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!

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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.)

Emergent Gameplay

So you’re trying to hide from the Tzenkethi and you brought the crystals they’re looking for here? ARE YOU ALL IDIOTS!?

Season 14 for Star Trek Online has landed!  So let’s take a peek at where things are at with the latest release.

This season, with the moniker of “Emergence”, is appropriate in so many ways.  The most obvious one is that we finally get to see what’s behind the maniacal quest of the Tzenkethi to wipe out planets with protomatter weapons.  Obviously, some kind of crystals are involved, based on the events of previous Episodes, but in the new feature “Melting Pot”, secrets are laid bare.  Partially because the new colony of the Kentari and Lukari decided to examine some odd crystals from the moon of their new colony world.  Which, of course, matched the composition of the ones that are being targeted by the Tzenkethi.  You get warned that the scientists are eccentric, but man, does THIS take the cake.

Fortunately, you aren’t alone.  As indicated in the last episode released, Geordi La Forge is here, along with the Lukari Captain Kuumaarke.  Like proud parents, they’re happy to show off the colony that they hope will be the new home for a reunited Kentari and Lukari species.  Enjoy the tour while you can.  Not only is it going to become ground zero, but it’s also the last time you’ll see it so pretty unless you’re in a large active fleet.  This colony is also the new Fleet Holding, which is more on the scale of the Starbases than others like the Mining Asteroid or Romulan Embassy.  I’ll hold off on any long term judgments as to how doable even getting tier 1 is, but I’ve not heard encouraging things.  (Small, mostly inactive fleets like, say, the one I’m in is probably right out.)  Also like the Starbases, you will see the colony go from a skeletal framework to something to be proud of as it advances in tiers.  One of the more interesting aspects of this holding is being able to trigger a Tzenkethi invasion where up to ten captains can try to repel.  This requires access to tokens gained via fleet projects.  How well this would work out for small fleets, I’m not entirely sure.

This was sadly predictable.  I admire La Forge’s ability to remain cool with things blowing up all around him.

The episode itself is another one that has a feel of the Next Generation series, although it still has more of those “phaser everything!” moments that you don’t expect from the series.  Maybe from the films….  If it weren’t for the revelations that take place during the episode, I would’ve said this was just to taunt players with what the colony world holding will look like when it’s fully built.  It’s probably mildly spoiler-ish, but I’ll also say that it is also refreshing to find a rational Tzenkethi who does something crazy and actually TALKS to you.  (This is a good thing.  Because maybe those Tzenkethi actually have a good reason for going nuts with protomatter weapons….)

Of course, there’s a little bit more with the new Season than just a fleet holding and an episode.  There’s a new specialization geared towards the Engineering branch:  Miracle Worker.  Guess you can’t guess who inspired that name.  I haven’t had any characters put points into it yet (I may have Dathiro go into it, should I take him that far), but from what I can tell from looking at the tree, it feels like a very defensive sort of tree that will see best expression on a ship that can do lots of healing and take lots of damage.  In other words, cruisers and the like.  I haven’t looked at the kits available for this specialization yet, so can’t speak to that-but the fact that it does have a ground component is a welcome sign.  Likewise, I haven’t seen a ship with Miracle Worker bridge slots yet, but you can be sure it’s coming soon.  There’s also a new pair of queues:  the Dranuur Beach Assault, which is a ground scenario where ten captains can push the Tzenkethi off planet (this is double the usual number for a ground queue) for level 50+ characters, and the Dranuur Gauntlet, a battle in space to stop the invading fleet from an assault before defenses can push them back, for level 60 characters.  Finally, there’s a new Red Alert available where the Tzenkethi are out to protomatter bomb more planets out of existence-so your ship is called upon to help repel the attacks, for level 50+ characters.  I will probably at some point detail my thoughts on each of those as I put a character or two through them.

So there’s a lot going on with the new Season under the belt.  The major storylines that have been building have started to converge here, and it’ll be interesting to see where things lead from here.

A further note:  “Beyond the Nexus” has apparently been placed, of all places, prior to “Temporal Ambassador” for all factions.  This seems to me to be one of the dumber places they can put this mission.  In the first case, 2409 is a year prior to when the Nexus was supposed to be back in the neighborhood again, and the kickover to 2410 tends to be during the Delta Rising stuff, if memory serves.  I suppose there could be some wiggle room to work with, though, particularly in light of the fact that we never really know how late into 2409 the game starts, or the exact timing of the Nexus’s last visit (was it near the beginning or end of its trip through the area at that time?).  Secondly, while the devs managed to remove comments on the Lukari/Kentari (which by this time haven’t been met yet), he mentions having met you again-I’m not sure when the first time was.  His ship did appear in a previous mission, but unless that mission got updated to include comments from La Forge, I’m not sure that really qualifies.  Have to make a note to replay that one and see if something happens.

The Unifying Force?

Merge Ahead

The devs at Star Wars: The Old Republic recently put up their roadmap for the next few months, and…well.  This can’t be good.

The biggest news coming out of it involve server merges.  It’s not a new thing-it’s happened at least twice before with this game (I freely admit there may have been another I missed at some point).  We’re now going from seventeen servers down to five:  two American, one European (English), one European (German), and one European (French).  They can put up a nice face on this all they want, but the simple reality of it is this:  you don’t see server merges of this nature unless the subscriber base has dwindled severely.  And that bodes ill for SWTOR entirely.  You can dress up the reasons for merges up in pretty language (More competitive PvP!  More people to group with for raids!), but in the end, the simple fact is that the developers feel that the seventeen servers don’t have the population to support their current “group focus”.  How much of this is a result of having focused too much on the last two expansions is an open question (I’m not convinced that a “raid or die” philosophy would’ve done much better).

With the merges comes the usual potential drama with names.  Legacy Names will not be impacted, and guild names will potentially have a former server slapped on it (so you could well end up as the “501st Fist – Jedi Covenant” because another guild on another server had the same name.  If one of those guilds should go belly up at some point, the suffix will be removed.  Of course, god forbid that the devs offer free rename tokens to the guild leaders to rename the guild to something that doesn’t have a server suffix on it.  Character names are, of course, an entirely different issue, with priority going to subscribers, then “highly played” characters.  I’m sure there are going to be a lot of people who are going to discover that their characters aren’t going to be what they last saw them as.  Characters who have been inactive for an extended period and not beyond 10th level will also be flagged for renaming prior to the big move.  So, good times.

(I’ll be putting any Cast List entries in my queue for SWTOR on hold until the merges hit; no sense in posting names that may be obsolete when the merges hit in early November.)

It’s not all doom and gloom here.  A new Flashpoint is set to land which continues the storyline with the Alliance Traitor, and offers the return of another lost companion, scheduled for late November.  Another step in raid progression is in the works, but they won’t be hitting until early 2018.  There is a lot of class “balancing” going on; whether or not that’s a good thing depends a lot on what classes you play, and I’ll leave it to other more analytical sites to go into that sort of detail (I always recommend Dulfy for this sort of thing).  There’s an anniversary celebration slated for December (let’s hope it’s not the last one).  There are updates being planned even for the Galactic Starfighter stuff, centering on Iokath (which I imagine would be a pretty fun map to fly on).  A minor but welcome thing is a new vendor at Fleet that will allow you to purchase customizations for opposite-faction companions (so Republic characters can change Vette’s coloration, and Imperials can slap on new T7 designs).  And there are some rewards for encouraging grouped behavior on deck, which can earn you the Darth Hexid companion.  If that names sounds familiar, it should:  Hexid was one of the two possible companions that were offered during the Light vs. Dark event, which Hexid lost (I guess folks liked the light-sided Chiss Jedi better).  I always suspected that Hexid would make an appearance sooner or later, but I figured it would be a gamble pack thing.  Instead, you need to play content under the Group Finder (PvE or PvP); I believe the target number is three of either of these (I don’t think it triggers from any combination; it’s gotta be three of one or the other).  Finally, there will be double rewards (xp, command xp, etc) for about two weeks after the merges go in.

November is shaping up to be a big month for SWTOR.  Whether or not this is a good thing is the big question.

The Cast List: Introducing Vesehn of Star Trek Online

It had long been speculated in Star Trek lore that there were a people on the planet of Remus, the sister world of Romulus.  The movie Star Trek: Nemesis finally brought us the natives of that world, the Remans, who didn’t turn out anything like I’d have imagined.  A slave race, but apparently they had it together enough to take over the Romulan Empire, thanks to the work of that movie’s antagonist, Shinzon.  Naturally, things went back to status quo afterward-well, maybe.  Honestly, since the next Trek movie after that was Abram’s Star Trek, it’s a little hard to nail down.  Well, unless you’re a player of Star Trek Online, where we have a nice “Path to 2409” that indicated that things had more or less settled down.  Until Hobus blew up, of course, and set the Romulans on the course of becoming a Romulan Republic.

But before that happened, we got a Feature Episode back in the day which featured the Remans in revolt, led by a charismatic leader named Obisek.  The Remans more or less won (although even Obisek acknowledged it was an ongoing struggle), and eventually tied their fate to that of the newly emerging Romulan Republic.  So when when the Legacy of Romulus expansion landed, the Remans were there too.  Of course, there was a catch:  while bridge officers could be Remans with no issues, you couldn’t have a Reman captain unless you went to the C-Store and unlocked that species…or one of your other characters had gotten to Tier 5 on the Romulan Reputation grind.

Need I mention that by the time the expansion landed, I’d already gotten to Tier 5 of the Romulan Reputation?

“You merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man; by then it was nothing to me but blinding!”  With apologies to Bane.

Thus, my second Romulan aligned character was a Reman:  Vesehn.  Vehsen would be a Tactical offering, and he wound up aligning with the Federation.  (Despite my Starfleet leanings, I didn’t ignore the Klingons-my third Romulan went that way, but that is a story for the future.)  Like Ailar, I eschewed using any Starfleet vessels, though, preferring to stick with the Romulan warbirds.  Call me a purist that way.  I think I’ve had exactly one Romulan captain who made use of lower tier allied-faction ships-my Delta Recruit offering for the Romulans.  But aside from him, it’s all been Romulan pride.

Unlike most of my Romulan characters, Vesehn would eschew the basic uniforms of the Republic and go with a uniquely Reman look.  I had been tempted to pick up a Reman outfit from the C-Store, but I was pretty happy with what was offered for the character at base, and aside from a brief period where the eye-lenses clipped with the hood graphically speaking, I haven’t regretted it.  The rest of his bridge crew did go with the more traditional Romulan Republic look (save for his Reman officer, who went with a similar look as he did).

As with Ailar, Vesehn’s bridge crew was mostly the default crew, although I did rename them and modify their appearances from their defaults-so one has to wonder if they really count as default crew anymore?  The exception, of course, was Tovan Khev, who is famed on the forums for being impossible to get rid of, or rename (I remain convinced that “Tovan Khev” is the “John Smith” of the Romulan language).  Because of the Starfleet affiliation, I grabbed a Starfleet officer too and incorporated him into the main crew.  I made that one an alien instead of one of the standard species, but never developed much backstory there.

Given that the character was a Reman, there was no doubt that he, too, would be flying a Scimitar-class dreadnought when he reached the right level-and unlike my main Romulan, Vesehn would keep that appearance rather than use the Romulan aesthetic when the Tier-6 versions came around.  He’s a Reman, it’s a Reman design, and dammit, he’s proud of it.  The RRW Dera-named for that major outpost run by Obisek during the Featured Series-also took advantage of the Romulan Reputation items by using the named Reman gear (yes, I ground out a heap of Romulan reputation on this guy, after grinding a heap of it on my main character to allow me to make this character in the first place.  I must be insane).  Vesehn hasn’t forgotten who he is.

Vesehn isn’t at the top level, but he’s high enough to play with the Tier-6 ships, at level 50+.  Due to the raw number of characters I have floating around, it’s probably not surprising that he’s now in the background.  Despite that, he’s still available for the Reman point of view whenever I want to revisit that.  I like to think that Obisek is proud that a Reman has advanced so far in the Republic’s fleet!

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!

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

Since I’ve recently finished running this fellow through to the end of the line, it’s time to look at my Sith Warrior representative in Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Once the Emperor’s, once the Empire’s, now he is simply Wrath.

This character was designed with purpose in mind.  I had two big ideas to show how I was going to play this character, Astirth.  The first was inspired by a quote from a playing card in the long running card game “Magic the Gathering”.  The Black Knight’s quote:  “Battle doesn’t need a purpose; the battle is its own purpose.  You don’t ask why a plague spreads or a field burns. Don’t ask why I fight.”  That was a quote that just screams Sith to me.  But the other side was that I didn’t want him to just be a kill-machine.  I decided that this character is the road not taken; a character who could have been a Jedi if he was willing to surrender himself to its serenity, willing to quiet his emotions for the greater good.  But he loves the battle (see aforementioned quote), has no desire to cut off his emotions, and is just as happy to cut loose with every weapon at his disposal.  What I came up with was a character who can be cold blooded in slaughtering his enemies, but capable of showing mercy to the helpless (or if you look at it less charitably, to those who aren’t strong enough to actually give him a challenge).

Unsurprisingly, this attitude has given him a light-sided nature, but with heaps of dark-side choices that ensured he’d never max out the light-side meter.  He didn’t choose the needlessly sadistic options, but had no problem executing a fallen opponent.  A worthy fight would allow him to spare a life if the foe asked for quarter, but for the most part, if you took arms up against Astirth, he’d wind up delivering what was deserved-a swift death.  Thanks to the assorted betrayals he’s been delivered, particularly from a certain Emperor, it’s probably not shocking that he more or less spat in Valkorion’s face when offered a chance to join the Eternal Empire; he had nothing but contempt for the Emperor’s spirit, and although he spared Arcann in the end (see:  worthy foe, plus he’s useful…), he had no problem taking the throne for his own.  On the romantic side, it’s not shocking that he romanced Vette; her shock collar was off roughly ten minutes after arriving at the Imperial Fleet off Korriban, and he came to appreciate her ready wit.  Probably impacted some of his early decisions and helped the light-side part of his nature grow.

It took me a long, long time to settle on a final look for the character.  Nothing wrong with the looted stuff, but I kept experimenting with the appearance until the cartel crates brought along the Remulus Dreypa set, which looked to me to be perfect for the character.  He’s no armored behemoth (he went with the Marauder spec), and this look felt both fashionable and deadly.  I had gone with the standard red lightsaber crystals for the longest time, but I eventually had a black-core red crystal fall into my hands, and figured, “why not?”  I used a pair of curved hilts until Knights of the Fallen Empire, when I swapped one for the attuned saber crafted on Odessen.

All told, I’ve always been pretty happy with Astirth as a character.  Quick to avenge, quick to defend, eagerly seeking to test himself in battle against his enemies, and willing to reward his friends lavishly.  He doesn’t take betrayal well, though; folks who have done the Sith Warrior storyline will understand that I was regretful that I couldn’t kill a certain traitor at one point, but I made up for it by replacing his armor with cybernetic parts.  I like to think Astirth hacked off a number of parts with a lightsaber.  Like I said:  quick to avenge….  That said:  since the post-Eternal Throne storyline included the return of that character, I chose to let Astirth bring the character back into the fold; it’d been five years plus the length of the storyline, plus the time between the beginning of the storyline and the end of the Sith Warrior Chapter Three, which includes the entirety of Shadow of Revan and Rise of the Hutt Cartel.  The character had paid the price and had effectively repaid Astirth with excellent service; and, well, Astirth may hate betrayal, but is fond of loyalty.  I haven’t taken Astirth through the most recent mission, though, which reveals the Alliance Traitor, so when I eventually put him through it, we’ll see how things shake out.

Only two more of my “main” characters to go through the KotET story, plus the two “Dark vs. Light” characters!  And one of them will be getting their own Cast List posts likely at that time; it’s such a convenient time to take care of these things….  (The other is Chadam, who’s already had his turn here.)

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.

Visiting Energy Ribbons

New framework, but not the most impressive episode for it.

Quiet as a mouse, a new episode landed in Star Trek Online last week.  It snuck in when I wasn’t looking.

The episode was mathematically inevitable.  According to Trek lore, the energy ribbon known as the Nexus manages to cruise its way around this region of the galaxy every 39 years or thereabouts.  The last time it managed to blow up a planet-or it would have, if not for the efforts of Enterprise captains Jean Luc Picard and James T. Kirk.  39 years after that?

2410.  Or, in other words, the time and setting of the back portion of the Star Trek Online storyline.  A story concerning the Nexus was inevitable-especially in light of the 30th anniversary of the Star Trek: The Next Generation series.

For all of that, the newly released episode-Beyond the Nexus-isn’t exactly the most impressive episode written.  It’s another episode that feels like filler, taking away from the still-developing Lukari/Tzenkethi storyline (although that story does get name-checked, which means this episode will likely be slotted in the Lukari arc when it ends its feature run).  There’s nothing inherently wrong with fillers; but there didn’t really seem to be much effort put into the development of the story and mechanics of the episode.  The art was nice, but for the most part, there was little “wow” factor to be found here.

In some ways, you can’t do much with the Nexus.  How are you going to replicate paradise for your character?  Everyone has a different conception of what their character’s idea of paradise would be.  You could go into someone else’s version, of course-like Picard did with Kirk’s-but Picard still had to resist his first.  So a trip into the Nexus proper probably was never in the cards.  Then again, this episode turns the idea on its ear a bit:  someone who saw the Nexus as a prison wants out.  And let’s face it:  an ideal prison is the kind the prisoner doesn’t want to escape.  That’s food for thought as to the purpose of the Nexus, hm?  (That’s just me rambling; no evidence that more than one person sees it that way in the game, but it’s an interesting thing to consider.)

The plot for this episode is pretty straightforward:  ship researching the Nexus stopped communicating after encountering a ship that had previously been lost to the Nexus.  Your ship is sent to investigate.  Expect exchanges of fire between ships and their crews after being boarded.  It’s not quite as monotonous as the old exploration missions of “find 5 of this, kill 5 of that”, but it’s definitely a step down in quality.  I hope this is because the devs are putting their A-game on next year’s probable Dominion-themed expansion (which I don’t believe has technically been confirmed yet).  Despite this, the resolution of the episode is very much in the spirit of ST:TNG (did I mention an anniversary?  I think I must have), and could possibly lead to a follow-up at some point in the future.  I can’t believe this will be the only time we get the Nexus referenced in 2410.  And I will admit, too, that there’s a section in the episode that put a smile on my face that involves one of the most infamous purveyors of holodeck content in Star Trek lore; the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Oh, there is one more thing that makes the episode stand out a bit more than some; it features the second voiced appearance from a member of the Enterprise-D/E crew, Geordi La Forge.  (The first, of course, was Worf, and we also had a silent, not-confirmed-but-heavily-implied appearance from Geordi’s closest friend.)  There’s a strong implication that we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the ongoing story arc, and very likely beyond; I did mention an anniversary, didn’t I?  We still are missing a number of the big names doing voice-overs, but I don’t believe it impossible at this point; after all, they managed to get most of the crew of Voyager in the game.  Surely they can pull off a few more.  I doubt they could get Picard in, but I could see Troi, Crusher (either one), and maybe even Riker to make appearances here.

We can hope, anyway.  In the meantime, we still have a new Season that’s coming up in October, which will have another episode which is likely going to be more involved than this one, plus a new major fleet holding (something more on the scale of the fleet starbases than the other holdings), which should make life interesting on the final frontier.  And as I recall, we can expect something in another week or two.  Something to do with an anniversary….

The Cast List: Introducing Gunfighter of Champions Online

Well, coming on the heels of Willforge’s finale, it’s time to expand the List to include Champions Online characters.  I debated on adding CO characters to my Cast List; after all, a very large portion of them are already out there on the web in assorted locations.  But it occurred to me that while that’s all well and good for a role-playing perspective, those don’t really go into my thoughts on when I put those characters together.  And since CO is still a game that I’m playing, it made sense to me to part the curtain here.  (At some point, I may well add characters from defunct games like Star Wars Galaxies-that’ll be a short list-and City of Heroes to the list, but the current games I’m involved with should cover this nicely for the foreseeable future.)

So.  Gunfighter.  I can’t say he is the first character I created for CO; but he is the oldest surviving one; I’d wiped out a couple of other characters over the years dating back to when I started playing CO, but Gunfighter had evolved into my “main” character for a short period of time when I had that free time from game purchase, then got shoveled to the side until the game went Freemium-it was still shoveled to the side, though, because I didn’t have access to the Freeform archetypes, and I wasn’t willing to convert him to a Marksman AT.  Eventually, when I started doing the sub again, I was able to continue advancing the character.

Since the character was put together at a time when I wasn’t interested much in developing an RP backstory for him, his creation came not from any story concept but from “gee, what if I make a modern-day cowboy”?  A man in black, complete with a black hat, but a good guy?  Since this was the game’s early days, everyone built via Freeform characters, and the powerset that obviously suited this guy was the Munitions powerset, which had all the good stuff like dual pistols and sniper rifles.  My plan was to give him all the gun-related powers, regardless of type of gun-he was going to be as familiar with rifles as he was with pistols; over time, he’d also get access to submachine guns and even a gatling gun!

It also meant that he got what I consider the character’s pride and joy.  Early in the game’s lifespan, there were items that were considered “Power Replacers”; items that basically meant you could replace a specific power with a modified version of the power.  Somewhere along the line when I wasn’t involved with CO, they got rid of those-or more accurately, stopped letting them drop.  They still existed, so if you had them, you could still use them, but nobody was getting these anymore.  Well, at one point in the character’s career, he got a replacer for his sniper rifle, an alien Gadroon sniper rifle; the weapon looks alien, and instead of doing a sniper-bullet, it was a sniper-energy-pulse.  It was the only power replacer I’d ever gotten.  I believe some of them have come back, but they require heaps of Questionite-the CO equivalent of Star Trek Online’s Dilithium-to purchase, I’m unlikely to ever get my hands on another similar type of item.

I could have given the character a classic cowboy appearance, but since I was going super-modern, I went with an armored suit, with extra plating on the upper body.  I had to include the black hat, though-that just wasn’t negotiable.  I added gold as a secondary color, and I think the look worked out pretty good.  The character’s face is a bit rugged looking, which is exactly how I figured it should be.  Finally, I slapped on a black eye mask, because, why not?  It’s a superhero setting!

I did eventually start up a backstory for the guy; my time in CoH made that sort of thing almost a reflex nowadays.  I wanted to work with the game’s setting-I often try to do that-and found my link in the organization called PRIMUS, which, among other things, is a law enforcement agency working in the US concerned with superhuman activity.  I figured that an ex-military guy might migrate to the organization, so I made him an ex-Marine; then, because I can’t leave well enough alone, I came up with a back story how a faction in PRIMUS was annoyed at how the international agency UNTIL often took over jurisdiction on superhuman activity, and this faction decided to take twelve people and enhance them in various ways (beyond what PRIMUS is normally capable of doing, that is)-one third got cyber enhanced, one third got “gene-mapped” new powers with an experimental process, and the last third simply got hi-tech toys.  Gunfighter would be in the latter category.  These would be superhuman operatives that operated more or less in international territory, and given plausible deniability to avoid issues with the assorted governments.  Because I didn’t want to get too crazy with rogue factions, I had the faction found out by the higher ups in PRIMUS and shut down-but not before they cut the survivors of the twelve loose to operate as heroes.

Worth noting that I had planned to mine this basic concept for future reference.  I have no less than three other characters tied to this rogue PRIMUS experiment, and in addition to that, I also put together one Nemesis (not all of the survivors from the original 12 wound up as good guys in the end), who conveniently is Gunfighter’s.  I planned to build a foundation similar to what I had done with a chunk of my characters in CoH, just in case one day I’d be actually doing any RP with the guy-or any future characters.  As I’ve more or less drifted away from that scene, that idea’s something that now only exists in my head.

Gunfighter was not my first level 40 character, but he was somewhere in the first three.  The Munitions powerset has gone through its ups and downs, but Gunfighter managed to get through them intact, and-as most of my top level guys do in this game-is now more or less enshrined in my personal hall of fame, as I work on new characters.  With new character slots that open up when you get a character to max level in CO, it’s painfully easy to move onto new ideas and indulge hard in altoholism.  This sort of helps encourage a guy to actually try to occasionally focus on getting characters to 40, so the addiction to alts can be continually fed!