D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 51 Recap

We reach level 10 and successfully infiltrate the flying Cloud Giant castle of Lyn Armaal.

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PROGRAMMING NOTE: Due to multiple scheduling conflicts over the next two weeks, our next D&D session will stream on Sunday, May 6.

Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

It took both our sorcerers deploying their Mage Hands to turn the latch and pull open the massive giant-size wooden door as the cold winds buffeted our faces.

As the doors slowly opened we caught movement on the ramparts. The arrakocra statues had sprung to life, turning toward us as if controlled by one mind.

We saw their mouths begin to open in unison and we quickly lurched into action. Halfred fired off a bola-shot from his new bow, completely destroying the nearest statue when the ropes attempted to wrap around it. I charged my hippogriff at a third, blasting it apart with a pair of telekinetic strikes. Bryseis launched a Magic Missile, shattering another.

The statues held spears but they were more interested in squawking then attacking. Just as the last two were about to screech out a warning to the whole castle, Korinn held up her hands as lighting crackled between them. She muttered a phrase as the electrified orb became two orbs, and set them flying at them both, destroying them in a static cloud.

The area lay still again. For now we remained undetected, hundreds of feet in the air atop a flying castle full of giants.

After the action-packed dungeon-clearing session last week we settled in for a more expository and logistical session this week. We also officially leveled up to 10! Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 51 Recap”

Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – SteamWorld Heist

Does the turn-based tactical combat of XCOM work in a 2D game?

Adventuring through my backlog of games, one game at a time. 

Developer: Image & Form
Publisher: Image & Form
Release Date: December 10, 2015
Available On: 3DS, PC, PS4, Vita, Wii U, iOS, Switch
Played On: 3DS

gaming backlog final thoughtsIt’s been far too long since I was able to properly start and finish an older game from my backlog. My workload as a freelance writer continues to increase (and part of my job is to play new games), and 2017 in particular had a bunch of long games that have taken up a big chunk of my personal play time, such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Divinity: Original Sin 2 (consequently, the #1-3 games on my Top Ten list).

But thanks to waiting in line every day to pick my daughter up from school, I’ve been slowly plugging away on my Nintendo 3DS, finishing a lot of recently released games like Pokémon Moon, Metroid: Samus Returns, and Monster Hunter Stories.

After those I fired up an older game that had been sitting in my digital library for so long that I accidentally purchased it again during a Steam sale at some point: SteamWorld Heist.

SteamWorld Heist is a spin-off of the SteamWorld Dig series that takes place in the same steampunk-robots-in-space universe. But instead of another action-platformerer, it’s freakin’ 2D XCOM, and it works brilliantly. Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – SteamWorld Heist”

The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 16 “Wrath” Recap

The season eight finale of The Walking Dead finally gives us the proper conclusion to the all our war with the Saviors that has dominated the plot for the last two years, including enough epilogues to give The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King a run for its money. Continue reading “The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 16 “Wrath” Recap”

D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 50 Recap

We mop up the rest of the pirate and cultist-filled cove, culminating in an epic boss fight with a tentacled monstrosity.

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Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

I saw her give a startled scream, then drop to the floor as Korinn’s electrified orb slammed into her. Despite all the evil she had caused my instant reaction was to run to her side.

Atalia’s face was mangled and burned, and her eyes, once full of haughty confidence that I had fallen in love with, now showed nothing but fear. She tried to speak but could only cough up blood.

I saw the nearby cultists charging me. I called back to T.I.M. to save her life, and he nodded. 

I stood up, lashed out my Phantom pike, and beheaded the cultist who had just come into my range, his face contorted in both anger and shock as it rolled down the beach into the water.

I didn’t stop. I could feel the rage building inside like a thundering herd. The Mind-Zei had warned us about losing ourselves, and to always remain in control of our psychic abilities. But I had just seen my own people, former friends and lover, enthralled because of a great evil. And that evil was here.

I turned just as a second cultist of the K Society crept up, his sword raised. I whipped outward, impaling the man through the chest and flinging him into the water like a doll. His body slowly floated outward to join the others.

That’s when I noticed the tentacles.

Giant tentacles had begun pulling the bodies downward, and now more tentacles were appearing. A surge of water poured forth as a monstrous form rose from the depths.

A keening wail echoed from an unseen mouth as it shuffled onto the beach like a giant deformed octopus. At astonishing speed it flung a tentacle around me, and I could barely gasp as it lifted me up into the air.

The rage was subsiding.

We survived another epic, session-long combat encounter this week as we cleared out the second half of the Pirate Cove dungeon, culminating in an epic boss fight. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 50 Recap”

The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 15 “Worth” Recap

The penultimate episode of season eight was almost completely devoid of our main cast, focusing instead on the drama and near Civil War erupting among the Saviors when Negan returns. Continue reading “The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 15 “Worth” Recap”

D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 49 Recap

We make a deal in Waterdeep, get a new quest in Everlund, and assault a pirate base on an island.

Streamed, recorded and uploaded every week. Subscribe for our weekly adventures. Join us live on Fridays at 7pm Pacific/10pm Eastern!

Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

We had a brief respite in Waterdeep after the battle at Goldenfields. I was planning on resting for much of the day, but curiosity got the better of me when I noticed Korinn and Bryseis slinking out the tavern door, giggling and whispering.

I followed them to the North Ward, my curiosity turning to nervous dread as Bryseis applied a disguise to Korinn, transforming our blue dragonborn white. When Korinn subtlety cast her Creation spell, a diamond appeared in her hand, and I knew exactly what they were up to.

I glanced around nervously but Korinn deftly played the part of the bubbly noblewoman, going so far as to drop the gem near the feet of her mark. To his credit the young man was unperturbed at the sight of a noble dragonborn. Korinn had picked her target well.

The two exchanged pleasantries, and Korinn laid her charm on thick. I caught myself nearly laughing out loud when she mentioned donating the gem to an orphanage.

The fool offered to buy it off her using all the money he had on him. Korinn tried to hide her anxiety as we both felt the clock ticking on her illusion spell. Bryseis waltzed up, her magical hood held up high, playing the part of her secretary or handmaiden. It was getting more difficult to stifle my laughter.

Astonishingly the man paid out hundreds of gold pieces right there in the middle of the street, and the women comically fast-walked out of there. Just as they turned the corner I could hear the young man began to shout, and I ran after them.

This week was more of a logistical episode as we finally returned to the main quest. Or what I thought was the main quest path, only to receive what looks like a very major side quest involving the Weevil, some pirates, and the K Society. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 49 Recap”

The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 14 “Still Gotta Mean Something” Recap

This week on The Walking Dead every possible emotion was wrung out of the escaped prisoners subplot from last week, leading to an episode brimming with emotional guilt and depicting our heroes brutally murdering people.

But hey, we got to see Rick and Morgan team up again.

Last week’s zombie fiasco allowed some of the captured prisoners at the Hilltop to make a break for it, led by professional long-haired asshole Jared. Henry, the kid who had foolishly opened their pen, was also missing, so Carol and Morgan set out to find them.

We’ve had a lot of Carol and Morgan scenes together, ever since they both ended up at the Kingdom last season. Their mutual respect and trust has been well-developed, which makes Morgan’s descent back into dementia all the more troubling.

the walking dead

Morgan’s character development has been incredibly frustrating. I love how Lennie James portrays the character, but I’m mostly confused as to what Morgan’s state of mind is at any time. Over the years he’s gone from dependable, to completely insane, to zen-like pacifist monk, to murderous rampage. His latest stint is another bout of madness that at this point just feels tiresome. Even Carol can’t snap him out of it, and she continues on to search for Henry, while Morgan tracks down the escaped prisoners in different direction.

Rick is going a bit crazy as well, still suffering from Carl’s untimely death. He goes to Alden, the one seemingly decent dude from the Savior PoWs, to ask where his buddies might’ve gone, seeing as how Simon basically disavowed them in the earlier fight.

Alden grudgingly reveals a diner location, and then gently suggests that Rick not murder them all. Rick basically replies with, “whatever dude,” and trots off. He meets up with Morgan, and the two instantly get captured. Come on, these are two of the biggest badasses of the zombie apocalypse!

the walking dead

They awaken tied up to some drama unfolding in the prisoner group. One of their members is heavily injured, and they know a herd is headed this way. Jared wants to first bring them back to Negan, then just kill them. Rick and Morgan play a little good cop, bad cop, with Morgan threatening to kill them all while Rick suggests they can all head back to Hilltop and let bygones be bygones (kudos to Andrew Lincoln for not literally winking at the camera).

Our plot herd shows up right on schedule, and some of the prisoners decide to free Morgan and Rick to help them fend off the herd.

I’ll admit what happened next caused me to actually blurt out the line, “holy crap!” The pair do help defend against the herd, but then they slowly make their way behind the other Saviors, who are likwise firing into the oncoming zombies. They give each other a look, then completely turn on the Saviors, murdering about half a dozen men in cold blood. Again, holy crap.

Jared escapes, of course, and Morgan hunts him down. After a brief fight Morgan holds him in place while some zombies chow down, leading to one of their more brutal, nasty murders we’ve seen outside Lucille. Morgan gets his vengeance for Henry, and this whole loose end is bloody well tied up.

the walking dead

Henry is actually alive, the little scamp. He’s in a bit of trouble in a swamp, and Carol is able to easily save him, and bring him back to the Hilltop, followed by Rick and Morgan’s return. A single glance from Alden knows that Rick has no more fucks to give when it comes to dealing with Saviors, further proving that he should absolutely not be in charge of diplomacy. Or anything, really.

Meanwhile we get to check in with the big cliffhanger from two weeks ago: Jadis capturing Negan.  This was a bizarre sequence of events that involves Jadis sort-0f torturing a tied-up Negan, Negan emotionally confessing that his bat is named after his loving wife, and the two of them seeing a helicopter (!) fly over head, which Jadis fails to signal with a lit flare in time.

Not only does Jadis not actually hurt Negan, she can’t even bring herself to destroy his beloved bat. Instead she simply lets him go, and Negan walks away, which makes most of this a colossal waste of time, even with that WTF helicopter.

the walking dead

One of our final scenes checked in with Daryl and Rosita. The pair are spying on the bullet-making outpost that currently houses Eugene and Father Gabriel. They’ve deduced that the Saviors attacked with zombie-coated weapons and arrows because they’re low on ammo, and confirmed that Eugene has started making bullets.

Time is against them. Leave it to Daryl to go off half-cocked on a dangerous, reckless plan to assault the entire outpost to sabotage their efforts. At least they’re giving these two something to do other than piss and moan.

Winners

Rick and Morgan: Seeing Rick and Morgan kicking ass together is a lot of fun, even if them getting jumped and captured together is some major BS. I do wish we’d slow down and let them work out some serious issues with their now common history of losing their sons.

Carol: Once again it’s up to Carol to do the right thing. She prioritizes saving Henry, and does just that. But I’m putting her here for being the only one able to really get through to Morgan (though ultimately she fails to sway him). Her scene with Lennie James was one of the most emotional of the entire season, and that includes the whole Carl-dying thing.

Losers

Rick, Morgan: These two dudes are really losing it, and it’s getting harder and harder to cheer for them. Rick is evolving into a straight-up evil character while Morgan tends toward being a sociopath.

Jadis Capturing Negan: Seriously what was the point of this, other than to let Simon carry out the attack on Hilltop? Thus far all of Jadis’ antics have felt like big globs of filler in a slow-moving half-season. The helicopter was a fun tease but for right now doesn’t change the situation.