An Old Dungeon Master With a New Computer

You could try Dragons Age : Origins - you can probably pick up a special edition pack with the second part (Awakenings) at a reasonable price. I'm also a big fan of DA 2 which is a bit more of a Marmite experience (some love it, some do not), but it's not as customisable in terms of either your character or your companions as you might like.

That should keep you going for a while

Arx Fatalis is about a decade old and available on A first-person RPG like Morrowind/Oblivion and in the style of the Ultima Underworld games.

I'd have to recommend Planescape: Torment.

The other suggestions are good too. I'd also add Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, also available for cheap on (link to the left there).

- Planescape: Torment is still perhaps my favorite RPG of all time. Very story driven, many people agree that a high INT/WIS/CHA character gives the best experience.
- The Witcher 2 has been out for a few months now and many people like it even more than the original.
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is a classic Bioware RPG and kind of a bridge between Baldur's Gate and Bioware's more modern games.
- Freedom Force is a mission based superhero RPG that has a similar combat system to Baldur's Gate.
- Dragon Age: Origins is one of Bioware's more modern takes on the party-based fantasy RPG.
- If you're not scared of trying RPG/shooter hybrids then I'd recommend Mass Effect 2 and Fallout 3 from Bioware and Bethesda respectively. Both games have a system where you can pause at times and queue actions so it's not as overwhelming as an action shooter.

No game advice to offer MS...but am enjoying reading your messages. Autumn on lookout mountain will include star gazing...are there any RPG that walk fantasy and scifi line well?
We have new computer now also...x10 x10 x10 starts being much more fun.

Greetings from Lookout Mountain. Thank you for the game suggestions; I now have some good ammo for getting through another cold and dark winter, yaaayyy!
Right now Ginny the dainty but intrepid mage has infiltrated Spellhold in Baldurs Gate 2, in her quest to rescue her childhood friend Imoen. This will be the third time for me in BG2, but the first time with a computer whose sound card works. David Warner has to be the perfect choice to speak for Jon Irenicus. JI is intimidating enough without the voice of the famed British actor, who made me want to just quit the game and play Hearts instead!! I forget the name of the Elven Queen who helps bring about the demise of Irenicus in the final stages of the game but would love to hear her voice sound something like that of Billie Burke, who played the Good Witch of the North. "Click your Boots of Speed together three times, gentle Virginia and say 'there's no place like Athkatla, there's no place like Athkatla'!"
Happy adventuring, dedicated gamers, and don't forget those potions and arrows.

greetings, all, from lookout mountain..........well, i am in new orleans visiting my daughters but you get the idea. i started neverwinter nights 2 for the first time a couple of weeks back. so far the graphics are beautiful but the movement is a bit jerky. i haven't gotten deep enough into the quests to intelligently comment on them but so far the dialog is fun. The colors of the script are so vivid, too, which makes playing the game in a dimly-lit room alot of fun. the combat situations are at times challenging, allowing no advance preparation. Ginny the Wizard (of course ) came across a wrongly-accused rogue near Fort Locke) being attacked by a group of less-than-diplomatic soldiers. Allowing a slaughter of an innocent was no option for Ginny the Kind and Sweet so after the "end dialog" tab was clicked she found herself up close and personal with two burly soldiers wielding military weapons. Ginny's life points were whacked away almost instantaneously, and rebooting the scene for possible evasive maneuvers didn't help. I also tried casting protection and summoning spells before engaging the soldiers but the game stripped poor Ginny down to just a girl with a staff as the dialog commenced. NW2 allows for your character to be "unconscious" instead of dead, as long as there is a surviving companion in the fray, so her fighting dwarf mowed down the enemy while the wrongly-accused rogue held her own. Once the battle is over your character comes to....with one hit point. I find it humiliating not to be able to vaporize the Fort Locke thugs on my own with an augmented metaspell fireball, but it seems that for now I have to play within the parameters set by the game. Now I have cleared the courtyard of the guards but once I enter the stockade to escort the prisoners to safety, a host of soldiers materializes nearby. Oh, gee, here we go again. The days grow shorter, the nights longer and colder, so wrap yourselves in an extra elven cloak and pack a few extra flints for the fire. Happy adventuring! MV

You make me want to move my PC to the living room, and stop blocking my fireplace with my tv. And learn to use a fireplace. Then things would be downright cozy!

Greetings again, from Lookout Mountain. The fall colors here are breathtaking-every shade of purple, yellow, red, orange, and brown vies with the permanent dark green of the yellow and scrub pines. I close the front door to the real scenery and enter the virtual scenery-and impressive it is-of Neverwinter Nights 2. Ginny is clearing out the Docks and Merchant District of troublesome thieves. The game is hugely entertaining but I must comment on problems with character movement. It seems impossible to position a character in one location without the others following him/her. Whoops, the ladies are calling me for the Bridge game so I will comment further on character movement later. Until then, keep those potion vials full and arrow quivers stocked. Happy adventuring! MV

I HAVE SKYRIM/ELDER SCROLLS V! Okay, that's the good news. The bad news is that a notice on the package tells me that I have to get online to register and activate the game on this Steam-something-or-other website. I went there here at the Senior Center and waded through this morass of a legal agreement, and then it seemed that I would have to open the package and insert my software in this computer to activate the game. Once the product is opened it's mine-no returns, no refunds. Once I have activated/registered my game do I then still have to be online to play it? I have emailed Bethesda the same question. I don't have Internet at home so really hope I can play Skyrim offline. In the meantime I am enjoying Neverwinter Nights 2. The graphics and colors are wonderful but I do have to mention a problem: if your character's inventory is full while she is looting a container the items will just disappear irretrievably so you better be sure your character has room for the booty! May you all have a meaningful and joyous Thanksgiving holiday and keep those quivers full, including at least one or two acid arrows in case a pesky troll crosses your path. Happy adventuring! m v

Make sure you check into installing Skyrim from the disk (may want to google it), otherwise Steam may require a download of gargantuan proportions.

Steam has a "play offline" ability, might want to take a little time to get familiar with that - others could bring you up to speed.

Also, once you open a PC game it's already non-returnable. Think of this as a way to be able to retrieve you're game if you ever lose your discs.

I sincerely hope you get the installation figured out so you can start the game soon! You are going to LOVE it!
Keep a fire spell handy too, the trolls don't like fire

Greetings from Lookout Mountain on this first day of meteorological winter. Certainly the weather is cooperating with that definition: wet snow on the 29th, followed by heavy frost this morning. Neverwinter Nights 2 is keeping me warmly and snugly entertained during the long and dark evenings. Ginny the Wizard has been accused of slaughtering the village of Ember, and went on trial in Neverwinter. The accusation, of course, was a frame-up, perpetrated by the Luskan ambassador Torio. This highlights a notable quality of this RPG: the decisions your character makes affect how you are treated later on....or, I guess you could say "what goes around comes around". Two NPC's came forward as witnesses, and testified to how Ginny saved one from some orcs and another from Luskan murderers. The computer keeps track of waxing and/or waning influence your character has on companions as well. The indispensable thief Neeshka gets ticked when Ginny tries to keep her pillaging under control; this makes Ginny more lawful. I really don't want to lose Neeshka's loyalty so will occasionally agree to a foray of some snooty noble's estate in Blacklake. This pushes Ginny a point toward chaos but she still breaks even there while preserving the thief's fidelity.
While in New Orleans with my daughters I saw a TV commercial for Skyrim. Wow, that is the first TV ad I've ever seen for a computer RPG. I will have to take my computer to someone who will activate Skyrim online for me but in the meantime will enjoy NWN2. I discovered that The Witcher 2 requires online installation so that is a big disappointment. Sadly, the offline RPG's seem to be going the way of the VHS8 tapes, silver coins, and full-service gas stations. I suppose at some point Virginia the Wizardress will have to lean her staff against the fireplace hearth, pick up the Stratocaster, and join the bards and minstrels in another Enya song. Who can say?.............Only Time. Until then, keep your quivers full, swords sharpened, and spells properly memorized. Happy adventuring! MV

These posts always make me smile. Please keep it up forever.

necroyeti wrote:

These posts always make me smile. Please keep it up forever.

I agree. I love these updates.

MichaelVirginia wrote:

While in New Orleans with my daughters I saw a TV commercial for Skyrim. Wow, that is the first TV ad I've ever seen for a computer RPG.

That hadn't occurred to me; and even if it isn't, it was easy (for me, anyway) to forget, with all the other holiday season blockbuster advertising, that Skyrim isn't like all those other holiday season blockbusters. Like, no guns or corridors. It may be hyped and well-known thanks to Oblivion and Fallout 3, but it's also a crunchy simulation with roots in grand 90s CRPGs, that puts a lot of trust in the player to not need his hand held. It doesn't have glowing exclamation marks over static NPCs, and the quest givers and shopkeepers might have closed up and gone to bed and you just have to wait until morning.

It's the most streamlined and friendly Elder Scrolls game yet, but it's still a long way from what one might expect to sell to millions of people (or at least have the advertising to suggest that expectation).

I dunno, Gravey. The games industry has been bigger than the movie industry for a while now... I have friends in their teens who have Skyrim, and friends in their 50's who have it, and everyone in between has at least heard of it. The gamer demo is shifting.

Robear wrote:

I dunno, Gravey. The games industry has been bigger than the movie industry for a while now... I have friends in their teens who have Skyrim, and friends in their 50's who have it, and everyone in between has at least heard of it. The gamer demo is shifting.

Yeah, that's what I mean and was surprised that Beth's advertising has confidence in: that the non-enthusiast audience isn't just all Madden and COD.

Maybe 90s simulation gaming is coming back!

Dragon Age Origins had network ads, as did World of Warcraft (and other MMOs). I'm sure I've seen others, though not as often as Call of Modern Battlefield : Company Duty.

greetings again, from Lookout Mountain. My Garden Club meeting starts in 25 minutes so I have to be brief in this post. Thank you so much for the feedback. I love D & D and have authored a collection of macabre-esque stories, so this website is a joy to let the words fly in! I loved H. P. Lovecraft as a pimply kid, and so was receptive to the original Dungeons and Dragons game when I first played it in 1977. The creative and imaginative really have a playland in the world of D & D.
I hope you all have a merry Christmas and experience a sense of goodness and spirituality during this special time of the year, yes, even if you are a chaotic evil rock gnome warmage. I will be in Louisiana next week so may not be back here until early next January. In the meantime keep your potions bottles filled, your swords sharpened, and your spells memorized. Oh, oh, time to get the gingerbread cookies out for the Garden Club potluck supper. Bye bye, and God bless you.

In Celebration of the RPG

Greetings, all, and happy holidays from New Orleans. Yes, I am away from Lookout Mountain to spend time with my daughters, father-in-law, mother, brother, and cousin. I love my Appalachian Walden Pond-esque home but do need to recharge the heart with family now and then, all of whom love through and through.
I wanted to raise a verbal toast to the computer RPG, to hopefully make folks smile and think, "Hey, yeah, I thought that, too!" We modern age Americans enjoy a historically unique level of comfort in our standard of living. Those who came before us fought wars against hostile governments and natural challenges, and established a capitalist system that brought us our current access to leisure time and entertainment (yeah, I'm a Rush listener; bear with me). A challenge arises: What do we do now? H. G. Wells wrote a story called "The Time Machine" and in it a society lost its sense of purpose in a world of leisure. The Eloi quit working, quit reading, quit ANYTHING that required effort, and spent their lives like cattle, eating and sunning themselves by the river while a race of brutes (Morlocks) did the work that sustained the Eloi's lifestyle. The price of this: The Eloi were eaten by their "benefactors" because they chose to abandon personal responsibility.
We need a challenge, a goal, a hurdle always ahead of us so we don't end up like the Eloi. This really came home to me after I retired from my job. After a brutal day of jostling, jamming, and jarring the working man-lady can just chill out in front of the TV and take in some American Idol or Monday Night Football. That's cool for that. For someone retired....well, at least for me....staring at a screen for three hours with no control over what goes on in that lit way.
Enter Baldurs Gate. Howdy do, Neverwinter Nights. Greetings and felicitations Elder Scrolls. I am no longer a passive mass of Eloi flesh on a sofa; welcome to the dungeon, wizardress Virginia! Memorize those fire and cold spells now, because a band of bugbears is waiting around that dark corner to ambush you. Encase your form with a shimmering aqua shell of Spell Mantle before you open that iron door, because that battlemage will be firing level six Paralyzation spells at you. Protect your psyche with a Chaotic Command incantation before engaging that Umber Hulk behind the barricade, otherwise you will run amok in a cloud of Confusion and become an easy target for anything that Umber and his group throw at you. That iron gollem is far too powerful for you to slug it out with; you will blast him with a fusilade of magic, retreat under the protection of Sanctuary magic, then finish him off from another angle after resting and recharging. That wizard who is powerful enough to have an assigned name is protected with Spell Immunity and Mantle so you will have to cast a Breach and Spellstrike attack before your fighter and rogue can do any damage. In the meanwhile he has summoned a Pit Fiend that can make your strategy quite challenging. And, in a superior RPG, you will get beaten, your fighter will be Charmed and will turn against you, allowing the Charmer to concentrate her powers on you. You and your party will succumb to a well-organized attack by a group of enemies behind that stone portal, guarding a treasure you must win in order to complete a quest. You will retreat to the kitchen, put another tray of nachos in the oven, and refill your 30-ounce cup with limeade while your computer is reloading the game that was saved just before you opened that door. You now cast the right protection spell on this character, enhancement spell on that one, and bless the entire party with a Haste effect. You concentrate your initial attack on the evil cleric standing in the back of the room to prevent her from disabling your fighter on the front line. After thirty minutes of real time has elapsed (don't forget to turn off the oven!!) you emerge victorious, half your party dead and you with ten per cent of your hit points remaining. Bruised and bloody, you advance to the altar and click on the highlighted treasure that is now yours for the taking. You don't know who won Dancing With the Stars or whether or not the Steelers beat the Vikings but you still have a warm feeling behind your forehead.....a good feeling that YOU were an active part of a solution to a challenge. You defined yourself in that room, as the one who stayed cool under pressure and refused to bolt away from the wizard and his summoned Shadow Hounds, despite the grievous damage they dealt your party. The quality RPG doesn't allow you to stagnate into complacency, to do so is to lose and be given the humiliating message: "The main character (YOU) has been killed. You must reload the game." The quality RPG entertains but also challenges. The quality RPG is not for Eloi.
May you always have a challenge and a purpose; may you never become an Eloi. And remember, keep those quivers full, have fire or acid for the trolls, and your spells memorized.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you all.

One shouldn't apologize for the listening of Rush, just sayin'
Great write ups MV, I hope you figure out Skyrim to read your adventures there.

Merry Christmas to you too!

Greetings from Lookout Mountain. Well, January is giving the Appalachian foothills the usual mixed bag of mild wade-in-creek afternoons with the Alaska-Aleutian raw evenings of pelting rain and icy winds that I am "enjoying" now. I am keeping warm and cozy with Neverwinter Nights 2, marching determinedly towards the final confrontation with the King of Shadows. Ginny the Wizardress used wile and deceit to finagle the Belt of Ironfist from the King of the Fire Giants, thus completing the quest to get allied help from the rugged dwarves of the Ironfist clan. My dwarf fighter Khelgar is a joy to turn loose on any enemy that confronts my party. He just swings that waraxe and the opponents topple and scatter like so many pins at the local bowling alley. NWN2 must be commended for the music that weaves a continual backdrop to the action. I particularly enjoy taking Ginny on a quiet stroll through the Merchant District of Neverwinter. The female voices sound like a top class choir in a grand church, harmonizing beautifully, worthy of praise from Enya herself. The battle music is exciting, too, reminding me often of stuff like Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain". That piece would have been perfect for Ginny's trek on Mount Galardym, as she closed in on the Fire Giant encampments, with fiery rivers of lava and belching steam vents completing a terrifying backdrop. The graphics are so good that I retire to bed feeling like I was in another land, and returned to the safety and comfort of Lookout Mountain.
I will soon be taking on the grandaddy RPG of all, Skyrim, so have carefully avoided reading anyone's comments on the game to preserve the novelty of surprise. In the meantime keep your blades sharpened, spells memorized, quivers full, and potion bags stocked.
Happy adventuring!
m v

Greetings again, from below Lookout Mountain (Fort Payne library). I came this way to complete some errands and decided to stop by and get online to seek clues on how to defeat this divinely powered lady who goes by the name of Light of Heavens. She is lawful good, as is Ginny the Mage, so it's doubly frustrating that she would want to "test" Ginny by wiping her out in mere seconds. Nothing brings on an empty feeling (other than perhaps making a fool of oneself) more than just giving up and going on in the game, knowing that no matter how powerful and influential Ginny is, there is this strange lady with a sword who can bring me to my knees with barely a wink. I loaded and reloaded the game, casting all the usual bless and protection spells before engaging Light in dialog but the end result was the same, with Light having lost at most 20 per cent of her hit points. Some NWN2 players sent comments on their experience with Light to a gamesite called "RPG Watch" or something like that, and most were tearing their hair out over the challenge, too, especially the ones whose character is a mage or sorcerer. Aren't wizards supposed to cast spells from BEHIND the protectve wall of fighters and such? This one-on-one dueling makes me feel like some half-cocked gunslinger finding herself 60 feet away from Clint Eastwood under a blazing sky in an abandoned Nevada town. "Uh, can't we just play a rubber of Bridge; winner take all??" One successful gamer mentioned area-affecting spells such as Acid Fog being cast before the fight so I suppose it couldn't hurt to give that a try. Another gamer warned that the third encounter with Light is "much harder" than the first two; good grief, the first one is bad enough!! Well, Ginny is no Eloi (please refer to my earlier post), so she is not finished with the beauteous (but dangerous) lady with the big sword. Until then it's back to the woods for me. Keep your quivers full, swords sharpened. spells memorized, and if you see a lithe lady toting a big blade, duck into the nearest inn!
Happy Adventuring! M V

Paragraphs are your friend!

Greetings all from Lookout Mountain. Well, I am thawing out from the last Arctic blast, ready to enjoy a couple of mild days before the next round of January's breathing. Ginny's determination was rewarded a few nights ago when she bested Light of Heavens in the first two tilts, relying heavily on summoned creatures and blade barrier from her cleric and druid. Her Greater Stoneskin kept her largely unharmed during the duel, as the indirect power of her cohorts reduced Light to deviled ham in short order. The lovely but lethal Light now stands outside Ginny's Crossroad Keep gates with passionless patience, ready to administer the final and no doubt most difficult trial. I must say here that my wizardress is coming away from victories over a Shadow Reaver and two black dragons, so am approaching Light with inspired confidence. Hmm, I wonder if NWN2 is setting me up again!
I wonder if there is a bug in NWN2's quest journal: Reaching Lord Nasher in his throne room is still an uncompleted quest, despite the fact that I reached his inner sanctum and earned his praise and my own feudal manor. Another üncompleted" quest is finding Elgun in Port Llast to exonerate Ginny's name in the slaughter of Ember Village. My character vindicated herself in defeating the Luskan stooge Lorne in arena combat so the quest is presumably satisfied. The only other problem of note in NWN2 is inventory items mysteriously disappearing during inter-character trading. I'll never forget the night Khelgar Ironfist loaned a newly-acquired axe to Ginny for identification. The wizardress identified it as Re's Redemption (a powerfully magicked chopper), and handed it back to the dwarf. I then went to Khelgar's inventory and wha?? No Redemption, just a muttered curse and a return to the kitchen for more limeade before reloading the game. The game programmers weren't kidding when they say: "Save early, save often"!
Despite the minor glitches NWN2 has proven to be loads of fun. The graphics, magical effects, and music are a joy to experience.
Keep your spells memorized, quivers full, and potions mixed.
Happy Adventuring!


Oh, me, oh, my", moans the powerful and powerfully embarrassed wizardress from the secure confines of her feudal estate Crossroad Keep, just up the road from Neverwinter. It seemed that everything was going well after Ginny bested Light of Heavens and won her fealty, assembled the Sword of Gith (King of Shadow's Achilles Heel) and knocked off another Shadow Reaver with the help of her loyal and boisterous dwarf Khelgar. The powerful army of the King of Shadows is on the march, drawing ever closer to Crossroad Keep, and Ginny must prepare for this the final and climactic (we hope) battle of Neverwinter Nights 2. The Keep is fortified. Strong and competent sergeants train the troops and recruit new ones, while patrolling the roads to encourage merchant traffic which will bring more revenue to the Keep. The morale and competency of Ginny's soldiers is very high.
On January 21 Kana, whom I suppose is the Keep's equivalent of the Joint Chiefs of Staff informs Ginny that the weaponry is poor and in desperate need of upgrading. A miner informs the wizardress that she must locate ore deposits which must be then worked on by the Keep's blacksmith. No problem, Ginny says, and sets out to the available areas on the world map. It is then that she discovers there are NO available areas where the ore can be found. Muttering spicy nouns and adjectives that will not be repeated here I drive off Lookout Mountain and get online at the county library. The always helpful website Game Banshee offers up info that suggests the worst: no ore, no weapon upgrades once you are in Chapter III of NWN2. Now please look up and read the first sentence of this post.
Well, what is a dedicated Dungeonmaster/gamer to do? First, keep one or two gamesaves of this first NWN2 experience available. After all, it represents about 2 months of evenings, 23 bags of Tostito chips, 15 blocks of cheese, 4 one-gallon jars of jalapeno peppers, 56 cans of vegetable soup, and 35 gallons of limeade. I have started a new game, assuming that I will tire of it quickly and return to my first one, preparing to be annihilated by the King of Shadows. But surprisingly, the new game is kinda fun. I discovered new areas and made different decisions, which brought on different results. Despite its problems with inventory transfers NWN2 is deserving of praise for the open-ended nature of actions and consequences.
Yes, I will face the King of Shadows with AND without decent weapons. Until then keep BOTH of your characters' spells memorized, BOTH potion bags full, and BOTH swords sharpened.
Happy adventuring! MV

I don't think upgrading the Keep's soldier's equipment is essential; when it comes time to defend the place, your NPC allies won't be as effective, but my party ended up doing the larger part of the fighting anyway.

Ouch...that sounds like something that should have been patched long ago. Sorry for that huge annoyance, but hope you'll get an equal amount of enjoyment out of the new playthrough.