Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

Halcyon Diary: Noblesse Oblige

March 20, 2023

So after the deserts of Tatooine, filled with treacherous beasts that will attack as soon as your back is turned, we headed to Alderaan where … no, wait, the treacherous beasts that I was talking about were the nobles on Alderaan.  My mistake.

The weapon here is one that proved that the Republic’s claims of trying not to lose the war and so wanting superweapons to do that false.  Those weapons were ones that while they could be used against a planet itself were at least usually aimed at big fleets and big installations.  Here, they built an orbiting laser platform that could target tags placed on individuals.  Yes, it’s a device whose main purpose is assassination.  You aren’t trying to defeat an opposing military with a weapon designed to assassinate people.

And, of course, as usual they let it get into enemy hands.  When I went to talk to the people who were running it, they told me that my first master from back on Tython, Master Orgus, had been killed, and I was sent to the facility to check it out, and who did I find defending it but Master Orgus.  He was pretty spry for a dead guy.  Since his presence proved that I was being lied to, he revealed that one of the researchers was a spy, but of course as a spy she had lots of time to tag lots of important people, including me.  So we went to shut down the power to the system and confront her, ending its threat permanently.  We hoped.  It turns out that another of Angral’s followers was setting up a new power supply, but that gave us enough time to find the weapon that had been stolen, confront his follower and the spy, and destroy the weapon and end that threat.

Then it turned out that Orgus’ plan was to go after Angral instead, and he had gone ahead to Angral’s ship.  Before fighting us, the follower showed us a holo of Angral killed Orgus.  That … wasn’t exactly the way to incline me towards showing mercy, so it’s not much of a surprise that he didn’t survive the encounter.

So now I’m heading to the ship myself.  Angral is a Sith and they lie as a matter of course, so I’m going to see if they’ve really killed Master Orgus.  If he’s alive, I’m going to rescue him.  If he isn’t … well, let’s just say that there are few things I’d need to do to take care of that situation.

Halcyon Diary: Well, I’ve Been Through the Desert …

March 13, 2023

So, after that revelation, we headed out to Tatooine to secure yet another Republic secret superweapon.  This time, it was a weapon that used powerful shock waves as a weapon, which could obviously hurt a lot of people but, if it was used at full power, might even shake an entire planet apart.  Which means that it shares an idiotic trait with a number of these weapons:  being so devastating that your enemies would want to take it over just so that they could wipe out the planet that it was created on.

Here, Master Kiwiiks was sent to secure the facility, and she was Kira’s Master before me.  Obviously, having had her secret revealed Kira was a bit leery about meeting her and having to reveal it to her, but she also was quite fond of her and so wanted to make sure that she was okay.  When we got there and discovered that Kiwiiks had been kidnapped by the Sith along with the weapon, that made her pretty frantic.  The Sith had activated the weapon and told us that we’d have to fight him for the new ones, a deal I accepted and, of course, managed to win.  He had left Kiwiiks near the weapon, and so it was causing her a lot of damage, but we fought our way through and rescued her, no harm done.  And it turns out that Kira’s other fears were unfounded, as Kiwiiks was accepting of her, believing that the good in her and the good she had done outweighed any potential darkness from her past.

This was also a very thematic planet, because while we were trying to stop a new weapon that was a threat to its makers and potentially the galaxy, when I hooked up with the Republic Reclamation Service it turns out that they, and Czerka, were after an ancient weapon that was a threat to its makers and potentially the galaxy.  What are the odds?  Basically, this one was some kind of system that turned people into cyborgs that were controlled by an imprisoned alien, who wanted me to free him so he could take over the planet and eventually the galaxy.  Gee, I really had to think hard about that one before deciding to destroy his access and leaving him imprisoned forever.  The sad thing is that the Czerka rep that I encountered who I had to put down when he tried to take this thing away from me probably would have made the deal and ended up giving up everything he wanted to gain from that due to his shortsightedness.

Yeah, it looks like sentients just don’t change, as I traced through generations of idiots who can only see the very short-term and don’t care about the rest, creating things that usually end up hurting them short and long-term.  And after this we head off to the masters of that sort of thinking:  nobles, as we head to Alderaan.

Playing Dragon Age Origins on PC

March 7, 2023

I made it a goal to play Dragon Age Origins on PC, for one reason:  I got the version from GOG and it includes pretty much all of the DLC.  Now, I’ve played DAO a few times on console because it was more convenient for me to do that, and I came in a bit worried about the interface and the combat.  I had played a little bit earlier and didn’t find it to be that bad, but I was still a bit worried about it.  I played a couple of weeks in my normal time, but for the past couple of weeks I was on vacation and so managed to play it pretty much every day, so let me outline how that’s all worked out.

The first thing is that this time through I started to struggle with the interface.  I actually am not having much difficulty triggering abilities as the ability bar is pretty usable, but what I’m struggling with is the mouse pointer.  In order to change which enemy you’re targeting, you need to select it with the mouse and right-click on it, but in combat I am having a lot of trouble seeing the mouse pointer to do that, and the auto-selection doesn’t always work all that well.  Since you need to be fighting something for an ability to automatically target it, if that hasn’t kicked in or you haven’t properly selected an enemy yet you would need to click on them with the mouse … which means that I’d need to be able to see the mouse pointer.  So I often spend a lot of time with my main character not doing anything while I try to figure out how it’s all going to work, which is very frustrating.

I’m also finding the combat more difficult than the console versions were.  I’m playing as a two-handed warrior using greatswords, but previously I played as a two-handed dwarf warrior using axes and don’t recall things being as difficult as they are here.  I really had a difficult time in the ancient ruins with the Ashes of Andraste, although a big part of that was because at least in this version the game loves to spring enemies from behind on you, which means that they targeted Wynne who was my main healer, and once she went down things tended to go poorly, especially since I really hate flipping between characters and so like to play only on my main character.  I have the others set up to use healing poutices as part of their tactics, but sometimes they don’t use them quickly enough and I don’t use them quickly enough either.  Which meant that with the drakes I had to reload a few times to finally beat those fights, which also happened when the enemies were primarily mages.  I had to learn in this game to seek them out because otherwise they’d pretty much devastate the part.

Which reminds me of something that I thought of while reading “Dungeons & Desktops”, which talked about how many CRPG makers really disliked the ability to save anywhere.  Yes, you can use that to save scum and avoid all negative outcomes — and I can’t say that I didn’t do that on occasion — but one reason to have that is to avoid having a player having to make up too much time if they happened to get something wrong or make a mistake.  I was doing pretty well in the ancient ruins until the drakes appeared, and if I hadn’t been saving after every fight I would have had to fight them all over again when the drakes suddenly appeared and I had to learn a new strategy for them.  That would have made that surprise far, far more annoying and frustrating than it was.  If a game is suddenly going to spring sudden potentially fatal surprises like new enemies or an increase in difficulty they had better let you save before they do that in case the surprise causes you to die and have to replay a significant amount of the game just to get back to where you were.  This is the sort of thing that really frustrated Shamus Young about “Dark Souls”, and in fact a sudden increase in difficulty added to the fact that you could only save a long time before hitting that point is actually responsible for my not being able to finish the original “Persona” game.  So while the save systems do mean that people might be able to save scum, the alternative is far worse.

Anyway, back to the combat.  After leveling up and getting better equipment, I’m doing better, or at least can usually take on darkspawn without too much trouble if I pay attention.  But my party has my main character, another warrior (Alistair or Shale usually), Lelianna because I need a Rogue for locks, and Wynne for magic and healing, and in some really, really big fights Lelianna has saved my bacon.  In the fight against the elf Keeper, I had cleared out all the enemies but the spellcasting Keeper killed off everyone else, so after recasting Lelianna as an archer early on — which I never did on the console — I had her stand away and pick him off with arrows, using a health poultice as required.  I expected to have to reload and try again, but she managed to win.  The same thing happened against Flemeth, but I only won that one because Flemeth wouldn’t move from the one spot and as long as I kept out of melee range I could plink her to death with arrows.  Against the dragon at the ancient ruins only the main character went down, and that was probably only because I was out of Wynne’s range behind the dragon and not paying attention.

At any rate, I’m not really enjoying the combat but it’s not incredibly frustrating either, so it shouldn’t stop me from finishing this run.  I just am not finding it as easy as it was on the console for some reason.

The main reason to pick this up was to get Shale, but I found that Shale was less hostile than I figured she’d be from watching Chuck Sonnenberg’s Dragon Age Origins playthrough.  She also had some hilarious lines when I explored the fact that she calls the main character “it” all the time.  When I asked if she was going to call me that all the time she gave the simple answer of “Most likely”, and when I commented that she didn’t talk about her previous owner that way she said basically that it was a quirk of hers.  I’m running with her in the party now but will need Alistair at some point, and will need Oghren for the Deep Roads, which is where I’m at now.

Overall, I’ve kinda liked the DLC but didn’t find anything that I would have really missed, other than Shale.  I’m looking forward to trying some of the separate DLC, such as Awakenings and “The Dark Spawn Chronicles”, both of which I will try.  I don’t know if I’ll do “Lelianna’s Song” or not.  I’m also thinking that I have to take Morrigan’s deal despite the fact that my female Warden is going to marry Alistair because I don’t know if getting him killed will still let her be queen, which is what I’m going for here.

Ultimately, I’m having fun when it isn’t frustrating me, and it doesn’t frustrate me all that much.  Hopefully I can get through the rest of it without too many issues.

Halcyon Diary: Surprise!

March 6, 2023

After finishing up on Nar Shaddaa, we got a call from the General saying that a high-ranking Admiral who was an ally of Angral, the Sith Lord who wanted to kill me for doing my job and defending myself, wanted to defect.  Yeah, this seemed like a trap, but we couldn’t ignore it just in case it was legit.  Well, surprise, it turned out to be a trap, as a Sith showed up instead.  So I was completely and totally shocked that the set-up that I thought was a trap turned out to be a trap.

But then I was actually surprised, as the Sith revealed that Kira was somehow “related” to him, as a “Child of the Emperor”.  Kira didn’t deny it, and in fact pretty much confirmed it, so it wasn’t just a lie he made up to rattle us.  We fought him and ended up killing him, but obviously Kira had some ‘splain’ to do.

She said that the Children of the Emperor were a group of Force sensitives trained in the Sith Academy and then taken to see the Emperor, retaining no memory of their interactions with the Emperor but given the titles and the extra training that went along with those titles.  Kira did get that far, but then she ran away and joined the Jedi, and tried to put the past behind her. and hid it from everyone because she figured they’d react badly to her if they knew.  Which seemed to be confirmed when we went to tell the Jedi Council about it and some of them, well, treated her like she was a Sith traitor for hiding it.

I defended her.  And not just because I might have feelings for her, you understand.  No, it’s because she had fought through a lot to get away from the Empire and had committed to changing her life as per the Jedi Code.  In all our time together, she hadn’t done anything suspicious.  And so all we had was a title that she rejected and some kind of potential influence the Emperor might have over her and exercise at some point.  That’s not enough to take her dream away from her and treat her like a traitor, and I was pretty blunt on the matter.  Eventually, they decided that she should stay with me for the time being, and if I have my way that’s going to be forever and a day.

She might be regretting it, though, because our next stop is Tatooine, and she is definitely coming with me into those desert wastes.  I am a firm believer in redemption, but she’s going to have to work for it.

Thoughts on “Dungeons & Desktops”

February 28, 2023

So as I’ve mentioned before I often read “The CRPG Addict” while waiting for compiles and installs, because I need something to occupy my time and reading things works better because it’s basically random access:  I can stop and start reading and go back incredibly easily when things finish or I get interrupted.  Something that he’s been recommending a few times is the book “Dungeons & Desktops”, and so when I decided to pick up some things from Amazon I decided to order it.  There are two notable things about it from my perspective.  The first is that the version I got is the second edition, which supposedly adds in some modern games which weren’t in the first edition.  The second is that it cost about twice as much as I would usually be willing to spend on such a book, so the pressure was on for it to be an entertaining read and so a book that I might want to reread to make the extra cost worth it.

Fortunately, the book turned out pretty well.  It’s an interesting summary of the history of video games, starting from their inspiration from tabletop games up to the modern era, and covers how they evolved, how they succeeded, and how they failed.  It even takes the time to note that some of the big series — Ultima and Might & Magic — pretty much ended up failing in the exact same way, although it didn’t cover that much of the Mass Effect debacle (although it mentions it).  The authors also fill in things a bit with their own personal experiences with some of the games which is a nice touch and stops the book from being a dry and technical history which makes it more fun to read.  And the book is fairly comprehensive, going through a ton of games and talking about some of them in detail.  So, overall, the book was an entertaining read which help me get through it quickly while watching curling and not getting overly distracted by the curling while reading it.

I needed to start with the praise because the rest of this post is going to consist of some nitpicks about the book and then a longer discussion about RPGs and about games in general spawned from it.  So I needed to make it clear that I did enjoy the book before I start complaining about it.

The first nitpick is that at times, the two authors engage in short conversations with each other.  These conversations are … less than successful.  The problems I had with them is that they rarely followed directly from the text and so seemed to be there just to be there, tried to be funny but came at times where we didn’t need comic relief, weren’t all that funny besides, and also were often a bit mean-spirited, where Shane Stacks would say something and Matt Barton would basically insult him or at least express what I felt was an undue frustration with what was said.  There are a lot of these early on but fortunately they fade away as we get into the book proper and only return a couple more times right at the end.

The second nitpick is that despite the fact that I bought the book because The CRPG Addict mentioned it, they don’t mention him very much.  All they do is use one of his screenshots and have two comments where he says the game they are talking about is terrible.  They do recommend him at the end of the book, but when they were trying to define what it means to be a CRPG for example it wouldn’t have killed them to have referenced the detailed definition that he used and has refined over the years.  There were a number of times where referencing him would have made sense and it was a bit disappointing that they didn’t.

The final nitpick is that while there is a significant amount of research in the book, it has a tendency to focus on the games that they know and played and often leaves some of the others out.  For example, when talking about modern JRPGs they basically mention the Persona games as, to paraphrase Kor’s comment to Worf in DS9, “and they were there, too”, despite the fact that that series is probably the most influential of the modern JRPGs and might well be the epitome of of the modern JRPG.  Since it builds in the romances from CRPGs to a level unseen outside of them, it certainly had an interesting link there and was innovative, and so it probably deserved more attention than it got … especially since they tried to comment on which one was the best and seemed to pick Persona 5 by default.  And while I can forgive them for not mentioning Shadow Hearts when talking about older JRPGs that they didn’t even mention the Suikoden series in their list of games at the end is a bit harder to forgive, given its long lineage and unique character interactions and stories.  They also lament the lack of superhero CRPGs, but don’t even mention the X-Men Legends/Marvel Ultimate Alliance games — again, even in the list of games at the end — despite the fact that the games appeared on PC — at least from X-Men Legends 2 — and are clearly ARPGs, which they talk about.  Finally, they talk about Dark Age of Camelot but focus on Realm vs Realm, which is fair, but imply that the different realms heavily focused on different aspects, like the Norse realm focusing on melee, which is misleading since one of the wonderful things about the game is that each realm contains interesting and lore-specific implementations of all of the major class distinctions, and so the Norse realm has strong mages and ranged classes as well, and the others have strong melee classes, like the Paladin class that I tend to play in the Arthurian realm.  While the book itself is interesting and covers a lot, there are a number of things that a reader can complain about wrt how they treat games that the reader knows and likes better than they do.  This might be one of the fun things about such a book, but if the complaints are serious enough it hurts it as a history.

And the final thing I want to talk about is the one thing that separates them — and the CRPG Addict — from me is that they really do like the combat in RPGs, and consider good combat a key to a good CRPG … which is something that I don’t really agree with, seeing combat as, in general, the thing that I need to get through in order to get to the fun parts of a CRPG.  In fact, one of my biggest fears with CRPGs is that the combat is going to be too hard for me and will prevent me from finishing the game, which is one reason why I haven’t finished VTM: Bloodlines.  Given their research, though, this has been one of the things that CRPG game makers have always considered important as well, which again is why I end up being afraid to play those games knowing that if the combat is too difficult I will get very frustrated and might get myself into a situation where I’m not powerful or skilled enough to beat a key combat and so will have to quit without finishing the game … which has happened to me in the past.

But this struck me as creating an issue that is relatively unique for CRPGs, because they are games that from the start and from their tabletop origins always combined a number of different elements into it.  Yes, we’ve had cross-genre games, but CRPGs are pretty much cross-genre by definition.  The elements of a CRPG have always included a great story, great characters, great combat, interesting magic and leveling systems and interesting and varied equipment.  So in its very genre it has these different elements that are crucially a part of it, although different games may focus on some elements and not others.  However, what this means is that different gamers may be attracted to different aspects of a game.  Some players may come for the combat, some for the story, some for the characters, and so on.  But what this means is that they may not, in fact, actually like the other aspects of the game, which means that they have to try to put up with them to get to what they actually want to do in the game.  As noted, I’m the sort of player who is there primarily for the story and characters.  If the combat is too difficult or too prevalent, I may bail on or have to bail on the game and not get to experience that story, which will be disappointing and will sour me on the series as a whole.  On the other hand, players who are there primarily for the combat might get frustrated at all the times the game stops to relate the story and keeps them from moving on to what they really want to do.

So CRPGs need to balance these aspects, and from the book it looks like what most of them did was either to try to maximize everything or else focused a lot on the combat and made the story basically work.  The game that I think has balanced these things the best is indeed the aforementioned Persona games, as on Easy the combat is easily manageable and yet the combat system has the depth that even a story gamer benefits from paying attention to it and, in fact, generally has to pay attention to it to make it work, but with careful planning can usually minimize their grinding — especially in 4 and 5 — to focus on the story and character aspects, while someone who prefers the combat has a lot of ways to minimize the story to make the combat dominate their gaming experience more often.  And yet my worry about Persona 5 is that each of these elements are becoming so complicated and prominent that if you don’t like one of them you have to spend too much time and effort doing them, which will make them more frustrating.  And so I think attempts to define a CRPG as having to have all of these elements are doing the genre a disservice, as it forces them to include all of them and attempt to make them all to the level of those who really, really like those elements means that they can turn off those gamers who don’t like all the elements and prefer some elements to others.  But trying to minimize some of those elements leads to things like ARPGs and debates over whether things are really CRPGs at all, which isn’t good for CRPGs and so not going to help them gain mainstream appeal.

At any rate, the book is a good examination of the history of CRPGs, which makes it a must read for people who like CRPGs and either played those older games or want to know where the newer games came from.

Halcyon Diary: A Hive of Scum and Villainy

February 27, 2023

So once we tracked down the guy who invented all of these terrible super weapons that the Republic wanted to deploy in the name of peace, the General then asked us to, well, track all of them down because obviously keeping these secret weapons secret was too much for them to manage.  So we had to get to them before the Empire got to them, finished them off, and then used them against us.  Did I mention what a terrible idea creating these weapons was?

Anyway, the first one that I needed to track down was on Nar Shaddaa, the infamous “Smugglers’ Moon”, a home to the worst criminals for a couple of reasons, both related to the Hutts, as it orbits Nal Hutta.  The first is that the group that hires most of these scum is the Hutts, so it was always good to set up near your meal ticket.  The second is that since this was in their system the ones that worked for the Hutts tended to be protected by them from any legal entanglements, so it was relatively easy for them to go out and do the things that they were hired to do and then run back here to get protection from the law.  Or, at least, protection until the Hutts decided they couldn’t be bothered protecting them anymore and sold them out for often trivial benefits, of course.

Because the Hutt concept of law and order basically boils down to “Whatever benefits me and I can get away with”, Nar Shadda was a pretty lawless place.  It’s not a place that I normally would have come to, at least not without significant backup, but since I had to come here anyway I took the opportunity to try to clean things up a bit.  Yeah, yeah, that was kinda like trying to clear the Dune Sea with a shovel, but I figured that I wouldn’t get as good an opportunity any other time and maybe I could at least help some people.  Besides, Kira seemed to appreciate it when I went after the gangs and helped out the little guys here and I’m still trying to convince her to let me do flight missions again.

As for the main mission, the project here was trying to create super soldiers, but the agent sent to track it down had disappeared.  I didn’t find these “Power Guards” all that impressive, but given time the Empire might have managed to actually make them challenging, so it did make sense to track them down and end the project, and also to find out what happened to that agent.  Following his trail, we discovered that he had indeed been captured and turned into one of these things, and since he was brainwashed as part of the process we had to fight him.  Beating him cleared his mind, and he asked me to kill him, but I couldn’t do that, so instead he ran off to get his revenge.  He didn’t quite make it, but helped clear the way for us, and we confronted the Sith running the project, a Lord Sadic, who had undergone some of the process himself and figured it made him tough enough to take us.  Well, as I said, I didn’t find the process all that impressive, and we went down, and I turned him over to the SIS for questioning in case he could tell us anything useful.

At that point, everything was wrapped up neatly and we could move on.  It was a surprisingly straightforward mission, which was good.  I hate surprises.

Video Game Playlists

February 21, 2023

So, while writing up my answers to the Ultima IV questions and reading the comments, I ended up thinking about various series and the like that I wanted to play.  This was enhanced by my thinking about what I’m doing with DAO and wanting to play at least DA2 after I finish that.  And after the success of the nine month project to read the complete works of Shakespeare, I’m right now feeling pretty good about committing to things that will take a long time to finish … and playing any of these series will be that.  So, as is my wont, I want to make a list for it.  And since people have expressed an interest in my playing at least some of these games, I figured I should do it on the blog, to let people know what I’m looking at, to keep a record of that so that I can refer to it, and also to, well, have a post for the day from something I’m already writing about.

Note that this isn’t in priority order, just in the order I think of it.

Dragon Age:  This is what I’m currently working on.  The reason is that I picked up the pack with all the DLC from GOG and wanted to play the game once with those DLC.  So I’m right now playing with an ex-pat of Spencer from “Pretty Little Liars”, and when that’s done I’m quite likely to play DA2 with an ex-pat of Hanna.  DAI is on the table but I’m not at all sure that I would be interested in playing that game again.

Wizardry 6 – 8:  I love Wizardry 8 but have never finished it.  I started Wizardry 6 once and didn’t care for the graphics.  And these are long games that can be a bit grindy.  But I keep get reminded of them by the CRPG Addict and want to take a shot at them at some point.

Ultima IV – IX:  I could split it into separate runs — at least chopping 8 and 9 off — but I again was reminded of it reading the CRPG Addict and so am interested in trying it again.

Might and Magic (maybe from 6?):  This is getting to be a recording, since I was reminded of it from reading the CRPG Addict and so want to play them again.  I did enjoy 6 a bit when I played it the first time years ago, and am not sure that I can put up with the earlier games (which also applies to Ultima and Wizardry).

Gold Box Games:  This is constantly on my list.  I have only ever finished “Gateway to the Savage Frontier” and remember “Curse of the Azure Bonds” the most fondly.  This is of course a huge list and I don’t like the class choices of the earlier games, so I might end up doing it by series if I get around to this, but one of the big issues — mapping — is mostly solved by some things I found on the Internet making it less daunting for me to play one day a week.

Icewind Dale:  I have a few versions of these games lying around somewhere.  I liked the story of the first one better and the classes of the second one better, but never finished either.  It’d be nice to give it a try sometime.

Baldur’s Gate:  I never liked the first one and had some fun with the second one before abandoning it for no reason.  However, this — along with Planescape:  Torment, which is not a series and so won’t be on this list — is the series that I most feel like I should play and give more of a chance to, so it ends up here.

Fallout:  Including the old and the new games.  In both of the original games I ended up with a badly created character that couldn’t get anywhere (this also applied to Might and Magic).  I’ve never even loaded the new games.  But again these are games that I feel that I really should play at some point.

Elder Scrolls:  I got bored and went on a homicidal rampage in Morrowind, finished Oblivion, and started a couple of Skyrim games before abandoning it.  I have all of these games still and so should probably go through them at some point.

Mass Effect:  I restarted the trilogy recently with a Barbara Gordon ex-pat but then dropped it.  I wouldn’t mind going through it again with that although again the third one is a game that I don’t really want to play, and I’m not that thrilled with the second one either, to tell you the truth.

Knights of the Old Republic:  I’ve played a few games of the first one and finished them, but every time I tried to play a related Sith Lords game I get bored of it after Peragus and quit.  I’d like to actually complete the both of them at some point, although playing TOR constantly kind hampers that.

So, that’s the current list.  Yes, it’s huge, but as per my wont I’m not planning on finishing them all any time soon.  This is just a list for me to refer to when I finish Dragon Age so that I don’t forget what I wanted to play.

Halcyon Diary: And Now For Something Completely Different

February 20, 2023

So, after getting my hands on a ship again, I was itching to fly it and test out its limits, and that might flying in combat again.  On the one hand, it’s probably not a smart thing to do in the middle of a mission to save the galaxy, and it’s probably also not something that a Jedi should be striving for, but I’d been flying in and out of combat pretty much all my life and I missed it.  So I went out and found all the best weapons and shields for this thing and when I finally had it all installed I went out and ran some missions that the Republic Fleet Command was putting out there to see how it all worked.

The first one was a simple escort mission, which went pretty well, although I think I shot the guy I was escorting a couple of times before I realized it was him.  He really needed to get a better FoF system for that thing.  In terms of performance, the ship the Jedi had given me didn’t handle much like a sleek fighter and instead more like a bomber or a freighter, but it did well-enough.  A second mission in an asteroid belt was going really well until I accidentally banged into an asteroid that I didn’t see coming, and bent things up a bit.  After that, Kira put her foot down and said that she didn’t sign up to fix up all the hull breaches I would get from doing that … or dying that way, either.  I’m working on her and I think I’ll be able to wear her down.

Another thing that I didn’t have to wear her down much on was our burgeoning relationship.  Look, I was outside of the Order for a long time, and had a completely normal life.  That meant that that whole “You shouldn’t love” thing wasn’t something that I’d even thought about.  I’d fallen in love, had my heart broken, broken some hearts, and even had a fair amount of casual sex.  And yeah, Kira is attractive.  Very attractive.  And she seemed willing to flirt, and I enjoyed flirting with her, and so it was a little harmless fun.  Or so I thought.  But when I teasingly asked her for a kiss she pretty much jumped at the chance, which surprised me.  It’s just one of the little ways that she doesn’t really act like a Jedi, which works really, really well for someone like me who doesn’t really want to act like a Jedi either.

I thought that it might just be a little casual fun, but she actually brought up getting a dispensation to get married and maybe have kids, and I found myself as interested in that as she was.  Hey, if it worked for Bastila Shan, it could work for us, right?  I mean, she had to deal with the guy she loved being Revan, Dark Lord of the Sith, and we won’t have to deal with anything like that, so we shouldn’t have any issues, right?

Halcyon Diary: Do You Smell Something?

February 13, 2023

So on Ord Mantell we discovered that the Empire had sussed out another Republic superweapon project — because of course we had multiple superweapon projects that we couldn’t keep secret from the Empire — and were trying to track down the components and the designers of the project that we gave the bright and cheerful name of “The Desolator”.  Yeah, nothing good can come from something named that, and as soon as anyone hears that name they’re going to know what it is, so no wonder the Empire figured out what it was.  One of the original designers was hanging out on the desolated world of Taris, that had been bombarded during the years when Revan was finding the Star Maps.  The Republic was trying to restore it, and for some reason the scientist decided that a desolated mostly swamp filled with ravenous creatures where if you even get scratched by them you might turn into them was a great place to hide out.  Well, I guess no one would have expected it.

The Empire had sent an agent to track him down, called Watcher One.  He led us on a merry chase, and was even willing to sell out a plan by a brutal Sith Lord to wipe out a small colony of people for no other reason than it was there to delay us to get the information he needed.  It partly worked, but Darth Angral ordered him to kill us despite his making an agreement to return the Doctor to us after he was finished interrogating him, which, well, didn’t work out well for him.

As part of my time on Taris, I was asked to find out what happened to a group that lived in the Undercity before the bombardment and that Revan had put on the path to what they called “The Promised Land”.  I found where they had resettled and tracked them down through holographic records that they had left behind … but the news wasn’t good.  If they had been able to move out there but maintain some contact with civilization and if the planet hadn’t been devastated by the bombardment.  But as it was there was no one for them to trade with and the bombardment released a lot of radiation and toxic chemicals that eventually made them sterile and wiped out the entire colony.  All that Revan’s good deed managed to do was allow them to live a bit longer — well, okay, generations longer, really — which might have been more a curse than a blessing.

I’ve certainly been getting a lot of reminders of Revan lately.  I hope that’s not some kind of sign.

Halcyon Diary: What Could Go Wrong?

February 6, 2023

So after arriving on Coruscant with T7, I met with a Republic general, where it was revealed that they were working on a superweapon called the “Planet Prison”, and what the name pretty much says what it does:  it locks down a planet using ionized energy that would disrupt any electronics.  So of course they were researching it on a planet that would be exceptionally vulnerable to it and if traffic in and out was disrupted it would have a huge impact on the entire Republic as opposed to some out of the way planet where that would be minimal.  And even more of course, they lost control of it, and I was sent to deal with it, first by tracking down some schematics they’d stolen, and then tracking down the scientist who was the head of the project to prevent his information from falling into the wrong hands.  Well, it turns out that the information was already in the wrong hands, because the guy they thought of as Doctor Tarnis was really a Sith who had infiltrated the project to get it into the hands of the Empire.  I had to kill him, but he was talking to his father Darth Angral at the time and his father was … unhappy that I killed him, and swore revenge against me for, well, killing someone who was going to lock down an entire planet possibly killing billions and who was trying to kill me at the time.

Sith are so emo.

Coruscant also had its own issues, with the criminal empire Black Sun and an aging infrastructure.  Black Sun was intimidating the locals and was even booby trapping supply crates to blow them up for … some reason.  It was a joy taking them down, even if I hadn’t had to deal with them back in my CorSec days.  As for the infrastructure, I had to head into one of the older and lower levels with a bunch of machines — that one crazy guy thought were sentient — that needed to be fixed.  It turned out that I was doing that, in part, because of another bunch of machines — these ones were actually sentient — that were trying to fix things to help the Senate, but the Senator who was in charge of them couldn’t understand what they were saying.  I was surprised, since while they slid in a number of colour words in odd places it was pretty easy to figure out what they meant given the context.  I guess that just proves that politicians aren’t all that bright.

After that, we found that the signal was coming from Ord Mantell, and a Padawan that I first met on Tython came along to help us.  Kira did a good job tracking signals and doing some hacking on Coruscant. and while I’d had to bail her out of trouble once other than being a bit impulsive she could pretty much handle herself, so I didn’t mind her tagging along.  And yes, she’s attractive, but as a Jedi I’m above such concerns.  As a man, well, I’m not as much above such concerns as I’d like.

Anyway, T7 and I went on to investigate the lead, but when we returned Kira had been captured by another Sith, who wanted her alive for some reason.  They didn’t want me alive, though, and so the only option was to kill them and free Kira on my own.

That they wanted her specifically alive for some reason makes me suspicious.  Yeah, I’m naturally a suspicious person, but there was no reason given for why they’d want her alive.  She didn’t have more information than I or others had.  She wasn’t more important than myself or others.  She didn’t have any unique skills, Force or otherwise.  So why were they so interested in her?  It didn’t make sense, and I don’t like it when things don’t make sense.