Twenty Followers

This blog now has twenty followers. And I am about 70% sure that follower #20 is a bot. See, my Travelogue posts get fairly regular likes from people with travel-sounding names. I’m not surprised that people looking for WordPress blogs related to travel occasionally find my Travelogue series by mistake, but it’s super weird that they actually like the latest installments. Travelogue my have started as a joke about an American tourist bumbling his way through “Europe,” but after the first few posts I realized I hadn’t really thought this through, because the clueless tourist act stopped making sense after our hero had been there for several weeks. He’s not a tourist anymore, he’s just an immigrant. An immigrant who commands the loyalty of over a dozen dangerous individuals, so it doesn’t even work as a story about immigrants in Europe. Those posts now mainly deal in either playing the game’s grim atmosphere straight or contrasting that atmosphere against some of the game-y wackiness you ignore in play for some black humor. In short, there is nothing there that you would expect a travel blogger to care about. And yet, they give me likes and follow me.

Maybe I’m just paranoid because I’m used to platforms like Tumblr where some massive proportion of your followers are always bots. In fairness, the travel bloggers who follow me definitely seem to actually run travel blogs, but I still suspect that at least some of them didn’t actually stumble into my posts because of the accidentally misleading title and happen to be fans of Darkest Dungeon. I’m pretty sure they just have a script that likes and follows blogs it guesses might be relevant to their own.

Travelogue: New Recruit

Dear brother,

The further into the twisting tunnels beneath the manor we venture, the more of the swinefolk there are. If they obey any laws of nature at all, however, we shall be able to slay enough of them to thin them out to nothing. I do not know what else we shall find in this labyrinth, but our probes into its outer edges have so far been safer than efforts to confront the cannibal witch in the weald.

For today’s venture, my goal was principally to test the mettle of our newest recruit. His name is Tourmente. I am not fully convinced this isn’t a joke. His grasp of European seems at least as solid as mine, and I’m certainly confident in my ability to ask “what is your name?” at this point, so I don’t think it is a translation problem.


In any case, the venture into the Warrens was mostly uneventful. As foul as this place is, it has, at least for now, seemingly exhausted its repertoire of new horrors to serve up. I suspect this will not last long.

Your relative

Ostara Update: Simplifying

I haven’t been as good at updating regularly since moving away from a daily schedule. However, I have recently come to a realization regarding the Vestitas project: Why am I sticking to the 10×10 hexes? If I squeeze things into 10×8, I am done with the mini-adventures. With 80 hexes, I need 56 or more filled with something interesting, and that is pretty much exactly the number that I have. I do have one mini-adventure half-written that I may as well finish up and scoot out the door, but rather than subsequently making another dozen, I can just immediately move on to the remaining urbancrawls and the one big dungeon (ish) part.

Nothing about the project requires that I have a full hundred hexes, and I am seriously scraping the bottom of my ideas doc. Nearly half of what’s left is [element]-themed Chaos sorcerer, and the rest are all just random weird ideas. The snake mutant I already wrote kind of fell into that category, actually. Some of the ones I had to get myself up to seventy were really awful. I think the worst one was trying to turn a hurricane into a hex encounter. That doesn’t even make sense. A hurricane would obviously affect more than just one 30 kilometer hex. I’ve advised in the past that if you don’t have enough ideas to make a big hexcrawl work, you should probably just make a smaller hexcrawl, and I’ve clearly reached the point where I need to take that advice.

How to Majesty

Majesty: the Fantasy Kingdom Sim is a unique and charming strategy game released somewhere around the turn of the millennium. In Majesty, you are the sovereign of a fantasy kingdom, responsible for constructing buildings, hiring heroes, and placing quest rewards to motivate those heroes to raid the dungeon that’s spawning a never-ending tide of dragons rather than wandering off in a random direction in the wilderness to see if they can find treasure chests. Different hero classes have different personalities and priorities, and understanding these personalities, as well as the usual base building and economy management of a strategy game, is critical to victory. It’s a genuinely spectacular game, and I’m going to tell you how to win super hard at it. A disclaimer: The general strategy I’m going to lay out in this post is effective on most quests, but some of the story quests and many of the expert-level random quests require a pretty specific build order to win. For example, in Quest for the Crown upgrading your wizard’s guild takes a high priority because you absolutely need a bunch of lightning storms ready to go in order to fend off a huge minotaur rush that happens almost as soon as the quest begins. In most quests, you don’t even want to build a wizard’s guild until your kingdom is practically done.

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Travelogue: Papers, Please

Dear brother,

This week, we largely spent our time recovering from the twin losses of Reynaul and Vesci. Being that cowering within the crumbling walls of the Hamlet for a full week would only be a further blow to morale, a concession that the dark things beyond the walls were too terrible to confront, I persuaded a small team to explore the tunnels beneath the estate so as to determine if there were any truth to the rumors of some clan of warped pig-men had taken up residence down there. The answer to that mystery is yes. Very, very yes.

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Shadiversity Summarized 2: The Re-Re-Arming

We’re doing some more of this today.


As with a lot of these less straightforwardly humanoid videos, Shad’s conclusions are more solid, which I suspect is because there’s more room for creatures with significantly different physical qualities to actually use significantly different weapons for good reasons and less need to try and invent reasons why elves would fight at all differently from humans. So mostly my work here is just summarizing his meandering videos, and when my rambling is a more compressed version of your work, you know you have information density problems.

In melee, giants are going to most benefit from spiked boots and scythes. They’re both great at attacking enemies who are waist level or below. Even relatively light armors like leather are going to be really hard to penetrate for ordinary sized opponents, although (and Shad doesn’t make this point, but it’s true) giants are still going to want proper plate and chain armor for fighting other giants, which will be even harder to pierce. Giants who suffer from the square-cube law will probably be less keen on proportionately heavy armor because a greater proportion of their strength is taken up just standing up (although their absolute strength is still higher), but some fantasy giants are well over the height where they would be unable to stand without shattering their bones if they weren’t somehow magical (when you’re above ten or eleven-ish feet, you just can’t be bipedal anymore, even if you have much thicker feet and broader proportions), and these giants presumably have perfectly proportionate strength to humans. A giant in plate armor is basically invincible to mundane attacks, although the chinks at the joints (normally too small to be effectively exploited) may be big enough for human size attackers to cut apart.

This raises the question: What do humanoids do when confronted with a leather armored, scythe-wielding giant? Assuming you don’t have any player characters with magic weapons who can hew through steel like it’s butter, you’re going to want to rely on either ballistae or the sturdiest goddamn pikes you can find. Pikes are big enough to hit weakspots like the neck and eyes and a full formation may be able to get a pike through the slits in even a plate armored giant’s visor. This is still a battle that will favor the giants by a huge margin if there are remotely even numbers, but pikes and ballistae will given human defenders the best chance.

A giant with a bow is basically a walking ballista, and a giant with a sling is basically a walking trebuchet, and in both cases at far lower material cost and not too much worse supply cost. A ballista or trebuchet requires quite a few people to operate, and a giant eats quite a bit more than one ordinary person, and that mostly balances out, which means the lower material cost and improved mobility are just gravy. Giants are simply better at sieging human fortifications than humans are. On top of that, just like with plate armor, any giants who are giving the square-cube law the finger (including, by necessity, D&D giants who are too tall to walk without doing so) can make proportionately sized siege weapons to siege each other’s proportionately sized castles, and just like with giant plate against puny mortal weapons, these proportionately sized siege weapons will absolutely wreck human fortifications.

Basically, don’t fuck with giants.

Continue reading “Shadiversity Summarized 2: The Re-Re-Arming”

Travelogue: Magician, Heal Thyself

Dear brother,

This past week, my companions and I explored many paths to dealing with our grief at the loss of Reynauld. Dismas lost himself in drink, Busquent in prayer, Beringar retreated to the local clinic to treat the disease he’d been afflicted by in that fetid swamp. I threw myself wholeheartedly into revenge.


I chose my team more carefully this time. Duquesne and Bourassa in the rear, to provide the ranged firepower necessary to slay the wretched hag as fast as possible. Vesci I was forced to place uncomfortably close to the front, having run out of room in the back. Busquent was busy, and I would need healing. Gournai brought up the front, her role to retrieve those trapped in the pot before they were boiled alive. I feared I might not be able to kill the witch before she would kill more of my companions, having sacrificed so much to the ranged firepower necessary to get past her thrice-damned crockery. My worry would ultimately prove misplaced.

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Beast: The Primordial Is Terrible

Fatal and Friends has a review of why Beast: the Primordial is bad. It is not a very good review. Someone posted a review of the review, and because that someone is a self-described information communist who doesn’t care when people repost his writings in their entirety, with or without attribution, I’m going to copy/paste his entire review2 here. It’s big enough to go below the break, so I’ll mention here above the break that I’ll be following it up with a more better review of why Beast: the Primordial is bad. But first, the review’s review:

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Travelogue: Deadly Sincerity

Dear brother,

Today’s expedition sought to capture or, if I am being honest, more likely slay a cannibal of some sort who hides in the woods to kidnap travelers and boil them alive. I am given to understand that this is not typical in Europe.

I assembled a team that I had thought was my all-stars. Reynauld and Dismas, my oldest friends, Busquent, my healer, and Beringar, my strongest sword arm in a nation curiously lacking in guns. I think it has something to do with Europe’s gun control laws. Laws which the local bandit population seems mostly to abide by, if we assume that black powder weapons are classified as historical curiosities and allowed, rather than being properly banned firearms.

Regardless, the opposition we faced was incessant on the way, and devilishly varied.

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