D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 29 Recap

The party survives an ambush and takes on the leader of the Crushing Wave cult with help, then betrayal from their lizardfolk allies.

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Recorded every Sunday night, uploaded on Mondays. Subscribe for our weekly adventures!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

Holy crap my players are powerful. Like Polymorph the captured rogue into a giant ape that kills everything, powerful.

D&D’s always had a weird balance that revolves around attrition. Creatures are given a Challenge Rating and DM’s have a tool to calculate how to make encounters Easy, Medium, Hard, and Deadly depending on the type and number of enemies.

But that assumes a “well-rested party.” Much of the challenge of D&D comes from fights taking a gradual toll on the party’s resources. It was a tricky balancing act, particularly in dungeons.

5E lets the party Short Rest to recover some abilities. If the party does that right before a major boss battle, they’re sitting much prettier than an otherwise easy or medium fight that’s at the end of a long string of encounters. See for example the near deadly fire elemental encounter near the end of Scarlet Moon Hall.

For this week’s session the party tackled their biggest boss battle to date – the leader/prophet of Elemental Water Gar Shatterkeel, and suffered nary a scratch. I even threw an extra force of reinforcements at them, AND had their lizardfolk allies turn on them afterward.

frysquintThe PCs defeated them all.

Nary a scratch.

 

 

Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 29 Recap”

No Man’s Sky Review [Pixelkin]

Underlying the promise of exciting exploration is a dull grind for the same few resources within a shockingly limited universe.

Read the full Mini-Review on Pixelkin

In space, no one can hear you scream. In No Man’s Sky, they can’t hear you at all. They can only read the names of planets and species you’ve discovered. An infinite universe of randomly generated planets is an intriguing premise. But underlying the promise of exciting exploration is a dull grind for the same few resources within a shockingly limited universe.

No Man’s Sky isn’t a grand massively multiplayer space game nor an action-packed space flight sim. It’s a survival-crafting game.

You begin on a random, undiscovered planet with a broken down spaceship. Using your laser multi-tool you can break down whatever counts for trees and rocks on your planet for basic resources. Resources are limited to a handful of categories, which helps prevent you from ever getting stuck on any one planet. But limitations like that peel back the layers of clever game design to reveal the not-so-clever base components.

READ THE FULL MINI-REVIEW ON PIXELKIN

Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Uncanny X-Force: The Complete Collection Vol. 1

Uncanny X-Force proves every bit the powerhouse comic with a small cast of well-written characters, a stable of solid artists, and an awesome villain that comes from within.

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-ForceWriter: Rick Remender

Artists: Leonardo Manco, Jerome Opeña, Rafael Albuquerque, Esad Ribic, Billy Tan, Mark Brooks, Robbi Rodriguez

Issues: Uncanny X-Force (1-19), Excerpt from Wolverine: Road to Hell

 

I’d heard really great things about Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force (2010-2012). I’d also really enjoyed Craig Kyle and Chris Yost’s previous incarnation of X-Force as an incredibly violent mutant black ops team. Even with my lofty expectations Uncanny X-Force proved every bit the powerhouse comic with a small cast of well-written characters, a stable of solid artists, and an awesome villain that comes from within.

The new X-Force team came together as the old one disbanded following its reveal to the rest of the X-Men during the “Second Coming” event. Unlike the previous iteration, this team is much less linked with ongoing mutant drama, making it much easier to pick up and read.

Wolverine returns as team leader, wanting to continue X-Force’s mission: take out bad guys before they become a problem for the X-Men. Their existence is a secret that’s not at all sanctioned by Cyclops. And like the old team, they have no compunction about killing their targets – but what if that target is a child, or one of their own? Continue reading “Marvel Comics Final Thoughts – Uncanny X-Force: The Complete Collection Vol. 1”

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 28 Recap

In the water temple the party stumbles on a massive dragon turtle lair and mounts a daring escape.

Recorded every Sunday night, uploaded on Mondays. Subscribe for our weekly adventures!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

In some dungeon-crawling sessions we simply go room-to-room, slaying monsters and looting. The Action-RPG approach isn’t necessarily wrong – everyone plays D&D differently. Sometimes, however, your party stumbles into an area that’s way over their head, and the ensuing chaos can be just as fun as actual combat.

The party was on their third dungeon in a row, doing most of the air temple, running through almost half of the Fane, and emerging in the Water temple. It’s been hell on my prep work, but it also lead to some of our most memorable moments in the entire campaign.

The Cult of the Crushing Wave is home to the largest monster we’ve seen so far – a dragon turtle. Of course I was super excited to unleash this monstrosity, and the campaign book had several scenarios that Bronzefume could be utilized in.

Turns out, I wouldn’t need any of them. The party decided to jump into the river, and attempt to deal with a long series of Swim checks that lead them closer to the Market Hall/Docks area in the Southeast. I added some torches to the quay on the west side to help orient them a little better, but they spotted the glowing lights in the Western part of the lake. Like moths to the flame, they decided to investigate. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 28 Recap”

Kerbal Space Program Review [Pixelkin]

Read the full mini-review at Pixelkin

There are plenty of fun sci-fi and space-themed games out there. But precious few are grounded in realistic physics. Kerbal Space Program is as much a full on NASA-simulator as a game. It nicely uses the scientific method to keep you tweaking your journey toward galactic discovery.

Kerbal Space Program is a deceptively dense game hiding behind the cute green Kerbals that populate this space-age world. In Career mode you’re given a basic NASA-like facility. Buildings include Vehicle Assembly, Tracking Station, Mission Control, and a launch site that’s little more than a slab of concrete.

READ THE FULL MINI-REVIEW AT PIXELKIN

D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 27 Recap

Reaching the water section of the Fane we battle killer fungus and water weirds, and parley with a tribe of lizardfolk. Then it’s on to the Temple of the Crushing Wave!

Recorded every Sunday night, uploaded on Mondays. Subscribe for our weekly adventures!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

What do you do when you a have a string of interconnected dungeons, all of a different level, and no built-in way to stop your players from stumbling into them? Sit back and watch the chaos unfold.

When it comes to DMing, I’m far better at planning than ad-libbing. My skills at rolling with the punches have steadily improved, and it’s a very necessary skill to have to run a tabletop RPG.

That being said, I try to see where players are and what’s ahead and plan accordingly. These last few sessions have been extremely difficult in that regard, due to the dungeon layouts in “Princes of the Apocalypse.” I’m having to construct entire large dungeons every week as my party hops through them haphazardly. It’s fun to see which directions they take (seemingly at random!) but hell on my stress levels. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 27 Recap”

Rogue’s Adventures Season Seven Recap

I recap my final traditional Season of backlog group Rogue’s Adventures as we move on to a new format.

Read more about Rogue’s Adventures on my blog. For updates follow @RoguesAdventure, join the Facebook page and Steam group. For videos Follow me on Twitch and Subscribe on YouTube.

carmageddon wrecked

Last Season I bemoaned my dwindling gaming time. Real life has definitely caught up to me in my 30s, with a family and a steady writing career. The final stake was selling our old house and buying a new one this Summer, which completely turned my life upside down for a solid 2 months. Only just now getting back on track!

I still find time to play games with friends, and obviously I write about them. My backlog gaming is the thing that’s suffered the most.

Last year in Season Six I was able to finish nine games. Now I finished four – and it took me an extra month. Granted these were longer games, but the writing is definitely on the wall.

So, Rogue’s Adventures will undergo some changes. For now, let’s recap Season Seven – the Season of Kickstarter Games!

Season Seven Schedule

Game Estimated Hours to Complete Start Date Total Hours/Completion Date Goal
Carmageddon: Reincarnation 16hrs 1/11/2016 14hrs/Jan 25, 2016 1/27/2016
Hard West 24hrs 2/16/2016 21hrs/Mar 14, 2016 3/15/2016
Shadowrun: Hong Kong 30hrs 3/22/2016 22hrs/May 2, 2016 4/20/2016
Grim Dawn 35hrs 5/10/2016 24hrs/Aug 1, 2016 6/30/2016
  • Carmageddon: Reincarnation – 16 hours in 15 days = 7.46 hrs/wk
  • Hard West – 24 hours in 28 days = 6 hrs/wk
  • Shadowrun: Hong Kong – 22 hours in 41 days = 3.75 hrs/wk
  • Grim Dawn – 24 hours in 84 days = 2 hrs/wk

Total Hours: 84 (Estimated 105)

Total Average Hours per Week: 4.8

hard west suspicious

As you can see, the Season started off well enough early in the year. I blazed through Carmageddon in January. After PAX South in February I still managed to keep up with Hard West, despite both XCOM 2 and Fire Emblem Fates launching. Both games I would play the crap out of and write reviews and articles for.

Then things really fell off the rails. Shadowrun fell way off as my freelance writing picked up. I also got terribly addicted to Stardew Valley! And I started poor Grim Dawn the week before we decided to move/sell. Craziness.

For the first time ever I missed a deadline goal, and missed it bad. Since Season Two I’ve given exactly six months per Season. Season Seven will be the final one in that format.

Season Seven Stats (with last Season’s numbers)

  • Tweets by @RoguesAdventure: 148 (340), Total tweets: 5, 597
  • Total Number of Screenshots Taken: 591 (1936)
  • Average Number of Screenshots per Game: 148 (215)
  • Most Screen Captured Game: Grim Dawn with 220 (Tales from the Borderlands 669)
  • Total Games Completed: 4 (9)

Not surprising that all the numbers are way lower. My use of the twitter account continues to nosedive, and I may finally drop it entirely. Conversely I may attempt to pick back up streaming or recording gameplay videos. New house/area = better internet!

shadowrun hong kong kindly cheng

Season Seven Rankings

  1. Grim Dawn – Several great concepts and solid gameplay make this indie ARPG a worthy successor to Titan Quest.
  2. Shadowrun: Hong Kong – Another fun Shadowrun adventure, but overall weaker than Dragonfall as the series hits its gameplay limits.
  3. Hard West – A fun XCOM-lite in a dark Western setting hampered by its tight indie budget and odd campaign structure.
  4. Carmageddon: Reincarnation – Frustrating controls and frequent crashes prevent this nostalgic remake from stepping out of the shadow of the original 90s car-smasher.

By far the easiest rankings I’ve ever had to do. Carmageddon was buggy and controlled poorly. Hard West had some neat ideas but was pretty lackluster and limiting. Shadowrun was fun but I reached my peak on what I wanted from that same engine and structure. Grim Dawn was a solid ARPG that I didn’t have time to fully dive into.

Overall this Season was mostly disappointing.

grim dawn

Rogue’s Adventures has been going strong since late 2012, motivating me to play and finish nearly 60 games that otherwise sit in my backlog. The main pillars – chronicling my journey via screenshots and writing my Final Thoughts, will remain in future backlog games.

The change comes to the schedule. Instead of trying to schedule out games and dates to play as motivation, I’m going to use my friends.

Earlier this year I created a backlog game schedule for a friend, and it was incredibly fun to watch him go through them and hear this thoughts (we plucked them from several years worth of my Top Ten Game of the Year lists).

So going forward we’re going to motivate each other to play through backlog games – when time permits. Either playing the same game, or challenging each other to different ones within the same time frame. I may try and rope some other friends in as well.

This will ultimately mean less games per year, and even more infrequent Final Thoughts. But if you enjoy my writing, you can find my professional work on many websites, most notably Pixelkin.org.

shadowrun hong kong ending

Read more about Rogue’s Adventures on my blog. For updates follow @RoguesAdventure, join the Facebook page and Steam group. For videos Follow me on Twitch and Subscribe on YouTube.