D&D 5E – “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 3 Recap

A giant sinkhole opens up in the middle of Red Larch, spurring our heroes into action and revealing a mysterious dungeon beneath town.

Thumbnail pic

Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse” 

The town of Red Larch received a real kick in the teeth when a giant sinkhole appeared in the middle of town. The sinkhole opened a path into a hidden underground dungeon. The micro-dungeon teased some magic stones, and lead our heroes to their first real taste of Elemental Evil.

The Player Characters had nearly explored the entirety of Red Larch last week. At least the sections that were relevant to our adventure. I teased a bit more information in the form of a whistle-blowing employee at the wagon-repair shop. The PCs headed over to the tavern to seek him out.

When describing places in town, I specifically mention any important NPCs. I picture them as hotspots in an Adventure game or Exclamation Points in an RPG. My players like having the guidance and direction, and it helps cut down on time.

The local tavern – The Helm at Highsun – contained a half-orc fighter, an old shepherd, and our anxious halfling. The halfling spilled the beans on his boss Wulver, telling the party about a possible secret cellar entrance he’s seen the town elders use. The half-orc confirmed that the missing delegation had been in Beliard. I also had her aggressively come on to Talus, to the humorous delight of everyone. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 3 Recap”

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Uncanny X-Men: The Complete Collection, Vol. 3

The aftermath of Second Coming leads to several new mutant additions, while the X-Men suffer from a mutant-targeting virus outbreak in Utopia.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

Uncanny X-Men complete collection vol 3Writer: Matt Fraction

Artist: Greg Land

Issues: Uncanny X-Men (1963) #520-522, 526-534

 

The third and final collected book of Matt Fraction’s three year run on Uncanny X-Men is awkwardly sandwiched before and after X-Men: Second Coming. Issues #520-522 even carry the “Nation X” subheading, referring to a series of events that happens to the X-Men while living in Utopia. The rest take place after Second Coming, with the first story arc dealing with the direct aftermath of Hope Summers and the rise of several new mutants.

Why Marvel broke it up like that I have no idea. The Volume itself isn’t bad but it lacks strong cohesion. At this point in the X-Men’s career they appear to be spinning their wheels in between the giant events. Messiah Complex and Second Coming were both incredibly awesome. But the in-between stories barely get a chance to gestate and mostly come off half-baked. Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Uncanny X-Men: The Complete Collection, Vol. 3”

XCOM 2 Review [Pixelkin]

I for one welcome our new alien overlords in this mini-review of fantastic sequel XCOM 2.

Read the full review on Pixelkin

xcom 2

Available on: PC, Mac, Linux
Reviewed on: PC

XCOM 2 is the sequel to the surprisingly awesome 2012 reboot XCOM: Enemy Unknown. The sequel retains the same nail-biting tactical combat while adding new aliens, new soldiers, new maps, and a rejiggered strategy layer that paints XCOM as the resistance to our new alien overlords.

XCOM 2’s premise makes an incredibly bold choice – we lost the war. As a series XCOM has become famous for being brutally difficult. Developer Firaxis ran with this and declared that we lost the war in the first game. Thirty years later Earth is under control of the supposedly peace-bringing aliens. But like the old TV show “V” the aliens have sinister plans.

Read the full review on Pixelkin

D&D 5E – “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 2 Recap

The Road to Red Larch, part 2. The heroes fend off a bandit robbery on the road, then learn about the missing delegation in town.

Thumbnail pic

Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse” 

Our party finally makes it to Red Larch. The main adventure hook of the missing delegation begins, as well as hints and teases to troubles around the area, and within the town itself.

Dungeons are easy. Towns full of NPCs are hard. In terms of pure DM prepwork. Sure, I don’t have to align grids or create monster sheets or roll for hit points. Instead I have to perfectly layer in the story hooks, quests, and information available to the players. I can’t say too much so they have an opportunity to investigate on their own. But I have to say enough to get them invested and on the right track. It’s a tricky balance, and “Princes of the Apocalypse” is particularly open-ended when it comes to following leads and deciding where to go.

Red Larch is the Phandalin of this adventure. It’s a fleshed out town full of dozens of NPCs, business, and locations. For our previous adventure I highlighted which NPCs had information or a quest for our heroes – not unlike the floating yellow exclamation point that many RPGs use. I did a smiliar thing here, using a player map version of Red Larch and only annotating the important areas.

Since we’re starting at level 4, I’m omitting most of the newbie stuff, which also eliminates a good chunk of the NPCs. I know my players, and I know they are not interested in wandering around town striking up conversations with random people. That’s not to say they don’t enjoy role-playing, but they enjoy having a bit of guidance – me presenting them with a situation, rather than they exploring and seeking one out. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 2 Recap”

Final Fantasy Explorers Review [Pixelkin]

Fans of Crystal Chronicles and online RPGs may find some enjoyment, though the action can quickly grow repetitive if playing alone.

Read the full Review at Pixelkin

Final Fantasy Explorers Logo

Over a decade ago Final Fantasy fans were presented with an odd spinoff. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles used a much more action-oriented, real-time combat system. The big hook was allowing friends to venture together in a static world, not unlike your typical online role-playing game.

Final Fantasy Explorers offers the same quest-driven gameplay with a threadbare story and piles of loot to collect and craft. Online multiplayer lets you play together with up to three other explorers using a variety of classic Final Fantasy classes such as Black Mage, Knight, and Ranger. Fans of Crystal Chronicles and online RPGs may find some enjoyment, though the action can quickly grow repetitive if playing alone.

Read the full Review at Pixelkin

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – New Avengers (2010), Vol. 1-2

A second Avenger series stars Luke Cage, Dr. Strange and others as they tackle invading demons and ex-HAMMER agents.

With Marvel’s popular and successful foray into films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve finally decided to get back into comics. I grew up a big fan of X-Men and other superheroes but haven’t really kept up since the 90s. Thus begins my grand catching-up of the last ten years of Marvel comics, events and stories.

Thanks in large part to trade paperbacks and the digital convenience of Marvel Unlimited I can make relatively quick progress, and I’ll write down my Final Thoughts for each collection here on my blog. Like my gaming Final Thoughts, this will be full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!

New Avengers 2010 Vol 1Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artists: Stuart Immonen, Daniel Acuna, Mike Deodato, Howard Chaykin

Issues: New Avengers (2010) #1-13

 

During the Civil War era the Avengers teams were split up, leading to two ongoing Avengers series. The official team and the unofficial rebels. I guess fans liked having two Avengers series, and Marvel kept them going even when it made a lot less sense. Even when multiple popular characters are on both Avengers teams!

With the main Avengers series starring the heavy hitters of Iron Man, Bucky-Cap, and Thor, the rest of the “Occasional Avengers” decide to move into the old Avengers mansion as an official second team. For some reason.

The team is lead by Luke Cage, whom writer Brian Michael Bendis has done a fantastic job with. The series is grounded by Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ relationship as a superhero couple and new parents. Cage has grown into a wonderfully complex character and a great leader; he’s easily Bendis’ best legacy from his Avengers work (I would say the other is Spider-Woman, but she turned out to be the Skrull Queen sooo….). Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – New Avengers (2010), Vol. 1-2”

The Awesome Indie Games of PAX South [Pixelkin]

A list of 12 of the most exciting indie games I saw and played at PAX South 2016.

Read the full list at Pixelkin.org

indie games pax south

We’re at a point now where each month has a gaming, comic, or tabletop convention to be excited about. PAX South is now in its second year and has a much bigger focus on indie gaming. Few big publishers have much to show in January. Hopeful indie devs were there to fill the gap. Below is a list of some of the most notable games I saw at PAX South 2016.

 

Color Thief
Developer: Trouble Impact
Release: Early 2017
In a world of black and white, one chameleon discovers a hidden temple full of color. Our hero can absorb color from any object in the world and apply it anywhere else. Painting water creates a solid surface, while matching colors on a door opens it. Puzzles are forgiving and the non-violent world is kid-friendly.

 

Dead Star
Developer: Armature Studios
Release: Early 2016
Armature Studios had a neat booth capable of 5v5 matches in their top-down space shooter. The developers described Dead Star as a League of Legends-style MOBA in space. Players can choose between multiple classes and ship designs. Teams will need to work together to secure outposts on the map. The arcade-like gameplay was immediately fast and intuitive. The full game will allow 10v10 matches, leading to some deliciously chaotic space battles.

Read the full list at Pixelkin.org