Demigods in the Harbor

Seeing that they were flying into certain death thanks to his glasses, Leander told Rivkah to turn the plane around.  She began to do so, but suddenly the plane was struck with mechanical issues. Nick and Brock noticed something scuttling about on the plane, and the occult knowledgable members if the group realized they were probably Gremlins given that this was a WWII era plane.

Rivkah managed to get the plane back into the defensive areas outside the Poison Sun Ward.  Unfortunately, the plane was still going down.  Rivkah did her best to slow the descent, but Brock decided to bail out, using his divine abilities to reach the ground stealthily and safely.  With a boost from TaK Me, Rivkah got the plane down with everyone in one piece.

After a moment, the Gremlins emerged, spotted by the eyes of a few in the Hestia.  Nick quickly befriended them and they crowded about their apparent new leader.  Almost immediately after that was resolved, several Japanese military officials arrived.  These individuals called the Demigods foolish for almost attempting to enter the Ward without protection, and then suggested the Demigods hurry and follow them to others who sought to strike into the Poison Sun Ward.

Leander signalled to the still-hidden Brock, whom one of the soldiers declared a great love of.  The group descended into a tunnel system, which may have been the sewer, and eventually came to an underground complex.  The team was led to a room and asked to wait.

After a short time, they were informed that another of their band had arrived.  Confused, they asked for this person to be shown in.  It turned out to be a beautiful Demigoddess.  She introduced herself as Jessica and suggested that she had come after a new portion of the prophecy had been revealed.  She also revealed her heritage as a daughter of Aphrodite.  At first, she was suspicious of Lha Mo, but the explanations of the other demigods managed to keep things civil.

After a time, the soldiers returned and explained that their intention was to aid the demigods in their strike, as they were part of a faction that disagreed with the decree that the Ward was off limits.  To that end, they were crafting a weapon and defensive gear.  That said, they introduced the team to the weapon maker... Muramasa!

While most of the group was unimpressed, William and Leander knew this was a big deal. Muramasa requested the Demigods retrieve four difficult to obtain items for him so he could create his weapon that could kill the God of the Last Breath.  First would be the Flame of Katagumi, which was within a giant carp in the harbor.  Second was a scrap of iron from the wall holding the Poison Sun Ward.  Third was the blood of a pure dynast.  And fourth would be the Ghost of Little Boy, created when the bomb fell on Hiroshima, which was rumored to be held by the Yakuza in the Great Market.

The Band, as was in character, headed directly to the Harbor, avoiding the small towns nearby.  They'd discovered, just before they left, that there were Ningyo in the Harbor which worshiped the great carp, and prepared for the potential of a fight.  Tak Me, who had spoken to Jessica, introducing himself and shocking the Hestia, flew the team to the Harbor, but there was no clear way to reach the carp once they'd arrived.  As a result, they asked Tak Me to fly them back to the Harbor towns, much to the yak's consternation.

The team began their search for information at the library, looking for information on the Ningyo and the carp.  They also checked on ways in which they could reach the carp's preferred swimming depth.  After a time, they moved on to a nearby shrine where they encountered the spirit of a deceased Scion who flirted with Brock a bit before directing the team to a nearby salvage yard where the owner was a frequent diver and collector of submerged artifacts.

With some flirting (to the consternation of the show owner's granddaughter!) by Jessica and a promise loot from William, the shop owner allowed the team to take three suits for Leander, Jessica, and Brock so that they could survive the depths where the carp lived.  Not wanting to waste time, the Hestia moved back to the waters and dove down deep.

After a time, they began to hear what seemed like singing.  It was the Ningyo going about their daily prayers and communicating with one another.  William used his skill with spoken language to translate and Brock used his newly developed singing ability, aided by  Nick's ability to call forth music, to introduce us as children of Hestia and therefore related to the carp's progenitor, who had become an avatar of Muspelheim.  The Ningyo agreed to take us to their leader.

Once there, the Ningyo tried to deny the Hestia access to the carp and hinted that they did not believe our story, flashing aspects of sharks in fleeting glimpses.  Brock had a mighty plan, though, and cut himself, focusing his divine heritage and the gifts of Hestia to cause his blood to ignite into brilliant flame underwater, fully convincing the Ningyo leader and shocking Jessica, who had had no idea that Hestia had blessed the others in the band.  The team was granted access and descended to the carp's domain.

Finding the carp was relatively easy given the fact that it glowed a fiery red in the dark ocean.  It seemed not to notice the band at first, so Lha Mo attempted pulling a scale off covertly.  When that failed, Nick tried talking to the fish and ordering it to give him an audience, but the creature had no sentience and so couldn't communicate it.  The problem was solved, though, when Jessica and Brock, at Leander's suggestion, gazed deeply into the fish's eyes, mesmerizing it.  Leander then directed the rest of the team to work together to cut off the tip of one of the carp's fins, with Rivkah hurling William to Lha Mo who caught him and redirected him so that he could strike with Foecutter.  Nick, deft of hand, caught the fallen fin.

Not quite sure if that would be enough, Lha Mo also swam inside the incapacitated fish's mouth and took a vial of blood.  William scooped up some nearby salvage and it was time to head back to the surface.


Terminus 11.24.14

When last we saw the No Pants Brigade, they were on a boat sailing around the main undead force on Celton.  The sea voyage was going mostly smoothly until we were attacked by a ship towed by a Beholder and manned by a group of headless yellow ghosts.

Fortunately, as is often the case, Vallo struck first.  He scored a solid hit and was able to launch Meggido onto the other boat.  Sabriel followed that up by spewing acid onto the enemy.

Meggido, true to his nature, quickly arranged the enemy into a postion where he could limit their movement.

Adah-kah, who had been holding his discomfort around water in, missed his next attack because he was more focused on moving safely than the attack.  Then the counter attack was on. The yellow ghosts tried to strike back, with one stabbing Sabriel.

The big damage came from the Beholder, though, who used his eye beams to attack everyone, including the crew of the ship transporting our heroes.  Charlie, a lesser crewman died in the assault and quickly rose as an undead horror.  He bit at Adah-kah and caused the Nekhanj to have a festering wound.

But the team had a secret weapon. Cornered and having grown into the adventures with his friends, Sardis unleashed a powerful magical assault, driving back his foes!

Unfortunately that paved the way for a disgusting swarm of secered heads, clearly seperated from the headless crew which had been the first wave of the assault.

Vallo and Sabriel were not phased, though, striking out to score big hits on the enemies.  Meggido reasserted his dominance, locking down the movement of the assorted creatures.  Having recovered his balance, Adah-kah joined the fray and delivered a big blow of his own!

The ghosts piled on to Adah-kah and Meggido, but the melee combatants were undeterred.  Sardis backed them up by firing an icy blast which rearranged the attackers.  Vallo used the moment to strengthen the resolve of Meggido and Adah-kah.

Sabriel viciously struck at the Beholder and the swarm of heads, which didn't work out as well as expected as the Beholder exploded in response, injuring the combatants.  Meggido quickly adjusted his positioning to stay in betweenhis teammates and the shifting threats.

Adah-kah, irritatedat having been bitten, crushed the risen Charlie and plannedto move on to another foe, but they had been cleared from the decks by his compatriots.  Quickly, the team inspected the enemy ship and then allowed it to sink, setting out once more to find a way to attack the Undead from behind.

It was smooth sailing for about another week until a large mass was spotted off to port.  Adah-kah usedhis keen eye to make out the features of the Forge!  The No Pants Brigade had inadvertantly found the portal the Beholders had been using to enter the world before the outsiders could drag it ashore.

Quickly the team formulated a plan to assault the Forge with the intent of speeding through the building to reach the Forge Fire and charge the device we'd assembled.  Once that was accomplished, an attempt would be made to cap the fire and close the portal.  To help in this, Vallo planned to summon great eagles which cpuld allow our boat to stay at a distance while we made our attack.

Quickly, we put the plan into action, taking to the sky and landing very near to one of the doors to the Forge. Several Beholders waited there and they managed to score a hit on Meggido and Sabriel as we landed.  They missed Adah-kah, but did manage to trip him up as Meggido bullied them into the positioning he found favorable.

Undaunted, Adah-kah lept to his feet and charged the Beholders, returning their attacks.  One of the Beholders, dubbed a Blood Kiss, managed to daze the party, but missed in directly attacking Adah-kah before hitting Meggido softly.

The Beholder tried to instill fear in Sardis, but shockingly, Sardis charged into the fray and magically coerced the Beholders to move to his liking.  Meggido used the opening to push closer to the doorway.

The Beholders made an attempt to blind Sabriel, but she struck back at them, causing them to retreat in fear.  The flaming Beholder tried to move back in and their reinforcements arrived.  It was too late, though, as the No Pants Brigade was already pushing their advatage.

Meggido slid the Bloodkiss Beholder out of the way, giving Adah-kah an opening to slay the flaming Beholder.  Vallo, Sabriel, and Sardis quickly added their own assaults, killing most of the smaller Beholders and further wounding the Bloodkiss.

The Beholder, having seen Adah-kah's assault on its ally, tried to use its eyes to stun the Avenger, but every attempt failed against the Nekhanj's iron will.  Sardis used the distraction to score a staggering blow and Vallo followed up with a daring strike of his own.

Meggido stepped in with his own major assault and bloodied the Beholder heavily.  The creature responded by lashing out wildly at the party, but couldn't stop Adah-kah from circling around to cit into him deeply.  Sardis and Vallo added further injury and Meggido and Adah-kah struck again one after another to send the Bloodkiss crashing to the ground in death.  And then it was time to enter the Forge proper...


Blizzcon: Heroes of the Storm impressions

I had the good fortune to head to Blizzcon this past weekend with a sizeable group of friends.  While World of Warcraft had some rather earthshattering announcements (the new player models are gorgeous and garrisons sound amazing), I felt the real star of the show was the StarCraft team's other baby, Heroes of the Storm.

Heroes is a MOBA in the style of DOTA or League of Legends.  As for why it's awesome...  Imagine Jim Raynor facing off against Diablo as Kerrigan fights Tyrael overhead and Nova throws down with Arthas.  Then add explosions.  Yeah.  That was the Heroes trailer.

I got to play Heroes (which was five vs five, player vs player format) three times during the Con, which was a decent amount given that the line was typically between 30 and 90 minutes long at virtually all times and I still wanted to see other panels and play other demos.  I played with friends each of the times, but mostly with friends we refer to as Thor and Loki.

In our first game, it took all of us a bit if time to get adjusted.  The controls were fairly straightforward, but knowing when to do things was tricky.  Similarly, we undervalued the objectives on the map.  In this first instance they were tributes to the Raven Lord.  We tried to get them when convenient, meaning the other team managed to get them and curse us semi-unopposed.  That was a big deal as it meant we had no sustained push during the curse and had to retreat to our towers.  We got the next curse and almost successfully pushed back to even things up, but our disorganization early on was ultimately our downfall.

We all stuck with the same characters in our three games (of which 2 had all three of us together and 1 had us with other teammates).  Thor took Abathor from Heart of the Swarm (sidenote: we kept unintentionally calling Heroes "Heroes of the Swarm"), one of the toughest and coolest heroes.  He was our support character, shielding us and slowing our enemies.  Loki took Diablo and used the lord of terror's area of effect fireburst and his directed charge to great effect.  He did a lot of our big damage.  I ppayed Stitches, the Abomination from World of Warcraft.  It took me a bit to master, but Stitches' hook was a great tool, allowing me to drag retreating heroes back to the jaws of death (Loki as Diablo, usually).  Otherwise, I played Stitches as an anti-hero defense to hold objectives and towers.

We originally picked our heroes with minimal coordination, only really discussing our roles (Assassin, Support, and Warrior for Loki, Thor, and myself respectively), so it was a fortunate circumstance that they felt like they synergized extremely well.  Abathor was perfect help for Stitches in the early game, providing extra survivability until I could get his levels up and choose health boosting talents.  Later in the game, Abathor provided Diablo the extra health and regen to be able to operate solo for long periods.  Diablo's charge and area of effect attacks also were great for cleaning up heroes pulled back or bunches up by Stitches.

We were able to use this to good effect in our second game as a team (I got one between these two with ither friends and Thor and Loki would get one later without me).  Learning from the first game, we focused on the objective: finding dubloons to pay Blackheart to bombard our foes.  As Stitches, I found myself playing around the spawning point of dubloon chests.  Diablo and our other allies (Uther and Sonya) would range closer to the enemy towers, but I made sure we were the ones with dubloons.

This resulted in us buying Blackheart's bombardment three times to the other team's one.  That alone was basically enough to earn the win.  A few times, I was able to face down three heroes alone and hold them just long enough for Diablo to arrive, usually just after my death, to clean them up with his powerful attacks.  Stitches' hook attack also was great for pulling foes off of objectives, forcing them to choose between fighting me or trying to run back to the objective with me breathing down their neck.

All in all, Heroes of the Storm was a great experience.  All of my friends agreed that the fast paced games and relatively intuitive controls helped the game feel easy and quick.  We're all signed up for the beta that is upcoming and can't wait to get back at it.


Leander: Gear Journey

Generally my Scion characters tend to start off with a lot of Birthrights based on the legends of heroes and gods in the same pantheon.  Often this results in a lot of Birthrights named after those figures.  For Leander, this resulted in things such as the Armor of Odysseus, Shield of El Cid, a spear called the Pallas Lonchi.

Other times, failing a similar story, I'll simply rely on translation.  In Leander's case, this ended up as the Taktiki Michani (tactical machine).  Other items, such as the glasses Leander got, have similar naming schemes (Iaptah, in this case).

But as Leander's legend grows it seems appropriate that the items he carries become more about who he is and less about who he was empowered by.  Leander uses his spear as a tool more often than not, using it to signal and gesture.  So as his power grows it's only fitting that it transitions from being named for his mother to being about what it is for Leander.  The best translation to transliterated Greek I can find for this is Tha Strati̱gós Tou, meaning "Strategist's Will."  The spear has become the extension of Leander's ideas and needs and the new name of it reflects the way in which others see it.

Similarly the Iaptah and Taktiki Michani, as well as the lock of illusion-cutting hair and mana-bead of the Atua, will eventually transition.  They'll become the four pieces of a Corinthian-style helmet.  The lock of hair will be the crest of the helm.  The Iaptah (renamed Warrior's Vigilance), will be a clear shield for the opening of the helm.  The Taktiki Michani will become the main piece of the helmet, though still able to become the iPad it once was, and be renamed the Defender's Codex.  The mana-bead will be relatively unchanged, but will sit at the center of the helm's forehead.  My intention is that each of the pieces could still separate and work, but that this Leander's preferred form of wear for them so that he can have quick access to them all.

I think Leander would make it well known that he was not the first to carry the Armor of Odysseus and Shield of El Cid, but would work to make it clear that he carries them and continues to use those names in order to honor the warriors he respects and used as inspirations for his own strategic style.

Hopefully, this will help make it more clear why each of these items are important to Leander's legend while still allowing him to honor his heritage.


A bit of linking

There's more coming here later today, but for the moment, I wanted to pass on a link to another blog I've got, where I'm working on a NaNoWriMo project (which is not, ironically, a novel).  It's focusing on a series of short pieces within a mythic cycle.