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.

The Cast List: Introducing Ailar of Star Trek Online

In the beginning, they were a broken race, thanks to Star Trek Online’s backstory-which tied neatly to the J.J. Abrams backstory of his Star Trek film.  They gained significant focus in a Feature Episode series as their…let’s call them planetary siblings…broke away.  And then it got followed up with a large portion of their species deciding to effectively revolt-and eventually became a sub-faction available in the game.  People love ’em, people hate ’em, but the Romulan Republic arrived and is here to stay.

Obviously, when the Romulans were finally brought in as playable characters, I had to make a few.  Like the major factions, I could choose species.  Unlike them, there were only so many available.  The Romulans.  The generic Aliens (which I never did take as much as advantage of as I could have).  A little later came the Borg-ified Romulans.  I did have Reman access early thanks to having completed the Romulan Republic reputation prior to that period, so I didn’t have to do anything exotic like spend Zen.  And, naturally, true-blue (er, green?) Romulans.

A new hope for the Republic

So.  It felt right that I should have a pure Romulan as my first (and main) Romulan character, so I designed Ailar.  Ailar was a Science captain (another non-tactical!  I’m on a roll!).  Now, as a sub-faction, it was required-after reaching a certain level/point in the STO story-to choose a faction to ally with, the Klingons or the Federation.  Ailar chose to go Federation (although the Klingons had a real good argument at the time.  I remember really wavering with the choice when the time finally came).  This would allow me to make use of Starfleet vessels up to and including Tier-4 ships; Tier-5 ships were not made available to the Romulans from Starfleet, mainly because of an outcry on the forums that it would be insane for Starfleet to make their best ships available to an allied power outside of their control.  Same with the KDF.  I’d agreed with that at the time, but later reflection had me recall that it wouldn’t have been without precedent; in the original Star Trek series, Romulans could be seen flying top-end Klingon battlecruisers.  So its not as if there wasn’t precedent for that sort of thing.

The Romulans had their own set of outfits, and didn’t share much with the other factions-which meant there wasn’t that big a variety of uniforms.  Certainly not as much as, say, Starfleet.  That said, the devs didn’t do too badly here.  There were a couple varieties of Romulan “civilian” outfits, a pair of Republic officer outfits, and even Klingon/Starfleet specific Romulan outfits, depending on who you chose to ally with.  (And for the Romulan purists, a Tal Shiar style outfit.  Because it’s good to be bad.  You got it from going undercover….)  Some of the cross-platform outfits came across too, such as the Intelligence uniforms.  The C-Store eventually got a few more to work with, if you wanted to go classic or real classic.  For the Romulans in the crew, I went with the straight up uniform, although I individualized Ailar’s uniform as she was in charge.  Well, mostly straight-up:  the Reman representative has her own look, and one of them is sort of unable to have any other uniform options.  I figured that was okay, though-given the relative “age” of the Republic, it’s a wonder they have anything resembling a consistent look.

The bridge crew was mostly the default crew; as the first of my Romulans, I didn’t go too crazy on using them.  I had access to Starfleet officers as well, but, well, I was feeling like a purist here.  I’d be willing to have a Starfleet officer help man the ship weapons (I think it was a Ferengi that joined when I declared for Starfleet), but for the longest time, I would only use Romulans and Remans in my away teams.  I eventually picked up a Hierarchy bridge officer during the Delta Rising arc, and I eventually included him in the main group.

I knew from day one that Ailar would be flying a Scimitar-class warbird in the end.  It hadn’t been available at the Romulan launch, but I knew that as sure as Starfleet had Odysseys and the Klingons had Bortasqu’s, the Romulans would get a flagship, and it would be the Scimitar.  I was dead right-and for a while, that was exactly what she flew (using the science variant, naturally).  However, when the Tier-6 ships came rolling around, I saw that while the basic Scimitar skeleton was still being used, the appearance was distinct from that used by the Tier-5s, and I decided that it made sense to have Ailar in command of a brand spanking new Republic-constructed warbird-the RRW Hobus.

Ailar, as my primary Romulan character, has had the benefit of having gone through the vast majority of the episodes of the game, and is at max level; she hasn’t maxed out her primary specialization (Command), though.  In part, this is because it’s tricky enough to get new characters leveled plus keeping my Klingon and Starfleet mains at the latest and greatest.  At some point, I expect I’ll try to locate where I left Ailar and binge from there to the latest episode.  If one is looking to rebuild into galactic power again, it’d behoove one to make sure their best and brightest lead the way.

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….

Emerging from the Far Side of the Galaxy

Well, well, well.  Isn’t THIS interesting?

Star Trek Online recently unveiled its next season, “Emergence”, and dropped some intriguing information along with it.  Here’s the trailer, in case it’s been missed:

Got some very interesting things in it.  First and foremost, we have the first main character from the Star Trek: The Next Generation series to lend his voice to the game show up:  LeVar Burton, aka Geordi LaForge.  (He’s not the first major name in the game, though; that’d probably have to go to Tim Russ from Star Trek: Voyager.  Yes, there were other voice actors from episodes in the assorted Trek series, but Russ was the first from a main cast.)  At this point, we’ve had main cast appearances from the Original Series, the Next Generation, and Voyager; okay, I can stretch a point and include Deep Space Nine with Michael Dorn, but I always considered him more with TNG than DS9.  So, if you stretch that point, we’re looking at only Enterprise as a series lacking voice representation from a main cast member.  That would probably require time travel hijinks, though.  Let’s probably hold off on that.

Emergence is promising a new Fleet Holding.  Guess I’m going to need to start hording supplies again to help my fleet get to a tier-1 there.  The holding is going to be located on a new homeworld for the Lukari and Kentari, and it seems like moving up tiers will probably add structures to the holding, which is something we haven’t seen a lot of since the original holding, the Starbase-which you can see being constructed as it goes up in tiers.  Figure on it being a new Dilithium sink in the game.  Also of interest:  a new specialization path, simply called “Miracle Worker”.  I’m absolutely SURE it couldn’t POSSIBLY have anything to do with engineering in any way, shape, or form, right?  </sarcasm>  That said, it could be a very interesting spec path, and I’ll be looking forward to hearing more about it.

Of course, the season couldn’t be a season without a new feature episode, and it will feature Burton along with the ongoing arc with the Tzenkethi and the Lukari.  Could we start seeing some answers forthcoming about the Tzenkethi’s drive to wreck certain worlds?  Let’s hope-a title called “Emergence” is a hopeful sign there.

And now, for the elephant that comes crashing into the room at the tail end of that trailer.  You DID watch that trailer before reading this, right?

That elephant represents what is quite possibly the next STO expansion:  there’s a whole lot of Dominion ships rolling out of the Bajoran Wormhole, and I can’t believe we’d be doing an effective repeat of yet another DS9 invasion.  If it is an expansion, it leads one to wonder what can we see here.  Could we finally be seeing the devs open up the Gamma Quadrant beyond the wormhole?  Could we see a new faction-er, let’s call a spade a spade and call it more of a subfaction, because that seems to be loads easier for the devs to handle.  THAT could explain the rather slow pace of content recently.  Or could we be seeing something that’s been long awaited (at least on my side of the screen):  a new exploration system?  The Gamma Quadrant would be ripe for that sort of thing.

We’ve had a good chunk of content over the last few years that have hit all the eras of Star Trek.  The Iconian War has strong ties to the Next Generation’s era, and one can argue that the Legacy of Romulus is tied to that sort of storytelling as well; the Delta Rising arc drew hard on Voyager’s day, while the Temporal arcs leaned hard on the days of Enterprise-and brought in the Agents of Yesterday that took us back to the Original series era.  DS9 has been off to the side for a long time, with its biggest representation being that old feature episode series, and it’s about time that we have something big attached to that series.  And hey, I recall reading in the forums that half the reason that the DS9 interior never really got revamped was because there wasn’t content to hook it to.  An expansion could well herald a new revamp of DS9.  The only question is whether it would try to tie even tighter to the TV appearance, or go the Earth Spacedock route and do a 2410 remodel.  (Or they could go really crazy and go the same route as the novel series, and blow up the station entirely and replace it with a brand spanking new station.  That’s probably TOO crazy-DS9 is too iconic to go that route.)

But since we’re looking at 2018, it’ll be a long wait.  That’s okay, though-because the Lukari and Tzenkethi issues still need resolution, and that’s a story that’s still unfolding.  Still, I’m looking very much forward to the future, as DS9 was always my second favorite of the Trek series.  (Hey…you don’t think we could see the return of the Sisko, do you…?)

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….

The Cast List: Introducing K’ratukar of Star Trek Online

This will come as a shock, but the Klingon Empire side of Star Trek Online?  They’re named for the Klingons.  It’s true!

I know that’s a shock-we have all these Orions (and judging from the look of things, most of them are women), Gorn (none of them are women that we can tell; nobody’s been brave enough to check.  O Klingon Warrior!  HERE is a task to get you glory!), Naussicaans, and Letheans, and oh yes-cat men.  Not to mention aliens of even stranger origin that could well be the only ones of their species for all we know!  And then there’s Klingons assimilated by Borg, and this nothing-Delta Quadrant species that have the gall to think they can command Klingon warships!  They’re all crawling over the surface of glorious world of Qo’nos.  How did all these beings become captains in the Klingon Defense Force?

I gave an eye to the Empire, with the promise I would take the eyes of its enemies.

So, taking back the Empire in the name of the Klingons, I put together a new Klingon:  K’ratukar.

The character is an Engineering captain (YES!  NOT A TACTICAL GUY AGAIN!), and the character came about because I wanted a captain to handle a very special kind of ship.  This requires some backstory, and illuminates another great injustice to the Klingon Empire in STO.

Way back, at the game’s third annivesary, there was a feature episode.  It was called “Temporal Ambassador”, and when it was first released, you got a couple of special rewards for completing it.  First, you get a uniform unlock-it’s not exactly fancy, a sash similar to that used by Starfleet characters in the Next Generation episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise” (to which this mission was a sequel).  Then, you got a ship-an Ambassador class ship if you were Starfleet (or Romulan aligned with them) or a Kamarag Battlecruiser if you were with the Klingons (or a Romulan aligned with them).  Both ships were Commander level ships.

BUT…during a limited time, which was “the 3 year celebration” period, you would also get a tier-5 variant of that same ship.  But ONLY for a character that completed that mission.

Now for that injustice part:  a while back, during another celebratory event-according to the Internets, an end-of summer event in ’14-the Ambassador was made available again-the tier 5 one, I mean.  And THIS time, it was as account unlock from the C-Store.  So any Starfleet character could go gallivanting around the top line Ambassador class (well, it was top line until the T6’s came around…).

The Klingons, for the same event, got…well, not the Kamarag.  To date, it has never been made available as a T5 variant beyond that first time.  Cryptic, MAKE THIS RIGHT!

But that’s getting off track.  The point is, I’d made this Klingon character, and I knew the Kamarag’s T5 version was going to be limited time, so I pushed to get him to a level which could run the mission-recall, most Feature Episodes had low requirements until the initial period had passed, and it got put somewhere in the game’s episodic storyline at its “true” level-and got the ship unlocked, where it would wait until he got high enough in level to use it-both the Commander version and the T5 version.  That’s pretty much the only reason this character got run through.

Still, I had to design the character first.  You can’t really see it on this image, but he’s not a bald Klingon-he’s got a long ponytail in the back.  I gave him a “General Chang” eyepatch.  He’s bounced around uniforms over the time I’ve had the character around, but I did eventually start grabbing the Bortasqu’ parts for his primary uniform-well, at least for his crew’s primary.  He often goes around in the outfit shown above, because he was an engineer and he WORKED for a living!

The battlecruiser was named the Vegh’Ka, because of course it is.  As far as I know, it doesn’t translate to anything in the Klingon language, so it’s probably a place name or something like that.  Or a proper name.  This is a hazard of using the randomizer for names.

While the character was backburnered for a long time, he did recently gain spotlights again.  See, a friend had reformed a Klingon fleet after the original one had gotten stolen (this is the kind of thing that can happen when you’re absent for an extended period and have recruited people without knowing them well as officers).  My main Klingon joined that fleet, but he had a minor problem.  He couldn’t do much in the way of helping with building the fleet holdings, because the choke-points involved Dilithium (which, of course, is the currency which can get converted to Zen at the exchange), energy credits (because it adds up)…and duty officers.  Specifically, white/common duty officers.  My main Klingon has a minimum green/uncommon rarity for his people.  So if I wanted to help the fleet out with some rough patches, I had to use a different KDF aligned character.  I chose K’ratukar as my go-to guy here, so I was able to assist in a number of projects by blowing away heaps of commons, and use the fleet credits to buy more commons to throw into the mill.  There were diminishing returns there; the amount of fleet credit gained by donating them isn’t as high as it costs to buy them at the starbase-but then, I could always donate fleet marks or other materials to get the fleet credit numbers up again to start a new round of “Grab the Random Duty Officer and Stuff Him In A Fleet Holding”.  The character hasn’t done much else outside that-he’s holding tight at level 50, and has been for a long, long time.  I like to think that he’s more or less transferred to the fleet starbase and is in charge of its personnel, given how many duty officers he’s stuffed in it so far.  Perhaps occasionally giving glances at a docked battlecruiser that is just waiting for a chance, one day, to go into glorious battle once more.

The Reports of His Death Were Highly Exaggerated

Despite appearances, everything is going exactly according to plan…

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

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

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

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

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

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

WF: When Monsters Ruled the Earth!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the Republic!

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

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

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

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

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

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