Sunday, June 22, 2014

D&D: Eugene Clarence Underbody Day 1

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Greetings, traveler. I overheard your conversation and noticed that you are going on an adventure. I've had some experience with adventuring, and I feel that my story can help guide you through your journey; pay attention both to my successes and my mistakes.
Allow me to start at the beginning. My name is Eugene Clarence Underbody, and I am a dwarfish member of the Sacred Order of Thor's Biceps. My life was simple at the abbey, and in the tradition of my order, I took a vow of poverty and trained my body to perfection (Hail, the perfect biceps!) Or so I thought. A certain adventure taught me differently.
I had been traveling the lands for some time, helping people where I could. The day that changed my life forever, I was in an elvish town called Treevale (an imaginative bunch of elves no doubt founded this town). I was in the local tavern, but because I had taken a vow of abstinence, I was only partaking of their fine local water. A very drunk half-elf named Steve caught my attention when he jumped up at the bar and exclaimed that he would solve the town's disappearances problem, and was looking for volunteers to accompany him. I volunteered, sensing an opportunity to put my skills to good use for the good of others. A female elf named Nuadrieth also volunteered. I got the feeling that my new companions did not have quite the same motivation, as they took the opportunity to get another round on the house. The male also managed to secure a free room, where he took a woman he had just met. I went off to find a barn to sleep in.
The next morning we all met at the tavern to plan our first move. The disappearances were all reported to have taken place north of the town, at a tree of religious significance to the locals called the Grandfather Tree. When we got there we started looking for clues as to the fate of the people who had disappeared. We found many seeds in the area, likely from the Grandfather Tree. We gathered some of them up in case they would prove useful.
Suddenly we spotted a man in a long leather coat with several crossbows crouched over a corpse. Suspecting him of foul play, we prepared to attack him. He heard us coming (that may have had something to do with me charging headlong at him) and drew his crossbows, one in each hand. At this point it became somewhat of a standoff, as the three of them pointed ranged weapons at each other and I hid behind a tree. The stranger convinced us that he was not responsible for the disappearances by showing us that the corpse was several weeks old. He apparently had been in the tavern the night before, and had followed us to find out if there were any beasts to hunt, as that was his profession. His name was Bigby, and we decided that we could use his help.
In order to lure out whatever was responsible for these disappearances, we decided to make a fire and leave Bigby as bait. Nuadrieth and I hid in trees, while Steve hid in some bushes. Nothing happened until after dark, when Bigby was suddenly attacked from behind by some sort of shadow creature. Almost simultaneously, one appeared in front of me on the branch and I heard another behind me. Relying on the inspiration of Thor's perfect biceps, I quickly punched it twice. My fists left holes where they struck. My training allowed me to avoid their attacks, and I quickly dispatched the first shadow. As I engaged the shadows behind me, I heard a commotion below me and I saw Bigby transform into a werewolf. I reflected on the good fortune of being in a tree while I exploded the second shadow with two fierce blows. Nuadrieth shouted to drop the seeds we had picked up thinking that they may have been the cause of the attack. I did so with haste and killed the final shadow creature in my tree.
Suddenly the seeds we dropped sprouted into some sort of plant that grabbed all of us. The Grandfather Tree split in half, and from within emerged a great demon. He called himself Orcus, Prince of the Undead. He had been testing the travelers that came here to find a group skilled enough to carry out a quest. He was at war with a couple of other demon princes, but his wand had been stolen by members of my own order. He was going to send us to retrieve it, and branded us with his mark (his handprint burned into our flesh) to ensure that we would not abandon this task when he let us go. Bigby aggravated him so much that he placed his mark on Bigby's face; Steve wanted it on his back, which also resulted in snake tattoos down his arms; Nuadrieth got it on her arm; and I foolishly asked for it on my thigh, which resulted in my penis getting burned nearly closed. Never ask for a demon mark on your thigh.
Orcus let us go and retreated back into the tree. Bigby was unconscious, so we dragged him back to Treevale. The townfolk were very distressed by our appearance, as most of our clothing was burned off. Steve assured them that we had solved the disappearances problem, and I believe that he received the payment the bartender had promised. We met Thunkin,a fellow dwarf who is a member of the Volstaag order. Our orders are on good terms. He healed the hurt members of our party, and when we told him about Orcus he promised to travel with us.
I was apprehensive about this adventure already; I had no intention to betray my order (Hail, the perfect biceps!) but I was not sure about my companions' intentions and I was not confident that I could best them all if I needed to. It would no doubt be a long and arduous journey.
That is enough of a story for one night. I will continue my story on the morrow.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Among the Sleep Review

Note: this blog has been migrated to Medium, with the articles here available to preserve permalinks. Please see this post at

I remember when I first heard about this Kickstarter for a horror game from the perspective of a toddler, and I was terrified already. They didn't have to promise me any more than that, I was sold.
Among the Sleep certainly delivers on that particular promise. It doesn't go much above and beyond, but it really didn't have to. It was suitably scary, with good flow and an appropriate arc. The minor platforming and puzzles were rarely challenging, but they helped a lot with the pacing of the game, and appropriately added to the tension or distracted from it. There really isn't anything I can complain about in the game.
My biggest issue with it was how short it was; it took me just over 2.5 hours to complete, and I was thoroughly looking through every room because I wanted to get all of the achievements in one playthrough. They are planning on coming out with a free DLC, but there is no word yet on what that will be about or how long it will be.
Because of the length of the game, I would recommend spending $10 on this game at the maximum. Unless the DLC absolutely blows me away, I wouldn't expect that verdict to change.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Wolf Among Us Episode 4 Review

Note: this blog has been migrated to Medium, with the articles here available to preserve permalinks. Please see this post at

I can tell that Telltale knows what they need to do for their interactive storytelling to work well. Over the course of The Wolf Among Us they have been slowly stripping away everything that doesn't directly add to the story they are trying to tell. The good thing is it gives each episode focus, with very little to distract the player. The bad thing is that they are in danger of stripping away too much in my opinion.

In earlier episodes there were some very interesting segments where I had to either piece together evidence or interrogate someone for information. That is mostly gone, along with pretty much any area where I am free to walk around that look at objects or talk to whoever I want to. This also removes some of the opportunities for player choice. For example, during one conversation I didn't want to ask a character where an object I needed was because I didn't want him to know that I didn't have it. During his next speaking turn he told me anyway, which felt like the writers didn't really expect me to choose the option I went with. If I fail to say the right thing to get information, the game should let me fail.
Another danger of stripping down the game is making the episodes too short. This is a little more subjective; some people like shorter episodes because they don't have a lot of time to dedicate to gaming, but I've come to expect episodes that are around two hours long.
Overall I wouldn't say this was a high point in The Wolf Among Us, and I'm hoping they bring their best for the finale.

Dream: Marques is my News Source

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As we know from a few of my previous dreams, the "celebrities" I follow aren't exactly mainstream. This dream continues the trend.

At the beginning of the dream I was watching a video by +Marques Brownlee about a road trip that he was going on for Ultimate, apparently in the Twin Cities. One of the scenes in the video was in front of a restaurant; I saw my parents in his video coming out of the restaurant as he was going in. I asked my parents if they remembered that happening, and how long ago it was. Their answer wasn't very helpful.

Next in the video he talked about how bad he feels for the people on "the ferry" but I had no idea what he was talking about. I asked my parents about it and they told me that there was a ferry going across the Mississippi that got stuck for some reason. A bunch of people were stranded, and apparently someone had died. I felt really bad that I hadn't heard the news until a Youtuber mentioned it.

I went down to the river bank just in time for the rescue ferries to come in. A bunch of people disembarked, including +Liv Klemek+Katie Reddemann, and +Amber Whittemore (I think they represent all of my Morris friends who I haven't seen since the end of the semester). I hugged them fiercely and asked them how long they had been stuck on the boat. "Since Thursday" they replied, which meant that they had been there for a few days because it was a Sunday in the dream. Then they walked off like they had somewhere important to be.