Dungeons, Dragons, and Dagons

I’ve been enjoying the lessened impact of the Guild Wars 2 dungeon week by spreading more game time around. I dipped my toes a little bit back in to Lord of the Rings Online, played through a God of War game, and tromped through Magic’s Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014. Those have been my small bites surrounded by three following larger courses.

Dungeons (13th Age)

One of my non-MMO passions is table-top roleplaying (e.g., Dungeons and Dragons). My gaming group has gotten a bit lazy on the GM end, so we’ve been defaulting to Magic: the Gathering many nights, but we’re mostly a roleplaying group. I was the last active GM, and I learned a new system FATE to run Spirit of the Century with a vast helping of magic (more in the vein of World of Darkness). The campaign is pulp action set in 1933.

Whereas Dungeons and Dragons is more like a boardgame in the roleplaying world, FATE is very much a storytelling game. For instance one of our characters had a feat called Unflinching Walk, where he could defend with his will. That means somehow he could stare down a bullet, but he had to find a way to narrate it. Another skill was “Something is Watching Me”, which lead to many creepy actions taking place. Oh, did I mention the GM could “use” player skills against players to increase the challenges?

My biggest problem with FATE was combat encounters. We had whole adventures with nary a combat, and it was awesome. However, when I added a few combat encounters in, it was very difficult to make them challenging. I wanted the last encounter of the campaign arc to have a glue gun, and a player familiar with FATE, helped me come up with a lot of solutions on how to use it. None seemed as simple as the Dungeons and Dragons way of giving penalties to skill rolls for being glued.

After the campaign arc completed, I took a decent break and stumbled upon 13th Age, which is a Dungeons and Dragons-type roleplaying game created by a 3rd edition dev and a 4th edition dev. After reading through the core book and getting an adventure pack, I am smitten. 13th Age seems to be taking the narrative style of FATE for everything non-combat and adding in a tad less narration for combat. This seemed to be the perfect system for me.

Skills are based on descriptive histories. Instead of getting climbing, subterfuge, and larceny, a player gets “Most-Wanted Thief of the Brass City”. The devs also suggest narrative montages to move time forward. Are the players floating down a barge? Have one player create a problem, and then the next player narrate a solution where their character heroically overcomes.  All of this is built on a pretty familiar Dungeons and Dragons combat system owing more to the 4th edition than anything.

You can pick up the .pdf from DriveThru, but the devs are also pushing for weekly game sessions in your favorite local game shop pretty hard so there is a good chance in your metro area that a jump-in game session might be running. I can’t wait to run this for my group, but I am more than content to wait as another GM is excited to bring us Warframe using the Savage World system. I built my ‘frame “Araneae” off of the Charcoal March of Spiders style from Exalted, so we are all over the place. (This is also the gaming group that enjoyed Exalted demi-gods saving Middle Earth.)

Dragons (Guild Wars 2)

I’ll admit that after I went through the Aetherpath, I haven’t really ventured back in to a Guild Wars 2 dungeon. I like dungeons alright, but I much prefer the more organic open-world. I think, however, in any MMO it is necessary to have some kind of private group content. When I draw my friends back for some Guild Wars 2, it is, by far, easiest to reel them in with the more personal experiences of dungeons and other instances. It’s harder to invite them for say a Scarlet invasion and maintain that sense of playing together.

It seems like Jeromai, I’ve been playing Tequatl, and yes, I agree, that the chest on the beach is filled with wrong-colored crap for the most part. The counterpart chest that wiggles on screen like a daily chest is filled with 3 rares, and then add in 3 more wiggly chests and the gold and the “raid” becomes a pretty good haul. I will admit that I am mainly doing this in the vain hopes that I get Tequatl’s Hoard, but since the supposed drop increase I have not seen a single person in map chat announce an ascended drop. Not much to go on, but it’s the best I have.

The main thing is I am still having fun. I like the energy and excitement of the prep time. I like the intensity that the commanders still bring, and I like how inclusive it is. I joined TTS to fight Tequatl nightly, and we still have new players that are taught the “raid” by veritable strangers. TTS is a guild created for Tequatl (and any future similar events), and it is created as a supplementary guild. We have Tequatl on absolute farm. Last night I was in TTS’s third overflow, and we crushed Tequatl from burn phase to burn phase, which seems now par for the course.

I almost have my first crafted ascended weapon. My main burnt up all my resources getting to 500 Artificer before I decided to eschew condition builds until ArenaNet figures out how to manage conditions in large events. So my weaponsmith alt had to patiently wait while I built up his materials to get to 500 to make my main’s ascended axe. I am currently running a death-shroud powermancer, but I enjoy being able to switch to a well build while still wearing the same gear (Celestial armor / Berserker weapons and trinkets).

Dagons (The Secret World)

My friends have become quite taken with The Secret World. For my gaming group I was one of the early adopters, but they only recently picked it up. I admit I am having more trouble getting back in to it than I should, and I am not sure why. I ended my last run at QL5 right near the end of the first meta-story. I am hoping this weekend I will have some time before the Halloween activities in Guild Wars 2 retrain my focus.

However, it has been easy to jump in and run dungeons with my buddies. I’ve never run a dungeon in The Secret World despite having leveled past a few. The first dungeon, Polaris, was a pretty decent experience, but it was clear that having a QL10 tank and most people in QL5+ gear that it was a cakewalk.

Still the boss of the dungeon is basically Cthulhu, but in The Secret World it is called the Ur-Draug and it won’t destroy the world like a vengeful god since 5 humans took it out, bees be praised. The fight was not that difficult to comprehend, but it had a really fun portion. The Ur-Draug goes invulnerable, fogs up the entire area, and then plays hide and seek with the players. If the Ur-Draug catches players it usually means insta-death. So here we are peering around giant rocks, trying to see if we can get a glimpse of which way the Ur-Draug is gathering. Then we all scamper off to another rock. It felt like a more intense version of a childhood game. I really enjoyed the fight because of that mechanic, and I am looking forward to see what else comes in the TSW dungeons.

My goal this weekend is to get to Egypt, but I am not going to rush it. I’ll just sip the honey sweetness of the stories and lore at my own pace.


5 thoughts on “Dungeons, Dragons, and Dagons”

  1. I just want a mini. :(

    It’s interesting you like the prep time, it bores me to death. I’ve been getting good at gaming on my mobile phone for lack of anything better to do while chained to the computer. The fight itself is extremely fun for me, if only it wasn’t just a short spurt of excitement followed by wearying waiting.

    The inclusivity is definitely a big draw. Exclusivity brings too much hate and drama that simply doesn’t fit into a GW2 world/community.

    1. Well, I use the time to multi-task as well. Been learning Pokemon CCG with my daughter, or watching DVR’d shows, but I also like using it to crowdsurf and see what topics come up with this niche of a Guild Wars 2 audience. Always interesting to see what issues they present.

    2. I was going to question the idea of TTS being inclusive, but now that I think about it it’s the same sort of inclusive that the public guild missions are. There’s a setup/coordination cost, but people are willing to pay that cost and bring in whoever wants to join.

      Personally, I’ve been having good results on Blackgate main a couple hours after reset. Queue usually pops shortly after the event ends, so I do the daily, grab a few Empyreal Fragments, and get some reading in while I wait. For the fight itself, there’s usually been at least one commander on the server Teamspeak who knows what they’re doing.

      I wonder if either of these models is how Arenanet was expecting people to coordinate for this. There’s a big thread on the official forums about communication from Arenanet, and that’s a big piece that’s missing: post-mortems. What did they expect from the changes, and what happened that they didn’t expect, for good or ill?

  2. That hiding phase gets a lot less fun when you challenge the Ur-Draug in Nightmare! It’s given me the most trouble out of anything in NM dungeons so far. But the rest of the dungeons in TSW are pretty awesome, too.

    Really looking forward to the Halloween event as well. I missed it last year!

  3. Playing TSW at your own pace is the best bet. The first area of Egypt is great, the second not-so-much. And comparatively, you’ll fly through Transylvania. Lots of “Hard” missions that need groups if you’re not tough enough, but they can be passed. I approached it by trying to complete every single normal mission in a zone before I went onto the next, and that worked great. Also, following content as the developers released it, too. I wouldn’t touch Tyler Freeborn, Last Train to Cairo, or A Dream To Kill or any Issue content until you hit QL10. Not that they can’t be done before, but the story is more cohesive. Trust me, it won’t take long to get to QL10, so you might as well stop and smell the roses. :)

    Also, thanks for the info on 13th Age! I’ll have to check that out!

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