by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Internet”

Odd Things That Have Happened in Dungeons and Dragons: Tiny Adventures

Posted 28 August 2008 in by Catriona

1. I’ve just been hit in the chest with a golden cannonball. This is, in fact, why I started this post.

Who uses a golden cannonball? Isn’t that insanely expensive and also rather impractical? Or I am just cranky because I took six points of damage despite, and I think the word is warranted, absolutely pwning my Armour Class Check?

2. Slightly before that, I was hit on the head by a falling scythe after failing a Wisdom roll. Still, the man who dropped the scythe on me was more annoyed about the whole situation than I was:

Disapointed, Plurbius faded from view, mumbling “‘Oh, don’t worry Plurbius, we’ll have thirty scythes . . . and they’ll spin and shred . . . .’ Last time I use gnome contractors.”

So there is that.

3. I’m deliberately not re-mentioning the time I apparently seduced a Halfling. (Plus, aren’t they tiny? Like hobbit sized? It’s all very odd.)

4. I don’t think it’s good for my Ranger’s reputation to have to hide in a soot-filled chimney because she can’t overcome a few skeletons.

5. I once tried to climb a tree to rescue a family pet: none of the actual family could manage the climb. But then goblin raiders appeared, and I fell out of the tree on top of them. Not on purpose, of course. But, honestly: Elf and Ranger. You’d think I’d be slightly more sure-footed than that.

Of course, this was immediately after the encounter in which I slipped and fell while walking through the forest, poisoning myself with toadstool spores in the process.

What kind of Elf falls over in a forest? (Ooh, Zen.)

Maybe I just have a very clumsy Elf.

6. That’s not even including the time I waited in ambush for an orc lord, behind his throne, and fell asleep on the floor while waiting for his bodyguards to leave. That was just embarrassing.

7. There was also the time I tried to grab a vine to swing across a pit and completely missed. The more I look at these misadventures, the more I think that my Elf is a bit rubbish, actually.

It’s one thing to have sharp enough eyes to spot the pit and another to fall straight into it anyway.

Later in the same adventure, I was lured into a trap by the promise of treasure and fell straight through an illusory floor. Into a pit, obviously.

8. Of course, the stage was set for all of this during my first adventure, when I was not only shot in the leg by an Elf after failing my Charisma roll but was also bitten by an alligator.

More accurately, I experienced “an unpleasant sensation of being bitten in the thigh.” Is that opposed to the slightly less common pleasant sensation of being bitten in the thigh?

Actually, don’t answer that.

9. I once ended up as a king’s food-taster, despite the fact that the whole point of the adventure was to drag the self-proclaimed king back to the town in chains. Of course, the disadvantage of becoming a food-taster and then failing your Constitution roll is that you end up being poisoned.

They never did explain how the king found me, why he didn’t demand to know why a heavily armed complete stranger was strolling around his fort immediately after he’d announced his secession, or why I accepted the position of food taster in the first place.

10. By now, it’s probably no surprise that the time I decided to fix a dumbwaiter (Why? Why would I decide to do that in the middle of an attempt to track down an Undead Paladin?) I, in fact, slipped and fell down the shaft on top of it.

11. I also worry about my character’s morality. For example, the Undead Paladin adventure above ended with me escorting him back to town, where a priest freed his tormented soul and I nicked his armour.

(I couldn’t wear Bonegrim Armour, of course, but we’re all familiar now with the depths to which my character will sink for the sake of armour.)

But this aspect bothers Nick more than it bothers me. Whenever we’re both playing at the same time, I can hear him muttering things like “a Paladin would never try to rob a sleeping giant!”

I’m thoroughly enjoying the game, which has completely ousted Packrat from my affections (although, gods of Packrat, if you could see fit to send me a Great Wall of China pop-up card, I might stop sulking).

In fact, when my father-in-law came around for dinner tonight, I greeted him by shouting from another room, “I’ll be there in thirty-nine seconds! I just need to finish this encounter!” Rude? Possibly. But he’s known me for eight years by this stage.

(Then when I did finish the encounter, Nick was strangely annoyed at the outcome.
ME: I killed the metal dog.
NICK: I don’t think that’s anything to boast about.
ME: It wasn’t K9!)

But there’s a fine line between thoroughly enjoying a game and being slightly miffed when your easily distracted, accident-prone Elf Ranger cops a golden cannonball in the breastplate.

Hands Down, The Strangest Game on Facebook

Posted 26 August 2008 in by Catriona

I’ve rattled on at length about my Packrat obsession, I’ve written a dreadful poem about playing Pirates—I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m fond of the games applications on Facebook.

But they’re all paling into insignificance now that I’ve found the Facebook application for Dungeons and Dragons: Tiny Adventures.

I’m slightly fixated on Dungeons and Dragons at the moment anyway, since it’s the first time in a decade that I’ve done any real table-top RPGing—I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed it.

But Dungeons and Dragons: Tiny Adventures is both curiously passive and oddly addictive.

It’s curiously passive because you don’t actually do much yourself: most of it’s taken care of for you by the gaming engine.

So you select your character class—Elf Ranger, of course—and then the game invests your choice of name with a pleasing sense of weighty importance, by insisting that once you’ve selected it, you cannot change it. The character’s name, it seems, is inviolate.

Then you pick an adventures from a short list . . . and that’s the last active thing you do for a while.

I’m currently halfway through “Curse of the Wolf Moon,” trying to “travel through Felltooth Wood to find the legendary Mirror Lake of Felltooth Mountain. There blessed wolfsbane grows in the spray of the Singing Falls”; it’s the only way to save the villagers!

But once you’ve selected an adventure, a ticker appears in the top left-hand corner, saying “Next event in 9:00 [or 7:53, or 3:57, or any of a random assortment of minutes and seconds].”

And you wait.

The time ticks down.

And then you can click a refresh button, and see whether you’ve defeated the monster or been knocked around a bit.

It’s the strangest thing.

In fact, you don’t even know what you’re going to be facing until you’ve hit that refresh button, by which time, paradoxically, you’ve already faced it. The computer takes care of everything, including your dice roll. You could roll a natural 20 or a critical fail, and not even know it until the dust has settled.

Frankly, I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with it, since I have to keep finding things to do, to amuse myself while the ticker ticks down.

And yet I am oddly obsessed.

Partly, it’s that I’m doing unusually well in this current adventure. I’ve done this one before, but the server crashed over the weekend, and when I picked the application again today, I’d dropped back to level 1.

But I’m having more luck this time. Last time the sad-looking shepherd came up to me and told me he’d lost his magic sheep, I failed my Wisdom roll, looked him square in the eyes, told him there were no such things as magic sheep, and sodded off.

This time, I didn’t fail my Wisdom roll—and succeeded in not only finding the sheep but also looting a forgotten shrine.

I’ve also killed a dire toad, set fire to a zombie, and freed a caravan of people from the thrall of a sorcerer.

And picked up some nifty loot in the process.

I have also been stabbed by a goblin, but it was only a flesh wound—and that’s the price you pay for derring-do. (Which is why I prefer to do my derring from behind a computer screen.)

But I think the primary reason Nick and I are obsessed with this is the anticipation.

When you’re playing with dice and paper, you’re master of your own destiny—to an extent. If you roll a critical fail, you rolled it.

But with this version, the control over the dice is taken out of your hands. You wait your seven, eight, nine minutes and then, and only then, do you see which foe you’ve been facing, which treasure you’ve been grabbing, and how much damage you’ve taken.

It’s almost contrary to the spirit of the original game, and yet we’re fascinated.

All evening, the conversation has been running along these lines:

“Honey, come and make a cup of coffee.”
“In twenty-two seconds!”

“I just killed a zombie! I set fire to him with a branch out of the fire!”
“Cool!”

“Damn! I died on the last encounter.”
“Which one? Wolf Moon? Oh, that’s basic, that is.”

It’s odd: the pleasure and pride that one can take in achievements that are not only represented entirely by pixels but also occur entirely outside your control.

Seriously, it’s the strangest game on Facebook.

But awesome.

Computers Just Get Worse

Posted 2 August 2008 in by Catriona

I’m sure you’ll be relieved to hear that I managed to get myself out of the situation with the revolving columns and the lava. Turned out I didn’t need to grab the rope at all: I could jump straight to the platform. Which is odd, since I couldn’t reach the revolving columns from the platform, going in the other direction, without the agency of the rope.

But that’s beside the point.

Tonight Nick and I planned to roll up characters for our Dungeons and Dragons campaign. (Why, yes: we are epic geeks. But then a fair number of people reading this blog are in our group—or we’re in their group—so it all balances out.)

But then it seemed that the Wizards of the Coast website was down.

Now that’s just unnatural.

So, rather than rolling up my lovely Elven Ranger—who should be a good melee fighter but also have decent ranged skills, unlike Gudris, my late lamented dwarf. First to die! Honestly, that’s just embarrassing—I’m lying on my living-room floor with my chin on a ceramic elephant, singing along to Dobie Grey’s “Drift Away.”

It’s as good a way as any to spend a Saturday evening.

Categories

Blogroll

Recent comments

Monthly Archive

2012
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
2011
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
August
October
November
December
2010
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
October
December
2009
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2008
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December