Finished Pillars of Eternity!

Confronting Thaos...
Confronting Thaos…

Well, until the expansion, anyway.

One side benefit of an internet outage (I was without internet for most of the weekend) is that all those single player games I never get around to finishing are suddenly totally available!

I was pretty close to the ending of Pillars of Eternity last time I played, working on the god appeasement quests before heading to the final confrontation in the Sun in Shadow. During those, you start thinking about how you see the world continuing after the big evil is defeated, and just how that defeat will be accomplished. But then again, as the ending draws nearer, it's clear that pretty much everything you know about the world (and knew back in your past life as well), was wrong.

It took me three tries to complete the final fight. The first time I had no idea what was going on; the second time, I thought I knew, but was wrong (and wiped quickly); the third time, I managed to pull it off. I just had a random crew based on whose stories I was finishing, and whose were finished. My party: me, the rogue; Athol, the wizard; Durance, the priest; the druid; my custom cipher. If I'd thought about it, I'd have had the godform paladin in place of my cipher, and taken the ranger Sagani instead of the druid. The druid is great for the AEs, but the single target and offtanking ranger abilities would have been more valuable.

During the recap at the end, I expected to find out how my endgame decisions affected the world, and wasn't disappointed. However, the recap also went over pretty much every decision I made throughout the game. I really fouled up a few times. There's things I really should have done differently, if only I'd known. I'm clearly not going to spoil things by going over them here, but… no good deed goes unpunished, right? Maybe making another decision would have also turned out poorly.

Great game, loved the plot. I'm sorry things didn't work out well for most of my companions. Athol apparently turned evil, Sagani lost her will to live, the Grieving Mother went insane, the paladin was exiled, Durance became a crazy hermit, the chanter turned out okay. I think the druid turned out fine as well. I never worked on the warrior's story, and he had a non-committal ending.

I should probably play through again and fix my mistakes :P

Love mah TRUCK!!!

Check out the airbrush!
Check out the airbrush!

Love mah TRUCK!!! Thanks for the rad paint, +Michael Birke !

I've hired two drivers. My first one started out with a 0.8 rating. As soon as I had money, and paid off a high interest 100K loan with a cheaper 400K load and expanded my garage and bought new trucks with the balance, I hired a second driver with a 2.5 rating. (I had to go out of country; I think I got him in France or Italy). I thought he was going to be awesome, but my first guy improved to 2.5 and is really bringing in the Euros, while guy #2 seems to be slacking.

Thinking about bringing on a couple new drivers in a bit… don't really know what to look for any more.

Was going to add a Euro Truck Simulator 2 hashtag, but does G+ do hashtags any more?

Euro Truck Simulator 2

On the road to Frankfurt.
On the road to Frankfurt.

Not really been a fan of all the recent simulator offerings — Train Simulator, Farming Simulator… Goat Simulator… but something about Euro Truck Simulator 2 caught my eye when it popped up in Steam's summer sale. I guess I just wanted to see Europe's highways from two meters above the road, or something. Certainly, you don't get to experience very much of the cities, which is probably just as well, because traffic.

In ETS2, you're a (male) freelance driver taking on relatively short-range (< 250km) cargos, driving other people's trucks. You'll soon arrange for a bank loan to buy your own customizable truck, opening up new and better opportunities. As you gain funds, you can open up your own trucking company and hire other drivers to expand your empire from its humble beginnings to conquer the whole of Europe.

Tanglewood Trucking über alles?

I started my career in Nürnberg, running the Nürnberg to Frankfurt to Dortmund route. After a few fairly traumatic mishaps toward the beginning, I learned how to stay on the road, leave road signs standing, and stop crushing Audis. The distances are compressed in the game, so even 200 km trips only take a few minutes… but the designers ensure every little switchback is left in. The trucks I've driven so far seem to be limited to just 90 km/hr, which, on the Autobahn, seems rather slow, as cars whiz by on both sides. On those switchbacks, though….

I'm just considering a loan to buy my first truck (prices start at about €90K and go up from there; I have about €20K at the moment). Once I have a truck, I'll be able to start on the company management portion of the game. I don't know if there's a point where you can just stop driving and focus instead on the management game, but it seems unlikely. The game is just perfectly tuned to the zen-like driving experience, watching the scenery trudge by as cars whiz past you on both sides.

Every trip ends with the parking mini-game. Trucks and trailers operate on their own, bizarre, kind of physics where turning in any particular direction while backing up turns the trailer into a wildly flailing source of blunt force trauma aimed at the unfortunate trailers already parked at the loading docks. The game lets you bypass the parking game, but really, it's super exciting.

Weather conditions also combine to turn the excitement dial to "11". I accepted a nighttime job… which was okay, really, until I drove into heavy rain and lightning. And then came the switchbacks.

ETS2 supports a number of control schemes (I use an XBox controller) and difficulties (full auto for me; ETS2 supports full pedals, steering wheels and manual shifts, if you've got them). Having never driven an actual tractor-trailer, I can only imagine the real thing is much more terrifying than this simulation… but the simulation is more than enough for me.

ETS2 isn't likely to become my go-to game when I sit down to play, but I imagine I have many more hours exploring Europe from rest stop to rest stop ahead of me. And, they have American Truck Simulator now, in case I run out of Europe before Europe runs me out.

Hoard of the Dragon Queen: The Story Thus Far…

Inn of the Trolls
Inn of the Trolls

We’re adding two new members to our weekly D&D campaign, so our DM wrote this “what has happened until now” to catch them up. Since I’ve been pretty inconsistent with chronicling our adventures, I got permission to repost it here :)

The party came together as hired guards for a merchant caravan that was heading through a town called Greenest. Upon reaching Greenest, the party found that the town was in the process of being sacked. The merchant wanted nothing to do with this, turned around, and left the players to either follow or to assist the town. Being good adventurers (and otherwise ending the game before it began), the party opted to sneak around the periphery to recon the area.

It seemed that Greenest was beseiged by some kind of dragon cult comprised of kobolds and humans, some in cult regalia, and many in standard armor. The party helped a family reach the town’s keep, and met Governor Nighthill and his chief of security Escobert the Red. Neither knew why they were under attack, but they tasked the players (being skilled adventurers) with venturing outside of the keep to round up as many wayward villagers as they could to bring back to the keep.

Through several forays through the village, the party A) destroyed part of a mill, B) rescued many villagers from a fortifed church, and C) found themselves with a strange case of missing time after a botched attempt to introduce some freestyle RP into the game. Ultimately, the raiders massed outside the keep and one of their leaders — a half-dragon named Langdedrosa Cyanwrath — challenged a champion to a duel before they left. Gina, the party’s dwarf fighter, accepted, and while she held her own, she was ultimately cut down, and the raiders left.

After patching up the dwarf, Nighthill presented a young monk who was in a state of panic. His friend and mentor, Leosin, had gone missing, and was suspected of having either been captured by the raiders, or had followed the raiders to their camp. These monks, it was explained, were investigating this dragon cult, and the missing monk was painted as a bit obsessed. The party was asked to track the raiders, scout the camp, find the monk, and maybe recover some of the villager’s valuables.

The party tracked the raiders to a canyon where the cultists had set up camp. During the after-raiding party, the adventurers were able to slip into undetected, but quickly blew their cover when they got a bit over-aggressive with some of the locals. Soon they found themselves captive, and held beside the elven monk that they had been sent to rescue. Thankfully, one of the party was able to slip his shackles and free the others, but as they started their escape, the elven monk opted to stay behind, promising to meet up with the party back in Greenest.

Once back in Greenest, Nighthill wanted to know exactly what the hell was going on in that camp. Back to the camp the players went. The place was now empty, but this allowed the players to investigate the mysterious cavern they had seen kobolds trucking goods into when they were here last. Ultimately, they discovered several unhatched dragon eggs, but opted to leave them alone and report back to Greenest.

Turns out that they had passed Leosin at some point, as he had returned to Greenest but had set out immediately for [I forget the name of the town!] where he wanted to meet the players once they had rested and resupplied.

Off to [I forget the name of the town!] the players rode. Upon arrival, they met with Leosin and a compatriot of his, a paladin of Torm named [Yeesh…I forgot his name too]. The Paladin was interested in carousing around the town, and dragged the players with him until it was time to get serious. He told the players that he and Leosin — who was a Harper — and others are concered about this dragon cult. They’ve been moving eastward, ransacking towns and villages and carting off their valueables to Torm knows where. A late breaking lead suggested that the Greenest cultsts were headed down-river to Baldur’s Gate, and were then establishing a caravan north to Waterdeep. Leosin and his Pal-adin (!) asked the players to take a chartered boat down the River Chionthar to Baldur’s Gate, hire themselves into whatever caravan the cultists were a part of, and find out where this treasure was headed, and why.

It was during the three day trip that the players got to relax, eat a lot, get attacked by the orchestra, and reconnect with old flames who for some reason where on this same ship headed in the same direction, but which have absolutely no relevance to the overall plot as specified in the “Hoard of the Dragon Queen” modele from Wizards of the Coast (all rights reserved).

In Baldur’s Gate, the players got themselves a job as protection for a “prefers the company of animals” merchant who is one of several wagons and carts headed to Waterdeep. Three of those carts were recognized as being staffed by cultists, so the players knew they were in the right place.

After several nights of travel, they happened upon their first inn while struggling against a rather nasty rain and thunderstorm. As luck would have it, it was not crowded. As un-luck would have it, the entire place had been booked by just four men who were mightily amused at the angry faces the players were making when they tried to secure rooms for themselves and their fellow caravan mates. This ended in a bloody brawl which saw three of the mysterious men dead, and one severely wounded and begging for his life.