A Night of Eternal Thrones

It began a year ago with Knights of the Fallen Empire in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  The conclusion of that story is here, with the Knights of the Eternal Throne expansion.  I figure I’ll put up my thoughts on the expansion as a whole instead of doing it piecemeal, chapter by chapter.  But before I get to the spoilery stuff (watch for Vaylin below, she’ll tell you when the spoilers start), let’s take a look at some of the things that came along with it that requires no spoilage.

First up:  those folks who worked on the Light Vs. Dark event get their spoils now.  For my part, that included a speeder, some armor, a pet, and Master Ramos, the winning contender of Light Vs Dark, a Jedi companion who is considered a bit of a maverick among the Order.  (Or at least, she was when the Order was intact before Zakuul.)  As with Nico Okarr, players can use a device to get a hold of her before the Fallen Empire storyline.  Also worth noting is that the subscriber rewards for the last couple months have also come in:  a recon walker, and Shae Vizla, the Mandalorian; and just like Nico and Ramos, you’ll get a device with her.  Worth noting:  unlike Nico, Ramos can be fully customized with gear, like a regular companion, not like the ones gained via KotFE.  Shae, on the other hand, can not (although a bug is allowing it for now, but it won’t last).  Shae does get a few appearance options, hailing back to her “classic” look from the days of Shadow of Revan.  Or maybe from the trailers for the game prior to release-I haven’t really done a hard compare.

There are also game changes.  The classes took a revamp-I’ll probably go into this later on, but at least on my Smuggler, I’m irritated to lose my single melee attack, as well as my Dirty Kick (which have been set to Scoundrels Only).  The weak stun replacement doesn’t replace what was lost in any way, shape, or form.  That said, it didn’t really slow me down.  Other classes have undergone similar mutations.  The level cap raised, and at least this time we didn’t lose abilities (beyond the revamp, of course) that we already had.  Of course, since I’ve only really messed with my Smuggler so far, I could well be wrong on this.  And the specialization trees have again mutated, causing a reset of points.

Sometimes, I find this sort of thing really causes me headaches.

Another interesting update involves the advanced classes no longer being held off until level 10 (or the end of the starter worlds, whichever comes first), but rather, you start in those classes immediately.  I’ll possibly have more to comment on such if I run a full campaign again like I did with Sorshan and Anthrandos.  (And it will probably happen at some point.  My altoholism is well known to readers of this blog by now, I’d think.)

Commendations-er, make that “data crystals”-have also gone away, being cashed out for credits.  The big thing with gear purchases are now mods, as I understand it.  Again, I haven’t really noticed that much-I really should do a full leveling experience again to see how that impacts leveling.  Most of the rewards through KotET were inferior to what I’d managed to accumulate up to now.  All that grinding paid off!  That said:  better gear is available via a new level 70+ concept called Galactic Command.  Simply put, if you take out gold elites, or do any number of things like run dailies specified by the window, or flashpoints, or operations, or any of that-you gain Command Experience, which eventually gets you Command Crates, which have (presumably) raid level gear in them.  If you’re lucky, you should get at least a few from finishing KotET.  You get more of this experience from doing the group content, with the biggest batches coming from Operations.  Good thing I was never big on the raid-or-die philosophy; that means I don’t really need the uber gear.

If you’re looking for your old companions…keep waiting.  None of them are making a reappearance.  There are a couple new ones, but half of them is the aforementioned Dark Vs Light reward.

Okay-that’s the commentary on the game updates.  Ahead lies spoilers (although I’ll try to be light on them) for the grand finale of the current SWTOR storyline-after the break!

"I said NO PICTURES!!!!"

“I said NO PICTURES!!!!”

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SS: The Ending Was The Beginning

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“I am exhausted.  The events of the last day have been…wearing, I should say.  Our conflict against the Eternal Empire has reached a tipping point, but I’m not sure where things stand.

Arcann is defeated, but free.  I’ve been betrayed twice-neither time was really a surprise.  I’m Sith-at this point, I expect betrayal.  At the moment, there are few whose loyalties I consider solid, two of whom I’ve known for a long time, and one who I’ve met only recently.  All others?  More dubious.  I should start making plans to deal with betrayals as they happen, but I want to believe otherwise.  I think that is why I feel each one keenly.  The journey has been a strange one.  I’ve aligned with Republic officers, Jedi, Sith, Imperial officers, smugglers and bounty hunters.  I’ve gained the trust of many on both sides of the fence, and even some from Zakuul have begun to follow me.  Once, I felt that I could best rip out the rot in the Empire by ruling it.  But now, it seems that destiny has something greater in mind:  the Eternal Throne of Zakuul, from which I can rule the Eternal Empire, the Sith Empire, and the Galactic Republic.

It’s a breathtaking thought.  I can tear out the rot from the Empire, the corruption of the Republic, and the threat of Zakuul, in one fell stroke.

It won’t be that simple.  I know this.  But from the Throne, I can at least make a start.  From the Throne, I can at least try to change the galaxy for the better.  And the irony is, I will be cheered on by the Jedi, the Sith, the Republic, the Empire-even by Zakuul itself, for I cannot imagine it will thrive with Vaylin’s influence-or her ally.  Enemies become allies-but for how long?  The Empire and the Republic will react when the time comes for me to declare victory.  And it may be that my Alliance is held together by only the thin thread of the outside threat.

And there remains one factor I cannot account for, one factor that I fear.  Valkorion still exists, and remains tied to me in some way.  The time will come when he will attempt to destroy me as Zash once tried, and his power is vast.  I will only be able to resist him by using the Force as he boasted his Knights did:  knowing that it is more than just Light and Dark.  Even if it takes my death, I will not let Valkorion win.

The Force shall free me.”

-from Sorshan’s Story

And done!

I’ve wrapped up the Knights of the Fallen Empire arc in Star Wars: The Old Republic, in time for the very-soon-to-be-released Knights of the Eternal Throne.

Sorshan managed to get through the game with making only a single Dark Side choice, which happened during the KotFE back half-and it wasn’t exactly a significant one, honestly (hell, I can’t even recall the details now, only the selection), so between her and Anthrandos, I think I contributed reasonably well to the Light vs Dark event (Light still seems to be winning).  Her final choice which wasn’t a Light/Dark one was, of course, how to deal with Arcann and his rescuer; despite her talk about betrayal, she ultimately did let them go without a kill attempt.  Arcann’s nothing without his power-base, and that’s gone now.  (This may or may not prove to be an error-we’ll see!)

My run through the Jedi Knight and Sith Inquisitor storylines have been pretty fun, going through it all with these blog posts in mind, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I choose to do this sort of thing again with some of the other classes.  I’m an avowed altoholic, after all-I’m bound to do another run through at some point.  But for now, I’ve got holidays coming up, and if I have time before the expansion hits, I need to wrap up a few more characters in the list who still haven’t finished KotFE and are hanging on the last chapter or two.

Plus, of course, I still have my STO captain to get through.  I wanted to push through Sorshan’s story first, with the expansion literally a week away (if you’ve been subbed for the early access, anyway).  Plus, I’ve got a couple other irons in the fire that are beginning to call for attention; I expect to make comments about them both before the end of the year.

SS: On The Run

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“Five years.

You don’t really think about everything that can change in five years until you have spent those years effectively in stasis. You don’t think of it as a period of time where the galaxy can change so completely. But it has.

The good news: I finally killed the Sith Emperor, in a manner of speaking. He took a body again and I killed him. The bad news? He was incarnate in the form of an emperor of a neighboring area of space, hailed as the Immortal Emperor of the Eternal Empire of Zakuul. The worse news? His physical death seems to have bound his spirit to mine-so now I have a passenger in my mind who keeps offering me power, but whose plans are highly suspect.

Oh, and the last bit of news. His son stuffed me into a carbonite slab and went on a conquering spree where he more or less took over the Empire and the Republic.

Up to now, my allies have been few. Lana Beniko rescued me from my imprisonment and saved my life. Koth Vortena is the captain of my flagship (he doesn’t really agree with the “my flagship” part, but I don’t make an issue of it). And Senya Tirall is…well, she’s complicated. Plus, a droid that worked for Cipher Nine of the old Imperial Intelligence, and a droid that had associated with the Jedi Battlemaster who had supposedly killed the Sith Emperor (and is thus, in a way, responsible for everything that has happened since). There was also an HK unit, but…well, there isn’t now, although the shell may be salvageable.

I have spent weeks running from Zakuul since my freedom. I’ve attempted to learn more about this warship we found and how it can fight the Eternal Fleet. Only now, on a world which we hope a force can be forged to defeat Zakuul, have I had time to process everything that has happened.

Darth Marr is gone. It says something when the one Sith I was beginning to trust gets killed in a stand against the Emperor. I shouldn’t mock him; I, too, was defiant to the end. But his son, Arcann, saved me-so I could do his dirty work, allowing him to bring us to the place we stand now. Khem, Ashara, Andronikos-missing. Thanks to this alliance I seem to have taken control of, I’ve at least recovered my ship-and reconnected with Xalek and Talos. Other allies are forthcoming, I am told.

So now I control a Rebel Alliance composed of both Imperial and Republic forces-both willing to follow a former Dark Council member (the Council is, for all intents and purposes, gone, the Empire controlled by a self-proclaimed Empress) to war to free their worlds from the Eternal Empire. It seems not so long ago where I was a singificant factor in a similar alliance, against Revan-but now, I am in command. That Republic forces are willing to follow me-that speaks to their fear.

I am done running. From here on out, I will take the offensive. I will not rest until Zakuul is defeated. Only then can I hope to retake the Sith Empire and realize my dreams.

But even in all of this, I can see a chance. I may have been dreaming too small.”

-from Sorshan’s Story

Halfway through the Knights of the Fallen Empire for Star Wars: The Old Republic, and I’ve been cruising along with Sorshan to the end of the line!

What can I say that hasn’t already been said?  Fortunately, this particular Inquisitor won’t have the problems my other one did with Koth-quite the opposite, in fact.  There are benefits to doing only Light Side choices.

Obviously, I picked back up Talos and Xalek, as Inquisitor companions, and I also took a little time to pick up HK-55 again and Nico (who I’d used early on in Sorshan’s career, and it made sense to bring him back on board).  That’s about as far as I plan to go with her Alert companions; I’m challenging myself to wrap up Sorshan’s Story before Thanksgiving, and I plan to succeed!  That’ll put me in the right position to set her aside to begin Knights of the Eternal Throne after the Turkey Weekend.

Almost at the finish line-which may or may not include the HK solo mission; I don’t really need to do that to wrap things up in my mind, and if I pick Sorshan and Anthrandos back up afterward, I can always do it at that point.

Depending on the length of the KotET chapters, I may or may not put up individual posts for each.  A lot will depend on the length of the chapters.  I’m also still undecided as to if I’ll be looking at it from a particular character’s point of view, such as I’ve done with the Epic of Anthrandos and Sorshan’s Story, or if I’ll just stick with the facts.  I’m leaning towards the latter, though, because while I have no qualms about being semi-spoilery with the KotFE stuff, as it’s been out for a year now, the KotET stuff will be brand spanking new, and I’d hate to spoil things for people who haven’t done it yet-at least not right off the bat.  (By the time I pick up with Anthrandos/Sorshan again, though, all bets are off.)

SS: Learning to Fear Again

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“I have never in my life, not even in my darkest days as a slave, felt so powerless.  So weak.

I was a fool.  I thought I could overcome the power of the former Emperor, Vitiate.  I had done so with every other Sith I’ve fought-from Zash to Thanaton to Arkous.  I felt that if I could find a way to take his throne, I could find a way for the Empire to change.  Vitiate doesn’t even want the Empire anymore-he said that it had “failed”.  All he wants is to kill…everything.

And on Ziost, he did.

I can’t imagine what it was like on the surface.  I saw the wave of devastation sweep over the entire planet from orbit.  I felt the passing of so many lives all at once through the Force.  And when I returned to the planet after the…event…I saw what was left behind.  Silence.  I’ve never experienced such silence.  I’m told there may still be some monolith creatures there, but I have not seen them.  I couldn’t bear to go looking.

Another betrayal, too-but not by a fellow Sith, but a positioned agent of the Republic right under Minister Beniko’s nose.  She wanted to kill him immediately.  I let him go.  I’m still not sure why.  Maybe because, in the face of Vitiate’s threat, one man’s life meant little.  He wrote to me afterward, saying he was going to free as many slaves as he could on Ziost.  I find myself oddly hoping that he got off planet before the event.  But I doubt it.  I doubt it.

And for the first time, I looked upon a Jedi with pity.  The Sixth Line leader was broken before me, having been cleansed of the influence of Vitiate, but broken.  Lana wanted to user he as an experiment; Theron-and damn him for starting this entire mess-wanted to take her to Tython to heal.  I let them go.  Again, one life weighed against all of this?  And I do not believe we would learn anything of value in the process; Vitiate’s power is of the Dark Side, and I have felt nothing like it in my life.

And Vitiate has become…interested in me.  “Life is more interesting with you in it,” he said.  He’s saving me for last.  He wanted me to know that.  He wanted me to be filled with terror at the thought.  It worked-I am terrified.  Terrified that he’ll succeed.  Terrified that I will fail.

But a Sith draws power from fear.  I was afraid so many times in my life, from my days as a slave to this day.  I am afraid.  But I will take strength from it.  I embrace it.

A Sith kills what she fears.”

-from Sorshan’s Story

It shouldn’t be a shock that I knocked Ziost down so quickly after Yavin in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  The missions are not long or complicated, and it was really just a prelude to what was coming next (although the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion sure wasn’t what was expected).  It’s a last hurrah for fighting beside the Inquisitor companions, at least until Chapter Nine of the expansion, where some of them can be brought back.  (Of course, none of them are storyline companions; Talos and Xalek return via Alerts, while the other three are missing-although you can get a replacement Dashade….)  I ended the way the character began-with Khem Val at her side.  No disapprovals from Light Side choices here:  Khem’s probably figured that the character isn’t going to change after all this time.  (I know, the real reason is that the devs didn’t program it in.)

I indulged myself on this run through one Ziost, though, doing all the side missions I could find, pre-extinction event.  I netted 20 of the local currency, which combined with all the rest I’ve gained over time will allow me to purchase that mount available at that world’s vendor-it’s just a question of which character will get it.  Still considering.  I might wait until I roll a new character (because if there’s one thing one can be sure of as an altoholic, it’s that there will always be another alt).

That’s going to have to wait, though.  Coming up is the grand finale of my Light vs. Dark run-the expansion missions.  I believe I should be able to wrap things up in time for the release of Knights of the Eternal Throne, which will allow me to concentrate on all of my primary characters again.  Nothing like perfect timing, right?

Five Years at WordPress!

As hard to believe as it may seem, five years ago on this date saw my first post on WordPress.  I’d been doing the blog thing for years prior to that (as can be seen in the posts now residing in “The Old Blog” category), but due to some dissatisfaction with GuildPortal’s blog site at the time and a realization that I was transitioning off of using GP anyway due to problems at that site-and a desire to go with software that was pretty much dedicated to blogging-I decided to head on over to WordPress and brought the Faces with me.

So it’s a happy fifth anniversary for this site!

Five years ago, my first post here spoke of the SOE developers having managed to flub their transition of DC Universe Online to a freeium model.  Since DCUO is still out there, it seems they’ve managed to hang onto its audience despite that, eh?  I was at the time in the closed beta for Star Wars: The Old Republic (but since I was under NDA, I couldn’t actually say anything about it for another week and a half).  At the same time, Star Wars Galaxies was approaching its sunset, although I was already gone after spending 45 days back due to SOE’s little problem with account security.  City of Heroes was still going strong, having recently undergone its own freemium transition (and with no hints of the horror to come in the next year).  And Star Trek Online was literally days away from completing its freemium transition.  (I’m seeing a pattern here.)

The games I’ve spent time in have remained remarkably stable in that time.  While I’d spent some time back in EVE Online and World of Warcraft when they had free return day promotions, I mostly stuck with a core set of games.  City of Heroes held the top spot then, and Star Trek Online was a strong secondary.  SWTOR hit, and I started spending time in that game (gee, I guess we can safely retire the TORtanic meme; a five year run is a pretty damned good run, with no indications that it’s going away soon).  CoH passed on, and I added CO to the rotation, although admittedly it was at the bottom of the list.  And that’s pretty much the way it’s been for most of my WordPress run.

That isn’t to say that the future is set.  Who knows what may happen in the next five years?  We could see one of the spiritual successors of CoH finally rise, or perhaps the Repopulation might finally drag itself out of the hole it found itself in.  Or maybe another MMO will get the attention.  Or maybe not.  Is it beyond the realm of possibility that at least one of my current games might still be around?

Let’s see what the next five has in store, then, shall we?

SS: A Victory Which Is Defeat

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“This did not feel like a victory.

Certainly, Revan is dead-again-and the threat that his followers represented is all but gone with his passing.  His final words heartened me, however, assuring me that I am following the right path-that my choices have been the right ones, that I do not have to become like Thanaton and Zash.

And of course, for perhaps the first time in my memory, the Republic and the Sith Empire pulled away from the field of battle without having traded fire.  More personally, I have fought beside the Grand Master of the Jedi Order as an ally-or maybe it would be more true to say that she fought beside me.  We are enemies-we are still at war-but I saw in her something different than I had seen from the other Jedi I have encountered, save for Ashara, who is an exception in many ways.  I saw compassion.  When we met on Rishi, I was not judged as some kind of abomination upon first sight.  Her opinion…it actually matters to me.

I would never have believed that of a Jedi.

So this seems like it should have been a tremendous victory-a victory for both sides of the galactic conflict.  But the truth of Revan’s goals revealed a greater danger:  he wished to reincarnate the Emperor, so he could somehow kill him once and for all.  Instead, all he did was put in the right conditions for the Emperor to reincarnate himself-albeit without a physical body.  Darth Marr has indicated that his stated goal is to destroy all life in the galaxy, and this was confirmed by Master Shan.  In other words, he’s gone rogue against his own Empire.  That, at least, is one less problem to worry about; if he had taken control of the Empire once more, it would interfere with my own plans for the Empire-plans I’m coming to believe that Darth Marr might support, if presented to him properly.  I’m beginning to almost believe that I might be able to actually trust him.  I should know better-Sith betrayal is a truth-but it feels right.

But having the Emperor-well, former Emperor, now-still loose will cost me a number of sleepless nights.”

-from Sorshan’s Story

Sorshan’s put Yavin IV behind her now, and it’s looking possible that I might get her to the end of the line before Knights of the Eternal Throne lands in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  The Ziost missions are fairly short-I can probably get that slammed out in a single night potentially-and after that comes the Knights of the Fallen Empire missions.  It’d be nice to get that out of the way before the expansion, when I’d have to effectively delay her for my primary characters.

I’m also within spitting distance of finally maxing out my Yavin IV reputation.  I could probably try to rush it, but there are rep-point limits per week that I’m bumping up against, and the limit will hit me just short of finishing.  If I can find some time in there, I’ll probably have my Smuggler run through the dailies a couple of times, and that should do it.

Over the years, I’ve slowly been maxing some of the reputations-not so much because I actually get much out of it, but it was something to do.  Besides, some of the rep vendors had some interesting things, like dye schematics that I can actually see myself using on some outfits, and my main Trooper wears armor gained from Yavin’s vendor (I may or may not be using the helmet for that set-I can’t recall offhand).  There are a lot of reputation trees out there, though, and some of them I can’t get to because they are tied to Cartel Packs, which I’m sure not buying for the sole purpose of increasing the rep.  But I’ve managed to max out Voss, Makeb, Czerka, Rishi, and Oricon, at least.  I’ve made progress on others, and at some point I may pick back up and try to finish some of those-but some of those are going to be real long term projects, since they’re tied to the Bounty Hunter event, the Rakghoul event, and the Gree event.

Also worth noting that these grinds (and yes, they are grinds, even if you enjoy doing them) don’t include the non-reputation ones.  There are vendors at Fleet that take certain drops that are only acquired from the Shadow of Revan prelude missions; at Ziost, there’s a vendor that only takes a currency that is awarded from doing Ziost dailies.  In other words, it’s a special currency grind instead of a reputation grind, which in many ways makes it worse because you aren’t unlocking the ability to purchase from the vendors-you’re actually making the purchase with the currencies.  Fortunately, those currencies are bind-to-legacy, so any of your characters on that server can use them, but if you’ve got a hankering to equip, say, all the companions on a character with that gear, you’re in for a long, rough time.  Fortunately, that’s not the case for me, but there’s a principle here.

So, speaking of Ziost, that’s the next stop on the tour-it’s tough being a Light-Side Sith on a world that’s being saturated with the Dark Side.  (Light Side still winning the event so far, coming down the stretch.)

AoY: Delta Blues

So this is the ship that caused all those problems in the Delta Quadrant....

So this is the ship that caused all those problems in the Delta Quadrant….

Personal Log, Stardate 94437.86

I would’ve thought that when the Federation started to send ships to the Delta Quadrant, the primary goal here would be to explore.  I mean, only one Starfleet ship has ever spent any time in the Quadrant, and it was mostly a straight-line path back to Federation space.  So obviously, you’d think we’d send ships to expand the map a bit; do the whole Cochrane Credo of “explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations” and all that.

But no, turns out, we’re cleaning up the mess the U.S.S. Voyager left behind.

That’s probably a little unfair.  We have some friends in that space, thanks to then-Captain Janeway.  The Talaxians are a nice a species as one could hope to meet; the Ocampa are decent enough folks; I’m a little leery about the Borg Cooperative, as you would think a liberated Borg would do anything to STOP being a part of a collective, but what do I know?  The Benthans are a decent bunch, even if they’re a bit too narrow in their law-and-order way.

On the other hand:  the Voth still dislike us when they deign to even recognize us.  There are Automated Personnel Units that have gone sentient and have “fond” memories of how Voyager’s engineer found a way to let them reproduce (so to speak).  The Turei are hacked off because Voyager screwed around with their proprietary “Underspace”.  Oh, and because they woke up the Vaadwaur.  Who, in spite of Voyager logs, are awake in large numbers now, and using tech that allows them to blow up Borg and Voth with impunity.

Oh, and thanks to my ship and crew’s work here, I’ve personally been made a priority target by the Vaadwaur.  You can’t expect good things from a group calling itself the Vaadwaur Supremacy.  They’re wiping out everyone in their path-including another priority target, the Kobali species.  The situation on Kobali Prime is stable for the moment, but I don’t expect the Vaadwaur to stop anytime soon.

So instead of exploration, we’re in another running conflict with yet another species.  It never stops.

End Log.

That's a lot of stasis tubes.  I can't imagine why the Vaadwaur would have a problem with that.

That’s a lot of stasis tubes. I can’t imagine why the Vaadwaur would have a problem with that.

I had planned to hold off on a post on the Delta Rising arc in Star Trek Online until I’d finished it, but I’d forgotten how much of a slog it was, so since I’m sort of between a third and halfway through, I figured I’d at least put an update up on the ongoing adventure here.

When the Delta Rising expansion landed, there were two big deals going on.  The first was that it introduced specializations along with a new level cap of 60.  So it was effectively 10 new levels to work on.  The second was that it was damned hard to go through the whole arc because the arc was level-gated, and the xp gains from the episodes weren’t anywhere near what you needed to do the next one.  Lots of grinding was needed-I’m sure that PWE/Cryptic were hoping like crazy that people would purchase xp-boosters, but they didn’t really know their player-base:  instead, they looked for the most efficient ways to grind for xp.  Over time, that became less relevant; new characters could get a pretty good leg up on things by maximizing xp gain prior to doing Delta Rising, and eventually the level-gates were changed to lower numbers.  But the impact of all this was that sprinkled in with the episodic content were “patrol missions”.

That is where the slog is.  The Vaadwaur ships hit hard, and have sacks of shields and hull points, so fighting them is a pain in the behind.  This is, strangely, where my current ship, the Galaxy variant, has really shined.  It’s got a tough hull, pretty decent shielding, and can take a hard hit.  I haven’t blown up nearly as much as I did when I had first done these episodes with other ships.  Apparently, the Galaxy class is a tough little ship when it has to be.  That said, I’ve also got max Temporal reputation (I’m not sure if I’d mentioned that in the last few posts on the subject), working on Delta reputation (hey, I’m getting the marks, might as well use them), and starting up tier 2 in Temporal specialization.  Or maybe the Vaadwaur got nerfed-I can’t rule that out.

It’s still a royal pain, and I haven’t hit the really nasty encounters yet.

The ground game is much the same; the introduction to the Vaadwaur on the ground has gone better than usual-I often end up faceplanted at least three or four times on that mission in the climactic fight, but I was upright the entire time this time.  I’m definitely inclined to believe nerfing has happened here.  My ground gear isn’t as up to spec as my space gear, usually, and I didn’t bother trying to get any of the equipment sets available from my Temporal rep.

Speaking of the ground game, and STO in general, the devs recently slapped a patch that changed up how kits work, which is that they now just offer passive bonuses (but can be upgraded like other equipment now), and the modules are fitted directly to the character now.  Of course, when the patch landed, not everyone’s old kits made the transition in what you’d call a healthy manner-kit modules went into the twilight zone, until they showed up again after some map transitions.  That was a royal pain.

The other royal pain was the graphics “upgrade”, which beat the living crap out of my settings, since they apparently couldn’t be bothered to have it preserve the settings prior to the upgrade.  I still don’t think I’ve gotten my settings fixed right, because they don’t seem as good as it had before.  Performance is way better, but that’s because I’m using lower settings than I was-and I was doing okay with the higher settings.  I’m not happy with how PWE/Cryptic handled this, and this is not the first time this has happened.  If one needs a reason why I’m continually reluctant to open up my wallet and purchase Zen, it’s stunts like this.

The expedition to the Delta Quadrant continues….

SS: A Preview of Things To Come

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“I believe it to be ironic that I, a Sith, have dragged something into the light.

That was overly dramatic, but I am at the crux-along with Theron and Lana-of an unprecedented alliance:  an alliance between Empire and Republic, Jedi and Sith, against Revan and his forces.  Darth Marr and Master Shan have agreed to a truce, of sorts, brokered by those of us who saw the Revanite threat and acted to expose it.  I don’t expect it to go smoothly, of course.  But nobody likes being manipulated-I know this as well as any.

Rishi was the world upon which this truce was built.  Rishi was where Revan hoped to draw the great forces to expend themselves against each other and then come in with his own fleet, conquering all.  It was a novice move-the Republic and the Empire were hardly going to be overthrown by that plan.  What’s another Dark Council member lost to death, after all-we’ve killed and replaced over half of the Council over the last few years.  And the Jedi?  They do not run the Republic.  Revan’s plan was flawed from the start.

But nobody likes being manipulated.

For my part, my trip to Rishi was at least productive.  Moff Pyron alerted me to the obsolescence of the Silencer weapons, which have served their purpose, and to one of Thanaton’s old plots in the form of a Sith researching the Rishi Maze-and stumbling upon the prospect of a way for me-and only me, thanks to the Mother Machine and the ghosts-to gain unlimited life.  Talos said it true, though; I’ve seen where the lust for forever leads.  The Emperor had pulled it off, and Zash had gone through lengths to extend her life.  They focused on that to the exclusion of everything.  I won’t do that-I will not be a slave to fear.  I will master it and make it serve me.  The Empire needs me more than I need this extended lifespan-and it needs Sith working on ways to preserve and expand the Empire, not dig up secrets of immortality with hidden prices behind them.

On a more personal note, I took a great deal of pleasure in dismantling the Nova Blades’ operation on Rishi-particularly their slave camps.  Seems they took people who disagreed with them and made them slaves to mine ore for them.  For some reason, I find slavers to be repulsive and worth eliminating.  I usually can’t get away with that as a Sith-that will change, someday-but this one time, I was able to indulge and free the slaves on Rishi-and take apart the Blades at the same time.

I’ll do the same for the Empire’s slaves, someday.  My influence grows daily, and this alliance may open new doors.  I will have to consider carefully.  But for now, we have to stop Revan from restoring the Emperor back to life-I know better than any how dangerous a Sith’s ghost can be, and my own plans do not need a reborn Emperor as a complication.”

-from Sorshan’s Story

The first and largest part of the Shadow of Revan has been completed in Star Wars: The Old Republic for Sorshan.  She’s managed to keep doing the Light-Side choices, and still manage to be somewhat more ruthless than your average Light-Sider.  Being a Sith does color one’s perspective.

When one looks at Revan’s grand plan on Rishi, one can’t help but come to the same conclusions that Sorshan has-that Revan’s grand scheme here didn’t quite work out.  Sure, he’d hurt the fleets of the major powers of the galaxy, but his fleet wasn’t exactly huge, and even with traitors on both camps, the final effect of all of this would be to get the attention of both Empire and Republic.  The signal jammer would’ve hampered word getting out about this trick, in theory, but to think that nobody would escape the trap is silly.  There were even survivors from the big trap looming ahead with the opening of Knights of the Fallen Empire, and there were a lot more ships involved on the other side in that fight.

So what exactly was Revan trying to accomplish on Rishi?  One could make the argument that his thoughts were flawed-after all, as shown later on Yavin, he’s not quite the man he used to be.  He’s got the charisma, sure, but not the foresight.  Or maybe his overconfidence-like another prominent Sith, a few millennia down the pike-is his weakness.  Or maybe he was just okay with just inflicting damage and not caring about what was going to happen next-which is remarkably similar to what’s going to happen on Yavin shortly.

Since I’m talking about “things to come”, I’m amused and annoyed about the announcement that crystals are going away for gear, converted into credits, just as the old commendations had been converted into crystals.  This new system they’re talking about-which I’ll probably get into more when Knights of the Eternal Throne is released-doesn’t sound great to me; but I’m willing to withhold judgment until I actually play it.  The Uprisings sound interesting-basically Flashpoints without the story attached, but hey-who plays FPs for the story, anyway?  (I kid, folks-I’m one of them!)  We’re about a month away from early access to the new expansion, and that leaves plenty of time to speculate.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll even have Sorshan’s Story done by then!

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

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“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!