Thursday, August 29, 2013

Claimed by the wastes

(Restart Story)

You decide to take the boat across the lake, thereby saving you a trip through the ghoul infested forests that encircle it.

As you reach to put your hand on the side of the boat to give yourself some balance as you enter it, you find that your hand goes completely through as if the boat were not even there.

It's an illusion!

That is your final thought as you fall face first into the freezing waters of Mirror Lake. Whoever created the illusion must have cast a spell on you as soon as you hit the water, as you are unable to move any limbs. As you sink to the bottom of the lake, you see several ghastly figures moving towards you, looking to feed on your soon to be corpse.

As everything goes black, you wonder to yourself if things could have gone differently had you made smarter decisions...

The End

Cooler heads prevail

(Restart Story)

You know that something bad is about to happen. In preparation, your pour all of your magical energy into your wards, and cast several incantations designed to expel dark magic around yourself.

As if on cue, the shack begins to crumble around you. The rotted wood turns to ash, the only thing left after a few seconds is the tome, which remains in the air, levitating in the spot where it had been sitting on the desk moments before.

A pale hand appears out of thin air and grasps the tome. As seconds pass, the hand's owner is revealed.

It is human in form, though totally pale. His skin appears to be decomposed in several areas, revealing alabaster bone underneath. Despite this, the rest of him looks to be relatively healthy.

"And here I was hoping you would be an easy kill. Ah well, I suppose that would have been too much to ask for something with a soul as powerful as yours." He grins at you, devilishly.

"You've chosen the wrong target, lich. Prepare to die."

"Who are you?"


(Restart Story)

You panic, attempting to run out of the shack mindlessly towards the forests surrounding Mirror Lake.

You barely make it two steps out of the decrepit building when you are completely frozen in place.

A ghastly figure appears before you. He looks like a human to you, but it is clear that he left that part of himself behind a long time ago.

"Hmm, what a disappointment you turned out to be. Still, your soul should prove quite valuable to my work."

He raises his right hand, palm facing towards you. At first, it appears as if your mysterious assailant is doing nothing. But as you move your eyes downwards, you see that he is using his powers to extract something from you.

Initially you think he is only harvesting your magical energy, but it is clear that what he is doing goes far beyond that. The pain becomes excruciating; it feels as if your bones are being ripped from your body one at a time, your blood boiling within you simultaneously.

This goes on for what seems like an eternity. Finally, the pain stops. You look up to the Lich who stole your soul, and feel nothing besides the desire to serve your undead master for all eternity.

He smiles at you, revealing unusually white teeth.

"And now, your true journey begins..."

The End

A worthy opponent

(Restart Story)

You take a step forward, and stand before the tome. You place your hand on it, and call forth the reserves of magical energy within you. Pure energy rushes down your arm, out your palm, and into the tome. You do not wish to destroy it; this is merely a spell meant to discover the magical properties of a particular item.

When your spell is completed, you stagger backwards in amazement. The amount of spells packed into the tome are too numerous too count. Indeed, they are beyond your understanding, and though you are a powerful mage in your kingdom, it would take years for you to gain the ability to use any of these spells.

A deep and sinister voice interrupts your thought processes.

"It has been a long time since a...human...has made their way this far out into the wastes."

The voice seems to be coming from all directions, despite your best efforts you cannot discover its origins.

The voice laughs softly. "How pitiful if this is the best humanity can offer. And here I was hoping you would prove to be a worthy challenge compared to the ghouls and skeletal soldiers who normally stumble into my lair."

You attempt to respond, but you find you cannot open your mouth. In fact, you find that every passing second it is becoming harder to move any of yourself at all. You only have a few moments before you are completely immobilized by this being's magic.


Cast defensive magical wards around yourself

The strangely supple boat

(Restart Story)

There's probably nothing of interest in that old shack.

You instead choose to inspect the boat, walking up towards it cautiously. When you reach it, it appears to be in great condition. The wood is pristine, its light brown hue nearly glowing in the winter sunlight. It is smooth to the touch, with no splinters, and appears to be equipped with provisions and an oar.

While you inspect the boat, you get the strange feeling that someone, or something, is watching you. You turn around, searching near and far with both your eyes and your magic. You find nothing, though you do feel a faint magical signature coming from the small shack in front of you.

When you focus on the dark opening to the shack, you think you see a pale, grinning human face. But when you blink, it is gone.

Investigate the shack

Take the boat out onto Mirror Lake

The tome in the shack

(Restart Story)

You saunter up to the small building, and slip inside. In terms of size, it is little more than a glorified closet, though you still have room to stretch your arms out in all directions. Still, whoever used to man this dock managed to make the best of the space, as you notice in one of the small corners there is a piece of blackened soggy wood jutting out about a foot, a small tome placed atop it. Tucked away beneath the desk is a stool, though you would not try your luck by attempting to sit on it.

Besides the small working space in the corner, there is little else of note in the room. As you are about to leave, small black marks etched into one of the walls captures your attention. It appears to be some form of runic language, though one you are not familiar with.

As you attempt to decipher the writing, you feel a strange magical disturbance emanating from something close by. You inspect your immediate surroundings, and conclude that the only thing it could possibly be coming from is the old tome placed upon the miniature desk.

You reach out to the object with your arcane powers. It calls to you, stretching icy magical tendrils into your mind. You recoil instinctively and place barriers around your consciousness to block any attempts at mind control.

There is no telling what kind of magics exist this far into the wastes. You should proceed cautiously.

Interact with the tome

Leave the room and inspect the boat

The boat by the lake

(Restart Story)

You run towards the path on the right, and keep running for what seems like an eternity. Your magical powers allow you to move at a near sprint indefinitely, though you still maintain a keen awareness of your surroundings so as not to attract the attention of the undead.

After many hours of travel, you make it to the edge of Mirror Lake, a medium sized body of water surrounded by dead trees and a grayish blue landscape. Ahead, you see an old long abandoned dock. The wood it is made out of has long since rotted, though the boat tied to a slowly disintegrating wooden post attached to the dock looks to be in relatively good shape. Across from the post is a small, degraded shack.

Search the small building on the dock

Inspect the boat more closely

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

World of Warcraft will never be killed

Every year mmorpg gamers await the next "WoW Killer," the fabled game that will finally destroy World of Warcraft and cause it to lose the entirety of its player base.

If you are smart, you would know that this will never happen. That is right, never. You will never see an mmo that will kill WoW, and you will never see an mmo that will match WoW's success in our lifetimes.

A lack of foresight

(Restart Story)

You assume a cross-legged position in the snow, entering a state of meditation. Due to the amount of energy expelled, it will require a prolonged amount of time to recover, especially since you suffered severe injuries due to the blast wave.

Unfortunately, while meditating, your senses are dulled, and you do not sense the hordes of skeletal soldiers bearing down on your position, sent by the Undead King to investigate the massive explosion caused by your magical assault on his sentry.

By the time you realize what is going on, the skeletal soldiers are already upon you, with several of beginning to hack away at you while you are still in a half meditating state. When they are finished, your body is unrecognizable.

The undead knight leading the skeletal soldiers recovers your sword, and delivers it personally to his King. The sword allows him to enhance his power greatly, and as a result he and his armies easily conquer your kingdom.

The End

Stealth wins

(Restart Story)

You stealthily creep up upon the lumbering figure, still distracted with the task of finding whoever started the fire. Using a little bit of your magical reserves you silence your movements as you close in on the undead knight. Just as you draw your blade, the figure twists around and faces you. Unfortunately for him though, it is too late. You rapidly stab the knight through his helmet with your sword, twisting it to the side for good measure. Then, you raise your right leg and kick him to the ground, bringing your blade's point down upon and into his chest for good measure.

With the undead knight defeated, you watch as his energies are absorbed by your blade, strengthening not only the weapon but you as well.

Closely inspect the body

You didn't see that coming?

(Restart Story)

The figure looks humanoid enough, and though he is likely undead you figure you should at least try to find a way to communicate with him before you go on the offensive.

"Can you understand me?" You must shout to be heard over the constant wind.

The figure stares at you, calculating you coldly.

"What are you? Why are you attacking me?"

Your continued line of questioning gets no response. In fact, it only seems to anger the construct, who begins to charge at you, howling in a blood curdling inhuman manner. You only have moments to respond. With no time to draw your sword, you have no choice but to call upon your magical reserves.


A sentry in the snow

(Restart Story)

You approach the undead knight's remains, hoping to learn something more by inspecting it closely. It's strength was impressive for a singular minion of the Undead King, indeed, you have never fought anything like it before. Its armor is etched with small runes that you had not noticed before, and reading them you can see that they are enchantments designed to ward off magical attacks.

From the strength of the enchantments, you are glad you decided to attack with your sword.

Furthermore, there is a medallion hanging around his neck. You easily break the small chain tying it to the construct, and inspect it. It is also inscribed with runic words of power. These, however, do not provide protection, but instead boost the wearer's offensive capabilities. 

For what you could tell, though the knight proved no match for you in close combat, it would be more than capable of defeating a great number of ordinary soldiers, which explains all of the missing scouts in recent months.

From what you can surmise, these constructs are likely sentries, produced at great expense by the Undead King to monitor the edges of the frozen wastes that border your kingdom. As such, they are exceptionally powerful.

As you go deeper into the wastes, you expect to find fewer of these sentries.

Continue on to the abandoned fort

Your first kill

(Restart Story)

You decide to attack him head on. You draw your blade and charge. The figure senses your approach and assumes a defensive position. You are far quicker than this lumbering construct however, and are able to stab him several times before he is able to react. As he attempts to lop your head of with his gigantic sword, you leap in the air, dodging the attack and landing on his shoulders. You raise your sword, and bring it down, end first, into your assailant's helm.

There is a burst of light, followed by a small explosion, which throws you off the figure. Your magical wards protect you from all of the damage of the blast. When you regain your footing, you see the corpse of the knight lying before you.

What remains of this creature's energy is absorbed by your sword. As the stream of bluish light leaves the figures armored remains and enters your blade, you feel greatly empowered.

Closely inspect the body

A successful plan

(Restart Story)

You draw up a small fraction of your magical reserves, and hold you hand out in the direction of the campfire. Moments later, it blazes to life. The bones surrounding the fire glow a sickly orange color.

You had hoped that your ploy would attract any nearby assailants, and luckily for you, it has. A figure emerges out of thin air near the flames. He is encased in a blackened steel armor adorned with numerous sharpened barbs. He carries a tremendous sword strapped to his back. The figure kneels down and seems to gaze at the fire, confused, and looks around to to see if there are any potential victims about.

You are hidden quite well, and so he fails to see you. Nonetheless, the figure draws his sword and begins to lumber around the immediate area, scouting about for whatever started the fire.

Sneak up on the figure and eliminate him with your sword

Attack him head on

Using your brain can be useful

(Restart Story)

Using your talents gained serving as a ranger in your earlier years, you stealthily approach the smoke up ahead. Taking a longer route along the edges of the trail that straddles the forest line, you creep up a small rocky incline that gives you a birds eye view of the area below.

You see a recently put out campfire, along with the bones of what look to be one of several scouting squads sent out by Fort Iceward, the outermost bastion of military power your kingdom has.

In this region, the state of their decomposition means little. They could have died yesterday and had their organic bodies melted down instantly by a dark magic formulated by the Undead King used by many of his skeletal minions. Or, their bones could have been picked clean by the many large birds of prey in the area. Either way, it meant that whatever killed these men could still be nearby.

Use your magic to rekindle the fire from afar

Sapped of strength

(Restart Story)

You continue on to the fort. Without any energy, magical or otherwise, the journey is excruciating. The brutal weather slows you tremendously, and the threat of more undead like the one you just defeated forces you to remain cautious and take longer, stealthier routes.

Before you are even halfway to the fort, you begin to falter, your energy reserves depleted. You make camp next to a blackened tree, and fall asleep.

In the night, the temperature falls to levels unheard of in your kingdom. Without magical wards protecting you, you are as vulnerable to them as any other man, and die in your sleep.

Years later, after the King of the Undead's forces have swept through your kingdom, refugees find the spot where you succumbed to the cold. They greedily steal your weapons and armor, though are quickly found and executed by undead forces. They take your sword to the Undead King, and he uses it to attain immense levels of power.

The world enters a period of darkness that has no end in sight.

The End

Unlimited power!

(Restart Story)

You decide that your previous magical attack was lacking in duration and strength.

You wind back your right hand, assuming a practiced stance for emitting a massive magical strike. Charging the enormous amount of arcane and elemental energy in the palm of your hand is difficult, and it leaves you feeling drained. If the attack fails, it is likely that you will succumb to your foe.

You release your attack with mere seconds to spare. The gigantic orb of bluish energy impacts the undead knight with such force that you are blown back hundreds of feet, the blast wave removing century old layers of snow from the ground, cracking ancient ice, and leaving a crater many meters deep.

You are incapacitated by the blast, and it takes you several moments to regain enough strength to pick yourself up and stagger towards the site of impact. Within the crater, you see the undead knight, or more accurately, what is left of him. Only a pile of smoldering ashes, bits of steel, and pieces of his weapon's hilt remain.

Though you defeated your enemy, you are completely drained, and lack the resources to heal yourself. Your magical wards were also taken down by the blast wave. In essence, you are now completely defenseless.

Continue to the fort

Rest and regain your strength

A wreathe of flames

(Restart Story)

As the black figure charges at you, you begin to expel from the palm of your hand an immense wreathe of flames that hits your enemy with tremendous force.

As the cleansing fires encase him, you hear him emit a ghastly scream that betrays a hint of his former humanity.

To your surprise however, the now blazing undead knight is still rushing towards you. In your momentary disbelief, he closes the remaining distance between you, winds up a tremendous attack with his greatsword, swings, and sends you flying backwards several feet.

Magical wards on your armor saved you from suffering any severe damage, but you are still winded and have trouble regaining your footing. You are fairly certain that you broke a few bones as well.

The undead knight has recovered from the momentum of his attack, and is bearing down upon you once more.

Throw all the magic at him that you've got

Draw your sword and finish him

A magical response

(Restart Story)

You call upon your vast magical reserves, shooting flames from your fingertips. The fire does not hurt you, but quickly melts the ice that had been encasing your body. The armored figure before you responds by charging forward with his enormous blade, with the intent to run you through.

Use your magic against him

Show him that when it comes to swords, size does not matter

Your first foe

(Restart Story)

You draw your rune inscribed blade and rush towards the smoke. You quickly reach a small clearing that is roughly in the shape of a circle. In the middle is a smoldering camp fire, the cause of the smoke you saw earlier. Other than that, there is no sign of anything, living or dead, in the area.

As you look for clues in your immediate surroundings, you notice that the air around you is becoming far colder. In fact, it is becoming progressively harder for you to even move. A few seconds later you become completely immobile, frozen where you stand.

Before you, appearing out of thin air, is a hulking armored figure. He is about your height, but with a far bulkier frame. He is encased in a form of blackened steel you are not  familiar with, equipped with numerous barbs protruding from various angles on its surface. He holds a greatsword nearly as large as his body.

Use your magic to free yourself

Negotiate with the armored figure

The path towards fortifications

(Restart Story)

You decide to go left, as you assume that the fort can provide you with shelter from the brutal weather and unrelenting undead.

It is not long after you begin your trek however that you notice smoke further ahead up the path.

Charge ahead with your sword drawn

Investigate stealthily

Story #2: Can you survive?

[Author's Note: This story is a work-in-progress, and thus you will eventually come across some choices that currently aren't functional.]

You are an elite member of your kingdom's military. In fact, you are so skilled with a blade that the King rarely moves about outside of his palace walls without you.

Today however, is an exception. You have been sent on a solitary expedition to scout the borderlands that connect your kingdom to a massive expanse of frozen wasteland. Within this realm exist many threats, the greatest of which is the King of the Undead and his horde of mindless minions.

Your kingdom's great armies have kept them at bay for some time, but news has arisen of an undead horde roaming the wastes that is far larger than any you have ever fought against before.

Your commander has chosen to send you alone, without any help, because he does not want to attract the King of the Undead's attention.

This shouldn't worry you however, as your skill with a blade is unmatched. Furthermore, your sword is enchanted with several runes that allow you to absorb the energies of everything you slay, allowing you to grow stronger with every victory. Finally, you have a command over the magical arts that is surpassed only by the King's personal mages. Overall, there is little in the known world that poses much of a threat to you.

Still, in the frozen wastes, it is best to stay cautious. Despite your immense powers, you cannot defeat an entire army of undead by yourself, and foolish decisions can still get you killed. 

You left the outermost portions of your kingdom yesterday, and have already reached the small sliver of contested territory straddling the realms of the undead and the living. Before you are two paths. The left one takes you to an abandoned fort, once meant to serve as the first line of defense against a potential undead invasion. The right takes you to Mirror Lake, a ghastly area plagued by wraiths and ghouls, which also contains a garrison of the Undead King's skeletal soldiers.

Go Left

Go Right

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Guild Wars 2's comatose game world

Hey all, today I want to put some thoughts down into writing in regard to Guild Wars 2. Released last year, it was heralded as the MMO of 2012, and as such it was dubbed a "WoW Killer," much like Star Wars The Old Republic and countless others before it.

A year later, and it is evident that though Guild Wars 2 is a great game, it is not a WoW killer. Not even close.

Why is that? Well, from my experience with it, its main fault is the rather comatose game world.

About The Author

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Nicholas Garcia (M.A.) is a PhD Candidate at the University of California, Davis. He is also a Co-Founder of the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies. Previously, he contributed to and the Davis Humanities Institute.