Toldain Talks

Because reading me sure beats working!


Toldain started as an Everquest character. I've played him in EQ2, WoW, Vanguard, LOTRO, and Zork Online. And then EVE Online, where I'm 3 million years old, rather than my usual 3000. Currently I'm mostly playing DDO. But I still have fabulous red hair. In RL, I am a software developer who has worked on networked games, but not MMORPGS.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Stand Up and Be Counted

Blizzard, I expect better of you. You are the company that challenged the great gamer/nerd prejudice that orcs are bad. To you, orcs were kind of cool. And then undead and trolls, too. But, apparently, not gay people.

Well, I'm sure you're happy to have gay people work for you and play your games. I bet you're a pretty progressive employer.

However, at the end of the latest Blizzcon, you showed a video featuring George "Corspeater" Fisher, from Cannibal Corpse talking about his love of the Horde, and also his hatred of the Alliance, which was described using homophobic language. If you follow this link, you will find a version of the video shown. If you watch it, be warned, it's so very, very NSFW.

What did you expect from a Death Metal head? It's pretty clearly meant to be a joke, just way, way too far over the top. But some people aren't going to be able to take it that way. There are lots of instances of that, and I've been on the other side, attempting a joke that others found hurtful.

And George clearly ascribes to the idea that if he doesn't use the word "fuck" or a derived form twice in a sentence, he wasn't being "authentic" or something. He's clearly of the "don't use a normal word when I can say something offensive" school of thought.

The video was bleeped out, but they showed it anyway. Does that make sense to you? How was this decision made? Let's offend over half of your audience? I can appreciate how someone just thought it was funny, and kind of mocking. There's a thread of self-mockery in George's tone, it seems to me.

But would someone who has been beaten for being gay hear that? Or someone who has been humiliated repeatedly for being not quite "manly" enough?

I'm not sure Blizzard has made an official response yet. It seems to me the Blizzard is a fairly progressive employer and fosters a gay-positive workplace. But WoW players, and particularly raiders, use some of the most vulgar language out there, including homophobic slurs. So, will they affirm their own values when doing so might upset some of their best customers?

I expect them to stand up for what they pretty clearly believe in.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Was That Psychic or Thunder Damage?

There's nothing to be said about this. They have more videos, too.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Came Here To Be Podkilled: Ataraxia's Kingdom Edition

Ok, ok, there aren't any pods in DDO. I didn't get podkilled. I did get TPK'ed, though. Wiped, if you will. "PK" could stand for "player kill" or "pod kill", after all.

This happened last week, in Ataraxia's Kingdom. And in the spirit of ICHTBPK, I resolved to blog about failure, just so that you, dear reader, will get some fun out of my misery.

It happened last week. Yours truly, he of fabulous crimson follicles; Lobilya, trap-mechanic and general back-stabber, Cheeves, a Paladin 6/Rogue 3/Confused lots, and Vironet, Ranger 9.

It didn't end well. It didn't even start well. Our hirelings (level 9 clerics), were very aggressive and pulled too many mobs. And at other times, they would go inactive and do nothing until given a command, even though they were set to "guard" or so on. Summoned creatures were similar. This was the overland zone in Ataraxia's Haven, before we ever got to the dungeon. We also had a kind of "scatter in many directions" issue, and a few deaths. I learned, much to my irritation that in spite of being called "Wildmen", they aren't, in fact Persons, and are not susceptible to Charm Person. Charm Monster wasn't working all that great, either.

The Duergar also swarmed us, but at least they could be charmed. However, I was somewhat slow to target and cast, that didn't help. But we struggled by, helped enormously by having cleric hirelings who could raise dead, and finally made it to the dungeon.

The first part consisted mostly of killing Scrags, a kind of sea troll. That wasn't too bad, but I was running very low of spell points. We had decided to do the dungeon on hard. After all, someone (Vironet?) had done it before, and thought it wasn't too bad. I ran very low of spell points. There was only one rest shrine in the zone, and it being Hard, I could only use it once.

But we managed the Scrags, and we managed to get the two keys that would get us into the lighthouse to where Ataraxia was being held prisoner. That's when the truly horrible stuff happened. In the next room, we got swarmed by Duergar. Including a named. I charmed several of them, but had trouble picking out the enemies from the friends in the melee. It didn't help that several of them both had very good sneaking ability, and a very good ability to see through our invisibilty/sneak/etc.

Vironet started backing off and kiting a Duergar Assassin, or so she thought. To me, she was kiting the named. Unfortunately, the named caught up to her and offed her, then went snuck. We had a discussion:

Me: "Did that named get you?"
Her: "I wasn't kiting the named, it was an assassin."
Me: "The named ran right past me after you."
Her: "I never saw him."

So, we were all dead, but some of us were close to the rez shrine. Like me. I rezzed my cleric hireling. I made myself invisible, then went to look for Vironet. Something like the following happened. I told the cleric to rez her, and an assassin materialized, saw through my invis, and one-shotted me with a backstab. I'm dead now, out of reach of the rez shrine. Vironet gets raised and the named appears in similar fashion and offs her, I don't think it was a one-shot, nobody is quite as wimpy as Elf of Paper. Quoth she, "Oh, there's the named."

Now we're all dead, and too far from the rez shrine. So we declare a wipe and recall. A short break and we want to try again. This time on Normal difficulty.

It isn't quite a replay, we get a little farther. In fact, we wiped when we entered the final room, had the door close behind us, and get swarmed by Duergar, including many Flamestrikes.

Ok, the mood of the group is getting a little sour. So we look for something else. Cheeves says, "Hey there's a quest we can do in the Harbor, something about outsiders invading. It's way over our head. Beholders are everywhere. Ice Flensers and Blood Reavers, too.

There were some fun aspects to it. Opening the first door, a troop of Fiendish Kobolds comes running down the hall at us, turns and runs through the door and disappears. They had no concern for us, they were fleeing in terror. My reaction was, "Dangit I can't target them, dang, dang, dang, HEY! Hahahahaha!"

The other fun bit is getting shot at repeatedly by Beholder eye-beams that had NO EFFECT ON ME WHATSOEVER! Muahahaha! I had my saves buffed, and my Deathblock robe on, and was bouncing around getting shot at repeatedly while others were actually shooting it. It all ended in tears, though, when I rolled a 1 or something on my save and was disintegrated. (By the way, I dinged 11 last night and can cast disintegrate now. And I'm just itching for some payback!) We mostly ended up dead and watching Vironet kite things around until one of the dungeon's tricks spawned a crowd that she couldn't manage on her own. Third wipe of the evening.

I won't say we were undaunted, there was some serious daunting going on. But we wanted a win now, pretty bad. And we got it by doing The Church and the Cult in House Phiarlan. We investigated the Temple of Vol, and discovered a horror at the end, a vampire! Our battle with him was epic, he'd turn into bats and disappear for a while, and then reappear elsewhere. He also blinded me. But it didn't matter, I could tab target him and shoot him anyway.

My biggest damage spell is Lightning Bolt. I have a hat that increases it's damage by 40%, and it usually hits for about 70. Unfortunately, Adran ir'Karsmore (the vampire) has rogue levels and Improved Evasion, and even when he failed to evade, he has some giant damage resistance, so even when I hit him, I did maybe 10 points of damage. So I went with the tried and true standby - Magic Missile. That did a little better. But we got him, and our feelings were saved, if not our honor.


This week we redid the Ataraxia quest and were successful. But the party composition changed. Cheeves swapped out for Jonnson, Cleric 9. And we added Special Guest Star Jaliera, red-headed high elf Paladin 8. (She looks so much like me, you'd almost think we're related or something.) And we rocked it. I did much better targeting and charming, etc, because I'm using a new keyboard setup. More on that in a later post.

The main difference was control of engagement. We did much better at letting mobs come to us. With one fewer hireling and a person doing healing, we were much more solid on that front. So, we rocked the joint, freed Ataraxia, and then climbed to the top of the lighthouse to enjoy the spectacular view of the island, and do a little victory dance. Later, we did the other dungeon in Ataraxia's Haven, with similar success. What a difference a week makes.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Haywire Disco!

This week our instance group took on Haywire Foundry, the last normal quest of Vault of Night.

The usual suspects were there again from last week - my fighter/thief Marty, the thief thief Lobilya Sackfill, Mr. "Have reapeating heavy crossbow, will travel" Worstof, and the incomparable Karayasama.

Karayasama's usual sorcerous tricks had be modified this week since the Haywire foundry has almost nothing that qualifies as a "person", being populated mostly by warforged, and mechanical dogs, in this mithril defenders. With the occasional ooze and elemental. So "charm person" and "dominate person" are out.

Instead, we had an attack of dance fever. More than once, we'd get 15-20 seconds into a combat and all the warforged attacking us would be dancing. I believe this is an application of Otto's Resistable Dance, but it seemed pretty irresistable when Karayasama was playing the tune. Do you know how easy it is to beat the crap out of someone who is doing a fairly awkward version of "The Twist".

But the warforged got their licks in. A couple of times, it seems that I felt tired, and just took a little nap, right there on the foundry floor. Mmmm, that felt good. Do you suppose those mutterings and gestures that warforged was making had anything to do it. I sure felt tired.

Nevertheless we got deep into the foundry without too much trouble. We defeated the three iron golems (with mithril defender companions) in the locked puzzle chamber by kiting them around and slowly eliminating them. Given that we are about level 9 now, there were a few deaths, but they weren't really a problem.

But then there's the destruct button.

Once you hit this sucker, it's hell-for-leather to the exit. Well, the real problem is, it's not actually to the exit, though it's near the exit. So you can't use Dimension Door to solve this problem. Such a pity...

No, you have to climb up pipes over lava, fend off maybe 20 Mithril Defenders, run down corridors, not fall into the collapsing pit and make it through the blast door before it closes. I did not make it. I was the first to climb up the pipes, but I waited there for the others, when I should have been tanking and killing a few mithril defenders to clear the way some. But I first waited, and then ran through them. Their damage plus the traps I hit did me in about 2/3rds of the way through.

Lobilya had a floor collapse into a pit of lava beneath her. She could perch on a rock, but the "Grease" spewed by the Mithril Defenders meant that she kept slipping off of it into the lava and taking damage. She died.

Worstof was slower than me, but made it through to the blast doors. Which had already closed. Either because of time, or because Karayasama had gone through them already. When the countdown expired, he died.

Karayasama made it through the blast doors, but got singed by all the fire elementals that spawn during the explosion. Her pet was able to eventually kill them all. But we were all dead, and with no rez shrine nearby. Cleric hirelings had succumbed, too.

Now as it turns out, the final chamber, where Karayasama had died was in the same large chamber that we entered through, after fighting an earth elemental and a couple of fire elementals. To finish the dungeon, you must cross this room on a high catwalk and grab an item in a small room.

So, this is what we did: Lobiliya recalled, and hired a level 9 cleric. Worstof dismissed his to make room. Lobilya re-enters and goes to the big chamber below where Karayasama's ghost is. Karayasama drops down (in ghost form, you get feather fall for free, what's going to happen? You might die?) and gets Raise Dead cast on her. But Karayasama does not confirm the rez until she is pulled back to her soulstone - up high above the chamber. Then the rez is in, the item is grabbed and the dungeon is completed.

Now that's winning ugly.

We don't really have enough people to do the raid that comes next, so this was probably the last we'll see of Vault of Night for a while. Though Lobilya suggested that if we each bring a hireling that will be 8 characters ... Maybe with a few more? (I have no idea what raid content is like in DDO).

Next we'll probably start on Ataraxia's Haven.


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

How Do You Spell Death? B-E-H-O-L-D-E-R

Monday we challenged the third adventure in the Vault of Night series in DDO. I was playing Martinier de Pasolai. Marty is a split fighter/thief who first started out as a character in the obscure tabletop system known as Throwing Stones. That game represented your character as dice. Each side had one of three colors - red, silver or gold. Each color was worth one point in a stat - Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence. The idea behind Marty was that he was a melee fighter but his stats were balanced. I started with four dice, one each of a highly imbalanced and one balanced. So I had the same score in all my stats. Intelligence was used for initiative, so he had good initiative. After that, when I leveled up by gaining a new stone, I only added dice that had two sides of each color.

So he had a bit of rogue and even bard (mostly just persuasion) in him. I was surprised to find that, in that system, he was really good at counterattacking, and knocking people to the ground or disarming him. A typical fight would go thus: Marty would hold off three guys, Patrick (a caster) would befuddle, paralyze, or otherwise drop other opponents into a pit, and Lucy would charge around the battlefield, leaving grease spots behind her.

Often, when those three guys attacked Marty, they would all fall down. This was fun. But Marty's personality was fun, too. He was a "gladiator" - think professional wrestling done with armor in an arena. Some of the fights were fixed and Marty was the guy to "make sure the public had a good time and didn't cotton on to the idea that the outcome was, er, predetermined"

Anyway, this doesn't translate to D&D or consequently DDO very well, but I have gone with - highish INT and CHA, split fighter/thief (5/5 after last nights ding!) . In DDO he is a trap mechanic with no spot whatsoever, and is good with Bluff (bluff pulling rocks!) He has Combat Expertise, which he loves, and Improved Trip, which he also loves, and Improved Feint, which seems less useful.

Also, he's dabbling in Use Magic Device, and he has the Least Dragonmark of Finding. So he often picks up wands in dungeons that he can use.

All of this stuff is probably way off the "power curve". He has very low hit points for a plate tank of his level, for example. If he was keeping and holding aggro, the sneak attack dice he gets wouldn't be as useful. However, it is all to frequently the case in DDO that whatever target "cannot be influenced". Say, all undead, for starters.

But Marty has multiple "attack modes", and this came in useful last night, as we were doing The Jungle of Khyber, quest 3 in the Vault of Night series. With Marty were Karayasama (she who dominates), Lobilya, halfling thief, and Worstof, Phritz' ranger (he of the repeating heavy crossbow).

The Jungle of Khyber isn't a jungle at all, but a cave (the opening to it is in a jungle, though!). Our mission is to track down, and rescue Veil, a drow rogue who is being pursued by a construct from the plane of Law, an Inevitable. Last week, we wiped when we pulled too many of the drow at once. This is a problem the encounter intends to give you, as the drow wander around a lot, and the archers among them love to retreat back up the corridor, leaving you to chase them or be filled full of holes. Meanwhile their casters will drop Flamestrikes on you.

But we got through that stuff this week, with a little more care, a little more caution and some better firepower. Marty is very effective against casters, but he has to go into "caster mode". He switches out his normal +2 adamantine plate for some studded leather with spell resistance. He sneaks up on said caster, trips him with a sneak attack, and proceeds to beat him mercilessly (sneak attack damage applies while they are prone!). This works pretty well. Also, I get my evasion, so some of their area attacks miss me altogether.

The next area brought us beholders. Ugh. We see a beholder up ahead, buff up and I charge. I engage it, but I'm dropped by a disintegrate thrown by the SECOND beholder who was down a side passage. Karayasama gets one of the beholders charmed, and it kills the other one. Since we have ninth level cleric hirelings along, I am rezzed and all's right with the world. With the help of a minor globe of invulnerability, we circle the remaining beholder and drop it quickly when the charm comes off.

We manage the beholders in the next cavern pretty well, mostly by "popup" missile fire. My cleric hireling threw in a flame strike or two for good measure.

After that there were more drow, and those were pretty much ok as we avoided the worst of the swarming. Next is a giant chamber with a waterfall and a high cave with extra mobs and experience. I missed the jump to the extra stuff so stood below and watched as my comrades first killed one mob, then got slagged by the other. Fortunately they were able to get rezzes even as I had to take an paniced phone call from my daughter who is college regarding finances. It seems her first of the month deposit hadn't showed up yet.

Five minutes later, we take a ride on a geyser and fight some more drow, and I get another phone call from said daughter to the effect of "never mind, the money just showed up." Evidently, these things post at 11pm PDT.

The penultimate chamber (sadly, there's really no way to score "penultimate" Words With Friends, is there?) is a killer. There's a main chamber with a few drow guarding it. No problem, right? There's a small room to the right with a rez/rest shrine. Onward, to the left is a door, behind which and around a corner lie three nameds: a drow caster, a troll, and a beholder.

The caster was easy. I bluff pulled him ran back around the corner to the main chamber. He chased me, fired a lighting bolt which seems to have missed everyone, and died to our combined fire.

The rest was not so easy. I attempted a bluff pull of the troll, but the beholder joined him. What ensued was 2-3 minutes of chaos as we battled the beholder and troll, died and rezzed at the shrine to do battle again. Sometimes the deaths were immediate. One time, I was hit for 200 points of damage, which I presume was from a Disintegrate. Under tabletop rules, we calculated that this meant that the caster level of that beholder was at least 17th. Or else there's some kind of spell critical hit rule. This little intermezzo often resulted in the beholder sitting in the room with the rez shrine. Bad, but we managed to get him a little farther away.

The action hit a pause when we were mostly all dead and wondering what to do. Lobilya was back in the chamber where the nameds had started, at negative hit points. But the troll had followed her. We thought he might be camping her, but when she hit -10 and died for real, he didn't move. So we had managed to split the two of them, after all.

Ok, we can get this now. We all rezzed and mobbed the beholder, who went down - after dealing out just a few more fingers of death, negative levels, and disintegrates. We then waited for all the death debuffs to expire. I had six, I think. For a minute after you rez at a rez shrine, you lose a "level" - hit points, and base attack bonus and saves, mostly. These don't count concurrently, so I waited 6 minutes as each one expired and my hit point total slowly climbed back up to its normal, anemic (for a plate tank) level.

Then we fought the troll, who was also pretty easy by himself.

After that, The Inevitable was anti-climactic. Some of us had done it before, and knew enough to bring weapons that could actually damage him. I tried to hold him in his starting room with a shield wall, but after pausing briefly, he squeezed around me and started chasing ... someone. Probably Karayasama. We kited him. Nobody died, I think. At one point he turned on my cleric hireling, who did not have the sense to run away and kite him. He hit her with some kind of area effect stun where he hit the ground. But she didn't go down and he soon got bored and went back to chasing someone else. Meanwhile we are chipping away at him getting "glancing blows" often. Since he ignored me (Intimidate does not appear to influence him). I turned my Combat Expertise off, and just chased him like a wild man, poking him with my brand new +1 Anarchic Rapier.

Eventually he fell, and we gave a cheer, and logged off. It's a long dungeon.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

I Didn't Know "Intitle" Was a Word, Even Between Friends

But Words With Friends evidently thinks so, and backs up Karaya's play of it in our current game. Since it's 7 letters, she got the 50 point bonus. Which goes on top of the 50 point bonus she got for "deathcup". Two bingos in one game. I'm toast.

Strangely, she isn't beating me by as much as my first game with **Milia**. I can no longer remember the 7-letter bingos she made in that game. Apparently the memory is too painful to carry for another 3000 years of life. I believe the sum total of 7-letter plays, which empty your rack and score a 50 point bonus is: Opponents 5, Tolly 0.

Wow, I suck at this game.

P.S. While I'm thinking about it, the dictionary for this game is cracked. It allows "jetes" ??? That's French, right? I did not think foreign words were acceptable. Oh, and "moggy"??!? What the frak?

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