Characters of Cimmeria: Restnor

In a way, this post is really about three characters, not just one. Restnor the Third was a character I established previously as the founder of Restnor’s Point. Having him be “the Third” meant that there were two Restnors before him. Additionally, as their lives weren’t mentioned they couldn’t possibly be as important as Restnor. So I came up with a little history for the two of them, but mostly as a way of setting the scene for the environment that Restnor the Third grew up in.

Restnor the Third

In the aftermath of the Dragon War people moved into the wild untamed places of Cimmeria such as the Black River watershed. These early settlers needed protection. Many volunteered to be rangers trained by the Elves that lived in the Valor Forest. Restnor the First was among the initial group of rangers slaying monsters and protecting the people that made their homes along the Black River’s tributaries. Restnor the First had a child with an Elf. When the child was old enough, Restnor took him and raised him on the road while he battled against all manner of threats to civilized life. Continue reading

Sacramento Underground Tour

This weekend my wife and I went to Old Sac to take one of Sacramento’s Underground Tours.

Old Sac is a historical neighborhood in Sacramento that has turned into a bit of a tourist trap.

All the old buildings from the Gold Rush in the 1850s and 60s are still there, converted into restaurants and gift shops instead of hotels and supply stores.

(I also feel a personal responsibility to warn you about La Terraza restaurant in Old Sac. Food’s bad! Don’t be tempted by the spectacular view! Stay away!)

Bunch of old buildings, right? What can we learn from the tour?

Tour comes with everything you see here!
Tour comes with everything you see here!

Our tour guide, Schoolmaster Mrs. Appleton, told us the basics of Sacramento history first that every Californian knows. Continue reading

Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go

Nintendo announced the next evolution in Pokémon games back in September 2015, Pokémon GO.

There still isn’t a lot known about the game, but Nintendo released additional info on it earlier in March 2016.

This is the first time I’ve truly gotten excited about Pokémon in over a decade. Continue reading

Yuettencal

Yuettencal.png

Yuettencal has a population of close to 150,000 and is the capital of Aractrash. Satronwook, Tetalya, and Lordodo are all vassals of Yuettencal. Yuettencal fits perfectly within the jungle. All but the most fortified buildings are made of wood, dirt, or underground entirely. Fire prevention would usually be a problem, but the moist conditions of the rainforest and numerous spellcasters with create water at the ready prevent the spread of any blaze. Starting a fire without magic or tindertwigs is a bigger problem than preventing them.

Yuettencal’s production is mostly tropical fruits, tropical wine from tropical fruits, tropical art, tropical animals, and spell components you can only find in the jungle. Jungle trees produce poor quality wood and the surrounding soil is also poor. Yuettencal’s economy would fall apart were it not for the gold mines to the north that belong to the royal family.

The gold mines are controlled by the king and are not allowed to be traded or even worked on by contractors or other interested parties. The king doesn’t want any of the gold being stolen or given out as a finder’s fee. The gold is mined entirely with slaves and sorcerer guards. The sorcerers have found numerous uses for a detect gold spell. They use it on slaves to ensure no thefts occur, On a rich vein to see the best way to dig, and to find out if a vein is done. The sorcerers have plenty of spells for their most important duty, preventing riots and revolts. The conditions for the slaves are brutal, but after five years they are freed and allowed to work for one year in the mines earning 3% of what they find.  Once a slave no longer works in the mines a geas/quest is cast upon them to prevent discussion about activities in the mines. Most slaves do not make it through those five or six years dying from exhaustion, a broken limb, or poisonous gas. Very few clerics are posted to help the slaves.

Yuettencal has the largest slave market east of Xoria. Any type of slave can be purchased here, but mostly the ugly races such as Orcs, Goblins, and Gnolls. Very few Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings are up for sale. Their kind does not usually commit crimes or go to war. Imprisonment is a much worse punishment for a race that is close to immortality as well. Suicide is a common cause of death for the enslaved elder races. The slave market is located in the west of the city in a plaza known as the Merchant’s Domain.

The selling of sentient flesh at the slave market fostered a thriving market for animals as well. Alongside mundane animals many exotic pets or mounts can be purchased in D Park, north of the Merchant’s Domain. Venders sell griffons, hippogriffs, and pegasi for riding; moon rats and pseudodragons for familiars; and trainers and caretakers for teaching how to ride and take care of all the beasts. Rarer animals for sale include dragons, nightmares, and pretty much any mystical animal, but only with a special permit. Dragons are usually only sold as eggs. Live ones are considered too dangerous to be kept inside the city and must be sold outside the walls.

Yuettencal is ruled by King Staynard. He recently took the crown upon his father’s assassination. Prior to becoming the royal family, Staynard’s ancestors discovered the gold mines and slowly grew to a position of power. They were crowned as royalty by the priesthood of Zeus when the first King Gollard married a nymph. King Staynard is inexperienced and afraid of the power that comes with his position. He relies heavily on his advisers and the counsel of his family’s silver dragon mount, Kinderax. The people of Aractrash believe that Staynard’s father, Ballard, was assassinated on the order of the Xorians. Staynard plans to join the Second Alliance and enter the War, but he fears he may regret this decision.

A particular type of spider lives in Yuettencal called Redwire Spiders. Their webs are red and cannot be cut by a sword without a few seconds of vigorous sawing. The spiders are domesticated and trained to spin their webs in long lines of thread. This red cloth is very comfortable and has the strength of studded leather armor. The spider is the crest of the king, is on the Aractrashan flag, and is worn on the armor of the Aractrashan soldiery. The Redwire cloth is highly valued by civilians in the city and by foreigners, but the king keeps a monopoly on it and does not sell it to anyone. A black market does exist, surviving off of Redwire cloth taken from bribed or mugged soldiers. The punishment for losing or selling Redwire cloth is severe, 50 lashes and expulsion from Yuettencal.

-GoCorral

League of Legends Meta

I'm the blue one in the middle on the right. Yeti to the rescue!
I’m the blue one in the middle on the right. Yeti to the rescue!

My previous post outlining League of Legends was forever ago. I posted League of Legends Map Part 3 on March 22nd.

Today I’m going to talk about the League of Legends meta.

In the everyday usage of the word, meta means something that is self-referential. But meta means something different when you’re talking about video games.

The meta of a video game refers to specific strategies used to play against other people.

The meta of a game evolves out of the rock-paper-scissors mechanics that most games use.

The meta can shift so that more people are playing rock than any other symbol, but if that happens then inevitably more people will start playing paper because paper is good against rock.

Or maybe the game designers will notice that scissors is losing more games than it should on average. The designers give scissors a buff for fighting the other symbols. The buff results in more people playing scissors and then more people playing rock because it counters scissors and on and on and on.

So what is the meta of League of Legends?

Like I said in my previous posts, League of Legends has three different lanes that shape the map.

Each lane has a set of resources that give gold, the enemy minions. Killing minions gets you gold.

There’s also the jungle monsters inbetween lanes that give gold.

So four places to get gold, but five people on each team. Not quite enough to go around.

The jungle, top, and mid lanes are what you’d expect. One person in each collects resources from that lane.

In North America the current meta is a large champion who can take a lot of hits in top lane.

The mid lane usually has a champion that can’t survive a lot of hits, but can deal a lot of damage with their abilities.

A lot of different champions work in the jungle. The North American meta for League of Legends jungle champions has been shifting a lot lately, so I couldn’t say what really fits there. In the picture above I’m a tanky jungler who can take a lot of hits and slow the other team down by throwing snowballs at them.

The League of Legends puts two champions in the bottom lane.

Because there’s two in the same place, you can’t name the lane based on the position. Instead the two positions are called Attack Damage Carry (ADC) and Support.

The ADC is responsible for shooting arrows or bullets at people. They’ve got a lot of abilities that make their arrows or bullets hit harder or reposition themselves so they can keep shooting arrows or bullets at the enemy team, but that’s the gist of the role.

The support is supposed to keep the ADC alive and provide basic utility to the team as a whole.

For example, a friend of my is playing Nami in the top left of the picture above.

Nami is a mermaid support. Her abilities let her heal her allies, trap her enemies in a bubble of water, buff her ADC’s attacks to make them slow enemies, speed up her team, and create a giant tidal wave that pushes the enemy team away.

So if Nami’s ADC is jumped on by an enemy, Nami can trap that enemy in a water bubble to save her ADC.

If someone is running at her ADC, Nami can increase the ADC’s speed and allow the ADC to slow the running enemy with their arrows and bullets.

The support’s role is so focused around keeping the ADC healthy and alive that the support doesn’t even share the gold from minions in the bottom lane. It’s expected that the ADC will kill all of the minions and get all of the gold.

So that’s the meta in League of Legends right now. More League posts to come!

If you’re interested in playing League of Legends you can give it a try using this link. Feel free to message me in game if you want to play a little with me! My name is SoapySeahorse on the North American server.

-Mister Ed

Hearthstone Economy

The different items you can have in Hearthstone: cards, packs, gold, and dust.
The different items you can have in Hearthstone: cards, packs, gold, and dust.

I wanted to talk a little bit about the different types of currency in Hearthstone.

All the forms of currency are essentially funneled into getting more cards.

The first currency the game introduces is gold.

Gold is essentially interchangeable with real world money. Both can be used to purchase card packs or arena tickets.

Arena is a game mode similar to gambling. You create a deck and then try to win as many games as you can before you accumulate 3 losses with that deck.

After finishing an arena run, the game awards you a pack and a few other things as seen in the picture above.

Gold and real world currencies can only be used to buy packs for 100 gold ($1.50) each or arena tickets for 150 gold ($1.99) each.

Each pack contains 5 cards. Cards come in 4 degrees of rarity, common, rare, epic, and legendary.

The average pack has 4 commons and 1 rare. The card won from the arena run pictured above is a common card.

Unlike other CCGs there is no way to trade your cards with other players in Hearthstone.

Instead, cards must be traded with the computer at a bad exchange rate.

Card exchange is mediated through the dust currency I mentioned earlier.

The exchange rate is pretty bad as shown in this table. It takes 8 dusted common cards to get 1 common card that you want. 5 rares to make 1 rare. 4 epics or legendaries to make another epic or legendary.

Rarity Crafting

Cost

Disenchanting

Refund

Common (White) 40 5
Rare (Blue) 100 20
Epic (Purple) 400 100
Legendary (Orange) 1600 400

A pack is worth 100 gold and that sets up the exchange rate for other things in the game. The value of an arena run is always compared to what you would get if the 150 gold cost for the arena run had been spent on a pack instead.At one point I wondered what the exchange rate between dust and gold should be.

So an average 100 gold pack gets you 4 commons and 1 rare. The above table shows that the average pack is worth 40 dust.

I’d say that number is slightly higher as occasionally more rares show up and epics and legendaries can pop up as well.

I’d estimate the value of a pack to be at 50 dust. So the exchange rate is 1 dust = 2 gold.

So if you’re new to playing and are disappointed when an arena run give dust instead of gold like I was, don’t be that way.

Dust is a good thing! At least in Hearthstone.

-Mister Ed

League of Legends Map Part 3

https://i0.wp.com/ddragon.leagueoflegends.com/cdn/img/champion/splash/Nocturne_0.jpg

League of Legends Map Part 2

In this post I use the word champion a lot. A champion is the character a player uses within League of Legends. There are over a hundred champions to choose from. The picture above is of one of my favorite champions, Nocturne.

How do people actually play on the map for League of Legends? Why have I described all these turrets and minions and monsters?

The reason is the one of the in game currencies, gold.

League of Legends has three in game currencies, Influence Points (IP), Riot Points (RP), and gold.

IP and RP aren’t used when actually playing the game. They can get you new champions to play with or new looks for those champions. They also get you minor bonuses in game called runes.

Gold is used for purchases while actually playing the video game. Gold starts at 475 at the beginning of every game, enough for one small item.

For a bit of perspective, short games often end with each player having 6,000-9,000 gold. An average length game ends with each player having 12,000-15,000 gold. A long game ends with 15,000-20,000 gold for each player.

Gold buys items. These items can do tons of different things.

They all provide a few basic statistics, making your champion stronger in particular areas. Attack damage makes your attacks stronger, ability power makes your abilities stronger, armor and magic resist prevent a bit of damage to your champion. Health lets your champion take more damage over all. Speed makes your champion faster. You get the idea.

The big items also provide a few special bonuses. One of them lets your champion freeze in place for one second and ignore all damage during that period. Another gives extra strength to all the other players on your team. Another makes your attacks hit three enemies instead of just one. There are dozens of other cool little bonuses.

But how do you get more gold to buy items? There are four basic ways, killing things, having items that give gold, destroying towers or other large objectives, and just waiting (everyone gets a certain amount of gold per second no matter what).

First, killing things. If your champion gets the last hit to kill a minion, monster, or opposing champion, then your champion gets a certain amount of gold.

The amount of gold from kills is decided by how hard it is to kill the target. Champions give the most, followed by the big monsters at each monster camp. After that are minions, with the small monsters at each monster camp being last.

There are a few items that give you more gold just by having them. The ways they give you gold vary. Some give it when you are close to someone else who kills a minion, some give you more for each thing you kill, etc.

Destroying towers or other large objectives is the point of the whole game. Taking down one of those gives a bunch of gold to the whole team. Often the team of five people will gather up to take down a specific tower or objective.

What are the other objectives? Remember the Baron Nashor and Dragon I mentioned in a previous post? Those are the other objectives.

Baron Nashor and the Dragon are two large monsters that sit in their camps adjacent to the River. They are effectively as big as a turret and can deal nearly as much damage as one. Because of this the whole team or close to the whole team is usually required to take them down as minions will not be taking the laser shots like they do at towers.

Killing Baron Nashor or the Dragon gives the whole team a buttload of gold. Baron Nashor has the additional benefit of giving a buff to your whole team, increasing all of their statistics. This buff lasts for four minutes.

The Baron respawns after seven minutes while the Dragon respawns after six minutes.

A lot of the gameplay of League of Legends requires teamwork. I’ll describe how a team is chosen in another post.

If reading this has gotten you interested in League of Legends you can click this link to download the game for free. Doing so also gives me a little boost in game, so we’re both winners! League of Legends Signup Link

-Mister Ed

League of Legends Meta

Mount and Blade

I play a lot of video games but I am often far behind the latest release. I didn’t finish playing Pokemon Gold until Pokemon Heart Gold came out. I’m still working on Skyrim and Assassin’s Creed too. I’ll probably never experience Mass Effect or Dragon Age: Origins.

Mount and Blade is one of the few games I started playing when it first came out. The game was created by a Turkish couple and once it became popular they created a video game studio around it called TaleWorlds. TaleWorlds has just announced that Mount and Blade will be coming out on the Nvidia Shield. I’ve never heard of the Shield, but the people at TaleWorlds are excited to branch out beyond the PC.

In Mount and Blade you take on the role of a warrior in a medieval world with a variety of warring factions. The game is entirely sandbox based. There is no plot to follow. You have to make up your own plot.

The first time I played the game I started a civil war in one of the five kingdoms and ended up on the victorious side. The second time I formed my own kingdom and conquered the world for myself.

The gameplay is what you’d expect for a third person shooter in medieval times. You get swords, armor, bows, and other equipment to do battle with. RPG elements are mixed in as well. Your character levels up and has a few skills that influence the setup of battles as well as your combat capabilities in each battle. The more battles you win the more gear and money you get, money of course being spent on more gear.

The name of the game is Mount and Blade, so there is a fair bit of horse-riding in the game. Cavalry are vastly superior to other units in open field combat. Mount and Blade is also one of the few games to make horse combat interesting. Mounted combat meshes seamlessly with foot combat. Your character rides his horse around, hitting people as he rides by. If you aren’t careful eventually your horse will be taken out. You can try to find another horse that has lost its rider or you can continue on foot.

Mount and Blade is also one of the few games I’ve seen that fits single combat with RTS style combat. The only character whose actions you control directly is your own, but your character can bring potentially hundreds of others to the battle with him. These soldiers are given orders through hotkeys or a menu during battle. The orders can include positions to take on the battlefield, which weapons to use, whether to mount horses or stay on foot, and how tactical formations such as a wedge or turtle shape.

The soldiers that you command in battle have a morale that is heavily influenced by what food you give them. The greater variety of food they have to eat, the better and longer they fight. I spent a fair amount of game time buying more and more food for my soldiers to eat because they kept eating everything up after each battle.

Your soldiers level up after a battle just like you do. They get better gear and stronger combat capabilities with each new level. A fully leveled army is necessary for one of the greatest challenges in the game, sieges.

Sieges are the final objective in Mount and Blade. Unless you actively avoid it, your character will eventually end up in a siege. Assaulting a castle has two basic methods, just like in real medieval wars. You can wait for the combatants to starve or you can attack them with siege engines and try to take over the castle by force. Using force is almost always the better option in Mount and Blade.

Siege engines are used to breach the walls of the castle in someway first. This can be a battering ram that breaks down the castle gate, ladders that scale the walls, or a siege tower that goes over the wall allowing access. Once inside the castle walls you have to eliminate the enemy presence before your troops run out. Then you break into the inner keep and take on the guard there to secure the castle as your prize.

Your character can also defend from sieges. The same rules apply. My favorite tactic was shooting arrows at the soldiers pushing the siege towers up to my walls to try and slow the advance of the behemoth siege engine.

Mount and Blade also has an intense mod community. There are hundreds of mods that add small new things to the game or completely change it. Different mods can change the game to new historical periods, or fantasy periods. You can play a jedi on a speeder instead of a knight on a horse if you want. Some mods introduce boats. Others let you play as if you’re a King’s Guard in Westeros if you like Game of Thrones. I tried out a few. One of my favorites advanced the timeline of the basic game to Renaissance era, allowing rudimentary firearms to be used in combat.

I played the original game out as much as I felt like playing. A sequel came out awhile back, but my impression of it was, “We added some good ideas that were already present in mods and added a multiplayer mode that Mister Ed won’t be using.” A new sequel is scheduled to come out soon though! I’ve been thinking of taking a look. Maybe I’ll see you in the multiplayer mode there if I decide to try it.

You can find Mount and Blade at TaleWorlds website or on Steam.

-Mister Ed