Monday, February 18, 2013

Legend of the Five Rings

So I'm apparently waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay behind the curve on playing this game/setting, but holy shit I'm having fun playing L5R.

Let me begin by giving a bit of info here.  Legend of the Five Rings is a feudal Japan setting tabletop RPG.  Your characters live in a land called Rokugon, and there are several main clans that comprise the Empire: Crab, Crane, Lion, Dragon, Mantis, Scorpion, Unicorn, Phoenix, and the Imperial Clan.  Each clan has a different specialty for its warriors, magic users, and monks.  One of the most delightful (IMO) aspects of the game is in character creation.  Your Advantages and Disadvantages seem to be the most important part of creating your character.  You only have 40 xp to use to buy/upgrade skills, katas, spells, advantages/disadvantages, and attributes.  So the points refunded to you from taking disadvantages are very important.  Not only that but the types of dis/advantages allow for some very interesting characters.  My initial character was designed to be nothing more than a brawler.  He is rude, contrary, obtuse.  He has no social graces to balance that out and his Willpower is not great enough to stop his tongue from getting him in to trouble most times.  Needless to say, what was initially a "cookie cutter" throw away character has turned instead in to a roleplaying savant.  His outlook and attitude are so very different from my own (most of the time) that playing him is ridiculously fun.

It took me a little while to mentally adjust to playing L5R.  For one, characters die with apparent ease (despite the fact that my Crab Clan Bushi has yet to die, and he's had several opportunities).  Our first session, one of our party was playing a Phoenix Clan Shugenja who got killed by a water spirit.  Additionally, I am not that well versed with Japanese culture; so that occasionally creates problems.  However, I can't seem to stop thinking about where our adventure will take us as we explore Rokugon.

As an aside, there are several character generators out there for L5R.  I know I've posted previously about character generators for other systems, but since L5R is currently in the process of updating to a new edition I don't think we'll encounter the problem we had with the 4e character generator I mentioned several posts/years ago.  This is the website that links to the character generator I use.  It's very easy to use, and fairly user friendly.  And because I am "that guy" I have created perhaps 10 characters with it, for when my dude finally dies gloriously.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Yet More on: Path of Exile

OK, so I'm planning on pretty much ctrl-c/ctrl-v parts of this post onto the forums for Grinding Gear Games for my likes/dislikes/suggestions for Path of Exile.

Things I Like:

  • Skill Gems: they enable your character to use spells/abilities.  There is no class restriction (that I have yest seen) on Skill Gems, so your Marauder can use spells like Frost Nova, or Fireball as long as he meets the usage requirements.  These are normally an attribute, or an item requirement.  It would be very difficult to cast Hail of Arrows without a bow equipped.  Also, the Skills/Spells in the Skill Gems will level with you as you run around killing things and gaining XP.  The skills/spells themselves may have leveling restrictions though, so be mindful of how you use the Skill Tree when you level up.
  • Support Gems: can be linked to Skill Gems on items that have linked sockets.  You can tell because said sockets are tethered when you open your inventory and look at the sockets on the items.  Also, Support Gems do not have to match the color of the Skill Gem they are enhancing, you only have to match socket colors.
  • Socket Slots:  All items in Path of Exile are socketed.  Some may only have one socket, but it's there to be used by damn.
  • Classes are balanced.  Every class has its pros and cons, but they are all fairly equal in the damage dealt/damage taken category.  That being said, the Skill Gems you elect to use can make a huge difference on your mob fighting survivability, let alone rare/elite/boss mobs.
  • The Skill Tree: Holy crap!  The skill tree very much reminds me of the skill tree from Final Fantasy X, if you are at all familiar with that game.  Your main stat (or two main stats depending on what class you play) branch off into this amazingly detailed map of passive/active stat/skill buffs, special skills you get to unlock, and some fairly amazing "ultimate powers" (as I call them).  Do not make the mistake of looking at the skill tree out in the wilderness...your character can get swarmed and die while you're busy plotting out what skills you want to increase.
  • No Gold.  None.  Your basic currency in the game is "Scrolls of Wisdom".  These are used to buy other things like Town Portal scrolls, or health/mana flasks, or basic weapons and armor.  Other collectibles that you come across like Blacksmith's Whetstone, or Orb of Chaos can be used to purchase higher level items as your character increases in level.
  • All the items used for currency can be collected whole, or as shards that will automatically combine into the full item when the collection threshold is reached.  Super nice.
  • The music/ambiance: they are phenomenal!  Running around as my Witch over the weekend with my summoned zombies (that would occasionally rubber band from around a corner and then proceed to scare the hell out of me) in the various dungeons was fantastic!

Things I Am OK With:

  • There are only five classes.  I have no idea if this will change in the future, but for now I'm fine with it.  Your current class selections are: Marauder - an Uruk Hai stand in from his body type; Shadow - a spy/saboteur/assassin; Templar - a militant priest; Duelist - does this really need and explanation?; and Witch.
  • Pretty much anything else that doesn't get mentioned in the following section.

Things I Would Like To Change:

  • When switching between purchasing and selling items at a vendor, you currently need to exit out of whichever market you are in with that vendor, and then enter the other.  Granted this means you are only having to close the "Sell Items" window, and open the "Purchase Items" window without having to stop speaking with that NPC, but I would like it if there was a tab in whichever market you're in that would immediately flip you to the other without having to take those few extra steps.  I know, I'm just being lazy.
  • I would like it if each class had a male/female version.  That is one of the few things that I feel Blizzard did right in Diablo 3.
  • There are times (and I'm not sure if this is a sever lag issue) when I am attempting to kill an enemy, and either my dude won't hit him no matter where I am in relation to the target; or I will kill the target and loot drops half a screen away from where the corpse is.
  • There is an issue I'm experiencing with barrels and chests, where the "interface zone" where my mouse highlights and enables me to open said barrel/chest is super small...especially in relation to the size of my cursor on the screen.  Again, I'm not sure if this is due to server lag.

So there are a few things.  Have you gotten around to downloading and playing yet?  Get on it!  If you're ever looking for a partner to run around with in game, please feel free to post a character name here in the comments section, and I'll find you in game.

-Bonzo out.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


So, I'm still here.

It was a very, very rough 2012 for me and I hope that 2013 will have a much better outlook as we move forward.

Some quick things of note from this past year.  We tried out a few different table-top systems, and we've enjoyed most of them.  I've found some old online MMOs that are perhaps better now than they were previously.  I just today discovered a Diablo 2 clone that is being produced by some fine folks down in New Zealand - and that is what I want to spend a little bit of time on right now.

Path of Exile is the Diablo 2 clone in question.  It's currently in open beta testing, so if you enjoyed D2 and you want to have that same kind of fun without all of the Blizzard BS, go download the client and get going.  I think the total amount of time it took to download, install, and update was about 20 minutes.  It's not like you'd be downloading/installing/updating World of Tanks for Pete's sake.    I've only been playing Path of Exile for a few hours and just completed Act 1, so I felt I could actually take a break and log out.  I'm very impressed with this game.  The UI is designed very well, with optimal user friendliness for the gamer in mind.  Hotkey bindings are sensible, and easy to find/understand.  The in game currency system COMPLETELY eliminates the problems that came about from Blizzard's complete lack of anything resembling intelligence concerning currency/auctioning items.  This game does feel more like D2.5 or 2.8 rather than Diablo 2 or Diablo 3, however I really like the subtle changes the lads at Grinding Gear Games made to the Diablo style format.  The classes are balanced, the game play is fun and intuitive, the music and ambiance are incredible.  The skill tree is very much like what I've seen from Square Enix with Final Fantasy X, allowing you to customize your particular character build to your preferred play style.  Again very, very impressive.

If you haven't yet gone to their website to look at the game, please do so.  And watch the introductory video!

-Bonzo out.