September 27, 2011

The Hedgehog

Why is it that when you write down events that are odd, but really still ordinary, they are imbued with deep, artsy, significant meaning and symbolism? It's a nice power of putting words down, that they make the ordinary seem extraordinary, but sometimes things just happen, they happen to you, to me, and we're just there.

So I went to see The Hedgehog tonight. I've been trying to see it for weeks but haven't been able to because of my crazy schedule. I decided to go to the 9:35 PM showing because I needed to make dark chocolate covered bacon first and I also didn't think I could go home, take out the puppies, get some thing to eat and then get down to the Egyptian for the 7:10 PM showing. So really it was the only logical choice. I was planning on going by myself, but my friend R, whom I haven't seen in a year or more, agreed to go with me when I offhandedly mentioned it to her in an email. So we went. And we both really liked it. And maybe it was seeing an artsy, foreign film in the middle of the night on a weekday, or just the fact that it's something far enough removed from routine, but the drive back home was beautiful. The roads are still wet from the constant raining during the day and the streetlamps make it look like a cross between ice and an oil slick.

And though I'll probably be completely exhausted tomorrow and miserable with wanting to crawl under my desk and sleep, I hope I'll still think it was worth it to step outside the bounds and remember how easy it is to change and do weird things because it's interesting and not think about how crazy it would sound written down.

September 26, 2011

Level 20 Achievement Unlocked!

When last we left The Grey Hand...
They had been following a fire salamander and its trail of embers led them to a set of double doors. However, these were no ordinary double doors. After looking carefully at the oddly moving bas relief, they realized that it had been infused with a bevy of tormented souls. Not very nice. Inadia called upon her god, the Raven Queen, to quiet the suffering of these abused souls and her god answered by bestowing a blessing upon the bas relief that eased the souls and caused them to no longer hunger after the lifeblood of the living.

Ever cautious, Vealkarion put his ear to the door and listened for sounds within. The occupants within were arguing with each other about administrative dungeon handling and why it had been the suck lately. There was no mention whatsoever of The Grey Hand. Thus insulted, they gave Kalavich leave to kick open the double doors, so they could give them what for.
Inside the room was a fire throne where a diminutive fire demon was animatedly chewing out one of his subordinates. When The Grey Hand barges in, he states his name as Sinder the Inferno and throws in an insult for good measure. He then Hulks up, and his signature move is revealed to be spewing magma from his body to grab his victims from 20 feet away and slowly roasting them next to his hot, hot body.

The fire Salamander Assassin was also in the room, along with two bat-like monsters with a pennant for doing large bursts of fire that caused victims to feel weakened.

The Grey Hand, well rested and raring to go, rolled up their figurative sleeves and got down to business. Which is, of course, the dismemberment and looting of uppity monsters.

Well-placed AOEs from Inadia made short work of the minion baddies and Malak's shouts of encouragement and tactical orders allowed everyone to not only be more determined to wipe the floor with their enemies' faces but draw from some unknown source of strength to deal yet another blow. Vealkarion, in particular, let loose a flurry of arrows so quickly and so densely that the ground ran red from the monsters' wounds. Kalavich separated early on in battle from the rest of The Grey Hand, but stalwartly held his position in the corner. Ctharyan, under the shadow that is ever present but cannot be seen by those of lesser skills, flitted from one side of the room to the other, though not always of his own will, striking his unsuspecting foes. The pool of his own blood was difficult to hide at times, but what he lost of his own blood, he made up for tenfold in the blood of others.

The glowing motes from an earlier scuffle appeared through the walls when the ground was thoroughly soaked and bodies littered the area. The combination of The Grey Hand's valor and bloodlust, and the unforgiving glowing motes caused the last few monsters' blood to run cold (tough to accomplish since most of them were fire-based) and they turned tail like the cowards they were, but not before one of the glowing motes claimed one for itself.
We are now lvl 20! This battle in particular really brought to light just how many different status and bonus effects we all do now. No longer is it just simply immobilizing and dazing enemies, but a whole slew of other stuff that is really really hard to keep track of. Zach wasn't at this encounter, but A played Zach's character for him and everyone kept on feeling like we were just not rolling enough dice :). I feel like we should have spent more time in the beginning doing monster knowledge checks because it wasn't until the middle-ish of the encounter when we all realized that the fire demon, Sinder, was undead and thus it was time to pull out all of our radiant powers. And even though I remembered in the beginning that my skull does 2d6 extra to demons, I forgot for the rest of the encounter.

It was a good "let's see how we can fuck up this room full of monsters and not die ourselves" encounter and it was even a little iffy there for a bit when a few of us were bloodied. My character only survived without needing a heal because of her skull which grants +10 resist to necro and fire. Which came very much in handy. Oh god one round lasts so long now. We had more monsters than usual and since we have a party of five, you have lots of time to think about what you want to do, but more often than not, by the time it gets around to you, the battlefield has changed so much that your original plan no longer works. But we did get through several rounds, enough for me to have used up all of my normal encounter powers, though P's Victory Surge really sped things up. It was like we were rolling along really well in the beginning but then lost steam after everyone had used up their encounter powers. Or maybe that's just me and I should pick different At-Will powers...again.

September 23, 2011

Story Episode #9

"I assume you have good news?" He leaned back in his chair and pressed his fingertips together, classic, though cliché.

I stared at him coolly. "If you'd like to step back into the House, you can see for yourself."

His eyes gleamed and he leaned forward, "I almost can't believe you two fuck-ups succeeded." He laughed and pinched the bridge of his nose, his personal exit motion. I lent down to my bag and slowly undid the zipper, drawing it out as much as I dared. I was insulted by how little faith he had in my skills, so I showed what little defiance I could by making him wait.

As I carefully drew the durians out of my bag, Jack roughly snatched it out my hands, recklessly drawing blood from both our hands. I winced as some of my blood dripped onto my bag, it wouldn't do to have my DNA scattered everywhere. I'd have to get it professionally cleaned if I ever wanted to use it again. I twirled my hands slowly so that the blood wouldn't drip and made my way to the kitchen.

Ten minutes later, after both our hands were sprayed and the mess cleaned up, Jack abruptly said, "Good job. I know you know I didn't think you guys had it in you, but I'm impressed. I'd pat you on the shoulder but my hands are still wet."

September 21, 2011

Arcane Gate FTW!

A precursor to this post:
My friends and I have been playing D&D with the same characters since 4th Edition came out, June 2008. We're lvl 19 now after about a year of playing every Wednesday and Sunday, and these last two years of playing on just Sundays. I've written a few posts on campaigns that we've run, notably on Obsidian Portal (The Fallen Leaves of Mithrendain & The Crafters of Lon). It was fun, but also somewhat tedious depending on how much I enjoyed the session. I'm taking it up again, using this space for posts. I usually avoid using my friends' names in blog posts except for Zach, for privacy, so I'll be referring to everyone by initial.
We are in a party called The Gray Hand, our characters:
  • Inadia, half-elf wizard played by F (me)
  • Vealkarion, elf ranger played by Z (Zach)
  • Malak, human warlord played by P
  • Ctharyan, eladrin rogue played by A
  • Kalavich, dwarf priest played by S
  • Vygcarraash, dragonborn paladin played by J (currently the DM, so this char is not around)
Apparently player feedback would also be beneficial, though it'll probably be pretty one-sided with just me giving commentary. So approximately once a week, I'll be writing up what happened and then giving some thoughts. Also I have a terrible memory so if anyone cares enough when I make mistakes, please feel free to correct said mistakes in the comments.

The Gray Hand starts off by finding a secret passageway that has a shadow ward at the entrance. Since none of them are shadows or have anything shadow-based, they pass through with no problems. The room ahead is inhabited by two wizard-y scholars of low-importance, though they're nice enough and offer to give information about the tower in exchange for dispelling the shadow ward. Malak takes some valuable books and Inadia finds two rituals and the components that go along with them. The ward is dispatched readily by Inadia's Arcane superiority and Ctharyan's nimble fingers.
The scholars reveal that there is a demon in heart of the tower and that the purple flames around the tower are a means of transportation to and from the Forgotten Realms. They also notice Kalavich's "hat" and how it's not super good for him and have a nice little catch-up chat with Inadia's Skull of Sartine.
The Gray Hand offers one of their tower's rooms (once it's reclaimed and put back in Sigil) to the scholars before continuing down the hallway. The door to the next room is cracked open and they see an epic wresting match between a huge brute and a demon. The door going out of the room is also spied and the party decides to quietly sneak through the room using Arcane Gate.
It goes smoothly and Malak puts a Nail of Sealing into the door to buy the party some time to make their getaway. Inadia uses her nature skill and Mo-Mo to create dust to hide their tracks and they sneak into an empty room and wait for the monsters to go by. Once they emerge and continue on their way, they find gruesome remnants of the two huge brutes. The brutes appear to have been in the way of a large fire snake. Buoyed by the likelihood that all enemies in front of them have met a similar fate, the party picks up the pace, though always checking around corners to avoid meeting the fire snake face to face.
I liked that we used our brains instead of brawns for this encounter, but I think a small fight would have still been nice. Honestly, while I like being rewarded for coming up with smart ideas, sometimes it's fun to have things go horribly wrong. It would have been just as if not more amusing if they had already heard us coming and staged a wresting match or if the door had been locked. Challenge is good, tough decisions are memorable, and it's always about being a hero. Whether or not you're an effective hero is up to the dice.

September 13, 2011

PAX 2011

Another year, another PAX Prime.

This was the most relaxed PAX I've ever had. I've finally boiled down PAX to what really matters: Friends & Indie Games.

We actually all (minus 1) sat down together at the Tap House Grill and had lunch together. Right in the middle of the day, during normal lunch hours, not to mention the exhibition hall being open. And the food was really good. And we had beers. Like adults. It was a real defining moment: we'd all done this song and dance before and there was no reason we needed to run around frantically, subsisting on junk food and being sleep-deprived.

I didn't even put on makeup for two of the days. Previous PAXes were focused on getting free T-shirts, the majority of which I never wear and fit me poorly, silly swag which sits untouched in bags, and playing up my role of being a hot gamer chick.

I'm hoping that this year's epiphany flows over to my IRL existence and that I can try to cut out some of the things that I used to think were important, but that I don't really need. Boil it down to the things that really matter. And what does really matter? Seems like sleep matters less and less because it's the only way I can hang out with more people.

Writing matters to me. I read somewhere that you have to get to a point where you can't NOT write, when not writing is like dying. I've always been focused on writing something amazing, and that's where it ends. But writing is one of the things that I do that I am genuinely proud of. I re-read good pieces and marvel that it was wrought by my hands and despair that I'll never reach that potential again.

I refuse to believe that I reached my creative genius in high school.

Thoughts on Fiasco

I was finally able to make another Story Games Seattle Meetup last Thursday. Poor Zach had to wait forever for the bus and then walk 25 minutes home. He didn't get home until 7.

I on the other hand, got to have a relaxing dinner of crepes (#9), at Crepan Crepe World and then headed over to Gamma Ray Games. Fifteen people showed up! Two groups had to go across the street to The Capitol Club, and I was in one of those groups. I really wanted to try out a game of Shock or Polaris, but since I had brought along my book of Fiasco, I felt like I should learn how to play something that I own.

I watched some friends play a game of it during PAX and it really didn't spark my interest that much. The game that I played had lots of rabies and heroin in it and honestly, I was kind of bored during some of it. I'm not a huge Coen brothers fan, I'd rather my movies have a little less coincidental weird shit.

However, this was my first experience playing a game with complete strangers. We got along pretty well. And that's saying a bit since I hate lots of people. I wasn't sure I was going to get along with them at first, but after they loosened up a bit, it was fine. Definitely one of the drawbacks to story gaming for me because it's a slippery slope to outright hostility for me once I get rolling.

But if I like you, it means you're pretty awesome.