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The Sky is Falling: Day One with the Inquisition

Inquisition_membersAir…  I need…  AIR.  *deep breath*

Okay. Now that I’ve come up for air, it’s time to talk a bit about what I’ve been doing down in the gaming depths.  The past two days have been filled with little else other than one. Singular. Activity.  That being Dragon Age: Inquisition.  Now, of course, I’m known for my somewhat heretical enjoyment of the “Not cool to like” Bioware titles – Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3 – so my opinion is going to be a bit suspect on these things, but I have to say that Dragon Age: Inquisition is probably one of the more addicting games I’ve played in a long time.

The story is pretty simple at first.  There’s a giant hole in the sky where the veil between the magical Fade world and our world have been torn asunder and now demons are pouring out like it’s a Necronomicon Spring Break in Transylvania.  You also fell out of the hole, being the sole survivor of the explosion that caused it and with a weird glowing thing on your hand that can actually close the smaller holes dubbed Rifts.  So now it’s up to you and your buddies to close the hole! At least at first that’s what is going on.  I have a sneaky suspicion after 15 or so hours of game play that something else is waiting in the wings.  Considering I know there’s a place called Skyhold and I haven’t seen it yet, but we’re already marching to close the big hole… yea.

The characters are diverse but there’s none that I immediately latched onto as favorites like I did in Dragon Age 2.  I’ll admit that the characters were the big selling point for the second installment for me.  From Merrill’s innocent quirkiness and dark reveals to Isabella’s love of life and even Anders and Fenris and their opposing view of the mages.  Here we are treated to a veritable menagerie of characters and sadly to say only a handful of likeables thus far.  Cassandra comes off as a cross between Miranda from Mass Effect and an ill tempered drill sergeant. Solas (pronounced Soul-less) feels pretty much soul-less due to having that elven “I’ve lived more than 100 hundred lifetimes and am all knowing and all seeing and thus don’t need to care much” thing going on. Varric is… Varric, I can’t really describe the fast-talking, double dealing, best example of a bard in gaming I’ve ever seen any other way.

About the only character I actually dig thus far on a personal note is Sera and that is because she is completely bat-$#!* insane.  Her introduction can be boiled down to she has just killed a lot of people and stolen all their pants for absolutely no reason except maybe to sell them.  Too bad my first playthrough is a lawful good mage.  My Chaotic Neutral rogue playthrough however is gonna love her.

There insane amounts of little things to explore, collect, and unlock but each of these little things will help you in some way.  Seriously!  Either by granting experience to your character, giving you more power which you use to send people on missions, or giving you Influence which is kind of like XP for the entire Inquisition and lets you unlock overall power boosts like being able to open harder locks or getting extra XP from codex entries or kills.  I spent the first day doing absolutely nothing with the main story quest and just wandering around the hinterlands doing little odd jobs and finding doodads and resources.

Yes, resources.  Because crafting in this game requires an insane amount of resources.  But it’s not all annoying.  See unlike MMOs where you need a certain kind of metal and a certain kind of wood to make an item, DA:I boils it down to just need 10 metal and 2 wood.  Any 10 of one type of metal and any 2 of any kind of wood will do.  Now which metal and wood you use will affect things like bonus stats or color and pattern of the item, but the fact that creating things requires categories of items instead of specifics is much easier.  Especially when you will need specific crafting materials to fill requisitions from your army, essentially researching things to help your forces and thus help yourself like better weapons or gear.  For instance, I don’t know how much of this was me clearing up territory and claiming it protected by the Inquisition and how much of it was me filling up requisitions but as I kept playing I noticed that a pair of Inquisition soldiers would just appear in random spots with chests of a few useful items for you.

On that note, another great thing about this game is that it actually feels like you make progress.  You know how in Skyrim you would do something insane like almost blow up Winterhold but then afterwards no one pays even a single thought let alone any lasting effects? Or in well ANY MMO you can clear out an entire fortress of baddies and kill their leader only to have them all just waiting for you in a few minutes?  NOT HERE.  If I bring a band of bandits under my command, every bandit in that company of rogues is now an ally and will no longer attack me.  If I clear out the mage and templar strongholds, suddenly the mages and templars go from open war breaking out everywhere to nearly gone save for maybe a random pack wandering the wilderness.  Yea, those strongholds and camps you clean out? STAY CLEANED OUT.  You control that territory now. It’s yours.  Oh geeze does that feel good.  Because that means you can clear out the major conflicts in areas and then have nothing to contend with exploring except beasts, demons, and the occasional highwayman or Carta team (dwarf thugs) to deal with.

So thus far this game has been so much more addicting than Skyrim ever was.  It’s that right blend of basic to use but expansive to master mechanics, a truly consistent world, and engaging characters that I might not instantly cling to like in previous installments but are interesting enough for me to want to see where their character paths take them while we try to save the world.  Except Solas.  He’s kinda just boring.  Screw you, Solas.

What Doesn't Kill Ya: My D&D Injury System

Recently I had a new Dungeons & Dragons 4e campaign start, my first in over 6 months that I was DMing and the first time I had DMed a game since actually getting to sit on the player side of the screen.  Needless to say it made a big difference.  One thing I really wanted to do was patch up some of the holes that my last campaign had as well as some that observed in my gaming experiences.

A big one was going unconscious mid-battle should be a bigger deal than “Oh, I have to start making Death Saves”  So I got to searching for a good way to raise the stakes.  That’s when I stumbled upon this article on RoleplayingTips.com.  It describes a system in which a player sustains an injury when they get knocked out in battle, mostly taken from Dragon Age.   This was my starting point for coming up with my system and it doesn’t change too much from this except for a few minor things.

First of all, I’m not a big fan of unnecesary book keeping and taking a straight minus to an ability score creates just that.  Every skill associated with that ability score gets temporarily changed, the attacks and damage have to be altered, and if you want to be really mean it can alter your hit point total and number of healing surges as well.  Ultimately it just sounded like a big hassle and I wanted to really make it easy.  So I built a system around taking a loss that get tacked on to the end of roll instead of the beginning and having to rework a lot because of it.

My second change was I shortened up the list, but doubled up the results.  Essentially the list got halved and each injury gives minuses to two things.  Some are worse injuries to have than others to be sure, and to get some reprieve I inserted a chance that you would not receive an injury at all.  Also, a player can only suffer a maximum of three injuries at a time. I ended up with this chart:

Roll 1d6.
1 Injured Arm -1 to Attack and Damage Rolls
2 Injured Leg -1 to Speed and Initiative Rolls
3 Sore Skull -1 to Perception and Saving Throws
4 Bruised Rib Gain Vulnerable 2 to all damage
5 Stomach Wound Healing Surge Value is Reduced by 1/4
6 No Injury Sustained

Granted, that’s just for the Heroic tier.  I haven’t decided if it will scale in the other tiers of play but I have a good while to decide that.  The next task was to figure out how they can cure their injuries.  The easiest answer was that the next time they are in a non-hostile town (I call them Points of Civilization, which I explain to my players as “Somewhere that has a warm bed, a fluffy pillow, and they aren’t trying to kill you.”) however I wanted to get them a quicker solution.  So I came up with two ways to cure the injury: Rest at a point of civilization or make a Hard DC heal check.

The Hard DC heal check was in hopes that only someone trained in healing would be able to fix the injuries, but even those who aren’t can stand a chance.  The downside to the immediate gratification of healing it through a check is that there is a chance to flub it and make it worse.  A failed check will complicate the injury and make it worse, causing the effects to double (or in the case of a ‘Complicated Bruised Rib’ Vulnerable 5 instead of 2) and a complicated injury can ONLY be healed a point of a civilization.  Still not a complete show stopper, but it does give it a bit of gamble.

So that’s my current system that I’m using to handle injuries when they go unconscious.  It’s a quick and easy system that gives players a few options and still encourages them to not shrug off going unconscious.  Thanks for reading!

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