Let’s Play Planescape: Torment, Episode 5

By William Hohmeister

Last time on Planescape: Torment!

Escape! Errands! Swearing! And Nameless heads for the local watering hole…

The Gathering Dust bar. Nameless has never found a more hideous den of putrefied flesh and watered-down drinks. He’s here to see Emoric, who just might know where Pharod, the man with the answers, is hiding. But before he can talk to Emoric it’s time for… sidequesting! We don’t do it for the money, we do it for the fame.

Ep5_Image1Mortai Gravesend has an over-dramatic name and acts like a used car salesman. He sells Dead Contracts for the Dusties. By signing a contract, the signer gets fifty coppers and a foreboding sense of doom; he’s just signed his future corpse to the Dustmen, to do with as they please.

Nameless: “What do the Dustmen do with the body?”

Mortai: “Nothing, nothing. We bury it! Respectfully. And sometimes raise it as a hideous undead.”

I’m wary of signing Nameless’ corpse over to the Dustmen. While he’s technically immortal, it seems to take a while for the resurrection to kick in. I’m worried about what might happen if they try to raise him while he’s busy coming back from the dead on his own.

Nameless: “Huh. No thanks. Can you tell me about Emoric?”

Mortai: “A respected initiate of the Fourth Circle. A very wise man. What is your business with him, may I ask? Perhaps I can help you instead.”

Nameless: (Lie) “Well, I was thinking about signing a contract with Emoric.”

Mortai: “No, no, good sir! He will not offer half the price I will for such a contract, it would be a… a… mere pittance compared to what I could give you! Consider this before you make a hasty decision!”

Okay, it’s time to walk away. Maybe Nameless will wait a week, see what the real trade-in value of his shell is when Mortai can’t meet his quota this month. Nameless heads over to Norochj, who stares broodily into a beer with a zombie’s finger floating in the foam.

Norochj: “Norochj. Initiate. Dustman. Guard.”

Nameless: (Points to himself) “Jim.” (Makes a heart shape in the air and pats Norochj on the chest) “Friend.”

Norochj: “What?”

Nameless: “I said you look troubled… Nacho Libre?”

Norochj: “Troubled, yes.”

Nameless: “Tell me about it… Norris?”

Norochj: “Many troubles have I. Help can you. A mausoleum awakes, the dead walk, the dead disturbed, the Dustmen disturbed. Find out what disturbs the undead, and copper coins will I pay.”

Nameless: “Look who can speak in complete sentences now, when he wants something.”

Norochj: “What?”

Nameless: “I said I’ll do it, North Dakota. Where’s the mausoleum?”

Norochj: “North and west of here. Make a circle over your heart to open the entrance portal.”

It’s portals all day in this town. Nameless finds the portal, thanks mainly to a woman nearby who screams about “Portals! Portals everywhere!” He steps inside, and meets a g-g-ghost!

Guardian Spirit: “Defilers! Leave this place at once!”

Nameless: “Hi.”

G Spirit: “Leave now! This place is a sanctuary for the dead. I will not allow their slumber to be disturbed by another mortal.”

Nameless: “I could help, for a price. You could let me do the driving out for you!”

G Spirit: “Okay, but I have no money. I don’t even have pockets.”

Nameless: “Eh, I’m here, I’ll do it anyway.”

Nameless and Spirit pound it out. Morte looks on sadly.

The mausoleum has a lot of skeletons, all of them hostile. Nameless heads straight for the Necromancer, bypassing the dead where he can. Where he has to fight he sends in Morte, who grinds their bones to make his bread. Right up to the Giant Skeleton, who whales on Nameless despite Morte’s toothy attentions.

Nameless: “Morte – gah! – go to plan B!”

Morte stops chasing the giant, as Nameless takes cover just behind Morte. The giant, unable to reach Nameless, circles around as Morte bites it, and Nameless runs in the opposite direction. Finally, the giant falls. Morte and Nameless headbutt each other and get pumped as hell.

In the Necromancer’s lair there are… way too many skeletons. And the Necromancer.

Ep5_Image2Strahan Runeshadow: “Impressssive. I never thought you would make it thisss far.”

Nameless: “Is ‘Strahan Runeshadow’ your real name? There’s no way. It’s like your LARP name or something, isn’t it?”

Strahan: “Who I am is of no consequenssss to you. What I want is the question that should concern you mosssst.” (Strahan totally checks out Nameless’ bod).

Nameless: (Walks over to Strahan’s desk and examines a mint, in-box Han Solo figure) “You gotta lot of nice stuff, nerd. Shame if something-“ (Nameless drops the box) “-happened to it.”

Negotiations broke down.

The skeletons swarm, but Morte and Nameless discussed strategy before they entered. They use the oldest, most effective Dungeons and Dragons tactic known. It’s called, “The Roleplayer’s Motto.”

Nameless: “Run away!”

Morte moves to attack Strahan, but the skeletons go after Nameless as he flails stupidly to escape. Once he’s got them sucked in, Nameless hides behind Strahan’s desk, jumps over it to evade a sword, and leads the skeletons on a mad chase.

Ep5_Image3Until Morte finally eats Strahan. With their master dead, all of the undead fall to dust.

Morte: “Looks like the only monster here… is tooth decay.”

Ep5_Image4MortNameless loots the room and finds…

Strahan’s diary! (Let’s see what the nerd was really up to!

April 30

Jenny the Ectomancer looked at me today! I knew the entrails tie was a winner!

May 3

Jenny just laughed when I asked her to the Ghouls and Guys Dance. I’ll show her. I’ll make myself into the best lich she’s ever seen!

May 25

Immortal blood? Who even has that? No one understands me, not even my stupid spellbook! My dumb crystal ball says there’s an immortal in this crypt, but hellooo? I need a live immortal, obviously. Gods!

OG Spirit is so grateful, he doesn’t even care that Nameless is still intruding in the mausoleum. Nameless freely loots the rest of the place before heading back to cash in the quest to Norton

Next time on Planescape: Torment!

Portals! Religious confusion! Maybe the actual main plot! (I swear, I’m getting to it. But there’s so much to do!)

IDW Makes Me Long for Baldur’s Gate

Good day, everyone! My post for this week builds off my previous one about IDW. This time around, I want to give a general review and recommendation for one of IDW’s current titles I’m loosely following–the enormously titled Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate – Tyranny of Dragons by Jim Zub and Max Dunbar.

This title (along with the fact that I just recently finished Dragon Age Inquisition, which I may address in another post) really brings my nostalgia for Baldur’s Gate to the forefront of my mind. Though I never completed it or its sequel (Shadows of Amn, which I still consider one of my all-time favorite role-playing games, along with Planescape: Torment–on a side note, Will still has one of my old copies of the game, which seems to be working out for him these days), I still have fond memories of adventuring and questing across the Forgotten Realms with a unique and nuanced team of characters, not the least of whom was the (probably) brain-damaged ranger named Minsc.

Legends of Baldur’s Gate begins about a century or so after the events of the Baldur’s Gate games, and likely several decades after the deaths of many of the games’ main characters, Minsc included. The story begins with an Elven wild mage (D&D, y’all!) named Delina on a personal quest to the city of Baldur’s Gate on the run from some powerful enemies. During her flight, she enters a pavilion filled with the statues of great heroes from the city’s history. Included among them is a statue of Minsc, called the Legendary Ranger at this point.

While using her wild magic to defend herself, Delina accidentally animates the statue of Minsc, complete with his miniature giant space hamster companion, Boo. There’s a bit of existential horror boiling beneath the surface here that never gets its due in the story. Given that this Minsc seems to have all the memories that the real Minsc would have, does this mean that Minsc was stuck as a statue for nearly a century? If not, does this mean that Delina somehow creates a perfect replica of Minsc using the statue as a template? Is the answer somewhere between these questions? As of the end of the second issue of the series, this bit of the story has not yet been told.

Though it’s far from the best fantasy comic out right now, this one is worth a look , if for no other reason than to sate your Baldur’s Gate nostalgia. Also, I do think it has a lot of potential on its own, so try it out if you’re interested in anything I talked about today. The fifth issue of the series will likely be out by the time you read this, so you’ll have quite the stack of material to work through if you choose to follow it.

As has become the norm, this series is my reading recommendation for this week. Check it out on comiXology or go out and support your local comic shops. I’ll see you all next time.

Minsc and Boo stand ready! Swords for everyone!

Let’s Play Planescape: Torment, Episode 3

by William Hohmeister

Last time on Planescape: Torment:

The living dead walk! Floating skulls talk!

Ep3_Image1Dhall, you’ve been a big help, but you smell. Goodbye.

On my way I try talking to every zombie and person I see. This has a few rewards:

Zombie Worker: The corpse is wobbling unsteadily back and forth, trying to keep its balance.

Nameless: Give the corpse a push.

Morte: “Uh… Chief… you might not w-“

Zombie Worker: There is a *crack* from the corpse’s left leg, and the body falls like a dead tree… the left arm seems intact.

Nameless: “Hmmm, I wonder if I could make use of that arm…”

Good news: I can use it as a weapon!

Ep3_Image2When not vandalizing zombies, Nameless helps a deaf and semi-blind Dustman named Ei-Vene. She wants needle and thread and embalming fluid. All three also act as health potions and buffs* to Nameless. He agrees – sort of. Ei-Vene thinks Nameless is a zombie because of his scars. To carry this off he has to stand there silent like… a zombie. It’s the role he was born to play.

On the way to find the goods, Nameless finds an Anarchist spy disguised as a zombie. The Anarchists are another faction in Sigil – the city we still haven’t seen. No idea why he’s spying, but he offers to tell Nameless how to escape for – surprise – embalming fluid and needle and thread. I find some on this floor, but for the rest I have to head up to the Crematorium.

Ep3_Image3And the Crematorium is filled with curious Dustmen, like that guy in the lower left yelling at Nameless. Fortunately, the Dustmen don’t mind Morte, so I send him off to find the supplies, then head back downstairs.

I get two things from Ei-Vene: an extra permanent hit point and a memory. The hit point comes when she stitches Nameless up, still mistaking him for a zombie. And by watching how she stiches, Nameless remembers leaving a stash inside of a zombie. So that’ll be fun to look for.

True to his word, the Anarchist tells me how to escape: a portal in the northeast memorial hall, opened with a crooked finger bone “key.” Portals are all over the place, apparently, and almost anything can open them.

The Anarchist also disguises Nameless as a zombie, allowing me to reimagine Thriller. Oh, and to sneak past all the Dustmen. Back in the Crematorium, Nameless finds his stash-zombie – now decayed to a skeleton – and recovers a knife, money, and two Clot Charms, a type of healing and buff. All this is in an extra-dimensional space in the corpse’s rib cage. I head to the ground floor

I love these zombies: right beside the stairs a zombie is loitering with the awesomely named Tome of Blood and Ash. It contains runes and spells and the kinds of stuff to make Cthulhu squee. I take it, of course. I’m kind of a jerk to these corpses. When I find actual people, I swear, I’ll be nice.

I find a use for the Tome right away; in the middle hall are four giant skeletons – literally the reanimated skeletons of giants. By using the Tome, Nameless reverses the enchantments on their armor. This destroys the skeleton and leaves behind a magic rune item. I can’t use it yet, but soon. Just gotta become a wizard.

Finally, Nameless finds the memorial hall. He inspects the area but finds nothing. Just as he’s about to leave, the ghost of a woman named Deionarra appears. She knows Nameless, and may have been a lover at some point, though she’s now bitter over a past he can’t remember. She knows he’s immortal, but describes it as a curse because of the memory loss resurrection causes. She fears Nameless will one day even forget that he can’t die.

So thanks for making me think of that, Deionarra.

She points Nameless to the portal exit, but as he leaves she offers a prophecy. I love prophecies, so of course I ask to hear it. Then she hits me with this:

Deionarra: “First I require a promise. Promise that you will return. That you will find some means to save me or join me.”

Which leads me to several choices:

Ep3_Image4I can try to talk my way out of it; I can refuse; I can lie; or I can promise. I’ve researched the game a bit, and these choices supposedly matter. If I lie it makes me more evil or chaotic. If I promise I become good, but if I don’t keep the promise… well, I’m not sure. But there are supposed to be repercussions.

I choose to promise I will save or join her. I’m supposed to be channeling the Doctor, after all, and while he may lie, cheat, and screw people over, I don’t believe the Doctor would willingly abandon someone. I’ll do my best to help her.

Deionarra speaks her prophecy:

Next time on Planescape: Torment…

Portals! Tombs! Manual labor! And… Sigil!

The still images are all screen captures from Will’s game.

Gaming Stories: Morrowind

by Garrett Ashley

In celebration of the apparent flop of Elder Scrolls Online, I decided to crank up 2011’s Skyrim for the first time in months. In case you didn’t already know, The Elder Scrolls V is a hugely successful game both critically and commercially—I won’t bother providing any references because it’s old news and all the reviews are pretty much the same. People seem to love The Elder Scrolls. And I don’t blame them. The games are great. So in light of all this, I wanted to talk about 2002’s Morrowind, one of my favorite games of all time.

I don’t have much to say about the mechanics of the game. There are a lot of flaws (if you’ve ever experienced the battle system, you know what I mean) but all of that can be overlooked in place of what the game actually offers. There’s a map that actually feels huge. There’s no guidance system like a compass to lead you in the right direction, and the only way you can keep up with quests is through a journal system that updates when events are triggered.

There’s a sense of reward around every corner, making exploration a general necessity for the hardcore fantasy gamer. And exploration somehow seems better in Morrowind despite its limited graphical quality—Skyrim offers impressive vistas, sure, but Morrowind offers more environmental storytelling, which is a better sort of fuel for the imagination.

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