Monthly Archives: May 2013

Rules for the Game Master Part One: Rule Zero

I have been gaming since I was eight years old. I have always enjoyed the stories that are created throughout the experience of game play, the advancement of my characters as they gain wealth, equipment, and renown, and I have enjoyed the power of weaving my own tales as the Game Master, a.k.a. the GM. That is the focus of today’s topic: Rule Zero.

Rule Zero

Rule Zero.

This is the first of a two parter on the main rules of being a GM. The first, and most vital, rule is Rule Zero. This is the be all, end all rule a GM exercises from the start of the gaming session to the end of the gaming session. Rule Zero is this: The GM is God of his/her game. You are the creator of the world to which your players are exploring. You decide when it is day or night, sunny or cloudy, summer or winter. You decide if your players are perceived as the heroes or the villains. You are the Lord Almighty; you giveth and taketh away.

What is it?

This is a very powerful rule that you, the GM, will wield and it must not be abused. Any game you choose to run will have a Core Rulebook. The Core Rulebook is the foundation of the game and contains within it almost all the answers to any question you, or your players, may have to a situation during game play. However, these rules are merely guide lines. You as the GM can choose to replace any given rule or add rules should you choose. But, and this is coming from an experienced game player and GM, you really only want to do this to one or two rules. You are not out to re-write the entire game. If that is what you want you may as well design your own game.

When to use it?

The main reason for Rule Zero is to remind the players that you, the GM, are in control of the game, not the players. When you make a ruling the players don’t like or immediately begin to quote lines from the core rulebook, and you will have players like this, enter Rule Zero. But, again, this is a very powerful rule and constant use will just upset your players.  So, when do you use Rule Zero? For me, I have had to use it a LOT for a certain player in my games mainly because he comes up with the most outrageous ideas for magical items. Per the rules he can do it and has the gold to make it. But for him it is not about total enjoying the game, he just likes to break the game. The things he makes takes the challenge out of the game. Thus, I have had to use Rule Zero. One player left out of check can ruin the gaming experience for all just as easy as a GM.

This concludes Rule Zero. Stay tuned for Part Two.

StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm Story Reviewed

StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm Reviewed

StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm

Opening cinematic shows Kerrigan leading the Zerg in the fall of Korhal, but it’s only a dream.

starcraft 2 heart of the swarm

Raynor smuggled Sarah off of Char, but the Xel’Naga artifact has mysteriously disappeared.  Mengsk is still hunting for her!  Rebels are doing research on Sarah in a secret facility to ensure that she is actually human.  Kerrigan is initially tested by controlling Zerg units in a tutorial fashion.  Kerrigan proves how dangerous the Zerg are by destroying a large portion of the base.  Kerrigan apologizes to Raynor for his having to choose between her and Tychus.  Before she can leave with Raynor, Dominion forces storm the base, led by Ghost Agent Nova.  Raynor and Kerrigan have to blast their way to freedom after sharing a brief, intimate moment.

starcraft 2 heart of the swarm

Kerrigan and Raynor get separated and Kerrigan takes Raynor’s ship to escape.  At the rendezvous point, Kerrigan learns that they were unable to retrieve Raynor and becomes furious, attempting to kill Valerian.  With the Dominion forces closing in on them, Kerrigan leaves to find Raynor on her own.  After discovering a canon meant to shoot down any returning or escaping rebels, Kerrigan uses some Zerg to destroy the canon.  She realizes that she is slipping into old habits and leaves after destroying the canon.  She watches a propaganda message that Mengsk is broadcasting, stating that he has captured and executed Raynor.  Hearing that she has lost Raynor, she flies into a rage and ventures forth on a mission of vengeance to reassemble the Swarm.

starcraft 2 heart of the swarm

StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm
Kerrigan raging after hearing that Raynor is dead.

Kerrigan finds the Swarm divided, with some of her Brood Mothers vying for control.  On the frozen planet Kaldir she fights a Protoss research outpost.  Afterward, the Dark Templar Zeratul shows up and a small fight ensues.  He psychically shows her an ancient Zerg world and tells her of its power and how it could help her.  Kerrigan wonders why Zeratul is helping her to become more powerful, and in his usual fashion he spins a mysterious tale of prophecy.

starcraft 2 heart of the swarm

After getting to the planet Zerus, Kerrigan awakens the most ancient of the Zerg.  This ancient, primal Zerg instructs her how to harness the primal power of Zerus and the Zerg there.  She follows his instructions and abandons her human form via chrysalis chamber.  The ancient, primal Zerg tells Kerrigan that if she defeats the primal pact leaders, then all the wild Zerg of Zerus would bend to her will, but after defeating them and taking their essence, the most ancient one decides his time to evolve is now and battles Kerrigan.  She defeats him and takes his ancient essence for her own evolution.

starcraft 2 heart of the swarm

StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm
A primal Zerg of the planet Zerus.

After Zerus, you head for the planet Char.  On Char, Kerrigan fights an old Brood Mother until she surrenders and rejoins the swarm as Kerrigan’s lieutenant.  After this, Kerrigan sets her sights on the large Terran military installation currently under the direction of General Warfield, from Wings of Liberty.  After crushing their base and finding Warfield trapped and dying, she allows the escaping wounded Terrans to leave after Warfield attempts to appeal to her humanity.  However, during the battle, Terrans fired holo-communicators at the Leviathan Zerg ship.  Using these communicators, Mengsk delivers a message to Kerrigan.  Raynor is alive, but he will kill him if she comes to Korhal.

Kerrigan enters Dominion space to attempt to rescue Raynor.  She initiates communication with Matt and Valerian of the Hyperion to persuade them to hack into the Dominion network so they can track down where Raynor is being held.  After a side mission to obtain a Terran capable of the task, they discover that Raynor is being held on a prison ship that jumps to random coordinates regularly.  They intercept the ship while it’s on a scheduled refueling stop.  After fighting through the defenses and securing Raynor’s cell, Kerrigan is rejected by Raynor for turning her back on her humanity and embracing the Zerg.

starcraft 2 heart of the swarm

Afterwards, Kerrigan received a mysterious transmission regarding Mengsk’s breeding of hybrids, half Zerg half Protoss warriors.  After traveling to the world where these experiments are being conducted, Kerrigan meets an infested Stukov.  Alexei Stukov is one of the humans from Earth who traveled into the Koprulu sector, during Brood War, to retake it in the name of Earth, but failed.  His true motives are unknown, but he agrees to help Kerrigan attack the research facility.  Narud, a shapeshifting servant of Amon the “Fallen One”, seems to be the one creating the hybrids.  Narud is very ancient and very powerful.  Kerrigan kills a few of these overpowered hybrids, which are able to psionically attack Kerrigan from a distance.  With Stukov’s help, Kerrigan repels Narud and kills him, but discovers that the fallen, godlike Xel’Naga Amon is indeed alive.  However, Kerrigan’s sights are still set on Mengsk.

starcraft 2 heart of the swarm

StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm
Kerrigan verus Narud (shifted into human-Kerrigan)

After a lengthy siege of Korhal, letting Valerian rescue as many civilians as possible, she assaults Mengsk’s stronghold.  When Kerrigan breaks into Mengsk’s chamber, we find that he has taken the Xel’Naga artifact that Raynor collected during the events of Wings of Liberty.  Mengsk purposely lured Kerrigan into his chamber so he could use the artifact to kill her for good.  However, before Mengsk can finish her off, Raynor comes to the rescue and together they finish Mengsk at last.

starcraft 2 heart of the swarm

We are left with Kerrigan pulling the Swarm away from Korhal in preparation for the coming battle with Amon.

starcraft 2 heart of the swarm

All in all, not the story I was expecting, but I think it made the game that much better.  I’ll definitely want to play through Wings of Liberty again before the Protoss expansion hits.  There are going to be a lot of things to tie up in that game, but it shouldn’t disappoint.  As far as gameplay goes, I’m not sure if I’m getting better or if Heart of the Swarm is “easier” than Wings of Liberty.  I didn’t have to repeat any missions, unlike Wings of Liberty.  I swear I played that last mission about four times before I beat it.  Hence I give the game a 9 out of 10.  It just felt too simple during some parts.  Keep an eye on my YouTube channel for some video highlights of gameplay specifics.