Tag Archives: Fantasy

D&D System Review – Pathfinder SRD

Pathfinder SRD is a D&D system that is based off D&D version 3.5. Set in the traditional fantasy world of Gnomes, Elves and Dwarves along with the traditional class options of Fighter, Mage and Rouge, Pathfinder is about as traditional as it gets. Pathfinder also has a space variant, but we haven’t tried it out since it doesn’t look that different from regular Pathfinder, as even the gear only seems to have been given a fresh coat of paint as opposed to drastically changing anything.

 

Much like the game it is based off Pathfinder operates around 6 primary stats, a class of your choosing, which combined with your stats will determine your bonus to hit and defences. You have armour class which traditional attackers (swords, bows etc) have to try to get past with their attack bonus, and then you have magic, which will affect one of your three saves (Reflex, Fortitude and Will), and you will have to try to get over the save DC of the spell. All in all, it is a system anyone who has played any Wizards of the Coast D&D version should be familiar with.

 

The most important part of any good D&D game is of course the copious amounts of loot, and Pathfinder has a decent selection of loot. While the loot isn’t the most inspired in the world, there are a few pieces that are more unique than others, such as the Merfolk belt, which as the name suggests, transforms you into one of the Mer once a day, and the large amounts of loot described are plenty to keep any party afloat.

 

Another important part of any good D&D based fantasy system in my opinion is how well designed the magic system is, and for Pathfinder, well, it’s a bit iffy at times. On a note, if you want to avoid a long discussion of why the magic system is broken at higher levels, just take away that lower level spells are useless at high levels because of math.

 

Long discussion of math and magic, read at your own risk. The main problem we’ve found is spell DC, which is a combination of the casters main casting attribute modifier (so (X-10)/2, with X being the original stat), a base of 10, and the spell’s level, leaving an equation that looks like 10 + spell level + stat modifier, the main problem with this is that lower level spells become completely ineffectual at higher levels. While generally this isn’t a massive problem, as higher level spells as a rule of thumb deal more damage. The problem comes when you use metamagic, think of it as putting your magic on steroids, it’s suddenly a lot stronger, however the use of metamagic comes at a cost, when using metamagic your spell counts as a spell from a higher level, however, it doesn’t count as a higher level spell in relation to spell DC. This means that while your level 1 spell might be powerful enough to slay a god (I don’t know what you did, but let’s say it is), what this means is that your spell DC equation looks like 10 + 1 + stat modifier, the problem with this, you are never going to hit that god with your spell unless they roll a 1 on their save, meaning that it is virtually worthless, especially since it is now taking up a higher level spell slot, meaning that you’ve had to give up a use of a higher level spell that might have hit that same god.

 

Overall, while Pathfinder doesn’t push the boundaries of D&D, it is a great system to introduce D&D to new players, and has a lot of replayability due to the variety of classes offered, along with the flexibility of the system, making it in my opinion one of the better D&D system out there.

 

We’ve done a lot of experimentation with Pathfinder’s flexibility, and found it to be pretty compatible with just about anything, for example we’ve allowed for other systems to be used at the same time as Pathfinder in our adventures, for example, we allowed Monty Cook’s Arcana Evolved series to be used alongside Pathfinder to allow for some variety. Along with that we’ve also used books like Liches – The Lords of the Night and Vampires – The Lords of the Night. We’ve also tried things like gestalting, which is levelling up two classes at the same time on one character, and ended up going all the way to hexastalts, so six classes on one character, which was based off us looking up whether anyone had discussed one character having that many classes, and simply went with it when we couldn’t find any search results (though there was a forum post discussing hexastalts, so we might have to go up to heptastalts).

 

You can the Pathfinder website here

Highlights on Epicness – Demiplanes

What is a dempilane? Demiplanes are a separate layer of reality that sufficiently high level mages or gods can create. While a god have more control over all aspects of their plane, even a mage has extraordinary levels of control over their planes.

Demiplanes are admittedly not the most powerful spell you can pick at such high levels, especially when set next to spells like wish, which, as the name implies, bend the laws of the universe to grant you your wish, making your creation of your own plane of reality seem relatively minor in comparison. But despite this, demiplanes are epic in my view, and this is due to the amount of roleplaying potential found within them.

Mages of generally around 17th level in D&D can create their own plane of reality, and they get unparalleled control over these planes of reality, making them a player’s paradise. For example, if you want, you can even choose how quickly or slowly time passes in your plane (within reason, you aren’t a god yet), but this gives you more time to do things like research about your upcoming opponents, or simply lounge around, you are playing a mage after all, meaning you work hard and play even harder.

Not only all of the above, but a demiplane is about as secure as it gets, seeing as you control all landing of opponents, allowing you to trap the place so thoroughly that you can kill gods, and then, in the time-honoured tradition of all role players, loot everything they own while laughing manically about how much all the new stuff you got will improve your character.

Due to this, demiplanes, in my mind, are epic. Having a secure base that I have absolute control over is something difficult to accomplish for players, something I can attest to due to the number of times I’ve been attacked or robbed in my own base.

Highlights on Epicness – Luminus and the storming of the fortress

So, a bit of background to start (I’ll try not to be too long). Luminus is one of my D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) characters from the Pathfinder SRD system, he’s an Arcane (yes, the capital is necessary) lich (3rd Edition Liches Lords of the Night). Currently he along with his 3 companions are about to storm a fortress held by the Void (bad dudes) to, A) kill Void minions and B) become gods. The following short story takes place outside the gate of the fortress.

I’ve been alive for longer than most civilizations, and yet, I still feel myself hesitating at what I plan to do. I’ve spent years readying myself for this moment, and yet, now that the day has finally come, I’m frightened that all my practice may go to waste.

At the gates I bellow, “come, face me Sartorius, and we shall find out this day which of us is greater.” A shadow leaps over the walls of the fortress and lands about 40m’s away from us and stares at me, his eyes searching me.

“Ah, so you have returned Luminus, I have been for this day oh so very long, are you ready to face defeat once more?” The omnipresent villain lines of my defeat calm me, I’ve heard this so many times and have always defied the odds, this battle will be no different.

“I am indeed ready Sartorius, but are you ready, for our singing contest once more?” The great sing off would once again begin, and this time, I would emerge the victor.

Game Review: Skyrim

Today I’ve decided to try something new, a game review, hopefully this is something that everyone will enjoy. I try not to go in depth for the story, so nothing major is spoiled.

 

Skyrim: The Elder Scrolls V was released by Bethseda studios back in 2011. It’s one of the most played games with over 20 million sold copies.

 

Overall Story: Skyrim is one of the newer generation of games that allows you to make your own story. This is great as it makes the game open world with no real constraints (except murdering children, I’ve tried almost every single method, I feel bad, but I just really wanted to know whether I could kill them). However, making the game open ended also leads to a couple of issues I’ll touch on later.

 

Graphics: The graphics in Skyrim, while not the most amazing I’ve seen, are well done. They have a reasonably realistic feel to them, which I liked, as it helps to immerse you in the game.

 

Combat: During your first 20ish levels, every fight is a challenge, and it’s can be dangerous and you’ll sometimes just keep dying, however once you hit the point of about level 20, it just becomes a massacre, you are like a god. I’ve taken out Dwarven centurions (a type of nasty monster that is usually the end boss of Dwarven dungeons)with just my fists by this point. However, it is possible to mitigate this with the difficulty setting, but even on the highest difficulty, I was having no real trouble. On top of that, the Dragons you fight in the game are laughable, which is disappointing as they should be the hardest enemy in the game, that’s why they need you, the “Dragonborn” since otherwise Dragons are unbeatable, however the Dragons are such a joke that the city guards can take them down.

 

Powers: Well, a large part of the game is that your the “Dragonborn”, and can shout like a beast (quite literally). But honestly, by level 30 your shouts are pretty much useless.  However, that does not stop making it awesome when you yell at someone and sending the flying off a  cliff, or you shout fire at people.

 

The magic system is unbalanced and the only reason mages are viable is that they can permanently stun lock somebody, and at higher levels can cast any spell without using any Magicka (the games mana).

 

Combat System: I enjoyed melee combat in Skyrim, I’ll admit every now and then it gets a bit repetitive, but that is why I like changing around my builds, one day I’ll go in with two swords and light armour attempting to dodge all shots at me, while others I’ll go in with so much armour that I make tanks jealous and pummel whatever looks at me funny with a huge war hammer.

The archery system in the game was well designed, the arrows functioned like actual arrows, forcing you to adjust for their drop (though wind doesn’t exist thankfully, that is too much realism).  I also liked the integration with the stealth skill tree, as when sneaking, if you shoot someone they take double damage.

 

Quests: The quests were in general enjoyable, and as you had a fast travel system via your map, making even delivery quests less of a chore. While there isn’t a whole lot of variation in quests, I find the unique story lines for the main quests redeem that (except for the main story, that was just painful).

 

Modding: This game really is at its best when you’ve modded it. However, I would still recommend clearing you’re first play through without mods, as it’s a good idea to understand the game before you do. There are a large number of mods, Skyrim is likely to keep you hooked for another 50 hours (and that’s just for exploring all your shiny new houses).

 

Flaws in the game: One of the major problems in the game is just how weird the game can get by the end. By the end, you are Arch-Mage of the Mages Guild, Guild Master of the Thieves Guild, Harbringer of the Companions (while technically speaking not leader, you pretty much are), and Listener of the Dark Brotherhood. I mean seriously, you’ve got more jobs than Barbie. On top of that, you’re the Dragonborn, a werewolf or vampire, and if you’re a vampire, you’re also the Vampire Lord, you’re the richest man in the world, you’ve murdered the emperor. I just find  it odd the game doesn’t even try to adjust for that, really, you should be Lord Emperor of the entire world with how much you run.

 

The game also does not have a good amount of repetitiveness without mods,  I understand you can change your playstyle and start on a different questline etc…, but in the end, you’ll end up doing the same quests, and while in my second play through I was a sword swinging brute, in the end, it just wasn’t as enjoyable as the first play through because it was all predictable.

 

Overall I would say the game is worth your time, it’s a robust game and should keep you entertained for many hours. However, I would recommend not getting the game until there is a sale going on, as the game is not worth  $20 without DLCs, and if you are getting the game, I would highly recommend getting the game with DLCs for the  best experience.

 

 

 

 

Book Review- The Way of Shadows

“Life is empty. Life is worthless. When we take a life, we aren’t taking anything of value.”- Durzo Blint

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks is a work of fantasy that is a rather dark piece of literature, based in the fictional city of Cenaria, a city almost completely dominated by a criminal organization called the “Sakage”. This organization controls all illicit operations in Cenaria, ranging from assassinations to the brothels. This organization also employs or bribes many powerful individuals in the city, including wetboys. Wetboys (pretty lame name) are magic wielding assassins, the most deadly and famous of the current generation of wetboys being Durzo Blint. Wetboys are such skilled killers they do not refer to their victims as targets, but deaders, leading to the prominent quote, “a wet boy has a deader, an assassin has a target, because assassins sometimes miss.”

The central protagonist throughout the book is an orphan named Azoth. Living in the slums of Cenaria, the Warrens, Azoth and his two friends, Jarl and Doll Girl must steal to survive. A bit later into the book Azoth has the opportunity to apprentice under Durzo Blint, the city’s top wetboy. Becoming a wetboy, Azoth must leave behind everything from his past life, and, perhaps most dangerous of all, survive Durzo’s training to become a skilled wetboy.

The magic system within the book is based off of something called the talent, and these talented individuals while also have talents in particular parts of magic. This is best exemplified by the fact of some mages having almost no talent for fire magic, but they might have a great deal of affinity for healing. The talent has three parts, all of which are necessary for a person to use their talent, the Glore Vyrden or life magic, this is basically the magical reservoir. The second component is the ability to recharge your Glore Vyrden, without this you could only use the talent once or twice in your life. A person with this ability generally recharges their Glore Vyrden by absorbing sunlight or from other light sources. The final part is called the conduit, a person with only a small conduit is only able to channel a small part of their talent at once, whereas a person with a large conduit can use large amounts of magic at once.

Overall this is a worthwhile read if you’re interested in reading a darker novel. It’s got magical assassins, so what’s not to love. With good character development, an intriguing story, and quite interesting finish, this book is definitely worth your time.

Side note: This book did not have a kindle edition on Amazon, so while I fully support authors getting paid for their work, this time I’ve included a link to a PDF instead.

The Way of Shadows 

Book Review- The Alchemyst

An excellently written story based off the idea that Nicholas Flamel was actually successful in finding the Philosophers Stone, and managed to create an Elixir of Life using the powers of this stone.

This book is set in the modern era, with computers, cars and basically everything we have come to expect in life, except that in the book, magic is real.

The basic premise of the story is that the Flamels have been waiting for twins of legend, one would have an aura of pure silver, the other of pure gold. The prophecy as quoted is “The Two that are One, and the One that is all, One to save the world, One to destroy it.” Basically fairly standard stuff, yet it still makes for an enjoyable read.

The system of magic within this series is aura based, as you may have guessed. To perform magic, an aspiring mage must first have their magic “awakened”.

Overall this is an enjoyable read, has an interesting plot, good characters and interesting character development. It’s also made more enjoyable by the fact that famous mythological figures appear in the book, such as the Morrigan, Baset and Hecate. If your looking for a fiction book with some famous figures, I’d definitely give the series a go.

Link to the book: Alchemyst

Book Review- Demon Accords Series by John Conroe

“I have no Native American heritage, but I had decided as a child that my spirit guide animal would be a bear. We were both loners and fighters, at least that’s how I looked at it. I don’t know how the Great Bear felt about it, as I had never given him the option to say no.”-Chris

Ok, so as soon as some of you saw the title you probably went, what? Demon Accords, what a horrible sounding name, I’ll never read that.  If that was your first reaction, then this book won’t be quite what you were expecting.

This book also deserves a warning like Dune. This book will involve a lot of killing (I mean a lot), a bit of romance (in case you don’t enjoy that sort of thing, though it’s not too long) and will talk about demons (I know some people don’t enjoy these things). If you don’t mind all these things, then you’ve done yourself a favour, because this book is one of the best series’s I’ve ever read.

This series mainly centers around a demon hunter named Chris. He has been given the power to combat demons using what essentially is his aura.  He is an exorcist with a mission.

The setting is basically urban fantasy and virtually ever legend is true and walks around causing trouble – there is almost never a quite moment for Chris and his, rather cool, girlfriend.

God Touched – During book one the book sets the scene for important character and explains a bit about these characters. I enjoyed this book immensely, though it was not my favourite book in the series.

Demon Driven-Book two did a bit more scene setting for some of Chris’s new powers but it also had a lot more combat, dialogue and just all around action than book one.

Brutal Asset-Book three is almost all combat, during this book Chris begins hunting down several things that really should not have tried to irritate him, I mean really, have they learnt nothing? This book also introduces the newest (and definitely furriest) member of the group.

Dual Nature-Book four is has more politics (cool politics, not the type of politics were everyone just stands there and drones on) than action, although this book does also have some serious action. This book definitely had some really awesome ideas, especially… actually, I won’t spoil it.

Fallen Stars- Book five took a bit of a break from vampire politics to move onto what Chris does  best, kill demons. This book also introduces the character that will be prominent during book six.

Executable-Book six is an oddity, it’s during  the time of book five from the perspective of a completely different character. Chris and the main character in the book have never met each other before (except during the end of book five, but that doesn’t really count in my opinion) so I definitely found this interesting. This book also gives you a bit more of an insight as to how witch’s powers work.

Black Frost-The last book (or third book technically but it’s a short story so I put it last) is also something of an oddity. This book is also about a different character like book five, but it never has Chris meet up with the main character here. This makes it less important to the series, but it is definitely an excellent book.

Overall my favourite book would definitely have to be book five. I loved the ideas in that book and that is what made it stand out for me compared to some of the other ones.