The Reports of His Death Were Highly Exaggerated

Despite appearances, everything is going exactly according to plan…

Star Trek Online has released a new episode in its ongoing arc concerning the Lukari and the Tzenkethi, and it features a bit of a sidetrack.  The Lukari are nowhere to be seen in this one, and the Tzenkethi are less important to this mission than Klingon politics.  The episode, “Brushfire” features, in fact, a Klingon warrior long thought dead:  former Chancellor Martok.  One has to credit the devs on this much:  they have done an amazing job on recruiting the voice acting of the original actors of many characters for this game.  This episode features no less than three.

It features a mission to sneak into a prison operated by the disgraced House of Torg, a name recognizable by the players of the Klingon faction.  General Rodek (remember him?) has been ordered by the current Chancellor to headline a rescue mission, with the muscle represented by the player character and crew.  However, it does involve a modicum of stealth.  Fortunately, the definition of stealth for a Klingon means “blow up the ships guarding the place before they can get a signal off”.  Did I mention this takes place in the Briar Patch, a region of space known for explosive gas clouds?  And did I also mention that there is a new group of aliens-new to STO, that is, not to the franchise-that is known to operate in this area that make their debut here?

Once past the defenses in space, it’s time to infiltrate the station as prisoners.  If all goes right, you will escape with the former Chancellor and flaming wreckage in your wake, and into a final conflict with the House of Torg (well, as final as anything ever is in Klingon politics).  And as if the Klingons and the aforementioned other species wasn’t enough…the Tzenkethi are also on hand because they want a piece of “the Butcher”.  (Hint: that isn’t you.)

As far as missions go, it’s not what you’d call deep.  It does feature a potentially life-changing moment for Rodek, who is given cause to question a number of things he has always(?) believed, and it brings a very potent political force back into the mix for the Klingon Empire, even if that force denies it.  But it doesn’t do much to advance the current quest line in the episode arc.  That’s actually okay-we got breather episodes in the Star Trek series that focused on story arcs; it’s not unreasonable to have one here.  And the Klingons deserve a spotlight once in a while, too-although I do think that it would be more interesting at some point to see a Gorn, Orion, Nausicaan, or Lethean oriented episode at some point; be nice to see some of the cultures that make up the Klingon faction these days.  But that’s sidetracking myself.

A couple other things landed with the patch.  Naturally, new lockbox, centered on the aforementioned newly arriving species.  Big shock there, right?  Another thing introduced is an “Endeavor system”.  This tends to be a limited time achievement-based event, where you do something x amount of times in y amount of time.  The one I saw first was a Borg related one, where one had to blow up 15 Borg ships.  Being on a team apparently does not help on the count; I was in a Borg Red Alert on a team, and got credit for exactly four kills.  That said, I may have failed to read the instructions clearly enough-I thought it said 15 ships, but it may have said “15 Cubes”.  That would make a big difference, as it wasn’t only cubes being blown up.  The rewards didn’t seem like much to me, but I’m going to hold off on judgment until I actually run a couple of these and see what shakes out.  For those who enjoy doing the Admiralty thing, there is a new campaign that features the Ferengi, and offers gold-pressed latinum amongst its rewards-as well as Dilithium, which apparently a focus in this path.  (This should do all kinds of amusing things to the Dilithium Exchange if true.)  Finally, as is habitual for new episodes, there is a weekly reward offered in addition to a choice of either a specialization point or an equipment tech upgrade item.

Obviously, I ran my primary Klingon character through “Brushfire” first, and the screenshot reflects that.  Still working on a decent framework design for the images, and it’s likely that I’ll wind up having a separate one for Klingons and one for Starfleet.  (Don’t get me started on Romulans-I’m not sure I’ll bother, but it could happen.)  Clearly, I’m no graphic designer, but it has most of the elements I’d look for.  Just need to figure out a border design for the edges that fits for a Klingon-oriented look.  I’ve made strides in my Starfleet design, but it’s not ready for primetime yet.

WF: When Monsters Ruled the Earth!

Synopsis:  It’s a typical day in the life on Monster Island.  Qularr beachheads?  Check.  ARGENT sponsored manimal hunts?  Check.  VIPER strongholds?  Check.  Robotic Tyrannosaurs?  Check.  All this and Mindhunter’s robots too-it’s never a dull moment for Willforge on the island.

The superhero genre is awesome.  I love it because it is actually an amalgamation of genres.  What other single genre includes things like time travel, outer space, alien invasions, journeys to the center of the mind, sorcery, demons, mad scientists, ultratech equipment, parallel dimensions, world-conquerors, and robot dinosaurs?  Any superhero game that’s worth anything embraces it all-and Champions Online does so, to varying extents.

I’d been waiting for this particular stretch to come up-I knew early on when I was doing my “cover shots” that I was gonna have this one on my to-do list.  If I couldn’t get the robot known as Mega-Terak on a screenshot, I’d have to turn in my super-hero fan badge.  Mega-Terak is a tough monster-I’ve seen level 40 characters go down to the fierce robot.  I didn’t expect to survive a fight with this mechanical monstrosity.

Spoiler alert:  I was right.  Good thing that suit Willforge wears is made of metal….  (Less good that he doesn’t wear a helmet.  Concussion city….)

There was a story-xp bonus being given for…well, story quests, so I had every motivation to run missions like crazy and get my character level up a bit.  I did a reasonably good job-I hit level 37, which means it’s about time for me to hit the last of the big zones.  More on that one next time.  I only had one encounter with the minions of my character’s Nemesis, which did drop a Nemesis Clue I could use to pry minions off of the sub at Monster Island.  It continues to lend credence to my personal theory that I’m sure others have already figured out from longer experience, that these tend to drop a lot more frequently if you aren’t flying-and flying might be the cause of some of the despawns I’ve seen when the minions rush to attack-and vanish before you can hit any of them.  More experimentation will be needed here.

All in all, the weekend worked out great, and the end of the journey is in sight.  Which is good, because endings are a big theme of the story arc Willforge will be dealing with next…

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

Waaaay back during the Closed Beta of Star Wars: The Old Republic, I knew that I wanted to be playing a Smuggler.  So, I made a deliberate choice to test with a character that wasn’t one (although obviously, I did do some testing with the Smuggler just to get familiar with the idea).  I decided to go with a class that wouldn’t interest me all that much:  the Republic Trooper.  That was the design origins of the character of Jesken, who I recreated at Launch.  Boy, did I blow that original analysis:  I wound up having the Trooper be my second Republic character to complete his class story.

For the Republic!

The general concept was simple:  what if you had someone who was a True Believer in the ideals of the Republic serving as a soldier?  What if you had someone who had the right personality to be a Jedi, but had not a lick of Force-sensitivity?  What if my Trooper was, in other words, a knight in shining armor?  This became an even bigger deal for me as I went through the early levels of Coruscant, where the character’s commanding officer was far more of a pragmatist and willing to consider collateral damage to be sure of a successful mission.  I managed to hold true to this, with a single exception where he did the selfish thing-and there were consequences.  (I won’t go into detail since it is POSSIBLE that it could spoil a small part of the Trooper story, but I will say that there were no good endings to that situation-and it impacted my play such that the character would not pursue a romance with any of his companions.)

I chose a Cyborg as the character’s species-something near human.  There’s nothing really special about that-really, character species doesn’t count for much except for certain Imperial storylines and special social moves (Cyborgs scan people).  Since he was leveling up during the first/second year of the game, he didn’t have as much possible armors to choose from as my later characters did, so his armor tended to be a constant work-in-progress.  The color matching to chest armor code wasn’t exactly perfect then, either, so sometimes he and his companions had some hilariously mis-matched armor in terms of coloration.  And this was before the special dyes became available.  Over the years, I’ve stabilized him to most of a single set:  the Yavin reputation armor.  It looked like it could take serious damage and serious abuse; the helmet was the piece I chose to pass on, keeping one I’d gotten while leveling.

In keeping with the personality I molded for him, Jesken would choose the Vanguard advanced class, with the Shield discipline.  I made him as tanky as I could-and he would either use Jorgan for damage dealing or Elara for healing (this was, of course, before Knights of the Fallen Empire allowed any companion to be set to any role).  This has made things a little tricky at times going through some missions, particularly as nerfs came to the damage dealing abilities of the class-and the removal of abilities that had any real range to them.  The Vanguard has become a very up-close-and-personal class, virtually melee with a ranged weapon.  But he’s able to survive, and that’s a good thing except missions where he doesn’t get a companion.  Then it’s a little more of a slog.

Jesken turned out to be the kind of guy you could write a recruitment ad around.  He wasn’t as gung-ho as a certain droid companion of his, but he was definitely all about doing the right thing, even if it damaged future strategic goals.  Saving lives was what the job was about more than killing the enemy (even if killing the enemy might save lives in the future-you can’t live with a hypothetical future when there’s a clear and present danger now!).  This would put him in conflict with his superior officers at times, and he would develop a dislike for politicians-although he certainly answered their questions with respect and honesty.

Recently, he found himself considered KIA by the Republic at the beginning of hostilities with the Eternal Empire.  Cue surprises when he showed back up, and able to claim a posthumous promotion to Colonel (props to the KotFE writers for including that detail-and to the developers for adding Colonel to the list of titles he could use-and of course, it’s the one he’s now using), and heading up an alliance to overthrow the Immortal Emperor.  I recently completed the Knights of the Eternal Throne story with this character, and it’s no surprise that he found it easy to tell his companions, “I’m no emperor”.  With the Iokath world being recently introduced, Jesken becomes the only character of mine to have interacted with all of his former companions from the class story, and has returned four of them into the fold.  (And no, he didn’t kill the fifth on Asylum.)  This makes the Trooper the current leader in the Great Companion Recovery, with all five former companions accounted for.

I had a lot of fun playing Jesken, and I enjoyed running him again through the Eternal Empire stories.  Says a lot about a character who was basically a throwaway character during Beta!

WF: It’s Hotter Under the Water

Synopsis:  Assault on Arvad’s Palace!  A rebellion in Lemuria reaches fever pitch, and Willforge is right in the middle of it.  Can Willforge help set things right?  Can he survive the undersea fury unleashed by Khusor the Crooked?  MEANWHILE:  Guess who didn’t stay in jail very long?  A threat thought contained is ready to hunt Willforge once more….

Got Willforge to level 36 in Champions Online, and is nearing the final push to 40.  It’ll be interesting to see if I get to “Issue 25” in the covers….  I’d expect so, but one never knows.

I picked up an “Ultimate Power” for Willforge; these tend to be the high-level powers, and are usually tied to the primary power sets used by a character (but not necessarily-freeform is freeform, after all.  But it tends to work out that way).  Specifically, I grabbed Mind Link, which is a sort of area of effect attack centered on the character, which…well, I’m still a little uncertain as to how it works.  In theory, it does damage being done to and by everyone to the enemies in range.  In practice…well, I’m not horribly impressed-it has a high cost to use, and seems to rely upon others doing damage while active for it to work.  This is often not an issue:  even if you aren’t on a team, opponents are always happy to damage you.  But the amount of damage being done back in return seems underwhelming.  It may take some time for me to figure how to use this-it seems like it would be best in team situations, but…I don’t know.  It just seems like it’s ultimate in name only (or perhaps only technically, as it is effectively the “last” power available in the power set.

I also, as one may have guessed from the synopsis above, managed to run the “Prison Break” mission, the kick off of the second part of the great Nemesis chain.  Prison Break is…well, sort of problematic.  It often breaks, for one reason or another, by which I mean to say that the mission glitches and prevents completion.  I’ve seen two areas where this happens:  one during the cutscene when the villain is actually broken out of his cell, where he refuses to walk out and play his part; and the other at the very end when the Nemesis sics a superhuman operative on you just as he makes his escape-sometimes he doesn’t bother with his dialogue, and that causes that villain to remain as an NPC and not as an opponent-and so can’t be targeted.  I’ve gone online any number of occasions to see what exactly causes the glitch, with no satisfactory answers; some folks claim fire powers for the Nemesis causes it, but I’m dubious on that score.  I’ve noted in the past that the door that has explosives attached to it beyond the entry room has a bug where it has two different options to disarm/defuse it, and I can’t help but suspect that this may be an area where things go bad.  Willforge managed to avoid that problem, though, because he was too slow and the door blew off, releasing the Green Dragon villain to fight.  I may experiment more in the future for this, either with other characters or this one.

Yes, I said “this one”, because starting with Prison Break, the Nemesis missions can and will repeat.  There is a point where the Nemesis can be defeated once and for all (and should I get that far, I’ll be posting about that), and when that happens, you have the option of creating a new Nemesis for the character-and that chain starts with Prison Break.  So if things were to go abnormally well, I could conceivably have Willforge running this mission again before it’s all over for him.  It’s more likely, though, that a new hero will be going through this chain of events and we’ll see what happens then.  You’d think that just maybe, someone in the development department would try to figure out the problem with this mission, but since it’s been glitched like this for years, I suspect we’ll never see a proper fix.  (That said:  my last run through didn’t have a glitch, and maybe that indicates that it DID get fixed when I wasn’t looking.  Miracles HAVE been documented in the past….)

I figure once Willforge gets to 37, it’ll be time to get apocalyptic!  Stay tuned!

The Cast List: Introducing Chyrim of Star Trek Online

One of the biggest things that Cryptic as a developer has always had going for it is a love of customization.  You can create all kinds of characters with all kinds of appearances.  Star Trek Online is a shining example of it, but not in the way one might think.  After all, even with all the uniforms out there, it’s still a pretty limited selection in comparison with, say, Champions Online.  But that’s not where it truly shines.  No, where STO really earns its reputation is with the alien species, where you can literally design an alien species in almost all aspects-as long as it’s hominid, of course (no Tholians for you!); it’s also notoriously difficult to design a species that appears like some of the major ones in the shows (Jem’Hadar, Cardassians come to mind-and it’s not impossible to get a close facsimile).

Given all of this, you would think I’d have more alien characters; new cultures to work with and conceive of.  And if I were doing more RP in STO or fiction writing in the setting, maybe I would have.  But…nope.  I’ve designed some alien looks for bridge officers, but very few captains.

Why, no, I’m not a standard Star Trek species. Why do you ask?

One such captain is Chyrim, who has the distinction of being the second Klingon Empire aligned character I created.  The character is a (sigh) Tactical captain (I swear, I DO make other types of captains…), and originally my goal was to have him go hard on the assault ships, the “raptors”, which were the functional equivalent of Starfleet’s escort ships-in other words, hit hard, hit fast…with hull like tissue paper.  (It isn’t really that bad.)  I regret to say that I never did come up with a name for his species, but I did envision it as sort of an almost barbarian species; think Cimmerians in Space.  A warlike species is one that would work nice and neat with the Klingon Empire.  It’s worth noting that, when creating a character for the Klingons, I’m always thinking about “why is this person in the Klingon Defense Force?”  Klingons have a very specific code of honor and viewpoint towards warfare-and it’s not really shared by their allied species such as the Naussicans, Letheans, Gorn, or Orions.  So I had to consider why a) Chyrim would join the Klingons, and b) why the Klingons would follow him.  Hence, the idea to go barbarian.

With that in mind, I had a general idea as to his appearance-at least as far as outfits go.  Originally, it was pretty limited-this was early in the game’s life, after all.  But when veteran rewards started coming available, I could slap on fur-lined costume parts, and really play up the barbarian look.  As for the alien look itself, I wanted to give him a long, narrow sort of head, and I wrinkled it up substantially from one of the alien facial options.  His skin is more on the greenish side-something I sort of regret, but at the time, I hadn’t used green skin tones much.

One of the things I had decided to do with my early characters was to plan out their professions and ship types in advance.  For Starfleet, I was going to mix and match captain professions and their ships.  For the Klingons, though, I was going to match the professions to the ship; so my main Klingon, an engineer, got to go with battlecruisers, which were strongly engineering.  Chyrim, being a tactical guy, got to go in a tactical based raptor.  I eventually ended up having him swap over to the veteran Klingon ship, a Duvqu’ class heavy destroyer named the IKS Koloth (I’m a fan of the classic Klingons).

Bridge crew, sad to say, tended to be mostly generic Klingons.  When the Breen episodes first came out, I’d run most of my characters at the time through it, and the result was that I had a Breen bridge officer available for Chyrim.  So I made him a part of this crew, so that Chyrim wouldn’t be so alone in his alienness.  Chyrim, as well, has suffered as other Klingon Empire characters have surpassed him, and he’s been stuck at level 50 for a very, very long time-long enough that he’s never done the Fekl’hri story arc.  That’s a long time!  I guess the barbarian sort of character doesn’t fit me after all.  (Or, if I’m being more honest, I’m just too damned much of an altaholic.)

WF: Fish Gotta Swim, Nemeses Gotta Get Beat

Synopsis:  At last!  Willforge and Mindhunter go head to head!  Who will walk away from this confrontation?  Plus:  the Lemurians have come to Monster Island seeking aid.  What threats under the ocean’s surface lie in wait?

I’ve finally managed to wrap up the early cycle of Nemesis missions for Willforge in Champions Online-and now that Nemesis is locked away in the Millennium City Jail for good (well, at least until he gets shipped to Stronghold)…right?  RIGHT?!  (Spoiler alert:  don’t bet on it.)  I love missions where I can actually make full use of the Telekinesis power to throw things at the bad guy; it’s often an open question as to whether or not there are any destructible objects that the power is strong enough to utilize.  The character isn’t able to throw eighteen wheelers, but lots of crates and other incidentals are certainly doable.  The fact that so many missions don’t have that sort of thing available is why the TK has been relegated to the upper bar of my power-bar, making room for more useful abilities on my keyboard.

It seemed that the time was also right to start running some missions in the next available zone:  the underwater zone!  Taking place originally near the undersea kingdom of Lemuria, it’s all about fighting evil cultists and their minions…wait, that sure sounds a lot like the surface world, doesn’t it?  Bad guys are gonna be bad guys no matter which side of the ocean you happen to be on-above or below!  I’ve managed to climb up another level, and it may not be long before I hit the final zone in the leveling sequence (for those unfamiliar with the game, a hint:  Willforge has actually been there before, but not in this way).  But I expect to spend some more time in Lemuria-and in Monster Island-before then, because the number of equal-level missions are dwindling, and I prefer not to do the higher level ones until I get around those levels.  I expect I’ll be going back and forth with the two zones.  I’m figuring tentatively around level 35 or 36 will be the time I start devoting myself to the end of the line.

Some of the slack is picked up, too, in the Alerts.  I continue to run the xp-bonus Alerts, roughly every fifty minutes of gameplay (this is so that the lump sum of xp gained at the end is ALSO still boosted), and that helps fix some of the gaps.

Things have really improved for the character once I got that close-area attack power for him; being able to prevent anything less than boss-level from beating on him while he unloads that power, plus doing similar with his ranged-area power, has done wonders for his survivability.  The heavy hitters are still an issue-particularly if they have buddies-but I’ve been able to do okay (as witnessed by the big Nemesis fight mentioned above).

Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to pick up a couple levels over the weekend and holiday.  I plan to spend some time on CO that’s been lacking a bit lately, as I’ve been doing the Summer Event in Star Trek Online, and getting a few more of my primary characters in Star Wars: The Old Republic caught up.

Surf City, Here I Come

Everybody’s gone surfin’…!

Well, once in a while, Starfleet Captains just gotta have fun.  And who needs it more, right?  Between wars with Klingons, Borg, Dominion, Undine, Vaadwaur, Iconians, and now Tzenkethi…well, it’s a wonder most of the officers in Starfleet haven’t gone mad.  And what better way to unwind then in Star Trek Online’s Summer event, the Lohlunat Festival?

Every year, STO breaks out the summer fun on the planet of Risa, famed for being a pleasure planet-and not in the “mind-in-the-gutter” way.  It’s about sand, surf, and good times.  Oh, and rewards.  Did I mention rewards?  Many of the mini-events on Risa involve gaining Favors, which will allow you to purchase swimwear for your character (which does not work on bridge officers), or special items like kit modules.  But as usual, there’s also a big prize, one that’s reserved for running an event daily for a heap of days-in this case, it works out about three and a half weeks (but if you exchange Lobi, you can shorten that time a bit, Lobi being found in opened lockboxes).  Most years, I don’t really care about the prize:  it’s been exclusively non-standard ships, such as Risan luxury ships, or a Ferengi ship, or-last year-a Vorgon escort ship.  This year, though, I’ve been kicking around character concepts for my next STO captain, and the ship this year is a Vorgon carrier ship-and that sort of thing might work very well with a concept I’ve been toying with in my head.

So, I decided THIS year, I’ll push for it.  Over halfway to the goal right now, so I feel confident of reaching it, barring surprises.  In the meantime, since I’m at the resort, might as well indulge in the other activities to get those Favors-which are not account bound-in order to help other captains in my stable be ready for summer beach activity.  So I’ve spent a lot of time in powerboard (eg. surfing) races (took third place in one such race-it’ll likely never happen again), floater courses, building sand castles, looking for temporally displaced artifacts-I’m pretty sure that one’s new this year-racing in a biathlon, which uses both the floaters and powerboards (I actually took a second place prize on that one at one point-also probably never happen again, I’m sure), and, of course, dancing at the beach-which actually has the largest single return on favors, although I haven’t bothered calculating what’s best per-minute.  I’m not that dedicated.

Also, as might have been noticed above, I’m experimenting with new screenshot frameworks for various characters.  I’m not really happy with the one above, but I wanted to have something for this post.  The framework idea’s worked out pretty well for my Star Wars: The Old Republic characters of Anthrandos and Sorshan, and for STO’s Rick Masters, not to mention the covers for Willforge in Champions Online; so I’m likely to continue to experiment until I get one I like for my Starfleet main (and by extension, KDF and Romulan mains).  It’s probably not a shock that I will also be considering what to use for that aforementioned future STO concept down the line, likely to make appearances after I get Willforge to 40 in CO.  We’ll see what happens.

WF: Well, My Old Nemesis, We Meet Again

Synopsis:  Life’s been going fine for Willforge lately.  Sure, there’s been monsters to deal with on Monster Island, and fights with forces from ARGENT and VIPER, but aside from that, things have been pretty quiet.  Sounds like it’s time for Mindhunter to make a televised appearance and force Willforge to return to Millennium City to deal with the problem!  Can Willforge keep his nemesis from destroying WCOC?

Still working my way through the early 30’s for my Champions Online character, Willforge, and I felt it was time to cash in that Nemesis Clue that opens up an important mission in the Nemesis series:  the takeover of the television station WCOC.  One thing about the Nemesis missions is that some of them are one time only events.  While you can eventually have multiple characters serving as a Nemesis for a period of time, the fact is that most of them are “introduced” in a mission that I’ll describe in a future time (that future probably isn’t as far off as one might think).  But the first Nemesis gets a number of missions all to himself-it started with the attack on the museum that kicks things off, and then proceeds to this mission.  There’s one more mission that will be on that list before we exhaust the “first Nemesis only” missions, and start going into a more shared set of missions.

These missions, incidentally, do not count what is commonly referred to as “popcorn” missions, where you encounter the Nemesis or his minions doing some nefarious deed or another.

I had worried a bit about this mission-my first encounter with the Nemesis plus his minions had gone roughly, particularly with larger groups of minions combined with attacks from Mindhunter.  But I’d since gotten that additional telepathy power that causes most hostiles problems at close range, and being able to stun them for long enough to do more damage has helped a great deal.  It’s still a bit of an issue against the heavy hitters, but that-plus a move favorable way of keeping everything from attacking me at once-made this fight a lot less brutal than the Museum fight had been.  So, huzzah!  Another mission successfully dealt with.

Monster Island has been going about as well as one can expect.  I’ve been sweeping down the southern half of the island-although not to the southwest as of yet-and I’ve started picking on VIPER thugs and bases, finally graduating from beating up Manimals.  I figure it shouldn’t be long before I start working my way through the southwest area of the island-and start up on some good old fashion alien bashing!  Unless, of course, I level enough to start looking into the next zone of interest.  Stay tuned!

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

I confess, there are certain classes/professions in the Star Wars setting that do not appeal to me at all.  The top of that list is the Bounty Hunter.  Blame it on Boba Fett backlash; I always felt that he was overrated-sure, he had the cool armor, but he needed Vader and a heap of Imperials to get Han Solo (and of course, Solo was my favorite character at the time, so that didn’t help), and then he wound up killed by a blind smuggler with a pike and a Sarlacc.  So it drove me somewhat nuts that the Expanded Universe for Star Wars had to find a way to dig him back out of being digested for a thousand years and overcompensate.  When Star Wars Galaxies was a thing, my opinion didn’t improve when a heap of content was thrown into the whole “Jedi vs Bounty Hunter” thing they had going there, at the expense of other professions; that said, I didn’t really have a big issue with them actually, you know, hunting bounties-it was what they did!  If only the Smugglers in that game had been able to smuggle as THAT was what THEY were supposed to do, but that ship is long, long gone.

So, I have some prejudices against Bounty Hunters as a class.  That’s probably why this class was the next-to-last one I did in my work to level up all eight classes in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  But hell, I’m a completionist sometimes, and so I put together my future Grand Champion of the Great Hunt.

You can run, but you can’t hide. A job’s a job.

Chadam started out simple enough:  I wasn’t going to go out of my way to have him kill and eat kittens Dark-Side, but at the same time, he wasn’t going to be the nice guy.  I wanted him greedy, but with a code:  he did the job, and he got paid.  He would move heaven and earth to make it happen.  Not an evil character, but not exactly a role model.  Smarter than a thug, but not interested in the bigger picture or deep philosophy.  In other words, someone well suited for the fringe and not comfortable in the halls of Imperial power.  (Boy, did that go south on him…)

In appearance, my first goal was to use a different body type.  For those unfamiliar with the game, there are four body types for each gender.  I tend to use body type 2 for my males; fit, athletic, strong guys.  But I wanted Chadam to have a more imposing presence, so I went up a notch-someone who makes you think of a space marine.  As far as species went, well, I was still going for a wide variety among my characters, so I went with a Chiss, a popular Expanded Universe species who recently got canonized with the on-screen debut of Grand Admiral Thrawn.  His out fit look varied a lot during my gameplay; for a long while, he used a sort of turban-styled headgear and whatever mission-reward armor he could get.  Eventually, I was able to get a damaged set of Triumverate armor off of GTN (damaged in appearance, not in stats).  Later I picked up the restored version of that armor.  The icing on the cake, though, was the final helmet I used.  At one point, I looted a Sith Warrior helmet that was just too good to ignore.  I thought that a mildly terrifying helmet would suit Chadam just fine for his work, so I finally settled on the look shown on this post.

I went with the Mercenary advanced class, and went with the pyrotech discipline.  Because plasma fires are fun.  The Merc was chosen because I didn’t really want him to be the Boba-lite kind of character (well, I sure blew that one, when you look at the image above).  The dual guns made him an amusing mirror for my Smuggler main, who was took the Gunslinger path.

I actually got to like Chadam as I played him.  Sure, he had no problem shooting and executing people he was hired to off, but he wasn’t big on collateral damage.  He was interested in a fast credit-got along great with Gault-but Mako helped keep him more or less ethically honest.  He had no issues taking advantage of advertising-there are two moments in the game where a bounty hunter can effectively advertise himself to the galaxy at large, and man, he did it.  He came to respect the Mandalorian code, though, and his struggles tended to come in when that ideal came into conflict with his desire for ready cash.  The result of this all meant he was mildly Light-Side in nature-there were a heap of Dark-Side choices that kept him fairly balanced, not the least of which involved the reason why we got a Chancellor Saresh in power in the Galactic Republic.

The character completed the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion, but I have yet to run him through the Eternal Throne (just like in my leveling work, the BH is near the bottom of the list).  He knelt before Valkorion not for any desire of power, but because he saw what happened to the last guy who didn’t kneel; in other words, sometimes the best thing you can do is lie to the guy with all the power and hope you get another, better opportunity.  Which, honestly, he sort of did, since Arcann chose that moment to go after his father-but as a result, Valkorion keeps harping on that initial kneel-down, and Chadam only wishes he had an option to say to the dead Emperor, “Hey, you know I was only doing that to buy some time, right?”  I think the worst thing for him in his future isn’t the possibility of taking the Eternal Throne-it’s that he’s going through all this and not getting paid.  (I do seem to recall him having Gault funnel some of that loot from that treasure run into profitable enterprises, though.)

I can safely say that while the Bounty Hunter is still not on my list of favorite character types in the setting, Chadam is still a character I enjoy; sometimes, it’s not about “good” and “evil”; it’s about having credits and not having credits, and the things you will or won’t do to get them.

 

WF: When Monsters Roamed The Earth!

Synopsis:  In the Pacific Ocean, there exists an island-MONSTER ISLAND!  Bureau 17 and the Champion Ironclad have reached out to Willforge for assistance dealing with a rise in activity from the natives-the Manimals-and darker forces.  Between the war between Manimals and ARGENT’s interest in the area, has Willforge bitten off more than he can chew?

Over in Champions Online, I have managed to get Willforge up and over level 30, which means a new zone is available for him to start leveling in-Monster Island!  Odds are good that this zone will be providing the meat of most of the xp as I start the push to the max level of 40 in the game (but there are two other zones that can get the attention later!).  Canada will probably still see some activity, though.  For now, though, it’s time for Willforge to deal with man/animal hybrids, the ever-present threat of ARGENT (those corporate greedheads!), on the way to somewhat larger problems.

The levels gained recently mean a new power pick for Willforge, and I wound up taking a maintained personal area of attack ability that theoretically “incapacitates” and damages enemies in its radius.  I honestly thought when I picked it up that it was a standard ranged area attack ability, and I was tempted to hop to the Powerhouse to change it-but it’s worked out nicely in tandem with some of the other powers Willforge is using, so I let it go.  I don’t believe there are likely much more in the way of powers to be gained for the character at this stage; I believe there will be another travel power coming up, and maybe one more standard power, and that will be it-so Willforge’s power picks are as set as they get without a full respec.

In addition to the Monster Island thing, I also started an attempt on the Serpent Lantern adventure pack-a series of missions that are linked together by a coherent story.  Unfortunately, Willforge hasn’t done so well in that, so I shelved the attempt until I get a few more levels under my belt.  I’m not sure that this will make a difference-one of the bosses consistently makes mincemeat out of Willforge, and let’s face it:  he’s neither a tank nor a DPS guy, so it’s looking more like I’ll just skip the Adventure Pack.  (I’m not ruling out one of the comics series, which are similar, though-they may not be as rough, and the Demonflame Adventure Pack was never on my list.)

My leveling has been supplemented by doing some Alerts, usually to refresh the xp bonus I get from them.  I could conceivably finish leveling entirely by doing Alerts and nothing else, but that’s no fun!  Particularly since there’s still two more zones to level up in and visit.  For now, continuing to fight in a land where the line between man and beast becomes blurred.  (Thanks, Dr. Moreau!)  Plus, there’s that pesky Nemesis still out there; I recently got a new Nemesis clue that should lead to a cover-worthy moment next time.