Tag Archives: RPG

Dark Souls 3

A short while ago, I’d committed to ignoring games described as inspired by Dark Souls. I’d played some Dark Souls and didn’t enjoy it much, played some Dark Souls inspired games like Lords of the Fallen and Bound by Flame and I didn’t like any of them. But this isn’t a consistent dislike. I really really enjoyed Salt & Sanctuary, but the qualities of Dark Souls that inhabited Hollow Knight turned me right off. And almost immediately after I’d decided that Dark Souls-like games were not for me, Humble Monthly gave me a copy of Dark Souls 3. I beat Dark Souls 3. I enjoyed Dark Souls 3.

I am ill equipped to describe what makes Dark Souls 3 so different from Dark Souls, and even less equipped to compare it to Dark Souls 2, but Dark Souls 3 hooked me fairly quick. I know how these games work and they’re very unforgiving, particularly of my overly-aggressive playstyle. With the help of a build guide to direct my efforts on creating a character I would enjoy playing with, a simple melee sword-and-board fighter, I sliced and chopped my way through hordes of monsters. The variety in combat encounters and enemies ensured that even my simple character build was never boring. Maybe Salt & Sanctuary made me a more patient player, but I rarely felt like the fights were unfair, even when I was dying to bosses over and over. I’d eventually learn their patterns and weaknesses, and chop them to pieces with my sword. Where as I found Dark Souls to be a largely frustrating affair, Dark Souls 3 never felt frustrating; it was rewarding.

What isn’t rewarding in the game is the storyline, or lack thereof. It starts with a cutscene explaining that the lords of cinder have left their graves and need to be returned to their thrones to rekindle the dying world. From there, there’s more or less nothing much to offer until you reach the end, and you get a short cutscene for your efforts. Sure, you’ll find other non-hostile people with some “quests” of their own, but there’s no journal. No quest log. Often, I struggled to even remember their names. Most items have a sentence or two of flavor text but that’s about it for worldbuilding. You could go end-to-end through this game and never learn a single thing about the lords of cinder that you’re mercilessly hunting down and killing.

This is a bit of a shame because the world they’ve built, without the exposition, is really interesting in that it’s not standard fantasy or grimdark. If anything, it’s sorrowful. This is a dying world, roamed by undead things, desperate for purpose and meaning. I find myself wanting to go back to Dark Souls again for another try to see if I can fill in the blanks because I want to learn more. Even if I can’t, if I can find in Dark Souls what I found in Dark Souls 3, that’ll be enough. Dark Souls 3 is a challenging game that rewards persistence and learning without feeling cheap.


Reference: From Software. Dark Souls 3 [Namco Bandai, 2016]

Source: Purchased from Humble Bundle as part of a Humble Monthly bundle.

Notes from Pathfinder session 30 MAR 14

Let’s be honest: it’s been a while since I chucked dice, so half of what I know about Pathfinder is barely remembered rules from my last D&D 3.5 game. I played a couple sessions with a group last year, and some 4th a year or so before that, some sporadic games while I was enlisted, and the longest running campaign I played in about 10 years ago. So I’m a little rusty, even if I’ve got the basics down. To make matters more confused, Pathfinder is only a little different from D&D 3.5, so I’m constantly checking myself to make sure nothing changed. About 75% of the time, I’m right.

I had a plan to run my players through a one-time adventure where everyone would play a 10th level bard. It was to be kind of an introduction to the game, and an exploration of the bard class, because bards get a bad rap. After making the short adventure and the characters, however, I realized that with all the spells and skills a 10th level bard has, it’d probably be way too much for an introduction. Everyone seemed to want to play their own character anyway, so I shopped around for an adventure path I could run with.

There are a ton of Pathfinder adventure paths, and they all sound awesome. I went with Rise of the Runelords. It is a nice collection of all six modules compiled into a hardcover book with bonus encounters and post-release enhancements for only $40, which is as much as two modules alone. Scrapping my bard adventure meant I didn’t have as much time to prepare, and the game suffered a little for it. However, the first part is mostly combat, so I managed to get by.

Speaking of combat, jumping into it with four brand new characters is a great refresher on all of the little details that need to be remembered! I overestimated how much of the stats would be in the campaign book, so I was quickly looking up goblins in my 3.5 Monster Manual. Then I got a reminder of how many little details and numbers need to be crunched when a sorceror or cleric casts a spell. Range, effects, saves, resistance DCs, all of that.

I also got a reminder of how brutal this game can be at low levels. A goblin managed to score a critical attack on the cleric, and dropped him with one hit. I felt a little bad for that. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want to bail anyone out when their number comes up. I feel like the game is less interesting when the DM is constantly bailing out dying PCs. There’s no threat of death. But the cleric was a guy I just met. Thankfully, he stabilized right away and I managed to interject a brief respite for him to get him up to 1HP so he could at least heal himself a little.

The rest of the session went fairly smoothly. The PCs survived some strong hits but no more crits. For the first time, I had to consult some riding and mounted combat rules. I simply never touched them before, but one of their encounters involved a goblin ranger on a goblin dog. I wish I had remembered that I had the reference guide in my phone, because I didn’t have a stat block for the goblin dog. I had to fudge a combination of a standard dog and a riding dog, and I missed out on all the little details of a goblin dog. Whoops.

Of the mistakes I made that I think can be easily fixed, I’m going to start withholding loot and XP until the threat is over and those things matter. I started doling out both after the second battle, even though there was no opportunity to spend either. That was kind of a waste of time, as I could’ve combined all the previous encounters at the end of the session.

But all in all, I think the session went well and I’m very excited to get back into it next month.

PCs:

Nordak – Male half elf sorceror 1

Ironhouse – Male dwarf cleric 1

Tragehon – Male dwarf fighter 1

Groob – Male half orc rogue 1

What if someone made Gothic without half of the jank?

It’d be something like Arcania: Gothic 4. I’ve spent all day playing it. It looks better than any other Gothic. It has normal game controls, unlike Gothic 1 and Gothic 2 (I haven’t played Gothic 3 yet). The combat is fluid. It has only crashed twice in 5 hours. The voice acting isn’t god awful. It’s almost an enjoyable game.

I also played the Risen demo, which is basically exactly like Arcania. They’re so similar that I got a bit of the Risen storyline confused with the Arcania storyline and spent some amount of time wondering why I wasn’t running into any Warriors of Order or the Inquisition. And both of these games are unreasonably similar to Two Worlds, except they’re both a lot less awful.

I’m going to keep playing Arcania until I get bored or find something better. Which will definitely end on May 17th, when The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings is released OH MY GOD I CAN’T WAIT