Holding Your Own Head Underwater

Most of the time the general level of outrage on the Internet starts at ear-bleeding levels, patient and just soars upwards from there. I try and keep my neck out of any nooses offered during those periods because like most everything else, unhealthy getting wound up over initial information, ailment rumors, and conjecture doesn’t always result in having been worth the popped veins incurred in the process.

Not this time.

Many gamers know that Sony Online Entertainment (SOE), arm of Sony responsible for EverquestLandmarkH1Z1, and other stuff got sold off to an investment management firm, and became Daybreak Studios. Initially folks got their collective underthings in a bunch and started crying “doom” in all caps. I chalked this up to the Internet being the Internet; we as a community have no knowledge of what the plans are, and not all acquisitions result in dumbass, bone-headed, fuckwit moves.

Not this time.

So we just learned that Linda “Brasse” Carlson and Dave “Smokejumper” Georgeson were laid off from Daybreak. OK, so under other circumstances folks might say “yeah, that happens when a company is acquired”. I’ve been through acquisitions myself, and I’ve seen them from the inside. Generally the layoffs happen in a pyramid structure, where those on the bottom of the totem poll bear the brunt. Those are the people that could be replaced or even rehired once the company regained it’s footing. As the structure winnows upward, there are some casualties (one company I worked for fired most of the telecom techs, and the next day the CEO’s phone couldn’t be fixed), but the buck certainly stops before hitting the corner office.

The dismissal of Brasse and Smokejumper is kind of a different story. They are very public, very visible, very loved and appreciated by the gaming community. They were faces that people recognized in person, and who roped people into the SOE orbit through sheer force of enthusiasm and dedication. Dismissing them is akin to taking the most popular folks in town up to a platform and shooting them in the head in front of a crowd.

Business is often like a black box to consumers, by necessity or choice. Someone in this investment management firm didn’t see the value in keeping Brasse or Smokejumper around, and because of that, I feel confident in saying that this company doesn’t have a fucking clue about what they’re doing with SOE. They don’t know what they have, and in a greater sense, they don’t know who they’re dealing with: you, me, and all the people who really appreciate people like Linda and Dave because they treated us (the customers) like friends and co-conspirators, and not like towels soaked in cash that were just waiting to be wrung out.

Daybreak still doesn’t have the confidence of the panty-bunchers mentioned above, and now I doubt they ever will. Whereas they should have worked to mitigate as much harm to their image as possible, they said “fuck that” and just introduced themselves by driving a bulldozer through the front door rather than politely ringing the doorbell. I don’t doubt that the investment company had to make cuts, and I’m not suggesting that they should have sacrificed others (who need their jobs) to keep Linda and Dave, but I can’t believe that there was any grand strategy in letting them go. I can’t believe they considered what message they were sending to those they hoped would be loyal consumers going forward.

Into the Cavern

Back in the days of Levelcapped, about it I’d provide a recap of our Thursday night Dungeons & Dragons 5E game. It was one of the few regular post series I enjoyed, cure so I’m picking up here where we left off*.

Trust me, that’s the most benign title I could have given this post

The party had returned to Greenest and had rested and gained a level, making their asses badder than before. In addition, they lost a cleric to AA, but gained a druid in the process.

In what can only be described as deus ex machina, the wayward half-elf monk Leosin stumbled into Greenest about a day or so after the players had returned themselves. Worse for wear, he proclaimed that he had learned what he could from the dragon cult, with one exception: he didn’t learn what was going on in that cave.

Being heavily armed, Leosin offered to pay the players more gold to go and investigate. The party was apprehensive: they had just escaped from there, and weren’t eager to return. However, this time they had the lay of the land and decided that they’d get all stealthy, checking out the camp from the canyon ridge before heading in.

Silence. Darkness. The smell of something foul smoldering. The camp was abandoned. The druid proved his worth by changing himself into a snake and slithering through the camp, verifying that yes, everyone had packed up and left. Just to make sure, the party hung out until dawn.

At daybreak, four hunters strolled casually into the camp, laden with a dead buck. While they were carving up their prize, the party took a chance and boldly strode into the canyon. The hunters couldn’t have cared any less, and even chatted briefly with the party. The raiders had moved out an hour after Leosin was discovered missing, except for a few holdouts who were staying in the cave. They were paying the hunters to provide them with food, but other than that, the hunters had no particular love for the raiders.

A discussion was had about potential methods for getting into the cave, but in the end, the old SWAT method was used: flank the entrance, kick down the door. Round two for the druid who cast Moonfire (?) on one of two dragonclaw cultists loitering in the cave, setting him ablaze, while his companion panicked in the face of this sudden immolation. Unfortunately, the ranger wasn’t able to hit either one with an arrow, leaving the task up to the monk and the warrior. When all was said and done, the party seemed to have escaped detection.

A quick search of the cavern entrance revealed nothing of note, so the party headed towards a set of stairs carved into the rock that lead down into a field of luminescent fungi. As fate would have it, no one thought to check for traps, and the ranger tripped the mechanism that collapsed the stairs and sent him sliding face first into a copse of violet fungi, semi-sentient and deadly mushrooms that managed to deal necrotic damage to the prone wood elf. The bard lit one of the fungi on fire, and subsequent attacks by other party members resulted in a cavern full of spores, but no further damage.

*   *   *

We didn’t spend a lot of time with the “getting to know you” phase that might have been expected in taking on a new party member. We didn’t convene last week, so folks were itching to get moving.

The cave was one part of the camp that the party hadn’t actually gotten to last time, and when I was preparing for the session, the further I read the more I cringed. This was the first “dungeon” in the module, and it’s really “old school”, complete with all that “old school dungeon” implies.

I am hoping that the players will step up the game aspect. We’re playing pretty fast and loose with the system, bouncing between tactical and non-tactical gameplay mostly by accident, but the use of the out-of-combat game mechanics has been pretty sparse. Skills and checks aren’t being used without prompting, and prompting is being done at the insistence of the module itself. Ideally, the players will be on point, using PERCEPTION and STEALTH and other relevant skills at appropriate times.

I’ve been reading up on the Fate game system, and one of the core concepts is that players can do whatever they want — if they can explain a plausible in-game justification for it. I really like that idea, because it fosters player ingenuity and makes a more collaborative game. I’m hoping that this cave experience can help kick-start the “tabletop mentality” after years of “MMO mentality” that I think we’re all still holding on to.

* I’ll be importing the other posts as soon as I have time.

Call of Cthulhu

I’ve had Fantasy Grounds virtual tabletop for years but only got to use it last year when I conned a bunch of people into letting me run them through a Dungeons & Dragons episode. Since that time we’ve moved on to Roll20.net, more about but I still have a fondness for FG because of it’s all-in-one design and top-down customization options.

Yesterday, tadalafil I learned that the Call of Cthulhu ruleset was on sale. A ruleset for FG consists of the game system, visit this along with all of it’s associated data tables, character sheets, and errata. It’s like buying the source book, but in electronic reference format that allows searching, and it means you don’t need to spend time building or inputting creature stats. This package also came with four full adventure modules and some pre-made investigators for playing with people who don’t want to waste time rolling their own.

I really love Call of Cthulhu. I had played frequently when I was younger, and this rule set was always on my wishlist for rules to buy for FG. I have since lost my original source book (all of my original source books, sadly), so when this was on sale I figured it would be a no-brainer to have, even if I never got around to playing it.

Last Blog Standing

So I wasn’t entirely honest when I said I was getting out of the blogging biz.

Cedarstreet has been my central domain for quite a while now. I branched out to Levelcapped.com because the name fit better when talking about games than “Cedarstreet” did. I eventually spent more time over there than I did here, visit this site as I was keeping this as my general purpose dumping ground.

The problem being that I wasn’t really talking about much general purpose stuff. Most things I wrote about were gaming related, with the occasional odd post over here. I tried re-purposing this space for public sounding-board on writing topics, but I don’t want it to entirely spiral down that drain.

But I’ve kind of lost interest in video game blogging. Most of my recent stuff has been about recaps, the things I’ve been playing and what happened. I’m not super interested in reading that kind of thing, so I wasn’t super interested in writing that kind of thing. I’m tired of the weekly controversy that we seem to become embroiled in on cue, so I didn’t want to write about that kind of thing.

I want to write about interesting stuff. Stuff that other people want to read. And I wasn’t feeling that I had tons left to say on the subject of gaming, or at least not enough or frequently enough to warrant having a blog dedicated to that and only that.

So Cedarstreet is the last blog standing. I’ve deleted Levelcapped.com and Flying Blind. All the files and databases are gone.

I’ll be using this space for pretty much everything going forward, then. That means video games, tabletop games, media, non-gaming subjects, and all kinds of other things. I’m still going to try very hard to maintain a positive bent, so no politics or religion or stuff like that.

However, I’m not sure I’ll be advertising this on the social networks. I might just keep this on the down-low, manually throwing out posts as I see fit. I’m not looking for a following. I’m just keeping this space as a place to write.