Hitman: Absolution

Hitman: Absolution is a stealth/action game about the titular assassin wherein you sneak around trying to kill your way through your former employers after going rogue. The engine is ridiculously smooth, and the game is simply bursting with creative ways to kill your targets, though silently garroting them and dragging the body off to a dark corner to dispose of it is probably the most satisfying. The more linear sections that seemed to force direct confrontation were decidedly less enjoyable. I really wanted 15 more levels like The King of Chinatown and unfortunately, there were only really one or two other spots that came close in the rest of the game.


Sneaking around garroting battle nuns and dragging them into the bushes is not quite as fun as bushwhacking heavies and sicking tigers on their friends, but still absolutely worth playing.

Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3 is the most fun I've had playing a video game this year. It is a sandbox where you take the role of an American tourist stranded on an island in the south Pacific that's crawling with pirates, drug dealers, and human traffickers. Your friends are captured by the Big Bad, resulting in your going on a roaring rampage of revenge, rescuing your friends, and killing every pirate you see with a big freaking knife. Kind of like Just Cause 2 meets Assassin's Creed.

Stuff I liked:

The stealth and the recon. There are pirate outposts scattered around the island which you can retake to help liberate the island, and reduce your likelihood of being randomly accosted by pirates. While attacking these outposts, you can carefully sneak up on them from basically any angle, and scope out the position of the pirates with your camera. This gives you a good idea of the lay of the land, how many pirates you're going to need to fight, and where they are.

You can then sneak off, thin out the ranks with your sniper rifle, and sneak up behind guards and stab them in the back. Basically there is actual payoff for carefully studying your enemy and coming up with a plan to eliminate them quietly.

The weapons. While the weapons themselves are not necessarily particularly memorable, you get to pick the load-out that suits your style of play which is something I really appreciate. Lots of games railroad you into carrying the basic assault rifle, and then making you pick through the corpses of your enemies to find the gun that actually suits you. Furthermore most of the weapons are customizable with a number of attachments which gives you the ability to further specialize your load-out to be truly suited to your style of play.

The exposition. While the narrative may be more than a little bit over the top, for the most part the game explains things to you while you have control of your character. This is in stark contrast to Max Payne 3, which bombards you with freaking cut scenes all the time.

Stuff I didn't like:

The story missions. While the story missions aren't particularly bad, they are much more likely to railroad you into blasting your way through tons of dudes, rather than outflanking them, or stealthily taking them by surprise, and I find both of the latter two approaches much more satisfying.

The boss fights. They're a bunch of stupid-god-damned quick time event driven bullshit cut scenes. You know, it might actually be satisfying to sneak up on the big-bad's stronghold, and put a bullet through his head from the next hill over before disappearing into the jungle... but no, you've got to let him talk you to death while you play poker. Fuck that.


Sneaking around the jungle and stabbing heavily armoured dudes with a big knife is the most fun I've had with a video game so far this year. You should check it out.

Video Games in 2013

This is a ranking of the games that I have played in 2013. It's pretty subjective and is mostly about how much fun I had while playing it. Also, these are games that I played in 2013, many if not most of them will have come out before then, because there really are not that many games that get me to drop $60 so that I can play them on release day.

  1. Far Cry 3
  2. Hitman: Absolution
  3. Resistance 3
  4. Max Payne 3
  5. Spec Ops: The Line

Tomes of Knowledge

Aura moderate divination; CL 11 Slot none; Price 2,500gp; Weight 5 lb.

Each of these thickly bound books contains a wealth of knowledge related to a particular subject area: Appraise, a single Knowledge, Linguistics, Spellcraft, or Survival. By consulting the tome, a process that takes at least 5 minutes but may take longer for particularly difficult questions, the user gains a +5 competence bonus on related skill checks with respect to a specific question or task. Furthermore, consulting the relevant tome allows the user to retry a previously failed knowledge check, as it may contain knowledge that even the most educated do not know.

Known tomes:

  • Stop Getting Ripped Off: A Practical Guide to Assessing the Value of Things (Appraise)
  • The Rarer the Better: Collected Arcana (Arcana)
  • Aberrations and Oozes: A Field Guide to Dungeoneering (Dungeoneering)
  • Building Things: Theory and Practise (Engineering)
  • The Tribes of Golarion: People and Places (Geography)
  • A Brief History of Time: Thassilon, Earthfall, and More (History)
  • Philosophiæ Naturalis: A Short Guide to the Natural World (Nature)
  • The Pocket Guide to Heraldry (Nobility)
  • Angels and Demons: Outsiders and the Planes (Planes)
  • Comparative Religion: Understanding the Heretics Around You (Religion)
  • Metasyntactic Analysis: An Introduction (Linguistics)
  • What was that? A Beginner’s Guide to Identifying Magical Effects (Spellcraft)
  • Shelter, Water, Food: Surviving in the Wilderness (Survival)

Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, Divination or Legend Lore, creator must have 5 ranks in the relevant skill; Cost 1,250gp

Pony Express

Hirati wakes up, gets dressed, and walks down to the post office. Like everyday, she grabs hold of the reins of two large workhorses, each loaded down with heavy packs. She concentrates on the stables of the Post Office in Absalom. There’s a brief flash and she’s gone. A second later she arrives in Absalom, exchanges her horses for two fresh ones likewise loaded down with heavy packs, and returns to Katapesh. On her way out, she collects her day’s pay: 5000 crowns, and heads to the Satin Kiss to make her favorite harlot very happy, and very rich.

A level 14 wizard can cast Greater Teleport twice per day, taking two horses each loaded down with up to 2100 pounds of gear. That means that she can move 4200 pounds of gear back and forth between any two cities on the planet before breakfast, spend the rest of her day as she pleases and sleep in her own bed that night. Now she’s going to want about 5,000gp to do it, which works out to about 0.65gp/lb, or 4cp for a letter.

... now that’s not the kind of price you’re going to use to move potatoes or grain, but there are things for which it’s worthwhile. For quality manufactured goods, exotic substances, magic items, and information the timeliness and availability may more than make up for the cost:

  • Postal service: Letters are collected locally, transported to a hub city where they are routed to the closest post office, and then delivered by horse. Letters might cost as little as 1sp to send, and deliveries between major centers could happen as often as daily. While an unskilled labourer may balk at spending a day’s wages on sending a letter, such a cost would be easily within reach of any skilled craftsman, and not even worth thinking about for a merchant or aristocrat.
  • Mail order magic items: Wouldn’t the member’s of the Arcanist’s Circle love to have access to the markets in Absalom or Katapesh? Wouldn’t your average adventurer love to be able to procure exactly the item they need, for a fair price, in a reasonable amount of time without having to trek half-way across the continent?
  • Auctions: Selling something rare, and expensive? Hema’s Auction House will list it for you in Art and Oddities Monthly (delivered to thousands of discerning buyers around the world) as well as handle the bidding by post for a reasonable fee. Looking to buy, a subscription costs a mere 10gp per month, and gives you the opportunity to bid on some of the most beautiful, powerful, and rare objects in existence.