SS: Return of the Sith? Revenge of the Jedi? What IS He Now, Anyway?


“It seems that after my adventures are destined to continue.  No simple life among artifacts or scrolls for me; it seems that I am drawn to great events.

The dead walk.  Darth Revan lives-or at least, someone who purports to be him.  It can’t be, of course-he’s dead.  I watched him die.  But he was under the thumb of the Emperor for centuries.  Who knows what he became in that time?  And, in truth, I never found the man’s corpse.  But it wouldn’t be so hard to fake, either.

He’s forged the Revanites-the group I had joined on Dromund Kaas!-into a threat capable of bringing down the Empire and the Republic from within.  Thanks to some help from one of the Dark Council members, Darth Arkous.  Another betrayal from a Sith Lord; I’m so shocked.  Really.  I’m keeping a close eye on Beniko when I’m around her-I figure that her turn is bound to come up eventually.  Working with Agent Shan of the Republic’s SIS is a bit more perturbing.  So far, he hasn’t acted against us, but that’s only a matter of time as well.

We’ve managed to stop the first major plan-the use of using Infinite Empire tech to augment soldiers.  Again, my work is turned against me!  I supplied the Empire with the Star Forge fragment that they were using!  Between that and Malgus’s use of the Foundry, I’m suspecting that it may be best to keep any and all discoveries to myself.  I can trust myself to handle such artifacts, and it would be refreshing not to have someone bungle things so they’re used against the Empire!

We must keep this conspiracy secret for now.  Revan’s people are literally everywhere, it seems.  They’ve turned the Republic against Shan, and the Council against Beniko.  They can’t do much to me yet-I am of the Dark Council-but I would be fooling myself to think I am untouchable.  After all, Thanaton thought he was untouchable as well.

In the meantime, I will continue my work.  Darth Marr is still consolidating his strength, and I must as well.  I can’t afford to let him become more powerful than I-can’t let him think he can dispose of me.

The Force was supposed to free me-so why do I still feel trapped?”

-from Sorshan’s Story

Didn’t expect to take as long as I did with getting the Prelude to the Shadow of Revan completed in Star Wars: The Old Republic with this character, but…life happens.  That said, things are beginning to go into familiar territory, as the class-specific stuff is about to come to an end with this character when she gets to Rishi.  After that, we hit the territory of sameness-well, at least as far as classes go.

I can sort of see why with the dialogue going on between Lana Beniko and Sorshan during the closing moments of this arc.  The Inquisitor is a member of the Dark Council, one of the ruling members of the Sith Empire.  Sorshan offers to use that position to clear Lana, but Lana objects to it.  Maybe Lana has a point-maybe the Revanites are really in a position to assassinate Dark Council members; of course, why would the Revanites believe the Inquisitor would keep quiet about it?  A Council member might be a Revanite, granted, but there’s several members-hard to have one manage to kill the others.  (Okay, technically, there is a Revanite on the Council, but since Revan disavowed my Inquisitor, she doesn’t exactly count anymore.)

Keeping things quiet fits the Smuggler, Trooper, Agent, Bounty Hunter, and even the Jedi.  The Sith Warrior represents a dead Emperor.  But the Inquisitor is literally the most powerfully positioned playable character in the game-she IS the government, and a member of a totalitarian regime as well.  She doesn’t actually need evidence to protect Lana from retribution; she just declares her innocent and that’s that.  Of course, the counter-argument is that this puts suspicion of the Inquisitor of being a Revanite, and as Lana says, the Council’s lost enough members recently.

Is that enough?  Opinions probably vary.  But it illustrates why the developers went with the Outlander plan with Knights of the Fallen Empire (and that has its own issues, as it *ahem* forces non-Jedi/non-Sith into a sort of Force-wielding role).  The protagonist isn’t influenced by the past anymore, and makes decisions based who they are as the Outlander, not as who they are from their old lives as Jedi/Sith/Military/Fringers.

In any event, the next stop is Rishi, the pirate’s haven-and the official start of the Shadow of Revan expansion.  With a little over a month away from the release of Knights of the Eternal Throne, it’ll be interesting to see how far I get before I have to put Sorshan on-hold to experience the finale of that story.

Knights of the Missing Companions

It may come as a surprise that Star Wars: The Old Republic has got an expansion coming out next month.

No, really!  Here’s the trailer for it.  It’s a charming little look at the childhood of one of the primary antagonists.

Okay, maybe not so charming as much as horrifying.  Life’s tough when you wind up a dark-sider.  Then again, with Valkorion as your daddy, maybe there was no other way that could end.

Knights of the Eternal Throne is slated to apparently wrap up the Zakuul storyline in SWTOR, and it’s going to be a lot faster than one might have expected.  Unlike its predecessor, Knights of the Fallen Empire, we aren’t going to get nine chapters, followed by a chapter monthly to fill out the story-we’re getting the nine for this, and that’s it.  And it won’t be monthly-it’s coming at us all at once.  I may have to avoid Internet and zone chat when the release lands, because I imagine folks will have powered through it on day one.

The reason stated for this appears to be a dedication to focusing back on group content, which has languished for the most part since KotFE (and by group content, I mean “flashpoints and operations”).  Details on just what that will entail will apparently start getting tossed our way in 2017.  Despite not being a grouping sort of guy (mainly because operation-scale fights and late-game FPs tend to require a specific set of tactics and the like which requires research which requires time I don’t have a lot of), I’m for this.  I’ve always been a believer in MMOs to have something for everyone, even if that something isn’t my cup of tea.  I was spoiled by Star Wars Galaxies, I expect, which actually did have something for everyone.  Granted, the two are very different games.

One of the things that jumped out at me, though, is the status of the character companions.

It’s been close to a year since KotFE booted everyone’s pre-expansion companions to the curb, and some of them have managed to make their way back to the Outlander’s base-and some have not.  People have believed that the rest of the companions were likely to return in KotET.  But with only nine chapters left, I’m somewhat dubious-particularly in light of the fact that most of them were “romance-able” companions, and the devs have stated that they want to make reunions of that sort memorable, eg. probably not in an Alert.

Let’s take a quick peek at the roster, shall we?

Bounty Hunter:  Oddly, one of the big winners of the returned companion sweepstakes.  Skadge, Blizz, and Gault have all returned, as well as romance-option Torian; two of these were alerts, the other two during storyline.  Mako (also a romance option) remains at large.

Imperial Agent:  This class had a strong showing.  Lokin returned during an alert, while Kaliyo (romance option) returned in the story-as did SCORPIO, although her status has…mutated a bit.  Temple and Vector, romance options both, remain at large.

Jedi Consular:  The Consular hasn’t had great luck.  Qyzen came back during an alert, but Iresso, Nadia, Tharan, and Zenith are all at large-and honestly, I really expected Zenith to show up earlier, given his background on insurrections.  This makes the Consular the big loser in the sweepstakes, with only ONE companion returned.

Jedi Knight:  Saved from having the least returned thanks to the latest Alert that came with the HK Interlude, the Knight saw one of his guys earliest-T7 in the escape from Vaylin and company; he rejoined officially later down the road.  Rusk came back in an Alert very recently, but Doc (romance option), Kira (romance option) and Iresso (romance option) Lord Scourge (and where is he?  You’d think he’d be VERY interested in the events of this storyline…) are still among the missing. (Note:  the original post put up Iresso twice.  Bad me.)

Republic Trooper:  Havoc has managed to find its way back together…mostly.  Jorgan (romance option) returned during the story, and Yuun was the very first Alert every character does.  M1-4X returns in an Alert as well.  Tanno Vik is…well, complicated.  He shows up in the story, but does not rejoin thus far-and in fact, depending on decisions made, may not actually be able to come back.  Elara (romance option) is still at large.

Sith Inquisitor:  The Inquisitor’s crew is still being reconstituted.  Talos came back from an alert, as did Xalek.  Khem Val, Ashara (romance option), and Andronikos (romance option) are still out there, somewhere.  A Khem-copy can be recruited during an Alert, but is not explicitly a “replacement” for Khem.  Given the variable circumstances of Khem’s mind, it’ll be interesting to see how that may be dealt with.

Sith Warrior:  Vette (romance option) returned to the Warrior in story, while Broomark and Pierce come back during an Alert.  Quinn (romance option) is still missing, as is Jaesa (kinda-romance option), with Jaesa representing some of the potential issues that Khem does, and has a couple different ones as well.

Smuggler:  No love for the Smuggler characters in-story, but he did manage to get Bowdarr and Guss back into the fold.  Risha (romance option), Corso (romance option) and Akavi (romance option) all remain at large.

By my count, 20 companions are unaccounted for, and most of them are potentially former paramours of the Outlander.  If you had two per chapter, it still wouldn’t cover all of them.  Exactly four of them are possible alerts, leaving us with sixteen-but again, still looking at multiple companions per story chapter if they were to get back during KotET.  The odds suck.  This means that it’s likely to be well over a year before the last of the companions return to the fold.  And since most of them are characters that the Outlander may have married, it’s hard to believe that there won’t be a sizeable amount of people who are irritated that they’ll have to wait even longer for them to return.

Well, return in-story, anyway.  As mentioned in prior posts, all of a character’s companions can be brought back, in name only, thanks to the terminal in the commander’s quarters on Odessen.  If you can’t live without seeing them again, that’s certainly one route.  Having done the RP thing in my time, and being a believer in the story, though, I’m likely to leave that terminal alone; suffering is good for the character’s soul.

The devs may yet surprise me, though-and we won’t have to wait much longer.  Knights of the Eternal Throne lands December 2, but subscribers from now until November 27 will get in on November 29, three days prior.  Folks who go that route can nab a couple bonuses as subscriber rewards:  the first for being subbed on October 25 nets you a special companion:  Shae Vizla; expect her to be treated similar to Nico Okarr, where you will get a token to bring her in early, but her Alert mission will probably take place between KotFE and KotET.  Being subbed on November 27th will get you a new vehicle-your very own recon walker-and most importantly, it won’t be painted like HK-55!

When the expansion lands, one can expect a pause in Sorshan’s Story as I put my primary characters through the new stuff.  Expect my thoughts as I go along as it happens; I’m not sure if I’ll put in little preludes like I have with the Epic of Anthrandos and Sorshan’s Story-but I’ve had so much fun doing so, that it’d be a shame not to.  I’ll figure it out by the time the fun begins!

AoY: The Reason One Becomes a Temporal Agent

It's nice to see that occasionally, the temporal agent gets his hands dirty.

It’s nice to see that occasionally, the temporal agent gets his hands dirty.

Personal Log, Stardate…does it really matter now?

How can I put in a Stardate when I’m bouncing up and down the timestream, and into other quantum realities?

I have to put this into a log somewhere.  I know Daniels told me to try not to leave evidence of my origins-the real one-anywhere, but I feel like I’m betraying my oaths as a Starfleet Officer if I don’t at least have a record of what I’ve done somewhere.  Someday, history will need to know what happened.  So this tricorder from the good old days will have to do-it’s already holding enough data to get me in serious trouble if its security is breached.

Back when we’d defeated B’vat’s plans to mess with time via the Guardian of Forever, Daniels contacted me to stop the Romulans of the past from using another of those Doomsday Weapons; how many of those things were there!?  They were getting help from the Na’kuhl, and their leader, someone called the Envoy.  He almost punched our tickets, revealing who we were when we investigated this alliance.  Fortunately, the Romulans were convinced not to help the Na’kuhl, and the weapon…well, the weapon destroyed Galorndon Core, along with itself.  Then, later on, we got caught up with the Vorgons trying to acquire something called a Tox Uthat; we managed to get to it finally, by going into the vaults at Starfleet Command-during an attack on Earth by the Breen during the Dominion War.  The Envoy was involved around the edges on that one, too.  And finally, not content to stick with issues in our own timeline, Daniels had us go into the past of a parallel quantum reality-where we found the Sphere Builders that the original Enterprise had encountered trying to create a new Expanse-again, with some help from the Envoy.  That mission was particularly painful for me.  We boarded this reality’s version of the Yorktown, and was under the command of Admiral Garrett.  It was an odd feeling to see my old commanding officer from the 23rd there-and even stranger to have him recognize me as a cadet.

I didn’t realize until then how much I missed my old life.

But I’m a Starfleet Officer.  This is the job, and I’ll do it.  We stopped the Sphere Builders in that reality, but it seems that this Envoy is getting around.  Daniels, by contrast, is being affected by some time shifts, and they aren’t leaving him in good condition.  I wonder if the next one will wipe him from existence.  If that happens…what happens to us?  What happens to time?

I can’t figure out the answers.  And I’ve been thinking about this too much.  We’ve got our assignment to investigate the Delta Quadrant in earnest after the end of the Klingon War-that’ll be a nice change from temporal insanity.

I hope.

End Log.

Now with added lens flare!

Now with added lens flare!

My long awaited commentary on the Yesterday’s War arc in Star Trek Online is finally here!  And what a trip it is.

Unlike most of the story arcs in STO, Yesterday’s War is actually broken up into stand-alones that take place between the other story arcs.  It’s also what I consider “essential playing” for people who have characters that are already well beyond the Solanae arc, because the mysterious Envoy and the different factions of the post-Iconian content are more or less introduced here.  (I hadn’t realized that when I had done the final episodes to date that closes off that arc; so I was wondering where some of this stuff was coming from, and certain surprises were a sort of “duh” moment for me.)

Things kicked off with “The Core of the Matter”, where the crew is sent back in time back to the 23rd century, probably not long after the “Doomsday Machine” episode; this is because the Na’kuhl have found another one, and have managed to find a way to control it.  Your mission is to top the alliance and-just as importantly-stop the Doomsday Machine.  It becomes apparent that the Tal Shiar are around in this era as well, and you get to take advantage of that.  The big ground battle is a bit tricky-there is a whole lot of aggro going on-but it can be manageable with the right tactics-and perhaps the right bridge officer abilities.  Kudos to the devs for recalling that the Romulans were also using Klingon battlecruisers of that era, with extra paint to show that they were definitely Romulan and not Klingons helping their nominal allies.

“Vorgon Conclusions” introduces the Vorgons and that MacGuffin, the Tox Uthat.  Trying to follow the timeline of that thing is challenging, isn’t it?  Chronologically for new characters, this will be the first encounter with the Vorgons and the Tox Uthat, while older characters doing this mission for the first time will likely go “not again!”  The time travel component takes you to all over the place-the future, where the Uthat is built; the past, during an altercation between Archer’s Enterprise and the Tholians; and the more recent past, during the Breen attack on Earth during the Dominion War, where you need to recover the device from Starfleet’s vaults-where, naturally, the Vorgons are attempting to get their hands on it.  I particularly appreciated the fact that searching for the device could have you find all sorts of other interesting artifacts from Trek lore-and as I understand it, those artifacts are randomly selected from a fairly large pool, so replays with other characters or the same one may show different ones each time.  Also worth noting:  this mission illustrates the issues I have with the devs ability to figure out what happened when.  My new captain got told this was the same device I hid on Risa for Picard to later blow up, except that the mission referred to won’t happen until after the Iconian War!  I’m willing to chalk it up to the temporal deterioration that Daniels is having throughout this arc-he’s probably losing track of what happened when (like the devs?).  That’s not really an excuse for my character to go along with that, though.

The final mission is the big one.  “Terminal Expanse” features the Sphere Builders from Star Trek: Enterprise, and it’s pretty much confirmed that your character helped-accidentally-in wiping out most of their species during the Iconian War.  Of course, at this point in the episode chain, your character hasn’t actually done that yet, so it’s a bit interesting to see them accuse the character of being a mass murderer; I sort of wish there was a response that said, “What the heck are you talking about?”  Missed opportunity there!  But that’s not the big deal here; the big deal is that it takes place in the Kelvin Timeline, the setting of the current Star Trek movies (and more important, in that timeframe as well, as opposed to 2409 of that Timeline).  This features the ONE instance where a character acknowledges a 23rd century captain, as the commander of the ship is your old commander from the tutorial.

Overall, the missions are pretty solid additions.  They do the job of setting up the post-Iconian stuff, although it will be some time before the character gets to that in the normal advancement of storylines (Delta Rising isn’t exactly short, thanks to the various patrol missions and the Kobali front).  Given how back and forth things go with the timeline during the arc, it’s shocking that it holds together as well as it does.  Admittedly, one of the arcs takes place in a parallel universe, so can’t do much damage there.  Next up is the rather lengthy Delta Rising arc.  My character is not yet to level 60, but the minimum requirements for the missions dropped down, too, so we’ll see if any grinding is needed before the end of the line.

AoY: Peace at Last-WHOOPS!

Should I be worried that a powerful civilization went through the effort of a orbital view of Earth?

Should I be worried that a powerful civilization went through the effort of installing an orbital view of Earth in their Dyson Sphere?

Personal Log, Stardate 94364.21.

It feels strange to be saying that we’re no longer at war with the Klingon Empire.  My whole life was built up to the inevitability of conflict with the Klingons.  I “died” fighting Klingons back in the 23rd, then got deposited in the 25th where we were actually at war with them.  Along the way, I got conscripted as a temporal agent, seen a fractured Romulan Empire reform itself-mostly-as a Republic, fought aliens that I’d never imagined back in my younger days, traveled to regions of space beyond any the Starfleet I trained with had ever imagined going…and now have arrived in this place, a Dyson Sphere in the Delta Quadrant, through an Iconian Gateway-and those same Iconians have been preparing for a war against all of us.

It’s a bit disconcerting, that.  I’d assumed that someone had managed to get a hold of Iconian tech and were using it in some gambit-I’d not imagined that the Iconians themselves were still out there, the “Demons of Air and Darkness” that Obisek warned of.  Teach me to view it as metaphor.  And they apparently want us all dead, have been interfering with us for years, were responsible for the Hobus Supernova, the Undine….

And now they’ve wiped the High Council of the Klingons out.  Just as an example.

Thanks a bunch, Iconians.  You just painted the target on yourselves.  The real enemy is revealed now-and with two Dyson Spheres worth of technology, it’s only a matter of time until we find where you’re pulling the puppet strings, and make you pay for the lives you’ve ended.

End Log.

Can this last? The Ferengi are already placing bets.

Can this last? The Ferengi are already placing bets.

The Solanae Dyson Sphere arc in Star Trek Online is the big turning point in the storyline of the game-the cards are all on the table, and the big bads finally reveal themselves in person.  It puts an end-at least for now-to the war between Klingon and Federation, and guarantees that pretty much all content henceforth is joint content-not too dissimilar to how City of Heroes did all their content for Heroes and Villains after a point.  The text differs slightly, but the missions are the same.

A major portion of this arc, of course, is basically minor stuff-go to the Dyson Sphere, see all the stuff on these maps, do the battlezones.  But obviously, it includes the big missions, such as the discovery of the Sphere in the first place, the conflict at its central sun, and the big conference leading to the biggest Undine attack shown in the game.  When that episode first hit, it heralded a revamp of the Earth Spacedock to what we see today.

Which makes it a bit jarring (as I feared it would be when the episode was first released) when the Spacedock that Rick Masters has been familiar with wound up looking very different when he beamed in during the Undine attack and saw it looked nothing like the Spacedock he knew.  I realize that it worked nicely when the episode first came out, because it offered a transition between old and new, but now it’s a very different time, and the map is horribly out of place for the mission.

Also jarring-and this goes beyond this arc, because it’s systematic-is the fact that every character seems to have forgotten how to sit down; every viewscreen dialog starts with the top half of their heads off-camera, until something clicks and their back to sitting in their chairs or being otherwise centered on the viewscreen.  Cutscenes show NPCs standing on their chairs.  Also potentially related, characters seem to have also forgotten how to run; when the Gateway under New Romulus was blowing up, and everyone had to evacuate through it, did they run?  No, what we got was a hilariously brisk looking walk through the gates.  The devs mucked something up in their code somewhere, and hopefully they’ll get it fixed before too long.

The next post isn’t going to detail Delta Rising; I’ll be catching up with the Yesterday’s War arc; now that I’m on the cusp of finishing up that arc, it’s time to see how all that shakes out.

SS: Consolidation of Power


“It’s all gone hopelessly tangled.

My authority on the Dark Council is something that tends to wax and wane.  Darth Marr obviously didn’t think much of me when he told me the Empire was in danger of losing the war to the Republic; he certainly wasn’t impressed with my early work on Makeb, where things had gone wrong ever since my shuttle hit atmosphere.  But we formed a tenuous alliance in the face of my success in saving Makeb; I know he is using me, but I am using him as well-his presence adds to my own.  It will end in betrayal, of course-with a Sith, it always ends in betrayal.  But this time, I hope, my eyes are open.

Opportunity.  The Republic publicly announced that the Jedi had killed the Sith Emperor.  At this point, I must believe it true; too many independent sources have said it.  While devastating to morale, it offers a chance for the Dark Council to lead in our own names, not in the Emperor’s.  With Makeb’s bounty behind us, perhaps we can reforge the Empire.  It’s already started-aliens have been welcomed into positions of authority, helped in no small part by my own actions and example.  This heartens me.  I am making a difference.  My end goal doesn’t seem so impossible.  I can redeem the Empire-can I also redeem the Sith?

I believe I can.  Lord Hargrev on Oricon is my example.  With the Emperor gone, the Dread Masters have gone rogue, and indeed, one has already perished-and this is driving the others insane.  They are attempting to spread fear and madness across the galaxy, and Lord Hargrev had the misfortune of being one of the first on Oricon to feel that.  His own power has shielded him and others-but also shown him that his depravity was nothing compared to the Dread Masters.  And in this, perhaps, he has been enlightened-instead of sacrificing his people, he exposed himself further to shield them.  He is changing.

We can change.

Unfortunately, my time on Oricon has been cut short, as an opportunity unlike any other has presented itself which might further slow the advance of the Republic….”

-from Sorshan’s Story

It’s been a while since I did the missions on Makeb.  With the massive xp boost that was running in Star Wars: The Old Republic prior to the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion, I was able to skip Makeb entirely, and when I was running Anthrandos through his Epic, I was uncertain as to the timing of the end of the Light vs. Dark event, so I skipped Makeb on that character as well.  But now that I’ve hit my goals with the event, I can afford to take my time and be more complete in my playing, and this meant once more revisiting the world of Makeb.

I’ve always been quietly delighted by the unexpected turn for the Empire represented by Makeb.  While it was done for non-altruistic reasons, the Empire was responsible for keeping a world intact instead of blowing it up.  A novel experience, to say the least!  It was like candy to my Light Side aligned Sith!  I reaped a good chunk of influence for Talos, too, as he prefers those sort of choices, and I wanted to give Ashara a break.  As usual, I skipped doing heroic missions on Makeb-and I’m pretty sure that for the most part, they’re not Heroic-2’s.  Somewhere along the line, I should really investigate that sort of thing.

Once Makeb was done, I decided to bite the bullet and do Oricon as well.  There wasn’t all that much to do there; the mission chain for single players is pretty short, but I felt it would be worth doing anyway.  It was short enough that I decided to fold it into this post as well, instead of a stand-alone post.  Khem Val was my choice of bodyguard there, and since there wasn’t many morality choices to worry about, I didn’t get too many disapprovals from him.  (Hasn’t stopped me before; why expect things to change?)

With Oricon as out of the way as I’m going to get it, that opens the door for the Prelude to the Shadow of Revan.  I considered briefly going to do some of the missions at Czerka CZ-198, but those are basically just daily missions and I can’t really bring myself to roll with those.  So the next stop for Sorshan is a visit to the Jedi homeworld, and-big shock!-a betrayal by a Sith!

AoY: Assimilating the Agents of Yesterday Expansion

The moment when you realize that there are probably more Borg on the way.

The moment when you realize that there are probably more Borg on the way.

Personal Log, Stardate 94350.27

When you talk to the old-timers in Starfleet-not counting me, although my situation is a bit different-they speak in hushed whispers about the Borg.  Way I’ve heard it, they were considered unstoppable.  One ship demolished an entire fleet on the way to Earth before Captain Picard pulled a rabbit out of a hat-or maybe it’s more accurate to say his crew did, since he’d been assimilated by the Collective.  Another ship came close to changing history and wiping Earth before First Contact.  I wonder why Daniels never mentioned that one to me; maybe because things were already effectively taken care of.  I’m not the only temporal agent wandering around, it seems.  The threat seemed ended when Captain Janeway of Voyager slammed their transwarp network shut on her way back to the Alpha Quadrant.  Then there was an attack on the Vega colony, and suddenly, the fear was back.

Thing is, the Borg have degraded a lot.  The Borg batted around the fleet, but it involved multiple ships on both sides, and it was arguably a victory for Starfleet.  But then they’ve come again, assimilated entire worlds-literally-and everybody started talking.  I was even at a conference at Deep Space Nine to help seal an alliance to fight the Borg.  Battle Group Omega seems to have been the response.

The Borg aren’t the same.  We’ve encountered their ships, and the walking monsters themselves, and while they offered a tough battle…they aren’t the invincible juggernauts of yesteryear.  Something’s changed.  Things got a bit more interesting when the Undine showed their faces again-the Borg have clashed with them before-and suddenly the Borg are ready to try to assimilate them-when they never had before.  It worked-and my crew barely put down that monstrosity.

We capped the encounter with a probe into fluidic space, where the Undine hail from.  We didn’t need to bother.  The Undine had it well in hand, blowing up Borg command ships with ease.  But…we did get some intelligence on something else.  Ships matching our configurations, constructed with Iconian tech, attacking Undine “space”.  Is this why the Undine have been infiltrating our space again?  Seems likely.  The Iconians and their technology keep showing up; I feel like we’re on the cusp of revelations.

I hope we can survive them.

End Log.

If space were like an ocean.

If space were like an ocean.

The Borg get a bad rap in Star Trek Online.

It’s honestly a no-win situation here worthy of Kirk himself.  If the Borg were really portrayed as they are in the shows and movies, we’d have a dead game; the whole point behind them is that they adapt to whatever can harm them, and they never.  Stop.  Coming.  It’s like zombies with a hive mind and superior technology.  Except they don’t eat you-they assimilate you and make you just like them.  Which, actually, is pretty similar to the whole zombie outbreak sort of thing.

But that doesn’t make for a fun game, now, does it?  An opponent you can’t really beat in a combat oriented game?  (Let’s face it-STO is more like Kirk’s era than Picard’s, no matter the trappings.)  No, what we got was the other extreme:  Borg who are imminently beatable.  Where fleets once fell to a single cube, now you have fleets of cubes falling to a single player ship.  The only time the Borg are truly terrifying are during the special task forces (does anyone still run those?  I lose track with the zillions of queues out there now).

Some of the reason for that might be explained in-game somewhere that I missed; I seem to remember that one of the STFs got involved with time travel and the like for that, but that was far enough down the chain that I never actually completed it-at least in its original incarnation, when ground and space were not split up into a pair of queues.  Maybe we can explain it with Janeway really knocking them out of whack by finishing off the Borg Queen of her era.  Maybe maybe maybe.

So, all that said:  the Borg Advance arc really isn’t that bad of one.  It’s been streamlined down to a smaller number of missions, but also sets the stage for the future missions in the game.  Once, this was the endgame; now, it’s just a part of the chain.  Nature of the beast, as far as MMOs go.

Rick Masters has managed to wrap up the first tier of specialization in the Temporal Operative branch-all space related, naturally.  The mathematically inclined will recognize that he’s halfway through the Admiralty ranks, and this is positioning him well for the grind of the Delta Rising missions.  That’s still ahead, though.  He’s still working through the Temporal Rep at tier 5, and I’m probably a week and a half away from finishing that rep grind.  By completing this episode arc, he’s also finished locating all the temporal probes-I took some time to take care of the two that got skipped; turns out that watching the videos related to them won’t cause the condition to complete; you have to investigate the probe again without watching the vids.  It was pain to get to the one on Nimbus, though, which did, after all, require me to fight through to the stronghold there.

Having finished all the probes, well, it’s somewhat disappointing.  There was no link to the whole “Agent of Yesterday” sort of thing like there was for the Delta Recruits, and there has been very little aside from the Yesterday’s War mission arc and the initial intro missions to make Agents of Yesterday an expansion worth the name.  Even Delta Rising had more to it, while Legacy of Romulus is still the gold standard for STO expansions.  When I look at Agents of Yesterday, I see six missions in the past-none of which are terribly involved-and three cross-time missions (plus an intro if your character wasn’t already involved in the temporal shenanigans).  One new regional map, which is only used in those first missions.  A new rep, a new specialization-which could’ve been folded into a regular Seasonal patch-and C-Store ships, which tend to pay for themselves.  And if I remember right, a pair of new queues.

Contrast that with a heap of missions from even Delta Rising (and I’m not counting the missions that were tacked on afterward-that wouldn’t be fair), two regional maps, a new hub, and a new reputation; or with Legacy of Romulus, which had new missions, a new viewpoint (where shared missions with Feds/Klingons were outlined from a Romulan POV), a new regional map, a new pair of hubs (one hardly counts-the Flotilla you tend to stay away from once New Romulus is founded), new ships, and I can’t recall offhand if a new rep was introduced for Romulans at that time or not-that might’ve come later.  Both of these included new queues, and “adventure zones”.  Agents of Yesterday didn’t even have that different viewpoint, as Daniels demands once you hit 2409 to not say a word about where you really come from.

As far as expansions go, in the final analysis, I’m not horribly impressed.  I’m aware of the fact that the devs have just announced the next part of the Agents of Yesterday expansion, but I’m again comparing the original release with the other original releases-and Agents of Yesterday comes up short.  It’s not that it’s a bad expansion; it just has a hard time being justified as an expansion.

Nevertheless, the adventure of Rick Masters continues, because it ain’t stopping until we catch up to the current content-whatever that may be!

SS: False Empire


“I may have stolen a march from my peers on the Dark Council by choosing not to ensconce myself on Dromund Kaas like my predecessor, but instead use my ship as my office.  I have no intention on making life easy on would-be assassins looking for my position-and I would be foolish to believe that none of the Council wishes me dead.  In fact, I’d wager that each of them would love to arrange it, as long as their own hands don’t get dirty doing it.

As an additional benefit, this mobility-this freedom!-allows me to intervene personally when other members of the Council are stuck on the homeworld.  Such was the case with the planet Ilum.  The planet’s supply of Adegan crystals were apparently crucial to the construction of a stealth armada.  To assist in this, Darth Malgus himself came to Ilum; that should have been my first indication that something was amiss.  I’ve never met the man in person before-not even when I delivered the Foundry to him.

Of course, he betrayed us.  I don’t know why I even assume faithfulness from a fellow Sith anymore.

He claimed the Emperor was dead; he commandeered a hidden space station, supplemented by technologies taken from the Foundry, and declared a new Empire.  While I certainly had no issues with some of his directives-incorporating other species into the halls of power, I approve completely-I wasn’t about to have him wreck my own plans before they even got started.  I had just ascended to the Dark Council-I wasn’t about to give up that power when I could finally start doing some good in the Empire.

So, Malgus is dead.  But is the Emperor truly gone?  He has been silent for all the time I’ve been Sith.  If it is true, then the Dark Council, by default, rules the Sith Empire.  And will another attempt the throne, if it is truly vacant?  Or was this a lie from Malgus, an attempt to draw the Emperor out of hiding?  Nobody on the Council will admit to anything.

So the path forward remains unclear.  But at least, unchained to any world, I will be in the best position to take advantage of whatever may befall next.”

-from Sorshan’s Story

So, as mentioned previously, I’ve started running other planets before I start Shadow of Revan in Star Wars: The Old Republic, and the first of these is embodied by Ilum.  Ilum was pretty much the last world in the original game, and its Flashpoints represented the end of the line for the original storyline.  For a while, it was the best method of accumulating credits for me, by running its dailies regularly.  Shows how far things have changed, thanks to the KotFE changes to Heroic missions.  Of course, the devs have demonstrated that they really want to nerf those payouts, so perhaps the dailies one day will become the way to go again.

Nevertheless, Ilum’s a nice bit of story; not too long, not too difficult, and a nice breather before the next major planet on the list:  Makeb, coming at us from the Rise of the Hutt Cartel expansion.  I’ve broken the 3 million credit mark on this character, which I promptly shot below it by buying some character perks-specifically, the field repair droid so I can do instant-vendoring regularly.  I keep telling myself to purchase the account-wide Rocket Boots unlock, but I still can’t bring myself to do it.  (At least I haven’t broken down and purchased the Treek mercenary contract yet; I just can’t bring myself to hire an Ewok.)

Makeb will hold some significant developments for the Imperials; how Sorshan, the Light-Sided Inquisitor, deals with them should be interesting to watch.

AoY: It’s a Cool…Cool Summer…!

It occurs to me that a part of this map was a lot bigger on that asteroid.

It occurs to me that a part of this map was a lot bigger on that asteroid.

Personal Log, Stardate 94328.53

I’ve informed my first officer that the next time I say that a mission should go nice and smooth with no shooting, she should immediately just shoot me in the head.

That said, I’ve no regrets on how the extended mission in Deferi space went.  The Breen weren’t as tough a problem as I’d learned about in my speed-history course from Daniels; of course, that toughness had been due to surprise during the Dominion War, when Starfleet hadn’t built any way to counter their weaponry.  They were unique weapons, I’ll grant that much, but Orca was able to handle that.

The whole point of the Breen meddling was the existence of Preserver artifacts-and the potential of a major find in that area of space.  Thot Trel was apparently banking hard on there being weapons available.  You would have thought that the name “Preserver” might have been a clue that perhaps weapons weren’t the first thing on these aliens minds.  Thot didn’t strike me as all that smart, though.

I’m not giving him enough credit.  His people still managed to scan the map before we could stop them that pointed everyone to the Preserver Library, which turns out to have actually held the real Preservers in hibernation.  We kept him from destroying the library out of spite-he was a sore loser-and the Deferi are now studying the archives, with a little help from Starfleet-and according to rumor, the Klingon Empire; the Defreri are big on balance.

Now, we’ve just received orders to rendezvous with Battle Group Omega.  It seems that we’re about to have our first encounter with what the speed-history course considered the greatest threat in the galaxy.

End Log.

I don't know that I'd have my hibernation pods hanging from the ceiling; I'd worry about gravity finally having its way.

I don’t know that I’d have my hibernation pods hanging from the ceiling; I’d worry about gravity finally having its way.

The Breen episodes have the distinction of being the first Feature Episode series created for Star Trek Online, and despite its age, it still holds up pretty well.  It’s an arc that’s self-contained, not really requiring information from previous episodes, and doesn’t build on them either.  It does become a plot point to a future mission, but it didn’t turn out to be as big a deal at that time as I thought it might have been.  More on that in the future.

That’s one of the reasons why I always enjoyed the Breen missions.  It’s the sort of thing you can actually see as a short arc in a Star Trek show.  Other arcs in the game mostly build upon the previous arcs and are in an effectively long, game-wide storyline, from the Klingons, the Romulans, the Undine, the Vaadwaur, and the Iconians.  In the midst of all this, it’s the short arcs that have nothing to do with the wider story that tend to shine for me.  It’s probably why I also enjoyed the other Feature Series back in the day:  the 2800 and Spectres (as they were originally called; of course, the Breen Invasion was originally “Cold Wars”).  The Cloaked Intentions Feature Series (now folded into the Romulan Mystery arc) couldn’t be called standalone, though, given how much has been built around those missions-one could argue that the seeds of the whole Romulan Republic story began there.

The Breen missions have it all; some puzzle solving (nothing too complex-this isn’t Myst), some space combat, some ground combat, and crazily enough, even some diplomacy!  Seriously, there’s a mission that can actually fail if you screw up the diplomatic angle-at least, it could back in the day.  I haven’t actually tried to screw it up with more current characters-because it meant starting the mission over.  And I’m lazy that way.

We’re coming up on what used to be considered the last of the story arcs that could be considered non-Iconian.  Well, they were non-Iconian until they got revamped; Cryptic likes to do revamps regularly, and the next arc was no exception.  I’ll have more to say about that next time, if I remember when I write up the post.  It’s also the last set that have the Temporal Probes in them; once those are completed, my plan is to do the Episode Replay for the pair of mission that didn’t properly award them to me the first time, and go from there.

On a character note, Rick Masters has now gotten to tier 4 on his Temporal Defense reputation; I was further along than I thought.  I’ve started opening more of my reward boxes for the Temporal Probes, since I’m running low on the Temporal Marks.  At some point, I’ll do the math to figure out exactly how many I should open up to finish that reputation chain.  It’ll be close and I’m not 100 percent sure I’ll have enough.  Fortunately, I have other avenues; I haven’t touched anything from my account-bound Delta Recruit rewards, which might have more of the marks if I need them.  If this reputation chain is like the others, I should get a fairly large surplus of marks upon completing it, and among other things, I plan to spend some of them to sponsor my KDF and Fed main characters so they can run the chain faster (and, by definition, with less marks).

Free to Make Ships Explode

Preparing for the most implacable enemy New Eden has ever seen: free players.

Preparing for the most implacable enemy New Eden has ever seen: free players.

While I’ve been spending my time heavily in Star Trek Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic, I’ve not been ignoring the news that tends to float around on the Internet concerning other games, particularly if it’s a game that I’ve played in the past.  For the most part, I don’t make remarks on them, mainly because…well, they’re games I’ve played in the past.  The key word being “past”.  Thus, even though World of Warcraft’s got this expansion out again, I’m not compelled to remark hard on it-aside from the odd offers of free game time, I don’t really expect to spend a lot of time on Azeroth anymore.

The same also held true for EVE Online; I’d had a number of stints there, including a lengthy one before STO was released with some of my old SWG guildies.  But aside from the occasional “play five days free again”, I’d not really spent a lot of time with it.  But recently, the developers as CCP dropped a bomb on the market:  even though they’ve tiptoed around it, EVE Online is slated to go to a freemium model in November.

Now, in the interests of fairness:  there’s really two types of freemium games.  Ones that are literally free to play and sell a bunch of stuff to make playing easier (like STO), and those that are technically free but have so many restrictions that if you really wanted to enjoy the experience, you’ll want to subscribe on a monthly basis (like SWTOR).  From the sounds of it, this is going to be closer to the SWTOR model than it is to the STO model.  It’s still not quite the same, though.

It has to do with what they’re calling “Clone States”.  The Omegas are exactly what you see in the game now:  no restrictions except for that which is imposed by lack of training in the appropriate skill books (and, you know, ISK, the in-game currency).  In other words, your subscribers-or the folks who have so much ISK that they can purchase PLEX, which is an item you can buy with real money and put on their market for ISK-usually a lot of it-or simply use to give yourself a month of paid subscription.  (Honestly, if you’re buying PLEX with real money, there’s almost no reason to use it other than by selling it in-game; a straight sub does just fine.)

The Alphas are the new guys-or the guys who have let their subs lapse (ahem).  The Alphas can only use certain skills, at a certain maximum level; use only certain ships-Tech One frigates, cruisers, and destroyers-and have a ceiling on their maximum skill points (which is still a pretty healthy number but hardly earth-shaking).  While it hasn’t been said, I would not be surprised if, in addition to those ships mentioned above, one might also get access to the industrial ships for hauling, as those are mostly harmless (please, nobody send me builds of heavily armed Iterons); I do not expect the Tech One mining ships to be on the list, though, given the troubles the game has had with mining bots as it is.  Why would CCP make life even easier on those?  I can see them justify hauling, but not mining.  That said, a legion of mining frigates can probably do a bot’s job just as well over time.

Presumably, a returning player-one who is returning free, that is-will find all his clones in an Alpha state, and I can easily see a situation where a player might reserve one of his three character slots for an “Alpha only” character to use in free periods, and leave another as their “paid Omega guy”.  Certainly, that’s my plan; keep my original pair in Omega-land and leave them semi-retired, and spend time with a new character.  This should not imply that I’m expecting to upgrade to full-time status with EVE again; but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I expect to log into it come November and see what’s what.

Of course, this also begs the question of just what I’d actually do when the time comes.  After all, I’ve done my best to eschew PvP wherever it lies, and PvP lies at the dark heart of EVE Online.  Mining is out, hauling is out (until proven otherwise, I’m going to assume it won’t be there at launch, no matter what I figure may happen in the future), and mass market manipulation is out.  Crafting is a possibility, as is exploration to a limited extent seems possible, since those skills are available but have a limited ceiling on training.  The classic PvE missions are still there (well, presumably-it’s been a while), but with the limit on the ship types, one can easily presume that you’ll hit a ceiling on the types of missions you can run with a reasonable chance of success.

Still, one has to admit:  even with the limits, there’s a pretty fair amount of stuff to do.  EVE is still one of the most pure sandbox MMO’s out there, and with its huge galaxy of star systems (and even bigger if you dare low-sec or null-sec space), it’s difficult to not find something worth doing.  Even if it just involves day trading at Jita.

Odds are high that I’ll be making a new character for the freemium EVE ahead, and unlike my previous ones, it won’t be Gallente; I sort of want to see other sides of the EVE universe, and I may very well just look at the galaxy map, see who’s farthest away, and go with that faction.  I’m like that sometimes.

SS: Through Victory, My Chains Are Broken


“At long last, it is over.  And I have succeeded beyond my wildest imaginings.

Corellia has fallen to the Empire.  With luck, they will come to see that the Empire is a better choice than the Republic.  I tell myself this often; I’ve met too many Sith to truly believe it.  But now, the possibilities that things can change seem brighter.

For Thanaton is defeated, first in the Kaggath, and then later in the chambers of the Dark Council itself.  At the end, with Xalek at my side-for I felt that bringing Ashara here would be a foolish move, needlessly antagonistic, and after all, this was why I’d taken Xalek as an apprentice in the first place-I made Thanaton bow before me.  The broken wretch that was left was disposed of by the Dark Council.

And then-wonder of wonders-they granted me a seat at the table.  They gave me dominion over the Pyramid of Ancient Knowledge, to replace Thanaton on the Council.  I have been named “Darth Imperius”, and now I am literally one of the rulers of the Sith Empire, answerable only to the Council and-of course-the Emperor.  I asked to meet him; I was told that would come in time.

That’s good.  For I have instructed my Pyramid to seek ways to defend the Empire from external threats; my inner circle knows my true goals:  I will remake the Empire in my own image.  I will overthrow the Emperor.  I will redeem the Empire and the Sith, or die trying.  I understand now that unless I can do this, I am doomed.  Ashara has assured me she will ensure my teachings live beyond me, but I’d rather be alive to see the change happen.

The ghosts are gone, released.  I did something I had often considered but never attempted in my time as a Sith:  I let calm and serenity guide me to grant the ghosts more than just freedom from my binding.  I freed them from their chains, too, granting them final release.  It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before-and even in their dark hearts, I could see that at the end, they felt relief.  Their chains, in the end, were not broken by following the Sith Code, but by something else.  Nevertheless, the Force has freed them.

I wonder.  One day, I may be in their position.  Will I become a Force Ghost as they did?  Or will I find the freedom that they have ultimately found?

It doesn’t matter, not yet.  I have much to do.  The Sith will change.  The Empire will change.  That is my new goal, that is my new task.  I will free them, too.”

-from Sorshan’s Story

And at last, we’ve hit the end of the Inquisitor’s story in Star Wars: The Old Republic, and the choices Sorshan has made up to now have led her to this point.  I knew in advance, of course, that you could receive one of three different “Darth” titles, based upon your Force alignment.  My other ones were “Darth Nox”, since they were both Dark Side, but since I was going hard on the Light for the event, I knew I would be getting “Darth Imperius” as her title on the Dark Council.  That said, the title she’s using in game is still “The Risen”, gained from something or other back in the day.  I’ve been tempted to slap the “Revanite” tag on her instead, but that’s going to be a big sticking point later down the line.

At this point, when I was running Anthrandos, I went directly to the Shadow of Revan prelude missions.  But that was when I was rushing ahead, wanting to make sure I got the full storyline requirements done by deadline and still have time to get Sorshan to 65.  But now that time constraints are no longer an issue for me…I’ll be going for the full experience.  That means unlike Anthrandos, she’ll be doing the Ilum storyline, followed by the Rise of the Hutt Cartel story on Makeb, followed by Oricon.  No operations on the latter, though-after that, THEN I’ll hit the prelude.  This means that Sorshan will be with us for some time yet.

I did finally get to opening that last set of Dark vs Light packs, and I managed to complete the Freedon Nadd set, got the upper armor for Revan (I’m sure I can make use of that), and assorted lightsaber crystals that weren’t the same ones I’d been getting-including a very nice white/black crystal that buffs Power, which was perfect for Sorshan in a symbolic sort of way-so I let go of the one she’d been using, for life in the Dark Council.  This set of stuff also included a mount I didn’t already have, and a few extra decorations I could make use of in the strongholds; all in all, while it wasn’t perfect, it was probably the best group of packs I’ve opened since the event began.

So, next stop:  Ilum!  (And that will also include the Flashpoints that close out Ilum as well.)