Another Look at: Forspoken

This post was originally a script for a first attempt at a short video essay that would potentially be the start of a series. However, due to vacation followed by over a week of sickness that completely has destroyed my voice for the time being and thus has kept me from both recording this AND streaming, I have decided to release it as a text post. So you let me know! Would you like to see these as a video series? Keep it as a text post thing? I still have a good sized list of other movies, games, and what not that would fit the “Another Look At” format. Let me know!

You know, for a long time I’ve wanted to do a series on shows, games, movies – what have you – that I really, really enjoy but seem to have the minority opinion on.  You know.  Those things that it seems like everybody but you hate and think is awful?  Call them hot takes or guilty pleasures, but I wanted to take another look at stuff like that and share my honest thoughts on why _I_ like them despite all the hate.

So with that in mind, I wanted to talk about the most recent addition to that list, and take another look at a little recent game called ‘Forspoken’.


Forspoken is a 2023 release developed by Luminous Productions and published by Square Enix.  I feel the need to separate those two despite Luminous Productions technically being an in-house team at Square Enix for reasons we will get into in a minute. The game is an open-world action rpg set in the world of Athia, where the four ruling witches – or Tantas as they are called in-game – have gone completely insane, twisted their virtues into vices and unleashed a horrible miasma on their kingdoms dubbed ‘The Break’…  because it “breaks” things.  Not the most original name, but hey a lot of the locals in Athia just call it “The Corruption” and between the two, the Break sounds a lot more creative comparatively.

Into this ruined world falls Frey, a 21 year old squatter from New York city who is on the last fine strands of patience the legal system has.  She’s scrappy, resourceful, has a good sense of right and wrong – and tends to choose ‘wrong’ out of the necessity to survive.  She’s also an orphan who was found as a baby in a tunnel with no idea who her parents were.  Some of the trope-savvy out there are probably already putting something together from all of this.  Frey finds herself drawn to a magical bracelet in an abandoned shop, and upon touching it is whisked away to Athia.  Against her will.  With no knowledge of why she got brought there, how she got there, or how to get back.  Her only companion in Athia at first is the bracelet who turns out can talk and who she names Cuff much to its displeasure.  From there, Frey begins a quest to…  well honestly, get home.  I mean, home sucks but IS home and there aren’t zombies and dragons in New York… yet?

This sets the general tone for the game.  Frey is a young, snarky, New Yorker in a situation and world that she doesn’t understand, wants to leave asap, and the populace is firmly divided between thinking she alone is their savior or wanting her head put on a pike.  As Frey gets further and further elevated into a very unwanted hero position by the surviving citizens, the greater the conflict grows between Frey’s goals and the people’s wants.  This – more than the insane Tantas – forms the conflict of the story.

You’ve probably seen the memes and responses to the game that Frey isn’t a likable protagonist and she’s got too much “cringey” snippy dialogue.  And even I will admit that there is truth to those claims.  I honestly think people are overselling how much is in the game, but I won’t deny it’s there.  But as the game progresses I think it becomes very clear that this is intentional. It’s Frey’s story arc as she starts thinking about the needs of others over her own desire to get home.  She realizes that she’s been a horrible person to those around her and lashing out at them because of her situation which isn’t their fault either.  She stops quipping as much, because she starts to earnestly want to connect and help people instead of just “dealing with them”.  You can actually see this early on in the game, when Frey is down-to-earth, kind, and gentle with those she takes a liking to, but is snarky and quippy with those she doesn’t trust or feels are just using her.  It’s not Whedon-esque quips for the sake of being punchy, it’s legitimately character development on the part of Frey, which is something of a shorthand to where her loyalties lie through the story.

Speaking of, there’s the other half of this dynamic duo – Cuff.  Cuff is difficult to talk about without venturing into spoiler territory for a plot point that actually caught me off guard to the point that I don’t really want to go into it here.  Like it’s a legitimately solid twist, as opposed to the far more obvious twist that I was able to predict before we even got to Athia.  Cuff is the demeaning, deadpan observer to Frey’s journey.  Serving for the most part as Frey’s conscience and guide to Athia.  Cuff is not native to Athia, but has been there before so he knows SOME of the information to help Frey.  Honestly, most of the ‘annoying quips’ in my opinion don’t come from the wise-cracking New Yorker but the deadpan snarker bracelet, but what can you do when you are a powerful and sentient force that exists as a bracelet because of a bunch of crazy witches?

Oh, excuse me. Tantas.  The “antagonists” of the story are really more of a combined lore dump/force of nature.  Each are ‘interesting’ characters in the sense of how their madness manifests – the defender soldier turned tyrants, the arbiter of justice turned into a paranoid hypocritical judge, jury and executioner – with separate personalities for each – and the wise teacher who chooses to hide herself and her world in illusions to escape.  But ultimately, the story is not about the Tantas… who are not witches, despite having cat familiars and magic – they are instead the forces that drive Frey’s back and forth growth into a hero.

So with all that said, how was the story?  Pretty good.  Not great.  Not gonna win any awards, but it was a solid origin-style story of Alice accepting that Wonderland was her home all along.  It plays up the melodrama pretty heavily at points which I didn’t find extremely unexpected with the high tensions of the literal end of the world happening.  The drama can probably feel a bit much if you are jetting through the main story instead of stopping to explore the outside world and do the side-objectives.  It does deal a lot of back to back blows in that scenario and could wear you out.  But to those who find Frey annoying or unlikable, yeah. She kind of is at the beginning.  But only to emphasize how much she grows out of it by the end.  It’s like Mark Hamill in Star Wars.  He intentionally played Luke whiny at the start of A New Hope, so that you can more clearly see where he matures to by the end.  Or should I compare it to something Japanese, like Rise of the Shield Hero.  The game is pretty much an isekai down to the formula of the story.  Which is surprising from a team of American writers.

Oh, did you not know that?  Yeah, Forspoken is developed by a Japanese studio but the writing team they hired to craft the story of a new yorker getting isekai’d to a fantasy world?  All Americans.  Two of which – Todd Stashwick and Amy Henning – were writing that open-world Star Wars game for Visceral before EA canned the whole thing and dissolved the studio. Amy Henning in particular has a long established history in game writing and worked with Naughty Dog on both Jak & Daxter and Uncharted. The concept and lore was developed by Gary Whitta, who wrote the Book of Eli and was one of the early co-writers on Rogue One before departing ways with the project. With the fourth and final writer being Allison Rymer, who was the writer on Shadowhunters, the tv show adapted from The Mortal Instruments book series by Cassandra Clare.  And I can tell you that if you were to combine the minds that created Jak & Daxter, the Book of Eli, and adapted the Mortal Instruments into a blender…  You’d be well prepared for the tone of Forspoken. I mean, a Young Adult novel protagonist wise cracking with a snarky sidekick adventuring in a vast depressing post-apocalyptic open-world landscape?  Yeah, that all matches. 

But yeah, for a first time new studio, it’s a pretty basic story that holds together enough to show their real strength: the familiarity with their toolset.


“Did Vry say a first time studio? I thought this was Square Enix! Makers of the renowned Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest franchises!”

Well, yes. That’s why I made sure to emphasize that Square Enix was the PUBLISHER, and that their internal team dubbed Luminous Productions was the developer. See Luminous Productions used to be called Business Division 2, and was the team responsible for Final Fantasy 15.

“See? Final Fantasy 15! Not a first time studio!”

Excuse me, hold on a moment.  Business Division 2 became Luminous Productions when Hajime Tabata, director of Final Fantasy XV, left and a bunch of other people on the team followed him to start another studio.  Luminous Productions is what’s left.  The directors of Forspoken?  One was a programmer for 15’s DLC, and the other was the director only for two of the DLCs – and the writer of an obscure romantic comedy anime that I watched in high school. Weird coincidence.

So generally, the studio is made up of people with lots of development experience but no management. Some minor directing credits at best.  So what does this mean for the game? Well, they know the tools they’re using. The game is made in the Luminous Engine developed for Final Fantasy XV and it is very clear that the team’s strong suit is working with it.  

They’ve developed an amazingly fun, complex but incredibly friendly combat magic system that makes it fun to just dive in and throw insane combos of various powers capped with ‘Surge Magic’ finishers that erupt the landscape in elemental fury that makes you feel like a God of Destruction, kind of like when you summoned one of the Astrals in 15.

You can eventually switch between four different types of magic, each with strengths and weaknesses and can be woven together seamlessly in combat.  What’s that? Drop a ring of fire to trap enemies inside and then cause a wave of water to push them away from you and into the damage wall of flame?  Yes please!

The environment is vast, gorgeous, and developed up enough that it never feels bland.  I always like to think that a sign of a good open world is that I don’t need a map to navigate an area and can work just with landmarks – Forspoken is great about this, leaving interesting details in spots that allow you to orient your surroundings using them.

On top of all that, the game is beautiful.  On top of the side quest to find picturesque photo spots, there are dozens and dozens of places where I would just stop and admire the scenery.

However, I am going to do that thing where I agree with the game’s critics a bit here.  If you want something that shakes up the standard open-world formula of here’s a bunch of map points, do something here and get equipment or lore or stat boosts – you won’t really find it here.  Forspoken does not break the mold of open-world adventures.  How much that will affect your enjoyment is really up to you.  I don’t play a ton of open-world stuff. I haven’t jumped into the latest Assassin’s Creeds or Far Crys.  So the fact that the game stuck to usual tried-and-true didn’t really bother me, but I can see how people looking for a breath of fresh air or coming in after a more creative take on the open-world formula like I’m told Eldin Ring manages to do, might find Forspoken lacking in that department.

But I honestly applaud the game.  It is a great first attempt by a studio who had its founder and creative visionary leave the studio and had to fill the void with who they had.  It’s not the best game, but as a trepidatious initial step from a fledgling studio trying to find its feet it’s not bad.  Especially in the performance department.  I put over 80 hours into Forspoken on the PS5, completed the entire storyline, and I had the game crash on me… twice? Tops?  Compare that to other big name open-world games from veteran studios rolling in awards like CD Projekt Red where I could set my clock to remind me to save every 25 minutes because Cyberpunk 2077 was guaranteed to crash at 30 minutes of playtime on the dot.  A game the size and scope of Forspoken running as well as it does? I’m still impressed.

So yeah, that’s my Another Look at Forspoken.  A game that got a lot of hate, despite it being an okay game.  Above average really. I don’t think you’ll see the accolades rolling in at the Game Awards next year or anything but it does make me excited to see what the team at Luminous Productions does next.  What about you?  Did you have any fun playing Forspoken?  What do you think of this new series of looking at my guilty pleasures? I’m enjoying being able to share these with you, so let me know in the comments or give it a like if you found my perspective interesting at all.  Till next time!

FateStone Development Journal: Planning


I’ve been tinkering with some of my work on FateStone again recently and it got me thinking that maybe since I do have this platform, I could share some of my notes and thoughts about working on the game with all of you.

There’s a lot of ways one can go about coming up with an RPG Maker game.  Some folks just dive in and start creating, building as they go, some start with a story they’ve wanted to tell, and others begin with the characters.  These are all valid ways of exploring the creative tools that something like RPG Maker MV offers up.  Me though?  I’m a planner.  Always have been.  I would keep lists and figures of milestones and objectives written down or in my head.  I may not have ever gone as far as full blown theorycrafting in my WoW Raiding days but I did keep a list of drops I needed to work toward to get hit capped (Hit capping for the newer WoW players was a god awful mechanic where you needed to prioritize a now defunct ‘Hit’ stat just so you wouldn’t spend raid fights missing with every attack.)

So when it came to sit down and try to make an actual game, I didn’t open RPG Maker – I opened Google Sheets.  My Google Drive is full of documents and spreadsheets all around creating a basic layout for what the game I want to make will entail.  From how the crafting system will work, to a spreadsheet breakdown of items, crafting components for those items, effects for the items, and naturally the item id.  I’ve done the same work for class skills, which is an impressive list of hundreds of skills for FateStone’s currently planned twenty classes. I mean, I just like to have everything down on paper for easy reference once I begin, regardless if a lot of stuff I’ve been working on is for later ‘phases’ of the development.

Currently, Phase 1 is just planned to only be the single starter city and the quests that take place there in.  That includes a 3-floor dungeon built around the City Sewers and an ancient forgotten temple full of ghosts and skeletons hidden beneath the city, three city districts and the castle where the king lives.  Because of course there’s a castle where the king lives.  There’s a total of 5 recruit-able characters, namely because I wanted there to be some exploration of the ‘morality’ system and have different paths through the prologue based on your decisions. The Positive or “Astral” Path features the ability to recruit the Princess (Bard class) and a Knight and the Negative or “Chaos” path will feature the Rogue and the Mage NPCs.  The others will be eventually recruit-able, but I wanted Phase I to have a full party by the end of the Prologue.

So just there alone that’s seven areas with subzones of buildings, etc. Five NPCs featuring an array of five different classes, not to mention your starting class that brings the total to six. Two branching paths with different quests.  A half dozen or so different monsters of varying difficulty. Then items and shops to put them in.

…THAT is why I tend to go for the planning approach to things.  Just this small prologue has so many different things to keep track of in terms of IDs, variables, values, and so on and so forth.  I like being able to just flip open a spreadsheet and go “Ah, yes. That chest should have Item #52 in it.”

The Sky is Falling: Day One with the Inquisition

Inquisition_membersAir…  I need…  AIR.  *deep breath*

Okay. Now that I’ve come up for air, it’s time to talk a bit about what I’ve been doing down in the gaming depths.  The past two days have been filled with little else other than one. Singular. Activity.  That being Dragon Age: Inquisition.  Now, of course, I’m known for my somewhat heretical enjoyment of the “Not cool to like” Bioware titles – Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3 – so my opinion is going to be a bit suspect on these things, but I have to say that Dragon Age: Inquisition is probably one of the more addicting games I’ve played in a long time.

The story is pretty simple at first.  There’s a giant hole in the sky where the veil between the magical Fade world and our world have been torn asunder and now demons are pouring out like it’s a Necronomicon Spring Break in Transylvania.  You also fell out of the hole, being the sole survivor of the explosion that caused it and with a weird glowing thing on your hand that can actually close the smaller holes dubbed Rifts.  So now it’s up to you and your buddies to close the hole! At least at first that’s what is going on.  I have a sneaky suspicion after 15 or so hours of game play that something else is waiting in the wings.  Considering I know there’s a place called Skyhold and I haven’t seen it yet, but we’re already marching to close the big hole… yea.

The characters are diverse but there’s none that I immediately latched onto as favorites like I did in Dragon Age 2.  I’ll admit that the characters were the big selling point for the second installment for me.  From Merrill’s innocent quirkiness and dark reveals to Isabella’s love of life and even Anders and Fenris and their opposing view of the mages.  Here we are treated to a veritable menagerie of characters and sadly to say only a handful of likeables thus far.  Cassandra comes off as a cross between Miranda from Mass Effect and an ill tempered drill sergeant. Solas (pronounced Soul-less) feels pretty much soul-less due to having that elven “I’ve lived more than 100 hundred lifetimes and am all knowing and all seeing and thus don’t need to care much” thing going on. Varric is… Varric, I can’t really describe the fast-talking, double dealing, best example of a bard in gaming I’ve ever seen any other way.

About the only character I actually dig thus far on a personal note is Sera and that is because she is completely bat-$#!* insane.  Her introduction can be boiled down to she has just killed a lot of people and stolen all their pants for absolutely no reason except maybe to sell them.  Too bad my first playthrough is a lawful good mage.  My Chaotic Neutral rogue playthrough however is gonna love her.

There insane amounts of little things to explore, collect, and unlock but each of these little things will help you in some way.  Seriously!  Either by granting experience to your character, giving you more power which you use to send people on missions, or giving you Influence which is kind of like XP for the entire Inquisition and lets you unlock overall power boosts like being able to open harder locks or getting extra XP from codex entries or kills.  I spent the first day doing absolutely nothing with the main story quest and just wandering around the hinterlands doing little odd jobs and finding doodads and resources.

Yes, resources.  Because crafting in this game requires an insane amount of resources.  But it’s not all annoying.  See unlike MMOs where you need a certain kind of metal and a certain kind of wood to make an item, DA:I boils it down to just need 10 metal and 2 wood.  Any 10 of one type of metal and any 2 of any kind of wood will do.  Now which metal and wood you use will affect things like bonus stats or color and pattern of the item, but the fact that creating things requires categories of items instead of specifics is much easier.  Especially when you will need specific crafting materials to fill requisitions from your army, essentially researching things to help your forces and thus help yourself like better weapons or gear.  For instance, I don’t know how much of this was me clearing up territory and claiming it protected by the Inquisition and how much of it was me filling up requisitions but as I kept playing I noticed that a pair of Inquisition soldiers would just appear in random spots with chests of a few useful items for you.

On that note, another great thing about this game is that it actually feels like you make progress.  You know how in Skyrim you would do something insane like almost blow up Winterhold but then afterwards no one pays even a single thought let alone any lasting effects? Or in well ANY MMO you can clear out an entire fortress of baddies and kill their leader only to have them all just waiting for you in a few minutes?  NOT HERE.  If I bring a band of bandits under my command, every bandit in that company of rogues is now an ally and will no longer attack me.  If I clear out the mage and templar strongholds, suddenly the mages and templars go from open war breaking out everywhere to nearly gone save for maybe a random pack wandering the wilderness.  Yea, those strongholds and camps you clean out? STAY CLEANED OUT.  You control that territory now. It’s yours.  Oh geeze does that feel good.  Because that means you can clear out the major conflicts in areas and then have nothing to contend with exploring except beasts, demons, and the occasional highwayman or Carta team (dwarf thugs) to deal with.

So thus far this game has been so much more addicting than Skyrim ever was.  It’s that right blend of basic to use but expansive to master mechanics, a truly consistent world, and engaging characters that I might not instantly cling to like in previous installments but are interesting enough for me to want to see where their character paths take them while we try to save the world.  Except Solas.  He’s kinda just boring.  Screw you, Solas.

Solo Game Vacation: Week One

So as I said before in my previous posts, I had decided to take some time off of the hustle and bustle of the non-stop worlds of MMOs and what not and get in touch with my roots of single player games.  Single player games are actually my preferred form of story, outranking movies, books, and comics.  There’s something just satisfying about playing a story to its completion and feeling like you actually changed things in the world.  That’s something MMOs have always sorely lacked for me.  Even if SWTOR, where choices can affect a great deal, you are ultimately on a straight path that has a clear and set beginning and end with a few dashes of flavor.  The events of the Imperial Agents chapter two always occur, though not necessarily for always the same reasons.  In the end, whether you are a cut throat bounty hunter, or a member of the fricking Dark Council, you still get called on to work the front lines of Makeb.

So when I feel in the mood for games where the story actually can change and alter the world around me as I play through them, I enjoy these breaks to come back to my roots and dig in with some games I may have put on the shelf, haven’t gotten to yet, or want to revisit from yesteryear.  Hence, Chrono Trigger.

Chrono Trigger

There’s not much I can say about Chrono Trigger that hasn’t already been said a thousand times across these worlds wide web.  The game is still fantastic.  It’s solid, tells a good story, and is fun.  However, there is a lot of things I didn’t notice when I first played it.  Which admittedly was like… middle school age I think.  So around 12?  Anyway, first and foremost that this game is actually incredibly simple.  I mean compared to Squaresoft’s other offerings at the time. The older Final Fantasy games can seriously kick my butt still at times to this day, especially in the extra boss or final boss sense.  Chrono Trigger?  There’s always a trick, always some weakness, that once you know it, reduces a fight to mere child’s play and this includes the final boss.  The final form of Lavos can be quite simply boiled down to: don’t attack the thing you THINK is the boss, kill the little thing to the right of it.  Bam. Done. Many bosses have a weakness in the form of some kind of magic that nullifies their defenses.  Really, the hardest boss fight in the whole thing was probably Magus because it’s a) early on b) the trick isn’t obvious and c) he has a wide range of heavily damaging and/or party wide attacks.  The whole thing in retrospect feels like a beginners RPG.  One to introduce people to the genre before graduating up to things like Final Fantasy.

The other thing I should note on my replay is that the game is really short.  I completed the whole story the long way, completed all the optional side missions, collected every little doodad, unlocked every tech, and did quite a bit of grinding and the whole thing still took only about 23 hours to do.  Now admittedly, if I was being honest about completion I’d have to include the X hours it would take to do a New Game+ and get all 15 other endings. But for a strict single playthrough that was surprisingly short for an RPG.  Right? Or is it just me?  Still, if you want an amazing old school RPG that isn’t gonna devour all your time, here ya go.  The same however cannot be said for its sibling.

Chrono Cross

Well, I finished up Chrono Trigger, and I said, “What shall I play next?” and my game shelf answered “How about the sequel?” which was odd because my shelf usually recommends that I play Mega Man every time I ask it.  Chrono Cross is one of those games that I played once, enjoyed it tremendously, and never picked it up again.  The reasons being twofold.  The first is that the plot is insanely confusing and requires a great deal of thinking to wrap your head around the combinations and consequences of time and dimensional travel presented, and second that the only way to get the “good ending” is complete bullcensored.  Having to toss the correct color combo of magic (magic and attacks have colors in this game. Don’t ask me why.) and then smack with a special magic.  That’s all well and good but the boss ALSO is tossing out color magic and it messes up the whole thing.  TEDIOUS.  So why did I start replaying it? (Still haven’t finished)  Well, unlike when I was 16 (a literal half a lifetime ago now), I didn’t have access to things like FAQs on the internet.  So that helps immensely with the ending.  And I’m older and wiser now.  Kind of.  Stop giggling.  So the convoluted plot so be a bit easier to follow. I hope.

As I said, I haven’t finished this one yet but I am enjoying it.  The combat system is not nearly as frustrating despite  five different components and resources to keep track of (Hit chance, Tech points, Tech color, Field Color, and Stamina), it becomes a fairly intuitive dance after a while.  Hit to generate tech points, spend tech points to use techs, and keep in mind your colors to maximize damage.  The story is also pretty cool and seems designed with the intent of multiple playthroughs.  For instance, early on you can take 3 different paths to get to the next objective. Each path requires different things, and recruits a different party member.  I don’t know if you can still get the other party members later in the game, or you need to grab them in a new game+ set up to recruit them all.  Not too worried since this game hosts a multitude of companions (It’s in the double digits at least).  But that’s kind of a cool mechanic you don’t see very often.  Three paths that lock you out of the other two when you pick one?  Bold and interesting choice.  I didn’t even realize it was there until I accidentally locked myself out of one of the other paths.

However, if Chrono Trigger is a beginner RPG then Cross feels like a fricking Advanced Placement class. There is so much here in terms of plot, collectibles, recruitable characters, and mechanics that I can’t imagine jumping into this one right after Trigger without playing some other RPGs in between.  Luckily there were YEARS between the two games when they first came out.  I still look forwarding to playing this one some more and seeing how the rest of it holds up.


Okay.  Alright.  Confession time, readers.  I…  never finished FF7 before.  Yes, you may laugh, jeer, throw things, etc.  But I never did.  I got to the point where Aerith dies and then I was done.  Not because I was heart broken by the loss. Oh heck no.  I NEVER liked Aerith.  She always came off to me as a cheerleader mixed with a purity sue that continuously got shoved in my face because “LOOK! IT’S A TRAGIC ROMANCE!”  No.  It’s that by that point in the game, I had utterly stopped giving a damn about the greater plot that confused me worse than Chrono Cross, and I decided to just walk away.  To give you a time frame, I bought FF7 when it was just given its greatest hits release.

Now, I can’t click anything Final Fantasy related on the internet without hearing about how no game in the entirety of the Final Fantasy series could hope to hold a candle to the MAJESTY that is Final Fantasy VII.  Alright, internet.  Here’s your chance to prove me wrong.  I got the game again. This time on Steam.  I’m playing it. I won’t stop until it’s done.  And if this thing doesn’t blow me out of the water, we are having words.  And I’m not going to declare this whole thing moot before then, but I have played a while so far and I am less than impressed.  I mean, I get the nostalgia factor.  I get the technical WOW! factor with the cutscenes and music.  But that’s not what people rave to me about, they say “Vry, the characters! Vry, the story!”  and I’ve only just gotten to Junon but thus far the story is pretty simple: Help the terrorists win.  Yea, there’s a lot more going on with Sephiroth and the Ancients, and the Planet, but that stuff has only been set up for what I assume is coming later.  Right now, I’m helping the terrorists win.  I’m blowing up buildings, cutting power to innocent civilians, and doing so in the name of the Planet.  Also I’m cross dressing to save my friend from a fat slum lord pimp. (Is there any actual reason for the Don Corneo stuff beyond padding and some frighteningly inappropriate rape-y dialogue?)

However, if anything has been enlightening so far it’s that the characters are so very much NOT the characters the fandom and the movie portray.  Cloud is not a brooding whiny emo, he’s a snarky jerk who delights in ticking Barrett off.  Sephiroth is not the cold noble warrior, he’s psychotic and obsessed and not in the entertaining Kefka/Joker way.  Aerith is not the kind gentle soul, she’s a cheerleader crossed with a purity sue.  Wait.  Didn’t I? Lemme scroll up.  Huh.  Looks like I remember the annoying flower girl correctly.  I also didn’t remember Tifa being as ‘teenager with a crush’-y around Cloud.  Barrett and Yuffie are one note characters that can’t be incorrectly portayed.   And Red XIII (who is not named Nanaki in my game.  His name is “NotNanaki”) hasn’t had a ton of dialogue so far so I have no clue.  Far as I know, he’s Clifford in a weird crossover.

The gameplay is standard Final Fantasy fare.  You can’t make me Oooo Aaaah at pretty summons.  I accidentally killed a whole village of Summoners in Final Fantasy IV.  This is old hat.  Although the developers seemed a but full of themselves with this new fangled CGI animation stuff.  Airbuster, one of the earliest bosses you face, has animations that are so slow that you can take three turns in the time it takes it to do one.  Annoying.

And please, don’t jump on me because I’m being snarky.  I’m gonna play the whole game.  I’m going to think about the whole game.  And I get that I’m barely into Disc One of a three disc game so I can’t expect the story to be leaping off the page yet.  They are doing a great job at establishing a mystery with the whole Sephiroth and Jenova thing.  The Ancients are wonderfully under-explained despite apparently everyone knowing what they are already.  Though the biggest problem I have so far with the game is that I have NO clue what AVALANCHE stands for and I have no clue how they know without the text boxes when someone is referring to SOLDIER (All caps) or soldier (no caps) – one being a military organization and the other being well… a soldier.  Can the characters read the text boxes in game? Is that how they know?

My RPG Rogue’s Gallery

serata nerd elf

You know sometimes I find myself reminiscing about characters long past, usually holding a glass of brandy and a cigar while staring deeply into a roaring fireplace.  Which is really odd because I don’t drink, I don’t smoke aaaand I don’t have a fireplace.  But the point still stands.  I’ve had so many random RPG characters over the years, I like to look back at them and think “What if someone else could use some of this potential?”  I mean, I’ve met so many folks who quite honestly could use some neat ideas to use for their characters.  Not that theirs were bad.  Just flat.  So I figured I’d share some of mine.  Which you might think that’s the dumbest thing next to telling people about how you totally rolled 3 18’s on your stats or about this awesome idea you have for a homebrew, but I stopped listening to you along time ago voice in my head.  So story time!

Scythe the Revenant Ranger

Scythe was a character I made for a campaign that I really didn’t know what the setting was going to be.  I knew it was using the standard D&D 4e stuff in terms of mythology and cosmology, but that was about it.  So I wanted something broad enough that would give him a call to action and a reason to continue on with the adventure no matter what it was.  So I began thinking about the constants in Dungeons & Dragons.  What do you almost always do in a campaign?  Well, how about kill monsters?  Yes!  His goal will be to kill things.  That’s a good reason to pretty much always be in for whatever adventure you go on.  So what I ended up working with was that before being raised as a Revenant, Scythe was a bounty hunter.  However, his own dealings left him the target of plenty and he soon found himself tied to a rock at the bottom of a lake.  When he saw the Raven Queen and was about to have his soul dragged to the afterlife, he instead made a bargain with the Goddess of Death.  He would be HER bounty hunter.  He would reap souls to help her build an army to defend the Shadowfell from Orcus (at this point I had heard that the campaign was going through the Heroic Tier adventure series by Wizards of the Coast which I knew tied somewhat into Orcus in the long run.)  The Raven Queen accepted the bargain and raised him as a revenant to reap souls, and if he reaped enough he would earn his freedom to live again.  Unfortunately in his desperation to strike a bargain, a number was never specified.  So he was doomed to reap souls until the Raven Queen decided he had done enough.

The downside to this is that it kind of made him a tad bit psychotic. Like violence became his go to solution for pretty much anything, because hey, more souls. The epitome of which became this somewhat infamous moment in my blogs history that sparked much more of a debate then I was expecting.  Really, the character started to get darker and darker and became more and more prone to violence.  When you get to the point where you can’t go back to the center of commerce in an area because you killed too many or the wrong people – it may be time to rethink your motivations.  It didn’t help that Scythe was cocky.  Really cocky.  When threatened at point blank with an arrow, he didn’t flinch and told the woman holding the bow to wait while he discussed things with the party.  He was a revenant! Death wasn’t exactly a stopping block for him.  But it was getting out of control, so we decided to retire the character. Pulled back to the pits of the Shadowfell by the Raven Queen for blatant disregard for life.

Vrykerion the Half Elf Warlock

Scythe’s replacement on the mission, was someone less violent, and a lot more slimy.  Vrykerion the Vestige pact warlock.  Vestige pact warlocks, for those you don’t know, are warlocks who draw their power from making pacts with the souls of the dead for their power.  This character actually took that mentally a bit farther and flat out stole souls for power.  Each vestige he possessed was another person he tricked, swindled, or bargained their soul away.  His employ for The Raven Queen was a bit more of a debt to pay off for disrupting the “natural” order of things (namely, souls belong to the Queen of the Dead – not him.) Of course, he had his own desires being put on the mission that Scythe failed to do.  The quest the party had was tied into a powerful and ancient dragon that bordered on demi-god or god status that was sealed beneath the island they were on.  Scythe wanted that soul or even a piece of it.  His plan was to use the group’s loyalties to get close enough to try and bargain his way to part of the dragon’s soul in exchange for release, or something along those lines.

Of course, none of that happened.  Shortly after the appearance of the warlock, I ended up leaving the campaign due to a variety of reasons.  Would have been interesting to see how and if the story would have played out.

Operative X09 (Shadowrun/d20 Modern)

Probably my most controversial character I’ve ever played. X09 is a bit of robocop situation, where to appease his corporate masters his body was replaced entirely with a cybernetic android (using a homebrewed race) with the exception of his brain, which was simply purged of most of his memories.  However, upon learning that he once had things like a family, a life, and a bunch of other things in that vein that were taken from him he decides to go rogue and become a mercenary.  That’s really not that interesting and is a bit vague.  I was playing with a first time GM and wanted to give him plenty to work with since I knew he was a big fan of story and role play.

However, where this character started to get interesting was what happened when you mixed him with the rest of the party.  Other members had characters that were pretty much “good hero” types, and renegade hero types.  I was a cutthroat merc in it for the money.  I take a job, I do the job, I kill any and all loose ends or anyone who gets in my way.  I think the moment this truly came to shine was we were given a mission to infiltrate a top secret military base and stop a potential terrorist.  While trying to locate said secret base, we had an encounter with a gas station clerk out in the boonies.  We asked them a series of questions, paid him off for the answers, bought some stuff in exchange for what we wanted, and the whole thing went smoothly.  Where it turned was after the exchange was done, my character reached to pull out his wallet and instead pulled a gun and shot the clerk.  My teammates were horrified, but my logic was sound.  He had seen us, he could identify us, and thus was a loose end that needed to be dealt with.  Especially in the light that we were up against some potentially nasty black ops military fiends.

If that wasn’t enough to put the party on edge with my character, things only got worse when we got into the military base and we identified two unknown people in the tunnel ahead of us.  My character was able to deduce that one of these two was actually the brother of one of my team mates who we had heard was possibly brainwashed or flat out joined up with the terrorist cell.  I decided not to share this information with said teammate and instead ordered her (she was our team’s gun expert and professional sniper) to take them out.  My thinking of course would be that these guys are A) Potentially a threat, B) A possible emotional entanglement that could compromise the mission and C) Definitely in our physical way to complete the mission.  After opening fire and discovering who I just ordered her to shoot, my team mate clearly did NOT share my deductive reasoning for this action.  In fact, this was pretty much the straw that broke the camel’s back on the campaign.  She would shortly after this, use her first chance to blow my character’s brains across the wall.  Not exactly shocked, and she was well within her right to have revenge as far as I could see but the whole thing left everyone kind of shaken at the table and a bit distrustful in character and the campaign disbanded shortly after.

Still, first time I’ve ever had a character straight up die.  And to another player no less.

Vrykerion Oelarune the Eladrin Swordmage

Probably my most in depth role playing character, this Vrykerion (the first D&D character to use the name, the warlock came later) was actually part of a campaign where I got to do a bit of the world building.  His backstory shaped a chunk of the DMs world story.  The quick version is that in this low magic setting, he was part of a monastic order of eladrin who practiced the art of swordmagic, a powerful and ancient technique developed mostly for defense.  However, years ago his order was nearly complete wiped out in a mysterious attack.  Vrykerion only survived because he was in the lower levels of the monastery cleaning up as punishment for being an apprentice who tried to wield a master’s sword.  Only a handful of survivors (seven in all if I recall) made it out of there, and all swore to walk the earth trying to find whoever was behind the attack and to avenge our people.  This was nice because it always gave me two things whenever we visited a new place: Have any other eladrin been through here? And trying to find info on who attacked the monastery.

Still I mentioned that this was probably my most in depth character in terms of role play and there’s a specific story that goes along with that fact.  While investigating a ruined temple, we found a massive dragon frozen in ice along side a now deceased eladrin swordmage – one of Vrykerion’s seniors, a master who had been away from the monastery the night of the attack. Not only did the master have a journal that had valuable clues in it, but he also possessed a +1 Frost Longsword.  And at level 3 without a single magical item to my name, it seemed like a useful item.  But it was a master’s sword.  Even with the order gone, Vrykerion still knew that it was forbidden for him to wield that blade until he had passed his trials.  Especially since doing so is what landed him in punishment detail that spared him while his comrades died.  So there was a heavy guilt factor too.  I elected that Vrykerion would take the sword, but never use it.  He would carry the weapon until such that that he could return it to the monastery and place it with the swords of all those who had fallen before, as was the tradition of his people.

That may not seem like much, but especially in D&D passing up a +1 magical weapon for some fluff reason is pretty outrageous, doubly so in Fourth Edition where the monsters scale with the assumption that you do have those magical bonuses add in to your character (Another reason I have been a big advocate of using inherent bonuses in my fourth edition campaigns.  The freedom to role play without concern of ‘proper’ stat inflation.)  It was a bold move that was surprising to my DM, my fellow players and even dare I say to me.  But it felt like it made sense.  That my character wouldn’t use that sword.  Especially since his order was so very important to him, that he had dedicated the last nearly 100 years of his life to seeking out those who had destroyed it.

So that’s all for my RPG Rogue’s Gallery story time.  I hoped you maybe got some enjoyment about hearing some of these stories, or maybe got an idea for your own characters from it.  Have an interesting character of your own? Let me know in the comments below.  I love hearing awesome RPG stories of yester year.