Keeping Destiny Weird

Destiny-Logo

I spend just about every word in this blog espousing my love and adoration for Tabletop Gaming but anyone who knows me outside of social media knows I’m every bit as enthusiastic about Video Games, and no other game has grabbed my attention in a long time quite like Bungie’s first-person shoot em’ up MMO Destiny.  You may recall that on of my friends contributed an article on the game right around launch and sadly I wasn’t even playing it at the time.  It took until December for me to finally get in on the fun.  To date I’ve logged nearly 300 hours, have gotten three characters to level 31 (merely waiting for the right raid drops to get to 32), and have played every aspect of the game…many times over.

There are countless people chatting about this game on the net.  Players complaining about certain aspects of the game that are still funky, folks finding clever ways to “cheese” (a term to denote finding an unusual way to cheat the regular play) their way through levels, in-depth reviews on weapons, farm locations, etc. etc. etc.  My personal favorite stories though?  Weird things people get away with that were likely never anticipated.

I think the fact that Destiny remains a somewhat small-scale MMO in regards to actual playable maps and missions ends up fostering the desire to find new and creative ways to play the game.  My favorite things to hear about are the players that challenge themselves to complete portions of the game in crazy ways that were in all likelihood were never considered to be something anyone would ever try to do, or even possible to accomplish.  Thus, I’d like to showcase some of the best stories I’ve come across.

Gaurdians sitting

THAT GUY WHO KEEPS SOLOING THE HARDEST PVE RAID IN THE GAME

Destiny has more game beyond its main storyline than during and the toughest chunk of PvE in this endgame content lies with its Raids.  The one I’m referencing here is titled Crota’s End and the guy who soloed it is a Youtube user known as “The Legend Himself”, aptly named considering his achievements. Crota’s end is no joke.  You start out in an area of almost solid darkness with small beacons of light you have to get to in order to continue onward as a “weight of darkness” constantly piles up slowing you down and removing your jumping ability.  All the while enemies known as Thralls harass you from the dark and try to slice you up.  The remainder of the Raid is no less difficult, actually more so.  For example when you get to parts like the Deathsinger where you have a time limit to take her down before she just outright kills you, or the final fight where you can’t even hurt Crota without dropping his shield first to get a few shots in with a giant sword!

Solo Crota

Difficult enough for a team of six (the recommended number) but this guy did it solo.  I have watched the video he was kind enough to make and it’s just insane that he pulled it off but what’s even more insane?  He did it again when they finally added the Hard version of the Raid into the game.  I haven’t even been able to join a team that’s beaten “Hard Crota” yet and he soloed it.  Hats off to The Legend Himself!

 

SPEAKING OF CROTA, THESE GUYS BEAT IT WITHOUT GUNS

BUBBLES!

BUBBLES!

I laughed really hard when I heard about this because I immediately pictured how that did it.  I was right too.  One of the playable characters in the game is the Titan Class.  This class can switch between being a Defender and a Striker type and plays some really good support for the team all while also being the most heavily armored.  The main super ability of the Defender choice is a Bubble of force that players can hide beneath to stop incoming bullets.  It allows players and enemies to pass through the walls and thus would normally not provide any protection against those Thralls I mentioned above.  However, there is a piece of armor you can equip that will cause any enemy that passes through the Bubble to be temporarily blinded.

Using such techniques we witness this group crawl its way through the raid only meleeing enemies, using supers, and throwing grenades.  Not a single shot was fired.  Truly an incredible feat, not to mention hilarious.

 

FLY ME TO ATHEON

The other Raid available in Destiny is called the Vault of Glass.  This one features the mechanical yet biological enemies known as the Vex.  It is also well-known for long drops, platform jumping, and insta kill enemy dodging.  Needless to say it’s hard enough to get through this thing on your own two feet but these guys managed to fly one of the game’s hover bikes (known as a Sparrow) through the entire Vault of Glass Raid.

To get an idea of the feat that was accomplished here you need to understand how players utilize the Sparrow.  First you need to know that the Sparrow is summoned via some form of teleportation from your character’s ship but only in areas where such a thing is possible, so yeah you can summon it outside the Vault of Glass but once inside you’re out of luck.  Second, the Sparrow doesn’t just sit around if you jump off of it.  The thing will disappear (presumably back to your ship?) in a matter of seconds after you dismount so they couldn’t just park the thing and return to it.  No, for the most part the player(s) riding the Sparrow needed to remain out of combat altogether.  Lastly the ways to lose your Sparrow otherwise are typical, it can be blown up, if you fall off one of the many cliffs it is also gone.

Seeing these guys dancing around the burning (nearly destroyed) Sparrow at the finale of the video was great to see!

Sparrow

OH THE CHEESE

cheese

Bungie has put together a fun game and has certainly added in a lot of material to challenge us… so naturally players have learned how to exploit things so those challenges are minimized!  “Cheesing” something is the term players use to describe the exploits they’ve uncovered in-game that help them defeat certain portions without the actual effort of completing them the “right way”.  It boggles my mind how some of these things were ever figured out in the first place.  here are a few examples I’ve heard of, some I’ve even used myself.

  • Scaling the side of a cliff by jumping to tiny landing points in order to get on top of a building where mobs of enemies with eventually despawn because you are no longer on the map.
  • Ledges you can jump to under a portion of the map where nothing can harm you so two other players can finish off the main baddie while waiting to revive if they both go down.
  • Using in-game explosions to launch yourself to various parts of the game where either enemies can’t get to you or to clear a gorge where you were supposed to spawn a bridge.
  • Pulling out your LAN cable at precisely the right time so Crota freezes and you can take him out without worry (Heard this one was fixed though).
  • Hanging out in a side room reviving your fellows while they shoot at the main boss and go down over and over.  They don’t care, you’re off to the side where she can’t hit you!

Honestly, all of this makes me feel like there are three styles of play in this game; Player vs. Environment, Player vs. Player, and lastly Player vs Makers!  It seems every time Bungie chuckles at our cheesing and claims to have patched it a whole slew of new exploits appear.  I love it!

THE EXTRA LITTLE THINGS

Don’t believe me? Just watch.

The other day I landed in the tower (home base for all us Guardians) and what to my wondering eyes did appear?  Roughly ten Guardians surrounding one other guardian who was standing still (presumably away from their controller) dancing, squatting, pointing, waving, pushing that Guardian around.  It made me laugh rather louder than I intended to at nearly midnight, but damn was it funny.  I also learned how to kill myself by standing in water and shooting my foot from my good buddy Topher.

Shoot foot

I’ve gotten to do some wonderfully creative stunts myself playing this game, even if they aren’t of the caliber as those above.  There’s been a number of times I’ve taken out the enemy targeted by a Patrol Mission using only my Sparrow as a ramming instrument (my favorite was the Ogre I launched into from a high platform).  I enjoy grabbing the sword that a certain enemy drops and attacking the giant mechanized Spider that appears in the area known as “The Divide” on Earth.  My friend and I even managed to get the purple rubber ball found at the tower onto a roof where you could blow it into the air using a fan…maybe you need to be more familiar with the game to understand that last one.

Bottom line is this game is tons of fun, even when you aren’t playing it “by the book”.  It also shows that the player base might just be getting a bit antsy for more content.  I’m happy to report though that an update is coming down the pipe and I get the impression we will be seeing Destiny 2 sooner rather than later, just a hunch.  If there’s a story out there I missed let me know about it, or if you have something you or you and your friends pulled off I’d love to hear about it!  Here’s to good drops folks!

Sparrow-Surfin

-Melvs (Shout out to my Clan! Hey Dads Gaming!)

P.S. All this talk about playing Destiny by not playing Destiny has me remembering some fun things my friends and I pulled off in those older Bungie games, the Halo series.

We quickly tired of the standard multiplayer and decided to get creative with our own challenges.  A few of my favorites include:

  • Getting every vehicle (in Halo 1) on top of the bunkers in Blood Gultch using rockets and grenades.
  • Creating a Multiplayer game where we shot skeet by having people ramp Ghosts off the back of one Tank and trying to shoot them down with the other.
  • Creating a Team Deathmatch Multiplayer game called “MechaWarZ” where we were only allowed to kill each other using vehicles to run them down.  No guns, no melee, no grenades.  If someone else was in a vehicle you had to flip them out of it!
    • One of my favorite ways to play, fully ruined by making it so you could destroy vehicles in later iterations of the game.
  • In whatever Halo first allowed the sword we created a Multiplayer game we called “Bat Leg Rounds” where we only used the sword and could only fight in a specific spot.  You had to run immediately to that spot and then try to keep it as long as possible.  Screaming “There can only be one!” constantly was encouraged.
  • Golf… Yes a buddy and I created a way to play golf where we… ok, this is kind of complicated.  There were four players, two teams.  Two guys were Red and two guys were Blue.  Then you pair off by making one Red guy the caddie for a Blue guy and vice versa.  What you needed to do was kill the other persons caddie. By game standards they were your teammate thus it gave you negative points.  However if you accidentally killed the opposing golfer you’d naturally gain points off setting any negative points gained by killing their caddie.  Just like in golf, the person with the fewest points won!  This was more of a chance for my buddies and I to drive around Blood Gultch pretending it was a golf course…and yes we did this at like four in the morning…shut up.
We got a tank up on one too.

We got a tank up on one too.

Other than my buddies attempting to get the Warthog as far into EVERY mission it was made available in, much further than it was meant to go I assure you, I can’t recall anything else for now.  Oh well, long Post Script for ya!

Kickstarter Review – FAITH: The Sci-fi RPG

The Book

To date the only cards I’ve ever used in a Tabletop RPG have been the poker cards used in Savage Worlds to determine initiative order.  I’ve become somewhat aware of a surge of games lately that have decided to forgo some of the traditional tools of Tabletop games though, Jenga Towers, non-numeric dice, and yes cards.  FAITH: The Sci-Fi RPG, from Burning Games, is a system built on the use of the latter.  The game is also set apart from its contemporaries by it’s choice of setting, fully sci-fi but not a sci-fi that prominently features humanity as one of the dominant species.  On the whole it is a very interesting game to delve into.

THE SETTING

Art

FAITH’s world is one where the common knowledge is that gods are real, they walk among us and war with each other in their own ways.  The concept of faith, this game’s namesake, seems to be derived from the faith one has that their god is the one to back in this world of conflict rather than having faith it even exists, because they are very real.  There are two dominant racial powers, the Corvo and the lz’kal.  Currently the details, provided by the Kickstarter, only reveal that these two forces are immensely powerful and embroiled in a Cold War of sorts after forming a truce upon realizing a full-out war may destroy them both.  Humans were discovered, near extinction, by the Corvo and were then drafted as soldiers in the struggle.  The gods take note of all of this and decide whom to back with their immense power.

THE GAME

Player Deck

Player Deck: Your standard poker deck…albeit with some excellent new artwork!

FAITH’s core gameplay mechanism revolves around the players using a standard 54 card poker deck, although the game itself provides a poker deck with beautiful in genre illustrations.  These card represent playable actions for the players that can be modified by roleplaying, number of cards played, and by pieces of gear a player may have.  Gear cards are not poker cards but contain information that can boost a player’s chances of succeeding at a task.  Typically a player will always be successful unless the GM actively attempts to cause confrontation, thus a battle of cards played begins.  The GM has access to their own deck of cards, called “NPC Cards”, and uses this deck of cards to pull interesting encounters out on the players. I can certainly see some interesting random encounters springing from such a deck, no more rolling on tables here!

NPC Deck

Gear Deck

Players also have a unique reinterpretation of the Character Sheet called a Character Board.  This cardboard cutout contains all of the pertinent skills a character may need to play the game and a collection of upgrade and numeric tokens are used to fill out said stats.  With those tokens the players are also able to pull from 12 character illustrations that cover species and gender so they can see if one of them matches the character’s look they are going for.

Character Board

THE KICKSTARTER

If you’ve found this game to be of interest to you check out the Kickstarter!  Burning Games is a London Based company but that doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten about us over here in the States.  There are conversions into the American Dollar on each pledge level and free shipping within the Continental USA.  The page is set up very well, they appear to have had their ducks in a row before going down the Kickstarter path.  There is a great layout of all the products available that showcases some of the excellent artwork you can expect to see, and a number of downloads that help explain the game and its story.  Namely, there are some solid quick start rules. 

Tokens

Whenever I look into these Kickstarters I’m always drawn to the price point for the actual game.  That is, what bid level would I have to choose to get the full game including everything you’d need to play and excluding excess perks.  For FAITH this comes in at around $65-$70 (accounting for conversion) and is aptly titled “The Game”.  This includes the rulebook, four player decks, a gear deck, an NPC deck, four Character Boards, and all the tokens needed for four players.  To me that seems like a reasonable (even a bit cheap for all it includes) price point, and I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that it includes every stretch goal. 

The Game

Another bid level intrigued me though, one of the lower ones.  For around $20 you can just buy a single deck of cards, any of the decks are available but let’s just say you’re drawn to the artwork and you’d like to get your hands on some of it.  Well, the player deck is a fully useable deck of poker cards outside of FAITH.  It’s be kind of fun having that around the house!

If you aren’t quite sold yet, check out their website and download their free Print and Play to decide if your group would enjoy it for yourself.  In the meantime head on over to the Kickstarter and check them out, the game looks awesome I hope to see it fund!

-Melvs

Norsemen & Giants, Iron Edda: War of Metal & Bone

A cloud of breath issues forth from the haggard, bearded face of the Norseman as he looks upon the dwarven encampment below the snow bank.  He gives the signal.  His brothers and sisters in arms pour over the bank, into the sleeping camp.  Savage smiles erupt on their frost covered faces as they realize they truly did have the element of surprise as their ally in arms tonight.  Hot dwarven blood steams on the cold ground as the dwarves attempt to rally the camp, but they are losing the battle.

Suddenly, the ground trembles as an enormous figure rises above the tree tops. One of the duergar metal giants!  A second, this time frantic, signal is given.  Fleeing is not in their nature but they are no match for such a monster of metal.  They retreat into the night as the Dwarven Destroyer closes in swiftly, one massive footfall accounting for ten of the fleeing group’s.  All seems lost as they cross into another tree line.  A massive hand reaches for one of the sword maidens near the back of the group.  She readies her sword and sets her stance, prepared to set foot in Valhalla if need be!

At that moment a massive bony fist crashes into the face of the Destroyer, sending it reeling backward.  Two more Bonebonded slink from the trees and confront the Destroyer, it is three against one.  The Norseman leads his party away from the clashing of giants behind him, the trap was set and sprung to perfection.  Pride for his clan swells in his chest.

 

 

Cover shot

Iron Edda: War of Metal and Bone is an exciting RPG setting unlike anything you’ve ever seen.  Using the Fate Core and Fate Accelerated Edition systems Tracy Barnett and his team have created a world of Norse mythology on an epic scale.  The inhabitants of Midgard are very similar to the ones you may be familiar with  but with one large, very large, difference.  This is a land where giants of metal, bone, and even wood stride to war aside men and women. This is adventure on a grand level, well fleshed out for wildly different scales of conflict.  The ideas are fresh and the source material is certainly appealing to my tastes.  This has gotten me even more interested in exploring Fate more than I have in the past.

Tracy Barnett seems to have a knack for choosing artists for these projects. Iron Edda enjoys an artistic tone that perfectly matches a good Norse myth, and is laid out in a manner that never distracts.  Currently I only have a .pdf version of the book but I certainly look forward to one day holding one of the softcover copies (obviously kicking myself for missing the Kickstarter).

Bone Bonded

The tone of the book is one of teaching by example.  We see this a bit in other systems but Tracy and team have taken it a step further here as there are large portions of the book dedicated to running the reader through some of the more major rule benchmarks.  An early example of this is an example of the rules behind the Setting Creation system.  I love this concept, there are rules for randomly crafting a Holdfast for the group to play in. Not only does this encourage the game as the pickup variety but it will help those who may be somewhat unfamiliar with Norse mythology familiarize themselves with their surroundings. There are already countless options that the Holdfast Creation table provides but I can see that as an area where expansion material could be added.

Regarding the “Example” laid out in the book for the setting creation we have five pages of dialogue playing out the creation of a Holdfast, this isn’t the exception it is the rule.  As mentioned above nearly all major sections of the book are played out through such examples.  It may not be the best method for all, but I found it to be very helpful in explaining the information to me.  It feels conversational and relaxed.  I learn better through play than I do parsing rule text and this feels like playing to me.

Warrior

After creating the setting we are introduced to character creation and how characters in Iron Edda play compared to other versions of the Fate systems.  Characters derive much of their backstory from the plot threads in the Holdfast Creation and typically have a shared history.  Characters also have a few other differences including a plethora of additional Aspects, some stunt chance ups, three different levels of magic, and the biggest change where everyone must deal with the potential for adventure under three levels of scale.

The three levels of scale include Human Scale, Giant Scale, and Epic Scale.  Human Scale is obviously the default and operates almost exactly like any regular Fate game.  Once you kick things up to Giant Scale with Destroyers, Bone-Bonded, or Alfar treewalkers you can imagine toe to toe they would operate link anything else but having Human Scale interact with them involves treating the Giants as truly terrifying aspects of power players have to treat the creatures as parts of a whole.  Epic scale is regulated to some of the more godlike creatures in Norse Myth.  Imagine running into Nidhogg, the Dragon!  You don’t destroy something like that, you beat it back and hope to never see it again…if you survive that is.

Following the information regarding characters comes a solid write up of the overarching setting of this version Midgard.  Clans are well fleshed and it is written in a great storytelling manner the lands are presented to us by Helga Fenrirsdaughter, and it makes for a nice read, much better than a dry layout.  We are given a lot of major Holdfasts and some matching Aspects in the major lands of humans and are even treated to some information regarding the other denizens of Midgard like the Elves.  We are given enough to play with but thankfully not reams and reams of text explaining every small detail.  A good amount of info for us to work with.

The last section of the book proper, “Running War of Metal and Bone”, helps Gamemasters prepare themselves for running the game.  Largely the game will follow many of the same guidelines you may be familiar with in Fate but there are a lot of nice hints for things like some speedier ways to handle threats and a few reminders for how to handle the varying scales. Added in are some good resources across multiple mediums for brushing up on your Norse Knowledge, I especially like seeing some musical choices added in.  Lastly we are treated to some parting words, a bit of a pep talk to remind you to stay true to yourself when running the game and play to your strengths, you’ll do fine.

Adventure

Beyond the main book we are gifted with three adventures.  A Tale of Blood and Darkness, by Lillian Cohen-Moore, The Throne that would be Bone & Wrath, by Ryan Macklin, and Remains, by Quinn Murphy.  These adventures look to be a great example of crafting your own game beyond being excellent adventures in their own right.  It is excellent to see this great additional material tacked on for readers.

Obviously I enjoyed my time with this product and have few complaints.  I would have liked to see a decent index at the end of the book and maybe a bit more about the Dwarves, maybe even playable versions of the Dwarves and Elves for that matter, but honestly Norse Myth has always been about the men and women of the clans so playing as a Dwarf or Elf would be something very different.  Overall though this is a strong Campaign Setting for Fate rules and the team behind it should be proud.  It’s no wonder the Kickstarter met a number of stretch goals beyond its initial fund point.

Exploding Rogue

It is currently available on Drive Thru RPG as a solo purchase or as part of a bundle that includes the novel, Iron Edda: Sveidsdottir written by Tracy Barnett as well.  I’ve yet to read the novel but I certainly enjoyed the more narrative portions of the RPG sourcebook so I have a suspicion I’ll enjoy the read.  If you’re a fan of Norse Mythology, or fantasy gaming in general, I urge you to grab this unique campaign setting.  Though the game studio Exploding Rogue, the studio Tracy co-founded with Brian Patterson, is still in its infancy, items like this tell me we’ll likely be seeing some great things from them in the coming years.  I’m looking forward to it.

-Melvs

5e Eberron and The Purpose of Unearthed Arcana

Big news from Wizards today as we receive our first tidbit of information ever on Eberron content for 5th Edition!

Eberron

The information on Eberron has been rolled out as a part of what Wizards is calling their ‘Unearthed Arcana’ article series that is to be promoted as a “monthly workshop where D&D R&D shows off a variety of new and interesting pieces of RPG design for use at your gaming table”.  Essentially we are getting a behind the scenes look at what the folks are working on over on the coast, and I was of course delighted when I found they are working on Eberron.

Sharn

Sharn: Kind of a big deal…definitely a big place!

 

I’ve made many a mention regarding Eberron being my favorite D&D setting.  My twitter handle incorporates the name of the setting’s largest city and location of my most successful campaign to date, Sharn, and I’m even running a 5e game there as we speak!  It is easy enough to do but the players have been limited to what’s been available thus far regarding character choices and I’m certainly ready to incorporate certain races and classes into my NPC pool.

Eberron is not only popular but is certainly a setting that will require little in the way of an update, so it is natural to be a first choice when deciding to add to their pool of settings.  The world of Khorvaire has always been at its best set a mere five years after the close of the “Last War”, and that’s not just my opinion but one held by its prime creator Keith Baker.  So we’ve no need for a large update on lore, simply some mechanics. 

So it is with no more fanfare that I provide you with the LINK to the article so you can download the pdf yourself.  Now, lets see what is being offered as the rough cut for Eberron rules!

A FEW NEW RACES:

CHANGELING: Looks like getting that amazing Shapechanger ability caused some pullback on Ability Score benefits.

SHIFTER: Shifting is a Bonus action! They also brought back the many Subraces of Shifter, nice.

WARFORGED: Pretty standard stuff here, they get an extra +1 AC (bigger deal in this edition). No mention of how that works with Armor though.  5e’s emphasis on removing fiddly bits may just mean they start at a base of 11 AC.

A NEW WIZARD TRADITION:

ARTIFICER: Looks like the Artificer, who has been a class all its own in previous versions, has been rolled into the Wizard pool of Traditions to choose from.  Looks pretty damn cool too, spending spell slots to brew potions, infuse scrolls, and infuse Weapons/Armor.  Lots of rules that try to keep you in check from spamming such things though.

AN EBERRON SPECIFIC RULE:

ACTION POINTS: Looks like Action points inspired the “Hero Points” optional rule in the DMG.  Hell, I’d forgotten about Action Points.

AND A NEW FEAT:

DRAGONMARKS: It was initially odd to me to see these as a feat rather than a Background until I remembered that Backgrounds are reserved for what your characters used to be, not who they are now and many would like to actually play out their inclusion in Dragonmarked houses.  Looks like Dragonmark Benefits give you a group of spells to pull from and increases in power without ever having to spend more feat slots.  That’s a nice change, it was pretty dismal in 3.5 having to spend copious amounts of much needed feat slots just to make your Dragonmark stronger.  Also, to represent an Aberrant Dragonmark all one needs to do is choose the “Magic Initiate” feat from the PHB.

MY FULL TAKE:

As excited as a Warforged Juggernaut geting to take out a puny wooden door!

As excited as a Warforged Juggernaut geting to take out a puny wooden door!

I’m liking the rules provided after my initial scan, and honestly wondering why we would ever need much more than what is provided here.  Maybe it still needs some tweaks, I’ll see for myself playing these out, but the lore is already expansive so I doubt anyone would need to actually buy a book on it.  I still maintain we’ll probably see an Adventurer’s League series based in Eberron where all of this will be introduced.  Who knows, I like what I see though!  what about you?

 

-Melvs