Terminus 6.24.13

Other posts on Terminus.  Last Recap.

Now that Karus was gone, the party set to searching his command post for access to the area we needed to go to.  After a little searching by Adah-kah, we spotted an area filled with junk that Sardis recalled might hide the stair down.  Under the direction of Vallo and Adah-kah, Sabriel and Meggido dug into the trash pile, revealing the stairs under the junk.  We set out to descend.

Going further down into the building for a while, we ended up at the entrance to a vertical tube which let out into a domed room below.  Sardis briefly wanted Adah-kah to go through first, but Meggido claimed the most dangerous position.  Vallo helped the party exit the tube into the room when the dome's current inhabitants noticed Meggido and prepared to attack.  They turned out to be arboleths, who tried to go insubstantial and dominate the party.  They sort of succeeded but only sort of at the insubstantial part.  The party beat them down and took a moment to gather themselves.

From the dome, we found a door way and went down a long passage where there was fancy art and jewels on the way.  Clearly, this was leading to something important to the Skeshuni, and the party was curious.  Unfortunately, what it led to was a wall that had been dug in and what appeared to be a treasury that was now a nursery for the arboleths and filled with hatchlings and arboleth-snot-monsters.  Which meant it was time for a fight.

The No Pants Brigade set to killing the hatchlings and snot-monsters, which fell fairly quickly, especially to the area effect attacks of Sabriel and Sardis.  Adah-kah and Meggido pushed into the center of the room and the mother arboleth appeared in the hall behind the party, particularly Vallo and Sardis.

As Sardis retreated, Vallo got dominated by the mom.  He took a swing at Sardis, but not much came of it.  The rest of the snots and hatchlings were pushed to their limits, so Adah-kah turned to attack the mother arboleth.  He sprinted to it mightily, but missed his attack.  In the meantime, Vallo got free.  The last of the hatchlings and snots died at this point, which was good, but then Adah-kah got dominated after attacking the mom but missing because he was dazed, which was bad.

The Arboleth, positioned as it was, couldn't make Adah-kah attack the party, so it sent him around the corner and sought to dominate Meggido, which it succeeded in, but the battle was on it's downswing.  Adah-kah tried again to attack the arboleth, but missed.  Fortunately, though, Vallo and Sabriel had no such issue and we won eventually.  As we counted the money in the room and looked around, we spotted a golden seal upon the roof.

Sardis and then Adah-kah swam up to inspect it.  It really was gold and there were five knobs upon the seal which had symbols which corresponded to the five races of the party and council.  Pushing at the knobs, we opened the seal, but it only opened a little.  Sardis went into the small hole and swam up to a chamber like the ones we'd seen before when finding the Linkage and the Base.  There, Sardis found the Receptacle, which looked like a metallic-glass cylinder and series of increasingly sized glass orbs.  Sardis brought the party up to the room and they settled in to rest.  Sardis passed out pieces of the receptacle to the party, but Adah-kah refused to take some and Sardis questioned his faith.


Leander Talks to Elene

This piece is set between sessions, while Leander was bunked out in the hotel bathroom in order to protect himself from the Arachne-spawn.

“Are you certain about that, Leander?” asked the female voice over the line, proper and calm.

“Am I certain that I was attacked by a swarm of spiders riding in a human body?  Absolutely,” replied Leander, forcing the irritation out of his voice.  Elene isn’t doubting it.  Just gathering facts.

“And it told you it was a child of Arachne?”

“Yeah.”  Leander adjusted his tactical vest, the transformed armor of Ulysses.

Leander paused as he could sense Elene thinking.  After a moment, he asked, “Did you ever hear of her having children before?”

“No, the stories tell nothing of it, but that means little, in the end.  It seems clear that Arachne, after being cursed by your mother, tied her fate to that of the Titans.  They would be well equipped to grant her the ability to spread her curse.”

Leander frowned.  “So that could be a biological child…”

“Or it could be some poor soul transformed by the transmitted curse.”

“That raises some ethical questions…”

“Does it, Lee?”

Leander nodded, though Elene couldn’t see the action over the phone.  “Yeah.  If it’s the curse, it might be broken.  No doubt the person may be damaged permanently in some way, but there could be hope.”

“And if it is not?”

“If it’s not, it’s just another Titanspawn.”  Leander shifted, keeping his muscles from locking up in the uncomfortable confines of the tub in which he sat.

“And you will do what you have trained to do.”

“Of course.”

“What if the curse cannot be broken.  After all, none but your mother or Zeus could free Arachne…  If the Titans have twisted her curse, then any infected in such a manner may be beyond saving.”

Leander sighed.  “Then I’ll have to put it down.  I suppose that’s the most likely course.  If I was making that kind of sleeper agent, I’d be sure to make them unable to be re-turned.”

“Indeed.  Have you thought on the actions of Detective Kei and his Atua bretheren?”

“You mean the fact that they seem to have something to hide?”


“Trust is tricky.  It could be like you warned me before; we don’t know who is turned and Pele’s own family could be behind her disappearance.  Or it could be that they suspect us for the very same reasons.  Undoubtedly, they know where we are and are watching.  It’s what I would do.”

“I have no doubts,” replied Elene.  Leander could hear her smiling.

“Thank you for talking it through with me, cousin.”

“Of course.  Tell me, cousin…  Have you found a nice island girl yet?”  Elene laughed, dropping the formal mode of speech she often adopted in her researcher role.

“It’s a business trip, Ellie.  Can’t get distracted.”

“You think cousin Nick is doing that?”

“I’m not worried about who he’s seeing, so long as it isn’t the spider-lady.”

“Probably wise.  I’m being called back, Leander.”

“Then I’ll speak to you later, Elene.”

“Sleep well, cousin…  Don’t let the bedbugs bite.”

“Ha. Ha.”


Voices My Voice Follows: Actors

So previously in this series, I've discussed authors and videogames and their makers.  This time out, I'd like to talk about actors.  I've no doubt this list won't be super original, but that's okay.

Wil Wheaton - I could have easily put him with the authors, but he's here because it's how I knew of him first.  Wheaton has been a big boon to the geek community because he approaches his geekdom with candor and fairness.  His talks on his fears and insecurities growing up ring true to some of my experiences.  And TableTop is a great way to find new games.

Felicia Day - Similar to Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day serms to be driven to help people who'd otherwise be called nerds or gerks fibd community.  Her leadership of Geek and Sundry has opened up a lot of social opportunity for people and she seems to genuinely live what she's doing.

Jensen Ackles - Jensen Ackles seems to just be the kind of person who finds fun in whatever he's doing.  He seems to tale all the fan canon about his character in stride and even has some fun with it.  Also, he's done some entertaining things outside of Supernatural, such as Ten Inch Hero, which was a pretty entertaining movie.

Harrison Ford - The man is an icon.  Han Solo.  Indiana Jones.  President James Marshall.  He was a big pert of why I wanted to be a paleontologist/archaeologist when I was growing up.

Sam Witwer - One of the things that gets me most about Sam Witwer is how passionate he is about the things he does.  His portrayal of Darth Maul in Star Wars: Clone Wars is a great example of this; Witwer was able to bring his own musings into Darth Maul, as well as the Extended Universe Sith Code into the character in a way many actors would not probably have considered.

Neil Patrick Harris - He dreams in puppet, sings about freeze rays, wrote the bro code, promotes food porn, and advocates for equal rights.  NPH is a pretty fantastic person who seems to just genuinely appreciate his life.  That's definitely something to aspire to.

Sir Patrick Stewart - The former Captain Jean-Luc Picard is a pretty incredible man.  He's got a great sense of humor, posting pictures of himself in stocks and in a ball pit.  He's an activist using his story of abuse to fuel support of domestic abuse and PTSD foundations.  He continues to take new and interesting film and stage roles, as well.  Hard to find a better role model than a man who uses his personal pain to reach out to help others.

LeVar Burton - Keeping in theme, LeVar Burton is an actor who has used his fame to help others.  He's an equal rights advocate, but more than that, he's a giant supporter of education advancement and reform.  When Reading Rainbow on PBS ended, Burton didn't let that be the end of the series and now an amazing Reading Rainbow app is available for smartphones and tablets which is bringing back much of the old material as well as new books to help kids learn to love reading.

Nathan Fillion - Nathan Fillion seems to be the king of confidence.  He often plays cocky characters, and represents himself on twitter as a strongly confident person.  But he doesn't just extend that confidence to himself.  On numerous occasions, I've seen him try to spread his confidence to others, be they fellow actors or fans.  And that's an awesome attitude for a person to have.

Natalie Portman - Natalie Portman is an interesting actress.  She transformed from a "nerdy quirky girl" to much more elegant and complex roles and has since transitioned back to more films that allow her "quirky side" out.  I think that serves as a pretty cool reminder that a woman can be glamorous and geeky all at once.

Abigail Breslin - The youngest person on this list.  Breslin is a lot like Natalie Portman in that she started off as a quirky kid in movies but has branched out.  She's played glamorous characters and average teens and even pulled off some action heroine moments in Zombieland.  Her twitter paints her as a pretty average kid despite her amazing life, which is refreshing to see.

Cam Clarke - If you've watched a cartoon from the last thirty years, you know who Cam Clarke is even if you don't know his name.  He's one of the most prolific voice actors of his generation.  He's been in everything from Spongebob to Transformers to Robotech to Ninja Turtles.  He provided the voice for Max Sterling, who is one of the greatest cartoon characters of all time.

Tricia Helfer - Tricia Helfer seems to have made a career out of playing tough, if a bit malevolent, women.  She was Six in Battlestar Galactica and now she plays Kerrigan in the StarCraft II games.  She's a great role model for anyone who wants to teach girls that they can be tough if they want to.


Terminus 6.7

Other posts on Terminus.

The No Pants Brigade started the day on a bridge where we'd been led by the old Kuo-toa lady after questioning Karus' flunky.  It seemed like we'd get across this bridge without issue, but Adah-kah spotted a black form in the water, which turned out to be a creature of swamp-muck that looked like a dragon, an eel, and a tree had an ugly baby.  The party was ready for this, though, as Vallo had cast a spell that let us walk on water.  He moved us down to it and the fight was on.

Unfortunately for muck-drageelant, the party was itching for a fight and had resources to spare.  Adah-kah and Meggido quickly positioned it to effect max damage.  The Kuo-toa pady ran away, but the party pretty smuch smashed through the muck-drageelant.  It was pissed when it died.

We went back and found the Kuo-toa lady and got better directions from her.  Rather than follow her round-about directions, the party boar-flew to the town center.  From the air, we began to scout the area.  We quickly spotted the main dome, but saw no sign of Karus.  We spied on his shrub people minions from above, though.  Sabriel's dragonborn sense pointed us directly at the building.

After a bit of debate about fkying i. On the boars or leaving them outside, tge party entered the big dome on foot and found the dryad-lich Karus.  He had his shrub minions and golem Skeshuni creatures with him and seemed to be doing a ritual.  Thus, it was combat time!

The shrub minions fell quickly as the party went straight to work on crowd control.  That left mainly the fake Skeshuni and Karus, who demanded the golems defend him.  The party didn't know until too late that the golems had some nasty tricks up their sleeves.  when bloodied, they washed over wnemies in an acidic form, severely damaging a few party members.  

Adah-kah took a fair amount of damage from that, then tried to finish one of the fake Skeshuni off.  It blew up on Meggido and Adah-kah, bloodying Adah-kah.  Adah-kah crossed to another fake Skeshuni near Sabriel, which died trying to blow up on Adah-kah and Sabriel, but only hit Sabriel.

For a breif moment Adah-kah was able to flex his mobility and teleported once and sprinted about, but Karus entered the fight and restrained the Avenger, along with Meggido and Sabriel.  It was sad times.  The last Skeshuni-light exploded on Adah-kah, who was in a bad way.

Things looked grim for a moment, but Sardis and Meggido combined to get Karus close to Adah-kah and Vallo managed to keep everyone alive.  Adah-kah landed two big Avenger powers on Karus and everyone else piled on the damage, bringing him down.  Karus threatened to find us, to which we responded, "fuck you, we'll find you first."


Scions on a Beach!

Other posts on Scion and Leander.  Last recap.

When we last heard from the band, they were setting up to attend a meeting with Scions of the Atua pantheon.  Brock had overheard them arguing about trusting the band and discussing Pele's kidnapping.  William went in early, according to plan, and the rest of the Scions arrived together.

Which is pretty much when the plan failed.  The Atua settled in to the meeting with the group of Scions who'd come together, but Lha-mo quickly noticed that the room was filled with beings of legend.  It seemed as though there were very few mortals in the bar.  Mostly, it was Scions and a large host of what Leander assumed were Menehune.  Lha-mo pointed this out and the Atua announced that they knew Brock and William were part of the group.

So the two sides set to negotiating.  Initially, Nick and William led the talks for the band and Tane led for the Atua, with Leander, Brock, and Rivkah chipping in occasionally.  The conversation began with a blatant "how can we trust you?" comment from the Atua, discussing the issues the Scions had brought with them (Spider-chick) and the fact that Lha-mo was a Titanspawn, no matter how aligned with the gods.  The Scions were able to rally, though, discussing how they've worked to protect people and bringing up Lha-mo's selfless care of the humans injured when the Spider-girl threw a car at the Scions.  It seemed the group was winning the Atua over slowly but surely.  Somewhere in the midst of all this, Brock got a call that told him his wife and daughter were hostages of the giants.  He intended to head to LA to make the giants pay.

And that's when the conversation got really interesting.  The Atua alluded to the fact that there had been groups that had come because of the prophecy before.  They mentioned that Reggie had been among them and that his fall to the Titans had helped foster their mistrust.  It was further explained that of the several groups, nearly every Scion had either been killed or corrupted; the lone survivor was hiding away on Kauai and was named "Billy" (or "Ballet" or "Bilty" or something like that).  The band talked about how they were going to "break the rules" of the prophecy and were told that Billay's group had done just that by researching the prophecy.

The band decided they needed to discuss this and asked the Atua for a moment, which they were granted.  As they talked, several of the team noticed a sound in a back room and they quickly went to investigate.  There they found four fire giants ready to fight.  The Scions charged in to attack, but their initial flurry did little.  Leander called out orders for them to coordinate their fire, but was pulled out of that portion of the battle by the appearance of hundreds of spiders pouring from a vent above his head.

Leander pulled back from the fight, trying to lead the Spider-bitch away.  Meanwhile, the Scions began to whittle away at the fire giants, but weren't scoring the big hits they really needed.  Rivkah and William focused on the apparent leader of the giants, who seemed to be enjoying himself.  Leander hopped the bar, grabbed a bottle of liquor, hopped the other end of the bar, then went out a window to try and find Atua reinforcements, only to find them on the losing end of another battle with fire giants.  There he witnessed one of the Atua women about to be pounded flat by a giant standing over her and he charged, using his spear as a pole vault and trying to bury it in the giant's neck.  He failed.

The giant turned on Leander and hurled him back through the wall of the bar, landing him in a seething mass of spiders, which took the opportunity to try and burrow into his flesh as they'd done with the boy, the dolphin, and blonde woman.  Fortunately for him and the band, while Leander was outside Lha-mo got the idea to blow on her horn, which called forth a small blizzard in the bar and slowed and then froze the fire giants while instilling the Scions (aside from Leander) with intense malice.  They slowly took the giants apart before finishing them.  Meanwhile, Lha-mo exited the back room and found Leander, which brought the blizzard to bear on the spiders, which froze and shrived, saving Leander.

The Scions rushed outside, but were likely too late to save the Atua, who were being overwhelmed.  Detective Kei tossed them a small bag with a carving of what the band assumed was Pele inside.  William talked other members of the team out of trying to make a last stand and they found a jeep which was clearly a relic.  Nick had the idea of channeling legend into it and it started.  As they drove, they could hear and see the volcano beginning to change and the area surrounding it begin to take on the aspect of Muspelheim.  Leander theorized that an axis mundi had been formed and that the band would need to shut it down.  The group made for the airport first, intending to go first to get to Kauai and then to accompany Brock to save his family, then to return to try and close the axis mundi.

As the reached the airport, it was suggested that the group drive across the fountain.  There they discovered that the jeep could drive on water, so they pulled an about face and tore across the islands and water headed for Kauai.  When they got there, they set about using the jeep's GPS to try and find Bobbay, but missed the most obvious clue of a man standing on the beach staring back towards where the axis mundi had been opened.  Eventually, they made it back to the man, who introduced himself as the aforementioned Billy.

He explained Reggie's fate and the death of a teammate he called "Sparkles."  He chose to only speak to the prettiest members of the party, mostly ignoring William, Leander, and Lha-mo.  The Scions got him to the airport as he spoke vaguely of the prophecy and they booked a flight to LA.  Once on the plane, Beelie regaled the Scions and other passengers with what he knew of the prophecy while hitting furiously on anyone attractive.  He dropped vague hints about the prophecy, mostly about two who would lose the will to live, one who would die, one who would be broken under the mountain, and the one who came before who would lead them, which he interpreted as himself.  Some of the band seemed rather unsure of that, but as they flew on toward LA, Bylette continued to peg Brock as "one who would lose the will to live..."


The Voices My Voice Follows: Videogames

Previously, I spoke about the authors who inspire me.  Originally, I intended this follow up piece to be about both videogames and boardgames.  But I quickly realized there's too many of each to write about them in the same place, so I'm splitting them up.  Today I'll talk about the videogames that inspire me (and the ones that I play the most often).  I'll start with the ones I've talked about the most here.

StarCraft: StarCraft was one of the first PC games I ever owned.  I'd played WarCraft II on the Mac and my step-brothers owned WarCraft: Orcs and Humans.  But StarCraft was all mine.  I've always slightly leaned more toward Sci-fi worlds than fantasy, and I really enjoyed RTS games.  StarCraft's real strength, to me, is that there's a bigger story going on than what we see, and we can know that but still stay focused in on the game.  At it's heart, the games in the series are about the relationships between characters, but these relationships play out on grand scale.

WarCraft: WarCraft II was a game I picked up because I'd heard a lot about it and because I'd played a few Blizzard games before (more than I realized at the time, actually).  I loved it.  The characters weren't really there yet, but the story was interesting, especially in that depending on if you played Orcs or Humans, it would end differently.  I was amused by the things the characters would say if clicked on, and the game world has grown far beyond what it was.  The writing may not always be top notch, but it's clear Blizzard spends a lot of time planning where the games can go and where things were before the moment they exist in, and that kind of world building always resonates with me.

Diablo: To be completely honest, Diablo was definitely the third place Blizzard franchise for me.  I played mostly because my friends did and I wanted to play games with them.  Diablo III really changed that for me. While I still play mostly co-op, D3 was the first time I really wanted to push through the whole story alone and try different difficulties.  I know that a lot of people feel like D3 doesn't live up to the standards of Diablo II, but I think they have different goals in mind.  I like where Blizzard seems to be going and I'm curious to see what's going to come in the next expansion.

Assassin's Creed: Assassin's Creed, I think, speaks to a lot of people's urge to be the guy that's so badass that he can do whatever he wants and get away with it.  At least, that's what it does for me.  I'm still not quite sure I know what to think of the storyline with Desmond.  I really liked Altair's story, wasn't a little hesitant for most of Ezio's, and enjoyed Conner's, but I'm just not sure of my investment in Desmond.  I didn't like him much in the first game, and I've gone back and forth with being okay with him since.  I'm curious to see where the next game goes, and I think that'll change a lot of my opinions on the modern era storyline.

The Walking Dead: First off, I love the Walking Dead comics, and I greatly enjoy big chunks of the TV show, so I had some reason to come to this game expecting to like it.  And it blew those expectations out of the water.  The story of the game is healthily complex and we get to see some hints at what may have happened before we first see the characters "on screen" in the comics/show.  It hits the right notes of both horror and sorrow, while still giving glimmers of hope.  And in true Walking Dead fashion, no one is safe.

Left 4 Dead: I do enjoy me some zombies.  Left 4 Dead, like Diablo originally was for me, was a game that I picked up because all my friends were playing.  Despite this grouping of games, I'm not much of an FPS player.  I'm not terribly skilled at it and I tend to get bored easily.  That said, Left 4 Dead (and Left 4 Dead 2) is one of my most played games and I'm fairly certain it more than doubles the playtime of the rest of my Steam list.  The characters greatly entertain me, and we still drop "I hate ____" and "ALMOST THERE!" jokes in both my game groups.  I'm curious to see if Valve will ever do a third Left 4 Dead, because I get the sense there's a bigger story waiting to be revealed.

Half-Life: Speaking of games on which I'm waiting for a third installment...  Half-Life is an interesting game.  I love the world and the way things have come together.  The community around the game is pretty amazingly creative and involved.  But I'm not a big fan of Gordon Freeman.  I know, this is blasphemy.  I don't mind silent protagonists (I mean, heck, I really like Chell and Master Chief), but Gordon just gets me.  Maybe it's that he's supposed to be a scientist; a scientist that doesn't talk or do science is a pretty lackluster scientist.  On the other hand, the supporting cast is great.  So I keep coming back for more.

Portal: Chell is awesome, despite not talking.  Personally, I ascribe to the "Chell doesn't talk because it's a dig at GlaDOS" camp.  For that matter, GlaDOS is pretty amazingly entertaining.  I love the puzzle solving and mind games of Portal and it's full of things that can be called out later ("When life gives you lemons...").  All in all, I feel like Portal is a bit of an homage to being a smart nerd and that endears it to me quite a bit.  Plus, as you can probably see as a theme, it seems to be connecting to a larger world in a way yet to be fully revealed.

Halo: I really wanted to not like Halo when I first played it.  It was the overhyped game of choice for a lot of jerks on the internet.  But I ended up liking the fact that the games were focused on giving players a contrast between the small dramas of the characters and the greater dramas of a galactic war that turned out to be a battle in a larger galactic war.  Over time, a lot of depth has been added to the game world, and Bungie and then 343 Industries worked hard to link a lot of out-of-game material into an in-game system of discovering it.

Worms: So the Worms series is definitely not about storyline for me.  But it's good fun.  Sometimes I just have to blow something up and there's always plenty of options in Worms.  Plus, it's still entertaining when I fail spectacularly to do what I want, which isn't something I can always say of other games I play.  It's good to get away from all the heavy story and Worms serves as a good palate cleanser when I feel like I'm leaning my writing/roleplaying too close to a specific game studio's style.