Category: Gaming

Tolin’s Journal #6

My Dear Ilanna,

My farm lies in shambles, leaving me no place to which I may return. One night, an envoy from the king encroached upon my fields and dispatched my undead farmhands with little effort. They delivered to me a letter requesting my presence at the new king’s coronation to shed light on the mysterious forces pillaging nearby lands. Had they not been sent directly from the king, I would have reformed my undead horde to tear them apart where they stood. But, since that would not bring me closer to you, my love, I held back. Gathering what little possessions I desired to carry, I set off to see this new king.

Cresting the final hill to my destination, the sight of the king’s castle was enough to cause both hesitation and awe. The sun lit up the tall keeps with the golden afterglow from the surrounding wheat fields. It was a perfect gem of civilization I didn’t care to reenter after my near decade absence from regular human contact. The glimmer of hope that I might gain more information about you kept me pressing onward.

I arrived at the gates and presented the letter as it instructed. They had me sign my name to confirm my identity, handed me a voucher for 700GP, and told me to enjoy myself at the carnival. After living a life of dark solitude, the carnival I walked into was simply overwhelming. Booths were set up all around the square with pathetic merchants begging for the attention of any who stepped too close to them.

Skirting the edges, I quickly discovered these people of the court weren’t at all amenable to necromancers. My queries for any others who share my love of undeath ended with them bolting off or taking me for a jester. Embarrassed by my misunderstandings, I went back to watching the booths. A shady looking man started up a conversation with me, introducing himself as Elwin. Apparently, he had heard some of my inquiries and I began nervously rambling about my background and the advantages of certain undead. I remarked that skeletons can be better than zombies because you don’t have to worry about the fleshy bits. He laughed, calling me, “Farmer Fleshy-bits”. I didn’t appreciate the stinging humor at my expense, but at least I managed to keep talking with someone at the carnival.

The coronation finally started and they brought out the new king who looked to be slightly younger than me. In the middle of the ceremony, I was summoned into the keep and placed around a horseshoe-shaped table with five others, including Elwin. We acknowledged each other with nods, but I could tell he had been summoned here with similar pretenses to my own. The other four consisted of a man impatiently tapping his foot against the floor, two dwarves (one turned out to be a female, but I wasn’t sure at the time), and a halfling.

Lord Hadraxel marched into the room with a host of soldiers and the queen hitched to his side. Sitting back in the king’s throne, he gave us all a chance to speak, which I used to ask about what had become of Lord Chaxon after his inability to defend the lands given to him. Lord Hadraxel told me Chaxon had been promoted to the general of the King’s armies. I demanded an explanation to this and how it related to why I was summoned. He replied it didn’t matter.

A row of archers filled the balconies above us. Lord Hadraxel declared us to be the six assassins prophesied to kill the king on his coronation day. He showed us confessionals we each had signed earlier. This was the same letter I had signed at the gate to gain entrance to the coronation ceremony. The liars changed the text to have me confess to a prophecy they likely planted to seal up power for the new king. The way the queen kept her hands all over Lord Hadraxel all but confirmed to me what was going on.

Our verbal protests turned violent when one of the dwarves drew out his warhammer. With a snap of Lord Hadraxel’s fingers, the dwarf dropped his hammer and began stripping of his armor and clothes. Lord Hadraxel hit a button on the throne and the floor surrounded it dropped to reveal a spiked pit. The other man at the table tried to jump the gap, but failed and landed at the bottom. From his cries, he didn’t die.

Joining the action, I rose to summon a zombie next to the throne, but was cut short when an arrow hit me from the archers up top. I kept focusing on my casting, but fell into a dark haze. My spell failed as I dropped into an inconvenient slumber. When I awoke, the guards where attaching fetters to us and hauling us off. The man who fell in the pit had several scars lining his skin. From the looks of the rest of this group, they didn’t put up much of a fight after I went down.

The guards mumbled something about it being to late to execute us and promised to do it in the morning in full view of the crowds. I tried to spot Lord Hadraxel, but he had evidently taken his leave after the struggle. The guards lead us back outside to take us to the dungeons.

While coming through an alleyway, a man darted around the corner and barreled into us, knocking us off balance an onto the ground. He got back to his feet and took off again before our guards could react. Four armed men wearing black armor bolted around the same corner he appeared from. Ready this time, one of our guards shot one of them with a crossbow bolt. Seeing his friend bleeding out on the ground, a black-armored soldier threw out his hands and sent a charge of light that disintegrated the guards. Having never seen magic so powerful, I was grateful to have been on the ground.

The remaining three black-armored men circled around us looking for something. A black book radiating power lay in the dirt. The man that crashed into us must have dropped it. I snatched it and hid it beneath my robes, feeling its raw power against my skin. Still in chains, we didn’t stand much of a chance. However, nothing could ever keep me from you my love.

Tolin Naihim,
Death’s Neglected Son


Tolin’s Journal #5

My Deal Ilanna,

Without you to light its halls, the castle became my tomb. I wanted to bury my heart within so that it might decay into ash, freeing me from your fading whispers. Instead, it pounded resiliently within my chest. It reminded my of my vow to find you and pushed me onward even when I consigned myself to a slow death within the decaying walls.

As with the aftermath of my village, I found no dead bodies. Even the elves I had seen die in the entrance disappeared. All that was left were dark halls filled with the evil that stole my love. After a time, it began to speak to me, promising to grant me vengeance in exchange for my hatred. It whispered a familiar name…


Shadows crept around me, tempting me with power. I followed them deep into the heart of the castle. Doors shuttered with heavy chains broke apart ahead of my entrance. The shadows grew more defined the farther we walked until they looked like tall, gaunt corpses. They hid their faces from me, always averting my gaze as if they didn’t want to incur my wrath.

They brought me before a black door to a room that looked as if it had burst up through the floor. Stone fragments littered the ground and the smell of fresh earth clawed at my nostrils. Without hesitation, I heaved against the door until it opened. A familiar arrangement of books lined the walls with a small desk there in the midst. I swept my hands over the volumes of knowledge I had sorely missed. I pulled down a tome and read over the words I struggled to remember during my imprisonment.

The markings were unmistakable, this was the very same room that I had found underneath my village. I was never happier, for I had once again found the tools to power, only this time, I had a definitive goal in mind. With the untouched food stores in the castle, I knew I could live there for several months at least, probably years. I would need all of that time to prepare myself to confront the force that took you away from me.

Burying myself in the wisdom contained in that room, I continued my training at my own pace. Without Lyanis holding me back, I grew by leaps and bounds. After each lesson, I practiced my spells on the shadows, bending them to my own will. They became my slaves in my crusade to escape. I used them to try every avenue of escape to no avail. Still, I persevered.

Two years passed until my food stores dwindled to a critical level. I lived like a king with dark slaves performing all my bidding. I finally recognized the wards with which Lyanis had sealed me in the castle. My freedom lay close at hand. Outside the castle walls, I rose a few skeletons to roam the hills and bring me back what I needed for a spell of freedom. Once gathered, I broke the ward and left the castle, never to return.

Free as I now was, I knew I needed more time before I sought you out, Ilanna. I resettled my old village, using skeletons as workhands for a new batch of crops I planted in my father’s fields. I worked it until I could sustain myself. The years tumbled by until a group of curious traders stopped by to inquire as to the nature of the village. Honesty was my best weapon. After a show of my undead workhands, they granted me favorable trading agreements.

I lived well and advanced my training until this point, where I have learned all I can from my dark room. Each of its volumes lies within my strong mind, ready to be put into practice. I’m still unsure why Lyanis anchored the evil that penetrated the castle to me so he could escape with you, or rather, lead you to your imprisonment, but I will discover those answers when I rescue you.

I hope to meet him again, so I can resolve our differences. Only now can I see how he manipulated me into drawing the attack on your castle. He used me as bait and I will know why when he lies in the throes of death at my feet.

I was a boy whose life was stripped away in the night, but now I am a necromancer that death refused to visit. I have tamed the very evil that overpowered your castle and I will carry it back to the hands of those responsible. They will regret death’s negligence.

I know you are still alive, Ilanna. I’ve heard rumors that I will not write here, lest this journal falls to enemy hands, that my time to seek you out is now. I have taken great care to pen the words so that when I find you, you will know of my struggle. Our love will have its day.

All I do is for you.

Tolin Naihim,
Death’s Neglected Son


Tolin’s Journal #4

My Dear Ilanna,

Know that I was among the final defenders of your castle the day it fell. While you remained safely hidden, I took my instructions from Lyanis to heart in hopes it would be your salvation. If only my sheer will could have saved you, we would have left that death trap together. However, as you know, the powers working against you were too great for your guard to bear.

Still, it was all for you that I raced down those stairs. My fear threatened to hold me back, but I wouldn’t let it stop me from defending your home. What little valor your guards had, they expended in barricading the doors to the keep. As I made it to the bottom of the stairs with my torn parchment in hand, I saw them failing to hold back the evil on the other side.

I laughed inwardly, knowing none of them had long to live. Death comes for us all, but some you can just tell are easier targets. Holding up the spell written by Lyanis, I concentrated on the runes, allowing them to form in my mind. Speaking the activating words, light shone out all through the room. Crimson lines traced out a pattern below me that I recognized all too late.

Held in place by the symbol surrounding my feet, I watched the guards fly away from the doors. Wooden splinters flew out to either side of me ahead of the armed soldiers storming inside. Confronted by the very same force that had destroyed me village, I screamed in all my fury and conjured what I could. Nothing happened. I stood powerless as your elven guard fell all around me at the hands of those rushing inside.

Blood spilled across the floor and covered the attackers’ blades, but still no one touched me. I reached out to stop the soldiers from advancing up the stairs, but I couldn’t lift my hands from my sides. Again, I was helpless and forced to watch everything around me crumble. Screams poured down the halls as the soldiers charged through them. My greatest fear was only that you, Ilanna, had been killed. I struggled even harder to free myself, but got nowhere.

The battle rushed past me, leaving a strange silence behind. Mountain air blasted through now broken entrance and pushed me to the ground. I found my feet rather quickly and ran to find you. That was when I heard the feet scrambling down the stairs. I looked up and saw Lyanis gliding down with a small entourage in tow.

I yelled out to ask him what was happening and he turned to me with a worried look. I was about to demand answers when I saw you, Ilanna, hiding underneath a cloak in the center of the group. You must remember pulling back your hood to acknowledge me for the very first time. Your eyes were the most terrifyingly beautiful I had ever seen. Surely you felt our connection in that perfect moment.

For the briefest of time, I forgot the peril we were all in, but soon came back when you thanked me for my sacrifice. Confused, I just nodded my head in a stupor as you continued walking outside. Lyanis was the last one out and turned back to me, baring my exit. He explained the castle was now mine and I was the only one who could contain the evil within.

I ignored his crazy ramblings, and pushed around him to move outside. A jolt of pain snapped me back into the castle. Lyanis explained I wouldn’t be able to leave because of the scroll I had cast. If I left, all the evil now trapped in the castle would follow me. I screamed at how wretched of an elf he was and reaffirmed my hatred of his kind.

He disappeared with you down the mountain, leaving me to watch your escape from above. I knew how short-lived it would be as the attacking horde stood around the base of the mountain. For hours, I stood watching until you were captured and brought before whatever twisted general hunted you. I wept when they bound your hands in chains and shoved you in that prison cart.

When they set off, carrying you away from me, I tried once more to leave the castle, but still I could not. I was trapped in my own prison as they drove you unto yours. That was the moment I vowed to seek you out and free you from your captors. I live by that vow in this very moment that I pen these words as fervently as I made it that day. Those who imprisoned you will suffer at my hands.

I never make vows lightly. I will come for you and I will rescue you.

Tolin Naihim
Death’s Neglected Son


Tolin’s Journal #3

My Dear Ilanna,

My arms and back ached from the daily torture in that cell. Every evening I had a brief opportunity to see you, so I strained to hold my face up to that tiny window. My long days of monotony brightened when you walked by. Though, I only glimpsed you from a distance, it was cool water to my weary soul.

Only my body lived in that cell. My soul belonged to you then as it still does now. I bid my time until destiny would draw us together. My jailers couldn’t get a word out of me, though they tried. I ate their food, meager as it was, and answered half their questions with quiet nods. If they had only known of our love, they could have made me talk with the slightest of threats against you.

I gathered more information from them than they did me. Their fear and worry showed me they respected my power. They were right to seal me off, for I would have killed all of them to avenge my people. My attempts at casting failed, leading me to believe my cell was warded. Of course at that time I knew very little of magic and even less of wards. It was only recently that I understood what they truly feared of me. They took my ability to quickly learn the dark arts very seriously.

One day, a new visitor came for me, introducing himself as Lyanis. He held himself upright with a staff but didn’t quite carry himself as highly as his fellow elves. With a stirring in his eyes, he offered to apprentice me should I give up my deity. Servants of Nerull can’t be bought so easily, but I was young and thirsted for knowledge. Well, I thirsted to be free of my cell and be with you, Ilanna, so I took this chance. I pretended to fall for his rhetoric that all students of the arcane are of singular breed unbound by clan, creed, or class. He delivered a beautiful speech that would have convinced anyone to follow him, but it was only for you that I went with him that day.

He secured my release and took me to my new chambers, adjoining his own. It was a small room with a cot more comfortable than the stone I had been sleeping on and, to my amazement, a massive bookshelf lined one of the walls. Not having read a word for weeks, I rabidly devoured each tome in that library whenever Lyanis allowed me free time. The books were on many subjects, but mostly centered around the elven life as a wizard.

He mostly kept me busy scrubbing the floors, cleaning the rugs, and other menial tasks. It built up a work ethic that he valued, so I obliged. Of course, I always hoped I might run into you in the halls, but as you know, I hoped in vain. Days of this passed until Lyanis said it was time he showed me true arcane power. I casually told him death was the only power I needed. He laughed and patted me on the head as if it would cure some ignorance I held.

I humored him during his lessons, paying just enough attention to make him think I believed his teachings. As I said before, I wouldn’t be bought so cheaply. He showed me various spells and I learned them just as quickly as he could present them. The difficult part of his lessons were his condescending tones. I never did anything right because of my human birth. My mind was never as adept at magic as an elf’s. In these moments, he became someone entirely different from the elf who rescued me from the cell.

I matched him though with my own, unbreakable will. Each time he tore into me, I would try harder and remind myself of his people’s deceitful nature. Knowing their day of retribution drew near kept me focused. I never once let him break me down. Through his berating, I learned my most valuable lesson–perseverance. I’m not sure if that was what he intended, but I still hold onto that today.

Strangely enough, Lyanis was the only one to treat me with proper dignity and respect outside his lessons. Everyone else regarded me with contempt or fear. On one occasion Lyanis physically defended me from one of the kitchen maids chasing me with a wooden spoon. After that, we formed a nearly amicable bond. I took what wisdom I could gleam from his lessons and even let myself buy into his style of magic. I kept Nerull close to my heart, though, just to keep myself on the right path.

I was happy with my new routine around the castle, but every day that I didn’t see you felt empty. One night after finally gathering the courage to ask about you, I went to see Lyanis. He sat at his desk scribbling onto a torn parchment. Before I could say anything he looked at me and handed me the parchment with instructions to keep it with me. Then he snatched his staff and dragged me out into the hallway toward the staircase leading to the battlements.

The cold mountain air nearly froze me in place, but all feeling left me once I saw down to the base of the mountain. A battle played out down below us. Elven riders clashed against an unknown force. I felt a certain delight at watching the riders get cut down in the same manner they had cut my townfolk down.

Lyanis explained they had been fighting over the past few months and our enemies had just now reached our gates. He said that our only hope was for me to present myself to the attacking force and read off the spell he handed me earlier. Naturally, I was scared, but he assured me it was the only way to save you, Ilanna. Staring in amazement, he reminded me that I could never hide anything from him.

He shoved me back inside toward the main staircase. I was now scared and confused, but walked down those stairs ready to save you. I’m sure you remember what happened next, but you certainly never knew who was responsible. Now you know it was me and it was all for you.

Tolin Naihim – Death’s Neglected Son

Tolin’s Journal #2

My Dear Ilanna,

I’ll never forget that day we first met. I’m sure to you it was an unremarkable day, but it changed my destiny. No, rather, you changed my destiny. To understand why, you must know what I survived beforehand. After the elven massacre of my town, I endured the hardest weeks of my life.

I spent that first night in the library curled around my favorite book, A History of the Valley. It’s familiarity comforted me while death strode outside. Elves weaved in an out of its pages. Critical in the founding of the Valley, they upheld an unspoken alliance to guard it from their mountain castles against invaders. In recent centuries, they had withdrawn from sight, hiding in the mountains. Funny, since they didn’t look highly on dwarven values.

Whether their relationship with us deteriorated by Lord Chaxon’s hand or theirs, I grew to hate them that night. All the good they had ever done for me, unknown or not, flushed out from my mind. The unnatural screaming and groaning outside justified my new-found hate.

I found sleep that night in a pool of my tears. I dreamed of my father and I working out in the fields until a force of elves descended from the mountains. The townsfolk’s screams haunted me once again, crying for me to save them as the elves burned everything. My own father reached out for me, but I was powerless. Two mounted, armored elves stabbed him with their lances, reveling in my screams of fury.

I awoke with a start, cursing the elves. Hurrying outside, the sun lit up an empty town. Nothing burned, yet nothing stirred. I traveled from house to house walking through remnants of interrupted lives. Nothing had been pillaged save the people. Every living animal and person had been emptied out. I cried out for my father, but he never came. I was alone.

The mountains hid their elven castles from me. Without the darkness of night to reveal the lights, I couldn’t make out anything from the grays and whites of the tall slopes. A solemn pang of fear weighted me down. The elves were sure to return.

Taking no time to mourn those I had lost, I set myself to work fortifying the library. My studies of the histories of major battles helped me create a crude series of small battlements and archer platforms. Ransacking a few houses, I had enough food stocks to supply me for weeks, plus the next harvest soon approached. I could easily have made it another year or more.

As the weeks went by, I spent my days perusing towers of books on the arcane magics. They were my only hope of achieving retribution for my father. The elves stripped my life from me, I thought it fair to repay them. The library stored tomes on just about every school of magic. I sought ways of killing my enemies as brutally as they had killed my father. Nothing quite satisfied me.

While patrolling my makeshift castle, I passed the cellar door-the only section that remained unexplored. I always stayed away because of my boyish fears. This time, I conquered the dark with a fistful of candles. Without much searching at all, I found a hidden door that lead into a small room layered with dust. An expended candle burnt down to a nub sat at the edge of a desk littered with parchments.

The walls were deep shelves filled with books bound all in black. The dust was so thick upon them, I couldn’t make out any of their names. I pulled a few over to the desk and began reading. At first, they were written in an unknown script, but the longer I sat there, the more I seemed to understand the words. One name recurred throughout them all–Nerull. I smiled, having found the path to unleash death upon the elves.

I lived in that private library over the next few weeks, filling my head with its tomes of death. I would have wasted away in all of that knowledge, had I not been captured. On that fateful day that you may very well remember, Ilanna, I had come back up to the main hall in the library and heard elven voices outside. Peeking down from my battlements, I saw a handful of elven riders.

Eager to apply my studies, I conjured up a host of undead rats with my limited powers. Short sword in hand, I burst outside and attacked the riders like a fool. My army of rats covered them, chinking their armor with decaying teeth. The elves just laughed at me and brushed my army off them. In moments, my army turned back into dust at my feet.

Rage swelled in my throat. I screamed out another curse and cast more spells from my memory. Dark clouds blotted out the sun as two of the elves fell from their horses. They screamed while ripping off their armor. I laughed at seeing their flesh turn black and fall from their bones. The other riders descended upon me before I could open my mouth again. I crumpled to the ground, unconscious.

I awoke in chains with pain running throughout my body. My cell felt moderately sized, but that could have been my childish perspective. A lone beam of sunlight entered through a tiny window a little bigger than my head. I had to jump up, grab the ledge, and pull myself up to look out.

The Valley spread out as far as I could see to either side. It wasn’t as green as I always imagined. Instead, it looked to be a patchwork of varying shades of brown. Then it hit me. I had made it up to a castle in the mountains! Not even my chains held back my excitement.

Through my window, I could make out the outer parts of the castle that held me prisoner. I’ve never felt such exhilaration as I did there, in a cell, hanging from a ledge, and viewing an elven castle from the inside. But even that wasn’t the best sight I found.

I noticed a walkway a level down from where I was. A group of female elves wearing flowing gowns of yellow and deep blue walked across it. I’m sure you remember that day now, Ilanna, because your violet eyes sparked their own conversations with those around you. My own heart stopped from your sheer beauty. The sun caught your hair perfectly and ignited its golden flair. I almost could have forgiven your House in that moment for what they did to me.

I held on as tightly as I could to that ledge, desiring to watch you forever. Your gaze drifted in my direction and we locked eyes. I’m sure you remember as well as I. Our destinies converged in that moment, giving birth to our eternal love.

Tolin Naihim – Death’s Neglected Son

Tolin’s Journal #1

My friends and I are about to embark on a Dungeons & Dragons adventure. This is my first one, so I am more than excited. After filling out my character’s sheet and learning more about him, I stumbled upon his journal and figured I would share it with the world. It is a story of love and loss, death and new life.

My Dear Ilanna,

Your house has forsaken you, but I never will. My undying passion for you draws us closer with each breath we take. Those who stole you away will answer to me in a glorious day of retribution. And when that day comes, they won’t face a scared little boy, but a fierce and powerful necromancer.

Yes, my love, I have grown in age and power from the last time we were together. I keep this journal to remind myself of you during my journey. Your memory is all I have left and I vow to keep it vibrant with every page I write. When we are reunited, you will see the great lengths I strode to win your freedom.

Enough of my current situation for I never told you my own history. I read all the histories of your house, but failed to pen my own accounts. Of course, I never had a reason until you were stolen; my story isn’t notable in the slightest. Still, you must know who I truly am.

I grew up a farmer with my hands in the dirt. Most people treat the ground beneath them with contempt and regard low-born farmers only slightly higher. My father treated it with proper respect. “We are the unsung heroes of the kingdom, son. Our grain is its lifeblood and the dirt we trod gives us a quiet power,” he would say to keep me from cursing my station every time we worked in the fields.

I couldn’t have asked for a better father. Smart in his own way, he taught me how to make even the most stubborn bit of dirt grow whatever we needed it to. He was also literate enough to show me basic lettering. I quickly fell in love with the written word and spent my nights in the town’s library searching for the oldest of its dusty tomes. To a 9 year-old boy, a three-story inn converted to a library was an infinite hall of wisdom. My first year there, my knowledge increased 100-fold.

When I could tear myself away from the fields or the library, I dreamed of riding off to adventures beyond the mountains surrounding the Valley. Day after day my friends and I watched with awe as iron clad knights rode through our town gathering supplies for the standing armies of Lord Chaxon. If we were lucky, we could surround one and have him regale us with tales of dragons, orcs, and elves. Wide-eyed at how many accomplishments a single knight made, we vowed to join the service of our Lord when we came of age.

Under the eye of my father, I diligently applied myself to our fields and used every bit of knowledge I could scrape out of the library’s books. When I was just 11, I convinced my father to hire out more hands saying that we could run our farm like the lending houses. He always said our crops were better than gold, so I treated them as such. Soon our farm grew to become the largest in the Valley. Even the lending houses became jealous of our success.

We reveled in our success for two more years before the knights rode into town in force. I remember it was late at night and I was balancing our ledgers by candlelight. The hillside burst into flames as an army of torches bobbed our way. My father and I rushed outside along with the rest of the town to greet the news.

I instantly noticed how strangely the knights rode. They lacked the typical heavy gait I had seen all my life. Their armor didn’t fit either. The heavy plates clanged together too loosely. Dark premonitions twisted in my stomach.

Even stranger, I noticed patches of light ignite high up in the mountains. My entire life these mountains were the sentinels that kept me safe from the outside, but now they appears as menacing wolves ready to consume the Valley. Squinting at the lights, I barely made out the shapes of towers and keeps carved out from the mountainside. I looked back to the riders drawing closer to us, putting the pieces together in my mind.

“It’s an Elven ambush!” I screamed out into the night. Excitement hit fever pitch and my shouts drowned in the noise. I turned and ran back to the safest place of my childhood-the library. The moment I reached the door, I heard the first of the screams. For as long as I live, I won’t be able to get those sounds out of my head.

I cowered in the darkest corner I knew of, crying through my fear. I hadn’t even tried to warn my own father; I had just ran away. I sat there listening to the ambush riders working through the town, destroying everything I loved. The knights I had admired all my life failed in their service to our Lord.

I cursed myself for not having seen the signs earlier. Lord Chaxon’s relationship with the gray elves had grown tenuous in recent years. Rumors spread of impending war, but I didn’t know what to make of them. My father didn’t trouble himself over them, so why should I?

In the months leading up to this, we hadn’t seen any knights ride through for resupply. I falsely assumed they were off fighting for our Lord, but hadn’t considered what would happen should they lose.

Fear kept me awake for the rest of the night. In the early morning hours, the sounds of battle all but disappeared. I peeked out a few windows before walking outside into an empty town. Curious it hadn’t been burnt to the ground. Even more curious was the lack of bodies. I had expected to see the streets overflowing, but saw nothing.

I ran back to my home in search of my father, but it too was completely empty. I combed the entire town, but found nothing. Death had swept through, leaving me untouched.

This is all I can bear to write now. Just remembering the loss of my father awakens too much pain within me. Fear not, my love, I did overcome my fear.

Tolin Naihim – Death’s Neglected Son


Yay protest time!Wake up sheeple of the gaming community! Your very online gaming freedoms are under attack even as I type this blog post. It’s time to #OccupyMultiplayerShooters!

There was a period, long ago, in gaming history where online shooters were about skill and knowing the map. Everything was fair and balanced. No player started out with any advantages over his or her opponents. We had an equal distribution of fun.

Things have changed thanks to the new breed of online shooters in the vein of Battlefield and Call of Duty. These two franchises have changed the gaming landscape to the point that the top 1% of online players now control over 50% of the weapons and upgrades at the start of every match.

Maps are no longer flush with weapons and powerups for anyone to take. Instead, players are incentivised to spend hours on end leveling up so they may gain access to equipment inaccessible to new players. This gives an unfair advantage to players born with more time to spend on the game.

Instead of fair and balanced gameplay, EA and Activision have subsidized these top players to the point that they are nigh untouchable unless one is willing to grind through the maps as cannon fodder for the top 1%. As if starting with superior equipment wasn’t enough, the 1% have an easier time of racking up killstreaks, providing them with even more tools of destruction to reign down on the 99%. In a game that is supposed to be about true competition, it seems that the 99% don’t stand a chance against their subsidized overlords.

Why all these subsidies? Shouldn’t a player’s value be intrinsically defined by his or her own skill?

It’s time to end this madness and turn back to our roots. We need to rise up and #OccupyMultiplayerShooters until our demands are met with a return to the days of fair and balanced gameplay!






The stage is all set for the official Minecraft release here at Minecon.  All Notch has to do is pull that lever and unleash the final build to the public.

Thousands of us are crammed into the ballroom at the Mandalay Bay anxiously waiting for the opening presentation.

My friends and I have speculated that the creeper on the stage will explode into the blocks on the left and our hero, Notch, will pop out to greet his horde.

Why I Love PC Gaming

pc gamingI am a huge fan of PC Gamer magazine and regularly listen to their podcast. Every week they get down into the nerdy abyss of PC gaming. On the most recent episode, they discussed why they love the PC as a gaming platform and encouraged us to share our own love of it.

Growing up, my parents never bought me a video game console out of fear that it would consume my life. I believe it had something to do with the fact that I turned into Gollum whenever in the presence of a console, so I can’t really fault them for being my own, personal Bilbo Baggins. However, when we got our first computer (a Packard-Bell with Pentium 133 mhz, Win95, 16mb RAM, and 1GB hard drive), I discovered a wonderful loophole in my parents’ console moratorium: computer games didn’t count as real video games.

From that point forward, I was a dedicated PC gamer. While my friends were playing classics like Super Mario 64, FFVII, and Twisted Metal; I was discovering Total Annhilation, Descent, and Heroes of Might & Magic II. Once able to taste the greatness and variety of PC gaming, I never looked back. 

Through my formative gaming years, the main reason I have come to love PC gaming is freedom. The PC is an open platform that welcomes innovation from gamers, software developers, and hardware engineers alike. Everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute to the worldwide PC gaming community.

Niche groups of PC gamers keep growing the platform through LAN parties and online communities. Only on the PC will you find dedicated gamers that will invest hours of their lives just to keep games alive and thriving. In fact, games like Descent and Mech Warrior are more than a decade old but still have active communities. Why do gamers ban together like this? Because they can. Freedom is the right of all sentient gamers and the PC knows this.

From the business side of the equation, many different companies are fervently engineering more ways to enjoy PC games and push the experience to new limits. The end result is a cornucopia of hardware configurations coupled with every game genre under the sun. We, the gamers, always win in this scenario. You want to run three 40-inch LCDs with 3D enabled on Crysis 2? You got it, but only with PC gaming.

Freedom and choice go hand-in-hand. PC gaming offers the freedom to choose what you play, how you play it, and how you take it to the next level in the community. Some may say that the PC has too much freedom, too many choices. Well, to these short-sighted naysayers, I say, “NO”. As one of the forefathers of PC gaming once said: Give me liberty, or give me death! 

We need freedom to experience games the way we want to, not the way some corporate shill had decided for us! We need freedom to play late into the night with reckless abandon, uncaring about the light of morning! We need freedom to continue the gaming traditions of our forebearers! We need PC Gaming!

Technorati Tags     ,,,

MLG + Blizzard Fail

Major League Gaming Only a few short years ago, video games were seen as toys adolescents wasted thier summers on, but as an entire generation has grown up, so have their video game tastes. Now, gaming is ready for prime-time and has warranted the creation of Major League Gaming to represent the popularity of the professional gaming circuit here in the States.

I gathered a group of my friends and fellow StarCraft II fans and we attended the MLG season opening in Dallas this past weekend. We headed out expecting to see a full-throttle, professional StarCraft experience, but instead ran into a poorly organized event that left us all wishing the MLG and Activision-Blizzard took professional gaming more seriously.

When we arrived on Friday, everything ran as smoothly as expected. We saw some intense SCII action as the pros battled it out against each other to determine seating order in the tournament brackets. The commentators, DJ Wheat and Day9 were in rare form as they both entertained and brought excitement to the matches on the main stage.

We got up on Saturday talking over breakfast about the matches from the previous night and how we were going to attempt to emulate the strategies we saw into our own games. We whipped ourselves up into a mad whirlwind of pure StarCraft hype and could not wait to return. After spending lunch playing arcade games at Dave and Busters, we headed back to the Dallas Convention Center with just enough time to nab some good seating for the main stage.

At 5pm, when the professional tournament was scheduled to resume nothing happend. After 6pm rolled around with absolutely no word about what was going on, we were left to wonder and speculate with the other fans as to the problem. We contained ourselves for a few more hours as the commentators livecasted some replays until when at around 9pm, they finally brought up a live match on the main stage. We were pretty ravenous for some StarCraft II at this point and instantly forgave the MLG for leaving us out to dry for so long.

The players began their match only to be stopped a few minutes in due to lag. They tried to resume, but the lag still persisted, so they were forced to cancel the game on the main stage and move it to one of the other stations. We were outraged. It was only the second day of the tournament, we had been forced to wait for several agonizing hours, and there was still absolutely no communication from the MLG as to what was going on. Rumors circulated about how the ISP they were using was having problems, but no official word ever came out.

Activision-BlizzardThe real problem here is that StarCraft II has no LAN support. You are forced to keep an open internet connection so that the game can ping every so often and if you should lose internet connectivity, the game will either lag or pause completely depending on how long you lose it. So, even though you own the game, Activision-Blizzard will not let you play it if you can’t constantly ask them for permission.

We had waited all of Saturday for the real tournament to begin only to be subjected to the technical difficulties of the MLG unable to comply with Activision-Blizzard’s absurd policy. And this was not the first time. Last year, the championship match also experienced the very same problems. You would think the MLG capable of taking itself seriously enough to have these types of problems worked out, but apparently not.

What promised to be a fun weekend excursion devolved into waiting for nothing. After spending a decent chunk of money on gas and hotel rooms getting to Dallas, this was unacceptable so we went to politely ask for a refund. All the MLG said to us was ‘sorry about that’ before they refused to refund us our ticket prices.

Lets trace the chain of events here, shall we?

Someone at Activision-Blizzard says, “Hey, we need to have complete oversight whenever someone plays StarCraft II. I know! Let’s forget taking the 15 minutes to create a LAN mode and make everyone connect to! Plus, they will love having to connect to yet another social network!”

Then someone at MLG says, “We need to have StarCraft II at our events. We will need to have constant internet connection, so we will just trust our ISP and local network infrastructure to handle itself without really testing anything.”

Then when the event comes up and the MLG network traffic gets slammed so hard that SCII games start lagging, the MLG guy says, “It’s not our fault! It’s the ISP! Besides, its only a video game. No harm, no foul, right?”

I realize that there are a lot of factors here that stopped the MLG from broadcasting a game from the main stage, but seriously, they need to take their pro circuit more seriously. Video games are not just toys anymore. They require a tremendous level of skill that many of us will pay to watch those who have mastered it.

As it stands, the MLG and Activision-Blizzard need to work together to resolve these issues with StarCraft II. Both of their reputations will be hurt if they continue to let these kinds of failures circulate around. I know that I will not be going back to a live MLG event and if you were considering going, be aware that they may not treat you with the seriousness you deserve.

We are gamers and our professional events deserve all the attention and care other sporting events get!


Technorati Tags     ,,,,,,