DO: Hearts of the Hero

Assault on an Odyssey-class bridge? Not exactly…

Entry Twenty-Six.

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

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

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

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

So I just have to act like a Klingon.

I have got to find a way out of this.

Signing off.

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

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

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

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

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

Next up:  a return to Klingon-specific episodes!

Advertisements

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

I never liked going to funerals….

Entry Twenty-Two.

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

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

*Cough*

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

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

Signing off.

I love invading Federation ships, though.

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

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

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

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

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

DO: Imperial March

I’m sure my aim would’ve been better if I wasn’t shooting in the middle of a snowstorm….

Entry Seventeen.

Things had been going just fine, or at least as fine as I could expect aboard the IKS Dravoni.  I managed to climb over the bodies to become the engineering chief, and third in command of the ship; the second was happy to have someone with no further ambitions below her in the chain of command, and I had no desire to deal with the captain beyond the usual “we need more power” demands.  And since the second didn’t want someone more ambitious challenging her, she was happy to help shield me from attacks from below me.  All in all, it was about as tolerable as one could ask for aboard a Klingon bird-of-prey.

Then that idiot captain decided to deal with the Federation-specifically, a supposed expert spy-and the second challenged the captain.  To nobody’s shock, he killed her.  Which meant it fell to me to deal with the captain.  And as a result, I’ve not only gained command of this ship-something I was trying to avoid!-but also came to the personal attention of Chancellor J’mpok!  Which means, naturally, that the eyes of Imperial Intelligence are on me (and I’m sure they are reading this entry.  Drop dead).  So any hopes of an escape are pretty much dead; I might’ve been able to eventually slip away at a reasonable port-of-call on some border planet, but as a commander of a starship, I’m more likely to be hunted down and given what the Klingons call a “dishonorable death”.

Yes, Analyst-of-II-Reading-This-Log; I’m coming right out and admitting I’d jump ship if I could.  Since I can’t, I won’t.

Naturally, my first assignment was to take the Federation spy-I later learned his name was Franklin Drake-to the prison at the First City.  Which, from the looks of things, was exactly what he wanted-he had his own little spy cell there, under the noses of the Great Houses, and got away with it!  When it comes to espionage, the Klingons are like infants.  I tracked him to Rura Penthe, and lost him there-only to get entangled in an even worse scenario than captaining this ship:  I’ve been sucked into Klingon politics!  I am to meet with Lady Sirella of the House of Martok in the morning to see if she will listen to the information I have acquired involving illegal supplies being sent to the Tal Shiar.

This can’t get much worse, can it?

Signing off.

So this is supposed to be some Klingon legend? I’m not impressed.

And so the Ordeal begins for Dathiro, an Orion KDF captain in a position he’d rather swallow broken glass than be in.  And it’s begun through the Klingon tutorial mission, which is very much steeped in the classic tradition of Klingon Promotion, and the first episodic arc, simply entitled “Empire”.  The arc is, honestly, not much of an arc; it’s more of the first portion of an arc.  But it’s probably being treated as a standalone because the following missions predate the Klingon’s full leveling experience.  Nevertheless, it does introduce some important elements, such as the son of the arguably most famous Klingon in Star Trek, as well as an interaction with said Klingon; a visit to a famous prison planet; and of course, the opportunity to blow up Starfleet and Romulan vessels.  Of course, there’s a kind of odd bit where the Romulan Republic makes its first appearance (from the Klingon POV), and they have already settled New Romulus; I’m not sure how that fits in the STO timeline, but I will leave it to more dedicated minds than mine to figure that out.

I’ve tentatively decided that most of the ships he’ll be flying will be the raiders, aka Birds-of-Prey.  It seems appropriate for a former Orion pirate (let’s face it-if you couldn’t read between the lines of the little vignettes I put in these posts, then I haven’t been doing my job right), and the raider playstyle isn’t one I’ve done much of.  There are two big details about these ships, and they go together like peanut butter and chocolate.  First, the use of the battle-cloak.  Unlike most Klingon ships, and like virtually all Romulan ships, the Birds can cloak in the middle of a fight.  It’s not an instantaneous thing, though, which means you could wind up eating a torpedo…with no shields.  And unlike the late, lamented General Chang, my ship can’t fire when cloaked.  Which brings us to the second feature:  raiders do extra damage when attacking the rear arc of a starship.  In theory, you’d think that this would work out just great for a cloaked ship; go in invisibly to the rear arc of a ship, and fill it full of disruptor bolts.  Unfortunately, if a ship isn’t aware of where you are, they tend to circle a lot-and it’s awfully hard to get behind them to start tearing them up as you decloak.  Did I mention you also get a damage bonus for a couple of seconds after decloaking?  I can’t prove that the enemy ships can’t track my ship, either-they may be circling solely because I’m trying to circle around them….

Of course, my opinion may be colored by the fact that I’m still effectively in the beginner ship, with low level gear, with limited bridge officer slots.  That’s another big deal for the Birds; all the bridge officer slots are universal slots, which is a mild misnomer.  Once, it meant you could put any bridge officer in those slots.  With the advent of boff specializations, though (such as piloting, intelligence, etc), they aren’t as universal as it sounds-you can’t use the specialization abilities in these slots.  Like it or not, you can only use specialization abilities on starships that specifically are designed to use specialization abilities (most of which are-SHOCKER-Zen purchases).

Despite the synergy with my captain, I probably will not be flying any of the Orion-specific starships.  I wouldn’t want the Ordeal to be too comfortable for Dathiro….

Most of the bridge crew are still Klingons, but thanks to the storyline, I have a Gorn science officer, and thanks to my veteran status, I have an android tactical officer; I held off on claiming my Borg engineering officer, because Borg or not, she’d still be Klingon.  I’ll think about it as I go along; a lot will depend on the officers I pick up during the leveling experience.

I should probably comment more on the story.  Despite the odd nature of the arc mentioned above, it’s still a fairly entertaining set of missions.  There is a big issue I have with them, though:  there is a fair distance to travel between some of those episodes, and as mentioned above, you’re flying a ship that’s got low level gear…which means you have a long chunk of flying time ahead of you.  It doesn’t particularly bother me all that much-in my SWG days, I had no issue using a swoop bike going from Coronet City to the player city of Horizon far to the southeast, even when we finally got a shuttleport in.  I want to say that this is a result of the great remapping when the game chucked all the sector blocks out the window and just use three major maps:  Alpha, Beta, and Delta Quadrants.  Some systems didn’t wind up as close to one another as they used to be.  Then again, it could be I’m using rose-colored glasses on this one; the Omega Leonis sector block where the Klingons spent time was three sectors long, and Qo’noS was on the border of the left and center sectors, and early missions had you cruising to the far right sector.

So, leaving out the travel details, the episodes are entertaining.  The biggest issue I have with them-and this extends to virtually every Klingon POV episode-is the presumption that your character is a Klingon.  Unlike the Federation, which has Starfleet as the melting pot where you share the same basic ideals and command structure, no matter your species, the Empire is more along the lines of chunky stew.  I have trouble seeing Gorn, Orions, and the rest having gone to Klingon Academy to learn how to gutturally growl at one’s crew (even though the Klingon Academy DOES exist in the game, so maybe I’m doing the Empire a disservice here!)  Would all the captains of the Klingon Defense Forces adopt the Klingon codes of honor (or at least pay it lip service)?  Maybe they would-they ARE still flying (mostly) Klingon starships.

I’ll close up on a semi-related note:  the anniversary events for the Next Generation has arrived, and there are a few goodies to claim.  Firstly, on the Promotions tab of the C-Store, you can claim a Class-7 shuttlecraft (which is good for only Starfleeters) and **GASP** the long awaited arrival of the Skant uniform!  This will even have a version for Klingons, and-to celebrate the coming of the Miracle Worker specialization in the next Season, Scottish kilts!  These are all apparently account unlocks, so you’re safe from having to go through every character.  However, what is not an account unlock (unless things changed when I wasn’t looking) is a special mission at either Academy in the holodeck areas with a hologram of Worf, which will net you a Klingon sash like Worf’s, and for some species, the Worf hairstyle.  So if you’ve got someone who wants to emulate the most famous Klingon in history, better get in game and run that mission, because it may be years before this returns (if ever).  Also to help celebrate the anniversary (although it has been out for a bit now) is the Galaxy-class interior.  However, the downside on this one is a hefty price tag:  2000 Zen.  That’s asking a bit much, even if it includes the bridge as well as interior sections.  It’d be one thing if we had missions that had people explore their own bridges and ships, but as this is solely a vanity item…well, it’s a damned pricey vanity item.  For comparison:  the Belfast interior (aka the Defiant’s interior) came with two more uniforms, three doffs, a shuttle, two weapons, and a pet…for only 250 more zen.  The TOS interior came with three uniforms, a shuttle, a pet, and a weapon for 2000 zen.  Compared to those two roughly similarly priced items…well, the Galaxy comes up a galaxy short, if you ask me.  (There was one more, for the Intrepid-class; that was a lot more pricey at 5000 zen, but it included three starships along with two interiors; one of those ships at least was a T6, which usually comes in at 3000 zen.  I’m not sure if this bundle is still being offered offhand, though.)

New episode comes out next week, so Dathiro may take a short pause while I run through that-and I will have things to say about the upcoming Season as a whole at that time!

DO: Dathiro’s Ordeal Begins

This is not how he figured his career would go at this point in his life.

Entry One.

So I have to keep a personal “Record of Battle”, do I?  I hate Klingons.  Fine.  Let’s take it from the beginning.

I am Dathiro of Nava, from the planet Rigel VIII, former bhar of the freighter Golden Opportunity.  I say “former” because my ship had the bad luck to be impounded by the Klingon Defense Forces, who, in an act far more piratical than any I have been accused of performing, disabled our ship, and conscripted the useful members of our crew.  The rest they simply spaced.  I mourn the loss of the ship more than the ones cast into the void; I’d expected to be cutting them off anyway, and this way I didn’t have to pay them.  But of course, now I’m in no position to profit from that.

All of this, of course, was considered perfectly legal as per the treaty signed by the “Empress” Melani D’ian (may grishnar cats dine on her liver!) with the Klingon Empire:  any and all Orion trade vessels may be considered acceptable sources for resupplying the crew of the KDF.  The whole point of serving on the Opportunity was to avoid getting sucked into their wars!  Fortunately, I am a skilled technician, and better than most of these Klingon imbeciles operating the engine room.  I imagine that I might have to make examples out of some of them; with the work I’ve seen thus far, I should have ample grounds to kill them off and take their position.  I’ll probably be running the place before too long.

So here I sit, recording an idiotic record where I’m simply counting time before I wind up getting killed by a Klingon who’s better lucky than good, or better yet, blown up with the rest of the ship by one of the Empire’s many enemies.  So, in case Imperial Intelligence is snooping, I’d just like to say:  Thanks.  That’s sarcasm, by the way.

Signing off.  Good riddance.

Looks like it’s time for me to once more create a new character for Star Trek Online, and this time, I’ll be looking at things from the Klingon point of view-or more accurately, one of the aligned species with the Klingons.  In STO lore, the Klingons have managed to put together a coalition of species to fight against the Federation; one of those species is the Orions, famously known for their green skin.  Being a guy who likes to play against stereotype, though, I chose not to make an Orion female (which I’m sure the KDF is littered with as captains), but instead an Orion male.  I went with a white/dark reddish look for his Bortasqu’ inspired uniform, with a bit of other outfit parts.  My goal is for my non-Klingon characters to have a distinctly mercenary-ish look, while the Klingons keep their more traditionally Klingon look.  Having plenty of uniform slots, you’d think I could work up multiple looks for this character, but as I’ve pointed out before, the vast majority of outfits on the C-Store are Starfleet-only.  Annoyingly, the most likely location to find other, more unique outfits is the Lobi store…and of course, Lobi comes from opening lockboxes.  Lots and lots of lockboxes.  I don’t really do that in STO-the price of keys on the exchange are significantly higher than I’m willing to dish out; and there’s still enough stuff on the C-Store that I’m willing to horde Zen in anticipation of purchasing stuff there for account unlocks.  Oh, and some outfits can be unlocks as armors from various Reputations, but since that really doesn’t come into play until high levels, that’s really sort of useless.  (Additional note:  as I was drafting this post up, STO released new uniforms from the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery show.  Also Starfleet only.  People wonder why KDF and Romulan players feel like second class citizens sometimes….)

Obviously, I had to make some early determinations about the character.  I vowed to myself up and down to not make yet another tactical captain, and wound up making him an engineering captain.  I’m not sure what route he’ll go as far as that’s concerned:  I’m a big fan of the fabrication units like turrets, portable shields, and medical generators, but it’s BECAUSE I’m such a fan of that stuff that I’d like to avoid it.  I haven’t made up my mind as to what specialization he’ll get when he reaches the lofty heights of level 50+, but I have lots of time for that.  Likewise, I haven’t decided what starships I will have him focus on, except that I have one specific one in mind for the “final” ship he’ll be on (followers of this blog may be able to guess at this one).  I do have a long term goal of having his primary bridge crew eventually having absolutely no Klingons on it, but that will depend a lot on the quality of the officers I get.

While a great deal of the storyline for the Klingons is redundant with the storyline for the Federation-particularly once one gets to the point of dealing with Cardassia-I do have a plan that will both make this less repetitive, and more interesting.  More on that as I get there.  But it’s safe to say that the early arcs are pretty Klingon specific, and I’ll be treating them pretty similar to the way I deal with my Agents of Yesterday run with Rick Masters:  posts will come with each arc, unless the arc is huge (and I don’t think the KDF arcs qualify as huge) and needs to be split into two.

Why did I decide to run another STO-centric run instead of starting, say, a new Star Wars: The Old Republic one?  Well, I’m not ruling out doing that sort of thing while this one is going on, but I’m still at work in getting my existing characters through the Eternal Throne expansion (my Sith Warrior is about to crash a party), and I’d been slacking off hard on that.  Plus, I still want to wrap up my Dark vs Light characters through the arc as well.  So not too much time to start up a new character there, but who knows?  I may manage to get done sooner than expected.  I’m sure it’d go faster if I were the type to just spacebar/bypass all the dialogue, but heck, that’s half the fun in SWTOR.

So there’s likely to be a lot of STO oriented posts incoming, including my thoughts on the new season that will be landing in a few weeks.

WF: To All Things, An Ending

Synopsis:  FINAL ISSUE!  Willforge discovers that his nemesis, Mindhunter, is plotting to use the VIPER Draysha formula for his own ends.  Can Willforge stop Mindhunter once and for all?  Join Willforge on his final adventure!

At last, the character of Willforge has hit level 40 in Champions Online, and thus it’s time to close the book on him.  Let’s take a look back on the things I was able to accomplish, the things I missed, and final thoughts.

I was able to put the character through a pretty good leveling experience.  Thanks to the XP Alerts, I never really felt any real issue with leveling-at least when I was able to dedicate some time to it.  I was able to go through story arcs through every major zone in the game, including the it-gets-a-bad-rap Lemuria zone.  Also got to do the Vibora Bay Apocalypse arc, which I’d only done with one other character in the past, and although I didn’t complete the post-Apocalyptic Vibora Bay missions, I did do more than enough to get the levels to reach 40, which was the primary goal here.

I got to see the power-and the limitations-of the Telepathy powerset; as I hit the stretch from 30 to 40, I was able to hold my own against most opponents, and a fair chunk of groups of opponents.  It wasn’t perfect, and there were times I got myself into serious trouble with too many enemies at once, but for the most part, the character survivability went way up from where it had begun.  The character didn’t have raw damage on his side, nor did he have high resistance to damage, but he did manage to incapacitate opponents long enough so that he could survive and defeat them.  Usually.

Unfortunately, there were instances where it just wasn’t enough.  I had hoped to get to the final Nemesis mission, “Deathray Demolition”, but one of the two-parter missions more or less put that to a standstill with a giant robot with a large sack of health, a large capacity for damage, and a knockback that made most of Willforge’s powers almost impossible to get going.  So when I hit 40, I decided that I’d just hang it up there and just let the mission sit in his journal.  Probably for the best, though-because the Deathray Demolition probably would’ve been even worse, given that he’d have to deal with not just one, but three versions of his Nemesis, and a swarm of the minions; even with the assistance you can get in that mission from a pair of aggro-magnets (except, naturally, when you need them to be), it would’ve been a rough go.

Another regret was Adventure Packs.  I’ve done the Serpent’s Lantern pack on my own in the past with other characters, but Willforge wasn’t really geared up to handle that, so that got put aside.  Likewise, I didn’t bother with the Demonflame pack, which I’ve never managed to complete with any characters.  Since I wasn’t doing those, I never went to do Resistance, either, which is a shame because one of the missions there features the use of a very large robot stomping around-I’m always a fan of that kind of thing.  I could have done the comic series arcs, but decided against it-my leveling path was working well enough that I didn’t feel a need to go in that direction.  Finally, there is a story arc that involves Mechanon which would’ve been on my list except for the fact that the final mission is a grouped mission (unless the character is a seriously well geared and leveled one, and…well, Willforge isn’t).  Also, it occurs to me there’s another similar sort of arc called Fatal Error that’s sort of cyberspace oriented, but again, that arc closes out in grouped content that I’m not entirely sure is available at the present time.  And again, level of difficulty solo in the other missions there gets in the way.

Despite the things that were missed, and the challenges that were not overcome, I enjoyed running this character through Champions Online, and will undoubtedly do so again at some point in the future with another character-perhaps one who will be a bit more geared towards damage or toughness than Willforge was.  But for now, Champions Online is going to get set to the side now while I focus on my other games.  I think my next bit of focus is going to be getting the rest of my remaining Star Wars: The Old Republic characters through the Knights of the Eternal Throne story (including Anthrandos and Sorshan; they will get their conclusions!), before kicking off a new focus character for Star Trek Online.  (This character is the one I put myself through many days of Risa this summer for.)

That said, I won’t ignore CO completely; now that Willforge is out of focus, I will probably start putting up Cast List entries for some of my other CO characters, who may be chronicled elsewhere as far as their fictional stories, but haven’t been covered anywhere as to how I decided to build them.  Watch for them!

WF: Mayor SMASH!!!!

Synopsis:  After a harrowing experience in Vibora Bay, you would think that Willforge would get a break to recuperate.  But his nemesis Mindhunter has other plans in mind.  When the archvillain clones the mayor of Millennium City, Willforge must fight across two nations to keep Mindhunter from replacing the real mayor!  But what hidden allies has Mindhunter mustered to deal with Willforge’s interference?

With the Vibora Bay Apocalypse in the past (or is that the future?  Time travel makes my head hurt…), I’ve been focusing my time in the post-apocalyptic Vibora Bay (or is that pre-Apocalyptic?  ARRRRGH!).  The Vibora Bay missions are nice and uncomplicated for the most part, although some of them involve drop-hunting missions that drive me mad because the drop rate of the items involved seem so pathetically low.  That wouldn’t be so bad, if it weren’t for the fact that the respawn rate of some of these criminals is so annoyingly slow.  Well, it could be worse.  I could also have to be dealing with timed missions that require you to fetch items in a predetermined order that you don’t know in advance.  Oh-there’s one of those, too.  (After my second attempt, when I had a better idea of what I was doing, and still came up short, I said, “yeah, you go get those things yourself-I’m out of here” and dropped that mission.)

I also occasionally went back to Monster Island, to clear out a couple of lingering missions in my log-including one that had accidentally finished when I was doing…something-and to help ensure that I could spawn Nemesis minions so I could get the Clues needed to run a new Nemesis mission.  I knew that they would spawn in Monster Island, but I had a feeling that they wouldn’t in Vibora Bay.  I was wrong, by the way; after a fruitless period in Monster Island at one point, I went back to Vibora to do some missions-and was delighted to see those robots pop up and ambush me as I was going after the Sovereign Sons.  All is right in the world-especially since one of my goals before finishing up the character is to lock that Nemesis away for good!

To that end:  there tend to be two types of Nemesis missions that drop from the Clues.  The first kind is almost painfully generic:  the minions of the Nemesis are up to no good, and you have to stop them from doing what they’re doing.  It’s usually as simple as getting up a radio tower in Canada fighting through spawned minions, or blowing up barrels of toxic waste in Millennium City as the minions guard them.  I’ll note that this can occasionally cause fits for poor lower level heroes doing their level missioning in the areas.  I’ve had at least one occasion where another player blew his top because he was doing missions in the desert around a VIPER prison and a bunch of high-level Nemesis minions suddenly spawned and blew him to greasy chunks.  For this sort of reason, I always try to clean up my minions even if my objectives are complete-no sense in letting those guys hang around and beat up lowbies.

The second type of mission is a lot more fun.  They tend to be instanced affairs, and feature the Nemesis in some way, sometimes physically, sometimes via some communications method, and involve a more elaborate plan.  For example:  the aforementioned cloning drama.  This is actually a matched pair of missions, one starting right after the other-one in Canada, where you discover the cloning plot, and fight a couple of “named” supervillains, and then another encounter in the City Hall of Millennium City, where you have to fight at least three other supervillains, a gigantic clone of the mayor (you did see that cover above, right?)-and oh yeah, your Nemesis (who, of course, in classic fashion, gets away).  And of course, scattered all around are the minions of the Nemesis.  Good times.  Well, usually-sometimes fighting two supervillain level threats at once is a little rough; I got taken down by one plus Mindhunter, but fortunately, the two weren’t keyed to each other as far as aggro logic goes.  I was able to engage one of them at a time after that faceplant, and things went a lot better.

So, hopefully, in the not-distant future I hope, I will be able to chronicle the final battle between Mindhunter and Willforge-and celebrate level 40.  It’ll be interesting to see if I can wrap up the Vibora Bay missions prior to then.  Signs point to “probably not”, because I’m pretty sure that some of those missions are intended for level 40 content, but we’ll see.

WF: Game Over, Man! Game Over!

Synopsis:  APOCALYPSE, CONCLUSION!  The End of the World is at hand!  The Champions:  dead!  The heroes of Vibora Bay:  betrayed!  The fallen angel Therakiel is about to bring about the end, but the deadliest villain on Earth wants such power for himself!  It all comes down to Willforge to execute a desperate last-minute plan to reverse the Apocalypse and set things right!  Join Willforge in this 25th issue spectacular!

The End has arrived!  The Earth is gone!

Wait…that can’t be right…let me check that script again….

Here we go.  Thanks to one of the most painful plot devices known to man (and the only one that allows you to maul the main cast like this), the Apocalypse has been stopped.  You would think that stopping the end of the world in Champions Online would be good for gaining at least one level, right?  Heh-keep thinking that.  I’ve put Willforge through the conclusion of the Apocalypse, and all he got was a lousy t-shirt.  Actually, strike that-he didn’t get that either.  But in the plus column, at least the world is still spinning, right?  At least, it’ll keep doing that as long as he manages to prevent the Apocalypse from actually happening based on the knowledge he got from said Apocalypse.

One would think that a simpler solution would be to take out the baddie who kick started the whole mess in the first place, instead of trying to change heaps of little things hoping to change the future, but that’s the biz for you.

Despite my griping, I am fairly close to 38 at this point, and expect to hit it next time I’m on.  I suspect I’ll spend a lot of time in post-Apocalypse Vibora (the images that phrase evokes is nowhere near reality.  I blame Mad Max and Wasteland…) to begin the push to 40.  I have a sneaking feeling, though, that Nemesis minions don’t spawn off in Vibora, which means I might take trips to the Canada or Monster Island to harvest some Nemesis clues so I have a reasonable shot at reaching the end of that line before wrapping up this CO run.  It’s not as unrealistic as one might think-it’s taken me this long to get from 37 to near 38, after all.  I’m sure I could grind the last two levels out doing just Alerts, but hell, that would drive me bats-especially if there’s no double-xp events rolling.  Besides, there IS an end to the Vibora Bay arc post-apocalypse, and it’s not inconceivable that I could be facing the big bad one more time.

Nearing the end, of course, puts me in mind of where I’m going next.  I’ve got a character concept percolating and a general plan of attack for Star Trek Online, but at the same time, it’s been a while since I’ve seriously visited Star Wars: The Old Republic.  This is all in terms of new characters, mind-I’ve got some other irons to wrap in the meantime, such as pushing my Romulan main to get up-to-date with the mission log, and I’ve a bunch of characters in TOR to finish through the Eternal Throne expansion (including a pair who will get actual conclusions to stories I chronicled here who helped reinvigorate my Building Character posts).  So expect some of that to possibly litter the blog from now until the next big thing.

But obviously, first things first.  Willforge managed to scrape out a second chance for the planet-and he’s got two levels (and a smidgen) to go before the final issue is writ.

WF: It’s The End Of The World As We Know It And I Feel Fine

Synopsis:  APOCALYPSE, PART TWO!  As things in Vibora Bay continue to fall apart, the world’s mightiest heroes arrive to join Willforge stopping the end of days!  But as the party responsible for starting the Apocalypse continues to ascend, Champions will fall-and Willforge must make new allies in the darkened streets of Vibora Bay!

The Vibora Bay Apocalypse continues….

It’s been a long time since I ran the Apocalypse arc in Champions Online, and it’s possible that I’m further along than I think I am-I’ve gotten to the point where Willforge is about to try to recover the Elemental Gems, but I don’t recall how many more missions until the grand finale of the arc.  I have managed to avoid gaining any levels since last time around, which indicates to me that perhaps this isn’t as big a deal as I was thinking-so I’ll probably resume doing XP Alerts to help things along again.

If I time it right, the final missions of the arc will correspond neatly to Issue 25 of my Willforge covers.  25 is often a big issue for comic books (especially in this day and age when comic runs get restarted after just a year of publication), so it seems that Fate has decided to work with me for a change.

One thing that I appreciate about this particular arc is that-as it’s the end of the world and all-the story writers didn’t pull many punches.  When I mentioned “Champions will fall” above, I wasn’t joking-and the mood of the quest givers reflects the long odds that just keep getting longer as the arc goes on.  It’s not so much that your character is failing in the missions-it’s that it’s a race against time (so to speak-“time” is really not a big issue in an MMO questline) and if the bad guys get done with their plans before you get done with yours…well, you didn’t really want to keep living in this universe, right?

It’s not every story arc where you have to decide to ally with man-eating werewolves or blood-drinking vampires, too.  (I went with the wolves; it’s hard to feel sympathy for vampires, and they’re already technically dead.)  Nor do you usually get a chance to fight side by side with groups of Champions.  (Well, sort of.)  Despite the presence of the NPC heroes, you never get the feeling that you’re there to assist them.  They’re here to assist you.  Of course, that said, the usual conventions of MMO writing still apply-you’re still getting missions from other NPCs (Dr. Ka and Robert Caliburn, mostly-but there’s a number of others in this arc that have things for you to do, such as Trismegistus mages and Black Mask-you remember her from the Queen City arc, right?).  How many of these luminaries will be left standing after the End of the World is still an open question.

That does sort of lead me on a side-ramble.  MMOs in general have the glaring fault that your character is always a reactive one-at least as far as quests/missions go.  In some games, it works out okay; Star Wars Galaxies had mission terminals that had missions to give out, but your character wasn’t the champion of ultimate destiny (well, not until the NGE, anyway), and needed to make a living getting credits somehow.  World of Warcraft has a number of people who would give out missions because they have actual authority (kings, queens, military officers, etc.).  But as one gains levels (or increases in ability, as not all MMOs are level based), one gains a certain reputation for getting things done.  You get to a point where you’d think that you wouldn’t need character X to tell you what to do; but there you are, still taking orders (or requests) to “do this”.  It seems to me that you could ramp up the illusion that you’re actually competent if you could respond with what would apparently be your own ideas.  Some MMOs can do this during missions/quests (Star Trek Online does a decent job of it-certainly better than in the early days of the game, and the Old Republic does a decent job too-with some missions more than others), but CO isn’t really set up for that sort of thing.  Which is a damned shame, but honestly, there are other things that bring me greater regrets than this does.  Yes, these are “themepark” MMOs, and not sandbox MMOs, but one can at least try to give the illusion of character competence.

Well, that was a bit of a ramble.  Let’s close it out with the obvious:  since I’m really unlikely to get to level 40 before the End of the World, it’s probably safe to assume that we’ll be going beyond issue 25 above.  Maybe not by MUCH, but it’ll happen.  Hey, wouldn’t it be hilarious if I could close it out with the last mission of the Nemesis chain?  Food for thought….

WF: And Now, The End Is Near, And So I Face The Final Curtain

Synopsis:  APOCALYPSE, PART ONE!  Willforge finds himself in a race to gather mystic artifacts to prevent the rise of the End of All Things!  But can his benefactor be trusted?  Or is there another agenda that will hasten the end of the world!

Level 37 in Champions Online means a reasonable time to begin doing one of the more…shall we call it contentious? zones in the game:  Vibora Bay.

Wait, didn’t I say something like that before?

I did indeed.  But the difference here is that back then, it was a small arc involving the region and a gang war.  Now, we’re dealing with the end of the world.

This is sort of set up in two parts, really.  The first part takes place during the Apocalypse.  The second takes place after.  (Post-Apocalypse?  That’s a different genre, isn’t it?)  But this is sort of the beginning, and it makes use of some of the old Champions tabletop game lore-how a fallen angel believes that the final battle between good and evil will take place here, and has decided to make sure it happens sooner rather than later.  There is no mystic champion to oppose this-called the Archmage-and a part of the arc ahead is to enable a character to fill the requirements so that they can step up.  No, that character isn’t you-you might have a character that is using magical powers, but apparently, you’ve been snubbed for someone else, also hinted at in the tabletop lore.

Before you get to Vibora, though, you are sent running around to gather artifacts that could be used to kickstart the end of everything.  It’s probably not a real big spoiler in saying that your efforts don’t go as hoped.  That leaves you and the Champions themselves-Defender and his lot-as well as a few local heroes in the Bay to try to set things right.

I’m not entirely sure if there will be any Nemesis minion spawns in the Bay, so it’s perfectly possible that that story is over unless I manage to wrap up the Apocalypse story prior to hitting level 40.  It could be a close thing.  I may actually artificially slow things down by not doing any more XP Alerts.  That may or may not matter, though-one of the big deals on the Vibora expansion was to help out with leveling, so this could go either way.

On a gameplay standpoint, I seem to be doing better against the bad guys.  I have enough mass paralyze abilities to stop myself from being swamped with attacks that I have little defense against, although the heaviest hitters are still rough fights (especially since they tend to be immune or near enough to it to aforementioned abilities).  I’d spend on healing items, but the cooldown on them is so bad that it’d be a waste of funds.  Hopefully, I’ll get some decent one-shot item drops that have suitably helpful powers attached, such as summons or higher defenses attached.  Or healing (less important, though-that cooldown also tends to be shared between those items).

The Vibora Bay Apocalypse heralds not just the end of the world, but the homestretch for Willforge’s leveling story.  Let’s see if the world can manage to be saved.  This sort of is in the superhero job description….

WF: When Monsters Ruled the Earth!

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

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

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

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

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

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