Monday, November 19, 2012

Sporadic Roundup!

So, my gaming has been... spotty, at best, but I figured that it was probably time to go and take stock of what I'm playing, for my own edification, if nothing else.

First off, quick shout-out to the indie+ gaming circle on G+, which has more or less got me back into a thinking about games, and writing about them. And, of course, Shieldhaven, who is running some D&D Next stuff for which I have a couple of alts. And, as I am a lazy git when it comes to filling out WOTC's feedback, I might as well talk about my impressions somewhere.

Tabletop

Arcana Evolved: Yeah, still playing that. Made it to level 14, are Runechildren now. Still not a fan of 3.5 style combat.
D&D Next: As I mentioned a little earlier, I have two characters in Shieldhaven's game: a Veytikka duelist-bounty hunter, and a Beruch FEy-Pact Warlock. So far, I really like the fighter's stuff in combat, though Shieldhaven changed up the dual-wielder specialty a little to make it less crappy. Warlocks, on the other hand, are very dull in combat, but, well, the class is basically sooooo two playtest packets ago. Will actually go into this more in-depth in a little bit.
Over the Edge: Have not played as much of this as I'd like, for realio.
Ptolus: played a session of this, and boy, I'd forgotten how much I prefer Pathfinder to core 3.x rules. Magus is completely broken, however, and... hm, there's probably a post brewing in how much I dislike +ECL classes (I was playing a Minotaur, but we hacked it to avoid ECL).
My Game: has been on hiatus about forever, largely due to a complete lack of time. And also because levelling without DDI, which I am not currently paying for, is pretty much lame. But I've probably talked enough previously about how badly I think WOTC bungled that one.
Mage: the Awakening:  Has now wrapped, after we murdered the face of the Red Word cult. I made it to Mind 5, Space 3 as a Mastigos, and I feel pretty good about that. There's some political goals that I will pretend happened as a result of us being awesome and sticking it to the Abyss, even though they did not occur on screen, primarily getting rid of the current head of the Consilium, and installing this Mysterium dude, Potestas.

LARP

Dust to Dust: Just passed it's 6th event, and boy are my arms tired! It remains both awesome and exhausting, and I'm delighted to be a part of it.
Eclipse: Is about to wrap up its first arc soon, and I am debating whether I am going to re-roll, or stay with my current character. Hm, ponderous questions!

Video Games

Skyrim: I continue to spend way too much time in the Skyrim Province for my own good. I have the Hearthfire and Dawnguard expansions, and am looking forward to Dragonborn. No, I have not completed the main storyline, at something like 250 hours. Good times.
Fallen London (And Failbetter Games as a whole): I still play this from time to time, though I have completed Cabinet Noir, The Silver Tree and the prototype of Below, their recent Kickstarter Project. I was less impressed with Cabinet Noir and Silver Tree, as they felt too... Fallen London, really, for the Format. Below, however, I am excited about, because I feel like the new format suits the dungeon crawl experience really super well. I should totes write a pimping post about that.

And now...

So that's where I am right now. I want to spend a little extra time talking about the 5e game, because it's what's interesting me most mechanically at the moment, and because the discrepancy between what the Fighter is good at and what the Warlock is good at is so huge.

First, the Fighter.

So, in the Aurikesh Setting, I am playing a Veytikka Fighter, which means I come equipped with claws that a) count as finesse weapons and b) do 1d6+atk. You know, just like the rapier I carry. So there's a certain amount of "eh, who needs this rapier?", at least, until magic weapons come into play. Also, I carry a shortbow, and am delighted by how switching weapons is a free action. The Duel Wielding specialty allows me to roll once for an attack with advantage, and if I hit, I roll the greater attack die plus 1d6 +bonus for damage. At the moment, this just means 2d6+bonus on hit, which isn't shabby, but doesn't have me putting things down with one hit at 1st level. Also, I am pretty sure that Haven boosted the HP on the monsters, which is just fine.

The Bounty Hunter background gives me contacts, access to a bounty board (basically, extra quests-- very cool if your DM wants to do anything with it, though I can imagine it being basically a dead spot in build), and 3 skills (spot, and... two other things I don't remember) , which is just fine, though the Veytikka advantage of keen smell gives me advantage on scent-based rolls (against wisdom), which don't stack with Spot. I'm told I can upgrade the skill to general perception later, which is certainly an interesting approach, and one I don't know how I feel about. But skills are tricky.

Combat as a fighter is not as purely awesome and cinematic as in 4e, but is likewise not as boring and staid as 3e. I have, from class, combat expertise dice I can spend to basically add damage or mitigate damage if I so choose: 2d6/encounter, which help me actually want to pay attention to combat outside of my turn, though I don't have a lot of reasons to care what my fellow party members are doing; nor do I have any mechanical way (thusfar) to keep the critters off of the casters and on me. Which I miss in an abstract sort of way, but didn't really notice when we were in game.

Also, I felt that my skills and things gave me some non-combat utility and interest, which was super nice. The character is kind of a silent, sullen type with a disturbingly honorable streak, and I don't really know where she'll go... oh, also, she's a member of the Iron Temple Warrior Society, so there's that.

Playing a Warlock is a massively different experience, and I can see why they were pulled from the packet. But I wanted to play one, because Haven is doing some awesome things with Fey in the setting that I super wanted to be a part of. Anyway.

In combat, a Warlock is basically All Eldritch Blast All The Time. I can see where Visage of the Summer Court (a wisdom-save AOE 30' charm spell, pick your own target) could have awesome combat application, but I didn't want to spend the boon for it just then. The lesser invocation that allows you to move around without incurring attacks of opportunity is sexy as hell, though as we were fighting arial opponents, it didn't come up. I'll be curious to see how it works in future encounters.  But yeah, as I didn't pick up the other Warlock Damage Spell, my combat applications are somewhat limited to blast, blast, blast.

That said, I pretty much used everything _but_ Eldritch Blast outside of combat- including Visage- and that was awesome and rocked my socks off. This is due in large part to Haven running a very fun and engaging setting with a lot of interesting NPC interactions, and that was definitely the strength of the session. I went from regretting not having bought more varied combat options to being really happy with Visage, due to its effect on Fey who, well... were just more likely to like me, recognising me as one who shared their same Patroness.

I'll be very interested to see what they do with the Warlock in future releases, if they keep it... it's a neat thematic concept, so I hope they do.

Also also, I took the Priest background and one of Haven's Custom Specialties, the Bloodletter, so that I could have a tiny bit of healing. So far, it has mostly meant that the party healers didn't have to spend healz on me, and could help other folks, so that's all right.

All told, I like it so far... I would very much like to see more 4e style terrain stuff in combat, and more of the push/pull/knockdown stuff also, as it made combat super engaging. I really like having to care about combat positioning, and I definitely miss it in this edition.