Friday, 29 April 2016

Season Break

I hope you all enjoyed the Darklands of Arkania story that just finished (for now). As you might have guessed, I'll be dialing back the posting frequency for a little bit to recover from that marathon. Sad to say that much like the many characters in that tale my list of "active blogs" (those who post at least once every 3 weeks) to link to is also quickly dying. Blogging is dying!?!

Not this again.

As a boon to all those who were randomly selected as characters in that tale I'll be re-adding their blogs, if they have fallen off the list, back to it when I get the chance to see if any have been resurrected. Hopefully that will give the next graph a nice big spike.

Meanwhile, the grind continues in NWO, I'm getting back into Skyrim, and there'll be more movie reviews coming up. Oh and I still have another unfinished story lying around don't I? In the meantime enjoy what must be close to hula hoop mastery.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Ben Hur (1959)

In the beginning, there was a five minute overture of music before the film even begins.

Ben Hur is a story of a respected Jewish noble (the titular Ben Hur, played by Charlton Heston) and his clash and "revenge" against his once good friend. If that opening line is any indicator, this film is long - almost four hours. And I think most of the glut comes from shots of people simply moving from point A to point B.

It really is a big movie.

I can see why they did it though - the sets are amazing and the sheer scale of the number of people involved in some scenes is impressive. I quite like the miniatures during the ship combat too. There's really something about old fashioned, tactile movie magic that for me still trumps even the best CGI effects / people duplication techniques.

Of course it does face the problems of old, such as one part where a distant car is clearly heard in the background and having odd cuts when scenes were clearly retaken. Behind the main plot (well, sort of interwoven) are parts of the New Testament which might leave some people scratching their heads. I do quite like how they portray Jesus in the film though: they don't. He's a "foreground extra" whose face you never see and used to decent effect.

Overall I liked the movie. A lot of set backs for Ben Hur lead to a lot of action pieces, though the number of time skips was a bit much. Definitely worth watching, but due to the length I'm not sure I'd be too eager to see it again. I give it three and a half javelins out of five.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Thea: Last Memory

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

With only Screaming Monk and Plushie Mostly left in the village, they are surprised to see the enemy forces inexplicably wander off. While they desperately try repair the walls they suddenly notice the drinking water has again been poisoned. Damn it, it was Thurazz all along! Both suffering from heavy poisoning there is no recourse but to try make the run to the herbalist hut as was done before, but since leaving the village unattended means ending the game, Screaming Monk tells Plushie Mostly "Go ahead, I'll be right behind you."

Plushie literally runs for her life, knowing that the odds of Screaming Monk surviving the poison before she gets back are slim. It's when she reaches the door to the herbalist that she hears the echo of the loud war drums, knowing that the orc army (most likely led again by Thurazz) had returned to the Memorial Ground.

The end.

With only one Screaming Monk in their way, the orcs claimed an easy victory and destroyed the village, once and for all. I can only assume Screaming Monk fought as hard as Lu Bu in this clip, complete with operatic singing, before being taken down. Either way, Plushie Mostly knew that she now had no home to go back to. After being cured by the herbalist it would be time to move away from these orc infested lands. This is turn 410.

That's the end of the story for now, thank you for reading!

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Thea: Thurazz's Hammer

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

The Catching Fire squad assault the orc camp successfully, finding the orc witch leader and I imagine doing nasty things to her in revenge for taking down their own witch, Natalie Patalie, back at the Memorial Ground just a few days before. This act must really piss off the orcs as they go into a full offensive, slamming the Catching Fire team from every direction. Elfi, David DM and Gnome Spy are slain in the skirmishes. Xinrae also falls prey to random Striga who pounce on the weakened group.

It goes much worse for the Memorial Ground where the orc Thurazz has assembled his orc horde and absolutely slams the village: slaying Thorgrim, Tacktix TLC, Rhino, Bec Jinx, Tyranno Dorkus, Elio and Tough Bat in the initial assault. Badly wounded, Ancient Gamer and Chief Talarian Design somehow fight them off.

Ouch...!

Ancient Gamer dies of his wounds the next night, leaving only the badly wounded Chief Talarian in the village. Seeing the smoke in the distance, the Catching Fire team abandons the heavy loot to be able to make the sprint back to town reaching it just in time as another two waves of dragon spiders. Sister Kia, Kamalia, Couch Potato and Chief Talarian are shredded to pieces by the first group. The second group takes War Tome and Fiona Nerd screaming out into the wilderness to feed their young.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Thea: Catching Fire

[Part of the Darklands of Arkania Story.]

During Kupala Night, Couch Potato gets a vision of fire elementals that he feels the gods want them to find. Chief Talarian is hesitant at letting an expedition leave at this point, especially to such a distant location but the young people, being as they are, are adamant in this path so he lets them form the Catching Fire team, whose members include Couch Potato, Sister Kia, Xinrae, War Tome, Seth Megadirge, Screaming Monk, Plushie Mostly, Kamalia, Gnome Spy, Fiona Nerd, Elio, Elfi and David DM.

Knowing he won't see some of them again, the chief wishes them well and sees to the defenses of the village. Almost as soon as the Catching Fire squad depart the village is set upon by more dragon spiders but they hold without taking casualties - easing Talarian's mind somewhat.

The squad makes good time cross country, evading the many orc patrols and slamming through random bandits who happen to be in the way. Finally they find the fire elementals Couch Potato had seen, but they are no longer aligned with the gods.

Bloody Pyromaniacs...

As a group fully composed of violent, war loving teenagers they do the most logical thing and attack - destroying the heathen elementals. Despite losing Seth Megadirge in the battle (he was well roasted), the team refuse to return to town empty handed and set their sights instead on a large orc raiding camp nearby.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Skyrim: The Forgotten City

Player made content at its finest.

I've been getting back into the Elder Scrolls: Skyrim as of late and this post is a review of a stand alone Community Mod called "The Forgotten City", and it is currently the best quest mod I have tried to date.

The Lake house.

What starts as something pretty low key with a simple request to find someone's missing brother in some old dwemer ruins becomes a very cool and interesting quest. Each NPC has decent voice actors, the maps are well designed, and there's even one custom music track for it. If you are the thorough type, then it will probably keep you busy for a good number of hours.

The best thing this has going for it though is the story, which has multiple possible endings and I'm not going to ruin any of it for you (until I write about it in my Skyrim adventure journal sometime in the future). I highly, highly recommend it. I'm tempted to even suggest reinstalling your copy of the game just to play it - that's how good it is.

You can download The Forgotten City here. Just follow the steps below to install:

-Unzip into [C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Skyrim\Data]
-Start up Skyrim. On the opening image, don't just press Start. Go to Data files first and make sure the box beside TheForgottenCity.esm is ticked.
-Start the game.

That's all there is to it. This mod earns bonus points by being user friendly too. Some others require x,y,z other mods to run but this one works just fine on its own.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

NWO: Stronghold Four Baphomet

The Beholder Tank is a lie.

Neverwinter Online update time and while the above statement about the Beholder Tank, the most sought after reward from the currently running Day of the Dungeon Master event, is not entirely true - the odds of actually getting one are close to non-existent.

Those are actually better odds than the first two weeks of the event where -no one- was getting it. Anyway, on a more positive note - my guild's stronghold has just reached rank four thanks to the efforts of a handful new members. Ultimately this is just an aesthetic change though, as the first boon structure plot is only unlocked at rank 5, which is MILES away (given the requirement to upgrade 4-5 other buildings).

Is that a spirit bomb?

I've also just finished the Maze Engine campaign which is actually pretty fun. The parts that you go on actual quests and not the ones that just randomly send you up a mountain to kill an imp or two anyway. The final confrontation with Baphomet is really cool too, and I'm glad a version of it is replayable as a weekly.

And so the wheel keeps spinning, and the grind continues.