30/30 Day 12 Worldbuilding: The Windswept Realm Part 1

Hi, I’m Tyler Magruder, or sorryjzargo as I go by on the internet.  I am going to hopefully complete a 30/30 this month.  If you don’t know what a 30/30 is, it is a blog series where you write one blog a day for a month (on months with 31 days it is called a 31/31).  I’ve already missed a few days, so this is a make-up blog.

Gruumsh

Since I frequently write about role playing games, I’ve decided to take some time to write about the world of two of my current campaigns, the Windswept Realm.  It’s a homebrew world, but borrows heavily from D&D Greyhawk (specifically the deities and races) and steampunk, as well as a little cyberpunk.

Geography

The Windswept Realm is a single landmass surrounded by a seemingly infinite ocean.  There are a few small islands off the coast of the mainland, but most of them are unpopulated.  The mainland is divided into three kingdoms, though the borders are not clearly defined.  To the north-east is the elven kingdom of Mourning Winds, to the north-west is the dwarven stronghold Barradh’s Keep, and to the south is the human sovereignty of the Chrome Citadel.  At the center of the known world is the massive Unification City, where members from all cultures meet and worldwide problems are solved by a council with representatives from all three major civilizations.  Mountains and hills are numerous in the Windswept Realm, most formed by the intense winds that buffet the entire world.  They are especially dense in the mountain range surrounding Barradh’s Keep.  There are several craters of unknown origin across the world, the most notable being the Skypeace Lake Crater next to Chrome Citadel.  The crater is deep enough that it keeps out the strong winds and makes the air safe for airships.  There are dozens of impossibly tall buildings known as Skyscrapers scattered across the world, becoming less numerous the further from Unification City.  A few even rise out of the depths of the ocean.  It is said that only a god can destroy a Skyscraper.

History

The people of the Windswept Realm are all told the same story.  Thousands of years ago, the gods created a single race of people, known as the Ancients.  They lived in harmony with the gods, making incredible discoveries in both the fields of magic and science.  Using this harmony, they built the massive skyscrapers that dot the landscape and created wondrous technological and magical devices.  Then the Ancients rebelled against the gods and used their technology to murder the god Gruumsh.  The gods responded in quick retribution, totally eliminating the Ancients.  The gods then created the Orcs in the memory of Gruumsh and then the other races that would come to inhabit the world.  These newer races scavenged the Ancient technology, propelling their society by thousands of years, but they lack the harmony with the gods that the Ancients had.

However, this is just a tale.  It only contains part of the story.

The Ancients never rebelled against the gods.  This was just a fabrication the gods used to justify their actions to the new races.  The Ancients developed a technology that was capable of destroying gods permanently.  In fear, Gruumsh preemptively attacked the Ancients, but they used their technology in self-defense, killing him.  The other gods verbally condemned his actions while at the same time readying their forces to destroy the Ancients.  The Ancients were caught unaware by the full brunt of their pantheon and were exterminated before they could ready their weapon.  The gods then realized the horror they had brought upon their creation, so they made new races and told them a fabricated version of their story.

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30/30 Day 11: Jute the Immortal Dragoon (Pathfinder)

Hi, I’m Tyler Magruder, or sorryjzargo as I go by on the internet.  I am going to hopefully complete a 30/30 this month.  If you don’t know what a 30/30 is, it is a blog series where you write one blog a day for a month (on months with 31 days it is called a 31/31).  I’ve already missed a few days, so this is a make-up blog.

Download in PDF form here.

Jute

He has wandered the hills of the Windswept Realm for centuries, outliving everyone.

Animated Rope Fighter (Dragoon subtype) 15

NG Medium Construct

Init +6; Senses Perception +2


Defense


AC 18, touch 12, flat-footed 16 (+2 Dexterity, +6 armor)

hp 145 (15d10+45)

Fort +12, Ref +7, Will +7 (+11 against Fear)


Offense


Speed 20 ft.

Melee masterwork spear +24/+19/+14 (1d8+12/x3, 2d8+12/x3 Vital Strike) or

rope attack +19/+14/+9 (1d4+4/20, 2d4+4/20 Vital Strike)

Ranged light crossbow +17/+12/+7 (1d8/19-20, 2d8/19-29 Vital Strike)


Statistics


Str 18, Dex 15, Con 16, Int 13, Wis 14, Cha 9

Base Atk +15/+10/+5 CMB +19 CMD 31

Feats Armor Proficiency (Light, Medium), Improved Initiative, Martial Weapon Proficiency, Mounted Combat, Mounted Onslaught, Shield Proficiency, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Skill Focus (Ride), Trample, Trick Riding, Vital Strike, Weapon Focus (Spear)

Skills Craft (Cloth) +8, Handle Animal +9, Intimidate +9, Ride +19

Languages Common, Draconic, Elven, Goblin

SQ animated shifting, Armor Training 1, Banner, Leaping Lance, Piercing Lance, Spear Training 3, Spinning Lance, weakness to fire

Gear alchemist fire (x3), chainmail armor, crafting materials, light crossbow, masterwork spear, thunderstone

An ancient warrior, his consciousness was transferred to a yard of animated rope as a last measure.  He has since added more and more rope to his body.  He travels in the shape of a humanoid, but he can freely manipulate the rope to fit his needs.  He wears chainmail armor to hide the fact that he is made entirely of rope.  He has long-forgotten his original purpose and his original name, and instead roams the hills of the Windswept Realm searching for injustice.

Jute only fights in the name of justice and honor.  He will always accept a duel, but he always holds back from the kill when he inevitably wins.  When traveling with others, Jute refuses to stay near camps if there is a live campfire.  Jute is terrified of fire, but knows the utility of it.  He carries three alchemist fire bombs and uses them to even the odds when faced with numerous enemies.

Since he’s not an organic creature, Jute has to repair himself in order to recover health.  Jute requires 1 gp of materials per hit point to repair himself, with a DC 15 Craft (cloth) check.

rope attack– Jute can attack with a strand of rope.  It has a range of 15 feet, but counts as a melee attack.

animated shifting– Jute can manipulate his rope to appear as almost anything, albeit with the texture of rope.  He can change his size from Small to Large, though size changes only affect his AC.  Also, he can stretch into a single long rope in order to travel through areas otherwise impassible.

Jute has moved from mount to mount over the years, but he is currently travelling with his trusty ankylosaurus Sige.

Sige

This fearsome ankylosaurus carries Jute to his destination and tramples his enemies.

N Huge Animal

Init +0; Senses low-light vision, scent, Perception +14


Defense


AC 26, touch 8, flat-footed 26 (+14 natural, -2 size, +4 armor)

hp 101 (12d8+40)

Fort 12, Ref +7, Will +4


Offense


Speed 30 ft.

Melee tail +16 (3d6+12 plus stun)

Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft.


Statistics


Str 27, Dex 10, Con 18, Int 2, Wis 13, Cha 8

Base Atk +9; CMB +19; CMD 29

Feats Great Fortitude, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Overrun, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (tail)

Skills Perception +14


Special Abilities


Stun (Ex) The ankylosaurus’s tail can deliver a powerful, stunning blow.  A creature struck by this attack must make a DC 23 save or be dazed for 1 round.  If the strike is a critical hit and the target fails its save, it is instead stunned for 1d4 rounds.  The save DC is Strength-based.

30/30 Day 10: How to Train Your Dragon 2 Review

Hi, I’m Tyler Magruder, or sorryjzargo as I go by on the internet.  I am going to hopefully complete a 30/30 this month.  If you don’t know what a 30/30 is, it is a blog series where you write one blog a day for a month (on months with 31 days it is called a 31/31).  I’ve already missed a few days, so this is a make-up blog.

Dragon2

            Today I saw How to Train Your Dragon 2 in 3D at a local theater.  Directed by Dean DeBlois, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is an animated Viking fantasy film and sequel to 2010’s How to Train Your Dragon.  It features the vocal talents of Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, and several other notable supporting actors.  The movie is loosely based on the series of children’s books by the same name by Cressida Cowell and adapted to screen by Dean DeBlois.  The movie is animated by Dreamworks Animation.

Like the last movie I reviewed, one of the main reasons I went to see How to Train Your Dragon 2 was the high IMDb score.  However, I also enjoyed the first How to Train Your Dragon movie, so I would probably have seen it regardless.

I will avoid spoilers as much as possible, but I will have spoilers about the first one because it’s been out for 4 years already.

The story of How to Train Your Dragon 2 takes place five years after the original and follows the young dragon tamer Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) as he reconnects with his long-lost mother (Cate Blanchett) and attempts to find a peaceful solution for dealing with the evil Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou).  It mixes many tried-and-true tropes from fantasy and Viking movies and they work well together.

So now let’s get to what makes up the movie, from best to worst.

The animation in the movie is astounding.  The textures, the lighting and the attention to detail are almost flawless.  There was one scene in the film where it looked like an unfinished animation, but other than that I was blown away by the visuals.  The character design was great, fitting well with the Viking/fantasy world.  The costumes and the paint were especially fantastic.  Some of the faces felt out of place in the otherwise realistic animation, but that’s a small complaint.  The dragons were designed in a very interesting fashion.  They had personality and were cute but at the same time intimidating when they needed to be.  Out of all the elements in the movie, the visuals are the best.

The music was also great.  Composer John Powell managed to create music that fit the setting and expressed the tone of each scene.  I still have the main theme stuck in my head, but unlike a lot of songs that get stuck there, it doesn’t annoy me.

Now for the not-so-flattering.  In terms of characters, none of them were particularly memorable.  I still remembered who was who from the original, but they didn’t do much to stand out in this movie.  A lot of key moments in the film banked on an emotional response from the audience, but I just didn’t care enough about the characters for it to work.

Related to the characters, the voice-acting was hit-or-miss.  Several of the supporting actors fit very well with the theme and setting, but the main characters were less than phenomenal.  Jay Baruchel has a wide range of emotions that he uses effectively, but I just find his voice grating.

The pacing of the movie was poorly done.  The first 30 minutes of the movie were exciting and interesting as it introduced aspects of the world that had changed since the first one, but then it struck what felt like an hour of exposition.  Then the inevitable encounter with the bad guy, then the hero’s triumph over the villain.  If they had cut out half of the exposition, I feel like the movie would have been much more enjoyable.  But at just under 2 hours, the movie felt too long and boring.

Overall, the movie suffered from predictability and a lack of excitement, but it was still a decent film.  The world of the movie is particularly amazing, and I’m tempted to just copy it for my next D&D game.  However, the plot failed to interest me and the pacing was sloppy.

For those who require a number, I give it a 6.5 out of 10.

Note

I haven’t posted for the last few days.  I’ve been volunteering at my church for the VBS (vacation Bible school) and that has really drained my energy.  My last few posts have been substandard anyways, so I’m going to wait until I’m done with VBS, which should be tomorrow, to write any more blogs so I actually have time, energy, and quality.  I plan on making up the blogs that I missed as well.  Thanks for your understanding!

30/30 Day 9: Fan Game Idea: Punching Aliens in the Face

Hi, I’m Tyler Magruder, or sorryjzargo as I go by on the internet.  I am going to hopefully complete a 30/30 this month.  If you don’t know what a 30/30 is, it is a blog series where you write one blog a day for a month (on months with 31 days it is called a 31/31).  If I miss a day, I will make it up, but hopefully I won’t miss any days and can call this a success.

gungan punch

            So I got the software RPG Maker VX Ace about a year ago when it was on sale.  For a long time I did not really do anything with it, but then I decided to start messing around with it to see if I could make something.  While I’ve never made a finished product, I have a project in the works that I am excited about.  It is a fan game called Punching Aliens in the Face (PAitF).

            So, as a fan game PAitF must be based on an existing property.  So what is this property?  Well, basically everything even slightly sci-fi.  PAitF is a game conglomeration of every franchise that I am familiar with, while at the same time having a semi-cohesive narrative (involving a multiverse that connects at a Citadel-like hub city) as well as several planned one-off missions.  Notable franchises featured are Metroid, Pokémon, Star Wars, Alien, Mass Effect, Halo and Gears of War.  However, several other franchises make appearances.

Mechanically, the game is currently pretty bland, sticking with the default RPG Maker combat and a typical adventure game format.  However, as I become more comfortable with the software, I plan on renovating the combat at least a little to make it more engaging.

The player will recruit a party of at least 6 fleshed out NPCs, and the player will be able to travel with 2 of them at a time.  I’ve currently only implemented one, a Lumioth healer from the Metroid franchise, but I plan on including a Pokémon Ranger and Merwif from Bravest Warriors.  Also, there will be a large number of “combat NPCs” that have no story interactions but are just there for combat support.  Players can travel with one at a time, and though they have not story input they all have fully realized leveling trees.  Examples include Imperial Stormtroopers, Metroids, goblins and HYDRA soldiers.  Also, the player will have access to a wide variety of abilities and powers, both inside and outside combat.

Levels will be infinitely replayable (with the exception of the intro mission for coding reasons), though subsequent playthroughs will have randomized rewards instead of the usual story rewards.  Also, levels will be able to be replayed at different difficult levels to suit your current team.

The story is still evolving, but it involves a Space Pirate (of the Metroid variety) invasion of the hub world, where the kidnap the player.  Through the intervention of an unknown entity he escapes from their ship and begins his journey to save the multiverse.  It’s rough, but it’s mostly there to facilitate a combined universe.

30/30 Day 8: Mecholister, Boss Archetype (D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder)

Hi, I’m Tyler Magruder, or sorryjzargo as I go by on the internet.  I am going to hopefully complete a 30/30 this month.  If you don’t know what a 30/30 is, it is a blog series where you write one blog a day for a month (on months with 31 days it is called a 31/31).  If I miss a day, I will make it up, but hopefully I won’t miss any days and can call this a success.

Mech Suit

As a preface, this is an enemy archetype used in my current D&D/Pathfinder game that I’m running.  If you are unfamiliar with D&D, this blog probably won’t make any sense to you.  If you do play D&D, I’m leaving the mechanical specifics out because this is more of a template that can be applied to an encounter than a specific boss.  This encounter is meant for a steampunk setting.

King Olister vanished from his kingdom, the human fortress known as Chrome Citadel, and the party was led to believe that it was a group of assassins, though some of them were skeptical of Olister’s motives.  When they were sent to investigate his disappearance, they made little progress until a massive airship appeared out of nowhere above the city.  Using teleportation scrolls, the party snuck aboard the ship.  They met some resistance from clockwork fencers, but made it to the command deck where they found King Olister restrained in a harness.  Olister plead for help, and two guards attacked the party.  Making short work of the guards, the party turned to find King Olister encased in a clockwork mech suit.  Betrayal!
Mecholister’s primary mode of attack is through melee.  It has a slow move speed (10 feet per turn) but heavy damage (3d8 from a direct hit).  Mecholister also has a low AC, but it has a damage resistance until it has taken a certain amount of damage (roughly 2-3 turns of damage from the players), then the armor plating breaks.  Mecholister is susceptible to electric damage.  The first two times it takes electric damage, it becomes stunned for a round.  After that, it grounds itself, removing the weakness.

Built into the environment are four pillars, each equipped with a shield generator.  Every two rounds or so, a generator will activate and shield Mecholister until the generator is destroyed.  While shielded, Mecholister is invulnerable to all damage except falling (which shouldn’t be a problem unless the players tear a hole through the airship floor).  I ended up only using two of these generators because I was short on time.  The generators aren’t very tough, and can only take 2-4 hits usually.

However, Mecholister has some tricks up its sleeve.  It has two very powerful moves, though each take a turn to ready and give subtle hints when they are about to happen, giving PCs the chance to avoid them.  Mecholister has rockets built into each hand and its hip can rotate freely, allowing it to balance itself then spin using the hand rockets, becoming a whirlwind of death.  The spinning stops after 3 turns or until Mecholister becomes entangled.  The spinning attack has a 5 foot radius and requires a Reflex save to halve the damage.  Its other attack is an energy blast.  Mecholister has two glowing apparatuses on the front and back.  Mecholister can take a turn to charge up an energy blast, and the glowing apparatuses will begin glowing on the side being charged.  The next turn, Mecholister will blast everything in a 10 foot cone in the side that was charged.  This attack is devastating and can potentially kill a PC.  However, it is easy to avoid as long as the PCs recognize the telegraph.  If they don’t, even a Reflex save won’t reduce the damage.  However, this attack can be stopped and permanently disabled by destroying one of the sensors.  As a DM, be sure to telegraph both of these attacks, but don’t make it too obvious.

There are multiple strategies to taking down Mecholister.  If the party has spellcasters, they can easily stay out of his reach and cast damaging spells, but if they’ve already used some spells then Mecholister will probably survive their barrage.  Also, it is possible to climb on top of Mecholister, with a Climb check opposed by Mecholister’s grapple check.  This allows the PCs to avoid most of his attacks and deal increased damage.  However, they are still vulnerable to his spinning attack if they fail a Reflex save to hang on.

When Mecholister is down to ¼ of his health, it bursts into flames.  When it is destroyed, it explodes, dealing damage to anyone caught in the blast radius.  When the party searches the wreckage, they don’t find a body.  King Olister was never in the mech in the first place.  Dun dun duuuuuuun!

(sorry, I rushed this one, I had a busy day)

30/30 Day 7: An Act of Desperation: Top 10 Underdogs

Hi, I’m Tyler Magruder, or sorryjzargo as I go by on the internet.  I am going to hopefully complete a 30/30 this month.  If you don’t know what a 30/30 is, it is a blog series where you write one blog a day for a month (on months with 31 days it is called a 31/31).  If I miss a day, I will make it up, but hopefully I won’t miss any days and can call this a success.

Underdog

            I absolutely abhor Top 10 lists.  They are a cheap tool for farming views without saying anything meaningful.  However, one sometimes reaches a time where they don’t have the time to write a proper blog, so a Top 10 list must suffice.  Today is one of those days.  So, as my act of desperation, I am writing a Top 10 list of my Top 10 underdogs.  They are in no particular order.  Enjoy

SamusSamus Aran: The heroine of the Metroid franchise, Samus is a human orphan who was adopted by the wise and peaceful Chozo race.  Given the Chozo technology, she set out to bring justice to the galaxy as a bounty hunter and mercenary for the Galactic Alliance.  Everywhere she went, Samus was always outgunned and outnumbered.  However, Samus persevered and eventually became a name both feared and respected throughout the galaxy.  I’ll just pretend Other M never happened.

Han

Han Solo: A smuggler during one of the Galaxy’s darkest eras, Han was simply trying to survive another day and make another credit with his best friend Chewbacca.  Then he met a young farm boy and an old hermit and his life changed.  He fell in love with a princess and took on the Empire.  Surrounded by Jedi and royalty, Han still managed to stand out, and is probably the most memorable character from the Original Trilogy.  It has been a blast following Han’s exploits in both the Star Wars movies and the Expanded fiction.  I can’t wait to see more of him in Episode VII.

Daryl

Daryl Dixon: While he is a fan favorite, Daryl Dixon does not even exist in the Walking Dead comics, and he wouldn’t exist if Norman Reedus didn’t apply for Rick’s role.  This country boy with a crossbow and an asshole brother set himself apart by being both tough and affectionate.  He has survived against all odds (though his immense fan following certainly hasn’t hurt), and while the latest season hasn’t been kind on most of the characters, but Daryl is one of the few characters that I consistently enjoy seeing in the spotlight.

Red

Red (Pokémon Origins): Humiliated by his rival, Red set out to capture every single Pokémon for Professor Oak, and along the way became the most powerful trainer of them all.  In his climactic showdown with his rival at the Elite Four, Red proved once and for all that he had grown from the weakling to the master.

Okabe

Kyōma Hōōin: Dogged by the Organization at every turn, he struggles to keep Future Gadget Laboratory afloat and discover the Organization’s diabolical plot before it’s too late.

Magikarp

Magikarp (yes, another Pokémon one): They said he’d never amount to anything.  They said all he’d ever do was splash around uselessly.  Then a kind trainer adopted him, and he can feel his power growing.  Wait, trainer, why aren’t you evolving him?  Magikarp grew to level 100.  Guess they were right…

luigi

Luigi: The year of Luigi isn’t over yet!

beatles

The Beatles: Who’s laughing now, Decca Records?!

George

George Washington: Murica! Nuff said.

 

This blog: I never thought I’d get this done today.

30/30 Day 6: Edge of Tomorrow Review

Hi, I’m Tyler Magruder, or sorryjzargo as I go by on the internet.  I am going to hopefully complete a 30/30 this month.  If you don’t know what a 30/30 is, it is a blog series where you write one blog a day for a month (on months with 31 days it is called a 31/31).  If I miss a day, I will make it up, but hopefully I won’t miss any days and can call this a success.

EdgeofTomorrow

            Today I watched Edge of Tomorrow in 3D at a local theater.  Directed by Doug Liman, Edge of Tomorrow is a sci-fi military movie starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in the lead roles, as well as Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson.  The movie is based on the light novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka and adapted by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth.

Before watching the movie, I knew very little about it.  I saw a trailer months ago, but hadn’t heard anything since.  The positive score on IMDb (8.1 before I left for the theater) prompted me to check it out.  I’m glad I did.

Just a heads-up, I’m going to try to keep the review as spoiler-free as possible, but I will have some light spoilers on the premise.  So, if you want to know as little as possible, you have been warned.

To sum up Edge of Tomorrow as briefly as possible, it is Groundhog Day set during a futuristic war between humanity and invading aliens.  The main character, Major William Cage (played by Tom Cruise) is a military officer forced into the front lines of a beach invasion, and through a series of circumstances is forced to relive the day over and over.  He teams up with Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), also known as the Angel of Verdun, in an attempt to defeat the alien scourge with his knowledge of the future.

While the premise of the movie is by no means unique, it is definitely an interesting and thought-provoking one.  I felt that the movie explored the concept as thoroughly as possible without being boring, and despite the movie taking place all within the span of roughly two days, they mixed it up enough so that it never felt like a slog.

Overall, the delivery of the film was excellent.  The opening was presented by a series of videos with some voice and text overlay showing the beginning of the alien invasion.  This segment felt a little rushed, but is preferable to an extended exposition.  It also doubled as the opening credits.  Afterward, it was from the perspective of Major Cage, who was thrust into the action very early in the film.  Cage relived the same day over and over, but fortunately it did not show every day that he relived, only showing the important developments and character moments.  While the movie never explicitly says how many days he relived, I would estimate that they numbered in the thousands if not higher.

The music of the film was forgettable but competent.  Composer Christophe Beck created a score that fit the action and the story well, but outside the context of the film felt pretty generic.  The sound design was excellent, and the weapons, machinery, vehicles and aliens sounded grounded and realistic.

Visually, the movie was excellent.  The advanced technology of the film looked realistic, and the aliens looked like a genuine danger.  Both the practical effects and the CGI looked great.  A few action scenes involving the aliens were overstimulating, but on the whole the visuals aided in my understanding of the movie.  Unfortunately, the 3D did not add much that I noticed, and it made a few panoramic shots problematic to view.

As much as I dislike Tom Cruise as a person, I can’t complain about his performance in this film.  He conveyed a realistic character who developed over the course of the film.  Emily Blunt was also great in the film, but her character was more static than Cruise’s.  The supporting cast fit as well, but none of them were incredibly memorable.  A few accents felt forced, but overall they looked and sounded like competent soldiers.

Edge of Tomorrow is an enjoyable film with exciting action, solid acting and a competent story.  While it is somewhat generic in its premise and can be predictable at parts, I would recommend it for anyone that likes action movies, science fiction, or Groundhog Day’s premise.

And for those of you that need a review score, I give it a solid 8/10.

30/30 Day 5: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes First Impressions

Hi, I’m Tyler Magruder, or sorryjzargo as I go by on the internet.  I am going to hopefully complete a 30/30 this month.  If you don’t know what a 30/30 is, it is a blog series where you write one blog a day for a month (on months with 31 days it is called a 31/31).  If I miss a day, I will make it up, but hopefully I won’t miss any days and can call this a success.

Lego Marvel

Several years ago, when I was still gaming on the Nintendo Gamecube, I got a game called LEGO Star Wars.  As I was a massive Star Wars fan, I played the heck out of the game.  When LEGO Star Wars II came out, I immediately purchased it.  Then there was LEGO Star Wars The Complete Saga.  These games instilled in me a love of the LEGO games.

After playing LEGO Indiana Jones, however, I stopped playing the LEGO games.  Not because of any drop in quality in the LEGO games, but because none of the franchises interested me.  I was tempted to go back with LEGO Lord of the Rings, but the price was too steep at the time.  A few weeks ago, I decided to get back into the LEGO games, specifically LEGO Marvel Super Heroes because it was on sale.  Because of my backlog, I didn’t get around to playing it right away, but now that I’ve played a few hours of it, I’d like to share my first impressions.  If I finish the game I’ll write up a full review later.

The game opened up with a cutscene of New York under attack by supervillains.  Nick Fury called in Iron Man and the Hulk, and it immediately jumped into action.  One of the major differences between this game and the early LEGO games is that the characters actually speak.  While the pantomime was endearing when retelling a well-known story such as Star Wars, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes tells an original story, so voice acting was the right choice.  The voice actors are competent, but it’s blatantly obvious that they aren’t the actors that they’re pretending to be.  Another thing I noticed was that the action was much more fast-paced.  In fact, it was often difficult to hit the right target and LEGO studs would go flying everywhere when I’m just trying to beat up a bad guy.  Besides that, the game plays very well, and each character is unique in some way.  For example, Iron Man can fly and shoot missiles, the Hulk can lift heavy objects and turn into Bruce Banner to fit into smaller spaces, and Spider-Man, who was introduced later in the mission, can swing through the air on his webs, pull distant objects with his webs, and use his Spider-senses to detect secret items in the environment.  The level culminated in a battle with Sandman, where all three characters had to use their unique abilities to bring down the villain LEGO-style.  I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed the first level.

After that, I was transported to the level hub.  LEGO Star Wars had Dexter’s Diner and the Mos Eisley Cantina.  LEGO Marvel Super Heroes has the SHIELD Helicarrier.  While the Mos Eisley Cantina had better atmospheric music, the Helicarrier was much more impressive.  I spent almost an hour just exploring and smashing stuff with two new characters, Captain America and Mr. Fantastic.  Like Iron Man, the Hulk and Spider-Man, both of them have their own unique abilities.  Captain America is exceptional at both melee and ranged combat, with a punching combo that results in a shield throw.  He can also use his shield to turn levers.  Mr. Fantastic is, of course, super-stretch, and by holding down the character-change button he turns into a teapot.  His main use is fitting through vents and pipes to reach places other characters can’t.

I started the second level, but had to stop playing for some out-of-game reason.  I’m definitely going to return to the game.  It’s a little early to tell, but I think LEGO Marvel Super Heroes will be highly recommended when I can make a full review.

30/30 Day 4: Businesshobos

Hi, I’m Tyler Magruder, or sorryjzargo as I go by on the internet.  I am going to hopefully complete a 30/30 this month.  If you don’t know what a 30/30 is, it is a blog series where you write one blog a day for a month (on months with 31 days it is called a 31/31).  If I miss a day, I will make it up, but hopefully I won’t miss any days and can call this a success.

characters

If you play Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) (or any other tabletop roleplaying game) or are familiar with the game, you probably know what “murderhobo” means.  For those unfamiliar, a murderhobo is a type of character that is a morally ambiguous wanderer and solves most of his/her problems through violence alone.  This explains it a little better: http://1d4chan.org/wiki/Murderhobo

Last night, I was over at a friend’s house and we decided to start playing a Pathfinder/D&D game.  I was chosen to be the Dungeon Master (DM).  I had zero prep ahead of time, so I thought it would be a good idea to play a murderhobo game simply because it’s easy to do on short notice.  My players agreed, but one insisted that they start with absolutely no equipment or gold.  I agreed.  Two of the players made level 2 characters and the other player used a character he made beforehand.

The party was: an orc barbarian, a kobold rogue and a gnome bard, all dressed in loincloths.  The only item I let them start with was a baby carrier for the orc to carry the gnome around in.  They started in a forest near a town, so their first decision was to head for the town.  When they were close to the city, they heard a rustling in the bushes, so the kobold tried to ambush whatever it was.  She fumbled, but it was only a baby deer so the orc punched it to death.  So the party reached the town, all dressed in loincloths and the orc carrying a bloody deer carcass over his shoulder.

The guards at the gate immediately raised their weapons, but the gnome talked him down.  With exceptional Diplomacy and Bluff skills, the gnome established himself as the face of the party.  The gnome asked the guard if the militia required any assistance.  The guard told him that the town blacksmith owed them some swords, so he would pay him 10 gold if he convinced him to deliver.  The gnome said that he’d do his best and they immediately entered the city and Gathered Information regarding the blacksmith’s whereabouts.

They found the blacksmith’s house quickly, and the gnome had the orc throw him through the upstairs window.  He snuck downstairs and signaled for the orc to break through the front door and surrounded the blacksmith.

This was where the game could have become murderhobo.  Instead, my players defied my expectations.

Using the orc to back him up, the gnome Intimidated the blacksmith, convincing him to not only finish the weapons, but to skip town once he was done.  I reluctantly agreed, and in a quest intended to give the players a few gold pieces, they acquired an apartment, a smithy and all his belongings.

This led me to dubbing the players “businesshobos.”  Like murderhobos, they are morally ambiguous, but instead of resorting to violence to solve their problems, they use their impeccable business sense.  For the remainder of the campaign, they relied on their money, their status and their Diplomacy, Bluff and Intimidate skills to worm their way out of dangerous situations or to resolve situations in their favor.