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Soooooo, yeah…… Long time no post, eh? Sorry, but I’ve been totally sucked into the world of Faerun. Not literally, of course (*sigh*), but gaming-wise. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to treat myself to a new game, so I went and bought Neverwinter Nights, Diamond Edition. Unfortunately, when it arrived, i discovered my DVD drive would no longer play DVDs. It ran CDs with no problem, but just would not rread a DVD and, of course, the game was on a DVD. So, I found a refurbished, external DVD drive online and bought that. The drive arrived last Friday and I finally got to install the game and oh-my-god, is it fun! I start playing and it completely sucks me in. As in,” where did the last three hours go?” kind of sucked in.

The game is based on Dungeons and Dragons and set in their Forgotten Realms campaign world which means it’s got a rich history and background that I’m already familiar with and, unlike World of Warcraft, the game is story driven, with your actions actually having an impact on the world around you. The story itself is a good one, starting out with you working on saving a plague ravaged city, and while the graphics aren’t cutting edge, they’re still pretty good.

Completing the mix is the fact that I absolutely love the character I made for the game, which is a Neutral Evil Wizard/ Rogue. Heh, she’s an absolute bitch (my evil wizard characters all tend to be female, read into that what you will) and it’s so much fun to play someone who’s evil for a change. 🙂 evil enough to take a job to kill someone, beat that person to an inch of their life, accept a bribe to let the person live and kill the person who originally hired you, then kill the original target anyway once I had the money. This is why you should only pay your assassins half up front. “Here, this is all the money I have” means there’s no value in keeping you alive anymore.

Yeah, so I finally got the game installed on the 13th. Coincidentally, I had the week of the 15th off from work because I was called for jury duty, but I never had to go in to the courthouse, so I spent all week in geek paradise, soaking in the gaming goodness. I literally haven’t enjoyed playing a computer game this much in years.


Well, yesterday was my first night off since starting third shift. I didn’t try to switch back to “normal” hours because i knew that would just throw me out of whack, so I was up through the night. Let me tell you, your entertainment options are severely limited at three o’clock on Sunday morning. Heh, especially when you have no money, have no girlfriend, aren’t drinking, and are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. TV is more absolute crap than during the day and infomercials are only amusing if you’re high. I tried chat rooms, but it was all porn come-ons and desperate men. Finally, I turned to my old friends, video games. Unfortunately, all the ones I own have been played to death. No thrill there. Then, I saw it…. a little banner ad. “10 day free trial“, it read, flashing at me seductively. “Come on, all the cool kids are doing it and the first taste is free“. I hesitated, I squirmed. I’ve read what World Of Warcraft had done to others, but I was desperate, bored and lonely. How could I resist?

So, I’m weak. I signed up. What, exactly, is the big deal? I played for a good part of the night. I tried playing a Dwarven Warrior, a Human Paladin, and an Undead Warlock, getting them all to fifth level fairly easily. It was entertaining, but I just don’t see what all the fuss is about. The quests are fairly repetitious, “go kill so many of this creature” or “bring me so many of this item, which you can get by killing this type of creature”, etc. I’m hoping things get more interesting once I’m out of the starting areas and into the wide world. Combat is simplistic, not much in the way of strategy, just click on the creature you want to attack, then hit different keys to activate special attacks. oh, and the whole Massive Multiplayer aspect of it?  I didn’t really talk to anyone. Again, not many people in the starting areas, but overhead conversations were things like “r u dumb”, “dont b a dick”, and such. Heh, the most amusing part of it was when one player was apparently looking for a 60th level mage and another player started giving him grief because only an idiot looks for high level mages in starting zones, but then the first player mentioned that “he” was actually a “she” and the second player suddenly got way more polite. I got a chuckle out of that.

So yeah, World of Warcraft…. I’ll play the free trial. Will I then go out, buy the full version, and pay money every month for the privilege of playing? I think not. It’s a decent game, but nothing spectacular. For a one time fee, I might continue playing it, but I’m not pouring money down a bottomless hole.

…. To say that the Game last night was fan-freaking-tastic! I had a lot of fun and it was just the kind of outlet I needed. On of the goals of a Dungeon Master is to make the game challenging without being overwhelming. It’s not fun being crushed by foe that totally outmatches you and just chopping your way through a bunch of weak creatures gets old quickly as well. Not that every battle should be epic, but it’s much more dramatic if your players have a real sense of danger.

Without going into too much boring detail, we had a battle last night that went down to the wire. Life and death for the whole party hinging on a single die roll. The player’s were fighting a Mohrg, which is a particularly nasty form of undead (check the image below), and almost everyone was either unconscious or paralyzed and helpless.  One party member was still conscious, but struggling in the fiend’s crushing grip and about to die, when the druid‘s animal companion, a wolf, managed to dart in and land a killing blow on the undead abomination to save them all.

Ahhhh, to see everyone crowded around the table, practically holding their breath watching the die roll that would determine the result of that last fateful attack…. That’s some gaming goodness right there.

Image stolen from Penny Arcade

Well, yesterday was a good day. My father and I went for an early show of Beowulf and it was fantastic! The movie was just flat out awesome. It was action packed with a good story that really drew you in. Best of all, the theater we saw it in used digital 3D technology. Oh…. My…. God… Soooo pretty. If you have the chance to check it out, I highly recommend doing so. Oh, and the digitized, fully naked Angelina Jolie certainly didn’t hurt. Yea Gods, that woman is sex incarnate. Plus, there was much violence and carnage with just a bit of tragedy mixed in. All in all, an excellent heroic tale. Fie on the critics, Beowulf is great.

After that got my blood boiling, it was time for the bi-weekly D&D game, which went very well. We had plot with our heroes returning the girl they had rescued from slavers to her father, an earthquake striking the city, and mystic visions. We had violence with the mighty warriors delving into the fabled Undermountain (a vast dungeon beneath the city), getting ambushed by a group of goblins, retreating back to the surface to rest and regroup, then plunging fearlessly back into the depths to face the dread goblins again. Heh, it was much fun. I find that I’m really enjoying running the game again. I think part of the reason for that is the fact that I’m using source books and a prepared dungeon module to give me a solid foundation to build my plot off of. For years before this, I was coming up with everything from scratch, which entailed a lot more work. I game to have fun, not add to my workload. Happily, that’s not an issue so far and I’m looking forward to the next game.

Yep, all in all, a really good day. I seriously needed that.

All right, I’m feeling muuuch better now. I’m still sore, but I don’t have that totally drained, exhausted feeling anymore. I think getting out and being sociable last night helped me no end.

Last night was a Game night and my first time running a campaign in a very long while. It was mostly preliminaries such as making characters, introduction to the new game world and the city they’ll be playing in, then finishing up with a little teaser combat. I’ve got a very interesting group of characters running around, which is good for me as a moderator. It’s much easier to weave a decent plot if you’ve got something more to work with than “I am a generic fighter. I like to hit things with my sword”. This party is definitely unusual, from the half-Ogre barbarian to the Sun Elf wizard or the half-Drow druid to the Aasimar paladin. Out of seven party members, only one is playing a human, which makes for some interesting possibilities.

It’s also nice to have the creative juices flowing again. I took a break from moderating to get my real life in order (and hasn’t that worked out so well?), but gaming was my first creative outlet and it feels good to get back to it. Not to mention, after the way this week has been, a little fantasy and social contact was just what I needed. I’ve been doing too much of the ‘sitting in my cave’ thing. I need to get out there.

No, I haven’t fallen off of a cliff or taken a 40th birthday inspired run down to Tijuana. I suspect that being butt poor in Tijuana is even less fun than being butt poor in New Jersey anyway. I was just feeling the isolationist need for a bit. Well, that and indulging in a Sims 2 marathon. You can blame Kendra for that one, She gave me the Bon Voyage expansion pack for my birthday (Thank you Kendra!!) and so sparked a renewal of my obsession. I heart the Sims games (in a masculine, macho kind of way, of course). After all, I can’t be a space pirate in real life, now can I? Nor will I ever be married or have kids in real life, but that sort of thing is much more fun when it can be turned off with the touch of a button.

Anyway, enough about virtual life. On to real life….. ….. …… Hmmm, I really need to get me one of those, don’t I?

I’m still unemployed and getting to the ‘desperate for work’ part of the program. I have less than a month of unemployment benefits left and then things get really messy. I’m also so poor that being able to afford orange juice when I went shopping this morning was a source of excitement. Oh yeah, I’m living it up and getting my citrus on. Whoo Hoo!

Yeahhhh, other than that, I got nothing. Hopefully, today’s paper will contain something good.



And here we are on yet another Monday.. My weekend was pretty good, though not very eventful. I had a pleasant dinner out with Jim and Kendra on Friday night, than spent Saturday and Sunday mostly sitting out in the yard, sipping good beer, and reading Dungeon and Dragons supplements in preparation for starting to run the Game in a few weeks.

I’m actually getting fairly psyched about moderating again. It’s been quite a while since I’ve done it and this will be my first moderation since we switched back to playing D&D. Plus, I’m basing the campaign in the Forgotten Realms and the supplement books are frankly fantastic. I can feel ideas churning in my head for what I want to do and it feels good to have that creative flow going again. Now, I just have to get it down on paper and flesh things out a bit. Ahhh, taste the geeky goodness.


Friday, we had some excitement. Several fairly violent thunderstorms came through our area and caused some damage. They even blew down a couple of trees in out own yard, one of which being a fairly large oak. Luckily, the trees were the only casualties and I even got some decent pictures from it. Of course, if I want to take the really cool storm photographs, I need to invest in a waterproof camera. In this first picture , you can see the size of the hail that came down. I’m glad I wasn’t out in that:

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Then we have the oak that went down. My lovely assistant Kendra gives some perspective on the tree’s size:

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After that excitement, it was our regular gaming night, so it was off for an evening of D&D. It was a good game with a larger group than usual. I enjoyed the social part of it almost as much as I enjoyed killing things. The rest of the weekend was fairly tame. Kendra and I hung out at the house for the most part, mainly because I’m totally broke until this week’s unemployment check comes through. We plan to get together again on Thursday and do an all day photo safari. I’m looking through some issues of Weird NJ to find someplace cool for us to go. I want to see if I can find some other subject matter than the usual trees, flowers, and insects.

Speaking of unemployment, I saw that the local large chain bookstore is hiring, so I went online and filled out an application. Ugh, what a chore that was. The first part was straightforward, but then there were 47 pages of these stupid pseudo-psych evaluation questions. I mean, come on, that’s well over two hundred freakin’ questions! Give me a break, and of course, a lot of them were repeats asking the same thing in a different way, “I seem to get in a lot of arguments” followed by “It seems like people often argue with me” followed by “Arguing is a good way to get your point across”. Yeah, I get it. Arguing with customers is a bad thing. Can we move on? Despite that, as retail jobs go, this would be a good place to work. So, I’m hoping for some results.

Don’t get me wrong, I still want to put retail behind me, but I think that will take longer than I have unemployment benefits for. Not to mention the fact that being absolutely broke is getting old real fast. I have to change this ‘all or nothing’ attitude I have. It will take some discipline, but I can hold a regular job and still work on my creative projects.

Ugh, I’m severely annoyed at the moment.  See, I recently decided to try my hand at online gaming. It’s all right, but I really don’t see the big attraction. Then again, I’m not the generation the games are geared for anymore. Anyway, it’s fun enough when I’m in the mood to just run around and kill a bunch of monsters. The annoying thing is that to get to new areas of the game map, you have to go through these missions that are part of the so called plot of the game. The mission I attempted this morning is just the worst of the lot. There’s absolutely no strategy to it. You just move into an area, fight your way through wave after wave of monsters, then a boss monster, then you move into the next area, and it all happens again. There isn’t even any variety in the monsters you face. As an added annoyance, it’s a “team” mission, which means that you’re automatically partnered up with another player. Automatically as in you have no choice in who you’re partnered with, nor are you warned that this is going to happen. I tried this mission three times and it’s got me pissed off enough to stop playing entirely.

Ah well, I have more useful real world things to do today anyway