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….)

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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!

The Cast List: Introducing Runelord of Champions Online

When City of Heroes shut its doors, some of the folks in the supergroups I’d been involved with decided to try out Champions Online as a replacement.  (That’s actually not entirely accurate; that implies we hadn’t tried it before, which we had-but not as a group.)  As we were doing the RP thing, we decided to set up a supergroup there and made a bunch of new characters.  My offering was the character Runelord-a character I had very, very loosely based on an old Marvel Superheroes RPG character I’d made years and years and years ago.

I wasn’t entirely sure what my future was going to be in CO, so he was originally designed as a Silver Archetype.  Some explanation for those not-in-the-know:  subscribers were considered “Gold” players, and were able to create characters with pretty much complete freedom, mixing and matching powers that didn’t necessarily go together; if you wanted a magic-throwing/hammer-wielding healing character, you could conceivably do so.  However, Silver players-the ones who did the “free” part of the “free-to-play” equation-could not create a freeform character (unless they purchased a freeform character slot); they were instead led to choose among a variety of Archetypes, which had a preset path for gaining powers.  I don’t recall all the pluses and minuses involved, but the part that is important here is that Gold players could ALSO use the Archetypes, even though they could also create freeform characters.  My thinking at the time was, “If I make a Silver Archetype here, I should be able to keep using him even if I let my sub lapse.”  So I used the Grimoire Archetype, which is a Hybrid archetype; it does a little of everything, although not nearly as well as those that specialized in things like damage, tanking, healing, etc.

I’ll admit that in the fullness of time, I decided to grab a lifetime sub to CO-which has “matured” to the point where the amount I spent on it during a sale was roughly equal to the amount I’d have paid if I’d kept up a subscription.  Once I’d done that, I made use of a “once per character’s lifetime” ability to convert the character from a Silver character to a Gold character-allowing me to do a changeover from the Grimoire to freeform character.  I re-established most of the character powers, and got a couple extras (freeforms ALSO have a different leveling experience that winds up with two extra powers by the end).  This didn’t happen until well after I’d gotten the character to level 40, though, so his entire leveling experience had been done as a Grimoire.

The character concept was fairly straightforward:  a wizard who had newly come into his power (but still growing:  low levels mean you gotta have room to grow the character) by making use of “rune magic”, allowing him to create various effects-in other words, the powers in the Grimoire repertoire (I couldn’t help that one.  I’m bad.)  This was actually the only CO character I’d bothered putting any fiction together for, but things more or less fell apart as CO just really wasn’t what the people who’d come with me were looking for, and my own will to actually run a new supergroup had burned out faster than I had expected; so the story I had been building towards with that character remains locked in my head.  That origin did include one of that character’s future Nemeses, a demon called Fhtagath, who had killed his master/teacher; I’d actually effectively had the villain “banished” with some SG help during the last Nemesis mission which allowed me to create a second Nemesis, Black Blade, who was a a thief of magical artifacts.  I had planned up a third Nemesis, who would be the wizard who had held Fhtagath’s leash, but I don’t believe I ever got to the point of opening up a third Nemesis for Runelord.  Nevertheless, merely by virtue of having complete even one of the full Nemesis arcs, it made Runelord the holder of the most Nemeses of all my characters.

The appearance of the character was planned to evolve.  The first outfit (pictured here) is very much a wizard-like look with the deep hood; I also made a version of the outfit without the hood up, so he could have it up or down as the situation demanded.  A third outfit that was very “Dr. Strange-esque” was put together, which I had planned to have him start using at level 40-where he could legitimately be said to have mastered his magic.  But that never really came to pass, as the SG had more or less ended by that point, and there wasn’t much point to it.  I tended after to swap among the outfits according to whim.

Obviously, as noted above, I did manage to get the character to level 40, but he hasn’t seen much action since.  He was the second character of mine to hit that milestone, and probably the last one that I bothered keeping track of as far as the order of that milestone goes.

DO: Keeping with the Season

If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call?

Entry Thirty-Three.

There is something worse than Klingon politics after all.

Being in Klingon Hell.

I wish I were speaking figuratively.  But I’m not sure how much of it was a fever dream, and how much of it was real.  The real stuff first.

A bunch of aliens calling themselves the Fek’Ihri with a grudge against the Klingons started taking shots at the Fleet-and at their homeworld.  Crazy stuff, though-there must’ve been something involving sensor warfare going on, because I could swear we were picking up ghosts flying around my ship.  Then again, when we landed on Qo’noS  to help with the defense, we ran into more of those “ghosts”, not to mention a bunch of other strange weirdness.  The Klingons say these Fek’lhri are some kind of demon from their version of Hell.  It’s tied in with their creation myth.  Fortunately, Chancellor J’mpok sounds a bit more rational about it-which is to say, he says that maybe it’s real, and maybe it’s some science thing made to resemble their myths.

From there, things got weird.  Cloned emperors.  Battles for a weapon of legend.  A barge of the dead.  A battle against Ultimate Evil in the Heart of Hell.  I don’t know…I don’t know if it was some kind of drug, or a gas, or what.  The only thing I’m sure of is that there’s no way under the stars that any of it could’ve been real.

Except stuff did happen, and after that fight, the Fek’Ihri stopped attacking.  We did something.  I…just can’t remember what.

Not unless it really happened.  But that can’t be, right?

Right?

Signing off.

When I say “I’m in Hell”, I usually don’t mean it so literally.

For the longest time, this was the Klingon arc for Star Trek Online.  It highlighted their mythology, their outlook, everything from their creation, their devils, and their afterlife.  Plus, ties to the greatest Klingon (according to the Klingons) and his most legendary weapon.  It may not have been as iconic as Klingon politics, but it did feature more about what it meant to be Klingon.

Of course, the Fek’Ihri Return arc has a bit less of an impact if your captain isn’t an actual Klingon.  For Dathiro, it was just an adventure into insanity.  Well, I figure he took the “science” view of things.  Easier to believe that then to believe he’d been hip-deep in Klingon mythology-made-real.  (If I were really demented, I’d have him use the Fek’Ihri Kar’Fi battle carrier when he ranks himself up.  He’s lucky I have other plans for him.)

The arc itself is a pretty decent one, mostly ground based as opposed to space based; the set pieces are impressive, though.  For long-timers in STO, it features a brief visit to what was once First City before it got a massive graphical revamp; and it featured the Barge of the Dead, as seen in Star Trek: Voyager, back in the day.  Finally, instead of seeing where the honorable Klingons go in their afterlives, you go on a raid into where the dishonorable ones end up (and at the same time, you have the opportunity to rob the place of some folks destined there by giving them the chance to reclaim honor).  For Klingons, this arc is as about as epic as it gets.  Nothing else comes close until you get to the DS9 arc and the invasion of the station.

But that’s not going to be an issue on this character, since I’m avoiding the joint mission arcs shared between Klingons, Starfleet, and the Romulans.  This arc has improved my character level to 17, which means I can directly go to the next-and, sadly, final-Klingon specific arc.  After that, it’ll be all queues, the Foundry, and the Empire Defense missions which basically involve nothing but blowing up enemy ships.  And maybe some Red Alerts, if I qualify to enter them.  The bad news is that (at the moment), the Foundry is down; this happens distressingly frequently in the game, often just after major publishes because things break.  Hopefully, it’ll be back up by the time I wrap up the next arc.

As a final note:  some promotional items have returned to the C-Store for free until the end of the month.  The uniforms from Star Trek: Discovery are back, as well as the Next Generation’s Type-7 Shuttlecraft.  If you didn’t nab them earlier, now’s the time-they’re in the Promotional section of the C-Store.  They’re free, so for heaven’s sake, don’t pass ’em up!

DO: Hearts of the Hero

Assault on an Odyssey-class bridge? Not exactly…

Entry Twenty-Six.

My great deeds with the Empire seem to have caught the attention of the people at Qo’noS.  Which is to say, I’ve got stories being told about me.  Some of them are even true.  Even minor incidents have been inflated to some seriously epic tales.  I have to say that I’m honestly surprised I got singled out for this.  After all, I’m an Orion, not a Klingon.  Maybe the High Council is trying to engender greater loyalty with the non-Klingons in the KDF by hyping a non-Klingon “hero”.

Well, at least it’s getting me a lot of free drinks when I’m in First City.

Things have finally quieted down ever since the whole thing with the House of Torg.  The biggest thing to note has been an odd incident with a lunatic Vulcan and his…experiments.  I saved a copy for my ship’s use, and I wanted to burn the entire facility to the ground (so to speak), but II wants to comb over it, and who am I to interfere with what Intelligence wants?  (Do I get points for saying nice things about you this time?)

I’m still a little worried about those stories, though.  Becoming more famous means less opportunities to escape this trap-and more opportunities to “die gloriously in honorable battle”.  As I find that low on my list of priorities, I’m trying very hard to avoid that fate.  There’s at least one extra benefit, though-my crew seems less likely to want to kill me off to advance in their positions.  So as long as I don’t screw up or do something that they seem “dishonorable”, I should be safe from assassination attempts for the near future.

So I just have to act like a Klingon.

I have got to find a way out of this.

Signing off.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it sure wasn’t this.

With the conclusion of the Warzone arc for the Klingons in Star Trek Online, I found myself at a crossroads.  The next episode arc is the Devidian arc, but I’ve said that I have no interest in retreading that territory for this run for Dathiro.  So I can reveal my leveling plans at last for such periods.

My primary method to continue advancing will be to utilize the Foundry:  player generated missions.  It should be obvious, but I will be avoiding the blatant farming missions (blow up 1000 Starfleet ships!), but will instead be going for story based stuff.  I’ll be starting with the missions that the devs have featured in the Foundry menu, but I do expect that I may be branching out at some point.  I truly doubt that the Klingons have anywhere near the content in the Foundry that Starfleet does (which amusingly echoes the content and goodies the devs work on).  I also expect to hit some of the queues, particularly at later levels when I have better odds of actually seeing one kick off.

I’m not sure how many Foundry missions it’ll take for me to level a character up; it’s likely that I’ll be putting only the ones that impressed me the most up on the blog here if it tends to be a large amount.  I’ll try to correspond each post with the level ranges of the content I’ll be skipping; in this particular case, I only had to worry about one level before I could start the next Klingon-centric arc, so I only did one Foundry episode so far:  “Hero of the Empire”, by Rogue Enteprise.  This mission starts out with a secret mission delivered by one of J’mpok’s personal aides, to simply escort a freighter back to Qo’noS.  But nothing is ever that simple, and the mission quickly goes off the rails thanks to the freighter captain.  The real adventure, however, begins once you’ve made it back to the homeworld….  I found the mission to be interesting enough with the early part of the mission, if somewhat standard fare.  What really elevates it, though, is the back half of the mission.  I won’t go into further detail on that-I can’t bring myself to spoil it for people who haven’t played it-but its rationale at the end makes perfect sense, and says something about player habits as much as it does about the Klingons in general.  I found myself nodding at the character revealing the whys and wherefores, and thinking “He’s absolutely right.”

I had been fairly close to leveling when I did the mission, so I was all set to move on to the next arc, but timing worked out nicely for another mission.  Every Friday the Thirteenth, STO opens up a special mission called “Hearts and Minds”, which is touted as a scary mission of sorts, and offers a special duty officer at the end.  The interesting thing about this officer is that you can get him repeatedly with succeeding runs (although not on the same day; you have to run it again on a different 13th to get a working duplicate).  I’ll confess, though, that I wasn’t exactly finding much in the mission that caused me any dread or fear; if you’re looking for something that gives a good sense of foreboding, better to play the Devidian arc mission “What Lies Beneath” (“Bonnie-kin…Booooonie-kin….”).  But it’s still an entertaining mission, and it’s a very, very short mission, so even the most crazed altoholics can run all their characters through it in a single evening.  But no fear-because in addition to the Friday the Thirteenth releases, the mission is also available on (wait for it) October 31st:  Halloween.  One final note:  there is a new reward (or maybe it’s been there a while, since I don’t recall seeing it the first time I played it when this started to be a thing, and I haven’t really done it since) on the 31st only:  a zombie dance emote.  So if you want to add the ability to dance like the undead to your character, get ready to blast through this mission on the 31st upon its release!

Next up:  a return to Klingon-specific episodes!

DO: The Game of Houses (Hah-I bet you thought I was going to use Thrones again, didn’t you!?)

I never liked going to funerals….

Entry Twenty-Two.

There are worse things than serving on a Klingon ship after all:  Klingon politics.

Thanks to “K’mtar”, I found myself embroiled in a plot to save the famous Worf of House Martok from assassins and worse.  It became a bit bigger when it became obvious that not only was there a Great House of the Empire looking to advance in an underhanded manner, but they were allying with the Romulan Tal Shiar to do it.  Feh.  Romulans.  I can’t imagine a more sneaky, underhanded, treacherous species in the galaxy.

*Cough*

Moving on….  While it managed to expose House Torg to all as an honorless bunch of Klingons, and managed to get them kicked out of the government (I never understood the whole discommendation thing), it did leave a trail of dead bodies from Klingons fighting Klingons.  I’m all for that, naturally-I don’t have any great love for any of them.  (Hi, Imperial Intelligence!  You can red flag this log, too!)  But what I didn’t appreciate was the effect it was having on my primarily Klingon crew.  We managed to paper that over with a new ship, thanks to impressing the hell out of Chanceller J’mpok, the IKS Arumso (who names these things?), and then giving them something to build their morale further-a strike on a Federation starbase, followed by an attack on one of their primary shipyards.  Unfortunately, some Klingons had the bad taste as to get captured alive, so I was authorized to go in and give them a chance to die with honor.  I hope they weren’t too disappointed when I brought the prisoners back alive.  Klingons being Klingons, they probably killed themselves after they left my ship out of shame.

It’s not hard to imagine why I hate Klingons, sometimes.  Or all of the time.

Signing off.

I love invading Federation ships, though.

I got sidetracked a bit with the new Season, but Dathiro is back on pace!  I completed the Warzone arc for the Klingon Empire in Star Trek Online, which is a sort of unholy blend of character arcs that existed prior to the Legacy of Romulus expansion, retrofitted to fit in with the now-complete leveling experience for the Klingons.  It can pretty much be divided itself into two halves:  the first half involves a conspiracy of a Klingon House and the Romulans against one of the most well-known (to fans, at least) Klingon Houses:  the House of Martok.  That house formerly was named for the previous Chancellor before he got “killed” (which itself had new shades of information shown in a much later mission that came out relatively recently), and includes the most famous Klingon in Trek lore-yes, Worf is still involved as he was in the close-out of the previous arc.  Then again, I did say that the previous arc felt like “part one”, didn’t I?  All of it leads up to a nicely dramatic confrontation in the Great Hall before Chancellor J’mpok himself, involving blood, tragedy, and resolution…and a whopping loose end that won’t see final resolution until that aforementioned recent mission.

The second half of the Warzone arc brings it back to external threats:  that represented by Starfleet, as you’re called upon to go after a starbase set up in Klingon-claimed space, and that leads to a daring strike in the heart of Federation space-and then another to help clean up the mess left over from that.  Hopefully, you got your fill of fighting Starfleet on this one, because unless my memory has gone completely faulty, this is pretty much the only time you really get to fight it out with Starfleet outside of the tutorial.  That’s right:  while Starfleet gets a whole long bloody arc fighting Klingons, while Klingons get two missions.  Meh, whatever.  Given the miracle of getting a full leveling path at all for the Klingons, I shouldn’t complain; when pigs learn to fly, it’s impolite to comment on how badly they do so.

Despite this disparity, the missions are still fairly entertaining, with the first couple of missions immersing a character further into Klingon intrigue, and the second demonstrating their commitment to the war against the Federation.  (It suddenly occurs to me how the devs are handling the Beyond the Nexus mission; it features Geordi La Forge heavily, but the Klingons are still at war at the point the devs stuck the mission in.  Why would there be any cooperation with Starfleet in this matter, particularly since it only seems to involves Starfleet vessels and crews?  This might require me to look into it once I get that far….)  It’d sure be nice to take more shots at Starfleet, wouldn’t it?  Stay tuned, because in spite of what I’ve written above, there is such a way!

Finishing this arc also-as shown in the little fictional snippet-got my character promoted up so that he could swap ships.  Still using the Birds of Prey here, although I went with a C-Store version (the Qaw’Dun) which I’m fairly sure I claimed from one of the anniversary promotions or some such.  I’d already committed to raiders (well, until I get to the right time in the rank structure), and given a choice between them, I’ll usually grab the C-Store version over the generic version, as it includes goodies like the shield destabilizer.  As I go along, I tend to start taking the special consoles with these special abilities with me to newer ships; so I’m also using the console from my B’Rotlh Bird with the induction coils that boost up power levels temporarily.  Consoles that can be used on any ship are often worth taking along-although some are better than others.

Bridge crew is growing; it now consists of three Klingons, one Naussican, one Gorn, and one Android (taken as a vet reward).  I’ve held off on using my Klingon/Borg bridge officer, as that sort of goes against the narrative I’m building for Dathiro; indeed, I’ve already sidelined one of those three Klingons (sorry K’gan!), and the other ones are on the chopping block if I get other equally alien-ish bridge officer candidates.  Sadly, I’m unlikely to see a Breen officer (I can’t recall the last time they were made available), and the Jem’Hadar officer is a little too much like the Klingons for Dathiro to be comfortable with; that leaves the Kobali and Hierarchy officers from the Delta Quadrant as the only other likely prospects of the more unusual species.  (Okay, technically, there’s one more-the Borg science officer-which isn’t too likely to happen, but not impossible either.)

Emergent Gameplay

So you’re trying to hide from the Tzenkethi and you brought the crystals they’re looking for here? ARE YOU ALL IDIOTS!?

Season 14 for Star Trek Online has landed!  So let’s take a peek at where things are at with the latest release.

This season, with the moniker of “Emergence”, is appropriate in so many ways.  The most obvious one is that we finally get to see what’s behind the maniacal quest of the Tzenkethi to wipe out planets with protomatter weapons.  Obviously, some kind of crystals are involved, based on the events of previous Episodes, but in the new feature “Melting Pot”, secrets are laid bare.  Partially because the new colony of the Kentari and Lukari decided to examine some odd crystals from the moon of their new colony world.  Which, of course, matched the composition of the ones that are being targeted by the Tzenkethi.  You get warned that the scientists are eccentric, but man, does THIS take the cake.

Fortunately, you aren’t alone.  As indicated in the last episode released, Geordi La Forge is here, along with the Lukari Captain Kuumaarke.  Like proud parents, they’re happy to show off the colony that they hope will be the new home for a reunited Kentari and Lukari species.  Enjoy the tour while you can.  Not only is it going to become ground zero, but it’s also the last time you’ll see it so pretty unless you’re in a large active fleet.  This colony is also the new Fleet Holding, which is more on the scale of the Starbases than others like the Mining Asteroid or Romulan Embassy.  I’ll hold off on any long term judgments as to how doable even getting tier 1 is, but I’ve not heard encouraging things.  (Small, mostly inactive fleets like, say, the one I’m in is probably right out.)  Also like the Starbases, you will see the colony go from a skeletal framework to something to be proud of as it advances in tiers.  One of the more interesting aspects of this holding is being able to trigger a Tzenkethi invasion where up to ten captains can try to repel.  This requires access to tokens gained via fleet projects.  How well this would work out for small fleets, I’m not entirely sure.

This was sadly predictable.  I admire La Forge’s ability to remain cool with things blowing up all around him.

The episode itself is another one that has a feel of the Next Generation series, although it still has more of those “phaser everything!” moments that you don’t expect from the series.  Maybe from the films….  If it weren’t for the revelations that take place during the episode, I would’ve said this was just to taunt players with what the colony world holding will look like when it’s fully built.  It’s probably mildly spoiler-ish, but I’ll also say that it is also refreshing to find a rational Tzenkethi who does something crazy and actually TALKS to you.  (This is a good thing.  Because maybe those Tzenkethi actually have a good reason for going nuts with protomatter weapons….)

Of course, there’s a little bit more with the new Season than just a fleet holding and an episode.  There’s a new specialization geared towards the Engineering branch:  Miracle Worker.  Guess you can’t guess who inspired that name.  I haven’t had any characters put points into it yet (I may have Dathiro go into it, should I take him that far), but from what I can tell from looking at the tree, it feels like a very defensive sort of tree that will see best expression on a ship that can do lots of healing and take lots of damage.  In other words, cruisers and the like.  I haven’t looked at the kits available for this specialization yet, so can’t speak to that-but the fact that it does have a ground component is a welcome sign.  Likewise, I haven’t seen a ship with Miracle Worker bridge slots yet, but you can be sure it’s coming soon.  There’s also a new pair of queues:  the Dranuur Beach Assault, which is a ground scenario where ten captains can push the Tzenkethi off planet (this is double the usual number for a ground queue) for level 50+ characters, and the Dranuur Gauntlet, a battle in space to stop the invading fleet from an assault before defenses can push them back, for level 60 characters.  Finally, there’s a new Red Alert available where the Tzenkethi are out to protomatter bomb more planets out of existence-so your ship is called upon to help repel the attacks, for level 50+ characters.  I will probably at some point detail my thoughts on each of those as I put a character or two through them.

So there’s a lot going on with the new Season under the belt.  The major storylines that have been building have started to converge here, and it’ll be interesting to see where things lead from here.

A further note:  “Beyond the Nexus” has apparently been placed, of all places, prior to “Temporal Ambassador” for all factions.  This seems to me to be one of the dumber places they can put this mission.  In the first case, 2409 is a year prior to when the Nexus was supposed to be back in the neighborhood again, and the kickover to 2410 tends to be during the Delta Rising stuff, if memory serves.  I suppose there could be some wiggle room to work with, though, particularly in light of the fact that we never really know how late into 2409 the game starts, or the exact timing of the Nexus’s last visit (was it near the beginning or end of its trip through the area at that time?).  Secondly, while the devs managed to remove comments on the Lukari/Kentari (which by this time haven’t been met yet), he mentions having met you again-I’m not sure when the first time was.  His ship did appear in a previous mission, but unless that mission got updated to include comments from La Forge, I’m not sure that really qualifies.  Have to make a note to replay that one and see if something happens.