Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dungeon Report

I created new characters on a new server in a grand experiment to send them all into dungeons (something I have never done with my "real" characters).  I wanted to do it because I hadn't tried it and I thought backing up and slowly really learning the classes might benefit me.

All but three of the ten have been dungeon diving.  Only one has been an unsuccessful disaster, and that is my Holy Paladin, who was booed and hissed out of every other dungeon she went into.  Changed her finally to a Retribution Paladin like my main Paladin, sent her back in and suddenly she is the eighth wonder of the world.  As my mom would say, "we are not so easily defeated".  I'm going to Dual Spec her as Holy, level up those skills a bit and dang fool send her back in as a healer.

Dungeon running has been a hoot and quite addictive.  I get alot more money and experience faster than I do questing and occassionally I get armor or weapons that really help my character.

I confess I never really understood the whole Tank thing before I did these.  I thought it was stoopid for one person to be standing around like Hercules getting all the monsters to fight them like they were some uber doggie.  Doh.  I can now see clearly how that person allows everyone else to be successful.  It is very cool, as long as everyone else plays their role well.  Many times, however, the tank is reluctant to approach the bad guys, why they go all weenie on you I can't understand, or they don't hold the aggro of the monsters and everyone goes kablooie.  Or they aggro too much and, you guessed it, everyone dies.

Healers are the most needed characters, and they get yelled at so much for the mistakes of others.  If everyone plays out their roles correctly, the healer only has to heal the tank and can pay less attention to others.  All those rogues and warriors and non-tank Paladins who want to show off just get everyone killed, while they whine why no heals?  Die suckers!

The last two who haven't been in are my Shaman and my Warrior Tank.  Really not a Shaman fan but trying to push her along.  You guessed it she is going healer but already I think she will not be able to heal fast enough or as effectively as my Priest, and just like my Paladin it will be The Hook for her when she gives it a shot.  I might as well have named her JustBootMe.   For my tank, I have a little experience tanking incidentally with my Feral Cat Druid bear and I know the dungeons by now.  Plus, she is an Engineer and has that secret weapon, Explosives.  Not sending in my Death Knight at all.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rage of the Dragon: Book Three of the Dragonships of Vindras by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

I have a review copy of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman’s Rage of the Dragon. I was excited to get it because I enjoyed Shadow Raiders: Book One of the Dragon Brigade so much.

I have not read the previous two books in this series, but it is a testament to how good this book is that not only can I come into the story at book three and I love the book, but I am ordering books one and two for myself so I can see how these great characters got to where they are now.

There is a short prologue where children are listening to the tale of our heroes and heroines around the fire told by one Farinn the Talogroth.  It is a well beloved tale that they can recite themselves. They run off to play act that they are the characters. This is such a nice framing device. However, by the end of the book I had forgotten about it and as people were dying left and right and I was stunned.  It would have been nice to remember that it probably all comes out alright in the end. Then again, this is a projected four book series and perhaps it doesn’t. Yikes!

The Dragonships are a wonderful creation. These wooden ships are inhabited by the spirits of real dragons who can be called forth in times of need to sail the ship or enter full dragon form and battle foes. The only indication during peaceable times that the ship is inhabited by these dragon spirits is a set of glowing eyes. Our ship is the Venjekar and its dragon is the Dragon Kahg. He has a rather dour personality, and is very ambiguous in his liking for the humans he sails with.

Our hero is Skylan Ivorson, Chief of Chiefs of the Vindrasi people. He is brash, brave, and ready to fight. I can tell from what is mentioned of the past that his character has undergone quite a transformation. Even in this single book, his character learns many hard lessons and becomes truly heroic. He gains wisdom, judgment and compassion with every page.

He has just finished a huge battle in the previous title, and he seeks to get home to his people to recover and to save them from a disaster he sees in a vision. He serves the warrior god Torval and his prayers and communications with his god are sometimes rewarded and sometimes not.

Our heroine is Aylaen, the Blade of the Goddess Vindrash. Chosen for this task over her murderous sister Treia, she wields it reluctantly at times but with honor. She is also a Bone Priestess who can call forth the dragons that inhabit the Dragonships. Over the course of the story she becomes a tough warrior and the love of Skylan. Their story is wonderfully romantic, their road not an easy one.

The gods here are real and they fight a hard battle between themselves, and with a dangerous new god who is attempting to destroy the older weakened gods. They are able to help the humans by sending visions and sometimes massive creatures like the kraken to do their bidding. The Dragonships have alliances as well. Some are with the old gods, some with the new.

There are great side characters. The narrator Farinn is a sixteen year old boy who would be a bard rather than a warrior. There is Acronis, a legate who has lost everything but he stays with Skylan and helps keep him temperate. A strange shape changing boy named Wulfe claims to be the grandson of the Queen of Faerie.

On the villainous side we have Skylan’s devout and dastardly cousin Raegar who would be emperor under the new god Aelon, his lover the traitorous yet oddly sympathetic Treia, and the new and increasingly powerful god Aelon.

Rage of the Dragon is the story of their efforts to get home, to bury a friend honorably, and to please the gods that they worship while fighting against the gods and their followers who seek to destroy them.

The world itself is at stake as Aylaen and Skylan seek the five bones of the Vektia dragon. Finding these will summon a power to the world that may destroy everything.

This is one of my favorite books this year. It is a great adventure, a sea story, rousingly romantic and I cannot wait for the final volume. Luckily I have the two previous adventures Bones of the Dragon and Secret of the Dragon awaiting me.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

D.O.A.'s Elder Scrolls Online Blog

Some time ago I created a Star Wars Galaxies blog (since killed off) as practice for doing a game specific blog for the finally announced Elder Scrolls Online.  The Elder Scrolls games and universe are the best game world ever created, IMHO.  My thoughts about the single player universe morphing to multi-player are linked on the sidebar.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Once Upon a Time: An Apple Red As Blood

At last she thought of something.   She went into her most secret room -- no one else was allowed inside -- and she made a poisoned apple.  From the outside it was beautiful, and anyone who saw it would want it. But anyone who might eat a little piece of it would die. Coloring her face, she disguised herself as an old peddler woman, so that no one would recognize her, traveled to the dwarves house and knocked on the door.

Snow White put her head out of the window, and said, "I must not let anyone in; the seven dwarves have forbidden me to do so."

"That is all right with me," answered the peddler woman. "I'll easily get rid of my apples. Here, I'll give you one of them."

"No," said Snow White, "I cannot accept anything from strangers."

"Are you afraid of poison?" asked the old woman. "Look, I'll cut the apple in two. You eat half and I shall eat half."

Now the apple had been so artfully made that only the one half was poisoned. Snow White longed for the beautiful apple, and when she saw that the peddler woman was eating part of it she could no longer resist, and she stuck her hand out and took the poisoned half. She barely had a bite in her mouth when she fell to the ground dead.

In Fairy Tale Land, Snow White mounts a rescue mission to get Charming out of King George's castle.  The dwarves, Red, Granny and an absolute host of multicolored fairies assault the ramparts, make their way in to the courtyard and into the dungeons.
Unfortunately, the Evil Queen has already bought the Prince  from George and stolen him away to her own castle. Snow sees only a mirror projection of him before the image of the Queen appears and demands that if Snow wishes to save the Prince she must make a deal, meeting the Queen "where it all began".
The Queen meets Snow on a hillside near the old stables from "Stableboy" where a grave marks Daniel's resting place.  Sneeringly, the Queen tells Snow Daniel died because of her.  Snow was not aware he was dead, thinking he had run away.  The Queen doesn't give any details but puts all the blame on Snow.  She also tells Snow that in order for Charming to live, she must sacrifice herself by eating an apple which will bring a waking sleep to Snow, forcing her to be aware but seemingly dead asleep to others.  Snow makes the sacrifice and with one bite drops to the ground.
In Storybrooke, Henry makes the car swerve just at the Storybrooke sign, insisting that Emma must stay and save everyone from the curse.  Emma still only wants to save Henry, but she gives up on taking him from town. 
She decides to leave town by herself after talking with Jiminy Cricket (that useless bit of conscience!).  It must be the Storybrooke Curse, but his advice is always wrong and terrible, yet everyone comes to him.  Ack.
Henry desperately talks to August asking him to help convince Emma to save everyone.  August tells him he tried and failed, showing him his advancing wooden state...which Henry can see because he believes in the Curse.
In yet another of her bad clueless moves, Emma stops at Regina's to say she is leaving town for Henry's sake but she wants visitation rights and blah blah.   Regina has been preparing for Emma however and has a nice big Apple Tart ready from the oven.   It is made from the original Poisoned Apple snared in a last bit of magic by the Mad Hatter who has been hanging around Storybrooke rather than off suffering in Wonderland as we were led to believe.  (Very stinky bit of storytelling sleight of hand...). 
Emma returns to Mary Margaret's apartment to get the rest of her things before leaving town. Mary Margaret gives Emma a great mom style lecture about family and being hurt that Emma wasn't saying goodbye and having backslid to being the Emma who originally came to town. Go mama go!
Regina visits Gold and gloats that she has found a way to keep Emma from breaking the Curse and yet keep her out of the way.  Gold guesses it is the Sleeping Curse but warns her magic always has a price (without his Rumplestiltskin voice).
As Emma is ready to leave, Henry comes to see her a last time and begs her to stay and believe in him, if not in the Curse.  He hugs her tightly and notices the tart.  "Where did you get that?" he asks.  Regina!  Henry tells her it is poisoned and she shouldn't eat it.  Again she does not believe and in desperation Henry takes a bite, dropping to the floor in the deep deadly sleep meant for Emma.

Brave Henry!  What a smart kid, full of faith in fairy tales, and Good winning the battle over Evil.   I think Henry is the heart of the story, his ethics, his love, his determination are what Emma needs to emulate if she is to save everyone.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Grimm: Bigfeet

Shades of the Blair Witch films!  A college age camera crew is out in the woods having a hoot filming footage of themselves at night looking for Big Foot.  One of the guys demonstrates his patented Big Foot howl and almost immediately he is struck down by something.  The camera rolls and careens as the others are attacked and tossed against trees.

Juliette gets an emergency call from a stable owner whose horse has been attacked by something.  The owner got off a shot at the attacking creature but he isn't sure if he hit anything.  Juliette examines the horse who has large rakes across his neck as if a creature has clawed it but the claw marks are huge.  They follow giant footsteps into the woods which disappear suddenly.

What appears to be a shoe randomly tossed into the pathway still has the bloody foot inside.  They look up and see the carnage created earlier by the beast.

Enter Nick and Hank and Wu at the crime scene.  They find the camera and send it to be analyzed.  Suddenly a girl runs out of the shrubbery yelling about Big Foot attacking them all. 

The girl is sent to the hospital and the police review the film of the night before.  It seems the creature wore a flannel shirt so the captain says this is our crime and we will quell any talk about Big Foot to keep hysteria down.  Unfortunately the girl is babbling about the attack at the hospital so the Big Foot rumor spreads.

Our Blutbad About Town Monroe is snoozing away at home when he smells an intruder.  Sneaking downstairs ready to fight, he encounters the Big Foot creature in his kitchen who he recognizes as Larry from his circle of friends who are trying to quell their inner beasties.  Larry is unable to turn back into his human form and he is injured and in need of help.  Naturally Monroe calls Nick.

As they discuss what to do, the police hounds have chased Larry's scent to Monroe's neighborhood.  I've marked the area well, says Monroe proudly, that will throw them off.  Not well enough, because onward they come.  Bad news if Nick, Monroe and Big Foot are all casually sitting around the living room when Hank and the dogs arrive.  Monroe grabs Larry's red flannel shirt, goes Blutbad, and leads the dogs on a chase off into the woods.  After a distance, Monroe turns, roars at the dogs and they run away like scared pups.  Hank is knocked down by Monroe who rushes by.  Hank gets only a blurry look at the creature and the red flannel shirt.  Monroe gets home and Larry painfully rips something bloody out of the back of his neck and dies.  Nick and Monroe have another body to dispose of.  Good thing they use rubber gloves!

Monroe goes to his pool hall hangout where the guys usually meet to find that Larry had been seeing a wesen doctor who claims to be able to help with the inner beast.  The touchy-feely doc feels the beast should be embraced.  At least that's what he tells his swooning fans.  In reality, he has inserted a device in the necks of several wesen which releases a variety of herbs and other substances which should help control the beasts.  Instead, they become stuck like poor Larry between forms and go mad.

Of four devices sold to the doc, three result in deaths.  The doc has inserted the fourth in his own body and he loses control just as Monroe comes to his office to confront him.  Nick and Hank arrive at the scene just in time to save Monroe but the doc escapes.  I liked Hank's "what is he doing here?"  I suppose he is still embarrassed that Monroe witnessed the odd Hank behavior under Adalind's spell.

Anywho, the doc goes to a theater, ravages his way through a crowd, drags an unconscious woman off through the seats chased by Nick and Hank and Wu.  He of course falls to his death in the chase.  Hank arrives first and sees the metamorphosis.  Hank is shocked at what he sees and Nick pretends he did not see anything unusual.

Once again, the only thing carrying the show mythology forward is Juliette, who took hairs from the stable crime scene and analyzed them.  I thought her appraisal that the DNA had chimera qualities was quite a leap from her hominid/primate notations.   "Chimera" is a broad term and is often applied to many different mechanisms of the mixing of cells from two different species.   Nonetheless the show might have been just a monster of the week segment without the last lines of the show, with Juliette asking Nick "What if all of those stories we've heard through our lives aren't really stories? What if they're real?"

Grimm: Happily Ever Aftermath

In a twist on the Cinderella story, a young couple loses all of their money in a financial disaster.  So that his beloved bride does not have to suffer, the husband goes to his mother-in-law to ask for help until they can get back on their feet.

The Wicked Stepmother roundly turns him down and says she has earned the fortune she has and there is no reason to share it with the ungrateful "Lucinda."

That night, as Mavis (aka the Wicked Stepmother) rests in her large lonely mansion, she is awakened by that most dreaded sound...something is under the bed.  She looks beneath the blankets and a horrid bat-like creature screeches and a chase ensues.   Pinned against a railing atop a long staircase by the creature, all Mavis can do is cover her ears and scream as the creature emits a glass and eyeball shattering screech.  

Her body lying on the floor below where she has fallen and all of the shattered glass present detectives Nick and Hank with a puzzle.  There are no cuts on the victim's bare feet from all of the shattered glass.  How and when did she fall?  When and how did the glass shatter?  I love the way these creature crimes are always approached first as regular police cases.  Here is the evidence.  What can we guess happened?  Only Nick and the police captain ever know what is really occurring and the captain never ever gives the slightest visual clue that he knows any more than he would if he were a human (we don't actually know what type of creature he is).

Family friend Spencer reveals to Nick's Grimm eyes under duress that he is a Murcielago, a bat creature just like the one we saw under the bed and shattering the glass in the hall.   Nick can prove nothing of course but Spencer is a suspect for purely human reasons as well. 

This gives Nick some Aunt Marie's Trailer Time with Monroe.  They look up the creature, what it does and how it might be defeated.  A strange hand cranked device happens to be amongst the storehouse of weapons.  It emits an ultrasonic sound that should turn the soundwaves back at the bat creature.

As the investigation goes on, one of Lucinda's stepsisters rather greedily takes over the family business.  The second stepsister is in tears and quaking in fear.

Lucinda decides she should go see her stepsister Tiffany to give her condolences on the loss of her mother.  Lucinda's husband begs her not to go given the bad blood between them, but she is insistent.

Lucinda seems like a slightly daffy, airheaded, clothing obsessed girl.  There is a sweetness to her.  She seems slightly clueless that a bad past between herself, the girls and the stepmother could matter now.

Something about the second stepsister's fear and Lucinda's insistence on the visit made me suddenly think yikes, loopy Lucinda is the creature!   I wanted to be wrong, but a short conversation between the greedy domineering stepsister and the still smiling, mildly irked  Lucinda ended with Tiffany's head and car windows shattering while Lucinda in full Murcilago form looks on.

With one cowering stepsister to go, Nick and Monroe race to save her.  Spencer, the guardian Murcilago is there as well, hoping to stop Lucinda.   Lucinda, already closing in on her prey, is driven out of the house by the ancient hand cranked Grimm weapon.   Spencer finds her and uses his own powers on her to end the bloodshed, regretful that he has not been able to keep a promise to protect her, yet determined to stop her.  Not quite dead, she rises and sinks her long teeth into his throat, killing him just before dying herself.

Nick turns in the weapon to the police, explaining that Lucinda killed the others with its high frequency sound.   Once again the captain listens to the story as if it were an odd but true tale.

The Murcilago is the third legendary creature that I recall showing up in Portland.  Another was the Golden Egg laying Klaustreich from "The Thing With Feathers" and the third was the Spinnetod from "Tarentella".  Are these rare creatures being drawn to Portland for some reason?  Is there some connection to the upcoming war?  Coincidence?

A small segment of the show was given to Juliette's excellent research skills in the search for more information about the death of Nick's parents.  She manages to get ahold of the detective who worked on the case.  That detective contacts Nick and sends him pictures of four men suspected in the deaths.  Three of those men are dead as a result of the chase for the golden mind controlling "Three Coins in a Fuchsbau". The fourth man must be tracked down somehow.

Monday, May 7, 2012

In the Dark Dungeons Deep, Don't let the Tank go to Sleep...

So, you may or may not recall that I played a WOW Priest to my son's warrior and it was all shield/heal shield heal...then we went into a dungeon and everyone died pretty quickly.  Everyone else was yelling at the Shaman but my son was all over his poor mom blah blah mom you only heal the tank, that's all you do blah blah.  He doesn't read this so we can go ahead and point fingers.

So, determined to go into a dungeon again, I tried one day and talk about The CONE OF SHAME.  I get in, have no idea whats going on, I'm looking at the people's character portraits and yow, everyone is gone!  I look around and behind me is a portal.  Naturally I think they must have scooted through it so I step in.  Oops!  Back in Ironforge.  No idea how to get back.  Log off real quick and hope none of them noticed my name.  That little gnome has been lying real low.

My general stock is life is also currently low so I decide ha ha, create yet another lil Priest and send her in!  I get her to level 15, give her potions with my other lowbie characters, give her a scroll of spirit to help her.  She's puny but she's GOING IN. 

I sort of like the Dungeon Finder feature, beats standing around LFG.  However, when you enter you're all piled up on top of everyone and it is really hard to locate the most honorable Tank of the Day in said pile.  Then everyone runs off.  Eek.   I read up on dungeons today, and my role, and have been reading how to use the various heals when.  Homework City.

The group had three Paladins.  I have no idea which is the tank until I notice one of them seems to have major health problems.  I start healing her.  I thought I was doing pretty well but she did die a few times.  This seemed to bake her Paladin Biscuits.  She informed me her druid can heal better.  Stinger! She admitted she wasn't too good at tanking. After completing enough of the dungeon to get the daily goodie bag, they all leave the dungeon.  I had no clue how to get out.  Luckily I figured it out.

So, in for a penny, in for a pound I get back in queue for another dungeon.  This time it seems to be a nice group with four of the players being in the same guild.  Then they start yelling at the Rogue for pulling mobs.  Then the Rogue leaves, and a Warrior pops in.  This seems to disturb our tank (they replaced her with a Prot Warrior!!!!).   Then around another corner the seemingly nice Paladin goes bonkers because the Warrior looted a cloak that had AGILITY STATS!!!!! Oh noooooo!  Bad bad warrior.  They all leave the dungeon.  The poor warrior guy says it was his first day in game and he has no idea what is going on.  My kind of guy.

Going to go in with another character, we shall see who is next on the chopping block.  Bet it would be a mistake to send in a tank.


Confession:  I totally forgot to shield the dang tank tonight at all!  Maybe that rascally ever dying Paladin might have died less often.  IDK.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Gratuitous Cat in Garden Photo

I'm trying to post something daily to keep my wee mind sharp.  It's obviously not working!  While you wait with baited breath for my April garden photos, here we have the Cat peering into the vegetable garden, wanting IN, in just the same way the Dogs want IN.  There's not even anything in there yet!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mr. D.O.A.'s Television Game

As a semi-regular feature, we present The Television Game.  When I was a child, my brothers and I played Tic Tac Toe and Battleship in the sand.  My husband and his older sister were much more clever. They drew a television in the sand and drew a picture inside as a hint to a television show title.  He thinks they drew the picture and gave the initials.

I will be soooo kind as to give you the picture, the initials and the year the show is/was on.

A   2012

The answer is Alcatraz, a great mystery series with Alacatraz as it's story backdrop.  We've been there a couple of times and the narratives of the prisoners are different each time.  It is a sad place.  The show deserves renewal but no word yet.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

D.O.A. On TV for Real!

This week my husband put a little page from his desk calendar on my desk.  It says "I'm extremely famous in my world."  He said it reminded him of me.  I'm not sure quite what he was thinking but I like it.

Yesterday, I was off work early so I floated on over to Highland Nursery in St. Paul to see what they had out.  A news crew from KSTP was unloading at the same time.  Had I any wit, I would have scooted back into my car but noooo.  La la la indeed.

Nick Winkler said they were focusing on landscaping today and could I answer some questions.  Aside from trying to block my view of the crow next door, I never landscape, I just garden and collect plants and go about my business.  I don't shop anywhere if I have no money. I did not say it's easy to spend BIG. So...

They kept asking about Landscaping from numerous angles and budget, how much do I allow per year, how do I keep track?  Blah blah.  I probably do spend about the same amount yearly but you sure don't discuss your finances with a news crew. 

After seeing the feature, I am so glad I didn't go into a mini-rant about landscaping not being real gardening, how I hate the phrase "plant materials" and how "landscaping" in general is very industrial and not for me.  I do enjoy the landscaping along the 45 mile an hour zone on 35E through St. Paul, however, which they show in the clip.

I thought while I was talking to them I was awfully relaxed, and was pleased with myself.  However having watched the clip a few times I think I come across as a rather cocky know it all. Ack.  So not me!