Posts Categorized: Prose

Dungeons and Dragons Online Vignette – Two Weeks A Cleric

Estocean was less than mediocre as a human paldin.  That is, he thought it would be great to be a cross between a fighter and a cleric and ended up being horrible at both.  At level 18, he couldn’t tank, he couldn’t do enough damage, and he certainly couldn’t heal.  One day the gods bestowed upon him a second chance: a +20 Heart of Wood with which he could undo all the horrible choices he had made in life.

He didn’t want to deviate too far from his current build.  After all, he already had good armor and a few shields to choose from.  He wanted to make a difference in a group, and most of all, he wanted to be accepted.  The choice, he thought, was obvious — he was going to be a cleric.

A +20 Heart of Wood is a curious thing.  Normally, becoming a cleric took years of devoted training, a bit of book learning, and eventually a certificate of ordination from bought for a few plat and a promise not to get too much into necromancy.  With the +20 Heart of Wood, this all happens within a few minutes.  First you are a poor excuse for a paladin and three minutes with some new and improved horrible choices later, you’re a poor excuse for a cleric.

There he was, Dungeons and Dragons’ latest worst babysitter.  As a cleric, however, he found that people seemed more polite to him.  Even as he floundered through casting healing spells, resurrecting people he couldn’t save, and making numerous rookie cleric mistakes, people didn’t seem to mind.  He apologized a few times for his ineptitude and the other party members deflected blame away every single time!  Inept paladins never get that kind of break.  Maybe it was true — everyone does love a cleric!  Seriously, this sort of treatment is usually reserved only for clerics…and extremly high skilled trapmonkey rogues.

Estocean went from level 18 to level 20 in a couple of weeks with a large part of the XP gained by grouping with adventurers happy to have a cleric.  At the moment he turned 20, as if guided by a malevolent god, he walked towards the hall of heroes in the marketplace.  He was finally accepted, he thought.  People were finally happy to see the good cleric, he thought.  Why am I being led to the hall of heroes, he wondered.  He didn’t notice that his god had placed a True Druidic Heart of Wood in his backpack.

Estocean woke up on the shore of a sandy beach.  He was a level 1 Elf.  He noticed, though, that he was a little bit taller than the elves he remembered seeing.  Given a choice of weapons, he was inclined to pick a rapier but what he really wanted was a bow.

On Being John the Baptist

Years ago, I spoke of a boy in prophecy, a youngling with the skating stride of a three-legged dog on ice. Almost in silent secrecy, we knew and understood what we had in our midst. We assumed the roles of protectors, nurturers, shapers, fearing that unleashing the boy onto an unsuspecting world would be at the very least irresponsible, and at the very worst, destructive. It was foolish to think we had this sort of power.

Two days ago, I came to hear this boy’s message but the boy was nowhere to be found. Instead there was this man who spoke passionately to the crowd. He spoke of the new gods. He spoke of dragons. He told them the story of the necromancer. His was a voice in this revolution, and he made them believe.

To say that we are proud of him is to state the obvious. We know what he is capable of, and if the prophecy is to be believed, there will be many epic adventures ahead. Fortunately for mankind, I may have knowledge of the only way to stop him. Force him to shoot from the point – his slap shot still sucks.

Dungeons and Dragons Online Vignette — Avast Conspiracy

This was my last stop before Eveningstar. This also marked the last time I travel via the Phiarlan Carnival Cruise Line. While I did pick up some nice armor and lovely cutlery here, I ended up finding better gear when I got to the Forgotten Realms. As the ship was slowly being towed to a port in Alabama, I leisurely started reanimating the food (a nod to the “Delirium” quest) and amidst the ensuing chaos, teleported the heck out of there. Some stranded people have no sense of humor.

Dungeons and Dragons Online Vignette — Eveningstar

I had just about gotten used to the strange looks I got every time I walked into a new town.  The glowing red eyes, the maniacal grin, and the occasional aura of death I drag around while in lich form tend to draw the eyes of those who had never seen a wizard Pale Master before.  I was ok with that.  The town of Eveningstar, however, gave me the stink-eye for a very different reason: because I am of the Drow Elf race.

While it may sound like a hilarious scene from “Blazing Saddles,” the anti-Drow sentiment around town made me very uncomfortable.  Everywhere I went there was at least one knight following me around as if I were about to pillage the whole place.  All the NPCs seemed to have something disparaging to say about my race.  Even Elminster, the town cuckoo had a few bad things to say about the Drow.

Begrudgingly, I took a few quests in order to win the townsfolk’s trust.  A few yards from town, at the King’s Forest, I began to understand where the negative attitude came from: two Drow archers mugged me.  It was your classic Drow-on-Drow crime, except in Lich form, I happened to have a tremendous advantage.  Two dead Drow archers later, I immediately thought about pleading self-defense or some Eveningstar equivalent of the Stand-Your-Ground law.  I went back to town to turn myself in and the gatekeeper asked me how many I had killed.  After confessing to killing two, the guard smiled and said “you get a prize at ten.”  What the hell was that about?

After turning in a few piles of Drow bodies for experience points, that strange conscience thing kicked in again.  It came at around the same time I discovered that the Drow had enslaved a few of the villagers using mind-control collars to bend their will.  See, I have a very strict policy about these things.  Hirelings, yes.  Slaves, no.  Thus I went all Abraham Lincoln on those Drow Slavers…that is if Lincoln was Death incarnate and was a pretty good shot with necrotic rays.

The collars were relatively simple and I noticed quickly that I had enough skill to disarm them once the slavers were dispatched.  I recognized a couple of the slaves as townsfolk that had thrown rotten produce at me earlier in the week.  Their collars unfortunately malfunctioned as I was disarming them.

The latest quest I’ve been given involves infiltrating an underground Drow town.  The War Wizard that gave the quest said he cast a spell that activates at the appropriate time in order make adventurers “look Drow.”  Going Drow-face in this day and age, really?

Perhaps someday when the worlds have gotten past their ignorance and bigotry, we could have a Drow president.  Of course they’ll start unfounded rumors that he or she was actually born in Eberron.

Thoughts on Diablo III

“And so, you call me your friend but you only want my gifts
And I’ll never see you if I had no loot, I’ll never see them
I’m just glad I know the truth and I’m payin’ my own bills
and I’ll never ever depend on you”

— Tony Toni Tone “If I Had No Loot”

Diablo III starts with something falling from the sky which the hero naturally had to go check out.  Wait, let’s cut the pretense right off the bat and just be honest about all this – I’m in it for the stuff.  All the character development and storytelling in both the real world and the realm of sanctuary have taken a back seat to the one primary motivation that called shotgun years ago when I last left it somewhere near Mt. Arreat: looting corpses.  This is the story of all things Diablo: I hit monster piñatas, they go splat and boom, things drop loot for me to pick up.  Lather, rinse, repeat.


Very briefly about the plot, though – there is a lot of betrayal in the story.  Some of them are actually pretty obvious, like the sorcerer with the gruff voice and the maniacal laugh whom I had to revive sometime in Act II only to predictably turn against me at an opportune moment.  All he ever did was talk about world domination while we were in the quest series.  In fact, all of Diablo 3 could have probably been mitigated if the hero just burned New Tristram to the ground within the first two minutes of the game.  The hero could have then gone about looting corpses uninterrupted.

In a game about breaking piñatas, Blizzard provided numerous different methods to do so as the character levels up to unlock skills and runes.  I found it a bit sad, however, that I favored the lower-level skills since they appeared to deal damage to more people than the higher-level skills did.  Then again, I’m actually not sure if the damage is the same, since regardless of slotted skill (with one notable exception), the DPS indicator had the same number.  Does one shot of force lightning do the same amount of damage as one shot of magic missile?  No idea.  In the end, I prefer AoE with the implied splash damage over breaking one piñata at a time.

Overall, the game is great and highly addictive.  The character classes and skills allow for a variety of play styles and the auction house addresses any equipment deficiencies that come up from time to time.  There is a story narrated through wonderfully rendered cut-scenes with quality voice work.  Most of all, there are piñatas – lots and lots of piñatas that drop all kinds of loot.

I’m not too sure how I’d feel about Diablo III if it had no loot.  Leah, on the other hand, “you can new jack swing…”