Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Star Wars: The Old Republic

I played this for a week.

So how does it stack up to World of Warcraft?  Plain and simple, it does and it doesn't in plenty of aspects. World of Warcraft is or has, quite simply, a much better bang for your buck in an Arcade style MMO.  You have LFGs, you have pugs, you can go up against the Lich King.  There is simply no way, no how you can role-play there anymore since the role-players have all been driven off most WoW RP servers.  The PvP is much more advanced in WoW, and you have much more advanced features.

In all honesty, though, World of Warcraft is better in the feature department because of it's development in features.  So, can Star Wars get the ten million or eleven million subscribers that it needs to be number 1?  Answer: maybe.

Star Wars: the Old Republic is thirty years a little too late to take advantage of the Star Wars craze of the early eighties when GL was inventing the story as he went along.  Secondly, it's ten years too late to take advantage of the Star Wars renaissance.  Fourthly, it's clearly not designed to be like WoW in conception.

Although Star Wars: the Old Republic is doing its own thing, you have got to realize that it has many features in common with World of Warcraft.  The GUI is similar, and and the combat similar also.  You sit there for much of the combat, not moving but standing like a D&D character trading blows with your enemy.  that isn't realistic, but hp isn't too realistic either.

Blaster bolts are like blanks (death by blanks) and lightsabers don't really cut.  So that's the arcade style of the game.  Like I said, it has a lot of features in common with WoW in order to compete with WoW.  Many of its players are coming from WoW.  But they are also coming with to high expectations . . .

a). Star Wars: the Old Republic does not have pugs or LFGs.  Newbies have to miss out on a lot of good content (the Flashpoints, which are ST:TOR's equivalent of dungeons) in order to advance their characters.

b). Server population is low.  The population of the game is spread out among many different servers, so you don't get the help you deserve when asking for Flashpoints.

c). The Galaxy isn't fully open.  An Imperial Guild can't go in and raid Coruscant, and a Republic Guild can't go in and raid Drommund Kas.  What is worse, Imperials can't go in and raid Tython, and the Republicans can go in and raid Korriban.

d). There are no guild banks, but that is coming in patch 1.2

e). There isn't any good PvP, like Arena PvP.

f). There aren't any planned sporting events.

So, what does Star Wars have over Blizzard's WoW?

a). Star Wars lore -- Star Wars is incredibly rich.  The story and mythology of the Star Wars Universe has grown beyond George Lucas.  The story is bigger than him, both symbolically and literally.  Although it started with an idea and a need: "There isn't anything good in the theaters."  "I'm going to do a Space Western."  -- has gone beyond a simple honest film maker turned blustering blow hard because he can't take FAME well at all.

Star Wars has more than 30 years living in the minds of the public, and owned by the minds of the public.  There are novels, video games, movies, t.v. shows, CRPGs, and now . . . an MMO.  Star Wars is bigger than World of Warcraft in lore and history, spanning more than hundred of thousands of years.

b). Voice acting and better modeling.  The graphics and voice acting of each character is awesome!  It's everything you'd expect an MMO to be in this time and place.  Each character has a voice and a mini-movie.  People are just going to be, pardon the expression, blown away by the expressiveness and the way that the Star Wars universe just comes to life.

c). Rich story telling -- each class has a rich story being told through play.  There is a legacy system in which you can add a last name to your characters (i.e. Starstrider for one thing).  You can create a legacy for your alts.  From bank alts to regular, "I advance my alts so I can do things in the guild."

You can marry characters together, make them brothers, sisters, cousins, siblings, aunts, uncles, daughters, and sons.  And you can customize your characters' abilities according to their legacy.  You can't do that in WoW.

So, is SW:TOR better than World of Warcraft?  Yes.  Will it survive World of Warcraft? Maybe.  My advice is to buy the game and to play it.  This is the only chance you have to live your fantasy that you had when you saw Star Wars the first time.

But I don't know about you.  As for me, I'm playing a human Jedi Shadow, a Miraluka Jedi, and a Sith Sorcerer.  I'm going to build a legacy with these characters, marrying my Jedi Shadow and true blood Sith Sorcerer together to get an interesting family.  A Star Wars legacy like anything Goerge Lucas can think of.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Roleplaying Lightsaber Combat in Star Wars SAGA

I was going to write this post on the SW:TOR forums, but I am not allowed to write there, currently.  So, this is entirely my commentary based on the knowledge I gathered over the years on Swordsmanship.  So, we better go over what makes Lightsabers so special.  Although originally thought of for TOR players, I adjusted this for SAGA players -- who might be the most to benefit.

The Sword
First of all, we need to look at the sword.  The sword has been around since at least the Bronze Age.  It's early form is that of a long dagger.  The sword requires a heavy hilt to balance it, but it is a misnomer that a broadsword is 50 pounds.  A well made steel broadsword is only 3 and half pounds at the most, this makes a fifty pound sword a theory, since the heaviest sword is the Scottish Claymore.  A treatise on sword weight is given on ARMA.

However, it is more fantastic to see a bronze age sword being made and a steal sword replica being forged.

Bronze Casting

The Lightsaber

The problem with the Lightsaber is that it's physics aren't properly understood according to how it functions.  Theoretically, it creates a blade of hard light that can cut through anything.  Physicists say it's anything from a blade of plasma to a blade of energy.  The result: you actually have a weapon that all of it's weight is in the hilt.  It is possible to have "hard" Energy.  For this you need to understand the physics of Energy and Matter.  If Matter is energy spent, then a Lightsaber is in-between energy spent and energy yet to be spent.  Since we don't understand the Lightsaber, it's physics are beyond our understanding.

The Lightsaber Forms

There are seven basic lightsaber forms, and thousands, if not millions, of styles built on each one.  Roleplaying a lightsaber form according to the various Roleplaying Games is up to the player and not up to the rules.  Never the less, this analysis isn't an expert's opinion, just a martial artist's.

The way of the Sarlacc/the way of the Man

Shii-Cho is the basic lightsaber form.  This is the form taught to all lightsaber duelists, whether you are Darth Revan or Luke Skywalker.  It's balanced and provides the Jedi some defense as well as offense.  It's a good beginning form.

Shii-Cho and the Real World:
In the real world, men started bronze casting swords out of copper and forging swords out of ore (iron) since the Flood.  It became a real industry during Nimrod's time (i.e. during the time of the Prophet Elias).
Therefore the first sword fighting forms were developed by the Sumerians, the Chinese, and Egyptians.  However, the civilization of "Bronze Age"America turned to iron, and little is known of their sword making techniques.

Many swordsmanship forms have been lost in the last seven(?) thousand years.  If Shii-Cho has a real world counterpart, you are looking at medieval swordsmanship. although this fight between Hector and Achilles can also demonstrate Shii-Cho.

I know I showed this before on my blog, but it really gives the point of Shii-Cho.  Although you are fighting with weapons that have no weight, Medieval European Swordsmanship is really much more elegant than we give it credit for.  Shii-Cho is best represented by Medieval European Swordsmanship.

Roleplaying a Jedi using Shii-Cho:  The player should describe his Jedi making a powerful stance and moves that relies on making cuts and blocking cuts.  Parrying in Shii-cho isn't about style, style comes later.   Parrying is preventing someone else's lightsaber from hitting you and cutting you with a blade that is as hot as the sun -- theoretically.

The Shii-Cho duelist is worried about surviving a fight rather than looking good.  Yet, European Swordsmanship does allow for some theatrics.  You can describe your blade twirling around, and you can throw your blade with some accuracy without the Force.  Dodging is your best friend when using Shii-Cho.

Suggested Feats: Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Melee Defense, Mobility

Associated Lightsaber Forms: Disarming Slash, Sarlacc Sweep

The Way of the Ysalamiri/the Way of the Crane

Just as the Arte of Defence in Europe is the evolution of Medieval Swordsmanship, so Makashi is to Shii-Cho.  Makashi is probably the ultimate in dueling.  Makashi depends on speed rather than pure strength like Shien does.  It's about making precise strikes and parrying those precise strikes.  It's all about lightsaber to lightsaber combat, as a Jedi and Sith fight, they fight with their lightsabers.

On Earth, the Art of Defense moved from parrying cuts to parrying piercing strikes.  Your weapons have changed also, as you went from flat cutting blades to little more than long pins that can penetrate your enemy.  Lightsaber wielders depend on parrying slashes and precise strikes when defending against Makashi wielders, as they use slashes and precision strikes.

Makashi can be excellently seen when watching the Princess Bride.

Roleplaying Makashi:  Makashi is a lightsaber form that relies on slashes and precision strikes.  As a player, you must make a lot of declared shots at specific parts of the body.  The heart, brain, eyes, wrists, throat and lungs are your primary targets.

Suggested Feats: Combat Reflexes, Improved Defenses, Improved Disarm, Rapid Strike

Associated Lightsaber Forms: Contentious Opportunity, Makashi Riposte

The Way of the Minoc/the Way of the Apatosaur

We are moving outside the realm of Terrestrial Martial Arts when we use Soresu, as it is based on parrying blaster bolts rather than lightsaber to lightsaber combat.  Since there is no weapon designed to parry bullets, and you can't see bullets anyway, it's best to think of Soresu as the pinnacle of defense.

The only example is to look at Obi-Wan Kenobi's lightsaber combat.

Roleplaying Soresu: You are defending yourself with your lightsaber against blaster bolts.  This requires quick reflexes and certain force powers and lightsaber forms.  A soresu specialist has high dexterity, so dexterity can't be your dump stat.  Soresu specialists are like Akido masters, they can handle many attacks at once.  Feats like Improved Defenses are critical to the Soresu specialist.

Suggested feats: Acrobatic Strike, Combat Refexes, Dodge, Improved Defenses, Melee Defense

Associated Lightsaber Forms: Circle of Shelter, Deflecting Slash

The Way of the Hawk Bat/the Way of the Monkey

We are moving away from Medieval Fighting Forms to the Oriental.  However, if Hercules/Heracles was a Jedi, he would specialize in Ataru.  This is because Ataru specialists rely on the entire human body in order to win the fight.  Ataru combatants give it their all.  It's the most acrobatic, and has as its' only analog among my knowledge Tai Chi Quan.

If focused, a Jedi master of Ataru is nigh unstoppable.  The form is designed to cut through many combatants at once while moving in a single direction.  You cannot stop an Ataru master if he's moving, even if he strikes at you little.  He is pure power, dexterity, and strength.  Here, in this clip from Hero, we demonstrate Ataru in the moves of Flying Snow and Broken Sword as they battle their way into the palace of Chinese Warlord Qin.

Another way of thinking about Ataru combat is to actually look at the Monkey style of Kung Fu.  The Style was developed by a prisoner who observed the monkeys and their society.  He learned a great deal from the animals and how they fought.   There are five styles of Monkey Kung Fu.  Perhaps the best way to learn Ataru fighting is to not only study the Hong Kong fight choreographers, but to watch the Forbidden Kingdom and take careful notes of Jackie's fight sequences in the film.

Roleplaying Ataru: Describe you fights as if you are giving your all.  Jump and run while you fight your enemies. While you can get away with whirlwind attack, in real life, a duelist can not take his eyes off his enemy.  But you are always in motion during a battle.  Dexerity and Strength are your most important stats when playing an Ataru duelist.

Suggested Feats: Acrobatic Strike, Cleave, Dodge, Improved Charge, Mobility, Power Attack, Running Attack

Associated Lightsaber Forms: Hawk-bat Swoop, Saber Swarm

The Way of the Krayat Dragon/The Way of the Tiger

In associated martial arts, we move away from the Chinese to the Japanese and their Kenjutsu.  However Japanese Kenjutsu has thousands of styles, and the Legend of the Five Rings: the fantasy of Rokugan has seven major Kenjutsu Styles -- from the Crane to the Lion and beyond.  However, in the world of Star Wars, Shien is manifested as one form.

This form is best seen in screen Kenjutsu.  Akira Kurosawa's the Seven Samurai has many scenes in which stage Kenjutsu is revealed.   This one shows the battle between a Kensai and an Upstart, that should give you the soul of what Shien/Djem-So is all about.

Roleplaying Shien: The Shien/Djem-So Duelist is all about strength and physical offensive force.  You make powerful cuts and powerful slashes at your enemy.  The Shien duelist has one thought in his mind: "The best defense is a good offense."  This is his lightsaber fighting philosophy.  He wants the battle to be over and quick, so he uses overwhelming force to defeat his opponent.  If a Roman Legionary or a Samurai from the Lion Clan of Rokugan was to become a Jedi, he would be training his student in Shien/Djem-So.

Suggested Feats: Power Attack is your most essential feat; then: Powerful Charge, Bantha Rush, Cleave, Great Cleave, Rapid Strike

Associated Lightsaber Forms: Barrier of Blades, Falling Avalanche, Fluid Riposte, Shien Deflection

The Way of the Rancor/The Way of the Dragon

Niman is what you get if a duelist learns Medieval Swordsmanship, the Arte of Defence, Tai-Chi Quan, and Kenjutsu all in one go and managed to piece everything together in one balanced whole.  The Niman duelist practices a fluid style that moves from form to form in almost imperceptible ways.

They also combine force based attacks in their fighting styles, as they are able to telekinetically pull and shove their enemy.  Niman specialists have a relaxed approach to swordsmanship.  Niman dueling is represented in Episode I.

Roleplaying the Niman Specialist: Niman is perfect for the Jedi Sage type character.  If you are building a Jedi Sage from SW:TOR, you rely on a balance of blade work and Force attacks, or do battle in favor of Force Attacks.  You use the Force to push your enemies away or to pull them in.  Your blade work is very fluid, but has a relaxed quality about it.  Your important stats are constitution, charisma, and dexterity.

Suggested Feats: Dodge, Follow Through, Mobility, Unswerving Resolve, Whirlwind Attack

Associated Lightsaber Forms: Draw Closer, Pushing Slash

The Way of the Vornskyr/The Way of the Lion

With Juyo, we finally come full circle.  This is Medieval Swordsmanship at it's worst, elevated (or delevated) to common Street Fighting.  It's all about dirty tricks, there is no honor in Juyo or Vaapad, or at least little of it.  You can hit below the belt, for instance.

Juyo's strongest analog is Gladiator training.  In Spartacus (Kurt Russel) they reconstruct Gladiator training, and at the end of the film, they were defeated by Roman Legionaries.  The problem with Gladiators is that they are trained extremely differently than Roman Legionaries.  This is not so with Juyo duelists.  The Sith Marauders are definitely organized in SW:TOR, and they did use their abilities to great effect.

Roleplaying a Juyo Specialist: One phrase sums up your combat: "anything goes."  You are straddling the line between the Light and the Dark Side when you use Juyo.  There is no honor in your fighting, and you fight dirty.  You look for anything that will give you an advantage.  You can throw dust in your opponent's eyes, for instance, and then cut him down.  Your targets are the Instant Kill zones, Cripple zones, and Slow Kill zones.  The first rule in Juyo dueling is go for the instant kill first.  You call the neck and the heart.  Second rule is to cripple your opponent by slashing off his arms or legs.  Third rule is to go for the slow kill, but you got to kill your opponent quickly or they can still kill you while they slowly die.

Suggested Feats: Power Attack, Dodge, Mobility, Cleave, Relentless Attack, Follow Through

Associated Lightsaber Forms: Assured Strike, Swift Flank, Tempered Aggression, Vornskr's Ferocity

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Outline of new Adventure so far.

NWN-Aur, the Wayawrd Gnoll by ~SailorX on deviantART

Here is my Outline of my new adventure:

The Invasion of Aine.

Summary: The Invasion of Aine deals with a invasion of a celtic town in Eastern Utah by gnolls.  The reasons have not been put in the adventure but it's about stolen land.  The player characters are caught unawares and must deal with the invasion.  There's only one problem: Gnolls in Pathfinder have 1 full hit dice.  Thus they have one 1 level.  So, they, the gnolls, will be going up against PCs of 4th level.

Recommended: For a scientifically correct gaming experience, I'll be recommending Advanced d20 Magic.

Required: I am leaning to Psionics Unleashed since I know the 3.5 psionics system forwards and backwards.


I.               ACT 1 – CHAOS IN AINE
A.     The adventure is set in Eastern Utah.
a.     Specifically, Dinosaur Land.  Eastern Utah is verdant enough for habitation by humans or gnolls.
                                                                 i.     The gnoll tribes are wandering hunter/gatherers.
1.     They are a Neolithic society with the ability of crafting steel.
                                                                ii.     Humans on the raising of beef cattle and farming.
1.     Humans are a late iron age society.
                                                              iii.     Aine is a  human celt colony in North America, specifically, in Vernal, Utah.
B.     The Player Characters are humans who have to deal with an gnoll raid.
a.     PCs professions may include:
                                                                 i.     Barbarian – shepherd
                                                                ii.     Bard -- Storyteller
                                                              iii.     Cleric – Pagan Temple Priest
                                                              iv.     Druid – Mountain Wise Man
                                                                v.     Fighter – Town guard, warrior
                                                              vi.     Monk – Greco-Roman Athlete
                                                             vii.     Paladin - Town leader.
                                                           viii.     Ranger – Forest runner
                                                              ix.     Rogue – Tavern keeper
                                                                x.     Sorcerer – Tailor/Seamstress
                                                              xi.     Wizard – Alchemist
                                                             xii.     Psion – Sculptor
                                                           xiii.     Psychic Warrior – Town Warrior
                                                           xiv.     Soulknife – Scout
                                                             xv.     Wilder - Musician
C.     The gnoll invasion is led by gnoll females, to be consistent with their hyena inspiration
a.     The leader of team 1 is Akwasibah, a gnoll Mother of the Fighter class.  She has the equivalent rank of colonel or captain.
b.     Makena, gnoll Mother rogue of the group and leader of team 2.  She has delusions of grandeur.
c.      Shani, gnoll Mother sorceress.  She leads team 3, and she is the kind one.  She is along to make sure no blood is spilt.
d.     Lusala, leader of team 4 and a male.  He’s a psychopath.  He is “one who cannot be tamed,” a berserker.
D.    The inhabitants of Aine includes:
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...