk in exchange for information on Aspect, the corporate who was a part of the opposing team from the previous job. He went for a stakeout, observing her apartment and saw her returning in the evening.

Crossfire asked Iron Hawk for the contact information of an edgerunner named StR33t_Sa1Nt, who was under her employ. Once he had this, he hired her to find a good gunsmith in the local area, but not in the Corporate Zone, and also information about the illegal street fighting ring known as the Crucible. She went to the Net to find the information, but was unable to find it there so she took to the streets, asking around for the information as she wouldn’t admit defeat in this relatively simple task. However, she was not the most streetwise of people and ended up not showing to a meeting that she and Crossfire had scheduled that evening. Crossfire dropped this altogether and continued about his business.

However, a few days later, Crossfire gets a call from a perturbed Iron Hawk. She asks him if he knows what happened with StR33t_Sa1Nt, to which Crossfire admits he does not. Turns out when she went to ask around she ended up getting kidnapped by Cold Snap (which is not a good thing for anyone involved…) and Iron Hawk hired other edgerunners to rescue the young netrunner, as following the last mission that they partially botched combined with this incident she didn’t trust the PCs to handle this.  She also implied that it was an expense that Crossfire was going to be responsible for.

She then called them to a meeting for a new job that she was going to give them, however this is where Plata and Hard Truth finally clashed. Plata had received the information as to who killed the detective and was determined to kill the cop-killer. He got to the meeting slightly before Hard Truth and tried to persuade the bouncer that he was going t beat someone up and that the bouncer shouldn’t get involved. He crit failed the roll and started an argument with the bouncer, at which point Hard Truth arrived and approached, greeting them both. Plata immediately grabbed him, put him in a hold and started to move him away from the bar. At this point, Hard Truth started calling for help, stating that the police were oppressing him in the lawless part of town, which attracted a nearby Syndicate ganger to his aid. Plata threw Hard Truth to the ground and yelled at the ganger to not get involved, trying to intimidate him, but it didn’t work. The Syndicate ganger shot Plata in the arm, rolling near max damage and causing limb loss. Plata passed his death save, but quickly surrendered. Hard Truth tried to punch him, so he dodged, but the ganger shot him again, scoring a headshot and killing Plata. The player burned luck (a houserule I’ve implemented) to avoid death and Plata was taken off to hospital again as he fell onto his healthcare card, snapping it and triggering a team to come and extract him. Hard Truth took his pistol.

Iron Hawk arrived later, arriving 15 minutes in advance of the meeting time (the other two arrived and tried to kill each other 30 mins before), and Crossfire was late as he was trying to move stealthily through the Combat Zone and was badly delayed because the Syndicate are observant (he wasn’t spotted though). In this time, Hard Truth asked how Plata might have gotten the information, to which Iron Hawk replied that she wasn’t the only information broker but he also could’ve investigated it himself, as police tend to investigate when one of their own is killed. During the meeting, Hard Truth spun his tale as to what happened between him and Plata to Crossfire, who was easily convinced, though Iron Hawk saw through his story. When Crossfire asked why Plata tried to kill Hard Truth, she gave Hard Truth the opportunity to explain, but he merely tried looking innocent, so Iron Hawk told Crossfire that Hard Truth had murdered a detective and Plata didn’t like cop-killers. Crossfire then basically called Iron Hawk incompetent which, after botching the last job she gave them (by running in guns blazing after being told that running in guns blazing likely wouldn’t work by Iron Hawk), getting one of her other runners kidnapped by hiring her for a job she wasn’t qualified to do (she was also a bit irritated that he didn’t just ask her for the information, as she is literally an information broker) and causing her expenses that could easily have been avoided… she had to roll a Cool check to see if she would keep her cool in this situation or just have them killed. At this point Hard Truth was dirty laundry, as she knows she shouldn’t have given Plata the information (but he rolled a 26), and Crossfire was showing to be a bumbling old man and not worth the trouble. She passed the check and so she didn’t order their “removal” but she was done with the meeting. Looking at Crossfire and Hard Truth (who was in critical wounds again) and considering Plata was no longer going to run with this team, she decided to give the job she had to her other team she had formed out of the NPCs that the players could hire.

Once Crossfire and Hard Truth had left Syndicate territory, Hard Truth explained that he didn’t trust Iron Hawk, but told Crossfire not to anger her because she’s a dangerous individual. The two would continue to work for her, but the implication from the conversation was that they were going to potentially oppose her in the future.

I have since rolled the dice for the B team and their job escorting a corporate around the Combat Zone to make some deals. They didn’t botch it.

Next week we return to D&D 5e, so this campaign is being put on hold for now (as with my current work hours there is no way I can run two games per week, however once I move to a new role I expect I will be able to because I hopefully won’t be working until 10pm each night)

I’m going to miss my beloved sci-fi subgenre…

New Expansion, New Mains – My Struggle Selecting a Main for Battle for Azeroth

With Battle for Azeroth fast approaching, I feel like I am not alone in my thoughts of what am I going to play come next expansion. Naturally a new expansion is the best time to change your main as all of your gear will soon be outdated and often there’s more than just a new level cap that could affect your decision, with class and gear changes aplenty often coming with a new expansion.

I was a paladin main this expansion, specifically a holy paladin for the extra thicc crit heals, but I find myself willing to try other classes and figure out what I want to play in Battle for Azeroth. I believe I will likely main a healer again, as healing is what I have mained in MMOs since vanilla WoW in 2004, but a few ranged dps classes have stealthed into the equation.

My current plans, as I have most classes I want to 110 (on the Alliance side), is to finish leveling my rogue to 110 as she sits at level 79 currently and hasn’t been played since the Legion pre-patch, as well as leveling a warrior from scratch to try to overcome my incapability to do melee dps. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about melee dps that I just don’t like. However, the real journey will begin once Battle for Azeroth launches, as I will likely seek to level all of my 110 characters to 120 and then choose to main the one I enjoyed the most.

However, this is only looking at things from a mechanical perspective and I would be lying if I said that was the only draw to a class that I have. There are two more aspects: class fantasy and roleplay affinity. There is a difference, though these aspects are fairly intertwined. Class fantasy is the whole “this is what I identify with and want to pretend to be” where roleplay affinity is “who do I want to pretend to be.” I will be looking at all of these when I finally decide what I want to main in Battle for Azeroth.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. The following are the classes and specs that are on the list:

  • Paladin – Holy / Retribution (for solo content)
  • Priest – Holy (might try learning Discipline)
  • Mage – Arcane / Fire / Frost
  • Hunter – Marksmanship
  • Shaman – Restoration / Elemental
  • Druid – Restoration / Balance
  • Rogue – Outlaw / Subtelty
  • Warrior – Arms

The last two are likely not going to make the cut unless I fall in love with melee dps as I level them, and even then they’ll struggle to compete with retribution paladin, as I prefer the utility that retribution can bring to the table. Also, the druid is likely a character I will level from 1 to 120 in Battle for Azeroth, or whatever level Blizzard decide to start Kul Tiran humans at as I really liked the whole wicker element to it and the animal forms look FANTASTIC! (even if I don’t plan on being Guardian or Feral… They’re still lovely) However the others are already level 110 and ready for Battle for Azeroth.

So first I will look at the class fantasy. This is actually where the biggest issue comes up: I love the rogue class fantasy. In D&D you will usually find me playing a rogue or a bard (or a combination of the two), so the sneaky rogue class fantasy is what I love. I will do my best to rank the above classes by class fantasy for an overall look at it:

  1. Rogue
  2. Mage
  3. Hunter
  4. Warrior
  5. Paladin
  6. Priest
  7. Druid
  8. Shaman

This is a problem. My top three are literally all pure dps classes, but I enjoy healing the most. Out of the top five there is a single class that can heal. Furthermore, the top class is melee dps! Oh the horror! I have a problem with melee dps at the moment that I am trying to overcome by leveling both a rogue and a warrior, but as it stands right now I still don’t seem to click with melee dps. Now that I’ve said this, let’s extend the issue by going to roleplay affinity. I’ll do my best to list them in order:

  1. Elise Dawnsinger – Musician and freelance agent from Lordaeron. Was adopted by a high elf fleeing south to avoid political intrigue in Silvermoon. (Hunter and Rogue)
  2. Lyra Dawnsinger – Apprentice mage and small business owner. Again, adopted by a high elf but this one was actually living in Stormwind. Was a homeless beggar girl in Stormwind and now owns a small tailoring business. (Mage)
  3. Wicker-medicine-lady – Not yet made because I need Kul-Tiran humans to release. The idea I’m going with is a natural healer and alchemist with some wicker vibes. More on this once I get my teeth into the Battle for Azeroth Alliance side campaign. (Druid)
  4. Clarinne Wakefield – Former farm girl and member of the Westfall Brigade. She’s… poorly educated, but has a heart of gold. Very simple and direct. Family was killed by Defias who burned down her family’s farm when she was a teenager. (Warrior)
  5. Kailyn Moore (not 100% set on surname) – Former Scarlet crusader. Was turned against the crusade in Lordaeron after a group of crusaders and the forces of the Alliance they were fighting were cornered by undead and had to work together. Saw the horrors of the crusade and turned her back on them. Now a scholar and a priest in Stormwind. (Priest)
  6. Meliaa – Shaman from Draenor. Bit of a spiritual guide to her people, but failed them when her people were killed by rampaging Orcs (after having learned shamanism from one of them). (Shaman)
  7. Tilaara – Lightforged vindicator and veteran of the Army of the Light. DEUS VULT. (Paladin)

Once again, the top two comprises of three pure dps classes and the bottom three are all classes who can heal. At this stage I feel like I’m painting a picture of who I would main in Battle for Azeroth. Clearly I should play either Rogue, Hunter, Mage or Druid. They are the top roleplay affinity characters as well as being the top for class fantasy. It feels like a no-brainer. However, it’s this last list that throws everything out the window… Let’s rank the classes in terms of mechanical enjoyment…

  1. Priest
  2. Paladin
  3. Shaman
  4. Hunter
  5. Mage
  6. Druid(?)
  7. Rogue
  8. Warrior

Yep. We’ve pretty much turned the previous tables on their head. Damn you, Blizzard. Making me love the mechanics of classes I have no class fantasy with or will to RP. I don’t really have time to dedicate to too many characters, so there have to be cuts. I’d love to be able to play all eight, honestly, but with work, tabletop and other responsibilities I won’t be able to pay attention to more than maybe three characters. Now, I’m a numbers nerd, so let’s put this into a table…

Character Mechanical Enjoyment Class Fantasy Roleplay Affinity Average Position Overall Position
Hunter 4 3 1 2.67 1
Rogue 7 1 1 3 2
Paladin 2 5 8 5 5
Priest 1 6 6 4.33 4
Mage 5 2 3 3.33 3
Warrior 8 4 5 5.67 7
Druid 4 7 4 5 5
Shaman 3 8 7 6 8

Which gives a final list of:

  1. Hunter
  2. Rogue
  3. Mage
  4. Priest
  5. Druid
  6. Paladin (5th equal, really)
  7. Warrior
  8. Shaman

Again, no healers in the top three when we look into it from a purely mechanical perspective. It would be an easy choice if I wasn’t interested in PvE and, given War Mode coming in Battle for Azeroth, trying my hand in PvP. Honestly, I think it’s going to take some time to decide when Battle for Azeroth comes out and I will seriously have to consider which character I get the feel for, because going through this has only told me that I have literally no idea what I want to do in Battle for Azeroth. It could be druid, as one of the limiting factors of druid was low mechanical enjoyment, but it has been a long, long time since I have played druid (we’re talking The Burning Crusade levels of a long time ago). At the end of the day, it’s all rather inconclusive.

And here I was hoping I’d find some answers… Well, what do you plan on having as your “main” in Battle for Azeroth? I hope you’ve had an easier time choosing than I have!

Fallout 76 Announced: Have Bethesda Learned?

The Bethesda stream finally sprung to life today as they announced Fallout 76, their next AAA game.

More information will be available at E3, but you can already check out their official teaser trailer here.

This announcement comes perhaps as expected, as Fallout 4 was revealed in the exact same way, with a rather idle stream followed by the official reveal, but I will admit that I am super hyped for this nonetheless.

I have played… a lot of Fallout over the years; not as much as some people, as I know that some people do manage to sink thousands of hours into these games, but a hefty amount nonetheless. It started at university when I picked up both Fallout 3 + all DLCs and Fallout New Vegas + all DLCs in a Steam sale. I installed them both and started with Fallout 3, which was okay and I did play through it in its unmodded entirety, however the real spike came with New Vegas. I loved New Vegas and it remains one of my favourite games to date. I have sunk about 500 hours into Fallout New Vegas, having now sided with House twice, NCR once and independent Vegas once (not Legion though. As a woman I can’t justify the Legion without some heavy amounts of head-canon). I even tweeted the other day that I’d be totally cool with an HD remake of New Vegas, but I will also admit that a new Fallout game also piques my curiosity quite heavily. I then moved onto Fallout 4, which I have so far clocked in almost 700 hours, but have yet to do anything other than siding with the Institute because I’m evil and power hungry…

What does all of this mean though? Why am I saying this? In short, I am saying it as a preface to the main body of this article: what are my concerns? Because I certainly have some.

First, let’s get it out of the way. Fallout 4 was not the best written game. It was an improvement over Fallout 3 (not hard), but vastly inferior to Fallout New Vegas. I felt like the story in Fallout New Vegas was better thought out and more accurately portrayed the various moral greys of a post-apocalyptic wasteland. NCR were corrupt and held onto old world values a bit too much, Legion were very focused on order and the strong ruling (even if they are a bunch of misogynist jerks and are basically wrong about everything #IAmNotBiased), House was a bit of a megalomaniac and an independent Vegas was anarchy. The start of the story was literally “you’re a delivery boy/girl and you get shot in the head after being robbed of your package” but escalated into so much more in a well-paced story that had you find more and more out as you went along.

Fallout 4 felt like a reversal of everything that made New Vegas great. The story didn’t feel as well thought out; it started far more interesting with the whole “my baby has been kidnapped” story but doesn’t really evolve into anything beyond this. The factions are all quite plain, with the Institute being the obviously evil choice, warping your son into a monster and then appointing you as the leader of the Institute despite literally no qualifications to run a scientific super power in the Commonwealth; The Railroad is the definition of one-dimensional, only focusing on freeing synths and nothing else, the Brotherhood is AD VICTORIAM MILITARY FACTION SYNTHS ARE BAD, and the Minutemen are… incompetent, but clearly the good-guy faction.

I really hope that Bethesda have learned from their mistakes and will be approaching Fallout 76 like Obsidian did back with Fallout New Vegas, however this brings me to my second point.

Is Fallout 76 going to be a real Fallout game, or are Bethesda going for something different? I saw an article on Kotaku that hinted at Fallout 76 not being a traditional, single player RPG, which would be disappointing, I will admit. If it’s a battle royale type game I would probably cry and laugh at the same time; crying in disappointment, but laughing at the meme levels. If it’s an online RPG, my previous point still stands; I really hope they focus on the story. I wouldn’t be entirely opposed to an MMO-style Fallout game, however I would be wary as many studios have tried to make MMOs and failed miserably. Call me skeptical.

Obviously we don’t know much at the moment. All we have really seen is the teaser trailer and been told that more will come out at E3. Between Fallout 76 and Cyberpunk 2077 (I hear CD Projekt Red will be at E3?), I will certainly be keeping a very, very close eye on E3 this year, but I just can’t let myself get -too- hyped about this. There are too many unknowns at the moment and I am still feeling the sting of a slightly disappointing Fallout 4 (which was still a good game, just not as good as it could have been!).

Bring on E3!

The Pain of Loss, The Agony of Reunion

It had been a while since Elise had visited the Arathi Highlands. She was working as a freelance scout for the Alliance military and both met her adoptive sister and was almost disemboweled by an Orc with a rather large axe in the same night. It wasn’t a pleasant memory and she didn’t feel ready to be back here, but the opportunity was too good to pass up; it was almost too good to be true. The Alliance had been in talks with the Horde and had organised a meeting for humans and members of the Forsaken who, in life, were previously related. Elise hated the undead. She saw them as abominations that needed to be put down and she needed the closure. The memories of when the Scourge swept across the Kingdom of Lordaeron were forever imprinted in her memories. She was hiding under her bed when she saw her parents massacred by the endless tide of undead. She needed closure. She needed to know her parents had been granted the peace of death. She needed to attend this meet up to confirm that her parents were truly dead.

When they reached the location of the meet up, Elise immediately flared her nostrils in disgust. The Forsaken had gathered near the wall and the Alliance had gathered up near Stromgarde, but Elise could smell the foul stench of undeath on the air. She would hold back her desires to destroy every last one of these abominations for the sake of her King and his orders, but should the Forsaken strike first she was ready to fight, having strapped a sheathed dagger to her belt, though she had left her armour behind. There was some hesitation, as many saw the undead in the same way as she did and it was likely that nobody present on the Alliance side trusted the leader of the Forsaken, Sylvanas Windrunner, to not pull something here. Slowly, but surely, the two sides met in the middle and started to mingle.

Elise wandered through the crowds, seeing humans and undead talking as people appeared to find long lost loved ones. She saw some speaking briefly before parting ways, unable to accept their differences; Elise thought they were the intelligent ones. It was clear that they could not coexist. It disgusted her to see some pairs and groups rekindling long forgotten relationships; these Forsaken were no different from the Scourge that had destroyed their homes in the first place. Nevertheless, she continued to make her way through the crowd, looking for her own parents and feeling rather content that she hadn’t found them.

That’s when she noticed it. It had been so long since she had adopted the Moreau name. She had fully taken on the Dawnsinger name since Arinella, a ranger fleeing from political strife in Quel’thalas, rescued her from the decaying Lordaeron and brought her south to Stormwind. She had almost forgotten what the family crest looked like, but seeing a ring with the crest clearly depicted caused a tirade of emotions to flood through Elise, primarily fear and anger. She took a deep breath, frowning heavily and making her way over to the Forsaken wearing the ring. She reached into her pack and pulled out her own ring that had been gifted to her minutes before the Scourge murdered her family as she stormed over to the pair of Forsaken.

“That ring. Where did you find it?” Elise demanded, pointing at the ring on the undead woman’s hand. The pair looked at her, a brief moment of silence as they looked into Elise’s rather angry eyes.

“Lisette?” the woman asked, her initial offense at the human’s approach melting away in an instant as she looked at the blonde young lady.

Elise’s eyes widened. She had hoped that they were simply grave robbers and that she was going to need to demand that the ring was returned to her. She had always feared this possibility and simply stood still, staring at the pair of Forsaken. She was at a total loss for words.

“Lisette? Is that you?” the male Forsaken asked as well as they both looked upon her. Even though they were dead, Elise could see the hope in their expressions. It tore at her; she hated all undead for what the Scourge did to her parents. She refused to believe that these monsters were her parents.

“It can’t be…” she muttered, taking a step back from the pair of Forsaken.

“You’ve grown so much since we last saw you,” the Forsaken woman said, taking a step towards Elise. “We always hoped you escaped. It was the spark of hope we clung to all these years.

“No, you’re not my parents,” Elise said, shaking her head and recoiling from the woman.

The woman visibly sunk. “I know it’s hard, but-…”

“No! It can’t be. I won’t believe it,” Elise said, looking away from the pair as tears started to flow from her eyes, streaking down her cheek and dropping onto the grass. She refused to believe that these two Forsaken were Charles and Lilyne Moreau, her biological parents.

“It’s us, Lisette,” the male Forsaken said, taking a step forwards and placing a hand on her shoulder. She recoiled from his touch initially, but then let his hand rest on her shoulder as the woman made her way to Elise’s other side.

“Why?” Elise asked, her head now in her hands.

“We didn’t have a choice. The Scourge raised us against our will, but we broke free when his power waned,” Lilyne explained.

“But you’re…” Elise muttered, raising her head to look at the pair of Forsaken through tear-filled eyes.

“Abhorrent crimes against nature? I know, Lisette, but I still believe the Light has a use for us in this world,” Lilyne answered, cutting Elise off.

“How did you escape?” Charles asked, a look of curiosity, but also concern on his face.

“A ranger fleeing south saved me. She took me in,” Elise answered, sniffing and wiping tears from her eyes as she tried to regain her composure, battling an ever rising tide of emotion that welled up inside her.

“That explains the dagger,” Lilyne said with a smile, “you’ve grown into such a beautiful, strong young woman. We’re both so proud of you.”

“This ranger that took you south, I’m guessing she was a high elf?” Charles asked, examining the necklace that Elise wore, an arrow wrapped in a vine, blooming in a flower native to Quel’thalas at the base of the arrowhead.

“Yes. She’s been good to me. Taught me what I needed to survive.”

“You mean elocution and singing lessons didn’t teach you how to defend yourself?”

Elise smiled, chuckling quietly and shaking her head. “No, I suppose they didn’t. Oh, and call me Elise; I dropped the name when I thought you were dead. No sense in getting caught up in politics when our lands and business was destroyed.”

“I agree. Our family had enemies who could still be out there. It’s safer this way,” Charles responded with a nod.

A loud horn interrupted the conversation, originating from the wall.

“Well, that’s our cue. Sorry we can’t stay longer, Elise,” Lilyne said with a smile, “but that’s the signal to return and we dare not disobey the Warchief.”

Elise looked at her parents, tears once again welling in her eyes, until she noticed some undead making a break for the Alliance lines. She turned back to her parents.

“Why not come back with me? You can’t trust Sylvanas, but we can be a family again in Stormwind,” Elise pleaded, holding her mother’s hand as she turned to walk away.

The pair of undead hesitated, looking back to Elise. “I don’t think we would be accepted back in the Alliance, much like you would not be accepted in Lordaeron any more,” Lilyne replied with a soft smile. “I’m sure we’ll see each other again.”

Elise let go of her mother’s hand and watched as the pair of undead started to walk away. However, she caught the sight of a one of the undead running for the Alliance lines collapse, an arrow through his frail form as he lay still in the dirt. Then another fell. More and more started to fall as she saw Sylvanas’s dark rangers open fire on the undead, indiscriminately firing on both the ones who were fleeing as well as those who were returning.

She turned to face her mother and father again and opened her mouth to yell at them to run, but she was too late. Her father took the first arrow straight through his head, the force of the impact knocking his head clean off his body as he tumbled to the ground. Her mother took an arrow to the torso shortly afterwards, crashing to the ground under the hail of fire from the dark rangers. Elise grabbed her dagger and unsheathed it, ready for one to attack her, but nothing came. In fact, no member of the Alliance was attacked at all. Sylvanas was simply slaughtering her own people.

By the time Elise came to realise this, the dark rangers had fallen back and the Forsaken were quitting the field. Dagger in hand, she started to make her way to the Forsaken lines. She wasn’t thinking rationally; unarmoured and barely armed she marched towards the wall, however she almost tripped on her way. Something had grabbed her ankle. She looked back to see Lilyne, barely moving, grabbing onto her ankle.

“Let go!” Elise screamed, wrenching her leg free, although instead of pulling her leg free of the hand, she ended up pulling Lilyne’s arm out of its socket. A look of horror spread across her face as she did and she immediately turned to kneel next to the body of her mother.

“Live,” Lilyne muttered, managing to shake her head in her final moments before she became still.

Elise burst into tears once more, kneeling between her fallen parents. She couldn’t look away from the sight of them.

“Why? They were returning. Why would she do this to her own people!” Elise screamed, stabbing her dagger into the earth in anger. She couldn’t contain the mix of emotions any longer as the mixture of sadness, rage and frustration came to the surface. She looked up to see the Forsaken one last time as they disappeared from sight, her eyes full of hatred. “If I ever get my hands on you, I’ll make you suffer for what you’ve done, Sylvanas,” Elise muttered as she watched them vanish, white-knuckled fists clenched tightly.

 

The Adventures of a Cyberpunk 2020 GM and her players, part 2

What a roller coaster ride we had this week. I planned the next job for the PCs, intending it to be a thinker, one where they would really have to think about it rather than just attack it head on. Thought it would be good to send them up against some more organised opposition without throwing them against corporate security. Yet.

As a reminder, our PCs are:

  • Eduardo “Plata” Gayoso – A former ganger who joined the police force as he saw it as a way to gain more power (and beat people down legally).
  • Edward “Crossfire” Caine – A retired corporate security member who has found himself feeling rather useless, so has taken to edgerunning to keep his skills sharp.
  • Zheng “Hard Truth” Huo – A… paranoid conspiracy theorist vlogger who is obsessed with his job to show the real truth to the masses.

And our named NPCs who came up this session were:

  • Iron Hawk – A relatively new fixer who is interested in bringing the PCs into the edgerunning scene as new talent.
  • Panther – An edgerunning solo who works for Iron Hawk. Very, very good with one-handed guns
  • Ghost – An edgerunning driver who works for Iron Hawk. New to the area and with weak English, but has a fancy katana.
  • Cold Snap – A more experienced fixer who doesn’t like new talent and prefers hiring more experienced edgerunners.
  • Acid – An edgerunning solo working for Cold Snap, dangerous in hand to hand combat
  • Omen – An edgerunning driver who works for Cold Snap
  • Aspect – A corporate manager of some sort who edgeruns by night, also working for Cold Snap

We picked up where we left off last session, with the PCs resting and recuperating after taking some hits from the last job. Plata bought some items through Iron Hawk, which we had already rolled for and mechanically taken care of during the week, and Crossfire came to the Combat Zone every day to perform first aid on Hard Truth to ensure he would heal and his wounds wouldn’t get worse.

This is actually where the initial fun began. Hard Truth, being a paranoid man, took different routes to meet with Crossfire each day. I had him roll streetwise checks each day to navigate the Combat Zone safely, which he did most of the time, but he managed to fumble the third day’s roll hard, so I brought out the random encounter table. The first one I rolled was that he got too close to corporate security guarding someone and they would shoot at him as soon as he got close, but I felt that didn’t make much sense as corporates have very little reason to go into the Combat Zone unless they’re edgerunners (who generally don’t have their own corporate bodyguards…), so I re-rolled and got possibly the best result I could have hoped for. Hard Truth, eternally wary that the Man was after him, started being tailed. He took alleyways towards his location, to see if this man who was shadowing him would follow through alleyways and he did; Hard Truth was being stalked! Hard Truth hid in an alley, pulling out his gun and holding it head height. The man shadowing him fumbled his awareness check and walked straight into the barrel of Hard Truth’s handgun. Hard Truth pulled the trigger, instantly killing the man following him. As he searched the man, he found a few eurobucks, a gun with some magazines, a wallet and two badges. One was his SIN card, the other was his detective badge. Clearly, the Man had sent this one to chase Hard Truth, when in reality he was wrongly following Hard Truth and was trying to locate a drug dealer who had gotten a corporate executive’s child hooked on drugs.

After this, Hard Truth approached Iron Hawk for information about this man and, being an information broker, she found the information and sold it to Hard Truth at a discounted rate, as he is one of her edgerunners, only charging him 750eb for the information. Hard Truth took photos and then burned the documents, as Hard Truth gave the information in document form to avoid an online paper trail. However, at the same time, Plata learned of the murder of the detective from his colleagues, but didn’t know Hard Truth was the one who was responsible, so he started to look into it himself. He looked around, not finding any evidence, so he approached Iron Hawk for information as well. She was hesitant to give it, as she knew it was one of her own edgerunners who had committed the murder, but promises from Plata of an in with the city police force and a persuasion crit of 26 (the DC was 25 because she’s very hard to persuade) meant that she said she would deliver the information, but told Plata that no one could know where the information came from and that she would deliver it to his place of residence in document form.

So, after all of this, the PCs finally got their job. They were to disrupt a deal between the Jackals and Cold Snap, who was selling sex workers. They were also instructed to bring the sex workers and the Jackals’ payment (as it would be in cash) back to Iron Hawk as well, as Iron Hawk was still looking to profit from the run. Plata hung back to hire on some additional firepower, the party choosing to hire a solo named Panther and a runner named Ghost, both fairly pricey, but also fairly skilled. It was amusing to me, as they hired one of the beefiest NPCs at Iron Hawk’s disposal and the weediest, with Panther coming in with Body Type 8 (strong) and Ghost coming in with Body Type 3 (weak).

Crossfire and Hard Truth went to find some information, approaching a prostitute in the general area of the deal and asking for information while visibly counting a few hundred eurobucks. She didn’t know the answers to their question, however I gave her a cool save to see what she would do… and she failed. So she lied. She told the PCs what they wanted to know and, as a class (yes, it is a class in cp2020) that relies on empathy skills, was quite good at lying to the PCs, so they went away believing they had the correct information. The bogus arms deal the prostitute told them about was later confirmed to be bogus information by Iron Hawk, as Crossfire sent it over to her as something of interest, and eventually Plata had to go undercover as a Jackal to find the real information, being a very good cop by mugging someone in the Combat Zone to ingratiate himself to a group of Jackals.

With information in hand and scouting performed, the group felt confident in their preparation and stormed in, with the exception of Hard Truth who had to loop back around after being spotted by one of the people at the trade. They went forward, trying to shoot the driver in one of the vans and shooting the tires. Panther destroyed both front tires on the van in the alley and put a large hole in the engine block, but was then shot at by Acid, a solo hired by Cold Snap to oversee the deal, who got lucky and hit Panther in the left arm and left leg, which were the parts that were out of cover, causing him a large number of wounds. Ghost channeled her inner Assassins Creed and climbed up the building, disappearing from sight for the time being while the rest of the group pushed in. Aspect, the corporate who was there to negotiate the trade for Cold Snap, grabbed one of the sex workers and threatened the player characters that if they didn’t back off she would execute one. The player characters continued pushing in, Plata trying to intimidate her to make her give pause, however Acid intimidated her more and she kept to her threat, shooting the prostitute in the back of the head. By this point, the remaining three were loaded into the van that the Jackals had brought, Acid intimidating the Jackals to let them take the van and rolling a 29 on his skill check. The driver, Omen, then rolled a 35 on his driving check and smashed through the pseudo-blockade presented by the original, disabled minivan that Crossfire and Panther was taking cover behind. Crossfire managed to dodge out of the way, but Panther was not so lucky, taking 3d10 damage, putting him deep into mortal wounds. Crossfire tried to stabilise him, but with his low tech stat and not great first aid skill was unable to hit the rather challenging DC to stabilise Panther.

Hard Truth also slowly made his way back around to the fight, trying to shoot out the tires of the minivan as it sped past, but was unable to hit it due to its speed. Ghost dropped from the rooftop and onto the Jackal who was running away with the money, killing him with her katana before getting shot by another ganger, failing her stun save (as her body type stat was a paltry 3) which kept happening over and over, as every turn a single attack would get through her armour and cause a single wound, triggering another stun save.

In the meantime, Plata had jumped onto the back of the speeding minivan, grabbing onto the doors and trying to rip them open. However, Acid noticed this and maneuvered to the back of the van, opening the door and stabbing Plata twice with his combat knife, causing Plata to go into mortal wounds. Stun saves and death saves were rolled, but Plata failed them, causing him to be clinically dead. Crossfire heard this and ran over, activating Plata’s healthcare plan by manually snapping the card (as he didn’t have an automatic biomonitor that could trigger it and went down before he could manually do it himself, before rushing back to Panther. When he got back, he discovered that Hard Truth had taken a nasty hit to the leg, the bullet going straight through the knee and rendering the leg inoperable (limb loss is a bitch), but Hard Truth was not quite on death’s door yet, having passed the initial death save for the limb loss, but not quite being in mortal wounds. Ghost managed to have a turn where no attack got through her armour and she promptly walked up to the two gangers near her, decapitating one and severing the other one’s leg, killing both. Crossfire picked up Hard Truth and carried him on his back, before performing a feat of strength to also pick up Panther’s now dead body, calling over for Ghost to get the car. She ran back to her car, unlocking it and power sliding into the alley, allowing Crossfire to load Hard Truth and the body of Panther into the back of the pristine car. She drove them to a ripperdoc known as Bonesaw, who also worked for Iron Hawk, who tried to resuscitate Panther but to no avail; Panther was permanently dead. On the other side, a MediCare team dropped into the street and recovered Plata, successfully resuscitating him with the help of their field ambulance and driving him off.

Crossfire reported to Iron Hawk, who docked their pay for failing to retrieve the sex workers, but then used his own pay to facilitate Plata’s medical costs and Hard Truth came to an arrangement with Bonesaw to replace his leg with the new one. The last thing that happened was as Ghost gave Crossfire a ride home, she was stopped at the gate due to her katana not being a “self-defense” weapon and was therefore illegal. She got on the phone, having a brief conversation in Japanese, before handing the phone over to the policeman who was causing the issues and after a brief phone conversation he waved them through.


This session was looooooooooooooooooong. Literally 7 hours long. There were interesting shenanigans and there’s likely going to be some conflict within the group as Hard Truth killed a detective, which Plata is going to learn about once he leaves hospital as the documents will be waiting for him, telling him exactly who murdered the detective…

I enjoyed the session, though I was a little disappointed with the direct, sledgehammer approach to this job. The players were told that there would be multiple parties here and one of those parties would be a rival edgerunning team. Really what they needed to do was turn the Jackals and the rival edgerunners against each other, and then mop up the survivors, or plant seeds of doubt in the Jackals’ minds and then side with them against the edgerunners. Taking the sledgehammer approach was far from optimal and I feel like they paid for it, making no net profit from this run and losing access to the stronger hire-able solo under Iron Hawk’s influence. I’m hoping that in the future they take the threat of rival edgerunner teams a bit more seriously, as Acid, the solo in the rival team, seriously messed the PCs’ team up.

I’m unsure what I will be planning for the next session. I believe it may be the last Cyberpunk 2020 one for now, as my fourth player is back for the week after next so we will be returning to D&D 5e as that game has priority, but I will see about having this as a regular game as well, but will need to check availability with my players. I’m perfectly happy to run two games per week (as I love doing it), but I will see what my players can do too.

The Elf Problem – A World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth discussion

With Battle for Azeroth only around 3 months away, Blizzard have been slowly but surely releasing which allied races will be included in at least the early days of Battle for Azeroth. So far, we have immediate access (with a pre-purchase) to Void Elves and Lightforged Draenei on the Alliance, and Nightborne and Highmountain Tauren on the Horde side. However, we also have confirmed Kul Tiran Humans and Dark Iron Dwarves for the Alliance, as well as Zandalari Trolls and Mag’har Orcs for the Horde for when Battle for Azeroth launches, whether immediately or slightly later on.

However, there was a big debate surrounding these allied races, or more accurately surrounding the Void Elves and their place as an allied race. Now, just being a lore nerd for a moment I feel like I need to clarify a few things. The Quel’dorei, or High Elves as they were called by other races, were brought to the brink of extinction by Arthas when the Scourge invaded Quel’thalas and corrupted the Sunwell to resurrect Kel’thuzad. Around 90% of their race was wiped out by this invasion and then 90% of the survivors renamed themselves as Sin’dorei, or Blood Elves to others, to honour their fallen kin. After doing some very simple maths here, we can see that would leave only 1% of their original population continuing to call themselves High Elves. As you can probably see, this is not a large number of remaining High Elves and the argument to bring them in as a race can easily be countered by simply saying “there aren’t enough of them to justify them as a race,” however we then have to look at the Void Elves that were introduced. Again, being a lore nerd, the Void Elves were a small collection of Blood Elves who decided to dabble in the void and it almost consumed them. Saved by Alleria Windrunner, who was the first of her people to really learn to harness the power of the void without it consuming her, and the player character during the quest chain to obtain Void Elves as an allied race, there was a very, very small number of resulting Void Elves. Considering High Elves have played a relatively large part in the recent Legion expansion, headed by Vereesa Windrunner and the Silver Covenant, I think most people can turn the argument of “there aren’t enough High Elves left,” against the Void Elves.

We can combine this with the fact that Void Elves seem to be shoehorned into the story. The transition feels clunky and unnatural, like they came out of nowhere. Let’s compare the allied races we have right now:

Nightborne

  • Major rep-grind faction is the Nightfallen
  • Literally fight an insurrection alongside them
  • Established in the lore: were Night Elves who relied on the Nightwell when they closed Suramar off from the world
  • Establishes strong relationship with Blood Elves as they suffer similar addictions
  • Shunned by Tyrande (for no real reason, but that’s a whole other rant) so faction choice makes some sense.
  • Full of major NPCs from the Nightfallen quest line

Highmountain Tauren

  • Have an entire leveling zone in Legion
  • Help the player characters attain one of the Pillars of Creation
  • Deep background and lore revealed in Highmountain quests
  • Lots of familiar NPCs from the expansion
  • Share obvious culture and beliefs as vanilla Tauren
  • Independent people who have survived and thrived for generations

Lightforged Draenei

  • Fought alongside us on Argus as the Army of the Light
  • Has a link to the Alliance already as regular Draenei have fought alongside the Alliance for years
  • Natural link to the Light worshiping Humans
  • Turalyon was a champion of the Alliance
  • T’PAARTOS (seriously, T’Paartos is the greatest)

and then… Void Elves

  • Only really familiar character is Alleria Windrunner
  • Never see any other Void Elves until quest to obtain them
  • Try to harness a power that literally everyone else hates
  • There’s like… 20 of them? Maybe less?

All of the other allied races we receive have established links, rich histories and large enough populations that the concept of “players being the special ones” still holds true. Void Elves just seems like a concerted effort to never produce High Elves for Alliance players, without any other real meaning or purpose; it feels like “nope, this is your Blood Elf mesh on the Alliance side and that’s all you’re getting.”

This is all a shame, because I feel like, at least for female characters, the voice acting for the Void Elves is fantastic. I really liked the voice given to the female Void Elf characters for their various voiced emotes and I feel like their jokes are also great, on the same sort of level as the jokes the original Blood Elves and Draenei got in the expansion, The Burning Crusade. I just can’t bring myself to play one as I just feel like they aren’t as rich or varied or interesting at the other playable races of Azeroth. You could argue that they share the history of the Blood Elves, but in that case I’ll just… play a Blood Elf?

In combination with the Nightborne this leaves us with no less than four different types of elf that we can play as. With the recent rumours that San’layn may be another allied race for the Horde (San’layn are literally just vampire elves), that would bring us up to five and at this rate it’s going to become a bit of a meme. Considering the original Warcraft games were about Orcs and Humans, the fact that the number of Orcs and Human options added together will only equal the number of elves we have by the time Battle for Azeroth starts… Well, World of Elfcraft just doesn’t have the same ring to it, honestly.

The Adventures of a Cyberpunk 2020 GM and her players, part 1

As promised in my last post I ran Cyberpunk 2020 last week, and will at least for the next few weeks due to player absence in my 5e game as working night shifts suck (I feel for you, my dear player). This was the first session of Cyberpunk 2020 with this group, though everyone was at least partially familiar with the system, having played it before. I will start by introducing the PCs:

  • Eduardo “Plata” Gayoso – A former ganger who joined the police force as he saw it as a way to gain more power (and beat people down legally).
  • Edward “Crossfire” Caine – A retired corporate security member who has found himself feeling rather useless, so has taken to edgerunning to keep his skills sharp.
  • Zheng “Hard Truth” Huo – A… paranoid conspiracy theorist vlogger who is obsessed with his job to show the real truth to the masses.

And the important NPCs who came up this session:

  • Iron Hawk – A relatively new fixer who is interested in bringing the PCs into the edgerunning scene as new talent.
  • Cold Snap – A more experienced fixer who doesn’t like new talent and prefers hiring more experienced edgerunners.

So the PCs were told to meet Iron Hawk in the Combat Zone at a bar within Syndicate territory (who are one of the major gangs of the Combat Zone who operate more like an organised crime outfit) where she would give them the details for their first job. Hard Truth got their first, scoping the place out to make sure The Man wasn’t watching, before making his way inside and taking a seat at a very visible table that had all the entrances and exits in sight. Iron Hawk arrived second, with Plata and Crossfire arriving in quick succession shortly afterwards. Plata immediately shouted over to Hard Truth, asking if he had any drugs and if he was still hooked, to which Hard Truth replied he was over it.

The job details were given, a relatively simple smash and grab. Iron Hawk had an arms shipment coming into the Combat Zone that got hijacked and she wanted it back. She would pay the party 3000eb (eurobucks, the currency in cp2020) to retrieve it and sent them on their way, telling them it was hijacked south of one of the gates into the Combat Zone.

Plata made his way to talk to the police at the gate, which went well as he flashed his cop badge and rolled pretty well on his Authority skill check (the cop’s special ability) to gain information that the cops at the checkpoint had. He got some details as to where it was taken, as well as the plates and information that the hit was not a gang hit, but a more professional hit, implying another group of edgerunners had taken the van. Meanwhile, Hard Truth, being tailed by Crossfire, headed to the nearest bar located near the site of the hijacking. He looked for someone drunk and fumbled his awareness roll, so he found a drunkard… an aggressive drunk. He tried to butter the drunk up while attempting to pick his pocket, trying to steal his money so he could buy the drunk a drink, as he had no money himself, but then fumbled his pick pocket roll as well. A fight broke out between Hard Truth and this aggressive ganger who punched him in the leg (he was drunk and hit locations are amusing), then pushed him over when he failed his stun save. Crossfire ran in to help and grabbed the drunkard after he managed to stomp on the prone Hard Truth, once again hitting the same leg, but another ganger entered the fight, shoving Crossfire and telling him that it was between the two others. Crossfire’s attempts to pass it off that he was Hard Truth’s grandfather failed miserably, but then Hard Truth put on an impressive performance of pretending to be a prostitute, with Crossfire as his pimp, managing to crit the roll. The fight broke up after Crossfire threw the drunkard to the ground, who failed his stun save and was stunned and the bartender told them to get the hell out of there.

Afterwards, they approached a prostitute, paying her money to tell her what she saw on the night the minivan was taken. Shortly after, the PCs met to corroborate facts and eventually called Iron Hawk with the details, who told them it was likely the work of another fixer by the name of Cold Snap. Cold Snap had hired edgerunners to hijack the cargo and had sold it on to a group of junkies in Madhouse territory. She gave them the address and they headed to the location.

Once they arrived, Hard Truth managed to pick the lock on the back door and Crossfire snuck in to stealth kill a dealer who was looking around in the pantry of the house. He then continued upstairs, where he heard music, and proceeded to stealth kill a junkie and shoot another before being found out by the screams of the junkie who survived. The group was quickly swarmed by Madhouse gangers wielding knives and some poor quality firearms. In a feat of Neo-like dodging, both Hard Truth and Plata got caught in a spray of full auto fire from a sten gun wielding ganger. They both fumbled their dodge rolls, but both used a re-roll and both spectacularly crit their rolls, avoiding all of the shots. Plata took down multiple gangers with his .45 automatic and Crossfire fended off more in melee combat, dodging a lot of attacks by a hair’s breadth a lot of the time. Hard Truth fell prey to failed stun saves again, getting shot in the same leg that he had been hit in before, which by this point was getting rather amusing, but eventually the group managed to overcome the gangers. They tried to intimidate the last one down, but he was too out of his mind on drugs to be reasoned with and stabbed Hard Truth (as he was the closest one, but was quickly brought down by Plata.

Top Floor

It got scary at times, but the PCs eventually triumphed against the crazed, drugged up gangers!

 

The group then searched the house, finding the minivan and the full arms shipment, before driving it back to Iron Hawk and getting paid. Battered, bruised and, in Hard Truth’s case, limping a bit from repeated leg abuse, the party went their separate ways to rest, recover and await their next job opportunity.


I really enjoyed running this session and I loved how… dysfunctional the group is. Plata is very aggressive and is constantly berating his team, Hard Truth is a paranoid mess and Crossfire is an old man. It’s great. 10/10, would GM for again. And that I will, as next week will be another Cyberpunk 2020 session again. Need to work out what’s going on for next time, but I’m looking forward to it a lot.

I am definitely more of a natural sci-fi GM than I am a fantasy one. Not saying I don’t enjoy 5e (as I also love that with this group), but sci-fi definitely comes more naturally to me. I think I make better plots and more interesting NPCs in sci-fi games.

I look forward to seeing what unfolds next session!

War Mode – Why it is exactly what World of Warcraft needs

War Mode is the new PvP mode in World of Warcraft that is coming with Battle for Azeroth and now that a bit more is known about it I will say that I am actually looking forward to it.

When it was initially announced at Blizzcon 2017, the new PvP mode in Battle for Azeroth sounded pretty awful and came across a bit like “so, we’re removing PvP servers and only having servers where you can opt into PvP,” which sounded a lot like how normal PvE servers are today; the thought was that they were just getting rid of PvP servers and lumping everyone onto PvE servers. However, having seen War Mode in action, I have done a complete 180 degree turn from hating it to loving it.

The first reason is that War Mode isn’t server specific; if you opt into War Mode, you are matched with other people in War Mode in the same zone as you, regardless of server. This is a great idea as it brings the numbers that you need for world PvP to feel alive into the game. Zones will actually feel contested, rather than just having the tag of a contested zone, as walking around and doing quests will likely bring you into contact with enemy players, who will likely try and kill you for conquest points. Not only this, but due to the buff provided for player who quest with War Mode enabled there will be a large incentive for players to quest with War Mode toggled on (it’s not a small buff. 15% XP and damage is no joke. All associated buffs from War Mode work for the PvE content too!)

On the topic of conquest points, I also really like the bounty system. Essentially, a player who gets (I think) 10 kills on the enemy faction without dying will become an assassin, giving them a further buff, but also (I think) marking them for death for the enemy faction, giving players increased rewards for dropping an enemy player with this assassin buff. I think this is a fair way to both reward players for managing to get this PvP killstreak, however also makes it dangerous to do so. However, I believe the types of people who will get this buff are likely the kind of people who want the attention anyway and would like the idea of more PvP coming their way and rising to the challenge of the increased attention of other players.

I do think it incentivises PvP a lot; even I will be giving War Mode a try, but I feel like it might get traditional PvE players in a bit of a knot as the experienced PvPers will likely dominate the PvEers when it comes to clashes. I know that I am a great PvE player, but in PvP I am about as threatening as a squirrel. I think that War Mode is great, but I think it will be rough for PvEers who are toggling it on who may not be used to how PvP works, as it’s a very different beast to dungeons and raiding. I also think that some people will complain about getting killed with War Mode toggled on, as stupid as that sounds. People will toggle War Mode for the 15% XP buff and the ability to use PvP abilities on PvE mobs, but will then get upset when another player actually kills them. Don’t lie, you know this will happen; people will complain about anything these days!

Overall, I love the idea of War Mode and strongly support the implementation of it. After Warfronts were revealed to be PvE, I think PvP needed a bit of a boost, and this War Mode is just the boost I think it needed.