TriangleArrow-Left.svgMarch 2023 Issues of the Questaholic Magazine September 2023TriangleArrow-Right.svg

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Letter From Your Editor

Happy summer, Questfans! I hope you're keeping cool out there - what am I saying, Clan Questers are always cool. But if you're spending a lot of time indoors, away from the Accursed Daystar, then do I have something for you! And if you're not, well then load us up on your phone or other mobile Internet-connected device and take us for a stroll! Questaholic pairs very well with picnics.

Aside from our usual fare, I'm proud to announce a special secret surprise - which isn't actually all that secret anymore, since it's there in the table of contents right next to this paragraph: the return of a long-dormant Clan Quest tradition, the Random Acts of Win Award! I'll let you read on to see exactly what all the fuss is about, but it would be amazing if this could be a more regular thing, as it was once upon a time, so if you've got any nominees feel free to drop them in the Offsite thread, or send me a DM on Discord, and I'll consult with the RAWR Council (my dog, my cats, and my cats' imaginry friends) about handing out more of these.

Of course I could always cheat and give one out to the Questaholic production team every issue; the magazine truly wouldn't happen without them, but rather than doing that I'll just do what I always do and use this space to thank our writers: Francine, Darkestnight, and Derp; and a special thanks to Questcaping for the beautiful cover art; and finally, I'd also like to thank Spy Whoman for agreeing to be interviewed for this issue.

I'll end with my usual call-to-action, but with a twist: I'm looking for somebody to cover the RS3 beat. If you think you have things to say about the game that launched the Clan as we know it, give me a shout via Discord (@xurdones) or offsite PMs, I'd love to hear from you. Even if Runescape isn't your bag, if you're interested in contributing, either as a one-off or as a recurring feature, please don't hesitate to reach out; and likewise if there's something you'd like to see more of, or less of, or some content that isn't here that you'd like to see, let me know and I'll do my best to make it happen.

With that, on with the show!

Article by Xurdones

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QUESTAHOLIC PRESENTS

An interview with Spy Whoman

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by Xurdones.

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GENERAL

What are you currently studying?
I’m currently a bachelor student for History! The study for irl lore.

What do you do for a living?
I don’t have a job right now but I'm looking for one. Does selling my old study books count?

What's your favourite sport?
I’m not a sports fan so I don't really have one.

Which are your favourite childhood cartoons?
Pokemon and the Kirby anime which was still on Youtube back then.

If you could have any super power other than invincibility, what would you choose and why?
I would love the power of teleportation. As I get older my friends keep moving further away from work and study so just being able to visit them at a whim without having to travel for hours would be great. Even greater now that I have friends outside of the Netherlands. Travelling is expensive and takes so long.

What are your favourite outdoor activities?
I like to walk! I also like to learn about edible plants in the wild and try to spot them on my walks. You'd be surprised how many plants are edible!

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Which is your favourite movie?
I don’t really have a single movie I like the most. The last movie I watched was Into the Spiderverse and that was great?


What sort of music and artists do you listen to?
Mostly video game music although I don't mind other genres.


Which books would you recommend?
I’m currently reading His Dark Materials from Philip Pullman. It is such an interesting world! I also just bought my first Discworld books from Terry Pratchett and the humour in them is great.

What's your favourite type of food?
I’m very fond of Asian, French and Italian food.

Do you prefer mom's food or restaurant food?
Depends on what it is? Some stuff like ramen or Chinese food is better in restaurants, but both my parents are very good cooks and often (in my subjective opinion at least) their food is better than the food in restaurants.

GAMING

Which are your favourite games?
Runescape, whenever I'm not burnt out on it. Zelda Tears of the kingdom is great because there is so much random stuff to do. I love the story from Silent Hill 2 even though I'll never be courageous enough to play it myself. Peak psychological horror.

What are your favourite video game genres?
I love RPGs, platformers and (watching other people play) horror games.

Which was the most difficult video game you ever beat?
Hollow knight! No, I still haven’t beaten the pantheon yet.

What's the toughest thing you've ever accomplished in a video game?
Not throwing my controller out of the window after dying in Super Mario Sunshine on the pachinko stage or the lilypad stage. I love that game but those controls and camera did NOT age well.

When playing with friends, do you prefer video games or tabletop games, and why do you prefer one over the other?
Video games. I have a lot of fond memories playing Mario Kart or Super Smash Brothers with friends.


RUNESCAPE

What's your favourite skill?
Archeology has lore and it is a very relaxing skill. My favourite skill might change with the release of necromancy.

What's your favourite quest?
I love Fate of the Gods. Everything in the quest: The music, the characters, the lore and the voice acting is just great! I’d say that the World Wakes is a close second though.

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When did you start playing?
I started playing Runescape in 2006. Lots of people at school were playing it at the time.


What was your very first accomplishment?
Completing Dragon Slayer was the first time I felt like my account had graduated from noobdom.

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You get 30 seconds of full attention from all employees of Jagex. What do you say?
Thank you for keeping Runescape updated for all these years! It is always a pleasure to return to the game and see everything that was added or suddenly find a quality of life update of something that used to bother me. Even when all my other childhood games aged badly or got bought by companies that destroyed it (looking at you Neopets) Runescape always remained consistently good.

You get a ticket to visit Gielinor IRL. Where do you go first?
I’d love to visit Tirannwn and Prifddinas. I’d love to meet the elves and see those buildings underneath Prifddinas that you can’t visit in the game.

Which is the most interesting God? Why?
That is an extremely difficult question. There are so many interesting gods! I love Seren, Zaros, Zamorak, Saradomin and Armadyl. If i had to choose i’d probably choose Saradomin. He feels very realistic. If a normal person became a god and you’d have to lead so many people how would you act? Sometimes he chooses wrong, but he did try to do the right thing in the end unlike Seren and Zaros. Azzy could be my favourite but he’s too much of a Zaros simp. Azzy honey Zaros only loves you as long as you are of use to him.

GENERAL PART 2

What are your biggest dreams in life?
Be happy and somewhat comfortable mostly. I don’t need to be rich, but being financially secure while still being able to have money left over for games and travelling would be nice.

If you could have any 3 animals in the world (only real animals, not fictional), which would you pick?
Cats (obviously), a shepherd dog and some frogs.

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If you had to give up one of your senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste) which one would you pick?
It would choose smell. I still want to be able to play video games and I would like to live without eating tasteless food for the rest of my life.

How would you describe yourself to others?
It takes me some time to warm up to people but after that I can be a bit chatty.

What is your most used item in your daily life?
My earphones. For listening to music.

If I were to visit your country, what do you think I should do first?
Not Amsterdam. Leiden is quite a nice city so maybe go there?

What are your favourite cities/locations, both in RS and in real life?
I actually like my smaller hometown quite a bit. I love the everlight digsite, definitely the best looking place in Runescape.

Do you have a motto or a favourite phrase? If so, which is it?
I unironically love the “never be cruel, never be cowardly” quote from Doctor Who. I dislike cruelty.

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Do you play an instrument? If not, which instrument/s would you like to learn?
I used to play the violin in elementary school. If i had to learn an instrument i’d like to learn the piano.

Tell us the story behind your name!
My parents named me after my uncle since he asked my mother if she could name one of her kids after him. I have the female version of that name.


How many languages do you speak? Which one would you like to learn?
I can speak English and Dutch. I can speak a tiny bit of German. I’d love to learn Japanese. No more need to wait for translations for manga then.

If you had to escape your country immediately, what's the one thing you'd take with you?
My passport. If i don’t have that i’ll have to suffer through bureaucracy hell.

What's your first memory of Clan Quest?
I saw an announcement on twitter for a minigame event I still needed to do for an achievement. I joined it, liked the people and joined the clan afterwards.

Coffee or tea?
Both. As long as they are decent quality.

Best thing of Clan Quest?
I can talk to people about runescape! :D

THE ALEX 43 SECTION BECAUSE WHY NOT

Did you find it yet?
Maybe

Where was it?
My lawyer Darkestnight has advised me that I cannot answer this question

Are you going to take good care of it this time?
Who says i still have it

Do you have a new place for it?
That is a secret

Is this place safe?
Yes that is the point

Would it last a long time if it stayed there forgotten?
It will never stay forgotten for the sake of this world.

Do you need help?
I already have help from various agencies.

Is this a good idea?
Yes. It would be terrible if it fell in the wrong hands

Can you say that with confidence?
Is this a threat? Do I need to have you arrested?

Is this how it's going to be?
Yes. Better call your lawyer. Not that that will save you.

BACK TO CHOTO

What is the meaning of life?
Life itself doesn’t have a single meaning that fits for everyone so you have to find a meaning important to you.

Article by Xurdones

Hoods

Hoods to all noobs reading this article, RS3 and OSRS players alike. It’s me, Francine, here again for another OSRS article. Cireon, Clan Quest 12-year member and part of Clan Council, has started playing OSRS and recently joined the OSRS clan. After Combat Achievements recently got an overhaul and changed to a point system, Cireon told me in-game that he was unsure where to begin to complete combat achievements. So, why not write an article about it?

For all purposes of this article, I dedicate it to Cireon, the curious and lost OSRS adventurer.

Overview

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Combat Achievements can be found under the black star tab, also where you can switch between the blue Quest star, the green Achievement Diary star, and the purple Kourend favor star. You can also find an overview of your account stats here, like Time Played and Collection Log, rather than going to Hans for your age or Varrock Museum for the Collection log book. Clicking on the “Combat Tasks Completed:” button will open the Combat Achievements interface. All the information you need can be accessed from here. By clicking on any tier you can quickly filter tasks based on difficulty. You can also click the three horizontal lines button in the top left to go to the tasks, bosses, or rewards interfaces.

Tasks

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Tasks are sorted by their level of difficulty. Points are rewarded based on the tier of difficulty. You do not need to complete all tasks in the specific tier for the reward. Instead, you only need as many points as you would have gained from doing all of the tasks up through that tier. For example, to be rewarded the easy tier rewards, you need a collective total of 33 points, which can be received by any number of tasks at all tiers of difficulty. For Medium tier rewards, you need 33 points for the completion of the easy tier, then 82 more points for Medium, for a total of 115 points. This pattern then continues. For all rewards, you must complete all 485 tasks across all tiers, which is a total of 2005 points.

Questaholic - June 2023 011.png Bronze Sword for Easy - 33 tasks × 1 point each = 33 Points
Questaholic - June 2023 012.png Steel Sword for Medium - 41 tasks × 2 points each = 82 Points
Questaholic - June 2023 013.png Black Sword for Hard - 63 tasks × 3 points each = 189 Points
Questaholic - June 2023 014.png Rune Sword for Elite - 129 tasks × 4 points each = 516 Points
Questaholic - June 2023 015.png Dragon Sword for Master - 129 × 5 points each = 645 Points
Questaholic - June 2023 016.png God Sword for Grandmaster - 90 x 6 points each = 540 Points

There are 6 different types of tasks, which you can filter through in the interface listing all tasks:

Kill count - Kill a monster a certain number of times.
Mechanical - Defeat a boss in a way that hints at how players are supposed to fight the boss, or tasks the player to kill the boss in a specific, difficult way
Perfection - Complete a task without taking damage or dying.
Restriction - Complete a task under a set of restrictions.
Speed - Kill a boss within a set timeframe.
Stamina - Kill a boss a certain amount of times without leaving the area.

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For example, in my task interface, I filtered by the Giant Mole tasks, then clicked on the “Why are you Running?” task for more information. Here you can see it is a Hard 3 point task, Mechanical type, and a description of how to complete the task. For this task, I must kill the Giant mole before she burrows a third time in a single kill. You will receive a popup notification whenever you complete a combat achievement if you have the interface setting enabled, as well as a game message in the chat.

Bosses

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Under the Bosses Interface, you can search for or scroll through the bosses in alphabetical order. Each one lists the monster's combat level and how many tasks the boss has. Once you complete all tasks, the text changes to green.

Once you click on a boss, as I did for Giant Mole, you can see the boss’s combat level, your kill count, tasks completed, and a lot more information and links. Information about the attack style, immunities, slayer category, requirements, and tiers of task difficulties of the monster. Links to the boss’s collection log, location on the world map, and OSRS wiki page.

There are Combat Tasks for nearly every boss and raid in the game. This includes traditional bosses like the KBD and Sarachnis, slayer bosses like the Abyssal Sire and Cerberus, skilling bosses like Hespori, Tempoross, and Wintertodt, and even some quest bosses like Galvek and the Fragment of Seren. A few of these bosses only have one task and are not listed on the boss page, but you can still find them under the tasks list. Some of these bosses require an appropriate slayer task to access, while others are gated behind certain rare drops like Skotizo, Obor, and Byrophyta. Try to make the most of the opportunity whenever you get the chance to kill them.

Rewards

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Rewards for completing the combat achievement tiers now require a number of points rather than completing all tasks of one difficulty. More about this is explained above under the “Tasks” heading.

A breakdown of rewards can be viewed in the Rewards interface.

Here is a collective list of all rewards possible:

  • Ghommal’s hilt which can be wielded offhand and teleports to Trollheim & Mor Ul Rek
  • An experience lamp at each tier from 5k xp to 50k xp
  • A 5% drop chance increase for clue scrolls from Easy to Elite
  • Additional commendation points from Pest Control games
  • Bonus tokens earned from activities in the Warriors Guild
  • An increase to the maximum quantity assigned from the “Like a Boss” slayer task
  • An increase in how many cannonballs a Dwarf multicannon can hold
  • An Immunity from prayer draining effect at barrows if the Ghommal hilt is equipped
  • A drop chance increase of Ecumenical Keys
  • Item imbue rewards from Soul Wars and Nightmare Zone are cheaper
  • When tasked to kill Jad or Zuk, you are assigned to kill 2
  • The Slaughter and Expeditious Bracelets have a chance to recharge instead of breaking
  • Superior slayer creatures are more common to spawn
  • The essence required to access God Wars bosses is less than the normal 40
  • Access to privately rented instances for God Wars bosses is available for 150k to 75k
  • Your Thralls that are summoned by Arceuus spellbook last longer
  • The ability to combine the Avernic defender and Ghommal’s hilt 5 & 6 for offhand
  • The ability to combine KBD heads with a Dragon Hunter Crossbow to recolor it
  • The ability to combine Vorkath’s Head with a Dragon Hunter Crossbow to recolor it
  • The ability for Ghommal to make you a TzTok Slayer Helmet
  • The ability for Ghommal to make you a Vampyric Slayer Helmet
  • The ability for Ghommal to make you a TzKal Slayer Helmet
  • Access to Ghommal’s lucky penny

Where to Begin

Back to what Cireon asked me, “Where do I begin?” I suggest looking at the easy kill count tasks, which you may even complete by accident while doing Slayer grinds anyway. Go ahead and kill one hellhound, one bloodveld, one greater demon, one lizardman shaman, one aberrant spectre, and one black dragon. Also, kill a fire giant, but do so in the giant cave under Shayzien to also finish the “Into the Den of Giants” task after you kill a Moss and Hill Giant too.

I also suggest looking at a specific easy monster and its tasks. I’d say some easy bosses include the Deranged Archeologist on Fossil Island, Giant Mole, Wintertodt, Tempoross, Obor, and Bryophyta. Overall, just take a read-through of the easy tasks, I'm sure you can face any boss listed in there.

Tips & Tricks

Once you have a set boss you want to kill, always look at their list of tasks. Many bosses have a kill count task, so you can focus on completing the rest of their tasks at least within that kill count. If you want an extra challenge, you can even try to complete many of their tasks with just one kill! There is no extra benefit to doing this, but it looks cool in the chat log:

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For example, for Obor, you can complete 5 of the 6 tasks from just one kill as shown in the screenshot. You of course do not need to be as amazing, as there is a kill count task, so you have four other kills to complete all the tasks. First, you must receive 4 more giant keys as drops from Hill Giants. This is a bottleneck for most players and is usually the last medium task completed as you need an RNG drop to complete it.

Unhoods

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For more information, refer to the OSRS wiki page or ask Ghommal at the Warriors Guild.

I will be writing more Questaholic articles, so I would like to hear from you about what Oldschool Runescape Content you are curious to learn more about. Please let me know, as Clan member and noob to OSRS, Cireon, did here for this article.

For any other questions or inquiries, you may contact me on discord @Francine1225#2877

Until next time, unhoods

Article by Francine1225

The Clan Quest Test Kitchen

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Hoods and welcome back to the Questaholic Test Kitchen! Last issue we covered a fiddly recipe which required a lot of patience, so this issue we're returning back to the basics and will be doing some delicious Gnome Cooking!
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Specifically, we'll be cooking Chocchip crunchies which has a recipe ranking of 2 Equa leaves out of 5. This is a beginner friendly recipe with some delicious rewards.

Ingredients

  • 250g Plain Flour
  • 50g Light Brown Sugar
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 120g Butter
  • 150g Chocolate Chips
  • 40g Digestive Biscuits
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
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  • To begin we're preheating our oven to 180 degrees Celsius/356 degrees Fahrenheit/Gas mark 4 and lining our baking trays with either baking parchment or aluminium foil. Normally I'd recommend we stick to parchment paper but I found there wasn't much difference with this recipe so either is fine. If you plan on chilling your dough for an hour at a later stage in the recipe then delay preheating the oven.
  • Next we're mixing all our dry ingredients together; Flour, both types of sugar, salt, and bicarbonate of soda. Set aside dry ingredients for the moment.
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  • Now, we have the matter of biscuits to discuss. If you're a Brit such as myself you're going to know what I mean by a digestive biscuit, and you're also going to realise in the ingredients photos I'm showing rich tea biscuits and in the photo below I'm using dark chocolate digestive biscuits. I know, I know, professional conman. Neither is a regular digestive biscuit, but I find all versions are acceptable for the purpose they have to serve in this recipe which is to provide texture.

For North American readers I have been informed an acceptable substitute for a digestive biscuit is a Graham cracker. Not quite the same, but still acceptable!

Take your biscuits and crumble them into smaller pieces, and remember the size of the pieces will affect the texture of your crunchy. I prefer a finer texture, but it's entirely up to personal preference.

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  • Take your crumbled biscuits and chocolate chips and add them to the dry ingredients. The recipe call for 150g of Choc chips but I occasionally add up to 50g extra if I want a more even ratio of choc chips to dry ingredients.
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  • Now we're adding our wet ingredients to our dry ingredients; the butter, a single egg, and vanilla extract. You could use a mixer for this next step, but I find that to be overkill as it's entirely doable forming the dough with your hands. Keep in mind this will be a sticky dough and that the dough should form a ball by the end. Optionally you can set the dough aside to chill for an hour if you want less spread in your cookie.
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  • Next we're bringing back the baking trays and we're portioning out our dough. I make slightly larger dough balls as I like to make big cookies, and the portions you see below makes approximately 12-14 large crunchies. Smaller dough balls aren't a problem, and will result in a larger batch.
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  • Finally, place your crunchies into the oven. I baked my crunchies for 15 minutes which gave more of a snap to my biscuit, but you can afford to cook them for 10 minutes if you prefer a softer gooey-er centre. Once out of the oven, allow the crunchies to cool and set.
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  • Et voilà! You have baked some beautiful chocolatey crunchies that Aluft Gianne Sr himself would be proud of. None of that pre-made Chocchip cookie rubbish here, this is the good stuff! Now quickly, Aluft Gianne Jr needs this delivery of Chocchip crunchies delivered to Wingstone approximately west of Nardah, make this delivery and you shall be rewarded handsomely!
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Thank you so much for joining me in the Clan Quest Test Kitchen this edition, if you made your own batch of crunchies using this guide then I'd love to see them! Adapting this recipe for other types of crunchies would be something I'd love to hear your thoughts on, as I want to know what the verdict is on using a gummy worm for Worm crunchies; a fun palatable twist or inauthentic and an insult to the original recipe? Food for thought! Unshood for now and see you soon!

Article by Darkestnight

Xurdones Reviews:
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)

Oh...oh no.

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Look, I know that we have a substantial D&D community here in the clan, and I know that a lot of those folks really liked this movie (at least that's the impression I've gotten from my highly-unscientific survey), but I'm going to end up being fairly unkind to it, and I hope those people will forgive me. It's not that I think it was a bad movie, per se, it's just that I'm dead inside and the only way I know how to consume media is to obsessively point out its flaws, and Honor Among Thieves is deeply flawed.

Let's do plot first: the film takes place in the same Generic High Fantasy Setting that pop culture dug out of Professor Tolkien's backyard about fifty years ago (the world has a name, and I understand from research that it's part of the popular Forgotten Realms campaign setting, but truthfully I did not absorb this detail from the film itself). The plot follows Edgin (Chris Pine), who used to be some kind of spy until his wife was killed by evil wizards and he turned to thievery, and his burly partner-in-crime Holga (Michelle Rodriguez), an exiled barbarian. After escaping from prison, the two travel to the city of Neverwinter to collect Edgin's daughter, Kira (Chloe Coleman), from their old friend Forge (Hugh Grant), a conman who has somehow been put in charge of the city during their imprisonment. Unfortunately, Forge has decided that he quite likes being a surrogate father, refuses to give Kira up, and tries to have Edgin and Holga killed.

Obviously they escape and start plotting their revenge, which they enact with the help of Simon (Justice Smith), a less-than-competent wizard, Doric (Sophia Lillis), a shapeshifting druid who is primarily interested in taking down Forge over his deforestation policies, and Xenk (Regé-Jean Page), a hyper-competent but humourless paladin. Meanwhile, it turns out that Forge has allied with Sofina (Daisy Head), a sorceress who not only is the one who got Edgin and Holga imprisoned, but is secretly a member of the same group of evil wizards who killed Edgin's wife, and who plans to use Dark Magic to turn the population of Neverwinter into zombies. Solving one problem naturally results in the group solving the second, the gang are heroes, credits roll.

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I have one major issue with the film, but before we get into that let's knock out some smaller niggles. Firstly, the film is absurdly paced, rocketing between action setpieces like a greatest-hits compilation of Roadrunner cartoons. It rarely gives itself time to breathe, which creates big problems for the parts of the film that are predicated on an emotional connection between characters, because those connections, for the audience, largely haven't been established. The biggest casualty of this is the relationship between Kira and Holga, which underpins the emotional climax of the film. We're told that Holga helped raise Kira, and that Kira sees Holga as more like her mother than her birth mother (who died when Kira was a baby), but we're shown that in only two short scenes:

  1. A two-minute montage of Edgin's life before prison, at the very start of the film, and
  2. A one-minute series of flashbacks to this period of their lives, shown right at the end of the film

We're told this relationship exists, and intellectually it makes sense that it does, but the audience doesn't feel it, largely because the film's rapid pace means the characters spend nearly no time together on-screen. The end result is that the emotional climax has no weight, which is a shame because without emotional stakes, a modern action film is just a screaming toddler smashing CGI toys together. Which can be entertaining in its own right, but isn't what I'd call "good."

On a somewhat related note, the tone is all over the shop, and suffers really badly from over-the-top bathos. If you've never heard that word before, "bathos" is a term coined in the 1700s by English poet Alexander Pope, used to described failed attempts at creating "high art"; in modern parlance, it's largely used to refer to the juxtaposition of the serious with the absurd, usually (though not always intentionally, or successfully) for comic effect. Bathos isn't necessarily a bad thing - consider most of Douglas Adams' work for example - but it's a dangerous tool because the absurdity of the second part inherently undermines the seriousness of the first; that becomes a bigger problem the more serious that serious part is.

To take a concrete example from Honor Among Thieves, an early scene has Edgin giving the "how we got here" exposition in the form of petitioning the prison parole board on behalf os himself and Holga, while simultaneously stalling for time to allow Jarnathan, a member of the board whom Edgin and Holga are implied to know personally and who was delayed, to arrive. The audience is constantly reminded that Edgin is waiting for Jarnathan, because he peppers his monologue with offhand remarks like "I know Jarnathan would appreciate this." Which is fine, until he does it immediately after describing the death of his wife, which is the driving motivation that underpins the plot in general and Edgin in particular. That's entirely too serious, and the bathos of pivoting from that moment into a joke shatters the tension not just of the scene, but of Edgin's entire character.

To be clear, I'm not complaining that a comedy film has jokes in it. But if a film expects me to take emotional moments seriously, it needs to treat them as though they are serious, otherwise I'm not going to buy into them.

This, in turn, ties into a larger problem where the film prioritizes one-off jokes over narrative cohesion. Another example comes quite a bit later, when the party are searching for a magical helmet that was last seen at a massive battle many years prior, which nobody is known to have survived. Fortunately, Simon has a magical talisman that can temporarily revive the dead, and allows you to ask them exactly five questions (a specificity which is lampshaded in an actually good use of bathos - lest you think I couldn't find anything to like in this film). So they go to the site of the battle, dig up the corpse of one of the fallen warriors, revive him, and promptly waste their five questions talking amongst themselves. It's a good bit, the humour derived from the subversion of the characters' (and the audiences') expectation that "five questions" means "five questions directed at the corpse", rather than "five questions uttered in the corpse's earshot." I liked this joke.

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Next we see the party dig up another corpse and, learning from their mistake, immediately ask him if he had seen the helmet; he had, and he tells them who he saw it with before his death. Great, they can go dig that guy up and ask him; except, this corpse now complains that he's still alive, so to placate him they ask four utterly banal questions ("what's your favourite book" kind of thing) until he returns to the sweet embrace of death. Again, I like this joke. Then we move into a montage of the crew digging up corpses and charting the helmet's path through the battle; we don't see them asking five questions to each corpse, which is fine because we can assume that they're doing this every time, we've seen it once and don't need to see it again. Once more, I have no problem with this.

Where I have a problem is when they get to the last corpse, who passed the helmet off to the aforementioned Xenk prior to his death. The crew talk amongst themselves for a bit, and then go to leave. Except the corpse is still alive, but rather than grant him eternal rest they decide to just leave him.

In isolation this is also a good joke, and it's in-character for the very mercenary crew, but in context it bothered me because I was paying attention to the dialogue, and the party asked each other about seven questions within earshot of this final corpse, which means that by the rules they had previously established, he should have conked out long before they left to find Xenk. Am I nitpicking? Absolutely yes. But this kind of thing takes me out of a film, because high fantasy lives and dies on consistent rules; the rules don't have to be complex, bear any relation to the rules of the real world, or even be stated, but they need to exist, and they need to be followed, otherwise the narrative reality breaks down. This isn't a massively offensive example (the original Ghostbusters, as much as I love it, is much worse at this), but it highlights a lack of care in the script. Or, more likely, a lack of focus; the writers (or the director or producers) came up with all of these jokes to use in their necromancy scene, couldn't bear to cut any of them, so they used them all.

And now we come, at last, ~1500 words in, to the main problem I had with the film, which I'm going to summarise with a question: who is this movie for? It's not for hardcore D&D fans, or at least not exclusively; Paramount wouldn't have sunk $150 million into a film for a niche hobby group. For comparison, the animated Super Mario Bros, based on arguably the most popular video game character of all time, had an estimated $100 million budget; and The Flash, which had three Oscar-nominated actors (and one winner) in its supporting cast, reportedly had $190 million to play with (though some reports put it in the $200-$220 million range). The problem is that it's not really for mass audiences either, which I can tell because it makes absolutely no effort to bring newcomers into its world.

See, high fantasy (that is, fantasy genre fiction which takes place in an entirely constructed universe; some scifi also does this, but if there's a simple phrase for the subgenre I don't know it) has an inherent problem where the audience is unfamiliar with how the world works. In something like The Lord of the Rings, leaving aside its titanic cultural legacy, the audience has no idea of the geography, political systems, or how physical rules (including things like magic and elves) work; so if the story wants to extract drama from those elements, it needs to explain them to the audience. Doing that organically is very hard, so these types of stories often include an audience surrogate character, someone who also doesn't know these things and so can justifiably be exposited at for the benefit of the audience. In Lord of the Rings this is the hobbits, who are competent within their homeland (which, incidentally, is very familiar to audiences, being essentially the archetype of a pastoral village) but unfamiliar with anything beyond, and thus more knowledgable characters can explain things like who Sauron is without it feeling forced.

Honor Among Thieves takes a different approach: just not bothering. There are no audience surrogate characters, everyone is reasonably familiar with the world, and necessary exposition is generally limited to more esoteric knowledge (like Simon explaining certain nuances of magic). This isn't an intrisically bad choice, and it's actually a lot more organic to have the rules of the world demonstrated rather than explained in dialogue, but it's a risky one because it makes it harder for viewers to get into the world, and therefore into the dramatic stakes that derive from the world's rules; there's always going to be a bit of cognitive processing devoted to "wait what are they talking about?" This film works better than some (The Chronicles of Riddick springs to mind) because it doesn't deviate that much from familiar genre tropes, and it's generally not hard to follow the plot, but at times I found it difficult to really figure out the stakes. One notable example of this is how Forge becomes ruler of Neverwinter.

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Considering how everyone keeps calling him "lord", I spent much of the film viewing it through the framework of real-life (or fictionalized) nobility, which is usually hereditary but with a higher authority able to elevate a commoner in reward for some service. Since everyone talks about Neverwinter as an established location, that made the second option vastly less likely, so I was operating on the assumption that he had forged evidence of relation to the prior Lord of the City, and taken over when he died; in which case, surely a simpler plan than the one the party comes up with (essentially a bank heist) would be to go to that higher authority and prove he was lying. It wasn't until nearly the end of the film when I realized that the real-life reference I should have been using was the Doge of Venice, essentially a monarch elected by the nobility; so presumably Forge paid off the Neverwinter equivalent of the Venetian Quarantia, and so robbing him was actually the soundest strategy. This was bothering me for probably an hour, which is an hour where I wasn't immersed in the film's world.

Is it a fatal issue? Not really, it's just annoying. Or it's annoying to me, anyway; maybe I'm the weird one here. I do only have 9 Charisma.

That was a D&D joke. Did you get it?

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Oh fine. Final analysis? It's basically fine, even some good bits, but if you're not a D&D fan don't be surprised if the world leaves you behind.

Article by Xurdones

The Hunt of Two Hares

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A couple of months ago, it seemed like I had hit a plateau for my chess improvement. Before that, I never really studied extremely hard to improve at the game of chess; I would watch some YouTube videos, maybe practice a few opening lines or do a couple of puzzles, but mostly I would play a lot of games. The advice to "always analyse your games!" continuously rang through my head, but up to that point, I had never meaningfully followed up on it. My desire to improve from this plateau finally got me ready to take my chess studying seriously, and I started studying the phase of the game everyone seemed to dread: the endgame.

The endgame of chess is the final phase of the endgame. Usually, most of the pieces have been traded and there are a couple of pawns left per side. The ability to win these positions (or swindle a draw) is often not a matter of tactics, but of good technique and proper calculation. Many players describe the endgame as the hardest phase of the game, and a good understanding of the endgame will regularly allow you to salvage halfpoints you would have lost otherwise.

The position I want to take you through today, seen in the image above, is exactly one of those positions wherein proper technique will allow you to save the draw as white. This position is known as the Réti study, after its original composer Richard Réti, one of the world's best chess players of the early 20th century. Now, when I first glanced at this position, it seemed to me that white was hopelessly lost; you are simply unable to catch black's pawn, who is racing to promotion on the h1 square. Meanwhile, your pawn wants to reach the c8 square, but black's king is close enough to catch the pawn if it were to step forward. However, it is currently white's move in this position. If you move wisely, it is actually possible to save the draw as white.

The many roads to Rome

To understand why this position can be salvaged, I will take a little detour through the land of path counting. Our journey starts with the following puzzle:

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White's king is currently on e1. Its goal is to end up on the e8 square, but it wants to take as little moves as possible. One possible path the king could take, is by just moving straight up the e-file. This path would consist of 7 king moves. However, the king could choose to first move to d2, then move all the way up the d-file to d7, and finally take a second diagonal step to e8. This path also consists of 7 moves, and so it is precisely as long as our first path through the e-file. The question is: how many of these 7-move paths are there in total?

Before I present the answer, we can slightly amend the situation to make it a little more relevant to the Réti study. We move the king to h8, and we want it to reach h1 in as little moves as possible. How many possible paths are there in this situation?

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As it turns out, the answer to the first puzzle is a whopping 393 paths. When the king moves over to the side of the board, as in the second puzzle, a total of 127 paths remain. These numbers might look unbelievably large, but the key idea to understand is that taking diagonal steps is fine, so long as it does not interfere with your ability to reach the target square in the desired amount of moves. In the second puzzle, it is fine if your king reaches (for instance) the f3 square, as it can simply take two steps diagonally down from there to reach h1.

Finally, why do these path counting puzzles help you solve the Réti study? The central motivation is to get a notion of 'distance' on a chessboard. To reach h1, it doesn't matter if the king is on e4 or on h4; in both cases, the king needs 3 moves to reach the h1 square.

The solution

In the Réti study, white's objective is to draw the game. White has two mechanisms that would enable them to draw; they can either (1) promote to a queen or (2) capture black's pawn. As such, the only productive plan for white is to make a move in furtherance of both of these mechanisms; the king needs to move closer to black's h-pawn in an attempt to chase it, but it also needs to move closer to its own pawn to potentially guide it to promotion. White has one move that accomplishes this, and it is the move Kg7 (king to g7).

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Black now has two possible moves that make sense; either they push the pawn to h4, or they bring the king to b6 in an attempt to capture white's pawn. In both cases, white's response is the same and it follows the exact same reasoning as the previous move: Kf6 (king to f6). For the purpose of illustration, I will assume black moved their pawn to h4 and consider Kb6 as a possible branch in the resulting position after h4 Kf6.

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Right now, black again has two options: continue pushing their pawn down the h file, or approach white's pawn on the c file. Firstly, we will look at the move Kb6.

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In this position, black is threatening to capture white's pawn on c6. Moving this pawn to c7 is futile, as black can then just capture the pawn, and white's king is not in time to catch black's h-pawn. The only way to draw is to continue on the king's diagonal path and play the move Ke5 (king to e5).

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The point of this move is two-fold: if black captures white's c-pawn, then white can move their king to f4 and they are in time to capture white's h-pawn. As such, black is forced to push their pawn down the board to h3. This, in turn, allows white to play the brilliant Kd6 (king to d6).

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In the above position, both pawns are two squares from promotion. If black decides to push their pawn to h2, white can follow suit and move their pawn to c7. Black can now choose to promote, which allows white to promote as well, and the game should end in a draw. Alternatively, black can choose to move the king up to b7 to protect the promotion square, but white can just copy and move their king to d7, and the dual promotion follows shortly.

There is a second avenue to consider; in an earlier position, after white played the move Kf6, we had black make the move Kb6. This was not forced; black could have moved the pawn to h3 instead. Let's look at that position.

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Previously, when black played Kb6 instead of h3, white's drawing move was to play Ke5. Unfortunately, playing Ke5 doesn't quite cut it in this case; black pushes their pawn to h2 and is now too close to promotion. Instead, white now reaches the draw by playing the move Ke6 (king to e6).

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This position looks a lot like the final position in the Kb6 variation, except both kings are moved one file farther away from white's c-pawn. As such, if black were to play Kb6 in this position, then white can play Kd6 and we obtain the exact same position as before (Kd7 for white also draws). If black instead opts to push their pawn to h2, then white can push their pawn to c7 and both pawns will now promote (possibly, but not necessarily with the kings moving to b7 and d7 first). The possible inclusion of these king moves is actually incredibly important and it is exactly the reason why only Ke6 draws (and Ke5 doesn't). After pawn to c7, black can move their king to b7, and we need white's king to be able to reach d7 so that black cannot put their king on c8 and prevent promotion in that way. In the earlier Kb6 variation, black has really "wasted a tempo" by moving the king to b6 early (instead of directly from a6 to b7 later on), and white can afford to "waste a tempo" moving their king to e5.

One final important note: if black keeps their king on a6 and instead pushes directly to promotion, the final position reached is the following:

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You might reach this position mentally and wonder: doesn't Qh3+ (queen to h3 with check) not win white's queen on c8? This would be a correct thought, except for the fact that white promotes on c8 with check, and so Qh3+ is illegal.

And that was it for the Réti study! If you want to go over the details for yourself (or perhaps have any questions about moves that I didn't cover in this article), then you can access a Lichess study I created. I've already put in all of the moves covered in the article, but feel free to play around with the position! At the very least, I hope I've managed to convey my point about the beautiful and often counterintuitive nature of chess endgames.

Article by Derparnieux

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June 2023



What's this? A RAWR, you say? How very 2020.
That's right, I'm bringing RAWR back for a special event, because the work these clannies have done deserves recognition:


"xurdones" wrote:

Some of you might already know this, but the popular image-hosting site Imgur announced a couple of months ago that they would be deleting all anonymous uploads, that is all pictures that were uploaded by users not logged into an Imgur account. Unfortunately, many pictures on the ClanQuest forums were uploaded to Imgur, many of them by users who are no longer active, and we had no way of knowing which were anonymous and which weren't.

So the Offsite Revamp Team was formed, with the singular goal of saving as many pictures as they could before Imgur deleted them. It was an incredible effort, with over 4000 Imgur links found on the forums, but by Guthix, they were up to the challenge! They weren't quite all saved, and there's still some work to be done (some were downloaded but haven't yet been re-uploaded) but on the order of 95% of Imgur picture on the offsite, both in the forums and on this wiki, were painstakenly preserved by these heroes by re-uploading them to personal Imgur accounts. If that doesn't deserve a RAWR, nothing does.

So: I nominate the Offsite Revamp Team, consisting of:

  • Sirapyro the ever-diligent, who first brought the matter to our attention
  • Shane, who pulled many lists of forum posts mentioning "imgur" directly from the database for us to go through
  • Moesen Natha
  • Miss Alaska
  • Xurdones, if it's not too immodest to nominate myself
  • Choto 3000, our fearless leader


The Masters of RAWR deliberated whether to honour these clanmembers or not, and guess what:


Congratulations!

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Wait a second... -You may say- What are the RAWR Awards??
Check this link!


PS: Please remember no clannie is better than other just because they won a RAWR edition. You're already a winner if you made it to this thread, because it means you care about others and make our clan a better place every day. See you next month!

Article by Xurdones