Sep 10, 2023


No books this week—it’s been too hot to read!

Roleplaying Games

The Halls of Arden Vul

This week the players accomplished a long-term goal: finding an alternative route to the surface which isn’t under the influence of an unfriendly faction. That’s a big win for them, and definitely worth some bonus XP under my “XP for Exploration” house rule.

For certain feats of exploration I give each character a bonus of 2%, 5%, or 10% of the XP needed to advance to the next level:

  • 2%: Apply lore in a useful or flavourful manner.
  • 2%: Confirm a rumour’s veracity.
  • 2%: Explore 5 areas of a single dungeon level.
  • 2%: Make creative use of equipment or abilities.
  • 2%: Overcome a puzzle.
  • 2%: Overcome a trap.
  • 2%: Overcome an environmental obstacle or hazard.
  • 2%: Uncover a secret.
  • 5%: Beneficially resolve a high-stakes encounter with an important NPC.
  • 5%: Discover an important location.
  • 5%: Manipulate or cripple a faction to your benefit.
  • 10%: Establish a reliable safe haven in a dangerous locale.

Only one character needs to achieve the feat for the whole party to get the bonus, and for particularly impressive feats I might upgrade the XP award to the next step.

So now the party can enter and exit the dungeon without having to pay the toll to the halfling thugs who control the main entrance and without having to evade the beastmen who monitor the ruined tower entrance. For finding a relatively safe, uncontrolled, route to the surface, I’ve given them the 5% “discover an important location” bonus.


Aliens: Dark Descent

I finished this game this week. While I enjoyed the strategy aspect of the game and the mission structure, I felt the story bits were a bit weak.

For example, the final mission ended with a sequence where the story characters (i.e. not the marine squad you mostly play) search an alien city amid a xenomorph onslaught, but the story characters are invulnerable until they confront the xenomorph queen, then two of them die in a cutscene and the remaining one has to run away—but since there’s only one character now, the xenomorphs are pretty weak so that escape is even possible. It was just very different to what actually made the game fun.

Still glad I played it, but I much preferred how most of the story was delivered by finding diaries in the course of a mission.

Book of Hours

A friend gifted me Book of Hours for my birthday. It’s like a more forgiving, but still cryptic and confusing, Cultist Simulator. I’ve spent a few hours playing it and I think I’m starting to get the hang of it, but it’s hard to say. There’s definitely a layer of strategy I’ve not figured out yet which’ll let me upgrade my soul and skill cards, as those are currently a blocker to pressing further into the house and reading more of the books.

Visiting Japan

I am planning to visit Japan next year, in mid to late April. A few different groups of friends are going to be there around the same time, so if I time things right I can meet up with all of them in a single trip.

Just need to hammer out some dates and get flights now.