DO: Cut Free

Ferengi prisons aren’t really all that impressive. I think the prisoners are just still here because they like to troll the Ferengi.

Entry Seventy-One

I’ve finally been able to try to get back to doing what I was doing before I got conscripted by the Klingons.  Wait, lemme make sure my encryption is on.

Good.  Hopefully, Imperial Intelligence can’t read this entry.  I’m not sure why I’m making it, but I need some record out there so I can refer back to this.

It’s been sort of a mixed blessing, wheeling and dealing with the Ferengi.  I managed to swipe a heap of latinum from the a Ferengi smuggler, and planned to donate most of it to the KDF-and keep a good chunk for personal use.  At least some of my crew were willing to assist, which is a good sign for the future.  Unfortunately, thanks to his associates, and his own inability to stay marooned where I left him, I got jumped at a neutral outpost and wound up killing him-and just in time for one of the Ferengi’s FCA friends coming in to arrest me.  Fortunately, they didn’t get my crew, which meant after I got through a sham of a trial, they were able to rescue me from a prison world-which wasn’t as hard as it sounds.  Ferengi prisons seem to have regular riots, and it wasn’t hard to incite one as cover to leave.

I had better luck at an auction for an old weapon, the last surviving Varon-T disruptor.  I was serving as an intermediary for a significant chunk of latinum-for a Ferengi, of course.  He tried to weasel out of things by including a clause in the fine print that forced me to be an assassin.  I didn’t actually kill the target-who was glad to hear I had no interest in killing a fellow Orion-and the Ferengi tried to get out of paying me.  Of course, he probably should have acquired the disruptor from me first before trying to scam me.  So now I’ve got feelers out to some of the other people who had attended the auction-who all ran when Starfleet showed up-and I’ll just take the best sounding offer.

Then I made my biggest mistake yet.  I went to First City to talk to some contacts about certain plans that are getting close to fruition-and the Varon-T may help here-and wound up being shuffled into a “Winter Wonderland” by a being calling itself Q.  I HATE Winter.  I got into space so I wouldn’t have to ever deal with Winter again.  And I wound up fighting for my life…I think…against a crazy Klingon legend called the Kramp’Ihri.  With a name like that, you’d figure it would tie into Klingon Hell-again-but it seems a bit less insane than that.  Only marginally.  Because you would think that a good disruptor would be the way to deal with this, but turns out that no weapons work in the Wonderland except packed balls of snow, a device that spews out hot sugary substances…and foam darts.  Even crazier…they work.

I miss the days when I wasn’t stuck commanding a bunch of Klingons and getting involved in the insanity they like to share.

Signing off.

How does this sort of thing keep happening to me?

The journey through the Foundry has begun for Dathiro’s adventure through Star Trek Online.  As previously mentioned, I’m avoiding the “common” episodic path through the game to avoid putting up awfully similar posts to what I’d done for Rick Masters’s run, and that means doing stuff like this.  I’m so happy with it so far that I might have to consider doing something similar with a Fed-aligned Romulan at some point so I can comment on Starfleet and Romulan side missions.  But for now, it’s all Klingon, so let’s take a peek at the offerings I’ve done lately.

First up, we have Raktajino in a Jar, by drogyn1701, a tale of treachery and backstabbing.  I was thrilled to see that we had a mission that suited a character of substantially lower moral value than your average Klingon-one might’ve gotten that impression of Dathiro from his logs.  The mission would’ve worked just as well for said average Klingons-you don’t have to scam latinum off the top, and you don’t have to maroon the Ferengi.  But, Dathiro sure did.  There’s a couple of spots where it’s good to just leave your bridge officers behind for story purposes; one of the Foundry’s weak points is that it has no ability to limit the number of bridge officers to travel with you, so unlike the episodes, you are always with your entire away team.  The trial is cleverly done, and I’m pretty sure that in spite of what may appear, there’s no way to avoid being sentenced to prison-the math doesn’t support it, and I’m sure if you enter in a larger number that you’ll be accused of lying and sent off anyway.  It was a pretty solid and enjoyable mission.

Next, we have The Honour of Profit, by Bazag, where you can indulge in the seedier side of life again by assisting a Ferengi in bidding in an auction.  The story was pretty solid and straightforward, but there were a couple of bugs I encountered that triggered some events early-not sure how it happened-like the Starfleet attack.  Fortunately, beaming out of the mission and restarting that segment reset everything, allowing things to get back on track.  Interactions with the bidders felt right, and the Ferengi’s attempt to stick it to the player character was exactly what I’d expect from a Ferengi.  It’s also perfectly possible the bugs came about with the recent patch; quite often during new season releases, the Foundry goes down and when it comes back up, sometimes things wind up broken-it’s one of the reasons why reviews are usually not turned on until a while after the Foundry is brought back up.  It’s perfectly reasonable to assume that’s what happened here.  And again, after I reset the mission segment, things went smoothly.

I got sidetracked hard by the Foundry being down, so I filled in some time by running lots and lots of duty officer missions.  They’ve helped the leveling experience quite a bit, but I expect another slowdown because the Winter Event has begun in STO, and due to the somewhat lengthier time it’ll be running, there’s actually a microscopic chance that I can earn up the grand prize for this Winter, the Breen Plesh Tral Heavy Raider.  It’s a Tier-6 ship, and acts like a Klingon Raider ship, and also has a Pilot specialization bridge officer seat, which makes this highly attractive as I keep getting spread among characters officers who can use those seats, but no ships that actually have them.  I don’t plan for Dathiro to take this ship, though-even though he’ll be the one putting the work into earning it.  I’ve already got too many plans for Dathiro’s future T6 ship.

Be peachy keen for a future character, though.

Now that the Foundry is up again, I’m hoping to run some more of those missions.  In between running the “Fastest Game on Ice” endless times over the next month….

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The Cast List: Introducing Lasken of Star Wars: The Old Republic

I’ve detailed out six of my primary eight characters in Star Wars: The Old Republic, and the seventh, as a part of the blog logo, has a blurb on a page dedicated to those characters.  So it’s time, at last, to detail the final member of this bunch in the Cast List:  Lasken, the Jedi Consular and Sage.  And his story is an interesting one.

In happier times

Lasken was pretty much the last of the eight that I pushed through the class stories; the Consular didn’t really “grab” me as a concept.  That said, I had an idea that I wanted to mess with that I thought could make him a bit more interesting to me.  I’d had a Sith character who leaned more Light Side than Dark Side of the Force; so I thought it would be interesting to go the other way with Lasken-have him decide at some point in the Consular storyline to shift to the Dark Side.  In short, to play out the Fall of a Jedi.  All I needed was an inciting incident-maybe something like what happened to the planet Uphrades in the Jedi Knight story.

Unfortunately, nothing really seemed to jump out at me during the Consular storyline.  I kept going, and going, and going, and kept building up that stock of Light Side points.  In the end, I found I had maxed out my Light Side numbers.  I felt sort of stupid.  I’d even picked up a dark robes outfit for the character that I thought worked great (although I’m continually irritated by the clipping of the hood into the head-but I did find a solution to that…).

Clearly, I needed to take less passive steps.  So I decided to use the character’s status as a springboard for a classic fatal flaw:  hubris.  Overwhelming pride.  Arrogance.  As I ran him through Makeb, I started having him take the impatient path, irritation with his allies, and contempt for his enemies.  Oricon allowed me to have him subtly influenced by the Dark Side’s presence.  Things REALLY kicked off with the Shadow of Revan stuff, though-Lana Beniko’s influence as a rational Sith (but still Dark Side!), along with his exposure to a similarly minded one in Darth Marr, allowed me to more easily choose some of those Dark Side choices.  The final straw for the character to go full on Dark Side was being frozen in carbonite for years by the Eternal Empire.  After that, I had him jump right off the slippery slope (the revelation did hit after saving the Spire on Zakuul from being melted down, so he actually managed to keep Koth in his crew).

Thing is, though:  all those choices were drops in the bucket.  In order for him to actually BE Dark Side in the game, he has to have Dark Side points exceeding the Light Side points.  And since he doesn’t have the Diplomacy crew skill, that’s a long, long, long ways away.  But in my mind, he’s already gone-I mean, Anakin Skywalker didn’t have to work too hard to drop his points down the cellar (although I suppose slaughtering younglings netted a heap of DS points…).

Lasken the Fallen

Lasken’s appearance was set fairly early.  I chose to make him a Miraluka, a species that tends to see via the Force and not their eyes-mainly because they didn’t have them.  I went after hooded robes early, because that worked well with his appearance.  Somewhere around Chapter Two of the Consular story, though, I grabbed the Diabolist robes, which gave him a darker air-and foreshadowing his fall.  Eventually, though I got really sick of the clipping of the skull through the robes, so I picked up a helmet.  I went through a number of them; some would remove the hood entirely, and some worked within the robe.  Eventually-around the time he went full on Dark-I started using a Dramatic Extrovert helmet, which worked better than another one I’d tried (the Eradicator’s Mask).  I justified his use of it by the simple conceit that he can no longer stand to look at his own reflection in the mirror anymore.  His lightsaber has varied in color; in happier times it was blue, but then it went Sithy-red.  He’s using a purplish one now, though, thanks to a chance cube he got in a Command Crate.

This personal arc for the character influenced another side of his story.  His slow decline might have begun when he started romancing his companion, Nadia (Jedi, remember, aren’t supposed to have attachments).  Unlike most of my characters, though, who basically did the “one true love” thing, Lasken latched onto another after his carbon freeze:  Lana Beniko, who really hasn’t been what I’d call a good influence on him.  I’m hoping for a suitably dramatic return for Nadia someday where confrontations will be had.  At that point, we’ll see just how dark Lasken’s become, in the form of a choice between Lana and Nadia.  (If such a choice even happens-Nadia may take one look and go “Oh, hell no” with this.)

Lasken, naturally, did not kneel before Valkorion-and in the end, he chose to take the throne for himself.  The story of his arrogance and hubris have led him inexorably to the conclusion that if the galaxy is to be at peace, it must be imposed-by him.  In his heart, he has already decided to conquer the Republic and the Empire-because the rulers of both have proven to be hopelessly inept at the task.  Perhaps he will be a benevolent despot.  And perhaps not.  I haven’t run him through the post-Knights of the Eternal Throne content as of yet, so he has yet to choose a side to support on Iokath-and unfortunately, there is no choice to say “a plague on both your houses”.  I may flip a coin.

While I wasn’t able to get Lasken down in Dark Side points as far as I’d like-or technically Dark Side at all-I’m happy with where I’ve taken his story.  He’s fallen in all but game mechanics.  A terrifying end to his story…for now!

Return of the Chiss

An enemy at the feet of a former Imperial Agent. I wonder how this one’s going to end….

Usually, the Sith Empire tends to conquer or destroy worlds that aren’t under their control in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  But one species and government apparently chose, early on, to work with the Empire:  the Chiss Ascendancy.  The Chiss, for those not in the know, are the blue skinned/red eyed humanoid aliens, whose best representative is Grand Admiral Thrawn, the creation of Timothy Zahn, and recently “canon-ized” by the show Star Wars: Rebels.  They’d mostly been operating around Hoth, but kept a low profile (minus any players who made their characters Chiss).  But now they’re back in a big way in the new Flashpoint “Traitor Among the Chiss”.

Things are still hopping at Alliance HQ, after the Alliance Traitor burned our heroes.  (I’m still keeping the traitor’s identity under wraps for now; one day I’ll put up a statue of limitations on spoilers on this blog….)  Fortunately, the Alliance has gotten a lead as to where the traitor is now:  the Chiss world of Copero.  The Chiss tend to be a little iffy about outsiders, but fortunately, one of them is willing to look the other way in return for making sure you take care of the Chiss who helped the traitor.  The traitor’s got plans, too-there’s a reason that this shadowy individual has come to Copero, and it’s not good news for the Republic.  Yet there are subtle indications that perhaps things are not as cut and dried as one might suspect.

If there’s one thing I want to stress for people who haven’t done this yet:  be sure to READ THE INSTRUCTIONS.  A certain blogger who will remain nameless but is typing this post failed to do so:  when the mission objective says to do the Solo Flashpoint, don’t chose the logically named Story Flashpoint!  It must be Solo!!  Otherwise, you go through the bloody thing twice before realizing that you’ve really screwed up and have to do it a third time on the proper version!  Hint:  if you don’t get a cutscene when you first enter the Flashpoint, you’ve done the wrong one to continue the storyline.  On the bright side, said blogger did manage to net a fair chunk of Copero-inspired decorations for his strongholds.  I’m gleefully putting the fountains of water on my Tatooine stronghold.  I just adore taunting the binary suns.

As one may guess from the pic above, I decided to forgo my usual order of having my Smuggler do the new content first in favor of my Imperial Agent.  After all, he’s got history with the characters, including the return of the now-Lieutenant, Raina Temple.  I HIGHLY recommend using her in a healing role through the Flashpoint, because the bosses are huge sacks of health dealing out a fair chunk of damage (but see below).  The first boss seems like Makeb surplus, reminding me of the dino-droids there; I was tempted to see if it dropped Isotope-5.  Nothing fancy there, and if your healing is up to snuff, it’s probably better to ignore most of the adds and just blow the droid to bits.  (I do recommend killing off the non-Tank Droids, though, just to reduce the DPS incoming a bit.)

The second is a three dimensional sort of fight, where the Chiss agent will fight you on ground levels and second levels.  I especially liked the snipers on the second level taking shots-that’s smart tactics.  Didn’t save them, but smart.  You can run up ramps to get to the second level, or use a grapple at target points to jump up there; I’m guessing Jedi and Sith might not need the grapples, but as I haven’t run it through with them, can’t say for sure (there’s wouldn’t be any mechanical differences, anyway).  I did run into one irritating bug when the enemy returned to the ground, and something didn’t sync right between the server and my computer, because I was getting the “too far to reach” message when I tried to stab her…and I was standing right next to her!  Thank heavens for ranged weapons.

The final boss is a Force-user, and can be a pain due to an ability which drops him into stealth, but still able to hit you (technically, it’s “snowblindness”, but really…).  He’s also got an absorption field that cuts your damage down until it wears off.  This makes the guy more durable than he might appear, but again, as long as you have your companion healing, you should be able to make it through.

While the bosses are huge sacks of health, my viewpoint may have been colored by two facts.  One, because certain bloggers DIDN’T READ THE INSTRUCTIONS, I was running through the FP in Story Mode my first couple of times, which might have impacted the numbers-and my perception thereof-just a bit.  And two, my Smuggler-who I also ran through the FP-had a far easier time of things, possibly because his weaponry was using 230-rated weapons/gear, while my Agent has a bit of a mishmash.  I really should go to the Fleet and go to that vendor that sells gear for Command Tokens, because I’ve been accumulating those tokens via various means, and it’s silly to sit on the currency not to spend it-especially given Bioware’s fetish for flushing a currency down the toilet for new currency, with lousy conversion rates.

There are other bits that kind of fell a bit flat for me.  There’s a trio of “tests” to continue on the Flashpoint, but they’re…unimpressive.  The first is a “feed the monster” sort of thing, which is not hard to figure out-you’re flat out told you should get it to trust you.  The second is a “test of logic”, but there really wasn’t any logic I could see other than “don’t open those doors”.  The last involved a “test of strategy”, in avoiding lasers similar to what you may have seen on Iokath; there’s a way to turn them off, but again, if you have a healing companion rolling, you can really ignore them and just run through them (beware a couple droids that can stun you-but it’s still not enough to cause real harm).  If you’re going to have these “tests”, you need to put them somewhere in the middle of all of these:  not incredibly obvious (hello fruit!), actually use logic (hello “which door do I open”, and actually have some strategy (hello lasers that can’t actually kill me fast enough so I can run through).  Of course, it’s possible that our Chiss friends have less advantages than our Heroes, with all that good gear and healing companions and the like; they’d get through the first two tests, but the lasers might cook them.

There are, of course, achievements in the missions (and completing a few of them will unlock a Copero advertising poster for your strongholds-you have to actually go into your Achievements and look for it under “Flashpoints”), and I understand there’s a couple of bonus achievements that aren’t obvious-and are substantially more difficult to achieve.  Mileage, of course, varies depending on builds and gear.

While there’s a couple other things that landed with the new publish, most of which I don’t really get involved with (New Galactic Starfighter map!  New Operations Boss!), and there’s been a revamp to the group finder that I haven’t looked at yet.  Plus some class changes, which I try very hard not to read much into so that my blood pressure remains at a healthy state.  The biggest addition (for me, at least) is the arrival of Darth Hexid for the folks who did the three PvP Warzones or three random Group Finder Flashpoints.  I’m not sure what I was expecting in personality; I guess I was using the example of Master Ranos from the Dark vs. Light event, where we had a very uncommon Jedi-someone who’d probably be a roguish sort of Jedi in happier times.  So maybe I thought this Sith would be less…Sithy.  Oh, no-this was better:  she’s Sith through and through, and is self-centered to the core-although she recognizes that you’re definitely a star to hitch her legend to.  Chatting with her in the Alliance Base is definitely amusing.  One key detail:  unlike Master Ranos, Hexid will not become available for standard recruitment until you finish the Eternal Throne expansion.  Fortunately-also like Ranos-you get a holocom item to bring her into your crew the moment you get access to a mailbox.  And, of course, much like pretty much all companions other than the core group, don’t expect more story out of her.  The companions are pretty much appearance-based gear outside of core companions (which I take to mean “class companions for your particular class, and the important characters to the storyline post-Ziost”).

Final note:  since Star Trek Online’s Foundry is still curled up and sobbing (okay, technically it’s just down, but leave me my metaphors!), I’ve been working a bit more on one of my outstanding SWTOR characters to get through the Eternal Throne expansion, and should finish this week; I expect to have a Cast List post of him later this week, too.  That’ll leave me with one more primary character to run through, plus the two Dark vs. Light characters I’d run through (because they deserve to see this through to the end).  Once they’re all done, I can start considering a new run with a new character whose adventure will be posted here-the only givens here is that it won’t repeat the Inquisitor or Jedi Knight stories, because that’d be boring and repetitive for this blog.  Random determination will be a factor!  But I don’t expect that before the new year.  And heck, maybe the Foundry will get off its butt and go Live again.  And then there’s the Winter Event in STO-land….

A Somber Anniversary

It occurred to me recently that an MMO anniversary was coming.  It wasn’t the good kind, though.

It was five years ago today (minus a few hours) that NCSoft closed down City of Heroes.

Wow.  Five years.  Feels like just yesterday.

Not all of that venerable MMO is gone, of course.  The Titan Network folks have set up a couple of applications that can access the assets in the game to allow you to at least create an avatar and see the zones and other maps in the game.  So if I felt like it at any random time, I could take a quick hop into Paragon City and stand under the statue of Atlas in front of City Hall, or listen to Lord Recluse’s villainous motivational speech in Grandville.  I could go into the Pocket D extradimensional nightclub, or visit the alternate Earth of Praetoria.  And, of course, I could make characters-or remake them, as I still have all my costume files.  But of course, it’s not the same.  The number of people you might find there are much smaller than you’d have found back in the day; you can’t access your superpowers (mostly-travel powers are accessible), and you can’t beat up bad guys.  At least, not in the way you could in the actual game.

In an era where superheroes are more popular than ever, you’d have thought that CoH would be going strong even today.  Certainly, its competition couldn’t touch it-well, its genre competition.  Obviously, its MMO competition were still leaps and bounds ahead; it’s hard to beat World of Warcraft on its worst day.  But it was cut down just before it was ready to start resolving one of its longest running storylines, and aside from a few annual AMAs from its former devs, those secrets remain unknown.  What might have been.

I’ve lost touch with most of the people I’d played with back in the day.  I know a couple read the blog, and I’ve interacted with a couple more outside of the MMO-sphere on a weekly basis, but-just as I’d seen happen with the fall of Star Wars Galaxies-people drift to different games, different hobbies, and just quietly vanish into the ether.  Nevertheless, I’m hoping that they’re all well out there in their various hobbies and interests-and I hope they know they’ve been remembered.

Here’s to you guys.

Try to guess how many of these were alts.

The core of the team; wish I’d had more data to have included more members.

The Alpha is the Beginning

Soon, free players can fly one of these…no matter what faction he belongs to.

It’s been a while since I’ve put up anything involving EVE Online.  It’s probably not shocking that I had spent about a month doing stuff, and then kind of went away after the Alpha Clones got released last year.  I’d gotten my free guy to the point where he could fly destroyers and do a reliable job on cleaning up level 1 missions, and use an ammo blueprint so that ammunition shouldn’t be an issue, but as I knew I’d not be spending a lot of time in EVE-really, I bounce between three other games as it is-I ended up quietly putting the character to the wayside.  I was going to be running into issues anyway, as Alphas have a limited number of skill points (although I was nowhere near the limit) and could only use a limited amount of equipment, which included ships.

But last month, CCP devs dropped this bit of data on everyone:  in December, Alphas are going to get some expansions.  For starters, and probably most significantly, Alpha players will no longer be limited to a Cruiser sized ship as their top tier; Battlecruisers and Battleships are being opened up.  That’s a big deal, because it means that level 3 missions will be much easier for players, and level 4 missions will actually be possible (well, solo, at least; I’m sure the smaller ships in a group might be okay).  That’s a big step up in available income.  You also will be freed from your initial faction’s ship type-if you’re a Gallente Alpha, you couldn’t fly anything other than Gallente ships.  But now, it seems that the floodgates are open, and you can train up and fly the ships of the other three.  And for the truly daring, it also allows use of pirate faction ships, so if you’re desperate to join a pirate factions like the Serpentis and fly their stuff, your time is coming.

Another bit of news that makes Alphas more of a force upcoming is the ability to use some Tech 2 weapons, at least for medium or small weapons.  That’ll keep the smaller class of ships a bit more attractive-not that the battleships are all that bad with just Tech 1 weapons.  This apparently also includes the ammunition for those weapons.  It’s good for the small ships, but since the large ships aren’t getting the Tech 2’s, I wonder if more Alphas will gravitate to the Battlecruisers instead.  No idea how that might influence group play; my experiences in group play were pretty limited way back in the day when my old guildmates were with me prior to the release of Star Trek Online, and we mostly did mining or mission operations-and there weren’t really enough of us to match the kind of stuff you read about on the various MMO sites involving EVE fleet battles.

The skill caps are getting fiddled with too, but there is still a semi-hard cap of five million skill points, but you can apparently get beyond that from subscription time or skill injector items-I’m not sure where those stand on market value, or if they’re being sold for PLEX, the RMT currency.  That said, I can again say that my own Alpha is a long, long way from 5 million skill points, but then, he hasn’t started training those battlecruisers/battleships yet.  He might never-after all, “never fly what you can’t afford to lose”, and that destroyer is pretty much presently at the upper end of that for the character.  But then again, I’ve been limited to level 1 missions, and only recently logged in to start training up cruisers; the income does go up with level 2 missions and beyond.

The changes are coming in December, but I haven’t seen a specific date in the month.  I’m not sure how this will change the dynamics of the player base-or if it’ll encourage more people to join in.  But it’ll be interesting to watch, and who knows?  I might see about getting my Alpha a bit more time to mess around.

The Cast List: Introducing Alcaran of Star Wars: The Old Republic

It occurred to me that I’d missed a pair of fairly important characters for the Cast List in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  I’d assumed that my Smuggler was covered in one of my earliest posts on the blog (well, earliest after the WordPress move), but the banner didn’t include him at the time.  I added a menu page under my “about this blog” section to more fully describe the characters in the banner, which includes the smuggler (not in the same detail as what one sees in these posts, granted, but good enough).  However, this does not cover my other missing link, my Imperial Agent, Alcaran.

Once a Cipher, now a cipher.

Alcaran started life on an RP server, where an old guildmate from the Star Wars Galaxies days was hoping to put something together.  The character’s name started as Alcarin there, and I’d even written up some fiction for him (the semi-open RP going on at that guild’s site is long gone, though, along with that guild’s site, and likely the guild itself).  Eventually, I chose to relocate him to the server where my other characters were.  To my amazement, someone had already taken the Alcarin name there (proof positive that there are no original ideas), so I changed the “I” to an “A”, and that was that.

Alcaran, in a way, came out of a conversation I’d had many times with my old SWG guild:  is being a member of an Evil Empire something that automatically means you are evil yourself?  I’d long argued that the rank and file of the Empire-Sith or Galactic-were not evil, and in some cases not necessarily bad-at least, not until you climbed up the ranks and started having to really do some of the nasty things that involve exterminations and genocides.  Going after pirates or stopping really bad guys is a good thing, after all.  Where does the line exist?  At what point is the Moral Event Horizon crossed?  The Imperial Agent class seemed custom made for me to put my thoughts into action.  As the Keeper of Imperial Intelligence put it, the character was a garbage man, cleaning up the messes and doing the work nobody else wanted to do…or, as it turns out, could do.  Despite this, I was definitely going hard with the Light-side choices.  Of course, since protecting the Empire involved dirty work, he also did a number of Dark choices, too.  So like my Sith Warrior, he never maxed out his Light meter, but never devolved into a monster.

As one of my old guildmates pointed out to me during those aforementioned conversations, though, could a good man remain an Imperial after he’s exposed to the darker and more evil side of the Empire?  As the Agent storyline closed up, I had the opportunity for the character to cut himself loose from the Empire-or rather, from the Sith who ruled it.  Alcaran had no problem cutting his ties, and serving the people of the Empire as he saw fit, and put the command structure of the Empire behind him.  Well, at least until Makeb effectively trashed that ending-guess the writers didn’t want to have to deal with the ramifications of the IA storyline.  Even then, however, Alcaran remained independent, although he did at least respect Darth Marr for not being the psychopathic Sith he was used to dealing with (a feeling he also had with Lana Beniko, later; he had no issue with her taking over Sith Intelligence, even though he refused to join it).  Then along came the Eternal Empire….  He wouldn’t kneel before Valkorion, resisted his “destiny” with all his might, but he got shoved out of the shadows he preferred to work in and into the light as the Outlander; now he commands the Eternal Alliance.  Clearly, his career path has been derailed quite a bit from what he’d envisioned in his early days in Imperial Intelligence.  He’d had a number of romantic liaisons, but none since he got involved with Ensign Temple, who remains missing after his carbonite break (but if one has been paying attention to the upcoming roadmap, one will realize that the MIA status will be shortly revoked!).

The more formal looking Alcaran

Alcaran’s had a number of appearances in his outfits as the game has gone on.  For a while, he got a tan longcoat, but eventually I got a black one that fit him better.  I also made ruthless use of the Appearance Tabs once they came out to give him a “formal” white Imperial uniform; additionally, I took advantage of my status as a Collector’s Edition owner and purchased a full set of Imperial Trooper armor for those occasions when he had to go on the front lines and fight it out-which, as it turns out, I almost never wind up breaking out.  Maybe if I did more group content with him….

The constant dance between light and dark exists with Alcaran, and his story has been a big reason why I consider him my primary Imperial character; when new content comes out for SWTOR, he’s usually the second character through it, and the first Imperial.  He may be a lot more public than he wants to be these days, but he’s still a super-spy who understands that who you appear to be may not be who you are.  (And as such, he’s the one character in my roster who is fully aware that recent betrayals may not necessarily be what they appear to be; he’s been in that role himself….)

After the Merge

Well, the server merges have completed in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  And things shook out pretty well, on my front.  Only one character name had to be renamed, and it was one of my minor characters that I’d thrown together at one point.  My “primary” eight, plus Sorshan and Anthrandos, all made it through the other side intact.  Just as importantly, the guild names came through intact as well, so all is well with the world.

So, my first order of business was to ensure that I was able to get the Darth Hexid companion-well, to be more accurate, qualify for it.  The companion won’t be awarded until near the end of the month.  But there is a pair of achievements that key to it; either one will qualify a player for the companion (and a pet, if I recall, but that’s no big deal for me).  Both rely on grouped content:  either 3 Flashpoints via group finder, or 3 PvP warzones.  Not a combination of both, so if you do two of one and one of the other, it won’t work.  Oddly, for me, the warzones were the easiest to do.  Heck, I might even log into my Republic and Imperial mains to get the PvP locked companions while there’s still demand in PvP.

I’m kicking around rolling a new character in SWTOR to help fill out the time while I wait for things like the Foundry in Star Trek Online to come back up.  It’ll probably include a random element again, but I am purposefully excluding a few options in my head-no Knight or Inquisitor, no Mirialan or Rattataki.  Mainly because they’d been covered by my Dark Vs. Light characters.  I’m also likely to choose advanced classes based upon what my mains don’t have-why repeat when I don’t have to.  Heck, I could conceivably make a healing based character, which I haven’t done much of.  (I’ve never had that mindset, but I’m willing to try anything once, right?)

One thing I’ve also discovered with the server merges is that with so many new people (relatively speaking), finding a name for a new character is a lot rougher than it used to be.  Fortunately, somewhere along the line, the devs put in the ability to include a space in the character name, so if you aren’t heart-set on using your Legacy name as the character surname, you can make a full name your character name, like “Darth Vader”.  I’m dead certain the devs would’ve blocked that particular name…right?  Anyway, it’s just one of those little things that I should have realized but didn’t connect the dots on until after the merge.

With the merge complete, I will probably at some point continue the SWTOR version of “The Cast List”, to sprinkle in with the other games’ lists in between activity for Dathiro in STO.  On with the show!

DO: We’ll Have to Destroy Them, Ship to Ship

The U.S.S. Sol is having a bad day.

Entry Fifty.

As things have settled down on the political front, I can now “indulge” in the “glorious” tasks of assaulting the Empire’s enemies.  I can’t tell you how many Starfleet vessels my ship has destroyed recently-they seem to have an endless supply of these ships.  I don’t remember there being this many a few years ago; I think I can blame the war between “our” governments for this.  Nothing encourages ramping up starship production than a good war.  Wish I was in a better position to profit from it.  But since my conscription, I’ve been unable to get to my usual contacts to try to make a killing from all of this.

The Romulans are beginning to nose around, too.  Not as much as Starfleet, but the crumbling Star Empire’s warfleet has been poking around our borders.  Since their involvement with assisting the House of Torg, I’ve had no complaints about going out and blowing up their ships as well.  They’ve got a lot of ships out there, too, but I suspect that attrition will catch up-after all, I’ve been hearing more and more about the “Romulan Republic”, which has to be annoying the Empress.  How sad.

I’ve also been hearing rumblings about yet another transfer to yet another ship.  And unless I manage to pull off a coup (not a literal one!  I don’t need Imperial Intelligence reading anything more into my entries than I’m putting in!), I’m likely going to end up in yet another Bird of Prey.  I’m not in much of a position to defy the shipmaster, but the time may come where I might need to see if I can get someone to kill him off.  Maybe then I can get into a vessel where my odds of survival go way up.

Either that, or I have to get creative.

Signing off.

Honor among thieves…yeah, that’s cute.

Man cannot live on the Foundry alone in Star Trek Online-at least not if you are avoiding the episodic missions like I’ve been doing.  This gives me the opportunity to talk about the lesser known methods of advancing skill points (particularly at lower levels).  So, here we go!

One of the big methods I was hoping for doesn’t actually exist:  patrol missions.  Starfleet characters can go to a random planet, and if it isn’t already tagged as being a location for an actual episode, odds are that it has a “Patrol this system” prompt when you arrive at it.  Those tend to be simple and straightforward missions, involving the old “find 5 things”, or “kill 5 groups”.  In the old days, they’d be possibly on the ground or in space, but I’m not sure where things are at with those nowadays.  I’ll make a note to investigate further on that.  But Dathiro’s not Starfleet, so what’s a KDF ship commander to do?

Glad you asked!

The first method is running dailies.  The dailies are actually sort of “wrapper” missions, which ask you to do certain other missions to complete.  Those missions also allow you to advance your skill points (aka XP in most games), so you’re kind of getting a double dip with these dailies.  They give a decent chunk of SP, so it’s good to make sure those are running before you do the missions called for.  These missions are either PvP related or PvE related.  I can’t really speak to the PvP stuff (as usual, I tend to avoid that sort of thing, and I’m not sure what the state of PvP at lower levels is at in STO these days.  I’ll defer to those more experienced in those matters in that regard).  So that brings us to the PvE side of things.

The earliest daily I know of involves “Empire Defense” missions, which can be picked up either at First City or-more conveniently-in your missions tab, under “Available Missions”.  These missions involve going to a star cluster/nebula/whatever and fight enemy ships there.  At Dathiro’s level, there are separate ones for Romulans and Starfleet ships.  You enter the cluster, and go to “hot spots” that you scan-if your scan works, you enter a standard instance where there are heaps of groups of enemy ships; blowing up six groups of ships (which may be groups of fighters, frigates, or single escorts/cruisers) means you have completed 1/3rd of your requirements for the daily.  For the mathematically impaired, that means you need to hit three different “hot spots” to complete the daily, so figure on blowing up roughly 18 groups of ships.  I found that I could do this fairly simply with my raider; attacking after a decloak helps, and I highly recommend bridge officer abilities that impact groups of enemies instead of single target for these missions.

Another daily is the “Pi Canus Path of the Warrior”.  The name comes from the old days of sector blocks, before the maps got consolidated into quadrants:  all the missions involved meant going to systems in that sector block.  Fortunately, even after the map change, the planets are in relatively close proximity to each other, making it no chore to do.  The Pi Canus missions have two parts: an Alpha and a Bravo sortie.  Each sortie involve going to a system and doing a mission in that system.  For the most part, they are smash and grabs; you blow up ships, and you grab supplies when appropriate.  No ground content involved here.  There are also optional goals in these missions; if you want to get the reward for the wrapper mission, though, they’re actually sort of required.  All that said, things must’ve changed a bit between the last time I’d done those and now; I used to fail on at least a couple of these missions, but I had no trouble completing them with Dathiro.  I don’t know if that says something about changes in the game, my relative amount of gear, my proficiency in playing over the years, or the fact that I’m using a raider instead of, say, a battlecruiser.  Regardless, it’s a handy batch of skill points, and worth doing if you want to get away from the episodes for a bit.

Did I mention that the wrapper missions also give you Dilithium?  It’s nice when you can get added benefit from these missions.  That said, you can grind out the sorties and the defense missions without the wrappers and still get skill points off of them, so while the wrappers are only daily, you can still work on leveling the character that way.  I’m not sure if the Dilithium gain is all that time effective, but honestly, my main point in doing these is for the skill points, not the Dilithium-that’s a bonus.  It’ll come in handy if I want to do apply any upgrades to gear I gain; I’m tempted to apply them to the Efficient engine, which last I checked gives bonuses to just about all the power categories (Weapons/Shields/Engines/Auxiliary) but I’m not married to the idea.  I may go for reputation gear instead.

Another method-although not horribly reliable-are the Deep Space Encounters.  Those have a history:  back in the early days of the game, you had wandering blobs of ships that would ambush you on the way to whatever planet you were going to mission on next.  You could go after them, but they were famous for just jumping on ships whose players had gone AFK.  There was much complaining, and they got nerfed like there was no tomorrow (which is to say, they became static).  They’ve mutated a bit over the years, but the basic premise is the same:  go in, destroy a heap of enemy ships, reap rewards.  These days, they’re similar to the assorted adventure zones that would have tiers of participation rewards; it’s also worth noting that they aren’t necessarily solo events.  You can have other players of either faction showing up to also participate in the fun.

Of course, these are really grindy methods of leveling up; not impossible, but it can start to get boring fast.  Fortunately, there’s the queue system, which has a number of group missions available-well, at least if you’re at high level.  At the moment, Dathiro has the choice of a space mission and a ground mission-and both are single-faction, which means that unless other KDF players are queuing up, there just isn’t a lot of action.  It should get better at level 50.  A ways to go, but I’m up to level 30 now, and things are going well.  And hopefully, I’ll be able to participate in the Mirror Invasion event that will be kicking off tomorrow, which might also assist in the skill point gain.  Stay tuned!

The Cast List: Introducing Silver Paladin of Champions Online

I’ll confess it:  I’ve been a long-time fan of the superhero character “Iron Man”.  I liked Tony Stark long before he became a household name from the movies, although there were long periods where I didn’t follow the character because of the frankly idiotic moves by the comic writers who I often felt just didn’t actually like the character at all.  I could go into more detail, but this is a blog about MMOs-and in this case, Champions Online.

The relevance comes with this thought:  I wanted to make a very different Iron Man-like character.  Iron Man is, in many ways, a modern version of the medieval knight:  skilled with his weapons and encased in a full suit of armor to protect himself.  I thought, “well, with all the tools that technology can offer, what would happen if someone managed to more or less convert an actual knight’s armor to modern specs?  Or to be more accurate, super-heroic specifications?”  With that as my opening move, the character of Silver Paladin was born.

The first thing I did with the character was design the look.  Fortunately, costume parts for a knight were easy to put together.  I deliberately chose nothing that made him look obviously hi-tech; all of those goodies were inside the armor.  I didn’t really go overboard with accessories here; it was a link to what some might consider a simpler time (is any time simpler?).  The next step was powers.  Sadly, there is no shield powerset in CO, and no “block” power that manifests as a physical shield; there’s a missed opportunity, if you ask me.  So I couldn’t go all out with the simple sword and shield combination like I could’ve with a certain City of Heroes character I’d had once.  (Someday, I may do a Cast List for those, but it’s hard to bring myself to do that for a game that’s no longer remotely current.)  But I was bound and determined to mix melee weapons with powered armor stuff-which meant this had to be a freeform character, as none of the Silver Archetypes would have what I wanted.

So I wound up going with a ranged/melee hybrid, with a few extras.  The melee part of the equation used Heavy Weapons, which allowed him to use an almost anime-esque broadsword.  On top of that, I used the Power Armor powerset to help round things off, including a shoulder-mounted gatling gun (with mercy bullets, naturally, that wonderful comic-book-friendly answer to lethal rounds) and the energy shield block power so he would have a tech-looking defense.  Threw two layers of healing on the character-one that was a straight self-heal, and another that came in the form of a set of drones that could be swapped from offense to healing.  (The healing was also helpful in teams, as they’d heal any friendly nearby.)  The character was a pretty tough cookie as he leveled, particularly after slotting an Invulnerability passive to give him improved survivability.  He couldn’t beat a Cosmic like Grond, admittedly, but he could survive a hit or two from him-empirically tested the hard way in Snake Gulch.

I did manage to get a Nemesis for him, a villain called Techknight; nothing really fancy or unusual on him-I like to make a Nemesis that I can contrast and compare with the hero in some way, and this one was designed to be what you usually think of as a power-armor wearer as opposed to Silver Paladin’s old-fashioned, knightly look.  By the time I got this guy to 40, I still hadn’t finished his Nemesis arc, so Techknight is still at large….

As is often the case for my costume slots, I would create a “civilian” look for the character.  I also did a couple variations on his armor, including a more armored up look (heavier helm, for instance), and a helmetless look, for conversation outside of a combat scenario.  But nine times out of ten, if one were to encounter this character, it’d be in his usual appearance-ready to deal out justice the old, OLD fashioned way!

DO: Klingon (Episodes) No More

Well, looks like resistance wasn’t futile for SOMEONE….

Entry Forty-Seven.

The House of Torg seems like it still wants to make something of itself.  Bad enough it was allying with Romulans, but now they’re trying to steal Borg tech.  Because using Borg technology always ends so well for the users.  Idiots.  I’m having a hard time figuring out just why that House went so long without being stepped on.  Klingon politics….

I’ve a new ship-yet another “Bird of Prey” variant, Norgh-class.  It’s like Command wants me to stay in charge of ships with the relative hull strength of tissues.  At least the cloaking device is up to spec; it’s kept us intact against a number of inconvenient problems.  I’m making noises that I’d like to get in a ship that has a bit more muscle to it, but it seems that the shipmaster has a grudge against J’mpok’s House-and since the Chancellor seems to enjoy personally sending me missions, and since my reputation seems to be growing, he takes great delight in putting me in these crates.  I’d prefer a battlecruiser, or maybe one of the flight-deck cruisers that Empress Melani-may she contract a disfiguring disease-had the Syndicate churn out for the KDF.  Even a raptor would be better-it may be fragile, but it at least has a potent array of weapons to balance that out.  My ship must go into hiding if it wants to survive.

At least the crew is still with me.  My android bodyguard no longer has to make examples out of the crew, and some of the Klingons say that it’s an honor serving under my command.  What is with these people!?

Speaking of the Empress:  seems she’s playing both ends against the middle.  Some of the House Torg problems have had a large number of Orions involved.  We’re better than Romulans, at least.  The Orions are supposedly secessionists, but I’ve played that game before myself-it might work on the whole “we’re so honorable that lying would never occur to us” Klingons, but I’m more skeptical than that!

I’m getting a distress call from a downed KDF ship.  Guess it’s time to clean up another KDF mess.

Signing off.

Welp. Tricorder scans say he’s definitely dead. I’m sure the lack of movement or breathing could’ve told me that, too.

Well, it’s a sort of bittersweet entry in Dathiro’s Ordeal in Star Trek Online, because it features the last of the Klingon-specific episodes.  From here on out, it’s uncharted waters, as I have no plans nor intent to do the standardized mission path, in order to have a truly Klingon-centric experience.  This means that I’ll be running Foundry missions (well, when it’s up; at this writing, the Foundry missions are currently disabled), queues, some dailies, and “Empire Defense” missions.

I should probably mention that, technically, the Vigilance arc includes a mission that isn’t actually a Klingon mission; it’s the Temporal Ambassador mission.  Now, originally, I would’ve added Beyond the Nexus to that list, but it seems the devs sneaked it out of the Vigilance arc when I wasn’t looking and into one of the much, much later arcs.  That’s a good thing, considering that originally it was in a slot where Klingons would be asked to help Starfleet in a time of war with them!  Kudos on the recovery by the devs, there.  It just made no sense for Klingons to be helping Starfleet prior to the Undine attacks.

With my turn away from “joint” missioning (because honestly, that’d just be rehashing what I did with Rick Masters during my Agents of Yesterday run), that left just a trio of missions, two of which involved the House of Torg, who for some reason blame the player for the fall of their House (they’ve got a case there, although a better case can be made that they did it to themselves), and appear to be meant to tie into the next episodic arc Wasteland, which takes place in the Nimbus system.  The last mission features a crashed Klingon vessel and a confrontation with the Hirogen, who were brought in to ally with the Romulans early in STO’s run.  I always thought that was a missed opportunity for the Romulan expansion; they had exactly three species to work with (okay, maybe a liberated Borg version, too):  Romulans, Remans, and Aliens.  It could’ve used the Hirogen to round out the possible species for the Romulan faction, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be-that the Tal Shiar would be the ones who had Hirogen on their side exclusively.  Ah well.

The specifics of those missions are mostly standard fare, although “Alpha” at least had a bit more to it.  If memory serves, that predated the Legacy of Romulus expansion that brought Klingons a full leveling experience, and made it one of the few solely-Klingon missions of that era.  So it’s sort of fitting that it’s the last solely Klingon mission in the leveling experience.  You can easily make a case that some of the missions in the episodic arcs are Klingon-centric:  I can think of two just off the top of my head without doing any research, and one can make a case for one more.  And maybe I’ll do those missions when my level gets high enough for it.

On the other hand:  I may wind up having no choice BUT to do some of these episodes; I can hit the “Skip” button on most of these missions, but some of them have that button grayed out and it won’t allow further skips to later episodes.  It’s likely that to proceed on those two (or three) missions, I’d have to do a couple of others.  But as I’m a long way from that, I think I’ll just leave that be for now and continue on with the Ordeal.  Hopefully, the Foundry will be back up soon, and I can take a look at some of the other works there.  Wait and see!