Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana continues this week with the release of Episode 2 (that also contains a one-minute recap of Episode 1 along with the show’s opening narration/animation.) Once again, game master Wil Wheaton takes his four players on a tour of his new world, Valkana, and introduces them to new characters, new locales, and new enemies in this magic-mixed-with-science setting. As with the previous episode, Episode 2 has a nice mix of gameplay and artwork (complete with animation and sound effects) that separates this show from the many other recorded RPG sessions.
This week, viewers will hear what happens after the thwarted caravan attack in Episode 1–this includes a return trip to the Pegasus Roadhouse where The Baron pleads with the adventurers to provide escort duty for his beer caravan as it returns to Brewcore, home to The Baron and his brewery.
A potential combat opportunity was avoided early in the session, and I did like the flashback scene with Wil who introduced the concept of a “dedicated rival” for character Lemlee. Even more, I appreciate how the Wil (via the game rules) allows the players to assist with crafting parts of the backstory, and a one-eyed dwarf named Holsig is all of a sudden a living, breathing (and potentially deadly) rival the players must deal with and overcome. It’s a fun little bit of roleplaying, and you can see the four players starting to riff off of one another as they become more comfortable with their characters and the mix of personalities and capabilities.
The adventure jumps quickly (possibly a bit TOO fast) to the arrival at Brewcore. I have mixed feelings here–is the road between Pegasus and Brewcore truly that safe and easy to traverse? I kept expecting another random combat encounter (and I’m not quite familiar enough with the rules to know if random encounters are more or less common in the AGE system) because it felt like the distance the caravan would be covering would be dangerous.
Arriving at Brewcore, the players were paid and rewarded with beer. As you might be picking up by now, beer and drinking seem to be playing major parts of this particular campaign. Wil even had the players roll a Drinking saving throw and all the players ended up drunk and heading to bed, but not before roleplaying a small prank on the housekeeper. This was a convenient way of allowing time to pass (passed out) so the night’s primary adventure could be set up. When the characters are awoken the next day, an accident at the brewery once again has The Baron asking for their assistance in rescuing some of his employees.
Into the brewery they go… some amazing artwork (that reminded me of Shadowrun games) showed the players in the “control room” where Mill 4 appears to be having an emergency. What follows is an interesting bit of combat that viewers should enjoy–lots of surprises for the players and lots of risks and close calls. The enemies are a nice touch, and Wil does a great job of portraying them as sufficiently deadly and mysterious. You could see the players getting nervous as they realize these enemies might not be all they have to deal with in the episode.
The episode wrapped up nicely: no cliffhanger here, so there’s no hint of what comes next. As with the previous episodes, the editing and the sound and video quality are all balanced and make it easy to pay attention to Wil and the players and not be distracted by external goings-on.
The players are having fun, and Wil’s doing a great job of providing suitable descriptions and action and humor. The show is still finding its legs, obviously, so I want to be careful with my complaints, which are few:
* I suspect some/many viewers are enjoying the focus on beer, but after only two episodes it’s feeling a bit played out. I think it was a fun way to introduce the game’s mechanics and characters, but I don’t know if I can handle eight more episodes where so much of the story focuses on drinking and beer and Keggy and The Beer Baron.
* The Big Bad seemed awfully easy to defeat… much easier than the minions. That was odd.
If I can’t play or referee a good RPG, I sure enjoy watching or listening in on others who can. Titansgrave definitely has grabbed my attention, and I’m curious to see where the story goes next. So… I’ll be tuning in again next Tuesday (June 23, 2015) for Episode 3 and seeing what Wil has come up with next to toss at the players.