Monday, July 26, 2010

Know Your Roots: Starcraft

So, I had originally written something else for today, but I found this article on Gamespot this morning. It talks about the origins of Starcraft (and Warcraft), and how Blizzard borrowed a couple pages from the Warhammer and Warhammer 40k universes. I just thought it would be a nice piece to share since Starcraft 2 comes out tomorrow, which I will be getting. Anyway, Before we go any further, go ahead and read the article if you haven’t already… but then come back and finish reading this one, eh?

Now, this isn’t a chicken/egg scenario, because Games Workshop obviously came before Blizzard. In Blizzard’s defense, they did manage to salvage a half made game, in terms of Warcraft, because you’re not going to spend a lot of work on something and then throw it away, right? They also managed to turn it into their own thing, and it paid off REALLY well for them. That’s Warcraft’s excuse though; I have no idea what Starcraft’s is, because it seems just a little bit too coincidental. However, I do love me some Starcraft.

I knew and played Starcraft before I knew anything about Warhammer 40k. I didn’t even know that 40k existed until about 2 years ago when I got into 5th edition of tabletop. Now, after doing some research into Games Workshop and 40k on Wikipedia when I started playing, I learned the truth that we’re discussing now; that Starcraft is a copy of 40k, and the Warhammer/Warcraft fiasco. Obviously, it was a bit of a shocker, knowing that something near and dear was a clone of something else. Then I thought though, who gives a shit? Why can’t they both exist? Both companies and games do really well with their IP. Once you take away their similarities is when you notice their differences. This is true more so on the 40k side though, because it just has so much more. Such as the other races that inhabit the 40k, and it’s grim dark universe. Although, Starcraft can be just as grim dark with what happened to Jim Raynor and Kerrigan in the first game.

Anyway, the point that I want to bring across is that just because Starcraft borrows a lot from 40k, it’s no right to hate it. They can exist independent of each other. A lot of stories and ideas are often borrowed from another source that came before it. So, it’s better not to think of it as copying, but as inspiration or homage. Just as Starcraft was inspired by 40k, 40k was inspired by Starship Troopers, written by Robert A. Heinlein. If anything, Starcraft is a giant love letter to Warhammer 40k. If you really enjoy Starcraft, I would highly suggest that you look into Warhammer 40k. If not, then at least remember the truth and educate others, because now you know your roots!

P.S. Enjoy Starcraft 2, I know I will be.

Friday, July 23, 2010

D&D: Side Campaign 1 Log - Pt 1

Original Four Characters
Nirreh – Elf Ranger (Me)
Thoradin – Dwarf Fighter
Plainsrunner – Razorclaw Seeker
Kristoph – Human Paladin

Later Characters
Brute - Minotaur Barbarian
Lemartes - Human Invoker (Me)
Hana - Deva Shaman
Furyheart - Longtooth Warden

So for this campaign, most of it was randomized. I don’t know exactly how the rolls worked, since currently, we’re not supposed to know. Our DM had a pre-built map and an encounter chart though. Pretty much whenever we moved to a new room, our DM would roll to see what was in there. Our DM would first roll to see if it was an encounter. If it was, he would then roll to see how difficult it was 6 being the easiest, 1 being the hardest.

The story is that we were an adventuring party, and we arrived into a town. After staying for a while, we heard stories of corpses walking around in the graveyard at night, which had the townspeople all pretty scared. So we headed over to the graveyard at night, and when we arrived, we were ambushed and overwhelmed by a swarm of spiders and knocked unconscious. We then all woke up cocooned in their lair.

Sorry, I don't have any notes from Saturday. The only real notable thing that happened was that we met Arachnia, the Broodmother, when we entered the big room to the far right on the map above. She basically told us that we were going to die down here, and I ended up mouthing off, yelling about how we were going to kill her and all of her friends. She didn't like that and sent the following encounter the next time we played...


-Hanged Ones + Praetorian Spider were sent from Broodqueen during our extended rest

Encounter 1

Praetorian Spider x1
Hanged One x8

Encounter 2
Phase Spider x1 
Mindwarp Spider x1
Rot Spider Swarm x1

-Mindwarp Spider mind controlled the Guard, who attacked, but missed Plainsrunner.

-I got bit by Phase Spider, and contracted something

-I tried to use Parting Strike, but the Phase Spider teleported me back in front of him, and I failed my saving throw, so I was knocked unconscious.

-Phase Spider botched, which made him fuck up and teleport outside of the room

-Guard dies, and the Mindwarp Spider tries to mind control Kristoph, but fails

-Thoradin also contracted something, and failed the saving throw, falling unconscious

-Kristoph went into dying state from Phase Spider bite; Plainsrunner botched First Aid check, and injured Kristoph more. I finally stabilized Kristoph.

-Plainsrunner also went incapacitated from Rot Spider Swarm damage, but I stabilize him

-Thoradin also went incapacitated from Rot Spider Swarm damage, but I failed to stabilize him once, and then succeeded

-With only the Mindwarp Spider left, a vision of the Broodqueen invaded my mind, and said, “I’ve had my fun, don’t you forget whose lair you’re in next time and mouth off to your superiors.” The Mindwarp Spider then disappeared.

-After the last spider was killed, the Noble broke out of his catatonic funk, and thanked us for saving him. Being irritated after watching my whole group come VERY close to death, I told the Noble to fuck off. He then gave my reward to Plainsrunner, because I was being a dick. He also gave Kristoph a reward.

Encounter 3
Darkmantle Spider x1
Phase Spider x3

Encounter 4
Shadow Spider x1
Living Spidermolt x3

-Find a Noble wrapped in a cocoon… except that it turns out to be two Poltergeists

Encounter 5
Poltergeist x2
Acid Spider x2

-An Acid Spider ate Thoradin’s Warhammer, and a second spider almost ate his armor.

-We move to another room, and there’s a Noble, cornered by Spidermolts

Encounter 6
Living Spidermolt x4

Encounter 7
Darkmantle Spider x1
Rot Spider Swarm x3

-Darkmantle Spider ate the noble while we were taking an extended rest.

-Plainsrunner went to dying state from Swarm damage

-Kristoph went to dying state from Swarm damage

-Thoradin also went to dying state from Swarm damage

- I also went to dying state from Swarm damage

-Kristoph critically saves from dying and surges back to life. He hides in a corner and tries to pray to Avandra for help,but ultimately fails. Plainsrunners and myself (Nirreh) die, while Thoradin and Kristoph are captured and cocooned in the starting room.


-While Kristoph and Thoradin were awake in cocoons, they noticed a familiar voice, Arachnia. The Broodqueen continues to taunt them, “I see those Rot Spider Swarms were very effective, two of your original party have perished. I suppose I shall show you how the swarms are made.” And Arachnia disappears, laughing.

-My new character, Lemartes - Human Invoker, woke up in the cocoon room, along with everyone else. A Minotaur Barbarian by the name of Brute has taken the place of Plainsrunner

-We break each other out of our cocoons and hear faint zombie moaning. Upon looking in the direction of the moaning, we notice the zombified corpses of Nirreh and Plainsrunner slowly shambling towards them.

Encounter 1
Nirreh’s Corpse x1
Plainsrunner Corpse x1

-As we “killed” each corpse, a Rot Hatchling Swarm burst through the corpse’s flesh

-Moving to the room below, Arachnia’s voice echoes through the chamber, “I see you managed to escape my little trap. I hope you don’t mind, but I set up another one for you. Kill them my pets!”

Encounter 2
Mindwarp Spider x1
Dire Vampspider x2
Otyugh x2

Encounter 3
Phase Spider x4

-Phase Spider crit Thoradin and knocked him unconscious, eventually saves

-Kristoph and I get knocked unconscious, eventually save

-So we ended our session after totally getting disease fucked. The Fighter got to the final stage of Filth Fever and can't regen health at all. The Berserker failed a save against Meanloc Disease and ran towards the Broodqueen's lair and jumped down the hole, so he's fucked.

-Chasing after Brute, the Berserker, Kristoph grabs him, but Brute breaks free and jumps down the hole. Passing an arcana check, we know that we only have two days to save Brute, otherwise he dies.

-Perception check to look down the hole, we notice that there is a force field covering the hole. Upon poking the force field, we find that we can’t get through. Since we’ve explored every room, except for one more passage, we go there and south of it, we find an exit with sunlight shining through. Deciding that it would be better to try and find Thoradin some help, rather than go find Brute, we head towards the exit. We come across 4 Carrion Swarms eating a corpse. Hesitating on what we should do, a group of spiders appear behind us.


Encounter 1
Carrion Swarm x4 (eating a corpse)
Ettercap Webspinner x1
Tangler Spider x1
Shadow Spider x1

-Once all of the spiders except the Tangler were dead, it grabbed Thoradin and started dragging him off. Luckily we killed it before it dragged Thoradin away into the dark.

-We exit the cave to find Thoradin a disease cleanser. Kristoph doesn’t have enough gold to afford the healing, so he haggles with a merchant to sell his old armor. After getting enough money, Kristoph is cleansed of his diseases also.

-Tired and exhausted, we decide to take an extended rest in an inn.

-After the rest, we decide to look for more adventurers to go with us back to the spider caves. We don’t find anyone willing to go, but we do hear about a female shaman that was interested in the caves. Upon more listening, we found out that she had left for the caves a few days ago.

-We entered the spider cave again to hopefully run into the Shaman and to finally dispose of Arachnia. Upon entering the cave, we hear panting, and we see a female Deva Shaman running towards us, “Run!” she yells. Behind her, there are 2 giant hordes of zombies and some spiders chasing after her.

Encounter 2
Zombie Throng x2
Mindwarp Spider x1
Tangler Spider x1
Adolescent Tomb Spider x1

-The Mindwarp Spider got a crit roll for mindcontrol on Kristoph, whom cleaved Hana, the Shaman, knocking her unconscious. I stabilized her next turn though.

-After the battle, Hana awakens and is very angry with us, especially Kristoph, since he whomped her near to death. She yells at Kristoph for his blunder, even though it was the Mindwarp Spider’s fault, and doesn’t trust us enough to stay. So, Hana storms off out of the cave.

-Chasing after her, we leave the cave, but we are unable to find her, and none of the townsfolk know where she could have gone. In the center of town, we ask more people if they’d seen her, but one woman mistakes Kristoph’s question as an insult and slaps him for 4 damage.

-We then come across the mayor, and ask him if he knows of any people who would help us. He mentions a tribe of shifters north of town.

-We head to the shifter tribe, and greet the chieftain. We inform him of what has happened. He mentions that he met Plainsrunner before he was captured, since being a fellow shifter, Plainsrunner stopped by the tribe before heading to town. The chieftain is saddened by the news that Plainsrunner is dead, and inquires if we are heading back to the cave to avenge Plainsrunner’s death. We tell him that that is one of our aims, alongside saving the town from the horrors. The chieftain joins our party, and we head back to the graveyard and enter the spider cave once more.

-We take Furyheart, the chieftain, to the room with the hole in the ground. We tell him of the barrier, and I try to break the barrier with an Avenging Light, but I end up blinding Thoradin and myself.

Left room with the oval is the giant hole. The room on the right with all the branches
is the room after we go down the hole.

-Furyheart hears noise coming from the hole, “Hide!” Only Furyheart manages to successfully stealth. An Ettercap Praetorian riding a Blade Spider emerges from the hole. They appear to be some sort of royal guard, the Ettercap points towards the hole that it just came from and then skitters back down. The familiar voice of Arachnia echoes through the room, “Come into my parlor.”

-I botch my roll to climb down and end up falling down the hole, but Furyheart grabs me

-Once we get to the bottom, we're in a room that has a bunch of tunnels that branch off. It seems to be some sort of transport nexus that the spiders use to travel around.

-We enter into the second tunnel on the left, and make another left (the room with the tokens in the picture above.) We come across another noble in a cocoon, and I remember something about a special noble down here. We break the noble out of the cocoon and he turns out to the King’s Nephew. Arachnia's voice echoes through the room,  “I will not let you take him, you die here! Brute, after them!”

Encounter 3
Zombie Throng x1
Tomb Spider Broodswarm x1
Adolescent Tomb Spider x2

-Furyheart falls unconscious from the Zombie Throng, but uses his Bear’s Endurance feat to get back up and healing surge

-Kristoph falls unconscious from the Zombie Throng

-Thoradin falls unconscious from the Zombie Throng

-Kristoph crit saves against death saving throw, gets back up and healing surges

To be continued...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Alan Wake and the Wookiee + News

So in case you don’t follow my Twitter account, I was on vacation last week, which is why there was a lack of content on the site. I enjoyed a long week at a cabin in Strawberry, CA. So yea, I pretty much did the Alan Wake thing. I was expecting peace and quiet, but my family brought me up there to continue my writing. Things got really weird as my family was kidnapped by evil creatures I had created in a manuscript that I don’t remember writing, and I had to chase after them through my dreams armed with a flashlight… Obviously, I’m kidding, but the whole time I was up there, I couldn’t stop thinking about Alan Wake since the surrounding environment was very similar: the cabin, the lake, the forest. It apparently also looked like another famous setting according to my friend David, “It looks just like Endor up here!” In response, the South Park line, “Why don’t you go back to Endor, you stupid Wookiee!” “Wookiees don’t live on Endor!” became a common staple of awesome randomness. Anyway, I’m back now, and site operations will continue as normal.

In tabletop news, I think it’s safe to say that RPGs have become a new found love of mine, and is a hobby that is definitely here to stay. I got back from vacation Friday afternoon, and already started playing D&D that night and continued on all weekend up, racking up a total of 22 hours played just for the weekend (write ups coming soon). Speaking of write ups though, I’ve made the decision to switch to a summary format, because writing in story mode is just too time consuming. For our main campaign, the write up is about 5 sessions behind, and there’d just be no way for me to catch up unless I committed a whole week to nothing but writing, which like I said, I don’t have time for with all of my projects going on.

So, side campaign write ups will be coming soon, they’re already in progress. They aren’t as detailed as the main campaign one will be, since our characters background and stuff aren’t as well fleshed out. As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ll be the Game Master for an upcoming Deathwatch campaign. I think I’m going to have to delay the start time another week though. I sent all of my players a PDF of the rules, but one of them had problems opening it while I was on vacation. So to give him more time to read, I’ll just delay.

I’ve also started a fitness project today, getting into shape, but a more formal announcement for that is in the works. More video game reviews are in the pipeline, to spice up the variety of gaming content. You know what, just more content in general is coming. So, stay tuned, and happy gaming!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Deathwatch: GMing in about two weeks

For a couple months now, I've been following the development of Deathwatch, a 40k tabletop role-playing game by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG). At the end of June, FFG released a free introductory adventure for people to download and play. After a couple of weeks of enjoying sessions of Dungeons & Dragons as a player, I've decided that I want to be the Game Master (or Dungeon Master, if you prefer) for Deathwatch. I finally talked my brother and three friends into playing since we all play tabletop Warhammer 40k anyway. To get them fired up, I sent them the following facebook message last night...

"++++++++ Transmission Begins ++++++++

After many years of exemplary service within your own Chapter, you have been selected to join of the most unique and specialized groups of Space Marines – the Deathwatch. Only exceptional candidates from the fighting forces of the Adeptus Astartes are invited to join the mysterious Deathwatch and take on a new oath to safeguard the Imperium from the darkest of threats. You are called into service to hunt down and destroy hostile xenos forces, to seek out and crush the root of heresy and sedition, and to continually fight against the foul daemon menace that crawls forth hungrily from beyond the Warp. You are at the forefront of Mankind’s war for survival against an extremely hostile universe.

During your missions for the Deathwatch, you and your fellow Space Marines will earn renown, advance in experience and prestige, and garner special wargear only entrusted to the most honored and trustworthy battle-brothers.

Along with the other members, you will form a Kill-team of Deathwatch Space Marines – but the challenges you face are not all external. Since you have been recruited from separate a Space Marine Chapter, your fellow Space Marines may have wildly differing traditions, beliefs, experiences and backgrounds than yours. You must learn to put aside your differences and work with Space Marines who may be strangers or even rivals in order to succeed in the most extraordinary of missions – or face the threat of total annihilation when confronted by implacable alien foes.

Should you accept this honor and respond to this transmission, I will send you a codex (game rules) that will brief you on your duties and how things are run here in the Deathwatch. I will also send an escort craft to pick you up, and should the Warp be willing, you will arrive here in two weeks (be prepared to play in two weeks, the week of July 18th). Accepting this honor comes with the responsibility of showing up to a mission (play session) once a week (to be decided, pending on people’s schedules). Be prepared for Missions to last about 3-4 hours.

Over and out.

++++++++ Transmission Ends ++++++++"

As each one responded, I then sent them the following message...

"Welcome to the Deathwatch, Battle Brother! A Deathwatch Codex (game rules) has been sent to your communications terminal (email). An escort ship has also been dispatched to pick you up and bring you here to our cruiser, The Valiant (not really)."

The email read...

"Greetings Initiate -

At long last, the time has come to walk a new path and fulfill your destiny. After years of successful, unfailing service in the name of your Chapter, your Primarch, and the Emperor - your exploits and successes have revealed you to be a most worthy candidate. Now that the oath has been spoken and the ritual painting of your power Armour is complete, it is time to assume the mantle of service beyond the concerns of your single Chapter, and unlike any you have ever known.
Welcome to the Deathwatch!

Download the PDF file, and have it read by July 18th. Also, email me back with which pre-generated character you have selected to play as. If you have any questions, just email me, and I'll be more than happy to answer them."

Over the next week, I'll be reading the rules and getting things ready for play. Unlike my D&D sessions online, I'm going to host Deathwatch at my house. So it should prove to be a lot of fun, as I have some interesting ideas for various objects and mood setting. I can't tell you them just yet, as the players read this blog too, but I will post them up after the session is over :)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

D&D: Session 1 Log: Pt 1

Players from left to right
Turok: Dragonborn Cleric (Top)
Quatre: Human Druid
Alantin: Changeling Warlock
Wergild: Gnoll Fighter
Erdan: Half-Elf Sorcerer
(Click for bigger picture)

Note: I couldn't find the record button on Ventrillo, so I had to write physical notes as the session played out. So I had to pretty much wing it and make up the dialogue and such. The combat also sketchy, because being a new player, it took me a bit to get the hang of my actions and how to roll what, which forbade me from taking notes. Just take this write up for what you will, but I promise it will get better since I have the rest of the sessions recorded, thus they will be more accurate. Anyway...

It was a bright and sunny day in Ebelard as the party was gathered in the middle of the street, discussing various matters when they heard a commotion behind them. Before they could even turn around, a scraggily man covered in rags bumped into them and rushed past.

 A guard shouted, “Stop, Thief!” The guard stopped in front of the party, panting heavily. “I am Officer Garret of the Ebelard Watch. You look like capable men, would you do this city a huge favor and help me catch that man? His name is Dinkus, and he does nothing but cause problems in this town. Just now, he’s stolen a rather important missive that must be recovered.  I would do this myself, but I currently have few guards on hand.”

Raising an eyebrow with curiosity, “What would be our incentive?” asked Alantin with a sly grin.

Officer Garret chuckled, “First, you should check your pockets.”

Everyone except Alantin was missing their gold pouch on their belt. (Failed Thievery Check).

“You’ll get your revenge, as well as a reward if you succeed. If there’s nothing else, I will lead you to the sewers now where Dinkus hides.”
The group agreed to do this favor for Officer Garret, and he led them down into the Ebelard sewers. Dim lit torches lined the grime encrusted walls of the sewer, revealing the walkway, and a river of sickly green water ran through the sewer on the left. The travelers walked cautiously through the dank sewers, staying close to the torches on the wall. It wasn’t too long until the party came upon a wooden door. Deciding that the door might be booby trapped, Alantin casted an Eldritch Blast, violently exploding the door into splinters as the bolt of dark, crackling Eldritch energy collided with it. The room beyond was pitch black, so Alantin cracked a Sunrod, shedding bright light. Upon entering the room, four Dire Rats that were the size of small dogs crept out of the shadows.

“You came to the wrong nest, you have,” yelled Dirkus from out of sight. “You’ll only find pain and suffering here… Get them, my beauties!”

Upon command, the rats scurried forward to attack. Most of the rat’s attacks were futile as they missed. Alantin however, suffered a vicious bite, contracting Filth Fever. Wergild mightily swung his weapon at a lone rat, but the rat proved to be faster as it dodged the attack. In frustration, Wergild flipped off the vile creature. With the help of Erdan’s magic, Turok smited a rat with his broadsword, branding it with a ghostly, glowing symbol of Shelnedok’s anger. Another foe fell to the powerful magic of Alantin, and another from the blows of Quatre. The remaining rat attacked with desperate vigor, wounding Erdan as sharp and pestilent teeth sunk into his flesh. It was the combined efforts of the other party member’s that dispatched the last remaining rat.
As the ensemble took a moment to catch their breath, Dinkus’ shouts echoed nearby, “You’ll pay for that, you will! Dinkus will surely kill you!”

Realizing that Dinkus was just out of range, the band gave chase and dashed through the grimy sewer. After a stretch of running, Dinkus rounded a right corner. Everyone but Turok managed to quickly correct for the change in direction. Turok however, was caught by surprise by the turn and fell into the slimy drink. (Botched athletic roll). The rest of the party raced on, hot on the trail of Dinkus. Soon, Dinkus turned sharply around another corner, catching Erdan and Werguild off guard as they stumbled a bit, slowing them down. (Failed athletic roll).
Since Dinkus knew the sewers so well, he began to pull ahead of the group, beyond their sight, but within hearing distance. As Dinkus’ feet pounded against the pavement, Alantin honed in on Dinkus’ position and quickly cast an Eldritch Blast, sending a bolt of crackling energy into the darkness ahead. Dinkus’ screams of pain echoed loudly through the sewer, as the blast seared his flesh. (Alantin rolled a critical perception roll).

With Turok, Erdan, and Werguild still trailing behind, Alantin and Quatre heard the clicking of a mechanism up ahead, the sound of a lever being pulled. In the corner of their eyes, Alantin and Quatre just noticed a large valve pipe off to their left. (Successful perception roll). They skidded to a halt as slimy and foul smelling sewage spewed across the hall in front of them like a horizontal geyser.As the valve emptied, Alantin and Quatre quickly crossed in front of the valve, but then they heard another clicking sound, and another valve on the left gushed. This process repeated itself a third time, until there were no more valves blocking their path.

Dinkus then came into view as Alantin’s sunrod bathed him in bright light. With a look of horror, Dinkus turned and ran through a door way, trying to quickly close the metal door, but Quatre heaved his weight into the door before it could be shut. (Successful dexterity check). Locked in a stalemate of strength, the door slightly wavered back and forth as Quatre and Dinkus fought over the door’s position. Having now caught up, Turok charged into the door, turning the tide as the metal door swung open, clanging as it smashed into the sewer wall. (Successful strength check).

A few meters ahead, there was a pair of double metal doors and a passage that went off to the right. From behind the double doors, Dinkus shouted, “You has made it this far, enter if you dare, you will!”

To be continued…


Work in Progress

Work in Progress
Counts as Lemartes

WIP Automarine Test

WIP Automarine Test
What Optimus Prime would look like as a Space Marine... wow my highlighting sucks >.<