Praying for healing

I’m finding it hard to rationalise praying for healing. My argument isn’t so much that ‘prayer seems useless when God already knows what to do and will do what he deems is best anyway’ but rather, if we are going to pray for healing, why not pray for world peace, for immortality, for no pain or sickness — even better still, why not pray for a good and easy life for everyone; for our sinful natures to not exist and for perpetual good times?

Prayer is supposed to be miraculous intervention after all, so why are we constantly ‘limiting’ ourselves to praying about our daily problems? Why not think big and pray for the ‘cure-all’ — deal with the problem at its root?

It seems that any argument that one can posit against such ‘lofty’ prayers can also be equally posited at ‘small’ prayers like praying for specific needs of specific individuals.

Of course I’m not saying I won’t pray for healing. If praying for myself, it stems from fear and from want to alleviate my own suffering. But then my prayers stem purely from my own selfishness. And if I don’t think I should pray for myself, it becomes even more awkward when asking others to pray for me.

Pillars of Eternity (or Baldur’s Gate 1.5): a four group comparison

Group 1 (the classics)

Story Characters Combat Exploration and Atmosphere
Baldur’s Gate 1 (BG1) PoE BG1 PoE PoE
Baldur’s Gate 2 (BG2) BG2 BG2 Tie (BG2 for insane epic battles; PoE for balance) BG2
Planescape: Torment (P:T) P:T P:T PoE P:T
Neverwinter Nights: Hordes (HoTU) HoTU HoTU PoE PoE

 

Group 2 (the kickstarters)

Story Characters Combat Exploration and Atmosphere
Divinity: OS (OS) PoE PoE OS PoE
Wasteland 2 (W2) PoE PoE Tie PoE
Shadowrun: Dragonfall (DF) DF DF PoE Tie (DF for atmosphere, PoE for exploration)

 

Group 3 (obsidian’s own)

Story Characters Combat Exploration and Atmosphere
KOTOR II (SW2) SW2 SW2 PoE Tie (SW2 for atmosphere, PoE for exploration)
Fallout: New Vegas (NV) PoE Tie (both weak) PoE NV
NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer (MOTB) MoTB MoTB PoE MoTB

 

Group 4 (the moderns)

Story Characters Combat Exploration and Atmosphere
Dragon Age: origins (DA) PoE DA PoE PoE
The Witcher 1 & 2 (WT) WT WT PoE WT
Mass Effect 1 & 2 (ME) PoE ME PoE Tie (ME for atmosphere)
Dark Souls (DS) DS PoE DS DS

Levelling up…

I Am A: Lawful Good Elf Cleric (4th Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength-11
Dexterity-14
Constitution-11
Intelligence-17
Wisdom-16
Charisma-14

Alignment:
Lawful Good A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. He combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. He tells the truth, keeps his word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished. Lawful good is the best alignment you can be because it combines honor and compassion. However, lawful good can be a dangerous alignment when it restricts freedom and criminalizes self-interest.

Race:
Elves are known for their poetry, song, and magical arts, but when danger threatens they show great skill with weapons and strategy. Elves can live to be over 700 years old and, by human standards, are slow to make friends and enemies, and even slower to forget them. Elves are slim and stand 4.5 to 5.5 feet tall. They have no facial or body hair, prefer comfortable clothes, and possess unearthly grace. Many others races find them hauntingly beautiful.

Class:
Clerics act as intermediaries between the earthly and the divine (or infernal) worlds. A good cleric helps those in need, while an evil cleric seeks to spread his patron’s vision of evil across the world. All clerics can heal wounds and bring people back from the brink of death, and powerful clerics can even raise the dead. Likewise, all clerics have authority over undead creatures, and they can turn away or even destroy these creatures. Clerics are trained in the use of simple weapons, and can use all forms of armor and shields without penalty, since armor does not interfere with the casting of divine spells. In addition to his normal complement of spells, every cleric chooses to focus on two of his deity’s domains. These domains grants the cleric special powers, and give him access to spells that he might otherwise never learn. A cleric’s Wisdom score should be high, since this determines the maximum spell level that he can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Woodies for sale

I Am A: Neutral Good Human Wizard/Cleric (2nd/2nd Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength-12
Dexterity-14
Constitution-10
Intelligence-15
Wisdom-14
Charisma-14

Alignment:
Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment because it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Race:
Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Primary Class:
Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard’s strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Secondary Class:
Clerics act as intermediaries between the earthly and the divine (or infernal) worlds. A good cleric helps those in need, while an evil cleric seeks to spread his patron’s vision of evil across the world. All clerics can heal wounds and bring people back from the brink of death, and powerful clerics can even raise the dead. Likewise, all clerics have authority over undead creatures, and they can turn away or even destroy these creatures. Clerics are trained in the use of simple weapons, and can use all forms of armor and shields without penalty, since armor does not interfere with the casting of divine spells. In addition to his normal complement of spells, every cleric chooses to focus on two of his deity’s domains. These domains grants the cleric special powers, and give him access to spells that he might otherwise never learn. A cleric’s Wisdom score should be high, since this determines the maximum spell level that he can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Bioware’s monopoly over the casual RPGer’s mind

So, in the past few months the completion of my thesis has given me enough time to indulge my CRPG appetite. Since around April I’ve played (in order): KOTOR, Mass Effect, KOTOR 2, Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2 (I actually upgraded my laptop to play Dragon Age!). Aside from being RPGs, the 5 games are all produced by Bioware (note that KOTOR II was handed over to Obsidian). BIoware is the RPG market’s current ‘big name’. They are famous for Baldur’s Gate II, (part one was unimpressive IMO).

I just wanted to add that the overdose of Bioware-type RPGs sucks as players are more and more going to imagine that Bioware type RPGS is the definition of an RPG. Mind you, I’d rather that than when Blizzard’s Diablo made everyone think it was the definition of an RPG.

However, one cannot help but notice that Bioware type RPGs often involve saving the world by going to 4 four different locations at your choice and leisure. This often feels contrived, as in both Mass Effect and Dragon Age, the places usually involve some store to upgrade equipment, and some boss to kill after being through all the little minions. The choice seems almost redundant. Contrast this to games such as Fallout and Planescape, where exploring is much more organic and rewarding and isn’t about ‘completing’ the area.

I really think Bioware only gets such good ratings and hype due to how they end the games (which is always on a fantastic note). After all, when you’ve been playing for 40+ hours you’re most likely to only remember the ending. Also, I must admit they are very well produced: great soundtracks and voice acting.

Dragon Age has too much grinding and the maps were way too large (making backtracking extremely tedious). Mass Effect 2 was extremely dumbed down (but getting rid of the Mako is +++ to me!!!) and felt more like ‘Shephard’s quest to get his team loyal’. Only two of Bioware RPGs make it into my top 10. Having said that, they do produce great games, and the ways their stories are told (short simple but effective and dramatic story) always make me think they are perfect for film adaptations. There are some awesome scenes and moments, such as in Mass Effect 2 when one of your teammates holds up a biotic barrier to stop seeker swarms; or the prison break in Dragon Age (which they ripped off their own KOTOR).

My top ten:

Planescape: Torment

Fallout I

Vampire, the masquerade: Bloodlines

Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn

Fallout II

Deus Ex

Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer

Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark

Final Fantasy VII

Temple of Elemental Evil (with circle of eight)