Rostygold and Primordial Shrieks

Bel Folks Stuff

belfolksstuff_512 For a few weeks I have been kicking around a concept, and I’ve finally decided to start moving towards the goal of making it happen.  The concept is pretty simple, that I have a conversation one on one with a personality in our community or in the gaming industry.  Instead of bringing them on to promote something, or actually talk about their gaming…  I want to delve into the person behind the screen, what makes them tick and what they are passionate about.  I decided to give the show a quirky name “Bel Folks Stuff” which as you can see from the logo is short hand for “Bel Talks to Interesting Folks About Really Important Stuff That They Enjoy Doing”.  Because pretty much that sums it up in a nutshell.  I personally find a lot of the people in our community super interesting and I have a sneaking suspicion that listeners would as well.

Now as far as the details of when I would record, how often I would record, what kind of turn around I am expecting… all of that is up in the air.  This is the sort of thing that I would consider a “bonus” podcast rather than a serious scheduled one.  There might be times that I schedule a recording and we realize there just wasn’t much to talk about.  Other times I might record way more audio than I could ever cram into a podcast and have to release multiple parts.  I am keeping all of this pretty flexible.  Think of this as more of a “boutique” project than say AggroChat where we keep a weekly schedule.  I am pretty pumped about the prospects, and the closest thing I can really compare it to is Actor’s Studio with James Lipton.  I still need to firm up some of the things I plan to ask, but the idea is to keep it flexible and go wherever the conversation happens to go.  I am also purposefully not making this specifically a “gaming” podcast.  If folks want to talk about their passion for gardening… we are going to talk about their passion for gardening.  The people behind the screens that we play interesting me more than what happens on the monitor.

Syrcus Grind Starts

ffxiv 2014-10-07 17-43-10-100 For years I have been enamored with the concept of a “reset day”.  So many MMOs have various gates that block you from completing too much content in a single week, as such once a week all of these gates unlock again and you can enter them to get awesome baubles.  If I am being absolutely honestly with myself, I do not raid for the challenge… I raid for the spiffy things that I can obtain through it.  Over the last several weeks I have been fastidiously gearing my Warrior job in Final Fantasy XIV through running Syrcus Tower and careful application of Tomestones of Soldiery.  Over the course of these last few weeks I have managed to take my average item level up to 98 which is nothing to sneeze at.  Quite honestly most of this has been sheer dumb luck.  I’ve entered Syrcus each week and during the course of the first or second attempt at the run a piece of gear has dropped that was an upgrade and I won it.  Now however I am down to just two pieces of gear that I can obtain from there… apart from the Sands and Oil of Time which I will focus on eventually.

Over the course of the night last night I ran Syrcus a grand total of four times, and in none of those times did I manage to see either the Helmet or the Legs drop.  I feel like I have managed to pick up the easy pieces, and now that I only need two… both of which drop from the same boss I am going to have a much slower time to go.  I will probably limit myself to a single running of Syrcus a night to keep from making it absolute misery.  If by the end of the week I haven’t gotten either the helm or the legs I guess I will go after either an oil or sands with the hope of upgrading one of my existing soldiery slots to 110.  I posted the picture above because there is a rule in FFXIV that I have noticed…  if more than one Lalafell is standing in an area for too terribly long… dancing will happen.  This is a bunch of us waiting on the last person to realize they had not yet rolled on the Onion Knight cosmetic pet.  Of course I didn’t win it, but by god I am not leaving the instance until I at least see that my chance at it is over.

Rostygold and Primordial Shrieks

Several weeks into the game and I still find myself hopelessly enamored with Fallen London.  I guess I have Tarantella to thank for this… and in turn my circle of friends has me to thank for their present addiction as well.  I guess what surprises me the most about this game is just how deep the rabbit hole gets.  In various areas of the game there are “Ambition” storylets, and for the uninitiated a storylet is the equivalent of a quest in other games.  You might do something in an unrelated series of a events, which sets a flag that now opens up a bunch of stories that cascade off of it.  The ambition quests tend to be the most intricate and detailed and also time consuming.  While playing Fallen London there are many positive statuses you can earn, but additionally many negative ones as well.  Each of the negative statuses has some consequence associated with it.  For example if you allow your nightmares to reach 8, you quite literally go insane and can take no actions other than ones attempting to reclaim your mental faculties.

Yesterday I got an Ambition that involved me purposefully getting thrown into Newgate Prison to track an enemy of yours that is residing there.  In order to accomplish this I had to raise my suspicion to 8, triggering a sequence of events that ended with being unceremoniously thrown into prison.  From there I could go after my mark directly, but the problem is… once that was completed I still was sitting in prison.  At this point I was forced to take actions in an attempt to lower my suspicion back to zero again.  These actions involved calling in favors that I had earned in the rest of Fallen London, blatant bribe attempts, or doing actions that show “good behavior”.  The problem is while the ability that got me into prison swapped 1 action for 1 suspicion… digging my way out of the hole took a considerably amount of time.

That seems to be the “negative” consequences in this game, are that you can get yourself into a situation where you have to spend copious turns correcting the mistake you made in the first place.  I am still slowly working my way into the confidence of the devils.  I had reached a point where I was getting dangerously close to losing my soul in game, and I took actions to delay that… which cost me a ton of faction in the process.  As such I have been slowly building back up to that point, because really I think it might be interesting to see what the game is like if you have gone through the “abstraction”.

The problem with courting the devils is that you end up constantly teetering dangerously close to the fail condition on both Nightmares and Scandal.  As such I am constantly in search of creative ways to lower both of these negative statuses.  In any case I am still digging the game, and enjoying the setting.  I really need to spend more time digging into Sunless Sea, but I keep hearing there is a major patch in the works that will fix a good number of the problems with the game, and as such I am mostly holding back.  If you have not played this game and enjoy roleplaying games with quirky settings… I highly suggest you check it out.  If you do add me as a contact, so that we can be “delicious friends” to borrow the verbiage of the game.

#FFXIV #FallenLondon

Fallen London

AggroChat Episode 23

Last night once again we gathered myself, Rae, Ashgar, Kodra and Tam and recorded yet another action filled episode of Aggrochat.  I would love to think it was action filled, but more likely than not it was just a lot of rambling about about various things.  I titled this weeks broadcast “An Intimate of Devils” because one of the games we talked about is the web based Fallen London.  Several of us are playing it but really only myself and Kodra have spent a good amount of time doing so.  Somehow we both managed to align ourselves with the Brass Embassy which is the home of the demonic residents of Fallen London… the Devils.  It turns out that apparently the plural of devil is an “intimate of devils” so I thought it was an interesting if not fitting title for the show.  If you have not caught on I try and name the shows something that might cause someone to click through on it.

Other than that we talked at length about the Microsoft acquisition of Minecraft, and what its possible ramifications could be.  We talked a little bit about Final Fantasy XIV and especially about Rae’s journey to become an Omnicrafter and get to 50 on all of her professions.  We spent a large chunk of time talking about Destiny and our experiences playing the game… and trying in vain to find the story.  Currently the Tokyo Game Show is going on, so we talked a bit about the games that were being shown there especially Final Fantasy XV or “Final Fantasy Roadtrip” as we have taken to calling it.  Finally we discussed for a bit what all was happening at the League of Legends World Championship.  We ran a bit longer than normal clocking in at an hour and ten minutes, but hopefully you enjoy what all we had to say about a large number of topics.

Fallen London

lodgings A few weeks back my good friend Tarantella convinced me to give a web based game called Fallen London a shot, and since then I have been playing it quite a bit, often times feverishly burning through my turns multiple times a day.  I liked it so much that I decided to become an “Exceptional Friend” which is their equivalent of a patron system giving you a second “candle” worth of turns.  That is the rather nice way of them displaying how many turns you have left.  You start off with a rather large candle and as you take turns it slowly burns down to just the stub.  If you have played the early web based RPG Kingdom of Loathing, the gameplay will be very familiar.  You are allotted a fixed number of turns, and then periodically you gain a new turn.  The turns regenerate at a rate of 1 per every 10 minutes, so generally speaking each morning you will start with a fresh candle of 40, or in my case two candles of 40 since I am a patron… and then you play through those and start accruing them back until you are at the maximum number of turns again.

one of the things that makes this more interesting than say Kingdom of Loathing is the fact that you get what are essentially “chance” cards that you can play.  These also regenerate at a rate of 1 level 10 minutes until you have 6 in reserve.  The size of your current hand is determined by the quality of your lodgings.  You start with only one card in your hand, and then as you upgrade your lodgings this increases.  Right now my lodgings is a decommissioned steamer and it allows me certain types of cards to show up as well as increasing my hand size to three.  These cards tend to give you far better rewards than wandering around the various districts of Fallen London.  I say wandering, but there is no action combat in this game.  Everything is carried out by making a series of text based decisions, and the game has a Everquest style color coding system to show how difficult the encounter is.  If you mouse over an option it will tell you specifically what the chance of success is.  There are various items that can be spent to give yourself additional chances at completing the task.

It’s About the Setting

houseofchimes The aspect of Fallen London that makes it appealing to me is that you have this London by Gaslight era setting infused with all sorts of Cthulhu elements as well as a fair bit of steampunk.  The background of the game is that London is the 5th great city to fall, and in this case it means to be consumed completely by the earth.  In the early bits of the game I found it unclear if this was literally a fissure in the earth or if the city was somehow transported into another dimension.  In either case it finds itself surrounded by a great subterranean ocean known as the “Unterzee”.  Additionally the city has found itself host to several supernatural entities that find it as a handy stopping off place between their own realms and that of the above world.  So the game is a game of factions and secret societies… and you as the player have to tiptoe your way through them figuring out exactly who you choose to align with.

Personally I have found myself fond of the “Rubbery Men” which are essentially Cthulhu style deep ones in suits that wander around the city trading for mysteriously throbbing stones.  Additional over the course of my exploits I’ve found myself getting closer and closer to the Brass Embassy as I mentioned above, the cloister of devils that visits our fair city between trips above to take the souls of men.  The artwork overall for the game is extremely simplistic, but at the same time evocative of a dark and mysterious world that it is trying to induct you into.  The game is not terribly action packed in that you essentially are doing a lot of text adventure, but nonetheless I find it compelling.  It is like a self driven pen and paper role-playing game.  I’ve made more than a few false steps as I have tried to figure out my way around the world… not the least of which was somehow pissing off the patron that had gifted me some really nice things.

An Evolution

2014-09-21_00007 One of the problems with Fallen London is that the way it is set up is designed to ration you out a few turns at a time.  Additionally you are essentially “landlocked” inside of London.  There are missions that open up storylets in different areas, but all of which are roughly connected to Fallen London proper.  The folks at Failbetter Games have created Sunless Sea that is now available on Steam Early access to address this problem.  This time instead of taking the role of a prisoner being released into Fallen London, you are taking the role of a Steamship captain giving you mobility outside of town.  You and your fearless crew embark upon missions outside of the city and engage in battle against pirates and sea monsters while trying to gain the favor of the factions within the city.  I’ve not played a ton of hours yet, but I am nonetheless intrigued.

2014-09-21_00001 The game does not really hold your hand, and in a way it reminds me quite a bit of FTL in that you can screw up spectacularly and wind up dead within a few turns.  While wandering around the “Zee” you have to watch several things… the hunger of your crew, the fuel of your vessel and your hull integrity.  As you wander about the in your vessel, you will encounter new areas and if there is a dock jutting out in to the water you can explore on shore.  So far I have found a few new areas, each with storylets that will likely come into play later as I get further into the game play.  The overall interface of the game is very familiar if you have played the web based Fallen London.  The primary difference is you have to learn what a whole new set of stats means, in that they do not use any of the same baseline abilities as the web version has.

Doing Battle

2014-09-19_00003 Eventually you are going to encounter something that wants to take a chunk out of your hull.  Combat itself is turn based and strategic in nature.  In order to perform most of your attacks you need to illuminate your target to be able to aim properly.  As such the opening salvos of combat tend to be you throwing flares out into the water to light it up properly.  There is the option to do a wild salvo, but the chance of hitting the target and dealing serious damage is pretty low.  As such I tend to throw out 3 flares first so that I can hit the target with a full force attack.  On small targets like this abyssal crab it generally only takes a single hit.  When you start encountering pirates however you will have to a bit more tricky.  I’ve noticed that the pirates prefer to open with wild salvos which generally do little damage but can stress you out as you are trying to light up the target.


When you defeat an enemy you are given a series of options based on how far you have progressed as a character.  In the case of the Crab, you are given the option to harvest it for supplies or dissect it to learn knowledge.  More often than not I take the supplies as this is quite literally how you feed your crew, and anything that keeps me from having to spend Echo to buy supplies makes me happy.  When I took out a pirate ship I was given the interesting option of sending it to shore with a skeleton crew and getting more resources from the ship.  I ended up getting quite a haul of Echo from doing this, but it greatly reduces the number of available crew members when you do it.  I am sure that has an opportunity cost later on as a result, but I have not quite run into a situation where the number of crew members mattered.

Tomb Colonists

2014-09-21_00005 Right now in my game I am spending most of my time running Tomb Colonists to Venderbight.  The Tomb Colonists are one of the stranger factions of Fallen London.  They are in essence mummies that travel around in coffins.  So basically as I am doing this, I am hauling three coffins at a time and getting a pretty decent payout when I get to Venderbight and sell them back to the Tomb-Colonists there.  It isn’t exactly glamorous but it is worth quite a large amount of echo… something I am sorely lacking.  I need to do some research to see what it takes to get a more efficient engine because right now it seems like I am burning through a good deal of my profit in simply buying up fuel… which greatly limits my range of movement.  I figure in coming sessions I will explore more of the coast line and see what trouble I can get into.  Unfortunately however I don’t really know how to gauge how rough an encounter is… so I feel like at some point I am just going to die horribly to something too strong for me to take.2014-09-21_00004 Right now I am very much digging the narrative of both games and the setting.  I only wish there was a way to have the two games be connected, in that I was either playing the same character or somehow being a benefactor one way or another.  I did notice I was able to log in with my Fallen London account, but I did that right before starting this post… so I have yet to see just how connected they end up being.  Long story short, I highly suggest you check out Fallen London since it is completely free to play.  If you like the setting and find the various factions as compelling as I do, then I suggest you also check out Sunless Sea.  I am looking forward to exploring more of the “Unterzee” as a Steamship “Zailor”.  Right now Sunless Sea is under $20 for steam early access, and I feel like that is an absolute steam considering just how much interesting content I have already seen.  The one thing still on my wishlist is for a proper mobile client for my phone, then I would be raving wildly about how awesome of an experience this is.

#AggroChat #FallenLondon #SunlessSea