Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Dragon+ Magazine 'Herding Tahra's Cats' Companion - Isle of Catlantis


I love April Fool's Day.  

It's basically my favorite holiday, and my for-sure favorite "not-store" holiday.*

*Extremely basic way of saying "non-commercialized."  I make the distinction because I also vehemently love Halloween, and I also count my birthday as a personal holiday.  That's the top-three, folks.  Shout-out to May the Fourth, and Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Dragons Magazine has a long tradition of April Fools articles (a favorite of mine being Flaws for Commoners, Dragon #330).  The most recent issue of Dragon+ had good inspiration for me as well.  While not specifically intended for April Fool's -- the recent article on the artist Tahra's cat-people images, Herding Tahra's Cats, served quite well.

How It Played with My Group: Having solved the mystery of Secomber, and captured the fleeing criminal for a bounty, the group travelled north to Longsaddle.  After a day of shopping and gambling, they stumbled into an area where a Harpell wizard's spell component bag was attacked by her pet cat.  The result being an out-of-body plane shift, into the demiplane of the Cat Lord, and into the bodies of existing cat people.

APRIL FOOL'S, SCHMUCKS!

Most of the cat-characters were simply duplicates of the player's current characters, reskinned as appropriate with the kitty pregens, and the remaining characters from the article served as NPCs.  I created an image for King Furdinand (and added to the royalty with Queen Caterina, Baron Buttons, Earl Whiskers, and Duke Midnight).  The PCs had access to the organic and muscle memories of the characters they assumed, but also had their own knowledge as well.

What they didn't know immediately: the cat people were now in their bodies.  They'd remain in a playful and confused static state, safely at the Wayfarer Academy chasing rabbits and mice, unless a PC did something... like get them killed.  The more aberrant behavior was from a PC, the more aberrant their cat friend would be as well.  The spell would automatically wear off in less than 24 hours, and they'd be back home in their own respective skins.

So, my players filled the night with cat puns... doing their best to play their borrowed roles.  They fought a pirate rat king, and his evil wizard cat associate.  They bought catnip off some sketchy hamster brothers.  They battled temptation when mimics arrived looking like cardboard boxes.  They defended the king, and were heartily rewarded -- and that's when the spell wore off and the cat souls returned home to find themselves being honored in the royal court (much to their surprise).

If you want to also run a one-off night on the Isle of Catlantis, please enjoy the following things I've made (for use with traditional tabletops, or Virtual TableTop like Roll20).  Some are lifted from the article, some are original content, and some are reworked stuff I found on Google Images.

Dungeons & Dragons Master


I started playing with my sister's teen friends when I was three (reportedly as a street urchin, and then as a wizard's cat familiar).  I spent a lot of my childhood "playing pretend" in many ways, with varying level of structure.  I started playing one-offs and visiting roles in other people's games around sixteen, but I had a job and no car... so nothing stuck until I was an adult.  I've played in many, many campaigns since I was about nineteen years old.

I've recently started DMing a group with Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, set in Forgotten Realms.  There is a staggering amount of information to take in... and that's what I've been doing for the past six weeks.

I've never really DMed for a campaign.  I've goofed off with friends in casual RP that I narrated.  I ran a few d20 Modern one-offs on Roll20 when it was brand new.  I had no confidence in my ability to run a game.  I still, really, wouldn't say I do.

Recently, a couple of the players from those Roll20 sessions elected me their DM -- and wanted to play.

Knowing these players had seen a hearty amount of Acquisitions Incorporated, Critical Role, and the like could make any Baby DM nervous.  I'm no Mercer or Perkins.

I started off doing solo-sessions with my three purely online players.  A railroad ride through their immediate backstory, highlighting what I could about areas in Faerun (Icewind Dale, Candlekeep Library, the Lizard Marsh, the Misty Forrest, and The Seven Stringed Harp in Secomber).  Weaving the information they'd given me about their characters into a narrated experience, setting some groundwork.  I used these sessions to explain the origin stories, plot hooks, and NPCs their backstory had helped me develop.  I thought of these as being very similar to the origin stories in Dragon Age: Origins or the in-town prelude of Oregon Trail (right after character creation).  My three real-life players, in the same group, had individual conversations with me establishing their immediate history and character concepts.  This may not have been as rewarding, but being done socially, face-to-face, it was decidedly more casual.

My players are about half-experienced, and half green.  In fact, we probably have every plant metaphor in the group, sprouts to perennials.  As a result, I'm running an intentionally Trope-a-rama style campaign.  I want to highlight as much "Forgettable Realms" culture as I can to give some exploratory aspects to the world, but I'm also abusing the shit out of every RPG trope if it's good for the story.

My Player Characters: the very bardy bard, the broody storm sorcerer of the swamps, lawful-good paladin of justice, earthy-crunchy noble elf wizard, the dwarf blacksmith cleric, and a cocky blade-dancing anti-authoritarian.

Combining classic intros, "The Awkward Inn" and "Adventuring Company Coworkers," my players filed into the town on their own, on their way to meet with the recruiter for The Wayfarers (the aforementioned adventuring company)... at an Inn.  All expenses paid by the company, each player got their own room, a set of fine clothes, hot baths, and an unlimited tab for food and drink... but meals are communal affairs in the main room, at certain times.  Everyone gets to know one another, socially, as they wait for the last of the recruits (PC and NPC) to trickle in.

How I wrote the first session: "If the players do nothing, Secomber will suffer a potentially lengthy public trial on a man innocent of the crime of which he's accused.  The morale of the town will suffer as the trial is divisive and wrought with gossip.  Furthermore, the real killer escape justice."

Then I filled in some details, just brainstorming... wrote what the crime really was, and how it happened.  Donald DuBosc, husband of Cecile, is the town leatherworker.  They were happily married until recently.  Donald developed a drinking problem and began having an affair with a young lady in the town.  He feels immense guilt over this, and wants to move to another town.  He's arranged to sell his business, but his wife doesn't want to move.  Furthermore, his mistress also doesn't want him to move.  Town gossip is fuzzy, from overheard arguments between the married couple, as to which wanted to move or stay.  Donald and the mistress have an argument, at his business, about his leaving.  This leads Donald to drink himself to sleep, in his shop, that night.  In a rage, the mistress barges into the family home and kills Cecile.  Then, panicked, she rabbits toward the nearest major city (Waterdeep) to escape justice.  In his guilt, Donald succumbs to justice.
I deemed that the First Scribe to the Lord of Secomber was a politically ambitious man that wanted a position closer to Steward.  I played the Scribe as snobby and scheming, toward the players.  A big slimy fish in a small pond.  As a result, he acts as the ringleader, mover-and-shaker, and voice of the lead prosecutor in this tale.  He's a charismatic man, by all townsfolk accounts, and a strict father.  However, his daughter Lissie has began to secretly rebel.  Sneaking out to taverns, having an affair with the town's leatherworker, and plotting to run away to Waterdeep with her friend Vanna the serving wench.

I think I subconsciously wrote The Amy Fisher Story in Secomber.

First session tested Roll20 map and combat functionality, gave the players a chance to RP a bit, and solve a mystery (clues given during origin stories).  Highlighting Secomber's unusual public trial process, I presented a man accused of killing his wife.  He declared innocence of this crime, but in grief did not protest his potential penalty.  Everyone had to share clues, and gather more, before they could save the wrongfully condemned man from death. One piece of evidence was just outside town, and the gathering process brought about a small hobgoblin ambush. Then, depending on what evidence was presented, they might have to testify (less ideal) -- or submit them to authorities discreetly (as some of the evidence was scandalous, this would be better for town morale).

Next session I had a few options available (trying to provide a small sandbox to the players) -- but the players took the path of chasing down the real killer (who had fled).  This was my first custom dungeon, and it was kinda painful.  I made too many narrow passages, the group split immediately, and a couple of my players got to do very little but walk around.  The entire session was spent, basically, dungeon-crawling in a crappy dungeon.

Our third session fell on April Fool's Day.  Read more about it, here.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Best CANONish FemShep (ME1)

If you want to do a "Canon FemShep" Mass Effect run: it's important to remember that Default FemShep is inconsistent through all three games.  That's partially because the engines are all different.  (Also, Default FemShep is kinda blah/gross no matter what.)

This FemShep not only looks "canon" but will also scale-up nicely as you play the trilogy.  

If you want to look like the FemShep featured in all the official (and fan-made) art... and still be a decent lookin' gal (without modding anything) I have the sliders for you!

This is the best Canonish FemShep for Mass Effect (1).

Commander Jane NMN Shepard

Here's a side-by-side comparison of "Default" ME1 FemShep and the one I use.



I made this collage of almost 20 screenshots to show different angles, lighting, etc.

Sarah Shepard
This FemShep is a slightly altered version of Sarah (redhead version) found here.

Below are the "sliders" for this canon-consistent FemShep!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

FIVE YEAR$ for a $tronghold Deco




I always look forward to the SWTOR Anniversary.  I have my fireworks, toys, and decorations from EVERY YEAR so far... because no matter what's going on in my life... I always try to sub around holiday/anniversary time.



What do we get this year?


  • "Celebration Jawa" (rehash of the Party Jawa, with crappier balloons)
  • "Senya Holostatue" (rehash of the Dr. Oggurobb trainer)
  • "7 Piece Poster Collection" (the loading screens in stronghold decoration form)
  • Coruscant and Dromund Kaas Strongholds for 5 Credits Each (not the first time)
  • Something Special for LOYAL VETERANS... BUT WHAT?!


Loyalty isn't enough anymore... now it has to be unwavering financial dedication.

Take a look at this... because you'll likely not see it in the game.  It's the Galactic Alliance Statue.

How do you get it?  
Oh, I'll happily tell you... 
FIVE YEARS OF UNINTERRUPTED SUBSCRIPTION.

By the by... the cost for that is $785 - $900 USD.




So, here's EA/BioWare's official response for the following situations...

I was on vacation and my sub lapsed for a week.
"GET FUCKED."

I couldn't afford the subscription for a couple months because I lost my job.
"EAT SHIT."

I dropped out for a couple months to play Mass Effect 3, or Dragon Age Inquisition.
"WHO CARES?"

I forgot that my credit card was expiring and I lapsed.
"SUCK A DICK."

My identity was stolen and it took my bank 10 business days to give me a new card.
"KILL YOURSELF."

So, my account got hacked (even with a security key) and your outsourced customer service was unable to unblock my account for weeks...even though the offending IP address was clearly on a different continent.
"YOU THINK WE GIVE A DAMN?"

I got brain cancer and was hospitalized for 6 weeks.
"TROLOLOL SUCKS TO BE YOU."


Also, I'd like to point out how ludicrous it is to allow multiple strongholds... but only give one item (have a 1-item max on your legacy).



SWTOR Life Day 2016 - BioWare Screwed the Akk Dog


 I'm grossly disappointed. 

Life Day is basically as old as Star Wars itself.  In case you haven't had the unique experience of seeing the Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) yourself: Life Day is basically Wookiee Christmas.  

The first Star Wars MMO (Star Wars Galaxies) started observing it in 2003.  It wasn't perfect, but, it was all about giving and observing the holiday spirit*.  Much like the IRL holiday season, BioWare's version of Life Day is now tainted with a disgusting level of consumerist greed and/or incompetence. 



The (typical) mechanics of Life Day in SWTOR are as follows: 
  • it lasts about four weeks
  • you buy a toy called a Snowball Bomb that throws snowballs at people (players and NPCs)
  • by throwing snowballs you have a chance at currency (or decorations) dropping by doing this
  • festive "Overheated Gift Droids" hang around capitol planets (and Nar Shaddaa) specifically for you to pelt with snowballs, with an increased chance for goodies
  • the currency of the event are Snow Covered Parcels, and they're traded in for vanity items (decos, mounts, etc.)
  • the toy places a debuff on characters, and no goods will be dropped if you tag a character with the debuff
  • there's usually some Cartel Market (microtransaction) items of a festive nature, but they're not required to join in on the celebration


Even though it was a grind, last year, to do all this... I still had lots of fun.  I looked forward to doing it again this year.  I specifically timed and budgeted my re-subscription this year to coincide with this event (and the anniversary, which is another story).


As of today, first day of the 2016 event, I've found it to be completely unplayable.  



Last year I had no problems with the standard Snowball Bomb.  I dusted tons of players, NPCs, and Overheated Gift Droids with frosty snowflakey goodness.  I got a metric butt-ton of holo-tree decos, enough currency to get almost everything I wanted from the vendor, and a couple fun titles.  I made buddies with people in raid groups on Nar Shaddaa tagging the Overheated Gift Droids, frolicked with holiday cheery groups on the fleet, and could grind solo by tagging NPCs (mostly in one of my strongholds, amused by reading the cesspool that is DK genchat).  

BUT NOW IT'S ALLLLLLLL BULLLLLLSHIIIIIITTTTT.

This year, they "fixed" the standard Snowball Bomb (read: further nerfed).  The Snowball Bomb has a significantly higher cooldown than the Snowball Cannon (which, of course, is a Cartel Market item)... that's already enough motivation for most people to shell out real cash.  Well, not me.  I thought, "Hey, I can just grind, NBD... I can spend my Cartel Coins on unlocks, and other things of my choosing, and still get everything I want out of this event!"

I was wrong.  Turns out, this year, they don't have the Snowball Cannon on the Cartel Market (yet) and they obliterated chances of having fun with just the Snowball Bomb... because now the Snowball Bomb can't target NPCs (as to where the cannon can)... EVEN THE OVERHEATED GIFT DROIDS... WHICH IS A HUGE PART OF THE EVENT!!!

So, since every player on the Fleets are saturated with snowball cooldowns... you have to go find people "in the wild."  To give it a shot, I went to a starter planet and sought characters too "young" to even make it to the Fleet.  After an hour, a whole THREE Snow Covered Parcels dropped... and, for the record, that's not JACK.

So, it's not only Pay To Win... but, it's more like We'll Scare You Into Paying For Everything To Win In The Future OR ELSE.

So, basically, you have to have bought the cannon last year -- with real money -- in order to have enjoyed the event at all this year.  I guess we can just pray for a hotfix (Dulfy says this might happen), but, I doubt it's a priority for the whole three people that EA still allow to work on SWTOR.

* For the record, I also hate it when people compare SWG and SWTOR... but, you know... 



Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Press Release: Formation of Erisian Empire

Obscure Micronation Claims Ownership of Dwarf Planet Eris


Group makes interplanetary land-grab without restraint.


Oklahoma City, OK -- (May 4, 2016) The newly formed Erisian Empire has announced that they are now the sovereign owner and ruler of recently discovered dwarf planet system of Eris.  


These bold claims came from then self-styled Queen Lodane of the Kingdom of Vivid.  She decreed, to her citizens, that the Vividian Kingdom has retired given birth to the new Erisian Empire (www.erisian.space).  An informal announcement was made, on April 30 at 11:11 AM CDT, among some community leaders.


When asked about the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, the newly anointed ‘Empress’ Lodane exclaimed, “The United Nations can kiss Uranus!  They can’t keep us from claiming extraterrestrial real estate.  U.N. treaties only apply to nation-states that are members, and they won’t stoop to acknowledge micronations. You know those jerks won’t even recognize Sealand? Ridiculous!”
Her strident statements continued. Referencing a parody Japanese anime, in which countries are personified and mocked, “Even Hetalia doesn’t throw that much shade!”


The planet, and moon, were discovered in 2005.  Since discovery, and rejection as "the 10th planet," the planet system has seen it's share of controversy.  Discovery and analysis of Eris forced the scientific community to categorize several Trans-Neptunian Objects, including beloved Pluto, as "dwarf planets."


The planet is named for the Greco-Roman goddess of chaos and strife.  Planet Eris’ only known satellite, a moon, is named for Eris' daughter, Dysnomia -- a personification of lawlessness.  Eris is known for starting the Trojan Wars, as the mother to the so-called “evil” contents of Pandora's Box, and being an inspiration for the Disney character Maleficent.


The Erisian Empire plans to sell deeds to land on Eris.  Deeds will be available, tentatively, on July 23, 2016.  Passports for Erisian citizens have also been announced with a release around Q4 2016.  No plans for Dysnomian land sales are being announced at the time.  


For more information about The Erisian Empire, The Kingdom of Vivid, or Eris Land Deeds, please visit WWW.ERISIAN.SPACE or call +1(714)69-4-ERIS


---


About Erisian Empire: A continuation of the now defunct Vividian Kingdom, the Erisian Empire is a social experiment and educational mind-game. Established to learn about concepts such as caste systems, economics, historical and modern politics, monarchies, theocracies, heraldry, vexillology, civil engineering, and more.  It is executed through personal interaction using artificial social constructs, establishment of state holidays, assignment of esteemed positions, social networking among citizens, and a loose foundation of legal philosophy.  Website: www.erisian.space


About Lodane Erisian: Lodane is a media producer and humorist.  She has published online content since 1995, and began writing and publishing a small-press print magazine as a teen.  Educated as a filmmaker, she has helped produce several independent film and video projects.  She enjoys making gaming-related content, religious and political satire, as well as occasionally performing stand-up comedy.  Website: www.lodane.com


Press Contact:
Lodane Erisian
PO Box 50311
Oklahoma City, OK
73140 USA
Phone +1 714 694 3747

lodane @ lodane.com

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Build You Alliance Contest UPDATE!

I WON!

Well, I won one of the runner-up positions.

I'll be getting an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960, and I've already gotten my Free Month of SWTOR (along with 450 Cartel Coins)!

Very Excited!!

Here's a YouTube playlist with all the winners.
(playlist by SWTOR official)

STAR WARS™: The Old Republic™ Build Your Alliance NVIDIA Contest Winners

<3 Lodane

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Saturday, February 13, 2016

FIRST!

This is the first post!  I wanted the blog to share my birthday... so, blog established on February 13th, just like me.

This'll be the place where all my Original Content will be going... so subscribe to the RSS feed, bookmark this page, and remember to check back often!

<3 Lodane