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.

The adventures of a D&D 5e GM and her players, part 3

Apologies for the late entry, but there’s a reason that I will go into at the end. Regardless, back to our regularly scheduled chaos, despite being a man down; this week’s session was actually short and simple. The PCs were moving from Jahkiir, the small town they were incarcerated in last session, into the city-state of Logran to complete their given job. The players had done their purchases and were ready to move. We were down one player, so it’s useful that it was a shorter session as my absent player really didn’t miss much.

As a reminder, the group comprises 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)

So the players left the safety of the town and elected to travel off road, as there was a war going on and they didn’t want to walk into any foot patrols, considering most of the group is non-human and the other city states can be… xenophobic. So they made their way along the lake, heading towards where the main road forked in two different directions. So I thought “hey, why don’t I use the random encounter tables?” and rolled some dice. I rolled two that would make sense:

The first encounter was the PCs coming across a severed hand in a bloody net. That’s all the book said, so I thought I’d inject something extra into it. The PCs were cautious, examining the area and ensuring it was not a trap, however when they finally decided to grab the net, Joey just walked straight up to it and carried it away from the shore. They found a silver ring with what was identified as “not-quite-celestial” engravings on the inside, though nobody could tell if it was magical or not. As they made their way away from the short, the ground shifted slightly as some sort of undead humanoids clawed their way out from beneath the earth and attacked the players. The party fought the undead humanoids off, a few of them almost falling prey to their paralysing claw attacks, and hurried away. It was later mused that this could’ve been a trap and that they should stay alert moving forward.

In staying alert, however, it appeared that the PCs weren’t being very quiet and wandered too close to a nest of giant toads, who attacked them as they were hungry (and the PCs looked like a tasty meal). This time, the combat was a bit harder and Fiona, Hank’s wolf, was knocked unconscious, failing a death save before the PCs managed to carve her out of the belly of a dead giant toad that had swallowed her. Even Joey was eventually swallowed, after failing to break free of the grapple despite having advantage on the skill check. It was hit or miss for parts of the battle, but eventually the PCs managed to kill off the giant toads. Joey took some meat from one of the giant toads (and rolled rather poorly on his survival check to do so…) which led to him taking some additional poison damage and throwing up all over the place when the party took a short rest when he tried cooking and eating it.

The party continued their journey to the crossroads and eventually came across a small town… which is where we ended the session.


Yes, yes, I know it was a short and kind of simple, but I didn’t want to go into the town without all four players. There are… reasons for this. I don’t like players missing important stuff, and important stuff is coming. The PCs being in jail for 3 months has escalated things a little and stuff is happening. More on this next session!

Anyway, the reason why I was a bit late with this is because with one player working night shifts for the next month, I am moving to run Cyberpunk 2020 with the remaining three players in the interim. Once I have a better job with better hours, I will end up running both games in parallel, once a week each, however that is just impossible at the moment because I work silly hours. Therefore I have been spending a lot of time this week preparing that game, making the generic NPC tokens, thinking up the plot and writing up the lore and houserules / homebrew content for my players.

I will be doing the same with the other game as I have been doing with this one, so expect some Cyberpunk 2020 write ups in the coming few weeks!

The adventures of a D&D 5e GM and her players, part 2

It has certainly been a while between part 1 and part 2. It wasn’t meant to be this way; in general we are a weekly session, but scheduling and real life commitments left us without a session for three weeks, as I will not run with half of the group missing (especially considering what the players were going into).

As a reminder, the group comprises 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)

And important NPCs that popped up this session were:

  • Hemerith Niltherin – Wood elf scout captain (rogue, scout)
  • [Name not revealed] – wood elf druid (circle of the land)
  • Izran al-Shaziin – Trade Prince of Mahraz (custom)
  • Izran’s bodyguard – Human fighter (specialisation not revealed)
  • Izran’s bodyguard – (brown haired) Wood elf (class and specialisation not revealed)
  • Izran’s bodyguard – (red haired) Imperial elf sorcerer (specialisation not revealed)

We picked up where we left off last session. The town mayor was dead, as well as his cultists. Three town guards were also dead with the last one knocked out by Joey. The flying demon’s corpse had disappeared and the other, larger demon had escaped after knocking Joey and Hank out and killing Fiona, Hank’s wolf.

With time quickly running out, the first thing that happened was the departure of the wood elves. Enemies of the state already, they knew they would be executed on the spot, as there was no immediate, solid evidence to prove that the mayor was a demon cultist. They quickly conversed in hushed tones and then darted out. The druid wild shaped into a house cat and left through a window, while the scout captain used his speed to make some distance between himself and any nearby guards, before using his skill in stealth to make his escape. With the wood elves out of the picture, I waited to see what the PCs would do. Andarius searched the mayor’s body for evidence while Ownka tried to rouse the unconscious guard. Due to the time sensitive nature (the town guard were coming!) I  made them roll skill checks; Andarius rolled investigation and Ownka rolled medicine. Andarius rolled a 6 and Ownka rolled a 3, so they were unable to both find the evidence or rouse the guard quickly, which was a shame because the mayor had a separate arcane focus to his tome, that had turned to ash upon his death, which was clearly a demonic focus.

Following this, the PCs decided the best course of action was to try to talk their way out of the situation. They made their way up the stairs, Joey carrying Fiona’s body and Andarius using one of his final spell slots to rouse the guard with a cure wounds spell. They made their way up the stairs, but their previous attempts at finding evidence and rousing the guard led to them reaching the top of the stairs as the guards made their way in. Ownka managed to talk them down from immediately trying to kill the party to merely arresting them with a persuasion roll in the twenties. With some minor resistance, the guards put the PCs in chains and led them to the prisons where they were dumped and left to their own devices.

The PCs spent their time trying to annoy the guards who wouldn’t speak to them or even acknowledge their existence. Once in the cells, the guards didn’t even care that the prisoners had slipped out of their manacles or were casting spells, at least for the first week. Essentially, the guards didn’t have the manpower to keep the PCs contained if they really wanted to leave. The sergeant was around CR 1ish and the guard NPCs themselves were CR 1/8. They had no real magical support as the town’s wizard was basically awful in combat, so if the PCs wanted to break out, they easily could have; Andarius spent his first week making frequent sorties out of his cell as a rat, as the guards didn’t seem to care about rats. However, after a week the town wizard managed to erect some anti-magic wards around the prison, disabling all magic within the perimeter. This was a strange moment in the session as I believe the PCs thought I was waiting for them to break out whereas I was actually waiting for them to just… be done with what they were doing. In the end I just asked “are you going to try and break out and is there anything notable you want to do?”

Once this was sorted, the PCs were in prison for three months, which caused universal “wait, what?” responses. The PCs were in prison for three months because the guard still believed they were demon summoners. The guards were scared out of their minds of the PCs and wanted to escalate it to the highest powers, as demon summoning is literally the worst thing to do; it’s even worse than necromancy! After about three months, the PCs were visited by a slightly rotund man, who Ownka identified as Trade Prince Izran al-Shaziin, the big boss of the Mahraz city state, as well as what appeared to be a personal bodyguard and two elves, one brunette and one redhead. They walked up to each cell to which the brown haired elf merely said “no,” or “not this one,” as she passed by each player character, before leaving. As they left, Ownka requested some more food and perhaps an opportunity to see the sun, as they had been underfed and kept in the dungeons for three whole months. He rolled well on a persuasion check, so the trade prince said he would see what he could do. Shortly after, due to a communication issue, Joey destroyed his bed. Don’t look at me, I don’t know why either!

The next day the PCs were brought out of their cells and led out to the mess hall where I was originally going to give them food, then forgot about it. Whoops. Anyway, they were led to the mess hall and sat down at a table, where the trade prince, who was revealed to be one of the chosen, proceeded to make a deal with the PCs. The PCs were not shackled or anything, and I was curious to see if the PCs would do anything stupid at this point. The reason they weren’t shackled is because the trade prince was confident that even if they were demon summoners there was nothing they could do to escape from this group, as while he wasn’t that strong in combat (built to about level 9 with no combat abilities other than “hit with sword for 1d6 damage”, the individuals accompanying him were a bit beefier (just a bit…). Regardless, the PCs were compliant and were led to the mess hall where the trade prince made a deal with the party in exchange for essentially brushing everything under the rug. The PCs asked what would stop them simply running away after they get turned loose, to which the red haired elf said that she would track them down and end their existences. Met with some skepticism, she asked the trade prince if he could afford a new bench and proceeded to disintegrate the bench next to the PCs. Now, there were two interesting things there; the lesser interesting point was that disintegrate, which the PCs failed to identify through arcana checks, is a fairly high level spell. I don’t make strong NPCs for no reason. Furthermore, after the PCs asked what would stop them from running, the trade prince, who is in charge of the entire city state, is the head of his family and one of Ahtar’s chosen champions (god of commerce), had started to speak, but the red haired elf interrupted him and cut him off.

Details were given for the assignment and the PCs learned that war had broken out between Logran and Mahraz since Khan al-Shaziin (Izran’s younger son and 2nd in line)  and his friend, a paladin who worked with the PCs in the early days named Clara Teverton, took evidence acquired by the PCs earlier in the campaign to a meeting in the continental capital and accused Logran of sabotage. The players were tasked to:

  • Kill Dennis Harding – Spymaster in Logran who was in charge of the bandit operation (so PCs wanted him dead anyway due to previous family threatening)
  • Kill Lewis Gambrill – General of one of Logran’s armies stationed near Divinity Bay, the main port town in Logran
  • Retrieve a relic of Ahtar being held in Logran’s temple district, as Logran had barred any pilgrimages to visit this holy relic, with Ahtar being the dominant religion in Mahraz.
  • Retrieve a collection of books and scrolls, which they were given a list of, from Logran’s city hall.

There is no half-way house and nothing for partial completion. Either the PCs need to complete every task, or they will be executed for the unlawful removal of a town’s government, as while the trade prince knows they didn’t summon the demons, they were still guilty of working with terrorists (the wood elves) and staging a coup.

Finally, Hank managed to revive Fiona. Since I’m using Matt Mercer’s “The Fading Spirit” resurrection mechanic, he almost failed to revive her, but used a re-roll I had granted him before to try again. Initially, a 4 was rolled, but the re-roll was an 18. Again, the PCs narrowly avoided a casualty due to the luck of the dice.


So I was conflicted on this session. I enjoyed running it, but it wasn’t quite as exciting as the last one. However, this was to be expected as last session culminated in fighting a demon cultist and the demons he summoned. It was interesting to throw in a few more subtle hints at the intrigue going on in the world, but the three month time-skip puts us closer to the central plot becoming an issue. This is a good thing as when I say issue, I more mean an issue for the PCs. Things happened in those three months while the PCs were stuck which I’m going to have to get down in detail and there are definitely big things on the horizon.

Dealing with petty bandits is now mostly behind the PCs now and I am concerned that my players don’t work as a team much. When faced by a coordinated foe, I feel like the party could be in real danger of collapsing, as shown by the CR2 encounter with the wood elf scouts on their way to the town. it scared them away when they were level 4 a few sessions back. Time will tell, but I think casualties could be coming…

Also, in terms of things that do happen, not everything is as it seems and I don’t give things away here because my players can read it (and I’m not in the habit of giving away plot for free)

The adventures of a D&D 5e GM and her players, part 1

I figured I’d try something new. Something regular. Something that I can write about each week. But what could I write about every week? Well, I run a 5e D&D game in a 100% custom setting, so let’s give that a try. I will start by introducing the player characters:

  • Andarius Rhyn – A half-elven druid from a lost noble house.
  • Ownka Bronson – A half-orc bard, performer and seeker of knowledge. Identifies more with his human side.
  • Joey “Gruzark” Smith – A half-orc barbarian who grew up as a farm boy. Identifies more with his orc side.
  • Hank – A human ranger with a slightly naive outlook on the world

So, we’re jumping into things mid campaign. Well, not in the middle as we’re still in early days, but this certainly wasn’t the first session; therefore this may be a bit of a long post. The party are level 4, pushing on level 5.

So, what happened? Essentially there has been a lot of build up to this session in the previous ones. The party came across a town that was under attack by local wood elves, which was rather uncharacteristic of them as while wood elves were usually incredibly hostile to outsiders, they never really left their forests. The wood elves retreated as the PCs arrived and the mayor asked the PCs to help him take out the wood elf leader (who had a 500gp bounty on his head for his antics). Logically, what you would imagine people would do would be to help the mayor, end the aggression, claim the bounty and ride off into the sunset. However, these are PCs; normality doesn’t apply.

Afterwards, the town blacksmith ripped off the barbarian, as most of the town worshipped the god of commerce and he identified the barbarian as an easy mark. The mayor refused to help the PCs get their money back, as he was also a worshipper of the god of commerce. This made the PCs not like him that much and so they decided to investigate the wood elves. The elves did attack again, but after the PCs killed a few, the wood elves pulled back for reasons unknown. Joey tried chasing a druid who was trying to carry the some of the wood elf dead from the town. He was peppered by covering fire from nearby wood elves, but pulled the druid back behind a wall. She turned back into her humanoid form, casting a call lightning spell to take out Joey, but not before sustaining a nasty axe wound. Joey survived by making 3 death saves and stabilising (as he was down with no one around to help him).

Hank and Andarius went to investigate at the forest’s edge and Andarius was pulled in by some sort of compulsion effect, walking into the woods somewhat blindly. They were greeted by the same wood elf druid who had dropped Joey, appearing to be an important member of her tribe, and a brief parley was had. The elves asked the PCs to help them kill the mayor and accused him of corrupting their lands and summoning demons. This meeting was interrupted by an attack by a winged demon that almost killed Hank in the ensuing combat.

The PCs went back to town, rested and proceeded to do some further investigations in the morning, but were unable to find any concrete evidence. Ownka also managed to convince a cleric in town to at least see what happens and help the party. They met again with the wood elf druid and had another discussion which was rife with hostility, but Andarius somewhat managed to keep the peace between the two sides. They still offered to help the elves, as the elves assured that were they to corner the mayor he would reveal his true colours, but they only offered their aid in the event the mayor did show his true colours. The wood elf druid and the scout captain with the 500gp bounty on his head (who turned out to be a champion of the wood elven deity) infiltrated the town and met with the PCs to confront the mayor in the town hall.

As soon as they confronted him as he was doing stock of emergency supplies in the basement of the town hall, combat immediately started as the mayor recognised the wood elves and the wood elves immediately went on the offensive. It didn’t take long for the mayor to start summoning demons, summoning the same type flying demon that had attacked and almost killed Hank the first time around, though as he summoned it he called for help from the guards, accusing the PCs of being the ones to summon the demon. The PCs made quick work of the cultists present, but the tiger that had come out of the bag of tricks as well as Fiona, Hank’s wolf, was rendered unconscious by the flying demon’s otherworldly droning. The cleric that Ownka had convinced to help was immediately killed by the demon, but the demon was made short work of when the scout captain got a heavily damaging sneak attack critical hit. As the combat became more desperate for the mayor, he enacted his final gambit and summoned a far more powerful demon which immediately went for Andarius, as Andarius was casting spells that were problematic for the mayor’s second in command.

This second demon proved too much for the party to handle, afflicting Hank with a confusion spell that rendered him useless for a large part of the fight, as well as stunning Ownka, effectively rendering him incapacitated too. It took down Joey in melee combat after focusing its attacks against the barbarian who was recklessly attacking, and forced Andarius to fall back after losing his wild shape form. However, around this time it seemed that the mayor lost control over the demon and so it turned to escape the battle, anticipating it would eventually fall if it stayed. It brought Joey down and auto-critted with its last attack as Joey went down, causing two failed death saves. It then dropped the barbarian, used a fly spell and flew for the door, bringing Hank and Fiona down on its rampage out. Hank and Fiona both failed their first death saves as the wood elf druid healed Joey to get him back in the fight (after he passed his first death save, where a fail would’ve caused Joey’s death. The druid then brought Hank back up with a healing word as she dispatched guard reinforcements one by one with her quarterstaff under effect of shillelagh.

However, it finally happened. After failing her first death save, Fiona then got a 1 for her next death save, causing two extra fails and actually killing her off. Once the demon escaped, the party managed to kill off the mayor as the scout captain had constantly hounded him with Andarius getting the final hit with an ice knife spell.

As the mayor fell, the last guard went down to Joey’s non-lethal strike and the session ended. The PCs all reached level 5 and next session we pick up where we left off, with the party battered and bruised and in the middle of a potentially very hostile town.

Aftermath of mayor battle

The aftermath of the fight. Everyone is rather worse for wear, but that’s a lot of dead things!

But what happened to the demon that escaped? As it was summoned by other means it has not disappeared with the death of the summoner, so who knows what will happen next…


I really enjoyed GMing this session for my players. I had always planned in that the mayor was a demon summoning cultist who had managed to gain a position of power within a town and I’m hoping that this causes my players to realise that their enemies can be very sneaky without making them paranoid of every mayor they meet. I was also happy to finally start incorporating the general plot of the game into the narrative and start introducing it to the PCs, as this is their first encounter with demons in this campaign. There will be more encounters with demons to come, but now the PCs know that they are out there, especially as the strong one escaped the fight to terrorise people another day.

It was a long session, going from around 8pm to 3:30am for a grand total of about 7.5 hours, but it was worth it. None of us needed to go to work the next day (at least not in the morning) and I feel like everyone enjoyed it, despite this side quest being very dangerous and actually causing the first death in the party (Fiona, Hank’s animal companion).

Also, I appreciate this was a bit of a longer post, but I basically had to condense multiple sessions into this one to recap what had happened or “the PCs did some investigating, then attacked the mayor” would’ve seemed a little bit out of place. Next week will be a shorter post as I will only have to go over the one session!

A Family Shattered – Part 1

Anatheia lay staring at the ceiling in her accommodations in Dalaran. She had not been able to sleep for the past few days and that night was no different; the sun had long since gone down yet still Anatheia found herself lost in thought. It was regarding her little sister, Velurria. She had received word that her father had brought Velurria to the Broken Isles, despite having heard that the Legion had been defeated and driven back. There was one question she could not answer in a positive light: why? What good reason could their father have for bringing Velurria out to this place? No good could come from it.

Regardless, she was meant to meet her two older sisters, Laralla and Ilareth, and her aunt, Valendris, before heading after them. If her father had brought Velurria here in some twisted hopes of teaching her more about fel magic it was entirely possible that they had both become stronger than they already were. Were Anatheia to meet them alone, she would not last long if it turned to violence. Still, she couldn’t help but think about what might have happened to her beloved Velurria. She had run from the problem for too long and felt like this may be the last chance she would have to make amends for her part in Velurria’s fall to darkness. It constantly plagued her mind what might have happened if she had stayed rather than running to Orgrimmar to take on her duties as a diplomat.

This line of thinking was getting her nowhere. She got out of bed and walked to where her robes were hanging. She had chosen her blue and black robes, as she did not want to stand out as a Horde official while here on personal business by wearing her usual red ensemble. She slipped back into her robes, put her boots and gloves on and walked out the door to her room, down the stairs of the inn and out into the city streets. It was chilly and the cold nipped at her ears and fingertips. She was aware she likely looked awful, but she needed to get some fresh air and try to clear her mind. She stared into the sky and took a deep breath as she reached the end of the road. It was a peaceful night, though she could not shake the unease surrounding her reasons for being there.

“Can’t sleep?” came a voice from behind her. She saw Laralla standing in full plate armour, glaive strapped across her back. Anatheia’s eyes lit up as she saw her eldest sister and she rushed over to give her a hug.

“I’m so happy to see you, sis,” Anatheia said as she embraced Laralla, squeezing her tightly before realising she was being rather improper. She released Laralla from the hug and took a step back, clearing her throat. “I know we haven’t always-…”

Laralla held up a hand. “No need. I’m happy to see you too, sister,” Laralla responded, cutting Anatheia off mid-sentence. “Have you seen Valendris?”

Anatheia shook her head. “I haven’t seen her or Ilareth. You’re the first I’ve seen.”

Laralla nodded. “I made my way here with Ilareth, so she’s here too. Haven’t seen Valendris yet, which is a tad annoying as I want to ask what she knows of the situation.”

“I only have the basics and I’m trying to piece it together myself.”

“I don’t think there’s anything that’s up for interpretation. It’s bad.”

Anatheia nodded. “I thought so.”

“However, I will ask that you do not hate our father for what he has done. As you ran away you have not seen the full picture; this was all born of a frustration and a desire to raise a worthy successor for the Flameweaver name,” Laralla said, eyes locked with Anatheia’s, her tone taking a far more serious turn.

“Not sure I know what you mean. He’s always been cold to me,” Anatheia said with a shrug, looking to the side to avoid eye contact with her older sister.

“It’s best you know the truth and I won’t mince around it.” Laralla stepped forward, placing an armoured hand on Anatheia’s chin, gently turning her head to make eye contact once more. Once the two made eye contact once more, Laralla’s hand returned to her side. “Father is a bit of a tragic tale that I have pieced together over the years. Did you know he originally wanted a son to carry on the family name? He finally got one with our little brother, but alas he had no talent for magic and then proceeded to fall at the hands of the Scourge. You were his hope to carry on the Flameweaver name, but you ran away and threw aside your heritage because you did not agree with his teachings; teachings that he was only giving you to make you stronger and give you a solid foundation when you eventually did take over the family titles.”

“Where are you going with this?” Anatheia snapped, folding her arms tight to her chest and looking away again.

“You need to accept responsibility!” Laralla snapped back, a deep frown on her face. “Our father dipped more and more into fel magic after you left. He grew desperate and only had one more chance to train a worthy successor. He set his sights on Velurria who lacked the strength of will you had. She felt sorry for him and was slowly drawn into the darkness that has now consumed him and I fear that darkness will also consume her.”

“We’re done here,” Anatheia replied, hastily walking past Laralla, though she felt Laralla’s armoured gauntlet grab onto her arm. She turned, locking eyes with her older sister once more.

“You think you’re the only one with scars in this family? How do you think this entire situation has weighed upon me? Our father despises the idea of a simple paladin such as myself taking over the family name. When I brought it up after you left, the way he looked at me…” Laralla said, her tone quietening as she released her grip on Anatheia’s arm. “He cares more about the family legacy than his own daughter. How do you think I feel about that? How do you think I feel about living with that every day of my life and still carrying out his will?”

Anatheia stared at her sister for a moment before sighing, her own expression softening. “I’m sorry, Lara. I try not to give the situation thought, but every time something like this happens all the old wounds open right up.”

“All I ask is that you accept responsibility for your part in all of this. Whether we like it or not, we are all tied to this and we all need to do our part to stop it from escalating any further.”

“Well, I’m here aren’t I?” Anatheia answered before turning back and making her way back down the road.

“Rest well, little Ana. You’re going to need it for what we will likely face tomorrow,” Laralla muttered quietly as Anatheia walked away.

Metal Gear Survive: Not A Hideo Kojima Game

Aaaaaaaand it really does show.

So I’ve come back to the realisation that it has been a while since I have posted anything here. Hi guys. How are you all? I’m good, thanks for asking. I’ve had two months of being totally not productive (being employed and feeling productive are apparently not correlated) and it has brought me to the brink of insanity, so I feel it is time to be productive again.

So, how am I going to be productive? Metal Gear Survive. I bought this game because I got a money off voucher to use which brought the price to around £20 and though “well, it’s not done by Kojima, but it’s also around £20… I reckon I can justify it.”

And honestly when all is said and done… it was worth it. For £20. Not more.

So why do I say that? Well, it was a good bit of fun, honestly. There are some huge, glaring problems with the game and how Konami have released it, but I feel that the game has enough people pointing these flaws out already, so I will go into them later and focus on the positives first. As I said, it has been a bit of fun. I have enjoyed exploring the world of Dite, venturing into the dust to find containers and playing co-op to farm some easy level ups. I had fun making my character and pretending to be a member of Diamond Dogs who got separated from my idol, Big Boss. (shut up, you’re a nerd!)

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An army without a nation… We are Diamond Dogs!

On the topic of going into the dust, I will say that I actually loved the idea of having your map just stop working while you are inside, meaning you have to largely remember which direction you have gone and actually use the lights in the distance to navigate while running out of oxygen. It’s great.

The multiplayer is sufficiently challenging (especially with the new hard daily/weekly missions which are very tough!) where I keep returning, though the same cannot be said about digging for Iris energy at Base Camp. I generally just sort my defences to overwhelm whatever force is attacking and just make sure I’m not present for the defence. It’s not that I can’t do it, it’s more that I can’t be bothered. In multiplayer there’s that slightly competitive aspect of not wanting to be an obvious leech on the group, but in single player it’s just a bit boring.

Similarly, I enjoy the base / barricade building aspect of the game. Having certain containers being only obtainable if you bring a supply of watchtowers or sandbag piles with you adds an extra layer to the game. Also, it gives useful defensive options for that early game where you are literally starving, dying of thirst and have nothing but a sharpened stick with which to fend off the wanderers. True, as you get further in the game (and obtain the bow blueprint) it becomes less useful outside of mining singularities in single player and co-op, but I still like it.

While I do not mind it now and actually quite like the fact that I have to keep well fed and watered in order to maintain peak performance, the start of the game is incredibly frustrating as you cannot build a campfire with a metal pot until around chapter 7, meaning you cannot purify any water you get until this point. It’s a game that centres around exploration, however the start of the game essentially urges you to rush content so you can start being a bit more self-sustainable.

With that I suppose I shall move onto the negatives, as that last point was a bit of both. My first main negative, though it was expected and thus not too disappointing, is that the story is weak. I will not go into spoilers here because spoilers are the worst but I called it. I knew one of the big plot twists was going to be a thing before it became apparent, the story was just plain lazy at points and it felt like it was trying so hard to be “a Hideo Kojima game” but it failed so hard at it. To further this point, I cried in MGS1 (PSX), MGS3 (PS2), MGS4 (PS3), MGS5 (PC) and MPO (PSP). I loved and was wholly engaged with the story and it hit me on such an emotional level when certain things happened. Not once did I feel attached to any characters in Metal Gear Survive. True, I loved that Reeve was voiced by Matt Mercer, one of my favourite voice actors, but the characters just weren’t deep enough for me to really find myself getting attached to. I love the heavy cutscene approach of previous games and long dialogues that, to some people, would seem wholly irrelevant; how many other games have a roughly 7 minute long dialogue between the defeated boss, the main character and his nerdy sidekick that gets strangely philosophical and causes one’s eyes to start leaking? Wasn’t even the final boss of that game either. I’ll let you figure out which one I mean by just saying “okay hero… set me free.” Metal Gear Survive’s story is sub-par at best and the characters feel a bit rushed and the typical over-the-top parts don’t feel the same.

Also, I have issues with the game from a design perspective. Konami decided that a way to win people over was to charge real life money for save slots. Wait, what? You heard me right; if you want a single character you are fine, but much like extra FOBs in MGS5 (which I also didn’t agree with) you have to pay real life money for in game currency to unlock a second, third or fourth save slot. It’s dumb. It’s ridiculous. Konami what the hell are you doing? I refuse to buy coins on principle, and I can be a real sucker for microtransactions; just ask Blizzard or my credit card provider…

Overall would I rate Metal Gear Survive as a game? Yeah, it’s good fun for £20.I wouldn’t pay more than around £20 for it, but for the money it was decent enough. I have managed to squeeze out 59 hours so far and I don’t see myself stopping in the immediate future, though maybe lessening my time in it now that Vermintide 2 is on the horizon. Would I rate it as a Metal Gear game? No. Absolutely not. It’s nowhere near as good as the other Metal Gear games. Apart from the Fox Engine, it doesn’t feel like a Metal Gear game and it certainly doesn’t feel like a Hideo Kojima game (because he wasn’t behind it, so I guess that’s obvious).

I will be looking forward to Death Stranding, as that should be a proper Kojima experience. It may be another game that actually makes me buy a console if it only comes out on PS4.

Thoughts on Dragonball Super

I have recently got back into Dragonball Super, playing catch up with the tournament of power and felt like I needed to put my thoughts on paper. Or e-paper. Whatever!

Also note, there will be spoilers ahead. You have been warned.

Firstly, I know the controversy surrounding Kefla and how she hands SSGSS Goku’s ass to him on a silver platter and I’m going to toot my feminist trumpet and say I don’t care about that; it’s about time we got a relatively central female character who can fight with the best of them.

When it came to the pair as individuals, I think I prefer Caulifla over Kale due to her attitude and finding Kale’s incredible level of nervousness irritating (but not even nearly as annoying as the whole of universe 2. They were insufferable!). This could stem from the fact that I have always liked Vegeta over… well… anyone else in the original cast. I think the fight between Goku and Caulifla + Kale, then Kefla when they fuse together, is my favourite fight in the entirety of the Dragonball anime. Period. I’m 26 years old and I was on the edge of my seat, eyes glued to the screen for the whole thing. I knew Goku was going to win, that’s how this anime works, but I was still hopeful; hopeful the pair of Saiyan women from universe 6 would at least put up a respectable showing.

And did they ever. Wow.

Secondly, I liked how Hit took a bit of a central role during parts of the Tournament of Power, fighting against Jiren and actually putting up a decent showing. The thing about Hit is that he’s an assassin, not a warrior. He’s a talented fighter, but he doesn’t really have the skills needed to fight a warrior on the same level. I like how he actually came up with a plan to trap Jiren, although his plan did not factor in just how ridiculous Jiren was unfortunately and Hit was taken out by Jiren after his plan to constantly use time skip on him failed. Regardless, I liked Hit and he is definitely one of my favourites in Super.

I am curious to see how Goku will defeat Jiren in the coming episodes, or at least how universe 7 triumphs over the remaining Pride Troopers of universe 11. As I said earlier, Goku always wins and I don’t think the Pride Troopers are interesting enough characters for them to make a total spin and start a new series with universe 11 as the main characters. I think universe 7 will triumph, and I sincerely hope they bring universe 6 back as I want to see more of Hit, Caulifla, Kale and Champa! Ultra Instinct will be used, if Vegeta attains it too, I would literally die from too much happiness (that’s lethal!) as I have always loved Vegeta as a character, but apart from in the Buu saga he was always just… kind of there to be 2nd best.

I will name a few things I don’t like, however.

Universe 2 can go away and never come back. Seriously, I hated them. They were seriously cringeworthy and I was so happy when they were eliminated (but it was bittersweet because my favourite universe, universe 6, also got eliminated at the same time!

Also, I will literally throw a tantrum if that is the last we see of universe 6. I want more universe 6!

And finally, Vegeta has once again taken a total backseat in this arc, with barely any screen time. Though I will say when he saved Cabba and promised to resurrect them with the super dragon balls when he wins the tournament… I almost shed a tear.

Looking forward to the next few episodes. Only universe 7, with Goku, Vegeta, Gohan, Frieza and Android 17 left, and universe 11 with Jiren, Toppo and… the rabbit dude I can’t remember the name of right now. It’s going to be big and I want to see how universe 7 will triumph against these three, as while Jiren is insanely powerful, the other two are no slouches either!

Transmogs: For the Alliance!

As well as seeing Hamilton (which was amazing oh my god!) over my pseudo-weekend in the middle of the week, I decided to double up on making a new transmog for my human paladin, who for all intents and purposes in RP is just a warrior (for now), but I prefer playing a paladin in PvE.

To give a little background, my “paladin” is part of the People’s Militia, or is it the Westfall Brigade since Wrath of the Lich King? It doesn’t matter. She’s a farm girl who joined the People’s Militia back when they were still a bunch of angry farmers fighting the Defias with pitchforks.

However, since getting tooled up by Stormwind and sent to Northrend to help out the NPCs have been given a visual overhaul and I was delighted to find that I could acquire the set in game for my character.

I won’t explain it. I will let pictures do the talking:

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That makes two that I have made in the past week, as those who read my last short story might have seen the other Alliance themed transmog I made on my hunter. Regardless, I will also link them here as this is a patriotic Alliance-based transmog post. Glory to our king!

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Personally, I am quite happy with both of them as while both sets are very Alliance themed and both gals wear the Stormwind tabard, neither set resorts to using the Stormwind Guard cosmetic armour set from Warlords of Draenor. They are more fitting this way as neither are part of the official Stormwind military; one is a farm girl turned People’s Militia fighter while the other is a bard and freelance scout.

I think this weekend I will start work on another piece of Warcraft fiction involving my human “paladin” and her half-sister (my human rogue). While they are not on opposite sides in terms of Alliance and Horde (as both are humans), they are diametrically opposed in their beliefs. Not a great relationship to have during the Feast of Winter Veil, when families should be spending time with each other and celebrating this happy, festive event.

Happy Feast of Winter Veil!