Geek Etymology – Drow and Dark Elves

Time to have another crack at looking at the origins of geeky terminology. This time I’ll be looking at where the ‘Drow’ came from, as well as taking this as an opportunity to look at where the concept of a ‘Dark Elf’ originates and how the two terms came to be linked.

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First of all we should establish what the current understanding of the term ‘Drow’ is. The Drow are a fantasy race that are dark skinned, usually white-haired, and share most other characteristics with other Elves. They are generally depicted as being evil and living deep underground, and having an affinity for dark magic, stealth, and spiders. The D&D 5th Edition Player’s Handbook says of them:
“Descended from an earlier subrace of dark-skinned elves; the drow were banished from the surface world for following the goddess Lolth down the path to evil and corruption.”
As I mentioned, the Drow are also referred to as ‘Dark Elves’, a term that is used far more widely than ‘Drow’, which is mostly limited to Dungeons & Dragons and things that take inspiration directly from it. There are Dark Elves in many other fantasy settings, including The Elder Scrolls, Warhammer, Kingdoms of Amalur, and the ‘Night Elves’ of Warcraft share a resemblance.
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My Top 5 Actual Play RPG Podcasts

If you like RPGs, but can rarely get a group together to play, or even have yet to try one, then you may be able to scratch the roleplaying itch with an ‘actual play’ podcast. This is essentially just a recording of someone’s RPG session, rather than something scripted or otherwise retold, hence ‘actual play’.

These kind of podcasts can be really useful to give you ideas and even show you a good example of what playing an RPG is like if you’ve never had the chance. Before I started playing RPGs several years ago I looked for something to show me how it’s done and I stumbled across an actual play podcast called ‘Critical Hit’ from majorspoilers.com, and that gave me a pretty good idea of D&D 4th Edition, which is what I started with. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them now, as I haven’t listened to them in over 5 years, but you can find all the podcasts at their website HERE. They are still going to this day.

High Rollers D&D
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The first I would really recommend on my list, in no particular order, isn’t technically a podcast, but more of a Twitch stream and youtube series, but it can be easily converted to audio. This is High Rollers D&D, done by a few people from the Yogscast from Youtube. Continue reading “My Top 5 Actual Play RPG Podcasts”

Total War: WARHAMMER – Out With The Old World

If you have played Total War: Warhammer but haven’t kept up with it for a while, then there is a lot of new content that has been added to it in the last few months. With the fast approaching release of the second installment in the Warhammer series, one which will be compatible with the first game in a few ways, they’ve been bringing the current game up to date with some new changes and additions. 

The last time I wrote about TW:W they had just released the Wood Elves faction, which was their last fully new race pack added to the game, but that isn’t to say that what they’ve added since has been lacking in comparison, far from it. So what may you have missed since then? what have they brought in to see out the Old World in preparation for their introduction to the New World?

Fleshed Out Factions

Since the game came out there have always been a few factions that seemed very placeholder. The most obvious example of this was Bretonnia, which only featured a very small roster of units that you could only play in custom battles but were unplayable in campaign. Another faction that was even more meagre was Norsca, which was essentially a poor copy of Chaos, as it just used their basic starting units. Well in February this year they released a big free update to Bretonnia, and just this month they released a full Norsca as a pre-order bonus for buying the second game that can be added to the first game right now. 

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Continue reading “Total War: WARHAMMER – Out With The Old World”

Modding Skyrim in 2017

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been around for almost 6 years at this point, which in terms of videogames, is relatively old. Despite this there are still tons of mods for the game being constantly made and released on the Nexus and Steam Workshop. There are over 53,000 mods for Skyrim on the Nexus, and there are probably even more from other sources and different mods you can find for the Special Edition of the game (although less overall). So if you’re new to mods, or haven’t modded Skyrim for a few years, how are you supposed to find the good ones with so many out there? Well I’ll do my best here to give you a rundown of some of the best new mods as of 2017.

Instead of going through every small mod that adds a new object to the game or a tiny tweak to the gameplay systems, here I’m going to focus on the mods that I think add a lot to the game. There are a fair few of these now, which is probably thanks to the fact that modders have gotten so familiar and proficient at modding the game we are seeing far more substantial mods than before, when they were much rarer in the past.

Overhauls

There have been a lot of ‘overhauls’ for Skyrim over the years. These are mods that significantly change and rework the gameplay systems. Most of these involve changing the perk trees or spell lists in some way. Some of the older ones to check out include Skyrim Redone, and Perkus Maximus which mainly change the perk trees and add more interesting and specific perks. Duel – Combat Realism makes combat a lot tougher with more varied and clever enemy behaviour. and Midas Magic Evolved which adds a lot of new spells.

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As for newer mods, there have been some fairly interesting ones. First there is Path of Sorcery – Magic Perk Overhaul which as you can imagine, makes changes to the magic perks of the game. Instead of with something like Midas Magic and other spell mods, this one doesn’t just dump a ton of spells into the game, but works on the core principles of the vanilla magic system, but expands on it greatly, allowing you to specialize more, or simply become more powerful and varied in your magical abilities. Continue reading “Modding Skyrim in 2017”

My Top 5 WWII Games

We may be seeing a bit of a comeback in WW2 videogames soon, what with the new Call of Duty going back to its roots, perhaps influenced by Battlefield’s decision to aim in a similar direction with their WW1 setting. So if you fancy trying out some of the best WW2 games that are currently available, then allow me to share with you my favourites!

1. Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad

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Now with these lists I generally don’t intend to rank the games in any particular order, and the same goes here, with the little exception of this game. Red Orchestra 2 is perhaps my favourite WW2 game and First Person Shooter of all time. Despite being released in 2011 and reasonably old now, it still holds up. The gameplay has such a good mix between realism and enjoyability. The graphical and sound design are brilliant, with some of the best modeled weapons, and best weapon sounds I’ve ever seen. Even the voice acting is top notch, with the team you’re playing as speaking accented English that somehow doesn’t sound cheesy, and the enemies speaking either Russian or German. The combination of the fast yet thoughtful and deadly gameplay, the necessity of team cohesion from squad to commander level, and realism where it counts is a brilliant combination.  Continue reading “My Top 5 WWII Games”

4 Tiny RPGs Good for a One-shot

There are a lot of RPGs out there that contain a lot of words and rules and stuff.  I know that a good system of rules and setting info can really structure a game and give you something to sink your teeth into, but it can sometimes be freeing to get rid of everything but the bare essentials; the DM, the players, and the premise. This is especially true when you just want a quick game at short notice, or a one shot.

Because this games don’t have a lot of structure to work around and build on, they could potentially be a bit difficult for an inexperienced DM to run, especially if they aren’t fairly confident with their improvisation skills. However, with the right DM I think these games can show off the silly fun that can be had with an RPG in a far more easy to digest way for newer players. Rather than giving someone the impression that RPGs are all about numbers, loot, and killing things, these games show off the side of RPGs that are about teamwork, inventive problem solving, and just having fun by telling stories with friends!  Continue reading “4 Tiny RPGs Good for a One-shot”

Geek Etymology – Mana

Today I bring you the next post of Geek Etymology! If you missed my first steps into the past of our favourite geeky terminology then take a look here!

This time I will be tackling the mysterious origins of the word that we give to the power source of wizards and spellcasters, the very essence of magic: Mana! It’s in our name so I thought it was the obvious next choice. Unlike with the Paladin last time, there is far less actual etymology to follow with the evolution of the word, so I won’t be going down much of a rabbit hole this time. The origins of this word are however still rather interesting and maybe unexpected.

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