I’ve recently begun working on a computerized play aid for Astra Imperia. This will relieve some of the book work by computerizing it. As a program of this nature is complex and I’ve only just started, there is no determined delivery date. Over on the Aurora forums, I have posted a couple screen shots of what I have currently.
I’ve been playing the new MMORPG by Cryptic, Neverwinter. It is based on the fourth edition rules of D&D. While I am not a great fan of these rules, they do lend themselves to the online medium quite nicely. The first thing most people will notice are the classes. Instead of the normal generic classes like fighter, wizard, cleric, and rogue; the classes in Neverwinter have very strict roles. The cleric class is called the Devoted Cleric for instance. While I’ve made one of each class (there are five in total), the class I’ve leveled the highest is the rogue class. This class is pure dps. The class does have stealth abilities which are handy, but the stealth ability is on a finite counter during use. Speaking of abilities, each class has two “at will” abilities, along with three encounter abilities and two daily abilities. As you level up you can unlock more abilities but you may only have a certain number ready to be used at any one time. This flies in the face of current MMORPG design with new skills being added nearly every level. It does take a bit of getting used to initially, but in the long run it works. In addition to the normal adventuring, which consists the normal types of quests found in MMOs; there is the crafting. The crafting is not done by the character, but rather by hired “assets” who perform the tasks. There are five crafting skills, Leadership, Leatherworking, Tailoring, Mailsmithing, and Platesmithing. Each one is geared towards one of the classes, with the exception of Leadership which allows you to get money and goods occasionally.
On crafting. There are five “gathering” skills; dungeoneering, religion, arcana, nature, and thievery. Great Weapon Fighters and Guardian Warriors get Dungeoneering, Devoted Clerics get Religion, Controller Wizards get Arcana, and Trickster Rogues get Thievery. At this time, no one has Nature as an innate skill. One can also buy “kits” of the appropriate types. If you do not have a skill, you may substitute a kit for one of the skills (at a reduced chance of success). For the manufacturing side of crafting, there is Platesmithing, Mailsmithing, Leatherworking and Tailoring. Platesmithing produces armor for GW (Guardian Warriors), Mailsmithing produces armor for Devoted Clerics and GWF (Great Weapon Fighters), Leatherworking produces armor for Trickster Rogues, and Tailoring produces armor for Controller Wizards. You may notice that all of the craft skills produce armor. At this point, weapons may not be created by players. There also does not seem to be a secondary market for craft goods, just the ingredients. Leadership is the exception to the armor producing crafts. Leadership gets you crates (for the most part), which give you potions and crafting bits.
Another interesting bit it the hourly divine bonuses. Each hour you may pray at a shrine and receive a bonus. The bonuses include stat buffs, astral diamonds, money, xp, potions. There are diminishing returns on the bonuses, so as you play, your bonus “quality” drops. Each day, you can also get a celestial coin from the prayer. These dissipate if you do not refresh them daily. You can get rewards from these too.
The gameplay is very well suited to solo play. Most content is able to be accomplished by the character plus an NPC companion (granted at ~15th level). Harder content requires a full group. There does not seem to be any mid-ground for people who duo or trio. There are queues for the group content, but it can be a while if you are doing content a lot have already finished.
In addition, there is the Foundry. This allows the players to create their own adventures and publish them for others to play. The quality on these varies from excellent to utterly craptacular. I’ve only played a couple, and the rewards at the end are not controlled by the author, but rather by Cryptic.
All in all, I’d give Neverwinter Online a 3.5/5. More classes and more variation in the crafting would greatly increase this.
Neverwinter Online may be found at http://nw.perfectworld.com/
RPG set in space. Well, set in the universe of Astra Imperia. A lot is done on this one. Stuff left is some random event charts in character creation, a Xeno chapter for the space critters, and some universe fluff.
The system itself has remained remarkably stable over the development. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. At one point I did try to bolt EA onto the VA system, but it lost a lot of what I felt made EA unique. Enough meanderings.
Via Astrum draws inspiration from Traveller, Shadowrun/Cyberpunk, and numerous other sources. Players familiar with those games might be able to see where VA drew on those for inspiration. There is enough flexibility in the system to let a GM run a military style campaign, where all of the characters are military or some form of special ops, to a trader or exploration theme. Characters can be anything from military to mercenaries to pirates to college professors (think Indiana Jones here instead of your English Comp 101 teacher). The background only includes two alien races, but that is easily expandable.
For the future, I’m looking at an aliens book with more on the existing aliens and more aliens. I’ve also been thinking of a number of character class books, military, criminal, trader/megacorp, academic, and government to flesh out and expand the choices in character creation. Obviously a gear book is also something that would be good. One can never have enough gear options.
Again, people wanting to play test should get in contact with me.
While discussing the weapons in EA with a couple friends, it came up that overall the morning star is the best weapon on a speed vs. damage rate.
A bit of background. Combat in EA is not like most rpgs. Initiative is continuous, meaning you roll for your next slot as soon as you finish your turn. With a fast weapon and good stats, you can attack multiple times before someone with a slow weapon may attack. This is all very good, except the initiative was modified from a standard “everyone goes then roll again” system. The damages on the weapons weren’t as glaringly unbalanced then. So after a few hours of entering weapon damages and speeds into a spreadsheet and tinkering, I decided that certain classes of weapons will have an average speed. The ratio between speed and damage was going to be as near to 1 as I could make it. I should note here that when I say damage, I mean the average damage on the dice, excluding any bonuses; so 2d6 has an average of 7. This threw out my first idea that one handed weapons do one die of damage, two handed weapons do two dice, and polearms do three dice. Polearms are hard hitting but incredibly slow. Upside to them, anything you smack with it is most likely going to stay smacked.
So now the weapons are all “balanced” to a speed/damage ratio of 1. This means that the overall dps per weapon is consistent. The only variation now involved is character strength and skill. And armor.
Speaking of armor, the initiative process was to roll 1d10, add weapon speed and subtract character Speed. This is now roll 1d10, add weapon speed, add 1/2 armor DV (defense value), subtract the average of Speed and Perception. This makes moving in heavier armors slower as well as adding a perception component. One of my friends pointed out that how fast you move in a combat is not always about how fast you move, but also how well you notice openings. Hence the addition of Perception to the equation.
The only real thing left to finish up is the magic system. I don’t know how many times I’ve changed it, but each time it is because I am unhappy with it. All I really need to do is finish writing out the spell descriptions for a couple hundred spells. Tedious work, but it needs to be done. Then a lot of play testing. Which means people interested in running the same encounter over and over again to generate the data I need. Any volunteers?
Been slacking in the updating department recently. Had a contract that ended beginning of April. As for gaming, been playing a lot of SWTOR. I still think Bioware would have been better off making KOTOR 3, 4, and 5, instead of a MMO.
Picked up Defiance. Typical FPS. Controls are wonky, since they are geared to a console controller. Game companies need to realize that a lot of us still game on our PCs. PC gaming is not dead. Giving us shit UIs because you coded for a console first then added PC interface second is a good way to lose customers.
Enough of that. Updated Via Astrum. Still have a few things to write, namely the Xeno chapter and some random events in the character creation chapter. Eldritch Adventures still needs the spells all written out. Updated the weapons to a more balanced approach. A setting would be good too. And then a crap ton of play testing. Via Astrum seems a lot easier to balance than Eldritch Adventures. Project:GOLEM has been on the back burner. I should dig that out and see what needs to be finished there too. Mostly background/fluff if I recall.
On the programming side, picked up a couple of books on Android programming. I know, Google is evil, but I’ll burn in hell before I own an iPhone. So I’ve got a Samsung Galaxy. Great monthly, no contract plan from Virgin Mobile.
Other than that, I’m back to looking for work again. Yay. Not. Killing pixels in SWTOR (Ebon Hawk server, Emissaries of Light or Emissaries of Shadow).
After a quick ride via goat from the 21st Hall to the Silvertine Lodes, it was time to delve deeper in search of Sweina. It was a quick jaunt to Thalfar’s camp. A brief conversation with him told me Sweina was deeper, near the Water Works. I reached Sweina just in time to aid him when he was ambushed by foul goblins. Sweina was determined to remain, so all I could do was return to Bosi and inform him. Bosi had read more of the Book of Mazarbul and wished Lord Brogur to hear of what he had found. So it was once again back to the 21st Hall to Brogur.
Brogur tells me that Bori has a plan to strike at the orcs. Bori wants me to gather some dwarfs to aid him, collect weapons and armor, and to scout the area of attack. Sigthorn is too busy to help us. Skygni feels a head-on attack is best. Wethur feels the raid is unwise, as does Sebbi. Stilling volunteered to aid us, as does Wili. Bori is a bit disappointed with the number of volunteers, but presses on with his plan.
Figuring to kill two goblins with one stone, I hitch a ride to the Orc Watch to see Avar. After talking to a number of dwarfs, Isolf charges me with cleaning up the droppings of goats left behind. With a surly growl, I acquiesce to his plan. After picking up an inordiate amount of goat droppings, I come upon Roarr and Ingifast’s camp. Ingifast has me deposit the material on a pile, claiming a goat was feeling unwell. Roarr and Ingifast want me to defeat some orcs, collect ore from them, and defeat a raiding party. I set out into the Redhorn Lodes proper.
After much slaughtering of orcs, I find most of what Bori needs for his plans. I return to Roarr and Ingifast who ask me to remove the leaders of the two camps, as well as find another expedition. Much killing ensues. I remove the leaders, find the rest of Bori’s gear, kill some forge masters, and find a locket. I also come across another piece of Helgi Goblinbane’s statue. I discover where Knakk has camped. He listens to my report and asks me to kill some spiders. I head towards the Foundations of Stone to find the spiders. The air is filled with noxious fumes, but I press on, killing many spiders. I return again to Knakk to report my successes.
He sends me back to where I found the spiders to destroy fungal growths that are producing the noxious gasses. I destroy a number of fungi and head back to Knakk. He asks me to return and find what is cultivating these fungi, and defeat the leaders of the spiders and orcs in the area. I find the cultivator, a nameless horror from the Foundations of Stone. I dispose of the leaders, and return to Knakk. While I was out slaughtering orcs, spiders and other disgusting beasties, Knakk managed to open Kafli’s locket. He asks me to bring it to his cousin Kuli.
I borrow Knakk’s goat and ride to Auti’s camp where Kuli is staying. Kuli asks me to drink to Kafli’s memory throughout various encampments in Moria. I begin my drinking and toasting in the Redhorn Lodes. I don’t recall much after the 5th drink, but I somehow ended back up with Auti and Kuli. My head hurts. Auti and Kuli speak of a nearby infestation of gredbyg that may hold some clue as to the location of an ancient mining deposit.
After much slaying of bugs and noting concentrations of them on my map, I return to Kuli and Auti. Kuli mentions a garrison, Nud-heden that I should seek out. I set forth once again. I find and enter the garrison, to find it infested with gredbyg. While exploring Nud-heden, I find an old nursery now used by the bugs. I destroy a number of larval sacks. In the old mess hall I find a grodbog queen! I set forth to slay the foul progenitor of the bugs. The queen is no more and I return to Auti and Kuli.
Auti asks me to seek out the source of heat supplying the hive. I delve deeper into the hive, following the heat. Soon I find a passage into the Flaming Deeps! This is where the heat is coming from. As I enter, I hear sounds of battle. I head towards the sounds. I come upon an injured dwarf, Bensi. He tells me of a battle and seek any survivors. As I approach Hadad-Mezer, the sounds of battle abruptly stop. I fear the worst. My fears are soon confirmed as I find a dead dwarf. He bears a message for Hysing in Anazarmekhem. That is my next desitination.
Hysing directs me towards Anghumu-ru. On my way out, I spy a placard with a riddle on it.
Weight in my belly,
Trees are my back,
Nails in my ribs,
Feet do I lack
I pause to ponder the riddle.
Picking up in the 21st Hall where I left off, I backtracked to see if I could find Reinn. Unfortunately, I soon did. Or his corpse at least. While inspecting the body, I was set upon by a large orc named Ozut. As he neared death he gloated that the killer of Reinn would dispose of me too. After tracking down the trail, I confronted the orc Khil, and “khilled” him.
Mogr appeared soon after the fight and expressed regret he had not listened to Reinn earlier. He then charged me with exploring the Wide Hall. I planted two banners upon convenient columns and continued deeper. At an intersection, I detected a foul stench and took the side branch to investigate. I found a foul pool and some sickly looking orcs. Amongst the debris, I came across a number of orc corpses who showed evidence of being poisoned. I destroyed a number of brewing stoves and the defilers brewing the potions. I also disposed of the leaders of this endeavor, a couple of orcish captains.
Also buried in the foul debris, I found the head to the statue of Helgi Goblinbane! I shall return this to Simbi in the 21st Hall immediately. I reached a major crossroads in the Wide Halls and noted many opportunities to slay orcs. I decided for the moment to return to the 21st Hall and return the head of Helgi Goblinbane to Simbi as well as checking in with Brogur after completing his charge to slay many orcs in Zelem-Melek.
In the 21st Hall, Mogr pulled me aside and asked me to check in on a dwarf named Avar in the Orc Watch, which is in the Redhorn Lodes. I assured him that I would. Brogur asked me to speak with Warr in the Chamber of Mazarbul. Warr asked me to help him determine what had caused the devastation in the chamber. Searching through the debris, I found a tome. Warr and I decided that Brogur needed to see this tome. Brogur read some of the pages, finding that it was a record of Lord Balin’s expedition into Moria. He instructed me to bring it to Bosi at the Chamber of the Crossroads.
Bosi asked me to head to the Silvertine Lodes and find Sweina. This has left me with a difficult decision; head to the Silvertine Lodes and speak with Sweina, go to Orc-Watch and find Avar, or explore the side passages from the Wide Halls.
While the armorer was pounding out some dents in my breastplate, I decided that Sweina and Avar could wait for a while as I explored a bit. I made my way back to the crossroads in the Wide Halls without incident. Exploring a side passage, I came across a section labeled on my map as Skrithurz-Ulima. I saw a large orc bearing the mark of the White Hand. Not wishing to foster any sort of cooperation between the two groups, I set out to dispose of the White Hand orcs. Amongst the orcs, I came across one that seemed to be a leader. The others referred to him as Raulik. Soon, Raulik was no more. I found and destroyed a number of White Hand weapons, as well as thinned out the orc herd.
Heading south from Skrithurz-Ulima, I found the Hall of Flowing Water. A dwarf named Bui was there. He asked me to help him determine the purity of the water in the hall. I readily agreed since pure water is important to the manufacture of beer. While searching for sources of clean water, I found a very large orc encampment. Knowing Bui needed to know this as soon as possible, I returned to him. He asked me to scout the orc encampment.
As I explored, I came across the kitchens of the orcs, if such a foul place could be called such. I noticed a number of my brethren trussed up, ready to be fed to the foul orcs. I obviously could not let them become the main course, so I freed them. Continuing deeper into the camp, I found their forges. Notcing large stocks of coal, I figured without the coal, their efforts would be hampered. Finding the quarters of the camp, I spy a banner. I get closer and see that it is the banner of Rugh. So I destroy the banner and dispose of the orc Rugh. I finally found the armory. I take note of a large stock of armour, and decide to destroy it. I return to Mogr in the 21st Hall and tell him of the large number of orcs.
Back in the 21st Hall, I head to the forge to craft myself some new tools for my trade.
Tonight’s session of Lotro features my level 84 human burglar, Malraeg. He’s in Rohan, currently near the town of Garsfeld. He runs around with an elven guardian named Rainael.
The evening begins with a quick trip to Hytbold to aid the reconstruction efforts. Getting direction, the pair heads to Harwick to see what aid they may be there. The two intrepid adventurers gather quests to cleanse Digelon of lizards and fungus, remove some Easterlings from the plains of the Wold. After clearing out some lizards and fungus, Wulfin decided that Mal could be considered an ally of the Wold. The pair cleans out some Easterlings and then head to Cliving to see what assistance they may render there. Aldbeort sends them to Ost Magol to kill orcs and Uruks, and to destroy a totem.
A dozen orcs and a totem later, the two return to Aldbeort for some well-earned gold.
Rain & Mal head to Garsfeld via Faldham and aid some farmers in Garsfeld. Mal gets to level 85.
I’ve decided I am going to regale you with my adventures in various online games. Since Lotro (Lord of the Rings Online) is the most common one I play, chances are it’s going to be the most populous posts.
Today, I decided to work on Oredan. He’s a level 54 dwarf guardian, currently embedded in the Water Works in Moria. After slaughtering some lizards and frogs for the Foreman in the Great Wheel, he breaks his wheel. So I get to find a replacement gear for him. A few minutes later, I’m back and he’s sending me off again. This time to the entrance to the Vile Maw.
I fetch some water, which he has me deliver to the Foreman. Back to the Great Wheel. The foreman sends me out to kill some orcs. That done and it’s back to the Vile Maw. The dwarf there sends me on to 21st Hall. A couple of quick goat rides and I’m in the 21st Hall. A couple of run around quests delivering ale and checking on mirrors gets me to 55. Yay Oredan!
The delivery stuff done, I get sent out into the Great Hall accompanied by Reinn. He’s a headstrong dwarf and thinks there is more trouble out here than the foreman of the 21st hall believes. On the way, we help Rokur defend himself from a scout. Reinn and I join up with Domarr to scout out some orc encampment. A bit of yapping later, and Reinn heads back to warn the 21st Hall.
Domarr asks me to kill some orcs and burn a couple of shrines. Back to Gazatu-ru. I slaughter a warg rider on my way into the orc encampment. While I’m there killing minion orcs, I decide to off some of their captains. Ten orcs, four captains and two shrines later, I am back on my way to Domarr. After telling Domarr of my exploits, he decides I have proven myself an Ally of the Iron Garrison Guards. In addition he sends me back to the 21st Hall and Mogr.
Arriving back in the 21st Hall, I find out Reinn has not returned to Mogr. He’s worried, so he charges me to find Reinn. On my way out of the 21st Hall to track down Reinn, I swing by the chamber of Leadership to speak with Brogur about Rokur’s scout. He asks me to kill off a bunch more orcs.
I sell off some of the stuff I’ve scavenged from the dead orcs, and repair a few dings in the armor.
At this point, I think it’s dinner time. So a break is in order.
Just got back from seeing the Hobbit.
Warning, there be spoilers ahead.