Five Flew Over The Ambush Drake’s Nest

After having dusted off the spores that were launched from the dead violet fungi, Adventure Co. struck deeper into the cavern complex in the bandit camp.

The next cavern was larger than the previous ones, and much darker as well. In a really convenient twist, the entire party enjoyed darkvision, which helped them to not stub their toes, but wasn’t really good enough to see details on the other side of the cave.

The druid opted to stealth his way though the darkness, and in doing so discovered bat. Lots of bats.Not only bats sleeping above, but piles of dead bats on the ground below.Not only dead bats, but dessicated bats. The team quietly joined him (except the monk, who picked the wrong time to pass gas) and examined the carcasses of the winged rodents. The bard, exhibiting her hitherto unknown naturalist side, noticed a single puncture wound in the furry corpses, and pronounced that this could only be the work of a stirge.

In a curious turn of events, the party stood right there in the cavern and debated what to do next. There was a drop off to the north east, and two exits to the south east and the north west. The party decided that the exit down a set of natural stairs (worked well the first time!) to the south east was the more appealing, probably because of the lone, pitted spear that was casually resting against the wall in that direction. Who doesn’t like tribal decor?

The dwarf went ahead first, and was surprised to find a heavy leather curtain stretching across the cave hallway at the bottom of the stairs. Unsure of how to proceed, she opted to carefully part the heavy strips of leather to see what was on the other side.

Good choice of sending the dwarf in! She immediately pulled her hands back as she felt small stings from touching the curtain. It was poisoned with tiny barbs! But as the party reminded everyone as if they had some kind of manual, dwarves have poison resistance. The rest of the party, significantly less poison resistant, handed the dwarf the spear to sweep the curtain aside.

The cavern beyond was a meat locker. Literally. It was naturally freezing, and someone had strung up animal carcasses between the stone pillars in the room. That was all. Sorry.

Back into the bat-cave, the party briefly looked down the embankment to the north east and decided that it looked like a trash dumping ground and no one wanted to play in garbage, so once more the dwarf was sent ahead, this time to the north west passage.

Sadly, the dwarf wasn’t paying attention and put both feet through a thinly concealed false floor, impaling her hairy feet on sharp spikes. But once again — poison resistance!. The rest of the party thanked the dwarf for taking another one for the team and jumped across the small chasm to the cavern beyond.

This cavern was slightly lit, with dancing flames casting moving shadows on the natural walls. A stairwell bordered by rough iron bars and a gate descended into a dark pit, but the players didn’t have time to investigate before they were noticed by four kobolds and their winged cousin.

The monk managed to bleed one kobold with a dart, and then proceeded to dazzle those assembled by catching the fucking rock that the kobold flung at him, throw it back, and kill that mofo dead. The druid wasn’t going to let himself be upstaged, though. With a monstrous shout, his Thunderwave obliterated four of the five enemies, knocking some of them into the pit.  In the ensuing silence, however, the party heard the sound of tearing flesh from the pit, and a brief investigation revealed three juvenile drakes fighting over the dead kobolds. Nasty.

Not wanting to be left without source material for a future epic, the bard took point and headed off towards an exit to the south west, but was surprised to find that the druid’s Thunderwave had apparently alerted a shitload (the official designation of a group) of kobolds from an adjoining cavern who were filing up the stairs and into the party’s cavern.

Combat ensued, as expected, where the highlights included the bard putting two kobolds to sleep, the dwarf cleaving two kobolds with one swing, and a dead body of one of the creatures triggering a stairwell trap as it tumbled backwards down the stairs.

The cavern at the bottom of the stairs was wretched, more wretched than a frat house, but not by much. The kobold warren only yielded an unusual treasure of 88 stacks of eight copper pieces. One of the kobolds had OCD, apparently. There were also four interesting carvings of dragon totems which the party seemed to pay not mind to, because apparently they’re more the Saturday morning cartoon crowd, and less the Antiques Roadshow crowd.

*   *   *

The party did really well this week. I can’t really go into too much “behind the scenes” recap on account of the fact that the party is still in the caverns and might double back  to some areas for additional hilarity.

We learned a lot this week, like how dwarves are resistant to poison, how badass the monk class can be, and that triggering a Thunderwave in a cavern is better then knocking to announce your presence. But despite the traps and the 15 or so kobolds that they engaged, the party came away mostly unscathed (the bard got pretty banged up).

I was happy to see the use of the skills this time around. The Stealth skills were wildly successful, Perception was working well for the party, and the dwarf’s failed saving throw versus poison was happily negated.

For a fine performance, each member gained an Inspiration…also because I figure that next week, they’re going to need it.

Holding Your Own Head Underwater

Most of the time the general level of outrage on the Internet starts at ear-bleeding levels, 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, getting wound up over initial information, 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.