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My little kingdom of Italy!

First off, I apologize for the lack of more interesting screenshots in this post. Just like the start of this playthrough the decision of writing this was pretty much a spur of the moment thing. In other words this was born more of an "Hey, why not write about it?" than anything else.

To be completely honest (and as you may already expect from the title) I am a terrible player of Crusader Kings 2. I barely know enough to get through with dinasty in the west european/feudal countries. In fact, I usually just tried to start playing in Ireland, also nicknamed "Tutorial Island" by the players due to how easy it is to start there. :p It is just that was the only place I usually got anything done to my satisfaction as my attempts to play in other locations or other cultures (like the vikings, muslim or republics) didn't work out so well. So, Ireland was a safe, known place. And I thought if I mastered it enough, if I was start there and expand from it to conquer to other places I might have a chance later on with different scenarios.

Well, that never really happened. But in one of those whims of what to play, I decided to play Crusaders Kings 2 and this time try something different. Instead of starting off as one of the counties that would one day form Ireland, I decided to start as a Duke in Italy in Early Medieval Ages. This was the time of Charlemagne, before Italy was the way we know of it today and it was called Lambard.

My plan was relatively simple:  I was going to start as a Duke, try to get as much control over the adjacent counties until I had an army strong enough where I could just demand to be nominated King of Italy, perhaps even expanding from there to conquer other countries.

I decided to start as a duke in Pisa. This decision was based on no other reason that I liked the name of the place. Plus for some unbeknownst reason I thought it would be a good launch place to attack one of the arabian nations across the ocean if I felt crazy enough. :p

...continue reading "[CK2] How I became the (terrible) King of Italy"

A knight sitting by the bonfire in Dark Souls

Well, since I am addicted to Dark Souls right now and not really playing anything else, I thought I might as well make a post with some of the Dark Souls videos I've been watching.

Side Quest - Dan Sucks At Dark Souls: The Show  by Extra Credits

This is the Let's Play that got me quasi-obsessed with Dark Souls until I actually bought it in the latest Humble Bundle. Despite the name, and being a newbie at the game, Dan is pretty good at it. Or at least he is better than me since I died far more times than he did. :p

The series, as you can guess, has Dan, who is an animator in the game industry, playing the game. Serving as a sort of advisor is James, who is a designer in the game industry, and who already played the game to completion. Both of them discuss the game's design as Dan progresses through the game. If you are an armchair game designer like me there is a lot of interesting game design discussion here. Right now it is incomplete and in an hiatus while they produce more episodes. Still, pretty interesting to watch if you like watching newbies trying to learn a game as they play it AND game design discussion in one show!

If that is not your cup of you tea but you do love discussion about game design then you might enjoy their main show, Extra Credits. That one is all about game design discussion.

Let's Play Dark Souls: From the Dark by ENB

Another Let's Play, this one is more of a walkthrough with some tips and lore discussion. Obviously it is played by a very experienced player. But what I find fascinating it, besides his player skills which made it fascinating to watch (at least for a noobie like me), is the lore discussion. As he goes through the game he talks about what the description of items he finds means, what NPCs are probably talking about, the themes of the game and so on. Describing it sounds boring but the way he talks about this stuff is very, very interesting if you like the game.

I also find it fascinating how our playstyles are so very different. Yes, there is the obvious huge gap in game skill and knowledge about the game between us. But I also think it is due to the different choices and preferences in the way we play our characters. I end up making a knight, which starting out is a class that is pretty slow to move around due to the gear and initial stats but they can block a lot of enemies attacks without losing any HP. While he made a warrior that although isn't the fastest starting class in the game isn't nearly as slow as the knight. He also doesn't use the shield much, and has been gearing and leveling his character to make sure he can move fast, preferring to dodge enemy attacks than block it. While I have been keeping my character pretty much a turtle, slow but steady and very well protected.

Another interesting thing is he hasn't been following the most obvious path through the game. Part of the reason is to make some detours to get some loot, the other is so he can trigger some dialogues that people might not have seem and can lead to interesting discussion about the game's lore.

This is also incomplete as of this writing but I think it is updated about every two days.

Dark Souls Story ► Prepare to Cry by VaatiVidya

This is a series that was recommended by the guys in the Side Quest Let's Play. Basically, it discuss the story and lore of Dark Souls through a focus on its main NPCs that you end up finding through the game. I admit I have watched almost nothing of it because I want to keep myself as spoiler free as possible. I did watch his series about the Demon's Souls Lore though since it is a game I am unlikely to ever play (unless a Playstation 3 and a copy of the game somehow ends up in my hands) and they are pretty interesting. He also makes a pretty good case of the reasons for Dark Souls being the way it is in Dark Souls: Why it's Different.

Critical Close Up: Dark Souls by SuperBunnyHop

This video is a  discussion about Dark Souls design, why it is like that, what makes it tick and its themes. If you like that some intelligent and interesting discussion about games in general give a look at the rest of his channel too!

Dark Sauce by ArinsMind

This one is a parody of Dark Souls, where a guy goes from complete newbie to someone who finished the game. It is pretty funny but be warned it does contain spoilers about the game's story.

The main character staring at the horizon
Praise the Sun!

I am not the type to be attracted to brutally hard games. I am just not the type of person to get a thrill off beating an uber difficulty challenge. It is just not how my brain works. But then I started to watch this Let's Play of Dark Souls. It not only made me fascinated with the game, it almost made me a bit obsessive about it. Since it is a game I could potentially hate though I didn't buy it right away, instead I was going to wait for a sale so if I didn't like it I wouldn't lose too much money. And it just happened that the latest Humble Bundle had Dark Souls on it. As you can imagine I bought that Humble Bundle and have been playing the game for the last few days. Much to my surprise I am enjoying the game a lot!

...continue reading "Falling in love with Dark Souls"

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Spoiler Warning:  This post contains spoilers about Icewind Dale's story. If that bothers you then you might want to skip it. If you want to read this series from the beginning you can check the "Let's Play" section up on the top menu.

When we last left our heroes, they had just retrieved the McGuffin (also known as the Hearthstone Gem) from a bunch of snake people in the mountains. Then they went back to Kuldahar to give to the only person, Arch-Druid Arundel, who could use it to find out the identity of the great evil that has been plaguing the region. They almost got fooled into giving it to a doppelganger of Arundel but fortunately they were able to perceive the deceive before that. Unfortunately the real Arundel was dying on the floor of his home and only had enough strength to tell the party there was actually someone else who could use the gem, someone called Larrel. There was only one small problem... Larrel was as prisoner in a place called "Severed Hand". Also, apparently all of them forgot that at least two of them could cure wounds (Hansel with Lay on Hands and Snow White with her Cure Wounds spells) not to mention all the healing potions they were carrying. Or maybe they just thought this would make for a more dramatic story for when they release their auto-biographies later on.  Who knows?

We finally get to the start of chapter three! Like the start of any chapter we get a nice background artwork with some written and narrated description of the events.

The narrating screen for chapter tree

...continue reading "[IWD] I see dead people"

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My Skyrim Mods List Banner

Intro

A long time ago I did a list of mods that I use while playing Skyrim as a sort of recomendation of good mods. However that list quickly became outdated so when I pulled it down with the intention of making a new, up-to-date and improved version. Due to a suggestion of Ravanel I decided to post it in parts instead of just releasing one gigantic list at once. This will break the work in smaller chunks (making it  easier for me) and allow me to gather some feedback about how to make the list as we go. Eventually I will copy the info in all the posts and make a page out of it that will be linked in the upper menu.

Now here is how it works: I will try be providing the mod name, a link to where you can download it on the Nexus and Steam Workshop (whenever possible) or some other site. So you can pick your own poison of where to download it. Screenshots whenever possible too and obviously a description of the mod. All the screenshots will be taken by me. So if they suck that is purely my fault. I suggest to look at the ones provided at the author page as they are usually ten times better at least. :p

Also, keep in mind this is not meant to be a "The Best Mods of Skyrim" list as much as a completely biased, personal list of mods I'd recommend to anyone who wants to make Skyrim more interesting. Another thing to keep in mind is that I am not a strict lore purist. I will use any mod that I feel fits enough with Skyrim or just amuses me. That means that a mod that adds Lord of the Rings weapons would work for me as they fit well enough. One that adds stuff from Legend of Zelda, not so much. So if that bothers you feel free to ignore my choices.

The Utilities

To begin with we'll won't be dealing exactly with mods but with some 3rd party software that makes playing a modded Skyrim easier. Next time it will be some real mods though!

...continue reading "My Skyrim Mod List – Part 1: Utilities"

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I am not much of the type to take screenshots but recently I've been trying to capture some good moments for something I have in mind. So here is a  few that I thought were interesting. 🙂

Sofia and Lydia resting a bit while my argonian mage, Fingers-on-Fire, tries to solve a puzzle in a draugr tomb. I should have done a better job of hiding the UI there!

Lydia and Sofia just chilling inside a dungeon

...continue reading "Skyrim Pictures"

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So, in a previous post I said I would try to explain some of the mechanics in Icewind Dale so folks who are unfamiliar with the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition (AD&D for short) rules which the game is based on. This is just so they can have an idea of why I have been having so much trouble with fights lately. Well, besides being a terrible strategist that is.

Now, before I begin, there are a couple caveats:

1. I never played AD&D in its tabletop, original form. The little I know of the rules has been by playing computer games that use the AD&D rules. So my explanation and analysis of the rules may be off. Also I am not going into any deep detail about them. Just a very superficilal explanation to understand my current situation in the game.

2. Like I said, I am a terrible strategist.

Oh, keep in mind these rules apply only to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition. For other editions of D&D things are different and anyone curious enough about it should just seek the books for those.

With all that said, let us begin!

...continue reading "[IWD] Interlude: Of Game Mechanics and Strategies"

( Spoiler Warning for Icewind Dale! If that bothers you, skip this post. If you are starting now wit this "Let's Play" you can find an index of it on the archives on the top menu. )

When we last left our heroes they had just killed a bunch of snakemen pretending to be priests living a peaceful life deep into the mountains. They also saved another group of adventurers who were prisoners from said snakemen. Those adventurers were even cool to watch over our heroes while they rested. Once they were fully recovered it was time to explore what lied beyond this farce of a temple.

The first thing they found is something really unexpected: a weird little girl delivering some cryptic message!

An odd little girl greets the party with some cryptic message

Before they can ask anything the girl just teleports away. As the party cuts their way through snakemen, the girl appears a few more times doing the same thing. Each time though the message becomes slightly less cryptic and more like "get out of here unless you want a very painful death."

...continue reading "[IWD] Creepy Little Girl"

(Spoiler Warning about Icewind Dale! If that bothers you just skip this post. You can also find an archive of this Let's Play series on the top menu.)

When we last left our heroes, they were standing in front of another door which is turning out to be an horrible trope for this series as well as a convenient breaking point for each post. Anyway, it was time to find out what was behind this particular door. It looks like it is some sort of temple and the party is immediately greeted by someone who looks like a priest, concerned about their well-being. Hansel, however, having sensed the evil aura of the "priest" tells him to drop the act and reveal their true nature. The "priest" is glad to oblige, does some trash talking of his own and then almost the entire place comes swarming to attack the party. Good one Hansel!

"Priest" Albion pretending to be concerned about the party

Now to be fair for Hansel, if you don't have a paladin in the party, the "priest" will give some excuse about how they are able to have a temple deep down in some caves even though they are surrounded by trolls, giant spiders, lizardman and undead and the party would just go with it. Eventually they will poke around,  either stumbling on an area they shouldn't be or finding things that don't match up with the priest's story. Then they will have to fight almost the entire place too.

...continue reading "[IWD] How To Serve Man"

(Spoiler Waning about Icewind Dale! If that bothers you then just skip this post. If you are just beginning there is an archive of this series that you can find in the top menu.)

When we last left our heroes they were facing the entrance to another series of caves while I feared what could lay beyond it. Well, it was time to find out what was behind it.

It wasn't exactly what I expected instead the party was received by a commitee of undeads that are quick to threaten them verbally. Hansel however realizes the voice does not come from the undead but from someone else in the area. Not only that but he also decides to do some trash talking with this new enemy!

The party is met by some undead and start a discussion

This is another case of a fight that the monster by themselves aren't too hard but becomes somewhat challenging due to their numbers. It didn't help I wasn't unprepared (read: didn't buff my party) and hadn't played the game in a few months so it took me a few tries to win this battle.

...continue reading "[IWD] Holy Trash Talking!"