Fantastic Beasts and How to Slay Them: Runespoor

There are a few creatures with multiple heads in Dungeons & Dragons. The Ettin is a two headed giant. The Hydra usually starts with five heads and gets messier from there. Tiamat, an evil dragon goddess, also carries five heads.

The Runespoor is therefore not an impossible D&D monster, but the fact that the heads are so different requires some extra thought. The Ettin heads are often very different personalities but do not perform different functions that would effect their stats. The hydra heads all have a straightforward chomp. The Tiamat heads have unique breath weapons but, again, that’s where the complications end.

The Runespoor heads do very particular things, with a distinct personality. On top of that, Fantastic Beasts specifies that the creature often kills one of its own heads. This snake is an odd duck.

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Fantastic Beasts and How to Slay Them: Porlock

Another mini post today. Today we have a little, bipedal, goat-thing that protects wild horses. If your D&D game needs every Fantastic Beast in it, or you’re running a quest where the heroes have to wrangle horses, this is the critter for you. Otherwise… it’s kind of cute, I suppose?

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At the End of a Campaign

Not every adventure gets to have an ending, happy or otherwise. Whether you play Dungeons & Dragons, or other table top games, you will seen at least one game fizzle out before the curtain call.

Grown up responsibilities and ‘scheduling conflicts’ can cause a campaign to stall to the point that it’s not worth picking up again. Games Masters and players can get restless for a new style of game or a new character. In some cases, a game can actually go so well that the players don’t want it to end, and the host spins the adventure on indefinitely.

Though we may never reach it (or not want it to end), a great story needs an ending. Fantasy tales are often made or broken by how they sign off – how fondly we remember the adventure can be determined by its finale.

So I was in a great mood recently, when a D&D campaign I had been playing for over a year came to a close in a satisfying, bitter-sweet way. So great a mood, that I decided to write an epilogue. I wanted to encapsulate the moment, and also show my Dungeon Master how much I had appreciated the story.

I was quite pleased with the end result, and I thought I would share it. You are obviously missing a lot of context if you read this, but this is for anyone that enjoys the end of a well-travelled adventure.

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I Miss Dead Space

I’m pretty fickle when it comes to horror. I’ll happily skip most scary movies, but ever now and then I hit on one that I really enjoy, but it won’t convince me to get more into the genre. When it comes to role-playing games, the horror centric stuff is interesting but only in short bursts. My fondness for horror in video games is even more fleeting.

I like scary stories, but I’m just not fussed about spooky games with limited agency. Most horror games put you in a scenario where you feel helpless, which is what enhances the scariness, but they also often strip you of any self defence. You can walk around the map, and when the monster comes you can hide, but you can’t kick or struggle when it gets you. You can take pictures or scoop up documents, but don’t even think about picking up any sharp or heavy to fight the bogeyman off.

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Animal Crossing, My First Family Game

For the last few years, I keep putting aside some money to (maybe) buy a Nintendo Switch, only to talk myself out of it for ‘grown-up’ reasons. You know the kind: do I really need it? I should use the money on something more productive… and so on.

Knowing I would do the same thing this year, my amazing wife stepped in and bought me the Switch for Xmas. Specifically, the Animal Crossing edition. Her intention, of course, was for me to play it. What she didn’t realise was that Animal Crossing: New Horizons would be the first game that our little family would enjoy together – me, her and our little 1 year old. It’s turned out to be our first family video game.

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Why on Earth am I Playing Phasmophobia?

It makes no sense. For the last few years I steered away from horror games. Even games with high tension or stress-inducing gameplay have been avoided. I might watch other gamers play spooky, stressful games, but that’s as close as I get.

The reason: I only get the occasional night to game. Between school work, house work, child care and the occasional D&D game, time for video games is precious and usually just before bed time. Games with horror themes or those that require intense concentration leave me more wired than when I started. I realised I needed to switch things up half-way through Dark Souls. I was ending each evening game more stressed, focused and awake than I care to be just before bed time.

So why have I been playing Phasmophobia for the last few weeks? I could definitely be watching streamers play the game – and I was – but instead I decided to spend the odd evening in a scary game when I’d told myself that was a bad idea. Not only that, but I often play the game solo when my friends aren’t free to join me for spooks.

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My 1 Year Old Bought a Video Game

I remember the days when a parent or older sibling could hand a young person an unplugged controller and they would happily ‘play along’ with the older gamer. Now, with wireless controllers, a young child can take charge with a single button press.

I’ve not played too many video games around my 1-year-old. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I actually played more games after she was born, when she was struggling to sleep through the night and so on. Of course, she wasn’t aware of the game being played.  Continue reading “My 1 Year Old Bought a Video Game”

Which Game was Your Greatest Disappointment?

I recently hopped into No Man’s Sky. I’m usually late to a game, but in this case the wait was very intentional. You might remember that when the game came out it was met with bile and vitriol. To listen to early reviews and discussion, this game apparently lacked in quality in every way. On the dart board of wild, speculative expectation, the game hit the wall and bounced off.

I’m having a great time with the game, but I’ve jumped in four years late. A mountain of content, patching and tweaks have been made to the game in that time. “No Man’s Sky is good now” is a reoccurring suggestion online, a point which most people agree with. I am very happy I waited, and I was very confident I was going to have a good time.

The real reason I waited, however, was not just because of the early criticism. I’m pretty certain I could have enjoyed the original version. It’s definitely the sort of game I enjoy. No, the reason why I waited was because that original divide between ‘promise’ and ‘expectation’ was something I had seen before. As the game was released, I had a grim sense of déjà vu…

I was so disappointed by a game in my youth, that it makes me doubt that quality of games 12 years later.

My Greatest Disappointment: SPORE
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When Do Young Geeks Make You Feel Old?

I am still a decent distance away from considering myself ‘old’. I turned 32 last week, I don’t get confused by modern technology, I get very few eye-rolls when I reference popular culture around my students. My five month old daughter definitely makes me feel youthful, if a little tired sometimes.

Nevertheless, from time to time, I experience events that give me the sense that I am old, or at the very least getting noticeably older. This happens to us all in various ways. You might hear yourself saying things your parents exclaimed when you were little, or react to what you see on the TV with the disgruntled attitude of a person past their youth.

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Haha, you don’t know _____!

I don’t take issue with a great deal while I’m teaching. I’m accepting of the broad span of opinions and preconceptions. I rarely feel the need to lecture people in or out of lessons, and I would never tell you your opinion is flat-out wrong. But when someone laughs at someone for not knowing something, that’s when I dust off the soapbox.

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