ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
- They say the Devil has the best tunes, but it's good to know that he doesn't always have the best dice. Yesterday, playing Neverwinter Nights (the Aielund Saga) we fought our way through a tower of assorted demonic foes right up to the tippiest top of the tower, where a towering creature resided, called just "devil." I drew my Holy Avenger, hit him with it... and he rolled a 1 on his save against the sword's super paladinish awesome powers, and disappeared in a puff of paladinish righteousness. (Or, to be more accurate, disappeared in front of a paladin who stood there, mouth open with bafflement, going, "whu?" since he'd entirely forgotten about that particularly super awesome paladinish power, since he'd been too busy going, "look! My sword is SHINY!" But when the epic picture is drawn of that heroic moment, there will be rather more righteous smiting and less slack-jawed bafflement.)

- I came home on Monday to an answerphone message that said, with slow deliberation, "your trousers have been located." WHich is good.

- This week contains Too Many AGMS, which would be less of a problem if it wasn't for the fact that I have the job of writing the minutes for all of them. (Well, both of them, but they feel like an All.)

- Day off tomorrow! I plan A Walk.

There is no connection between the above points. Devils, as far as I know, do not wear trousers, and do not take minutes of their meeetings.

EDIT: At 7pm, the doorbell rang. A man is ordinary clothes, who had issued from an ordinary card - i.e. not from a delivery van - thrust a parcel at me with barely a word, then turned and hurried off. It turned out to be a router. The router was expected, so this is not some driveby gifting of random routers to random people. It still felt... odd.

EDIT 2: Doing some quick NWN playing before the latest AGM, Pellinor said, "I've put some breaches on the dragon." So even if devils don't wear trousers, dragons sometimes wear breeches. Or at least they do if you just talk about them out loud, and don't ruin the whole thing with spelling.
ladyofastolat: (Curly Honey)
I've decided that I ought to post every day (or almost every day), no matter how inconsequential and silly the subject matter. So here goes...

Walking to the corner shop this evening, I saw a gorgeous young cat, a tawny and black tabby, really pretty. "Meow! Meow! Meow!" said the cat, clearly meaning, "Hello, hello! I want to be friends with you!" I slowed down, bent down, and lowered my hand. "Hello, hello!" said the cat. "I really want to meet you!" It ran up, smiling, and touched its nose to my hand... only to recoil, and run away at a rate of knots, with traumatised ears. Baffled, I sniffed my hand... and remembered that barely minutes before, just before leaving the house, I had used my hands to shape balls of sage and onion stuffing. I did wash them afterwards, but the smell remained. Clearly gorgeous tawny tabbies like sage and onion stuffing considerably less than I do. Although, really, I think almost any living being on this planet probably likes sage and onion stuffing less than I do. Posh shop-bought stuffing is all very well, some of it really quite nice. Homemade stuffing can be delicious. But basic Paxo sage and onion stuffing is, for me, one of the best things in existence. I could quite happily eat it with every single meal.

In other news, we have been playing Mage Knight for the last 6 hours, struggling to remember the rules. We played it quite a bit last year, but Christmas brought Mistfall (another co-op fantasy RPG board game) and Pandemic, which led to the utter awesomeness that is Pandemic Legacy (Best. Game. Ever) and many, many Pandemic expansions. Since we were struggling to remember the rules, we're playing the long co-op version, not the shortened one, which we felt demanded a certain amount of competence right from the start, rather than random flailing. The long game is looooong, so we've retired for the night only half way through. Much of the game was done to the soundtrack of 50s rock and roll, which is not perhaps the most obvious soundtrack for assaulting mage towers full of ice golems, but somehow... works.

One day I will post some more about our Venice holiday, but today is not that day.

Now watching Hooten and the Lady, which is incredibly silly, but rather fun. Also drinking some strange, nameless bottles of homemade multi-coloured booze that Pellinor salvaged from a recent LARP weekend. This might not be wise...
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
We decided to blitz Pandemic Legacy this weekend, and played about 5 hours on Saturday and 7 on Sunday to finish the game. Tempting as it was to extend the experience, I was finding that it was eating my brain. I was thinking about it ALL THE TIME. I was dreaming about it - dreaming about game set-ups, that is, not about hideous pandemic situations. It was keeping me awake as I post-mortemed our past games and planned strategies for the next one. (This is an entirely futile process, since you CAN'T plan, not until you see how the starting cards fall.) We decided to end it in one solid, intense, immersive and memorable weekend.

I will not post ANY spoilers about it, not here. I am, however, writing a series of spoiler-filled posts in which I write-up the whole campaign. Absolutely nobody will want to read these, but I'm doing it for my own reference.

In my opinion, this is a truly awesome game. I can see why it's been winning awards and rave reviews across the internet. I found it simply stunning.

Who should consider playing it?

- People who like board games, obviously. However, it's not actually that HARD a board game. Unlike some games that come with a 40 page rule book and take hours to explain, the basic game can be learnt within minutes. Yes, new rules and twists appear, but only gradually. Rule-wise, it's not that daunting, and you can use the board to play the basic game as practice before deciding to start the Legacy game for real.

- People who can assemble the same group of fellow gamers (2, 3 or 4 players) for session after session.

- People who can and are willing to pay c. £50 for a game that can only be played once. However, this "once" will give you dozens of hours of gaming time (including planning, strategy discussions etc.) very probably spread over weeks.

- People who can cope with the terror of a game in which everything can collapse into chaos so very quickly, and Bad Things in one game have implications for future games.
ladyofastolat: (Night gathers)
For the last few days, my brain has been eaten by the game Pandemic Legacy.

Pandemic (the non Legacy version) is a co-operative board game in which the players work together to cure four deadly diseases that breaking out all over the world. It takes around 45 minutes to an hour, and is pretty tense. Situations that you think are in hand can suddenly spiral out of control. There are several ways to lose, but only one way to win – researching cures for all four diseases before any of the various losing conditions kick in.

There are no spoilers for Pandemic Legacy in the following post, beyond things that appear openly in the starting rules. If you’ve played the game yourself, please don’t give me any spoilers beyond the end of March, not even broad general hints.

Pandemic Legacy )
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
We played Britannia yesterday. This was something of a challenge, since Britannia is unambiguously a game for four players and four players only, and there were two of us. Nothing daunted, we decided to give it a go.

Britannia recounts the story of Britain from the Romans to the Normans. Part of it is scripted. The historical timeline advances over 16 turns, and in each turn, the requisite invaders and raiders pop up. However, what they do after they arrive is down to player choice and the luck of the dice. Each player (denoted by colour) controls 4 different factions, separated by geography and chronology. If you start the game as Belgae, doomed to get squished by Romans within a few minutes, you can console yourself with the thought that Angles and Normans lie in your future.

We decided to play two colours each, with the proviso that we showed absolutely no favouritism towards factions that our other colour was playing. It was quite hard to do, but we did manage some epic annihilations in which our left hand destroyed our right hand, leaving behind only emptiness and tears.

The ending was... tragic. The Irish had taken over Devon and Cornwall (officially part of Wales) and were happy there. North of the Pennines, the Brigantes and Dubliners were busy killing each other in a war that promised to end badly for all concerned. Some surprised and long-lived Romano-British had clung on in the Welsh Marches until c. 1065, but had recently been slaughtered by Dubliners. Then came the Norwegians under Harald Hardrada, who expunged all Danes from England, only to get almost entirely wiped out by Harold Godwinson and his Saxons. The Normans romped in then, and almost entirely eradicated the Saxons (plus a few stray Welsh on holiday in Bristol.) Sweyn Estridsson, King of Denmark, turned up unexpectedly, waded through the corpses of his countrymen, and managed to kill William to Conqueror and all the Norman cavalry, but perished in the battle along with all his men. One lone masterless Norman infantryman remained, who managed to kill King Harold and his army before dying. All that remained of England south of the Pennines was an empty wasteland, ravaged by war and littered with the graves of kings.

There is probably a moral in here somewhere.

It is a distracting game. I keep wanting to write stories about the strange AUs thrown up by the scenarios. I mean, Roman civilisation surviving in Worcestershire until the eve of the Norman conquest!
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Last year's new board games were Troyes (which we played once and appear to have forgotten about ever since), the Firefly game (which is fun, even though Pellinor always wins it, due to being more willing to engage in risky crime) and Mage Night. I really like Mage Night, which we play in its co-operative mode, but the downside is that it takes us a whole day to get through it. Even the shortened version of the co-operative game takes us about 5 hours, including set-up, trips to make tea, and much, much dithering and debate. This Christmas, therefore, our games buying focused on shorter co-operative games.

Pandemic )

Mistfall )

We also got the Blue Sun expansion for the Firefly game, which adds more jobs, more equipment, more Reavers... and more map. It turns it from a very large board to a ridiculously ENORMOUS board. Add to that all the many decks of jobs, equipment and crew, the piles of money and the many piles of tokens that you need to keep within reach of all the players, and you virtually need to build an extension just to play it. We resorted to little tapas pots of contraband and fugitives strewn in empty sectors of space, constantly moving around the avoid the Reavers.


Nov. 9th, 2015 05:40 pm
ladyofastolat: (Boo)
For me, two computer games have reigned supreme in my affections for over 15 years: Baldur's Gate and Thief: Deadly Shadows. BG and BG2 I must have played well over half a dozen times, in a variety of ways: solo, different character classes (well, a few; I really am very reluctant to play anything other than a paladin), and with a variety of downloadable fan-made mods. Thief came with fewer ways to vary the playing experience, so I probably only played it 3 times, and it no longer works on my computer. I felt that Deux Ex could well be a better game than Thief, but it didn't quite engage my emotions the way Thief did. Divinity Original Sin may well be up there with BG, but I played that as a two-player co-op game, so it's classed in a different category in my mind.

A few months ago, I started playing Pillars of Eternity, and it IS Baldur's Gate. Well, okay, it isn't. Everything to do with character creation and development, combat and magic works differently, but it looks like BG, and it feels like it, too. However, although I spent the first day of playing going, "Woohoo! Baldur's Gate!", playing it never became the irresistable compulsion that BG was on its first playthrough. I've not officially stopped playing it, just seem not played it at all for a month or two. For the few days before I stopped, it had become pretty easy. Even when I badly mismanaged battles, I was surviving them with no difficulty, and I found that pretty boring. But, still, I intend to return to it, because it IS nice to have a new BG to play.

Last weekend, I started Dishonored )
ladyofastolat: (Jayne hat)
Most of our board-gaming is done at home, just the two of us. Sadly, some of the best board games in our collection either don't work at all for two players, or don't work well. It's not all doom, though. Some games, such as as Caylus, are different in their 2-player version - different challenges, different tactics - but just as good. Others can be adapted. We play Puerto Rico effectively as a 4-player game, with each of us controlling two "players" who work together for their joint good. We also have several games that are for 2 players, and 2 alone. However, most of these are based on battles and conflict. Pellinor spent much of his childhood playing war games, while I have a tendency to play too cautiously, so Pellinor usually beats me comprehensively. No problem with this, of course, but it can get a bit depressing when it happens again and again and again.

It seems that both Pellinor and I had the same thought this Christmas, and both searched Board Game Geek for well-reviewed games that work well with two. As a result, we ended up with three new board games this Christmas.

Troyes (brief), the Firefly game (brief) and Mage Knight (lengthy) )
ladyofastolat: (Boo)
Divinity Original Sin is a computer game, and I like it. There. That's probably all that most people reading this need to know.

If, however, you want my long ramblings about this game and how it compares to Baldur's Gate - my Best Game Ever that has long reigned unchallenged - read on.

Much rambling about Divinity Original Sin and Baldur's Gate )


Apr. 27th, 2014 08:37 pm
ladyofastolat: (Applause)
We've spent much of the last month playing The Aielund Saga, an old and acclaimed Neverwinter Nights mod. It really is very, very good - probably even better, in my opinion, than the original game. We started at level 1, and ended up at level 35 or so, having lived through an enormous and satisfying epic saga that covered many years. Various henchmen joined us for parts of it, all of them with character arcs of their own. I found it particularly satisfying that at the very end, we got a "what happened next" summary for them all.

It wasn't entirely without faults. The plot broke in a few places - e.g. once we got the McGuffin for a quest giver, and he took it and said thank you, but his dialogue then reset to asking for it, rather than taking us to the next stage of the plot - and we had to go back to an earlier save. Secure, back-up saves every hour or so are probably a must, just in case - although this is probably true in all games; I'm just very bad at remembering to do it. There really were not enough resurrection scrolls and rods available, given the difficulty of many of the fights. Near the end, some of the battles are rather ridiculously difficult, with not enough chances to rest and no chance to buy more healing, but we managed it in the end, albeit with a little cheating. Forums suggested that we were a little lower level than we were "supposed" to be at this stage, so we cheated up a couple of levels, which made a bit of a difference, although Pellinor discovering the power of a super-awesome spell FROM HELL did rather more.

I was a paladin, of course. Pellinor, also playing to type, was a chaotic lady who carried around loads of dresses and spent most of her time shopping. I kept on doing super-virtuous things and turning down rewards. Pellinor kept waiting until my back was turned and robbing from bedrooms and agreeing to ally with demons. We went to see the new Captain America movie today. Parts of it reminded me of the dynamic duo that is my goodie-goodie paladin and his somewhat more morally flexible travelling companion... although there was less dress shopping in the movie. A lot less.
ladyofastolat: (Boo)
I'm playing the new enhanced edition of Baldur's Gate. The BG series is almost certainly my Best Game Ever (though Thief: Deadly Shadows runs it a close second) and I must have played BG right through at least 4 or 5 times before, over the last dozen years or so. I've not played it for a few years, though, so I jumped at the chance to play with a shiny new tweaked version.

Only likely to be of any interest to Baldur's Gate obsessives like me )


Oct. 22nd, 2012 02:54 pm
ladyofastolat: (Jayne hat)
Although I spent most of the week doing healthy and improving things outside in lovely scenery (*ahem*) we did spend a small amount of time lounging on cat-covered couches, eating cheese and throwing dice.

Roleplaying )
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Much of yesterday's roleplaying was toilet-dominated, too, and involved length discussions on interior design and plumbing. From there we moved on to custard, and today we made a lot of money selling enormous quantities of custard to miners, though we are not entirely sure why they need so much. Now we have made HUGE mega amounts of money transporting a wealthy loony to his home planet, so that's nice.

The roleplaying session has been very dominated by digressions, so in that tradition, I see something rather disturbing on the BBC. "Faecal matter can be found on just over a quarter of our hands, new research suggests." How many hands do the writers of this article possess, and does anyone know that the BBC website is being written by many-handed aliens?


Oct. 14th, 2012 09:14 am
ladyofastolat: (Jayne hat)
So, we've found a mysterious, deserted ship, full of dazzling technology the like of which we have never seen before, with vast corridors full of plants we have never seen before, and what do we focus on to the point of obsession? The toilet facilities. Some people probably don't deserve to be a roleplaying party. :-D

Fable 3

Feb. 29th, 2012 06:14 pm
ladyofastolat: (Boo)
I am so annoyed by the game Fable 3 that I have only played it for two short sessions, and will not be continuing - which is a real shame, since I really enjoyed Fable and Fable 2, and had been looking forward to the new game for a while. The selling point of the Fable series has always been that your every action has consequences. You're free to kick peasants or fart at well-mannered ladies or seduce everyone you meet or stuff yourself with cake to cheer yourself up after hard battles, but it will make a difference to how everyone talks about you. Everywhere you go, you have choices. In some cases (not enough, in my opinion) you can even decide whether to protect the villagers from the monsters, or ally with the monsters to slaughter the villagers.

So what have they done with Fable 3? Entirely removed the element of choice.Game grumblings )


Oct. 7th, 2011 05:35 pm
ladyofastolat: (Boo)
Has anyone played any of the Elder Scrolls game? If so, do you think I'd like them? Also, has anyone got any other game recommendations? I've not played a solo game for a very long time, and fancy having some new ideas to put on my birthday and Christmas wishlists. I'd prefer a PC game, really, though I have played a few games on the XBox 360. I'd also prefer a game that isn't shiny brand new, and has therefore come down enormously from its original price, just in case I don't like it.

A little background about my tastes. )
ladyofastolat: (Boo)
Pellinor and I have been in a co-operative RPG mood lately, so have played through Neverwinter Nights and its expansions, as well as some of the best long mods. We've just moved on to Neverwinter Nights 2, and at present, it's proving very annoying. Some of this is just a case of unfamiliarity with the new controls, but it does seem as if they've taken a game that's renowned as being just about the best co-operative RPG around, and deliberately made it work less well as a co-operative game.

In the original game, you could choose to wander around independently, chatting to different peasants, buying in different shops. If the other player was nearby, they could follow what you were saying, but they didn't have to be party to the conversation. In a new village, we could wander off in different directions, picking up quests before reporting back. Pellinor's obsessed with clothes shopping, so I could leave him trying on pretty dresses in the tailor's, while I went off to the slums to find some petty evil to smite. But in Neverwinter Nights 2, if any player has a conversation, no matter how trivial and non-plot related, the other player's screen freezes until they've watched the conversation unfold. If any player enters a new area, the other player is dragged there, too, even if they were busy doing interesting and important things elsewhere.

I don't play a huge amount of games, though I do tend to be an obsessive replayer of the ones I like, but it seems to me to be fairly common for me to like a game's sequel less well than I liked the original. (Baldur's Gate 2 is a definite exception to this, however.) I expect it's inevitable, really. When you love a game, you love it as if it. If they then change things for the sequel, there is of course a chance that you will love the changed game even more than you loved the original, but there is also a risk that the things they change were the very things that made you love the original. It's the same in media fandom, when fan communities are full of people lamenting that the show is going downhill, and is a far cry from the glory days of old - but of course these "glory days" vary from fan to fan, and often equate to those episodes that first made them a fan.

I'm not sure there's much point to this post, really. Oh well...
ladyofastolat: (Boo)
Pellinor and I have been playing Battles of Westeros recently - a rare battley game that can actually be played within an hour or two, although it does take about 45 minutes to set up first. The side that has initiative (i.e. goes first in that round) is denoted by possession of a cardboard... well, I presume it's supposed to be a mace, but it looks to me more like an egg whisk.

I've spent quite a lot of time this week writing up descriptions of spells available to the fire mage I'll be playing next week. It's not easy typing on a keyboard that's propped precariously on an open Player's Handbook, and quite a lot of typos have ensued, as well as some rather bizarre mistakes that come from my fingers evidentally mishearing my brain.

Therefore, should I ever GM a role-playing game, the following items will appear:

The Egg Whisk of Initiative
A spell called Magic Circle Against Elephants
A spell that summons an Elemental Swan
A spell called Continual Fame
ladyofastolat: (bellowhead)
I seem to be Facebooking rather more than LJ-ing at the moment, probably as a result of getting my new phone. It lends itself to a quick "I am doing X" Facebook style update, rather than the lengthier LJ stuff. So what have I been doing since the last LJ update? )
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Thanks to those who replied to my request for info. on HD TV. We did decide to go for Sky HD in the end, although we cancelled out subscription to Sky Movies as we did so, so will be paying less than we have been paying. I hardly ever watched anything on Sky Movies (I say "I", rather than "we," since Pellinor is even less of a film and TV watcher than I am), so it seemed sensible to stop paying for it. However, I think I'll subscribe to Love Film, to fill the gap with DVD rentals. I'll finish playing Borderlands first, though.

Speaking of Borderlands... It's all very annoying. Pellinor and I were nearing the end of our two-player playthrough the other day, and went in search of the various downloadable expansion packs. We soon found that a new edition of the basic game came out only days after we bought our copies, including not only the original game, but all the downloadable content. It was much cheaper to rebuy the game in this new edition than to buy all the various downloadable bits separately. So we now have two copies of the basic Borderlands game, sans downloadable content, if anyone wants 'em. But it's all very annoying. If only we'd bought them a week later...

Back to Sky, though... Pellinor ordered the new Sky box early in the week, and they said it would probably arrive on Saturday. A "we tried to deliver your parcel" note came through the door for Pellinor on Thursdays, but Pellinor was puzzled, claiming not to have ordered anything recently. I collected it on Friday, and told him on the phone that it was a rectangular box, quite heavy. Neither of us had any idea what it could possible be, and I was going to leave it in its packaging for Pellinor to unwrap on Sunday. (He's somewhere near Bristol this weekend, sleeping in an Iron Age village under a fake tiger skin, rousing every now and then to fight off the hordes of evil.) I was amazingly slow to realise that this was almost certainly the Sky box. Unfortunately, I can't install it until Pellinor gets back, since my muscles are too pathetic to move the TV cabinet.

Finally, I got my new phone on Thursday, and have been having fun with it ever since. It's nice having the ability to look at LJ during my lunch break at work. Admittedly, it's pretty difficult to view it on such a tiny screen, but at least I have the option. LJ got blocked at work a few months ago, and I find it rather frustrating to do a post before work in the morning, and then be unable to reply to the comments that I can see coming on on email during the day.

EDIT: And while I'm here: I've asked Pellinor and my parents to get me a new camera for my birthday, but I have no idea what new camera. My current digital camera was fairly state-of-the-art when I got it, but that was many years ago, and it's really showing its age. I mostly take pictures of hillsides, seascapes, castles and the like, which gives me time to set up a good shot, but I do sometimes take pictures of fast-moving Morris dancers, when I want to be able to snap the moment instantly. Anyone got any recommendations of a good, recent camera that suits my needs?
ladyofastolat: (Jayne hat)
I'm not a very good roleplayer. I'm in awe of people who can channel their character who hours on end, having long conversations entirely in character, or even thinking in character. While I can channel characters easily enough when writing a story, it just doesn't work in a roleplaying situation. I can't act, I can't sustain speaking in character, and I get easily distracted into out of character digressions or puns. Fortunately, the groups I've roleplayed with have a similar style, so I enjoy our sessions immensely.

However, I think I'd enjoy them even more if I put more thought into character creation. Even though I can't do immersive roleplaying, I can at least give myself an interesting, rounded character to play with. Several of the ones I've played recently are merely a name and a collection of skills. In several cases, the actual character creation has been done by the GM, which can make it harder to get a handle on the character, but that's no excuse; Bacchus, for example, manages to come up with immensely detailed character concepts, even if the actual rolling up of the character is then done by someone else to fit his outline. With Traveller, another problem comes from the fact that there is so much backstory to this universe that I always get daunted and run away whimpering, so my character exists in a vacuum, but this is not an excuse I can use with A Game of Thrones.

For five days of last week's eight day gaming session, I played a character - Lady "Bubbles" Chatterley - that was created for me as a joke. Some years ago, on a long, booze-fuelled evening during a roleplaying weekend, we all rolled up joke characters for each other, trying to create a character totally against each person's preferred type. The following year, we all played those joke characters for a little while during the week, and I chose to play her again for most of this week. She turned out to be great fun to play. Her skills - which included driving tracked vehicles, bribery, brawling and an insane level of handgun skill - suggested a interesting past life for a noble woman in her 50s, and I had far more fun with her than I've had with many other characters. In contrast, the character I played at the beginning and end of this week was basically "chap with engineering 6" and little more.

And so I resolve in future to be more creative when it comes to characters. My first exposure to RPGs came on the computer, with games like Baldur's Gate. I saw my character more as the hero of a fantasy novel than as a character for me to play, so normally went for handsome heroic men. This has carried over into roleplaying as a whole, in that I always play human males. Next time I create a character, though, I will definitely consider playing someone from interesting alien race, or a quirky character with an interesting background.

I will also try to write something from the point of view of each character that I play. Bacchus played with us for the first weekend via Skype, but missed the rest of the week, so I started writing up a brief in-character diary of what he was missing, so he wouldn't be too confused if he managed to join in again at the end of the week. I'd only intended to do one day, hoping that another character would cover the second day, but I really enjoyed it, so carried on. I'm a person who thinks through writing, so the fact that I was sitting down each morning and writing an account made a huge difference.

So here, for the sake of completeness, is said diary, though I doubt it will be of any interest to anyone who wasn't there.

The Diary of Lady Bubbles Chatterley )
ladyofastolat: (Boo)
I've just been typing up information about all the spells possessed by a role-playing character of mine. Instead of "explosive runes," I typed "explosive runs." That would be a very different spell. But perhaps a rather effective one.
ladyofastolat: (Jayne hat)
Yesterday morning, while sewing pies, I was watching David Attenborough's Life of Birds, which I found on some obscure channel. (It's amazing how often I can go through several hundred channels and fail to find a single thing that I'm willing to watch while sewing.) Honey liked it, too. Then, at the end of the third one I'd watched, he told us that the next episode would be about birds feed on mammals. The next episode started with ducks, and then moved on to herons and divers and the like. I find this all quite worrying. All these years, I've been treating ducks as mild-mannered pretty things that jostle for bread, but all along, they've been slaughtering voles and kittens under the cover of their dabbling and comical quacks.

Then, in the afternoon, we did our first role-playing game conducted via modern technology. We only had occasional technical problems - a microphone that wouldn't work, and an attack by a fake virus scanner that claimed that the laptop was riddled with threats, and refused to shut up about it until we handed over our credit card details to buy the solution. (We didn't do this, I hasten to add.)

Apart from that, it all worked very well. We had an online dice roller, we could have a seven way conversation via Skype, and people could type private messages if they wanted to plot without the others knowing - probably even more subtle than grabbing the GM during a real game and walking into another room. Strangely, although we all had the ability to talk to each other, many of us spent half the time communicating with the group by text. Since we were all sitting at our computers, any idle question that came up could be answered always immediately by a breathless messenger from the monastery of Saint Wiki, who fortuitously came racing up to our party and told us the answer to the question we'd just been musing about.

Our game setting was 1453 in Constintinople, currently assailed by 100,000 Turks. (The number was stressed so often that we became desperate to kill just one of Turks, to mess the number up.) Our vitally important mission seemed to involve an awful lot of time hanging around the baths in a brothel. Actually, we should probably have stayed there, since when we ventured out of the brothel, we ended up fighting a killer crocodile in the sewers, with rather serious consequences for various party members' limbs. But it all ended happily, because I found my One True Love, and we are now going to be together forever more, and anyone who tries to part us will feel the sharp end of my rather small dagger. So there.
ladyofastolat: (Oops)
I've just started playing the original Thief game, which I first played over ten years ago. Pellinor dug out an old computer for me to play it on, since it won't run on my normal computer. I don't know what the discs have been up to in the last ten years, but they needed two sessions with a scratch-removing machine before they'd install the game properly. Now the game itself runs fine when I'm in-mission, but on all the mission briefings, inventory screens, load screens etc. the display has shifted half way off the screen, so I can only see the right-hand half of what's supposed to be on screen - which usually seems to be the less important part of the information I'm supposed to be reading. There's a lot of guesswork involved in this game.

I've probably played Thief at least three times before. The first time, I remember, the computer wasn't really up to it, and loading a saved game took a good five minutes. This was a huge incentive not to mess things up, so the game became an exercise of suspense and terror. Then I entered the lair of the fire mages, and the fire animation was more than my computer could cope with. I think we ended up getting a new computer just so I could finish the game. Then I played it again with the expert mission objectives, and then I added an even experter objective of my own: to do the whole game without taking any damage. I managed it, too, though my nasty habit of falling of ladders led to many reloads.

Although the graphics look pretty ancient, I still think it's a really good game. The missions are varied, and the plot is actually memorable. (I'm normally hopeless at remembering the plot of games, since I spent most the cut scenes barely listening, as I'm sitting there poised to fight a horrible battle as soon as they end.) The emphasis on sound can be quite chilling, as you hear footsteps nearing you as you're wrestling with your lockpick. It's a slow game of patience and sneaking, not a wild frantic one of running and shooting and fighting, and it can still scare me. I don't think I've ever experienced moments of such fear in a game as I have with this one, especially when haunts came up behind me with rattling chains. Even the zombies I met today made me shudder - and I speak as someone who's spent far too much time over the last year fighting zombie hordes.

I did play Thief 2, but it didn't grab me in the same way; I think I just found the setting and the plot less appealing. I never even finished Thief: Deadly Shadows, mostly because it made me feel ill. Quite a lot of first person games do make me feel ill, but others don't, and I can't work out why this is. Half Life 2 made me horribly ill. Deus Ex made me ill when I tried to replay it many years on, but I was fine with it first time round. I wonder if it's something about monitor size amplifying the jerky movements, since the first time I played these games was on a much smaller monitor. I feared that Thief would make me ill, but since 90% of the game involves standing still or sneakily creeping, the bobbing of the camera isn't much of an issue.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I was walking past a hairdressers' the other day, and saw their prices prominently displayed in the window. The cheapest women's haircut was three times the price of the cheapest men's cut. Even the most expensive men's cut was more cheaper than the cheapest women's cut. I realise, of course, that most women have hairstyles that are more complicated and time consuming to produce than most men's hairstyles. However, some men have very fancy hairstyles, and some women have very simple ones. When I was a child, the hairdresser used to cut my hair dry. Then I became a teenager, and suddenly the hairdressers swore blind that it was impossible to cut hair without washing it first, then blowdrying it afterwards. My hair was the same, and the style was the same, but suddenly the hairdressers insisted on all these extra expensive stages. It all seems like a bit of a con.

It was especially annoying since the whole washing thing was riddled with awfulness. I hated the feel of all the extra horrid things they insisted on putting in my hair so much that I had to wash my hair as soon as I got home, to get rid of them. They always used shampoo that I was allergic to - despite me warning them - and then sneered in a disapproving fashion when they noticed that my scalp was all red and irritated. ("Do you use a cheap shampoo?" they'd say, dripping with disdain.) I was paying extra money to get a dose of superior sneering, a dash of allergic reaction, and a whole lot of annoyance.

Which is why I did something rather rash and drastic with scissors.

In other news, I've often chuckled at those lists that reveal how many people each year were hospitalised because of clothing-related accidents, and the like - injured by killer socks etc. Today I was almost one of them. I forgot to pack any skirts or trousers when going to a folk festival last year, so borrowed a skirt from someone else, and rushed out and bought the first trousers I found, which were three-quarter length, with a decorative cord around the hem of each leg, held there by being threaded through a series of little loops. It's always looked a bit traily and messy, but today it almost killed me. I was going downstairs, when the big toe of one foot got caught in the cord of the other leg. I would definitely have fallen headfirst downstairs were it not for the fact that I've got cats. I never used to grip the bannister when going downstairs at home, but too many near-misses involving thundering cats have taught me always to grip onto it for dear life.

The cords have now been removed. The cats have ritually killed them.

Apart from that, I've spent most of the weekend playing Assassin's Creed 2. I killed the pope today, but he was evil, so that's okay.

Game world

Jun. 24th, 2010 05:33 pm
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I've been musing today about what life would be like if everyone reacted like bystanders in computer games. I'm playing Assassin's Creed 2 at the moment, and I can accept the fact that, in game world, I can free climb to the top of the campanile in Florence in half a minute, and then jump from the top to land unharmed in a cart of hay. I can accept that when I make a mistake and plunge to a hideous doom, I will come back to life again, ready to try again. What is harder to accept is the behaviour of all the other good citizens of Renaissance Italy.

At one point in the plot, there's a cut scene showing my character assassinating a prominent public figure in a crowded public place. Standing over his corpse, I announce my full name loudly to the assembled multitude, and explain that I did this because he'd betrayed and killed my family. Needless to say, this makes me officially "notorious," and everyone tries to kill me on sight. However, all I need to do to become "anonymous" again is to tear down 3 "Wanted" posters, and suddenly the entire city has forgotten about the drama, and I can wander past guards in broad daylight, without disguise. Moreover, the posters in question are invariably in out-of-the-way places - half way up church towers, only accessible by an acrobat - so no-one could read them, even before I ripped them down.

Even when I'm notorious, and the guards are out for my blood, I am able to stroll past them by joining a walking group, and keeping pace with them. This means that I "mingle," and am invisible. Strangely, this works perfectly even when I, a heavily armed young man, joins a group of scantily clad female prostitutes. I can only assume that the entire male population of Renaissance Italy is wearing beer goggles.

Thief is one of my all-time favourite games, and I really have few complaints to make about it. However, it always amused me how quick the guards were to dismiss the noises you made as "just a rat." You could shoot at a guard, stick an arrow in his shoulder, and duck back into hiding as the alarm was raised. After a few minutes of poking around, the wounded guard would conclude that it was "just a rat" and go back to his routine patrol. It does make me wonder about the rats of fantasyland.

Then you have all those Baldur's Gate style RPGs, in which passers-by conveniently have red circles around their feet if they're likely to attack you when you approach them. If only this happened in real life. And if only real life were like Fable 2, when a few button clicks will reveal that the only way to the handsome stranger's heart is a comedy fart and a bunch of flowers, and the way to alienate him forever is a manly arm pump and some chocolate.
ladyofastolat: (Winter is coming)
The last few days have been spent adventuring in Westeros. Food wise, I had good intentions that crumbled shamefully quickly in the face of lemon cakes and beef and bacon pies. Game wise, I had good intentions that shamefully crumbled in the face of too many 1s. However, we did manage to use most of the various sails and figureheads that I spent the last few weekends making. Pictures below the cut.

Longships and Brians )
ladyofastolat: (Boo)
Signs that you play too many computers games, number 17:

You spend a few hours at work browsing a list of new books. Although you've used only your mouse hand, you find that your other hand is aching. You realise that you've spent the entire time with your left hand tense and ready on the keyboard - middle finger hovering over the W, ready to run forward; index finger on the R, ready to reload your gun; ring finger on Tab, to highlight loot and doors and to tell you how injured your enemies are; and thumb ready to hit Space to pause the game life if any monsters suddenly leap out at you while you're ordering books.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
What I've been doing lately:

- Having a migraine. I'm a total newbie to the joys of migraines, and I get them pathetically mildly, but all the strange visual disturbance stuff is present and correct, so they still count. Each one has been a little worse than the previous one, so perhaps I should start looking into triggers. Not that anything comes to mind.

- Reading. I've just finished book 4 of Dorothy Dunnett's House of Niccolo series, so am exactly half way through. Quite apart from the story it tells, I'm finding it really interesting historically. It's wandering into much less familiar territory than the Lymond series, covering (so far) Trebizond, Cyprus and various routes to Timbuktu, as well as the more familiar Flanders and Italy. I've also been reading The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes, about science in the Romantic era.

- Writing up Minutes. It's AGM season in our Morris sides, and I always get the task of writing minutes, since I always reflect the mood of the meetings by recording the jokes and asides and tangents as well as the boring stuff. It requires constant writing during the meeting to record all these things, though, and takes a good few hours to write them up afterwards.

- Games: Pellinor and I are still playing quite a bit of Left 4 Dead together. A new official campaign came out, with lots of new achievements to earn in Versus mode, so we've been playing on opposing sides, trying desperately to wipe each other out. Alone, I'm still half-heartedly playing Icewind Dale 2 - although it turned obsessive a few days ago when I started playing Battle Square, a game within the game that calls for one of your party to kill 250 monsters in single combat. Luckily, you get prizes along the way that help with the really hard ones later. While I was playing, officially the Best Things in All the World were:
- A Club of Disruption
- A narrow door that really big bads couldn't get through
- The reload button

And tomorrow we're off to see Bellowhead. Yay!


Oct. 8th, 2009 05:15 pm
ladyofastolat: (Default)
[ profile] wellinghall's just reminded me that I've not posted for a while. I suppose this is because I do a lot of my posts over lunch at work, but I've been out almost the whole time this week. It's Children's Book Week, so I've been doing booky things in schools. (Tomorrow I even get a school dinner, so I might not live until tomorrow night. No, really, honesty compels me to admit that I always enjoyed school dinners when I was little. Except the liver, that is; I still shudder at the memory of being forced to eat it up. I was unusual in liking milk puddings, especially the syrup or raspberry sauces that came with it, so happily ate it loads and loads of everyone else's unwanted tapioca. But, anyway...)

We're in the short dancing hiatus that comes between summer performances and winter practices, so I've got into a nice habit of doing nothing much at all in the evening except for reading and playing games. Left 4 Dead has a short new official campaign, which is a case of "Yay! More achievements to aim for!" I was in the mood for some fairly mindless dungeon crawling, so have also been replaying Icewind Dale 2, with a party of 6 modelled after some of my favourite fictional characters.

I've also been reading. What I've been reading )

What I've been watching )


Sep. 19th, 2009 07:43 am
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Oops. I seem to have been absent for over a week, so here's a quick summing up. Last weekend, I worked on the Saturday, struggled to dance at the Bestival on Sunday, and then pretty much collapsed onto the couch and didn't move much from it for two days. It was a cold that hit me hard, but seems to have passed on fast, since a week on, I'm still coughing a bit, but that's all. While off sick, I watched lots of costume dramas and Jane Austen adaptations, ate Magnums and chocolate buttons (those well-known medicinal things) and read a lot of books.

Books read )

I also finally remembered to watch Being Human, and liked it a lot. However, coming in on the penultimate episode of the repeat run of a series is spectactularly bad planning, even for me. (Most of the TV shows I've ended up obsessing over were ones I initially stumbled across by accident on what turned out to be the last episode before a six month gap.) And Peep Show returned last night, but I've not watched it yet; Pellinor finds it too embarrassing and has to hide under a cushion if I watch it when he's around, so I'll have to wait until he's safely away somewhere.

Last night I was listening to a double CD of skiffle, and noticed that many of the songs are about trains. My challenge for the day is to fit "The South-West Trains 11.30 from Southampton Airport Parkway to London Waterloo" into a catchy song.

And finally, last night I won the "zombie genocidiest" achievement in Left 4 Dead, for killing 53595 zombies. This clearly means that I play the game far too often. It's just a fun game to play together, and the authoring tools are out there, which means that there's a constant supply of new maps to play in. A few of these are excellent. One of them was a series of film-inspired nightmares, one of which was closely modelled on movie-version Moria. It was quite strange to be battling zombie hordes across the mines of Moria, but pretty cool, even though the bots kept falling to their doom from the bridge of Khazad Dum.


Jun. 1st, 2009 09:02 pm
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Pellinor's been telling me for ages to play Portal, but I couldn't really see what was so exciting about a game that only took a few hours, so never really got round to it. I finally played it yesterday... and it's brilliant. The puzzles start easy, but end up taxing enough that you just stare in horror at a room, overwhelmed by all the things you need to do before you can find the exit. What makes it, though, is the script. Companion cubes! Emotive automatic turrets! Well... pretty much every single line. There are just so many quotes that are crying out to made into icons (involving cake, obviously), but unfortunately the best ones are riddled with spoilers.

Plus, I cried at the end

I am now trying not very well to beat the advanced challenges well enough to win cake, but for now I'm off to kill zombies on "survival" mode, but should be renamed the "die hideously after two minutes" mode.


May. 28th, 2009 01:07 pm
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
Last weekend was yet another of our annual May Bank Holiday weekends of carnage, cake, cider and mayhem. A few weeks ago, I was really worried by the fact that we had more people coming than we had room for, and I'd resigned myself to sacrificing my bedroom and sleeping in a tent. Then lots of people dropped out, and we ended up with a fairly small group of 7 adults and one 5 year old.

It ended up being great fun )

Wii Fit

Jan. 19th, 2009 06:11 pm
ladyofastolat: (Default)
We bought Wii Fit on Friday, on the grounds that the only way I am likely to be persuaded to exercise regularly is to tie it in with high score tables, unlockables and star ratings. If success can be measured by the fact that all my muscles are so stiff I can hardly move today, then it's a success.

The funniest thing is that it populates its world with all our other Miis, which means that I can be jogging along through a park, and suddenly my parents race past me, waving. [ profile] skordh seems particularly fond of standing on stage doing a vaguely dance-like stepping routine, in front of a rapturous audience of people I don't know, who were probably created by G. in her mad Mii-creating frenzy. [ profile] jane_somebody and [ profile] phina_v like throwing hula hoops for me to catch with my body, some of which clout me on the head with a painful-sounding boinging noise. [ profile] prince_eldarion likes to throw pandas and boots at me when I'm trying to head off footballs, while [ profile] king_pellinor stands and watches, shaking his head sternly. and Person-who-would-be-Bethran just appears as a disembodied head on a marble, for me to carefully tilt into a hole.

New Year

Jan. 5th, 2009 12:18 pm
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Firstly, here's a belated Happy New Year to anyone who wishes to be wished it.

We spent New Year chez [ profile] bunn and [ profile] philmophlegm, with an assortment of cats, dogs and other people. Features of the few days included:

New Year shenanigans )
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Has anyone done this? If so, anyone care to drop a vague hint about the answer to level 9? I don't want to google it, since I only want a clue, not the actual answer. It's probably something totally obvious that I'm missing. (EDIT: If anyone hasn't seen this before, and starts doing it as a result of this post, don't blame me for any insanity or hair loss that results. Count this as my attempt to warn you off.)

Also, does anyone else watch The Big Bang Theory? I don't have any ulterior motive in asking, just the fact that I enjoy it, and it's one of the very few programmes I actually watch every week, so I just wondered if there was anyone else out there watching it. No-one I know in daily RL has even heard of it.

EDIT 2: Level 34 now, and my brain hurts.
ladyofastolat: (Oops)
I've been playing Fable 2 a bit this week (when I've been able to wrest the controller from Pellinor, who's playing Fallout), and it's far too early yet to say whether I like it or not, but so far some of the changes they've made since Fable 1 disappoint me. In common with several other sequels I've played, it seems to have decided to make things easier and less of a challenge.

So what (in my opinion) makes a good game?

Very long computer game ramblings (mostly about RPGs) which will be of no interest to anyone who doesn't play them )
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Sorry for the post overload, but I found this article particularly hilarious, especially "first you need to buy genitals" comment.

Oh, and as of very soon, if Pellinor's shopping trip is successful, we'll have an XBox 360 and Fable 2. Yay! I did enjoy Fable a lot, even though the whole "your every choice has consequences" element was rather lost on me, due to my inability to be anything other than squeaky-clean and good. I did try to make evil choices on my second play-through, but the moment those little peddlers started pleading with me not to slaughter them, I sheathed my sword, said sorry, and ran off to help lame dogs over stiles.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Sorry I've been silent lately. I've been very busy editing up and posting one chapter a day of a long fanfic, which is taking up most of my mind, and the rest of it has been full of worrying about Pellinor driving a van on the Big Scary Mainland, and with dealing with the news of the cancellation of Stargate Atlantis.

Oh, and Monday, which I had off work, rather accidentally for dominated by playing Guitar Hero Rocks the 80s, one of the games we accidentally bought when killing time while locked out of the house. It's a lot easier than the others, I think - or maybe I'm just getting better. I got five stars on every song on medium first time round, and five stars on about half the hard songs, too. I've not finished expert yet. I say "yet" with rather unwise optimism, since I've not finished expert on any of the games yet.

On Wednesday I danced at a rainy carnival, before wandering over to a nearby pub for our second spot... only to find it absolutely heaving. Someone who worked there had died, and she was obviously hugely popular, because there were hundreds of people packed into a marquee, all celebrating her life in a way that involved a lot of booze. Dancing there was... interesting.

Pellinor went on Wednesday and won't be back until Tuesday. (He and [ profile] chainmailmaiden are feeding the five thousand at a LARPing event. Their food and drink plans sound scarily ambitious.) I always worry when he goes off alone on Big Scary Mainland roads, but was particularly worried this time because he was in a manual van, and he's not driven a manual for many, many years, and has never driven a van. "Phone me whenever you can to say you're still alive," I said, which he chose to take literally. "Pellinor phoned," someone told me at work, when I returned from a trip out to a library. "He says to tell you he's alive."

Anyway, I have a couple more new games to try this weekend, and a couple of new books, and I have a few months of fanfic reading to catch up on, so it'll be a relaxing weekend alone, if not an exciting one.


ladyofastolat: (Default)

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