Finding Your Path: The Righteous Paladin

Hello world! :| This is going to possibly be the first in an occasional blog I will write about the Pathfinder tabletop RPG. I've been into DnD and tabletop for a little over a decade and I love getting new people into it! Hopefully someone might find these interesting, informative, or...something. Either way, let me know in the comments if you have any questions, recommendations, or disputes about anything in the post.

Paladins can ruin games, either directly or indirectly. I’ve seen it too many times and you can spot it from a mile away before it happens. The “Paladin trap”, as I refer to it, happens when the player, party, or GM expect the paladin to be a zealous character who is the fantasy equivalent of the Westboro Baptist Church. The Paladin is the one is “ruins all the party’s fun”, is a stick in the mud, and generally gets role played as someone who seems to have the least amount of genuine role playing, thinks that whatever your plan winds up being is never a good idea, and only seems to really make an impact when undead shows up. “Hey guys, uh…smite?”

I have always been drawn to paladin characters: stoic, champions of the faith that are there to help those in need and hinder those with evil intent. One of the things I always stress to tell those playing a paladin is a simple bit of advice: don’t be a dick. Paladins can be tolerant, paladins can be slow to wrath, and paladins can also be loyal to party members who might not follow the exact same line they do. Of course a lawful good paladin isn’t going to jive well with a chaotic, evil half-orc barbarian being in the same party but that goes without saying. There are many different routes to take a paladin that go beyond a “bible thumping”, smite factory.

Most of this is going to stem on the players ability to role play. Ah yes, role playing that bane of…role players…anyway. As mentioned earlier, this is going to be a group effort of everyone in the game not forcing the paladin to feel as though his only route is to be a dick. The GM needs not punish the paladin for simply being party of the group. Should the paladin have to atone for something the rogue did on the other side of town while the party was sleeping in the inn? Absolutely not, but sometimes with a poor GM the paladin might be subject to idiotic restrictions. The paladin should an oathbound archetype to possibly switch things up.

What’s an Oathbound paladin: an oathbound paladin through his or her order, deity, or personal conviction has made an oath to eradicate a particular type of evil in the world. Taking the oath bound approach not only opens up possibly different role playing options for your paladin but also gives you access to new abilities at certain levels. Just like with other archetypes, these abilities would replace existing ones. For example, an oathbound paladin against savagery would replace divine grace with holy reach. In terms of flavor and role playing, the oath bound paladin against savagery would go up against the savage hoards of those the likes of orcs, goblins, and more who are plagues upon “civil” society. There are nine oathbound variants to the archetype which I would recommend checking out if you’re interested in it. Personally, if interested in taking the oath bound archetype, I would check with your DM to get a feel for what type of campaign and setting he or she plans on using. Being an oathbound paladin against the wyrm would be fairly pointless if you never face dragons or anything related to them in sorcery or bloodline. Another caveat to the oathbound archetype is that you will need to ensure the god you choose for your character is appropriate to the oath you've chosen, but the link below can help with that.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Paladins can just end up being dickheads if that’s how you want to roleplay them. The point to this blog post was mostly to point out that there is more life in a paladin character than just being a walking cliché full of hate and rhetoric. The paladin can be fiercely loyal to his or her companions in the party and even be fun loving and full of life, but that’s up to you the role player. Just try not to be such a player as to where your entire party hopes that you fall on your sword…or mace.

Helpful links:

Pathfinder Paladin Archetypes

Pathfinder Oathbound Paladin Options

Heroforge Kickstarter Campaign - This is a Kickstarter that I have 0 involvement with outside of being a backer. As a tabletop guy this is awesome to me as it could potentially allow for the possibility of always being able to create a miniature that invokes the image I have for a character. I hate choosing placeholder miniatures or finding something that just kind of looks OK enough.

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The Lie that is Arkham Origins (Spoilers will be tagged)

At one point several weeks ago I remember saying to someone, “I don’t care if Arkham Origins is just a reskinned Arkham City. We don’t get enough of that kind of game that I am tired of it.” Sitting here now, not even 24 hours after having beaten the main portion of the storyline, I can say in honesty that I was wrong. After originally having been excited for the story implications of Arkham Origins I feel as if the developer (WB Montreal) was given the task of creating a last minute cash grab that ultimately provides a story that ultimately does nothing but tell you what you maybe already knew: The Batman franchise has a Joker addiction and its becoming more boring every year it exists.

I am a comic book fan and I have collected them since I was about five or six. While I largely tend to trend towards Marvel comics and its characters (in regards to superheroes and the “big two”) I still enjoy and appreciate Batman and some of DC Comics’ stable of characters. Batman Arkham Asylum and Arkham City were both great games, not only as comic book inspired titles but even beyond that. They hit an interesting tone and become successful enough that other games started to copy the same formula. When they announced a prequel set in the early years of Batman’s career where the gangster Black Mask has hired assassins to take you down…well, I was excited. They promised Black Mask and villains such as Bane (in a more familiar format that was as cartoonish as the previous entries), Lady Shiva, Deathstroke, and more. I thought this was interesting, especially since they could make you feel the fact he was early in his career and they could force you into using outdated technology. However, they do the opposite and ultimately make me feel as if their premise was nothing more than a lie.

We knew from marketing that the Joker and Penguin would show up. This isn’t an issue, they are staple characters and it only makes sense Batman would interact with them in some capacity. However, after two hours of the game I discovered that not only was the main storyline fairly short but that the premise behind what I was being sold felt like a lie. You barely deal with assassins and with as much of a challenge as marketing told us Deathstroke was going to be, I took him out in less than five minutes and then you never interact with him again. For the third time in a row we deal primarily with The Joker and that’s it. Bane is there for good measure, and I liked how he was treated, but the last two hours of the game felt forced and ultimately turned into a Joker fight again. The technology feels just as high as the last two titles and we conveniently have items that we gained only in the last game…I guess The Batman has a terrible memory or inventory system in the bat cave.

I finished the game only so I said I could. I didn’t want to have wasted that $60 this close to a new console launch only to have not finished the game. I found the multiplayer only to be competent but largely unbalanced and not incredibly fun. I felt as if I was playing Gears of War online only with Batman and Robin thrown in the mix. I think there’s something there that if given the proper amount of time to flesh out could be cool, but it is largely unnecessary. Sadly, I think the same of the single player campaign. What could have been a cash grab with some depth feels only like a cash grab. The voice acting is good but other than that I was thoroughly disappointed with the product that WB Montreal put out. I can only recommend the game if you pick it up in a Steam sale or for $20 somewhere. The biggest complaint I have is ultimately I feel lied to. They tried to make this out like I was going to be getting a largely Joker free experience and in the end I can say that they definitely did not live up to that promise. Do I think the game is hot garbage? No, but I definitely don't think it was worth my time.

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My Mind...Has Been Blown

I've just recently started reading Karen Travis' "Republic Commando" series, which started as an adaptation of the game from last generation. This got me, slightly, in the mood to reinstall the game on Steam and play some of it again. Other than having to set bump mapping to low, the game ran perfectly fine (outside of the fact the game doesn't hold up well). I remembered the game had MP so I jumped in, surprised to see what I did. People actually playing the online? Mind blown. Seriously. I tried to ask several players why they still played to get a sense of if it was a community thing over a game thing, but I never really got an answer. I did get accused of being a hacker, so there was that.

What Games Am I Currently Enjoying?

1. Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection

2. Sleeping Dogs

3. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

4. Metal Gear Solid HD Collection

5. Guild Wars 2

6. Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

Also had the pleasure of attending DragonCon 2012 in Atlanta, Ga for the first time. Definitely going back next year as it was incredibly fun. I had the honor of meeting James Callis three separate times over the weekend, which was amazing. I may include the story in the next blog post as it is really cool.

I'd still like to play Darksiders 2 but I feel like I can wait for a $35 sale on it as I know for sure I want to get the Ratchet and Clank HD collection...seriously love those games.

CS:GO has been an interesting transition for me. I've played CS since the early betas (around 3 or 4) so it has a special place in my heart. Some guns feel great while others (see: AK-47 and the M4) feel stilted and worse than even their older versions in something like Counter-Strike: Source. I've put maybe 10-12 hours in so far. If possible I'd like to get into playing CS:GO at least 8 hours a week, if possible. Then again, at one point I said the same about Team Fortress 2.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron's multiplayer seems worse than the original, in my opinion. The locomotion of the vehicles forms is far less satisfying and fun, some weapons and classes are incredibly overpowered, level progression is broken and used mostly as a way to dominate other lower leveled characters, and they removed the vehicle specific abilities like the leader class (who has been renamed) had an ability to, in vehicle form, ram into others...I miss that...or the infiltrator class being able to do barrel rolls after high jumps...I miss that too. Did I mention the game feel broken and unbalanced to me? One word, at least: Scrapmaker. Also, why does the tank class move faster in robot form than in tank form? I have noticed my fair share of lag in almost every server as well, so I'm not sure what's going on with that.

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Uncharted 3...Amazing But...

I will make this short, but while playing Uncharted 3 last night I couldn't help but feel as if the combat was better in 2...at least I didn't feel as constricted at hit with bullshit was I feel I am in 3. Heavy soldiers are one of the tropes or archetypes I'd like gaming to drop, especially for a game series like Uncharted. When you are surrounded on all sides by RPG dudes, regular dudes, shield dudes, and then heavy dudes with armor...it makes for a completely disjointed and not fun experience in comparison to the amazing set pieces, story, and acting the game delivers.

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Customer No-Service In Action

I am going to copy and paste directly from my email communcations with someone at "BuyMerchant.com". My wife needed a headwrap to complete a project she is working on, so I purchased what she needed from BuyMerchant.com. I chose UPS Ground as the shipping option since I prefer their tracking system and service. When I received shipping confirmation I realized that while it stated I paid for UPS Ground I received a USPS tracking number...I figured I should email an inquiry ASAP in case it could be corrected. The following is what transpired:

Steve Simmons to Buy2:03 PM

Hello. If I paid for UPS Ground shipping then why am I receiving a tracking number for USPS shipping? Thanks.

Steven Simmons

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Buy Merchant Inc to me3:23 PM

What? what difference does it make we will hold the package immediately it was sent USPS priority we reserve the right to ship our merchandise however we choose to have a good day

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Steve Simmons to Buy3:43 PM

To Whom It May Concern,

I am sorry you feel the need to advertise one thing and then do another. If I pay for what is advertised to be UPS Ground shipping but it is being shipped, as you claim, USPS priority then that is false advertising. I was not being rude in requesting a clarification as sometimes these things can be mixed up and that is understandable. Your response was incredibly rude and threatening that you have a right to "ship our merchandise however we choose" really has nothing to do with the question I asked. You may also want to work on your grammar as it does not exude professionalism to be both rude and decide to not use grammar. I am sorry that you felt the need to respond in such a way and also be unhelpful to a paying customer.

The reason that it is important to me is that I chose UPS ground at checkout as they have a much better system for tracking packages than does the USPS, and if I am not mistaken the USPS priority was much more expensive than the UPS ground option I chose at checkout.

Steven Simmons

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Buy Merchant Inc to me3:53 PM

It was more expensive but we still shipped it that way most customers would be happy to have the merchandise get to them faster than the method they paid, your nasty and sarcastic emails will be saved as proof of purchase and character assonating attacks against us for no reason, it is no way false advertising when we ship the merchandise how we choose to we did not advertise shipping we advertise our merchandise, too bad you have the need to write a whole paragraph to tell us we are unprofessional and need to learn grammar we can say the same for you but we won’t waist our time with such childish assaults. We will close your account and ask you please not to buy from us again or use another name to register with our company have a good day J

We get signature for everything we ship out and all merchandise shipped from here has a tracking # we never have a problem with tracking any item we ship UPS or USPS or FedEx

_____________________________________

Yes, those are copied and pasted directly from the emails...and yes, they really are worded that rudely and poorly. I am kind of appalled in that...not hurt, just really pissed off. Funny thing is I don't have an account with them and I just did a "express checkout" without having to register or anything. Basically, don't do business with "BuyMerchant.com" as they are dredges of society who can't even answer a question, let along do it politely and professionally.

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XBox Live...Yes, Paying Is A Big Deal

Short post on this, solely because it was brought up by a friend:

Why do we still pay to be able to play on Xbox live and why do people defend it so vigorously? Not only do we pay for XBox Live, the price was just hiked up $10 for no real reason at all. Is it because of Last.FM? Well, I don't use that so if so you can have that back. Is it because of Netflix? My iphone, my laptop, my computer, my PS3, and pretty soon my 3DS will support Netflix and I don't pay extra for it. I already pay to use Netflix as it is, why are we paying Microsoft? Do you think that paying for Xbox Live means you are getting enhanced security, because you aren't...paying for XBL and not paying for PSN has nothing to do with hacks or infrastructure. This is a horse that I've beat for years and defenders never give good reasons as to why.

Sometimes you'll hear "because we get party chat and all the xbox live video content". Again, how about you take that back? I don't want your crappy Zune store, I don't use Last.FM, I don't give a crap about any of your original (and bad) video content. If I am seeing ads for cars, food products, the army, and whatever else shows up why exactly do we fit the bill the at the end of the day? I wish Microsoft would just let people play online and use the features in the box, not gas tax us to death.

My friend, whom I mentioned previously, is getting a free Xbox 360 because of the deal Microsoft has when you buy a new Windows 7 PC with a student account. When I mentioned he'll have to get XBox Live to even play online he asked me why and I had no real explanation but the real sad thing? Neither does Microsoft. Take all your other junk back Microsoft. I thought paying the extra $10 for games this generation went towards stuff like that? Apparently not, but xbot fanboys keep defending it and the rest of us (yes, I'm including myself in there) just conform and move along. Why not have gold give you exclusive access to ESPN and whatever else they want to add. Making it to where I have to pay money to even have full access to a title I already paid $60+ or making me pay to watch Netflix...which I already pay for? I would say we can change it by making our voices heard and actually effecting XBL by refusing to pay and dropping subscriptions, but no one would do that all...so I guess we're doomed. Either take the lumps and don't know why or play only on every other gaming system out there that lets me play online for free...I mean that only leaves me with my PC, 3DS, PSP, PS3, DS, and iphone......

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2011...Let Us Game

2011 has started quite odd for me. 

 First off I was snowed in for two days in South Eastern Tennessee, I decide what I need to do is download a bunch of Xbox Live and PSN games, and then I finish that off by grabbing random games off the shelf hoping to entertain my wife and I.

The hardest thing was the last part.   My wife, God bless her, wants to be part of my gaming experiences.   Typically, she enjoys setting back and watching me play something while asking questions about the story or typical “why questions” about the game design.   During the break I finished Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood (PS3) and the only thing that matched her enthusiasm for the story was her amusement in the screen tearing taking place in nearly every session of game play.  

Following that I introduced her to the Sly Cooper games and we went through to platinum in a few hours of play all the while I was stunned how well the game overall still holds up.   Playing through those levels I could really see where inFAMOUS evolved from the series.   We have yet to get into Sly Cooper 2, and with all the great titles coming out I doubt it will be anytime soon.

The weeks following were mired in bursts of Need Speed Hot Pursuit, Fable 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and various downloadable titles.

Need For Speed Hot Pursuit (Ps3)

I have been done with the franchise since Most Wanted on the 360.   Honestly, I thought the series was deserving of its break, but after getting this game I was surprised how addicting it can be.   In reality, I don’t think this game has as much charm if you don’t take up the social networking aspects so I suggest either friending people online from games you’ve played or give a shot out to some of the Bomb community.   Personally, I enjoy the game most by jumping into the recommendations trying your best to top friend’s scores.  Also, the online is phenomenal when you take the time to play through the modes.

Fable 3 (360)

“Remember all those great things we had in Fable 3?   Screw it, let’s just go get a couple of pints and see what happens.”   This is how I imagine the first day of Fable 3 development went.   The original Fable was overhyped and too simple for me to enjoy, but when Fable 2 came out I genuinely thought they were on the right track and the game was pretty fun.   Fable 3 takes about ten steps back without making any progress whatsoever.   To give Lionhead Studios credit they did try something new with the menu system, but I seriously doubt that was so taxing and intuitive that it absorbed all their development time.   This game feels as if it’s not even half done, but maybe a quarter done with a few weeks of polish time to try and make it seem complete.   My wife enjoyed the voice acting mostly, but she did like a few of the side quests as well.   We threw money down on the DLC and the “industrial knight” armor (aka, this our steam punk armor which basically looks like the steam punk Iron Man MARVEL had on an alternate cover a while back) but none of it really felt…meaty?   The DLC missions took us all of an hour, at most, to complete.   The armor is cool, so I guess it achieved its desired effect.   I won’t rail on the game too much as everything that needed to be said has been in the boards and podcasts, but I honestly think this game isn’t even fun; it’s a role playing game where every option given, in their limited capacity, are all things you wouldn’t want to do.   Screw this game and screw Lionhead Studios.   This game proves they need to take some time off and make a game worth playing.

Fallout: New Vegas (Ps3)

Immediately starting out in this game I had a feeling that I wasn’t going to enjoy it as much as I did Fallout 3.   When you start Fallout 3 you essentially have carte blanche to go where you want (given you have the gear to handle whatever situations arise) but in New Vegas you really have limited options in comparison.   I came across many a zone and situation where no matter what tactics I devised, there was a 0% outcome of success.   This isn’t bad and this absolutely does not make the game bad, but it really did hamper my enjoyment of the game.   In Fallout 3 I would wander for hours coming across enjoyable and thrilling storylines, or sometime hilarious and absurd, and the only thing standing in the way of me completing my goal would be “do you know what to do”?   True, the combat was more difficult until you get to around level 12-15, but you could still mostly handle anything coming at you.   Not the case in New Vegas and that is disappointing.  

I think the voice work is on par, if not better, but so far I haven’t come across any characters that I enjoy but I’ve only played maybe 4 or 5 hours.   I wish I had more to do with Ghost at the NCR caravan outpost as she seemed pretty cool.   I can’t say I enjoy the faction rep stuff when I am still getting hit with seemingly pointless and unaccountable karma points.  

Hopefully I can get more into this game as it is by no means “bad”, but I do think it’s initial impression is less impressive than Fallout 3’s.   Also, I am ready to get out of Fallout and into Elder Scrolls.   I have toyed with playing some more Oblivion as its been a few years since I’ve bothered with my assassin/thief.

Misc Downloadable Stuff

Over the first few weeks of 2011 this Simmons’ household went on a little purchasing spree online.   The titles that I remember us buying are: Raskulls, World of Keflings, Trials HD, IloMilo, Rock Band Free DLC and the Johnny Cash 01 pack, Dead Rising Case West, and X-Men arcade.   We also got some stuff on the Ps3, but I can’t remember what it is right now.   Raskulls is interesting and the difficulty seems to ramp up pretty quick, World of Keflings…haven’t touch, Trials haven’t touched, IloMilo is cute and I’m almost through world 2 I think, the Rock Band DLC is obviously amazing, Dead Rising Case West is still absurd DR gameplay with a few decent tweaks but no real effort, and X-Men arcade is basically a spruced up ROM that I’ve had on MAME for years.  

In Closing

I still have too many games to play and that’s no one’s fault but my own.   With Little Big Planet 2 Special Edition, Mass Effect 2 (PS3), and Dead Space 2 Special Edition over the next two weeks I have plenty of gaming to do.   I still don’t want to forget anything like Fallout but it happens…there will be an off period that hopefully I can get back on track.  

Question: I have noticed more and more screen tearing in games recently.   I know that it’s because the lack of V-SYNC, but can it also be caused by a faulty Ps3?   Just curious…Well, I know have to use the restroom so that means I will be catching up on more reading in Altered Carbon, which is an AMAZING book.   Thanks for reading, and I’d love to hear any comments any of you have.   Happy, belated, New Year and have B4TM4N.

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Split/Second $20 on Sale

For anyone interested, Best Buy currently has Split/Second on sale for $20 in store or online.  Not a bad price for this game, so I think I will go ahead and take the plunge.

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Dead Space 2 Closed Beta

I has it.  So far, really enjoying it but will be nice to play with people who understand that this is objective based co-op.  Anyone else get invited?

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Brian Crecente VS Helicopter....Confirmed

So apparently when Brian Crecente isn't running Kotaku he is fighting Indian bad guys and taking on everyone's arch enemy, helicopters.  I wonder how much his insurance costs....
 
I give you, ladies and gentlemen.....Brian Crecente vs helicopter
 
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhDcd8DZK_o&feature=player_embedded

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