Updates: A New Gig, Stargate, Three Worlds, and More

I’m sorry for not posting more lately. I’ve been very busy. There are a lot of things going on at the moment I would have in the past done deep dive posts on, but I don’t have the time or energy these days. I didn’t want to leave this blog to rot, though, so I’ll do a quick rundown of all that’s new.

The official logo for Dungeons and Dragons, fifth editionFirstly, part of the reason I’m so busy is that I’ve picked up another new writing gig. I’m not sure how much I’m contractually allowed to say in public right now, but I can say that it’s writing Dungeons and Dragons adventures. It’s not for Wizards of the Coast; it’s a third party producing adventures under the Open Gaming License. It’s a fairly well-established company, though. I already knew them before I even applied for the job.

It’s also not clear to me if this is a short-term thing or something that will be ongoing for the foreseeable future. I think it depends on how happy they are with my work.

Professional game design is something I’ve always wanted to do, so I’m glad to have the opportunity, but the workload is more than I’m used to, so it’s taking a lot out of me. Someone without my disabilities would probably be fine, but for me it’s taking a lot of energy. To their credit, my new employers have been pretty patient and even made accommodations to work with my unpredictable schedule.

This has delayed work on my own tabletop game, Wyrd Street. I’m unsure if I’ve mentioned it on this blog before, but I do plan to talk about it at some point. For now the short version for those who haven’t already been told about it is that it’s a D20-based RPG about ordinary heroes in a fantastical world. It draws a lot of inspiration from the earlier sections of Dragon Age II.

The idea at the heart of it is that anyone can be the hero, no matter what the rest of the world thinks of you or what struggles you might have in your life. You might not be a hero of legend, but you can be a hero to the people who depend on you. You might not save the world, but you can still save someone’s world.

That’s on the backburner while I focus on the new job, but I hope to get back to it at some point. Early play-tests were going well. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback. Several people have said they enjoy combat in Wyrd Street more than in 5E.

The Stormfall palace in Wolcen: Lords of MayhemOn the video game front, those who follow my column on Massively Overpowered may have noticed I got sucked into Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem. I just finished the campaign, and I definitely want to play more, but I also have a lot of other stuff in my backlog I want to get to, and while I think Wolcen’s polish issues have been exaggerated, waiting for a few more patches to smooth out some of the rougher edges doesn’t seem like the worst idea. We’ll see how I feel; the combat and the build system in that game are just so addictive.

I did finally break down and pick up Nier: Automata on a Steam flash sale recently, so I hope to get to that soon, as well. Still a lot left to do in Star Trek Online, too.

Speaking of sci-fi, now that I finally have a library card, I discovered they have the entire series of Stargate: SG-1 on DVD, so I’ve been binge watching through that.

Despite the fact I’ve seen every episode of Atlantis and Universe, I’d only seen bits and pieces of SG-1 prior to now. I got interested in it pretty late in the game, and it was never on TV at times that were convenient to me. Then I didn’t have a TV. DVDs are too expensive, and there’s never been a convenient way to stream it.

But now I’m finally getting to watch it all in order. I just started on season four, and the show finally seems to be find its footing.

I won’t lie; if I didn’t know for a fact the series gets better, I might have given up on SG-1 in the first few seasons. It’s not that it’s terrible or anything, but it’s not enormously compelling either, and some aspects of it really haven’t aged well. It does feel like it’s starting to find more of a voice now, though, and I know the best is yet to come.

I’m also binging Welcome to Night Vale pretty hard right now. I got tickets to a live show in my area for later this month, and while I know it isn’t strictly necessary, I want to be fully caught up before I go. I’ve “only” got about twenty episodes left now, though I also want to listen to the recordings of all the previous live shows, and I haven’t touched those yet.

Official art for the audio drama Welcome to Night ValeI also finally tried one of the other shows by that company, Alice Isn’t Dead. Only listened to a few episodes so far, but my first impression is it’s really damn good. A bit Secret World-esque, and I adore Jasika Nicole’s voice. Wish I could get her to narrate my life.

Finally, when it comes to books, I just got done reading a collection of short fiction set in Ian Irvine’s Three Worlds setting, A Wizard’s War and Other Stories. It was fine and all, but I definitely expected more. None of the stories really jumped out as being super memorable. Don’t regret reading it, but it’s definitely not essential, even if you’re a serious Three Worlds fan.

Dungeons and Dragons: Artificer Impressions

I’m starting to worry I might be flirting with D&D burnout, but for now, it’s still taking up a lot of my time. I stopped going to the AL games where I was playing my war cleric, but I have instead joined a new campaign run by one of my friends on weekends. It’s an episodic campaign with a somewhat fluctuating party composition.

The official logo for Dungeons and Dragons, fifth editionI had a hell of a time figuring out a class to play for this one. My first thought was to import my cleric or my druid, but there are already several paladins and druids in the party, so that seemed redundant. I considered a Sea Elf sorcerer/warlock, but then one of the other guys decided to be a sorcerer.

Then, serendipitously, Wizards went ahead and published the new Unearthed Arcana artificer class. I took one look at the class and instantly fell in love.

Off the bat, it has most everything I want from a character in D&D. It’s a caster, but it also has strong physical abilities, even going so far as to have Extra Attack (well, Arcane Arsenal technically, but it’s effectively the same ability). It has something to spend bonus actions on every turn, and it’s versatile: buffs, healing, damage, utility, and it can take a few hits.

I chose alchemist as my subclass. It gives me a permanent minion in the form of an “Alchemical Homunculus,” which is actually fairly strong. It can buff my allies and attack. Its attack is not super impressive, but considering it’s just a bonus action…

Having played up to level five now (our DM is generous with XP), I’m finding the class very fun, and possibly a little overpowered.

The artificer itself is not that over the top. It’s strong, but not crazy. It’s very much a “jack of all trades, master of none” class. It can do pretty much anything, but it doesn’t excel in any area. It can heal, but not as well as a cleric, druid, or paladin. It can take a few hits, but it’s not a true tank. It does decent damage, but it will never compete with a rogue or a pure caster on that front.

No, what makes the artificer OP is the crafting. Normally crafting in 5E is pretty weak, but artificers can craft items for a fraction of the cost, in a fraction of the time. As an alchemist, my specialty is brewing potions. My DM house-ruled that at my level I can only brew uncommon rarity potions, but even so that’s been a pretty huge power boost.

Where it gets crazy is that there is apparently no rule saying you can’t give a potion to a construct. So now I’m giving Fire Breath Potions to my Homunculus all the time. 4D6 fire damage as a bonus action for three turns per fight.

That’s where the overpowered part comes in.

I’m also really enjoying this character from a role-play perspective. She’s possibly my most creative one yet.

My artificer is a Deep Gnome named Sylvie Stonewalker. She was a twin, but her twin sister, Allie, was stillborn. The Stonewalker family mourned and moved on. Sylvie did not.

The bond between twins transcended death. As she grew up, Sylvie saw her sister’s spirit every day, and Allie became her best friend. While her family cautioned her to accept her sister’s loss, Sylvie refused. She began to study the sciences with the goal of bringing Allie back to life.

With no body left to resurrect, her only option was to build a new one from scratch. She set forth from the Underdark, taking on the life of an adventurer in the hopes of finding knowledge and supplies to aid her in her goal.

I RP the Homunculus as Sylvie’s first draft at a new body for her sister. It’s only a few inches tall, and some of the limbs don’t match, but it’s a start.

It’s fun because I get to RP two characters for the price of one. Allie can’t talk to anyone but her sister because Sylvie hasn’t gotten her vocal chords working yet, but she can still interact non-verbally.

While Sylvie is the serious one, Allie is the jokerster of the family. She taunts people and pulls pranks, and finds little ways to frollic. Last session as we walked through a field, I had Allie pick a dandelion and begin using it for a parasol.

So that’s my latest flavour of the month character. I really do have a problem. I have ideas for so many more characters, too. Right now I’m also considering a bladedancer/rogue, a Profane Soul blood hunter/druid, a Goliath paladin, and the aforementioned Sea Elf sorlock…

By the way, while I’m talking D&D, be sure to check out the super awesome sketch of my paladin my friend did!