Robert Wall

Tales of Atlium: Trials and Consequences

The party’s journey through the Dragonheart Isles, with the end goal of reaching the southwestern reaches and its capital, the Grand Bazaar, wasn’t without severe danger. They ran afoul of pirates, monsters and, eventually, the most powerful naval force in Atlium. All en route to a trial that would bring to light the sins of the party’s past. And make them pay for them.

Continue reading →

Posted by Robert Wall in Tales of Atlium, 0 comments

Session 1: The New Beginning

The beginning of a story in which eight souls, brought together by chance, find themselves with a head start on what may be a dangerous mission.

Posted by Robert Wall in Actual Play, 0 comments

Tales of Atlium: Somerwind Isle

One of the most dangerous places that no one had ever heard of. Far away from the hustle and bustle of any real population. A place of darkness and evil, co-opted for use as a military base for the Enclave in their war against Ivandria, even after the war was over. And a band of allies, hellbent on dealing with the people who resided there. This is the tale of Somerwind Isle.

Continue reading →

Posted by Robert Wall in Tales of Atlium, 1 comment

That’s a Wrap!

Yeah, it’s over. A campaign that had its first session on April 10, 2018 (with plenty of prep beforehand) and ended on January 13, 2020. In a world I’ve been working on since about 2011. With characters I’ve been fine-tuning and changing and re-writing since 2015. With inspirations from music spanning every decade from the 70’s onward. A total of 98 sessions that circled this main narrative. And around 600 hours of play-time, if we are so inclined as to include prep time for players.

So, the first question, I suppose, would be something like “was it worth it?” The answer, of course, is yes. I would do it again. I would start over right now, and go through all of the same hardships. The same highs. The same lows. It would all be worth it.

Continue reading →

Posted by Robert Wall in Tabletop, 2 comments

Tales of Atlium: A Dark Response to Failure

Within the humble beginnings of the party, before they were truly a party, Myana and Alraste had an adventure further within the goldenlands of Ivandria, specifically the smaller river town of Sarator. It was here that the first truly important narrative decision of the campaign began. And that’s where the first tale starts.

Continue reading →

Posted by Robert Wall in Tales of Atlium, 0 comments

The Payoff

I’ve written about this before, but I think it bears a bit of repeating already: I had no intention of this campaign I’ve been running going as long as it has, but the characters and story were good, and then great, and I loved everything about it. So here we are. What was initially planned for a shorter-term story grew into something bigger, and I penciled in a rough end date of August 2018. And then everyone started shuffling around their schedules, making sure it’d keep working, and we’ve continued on our more-than-once-a-week pace since then.

So now, as the calendar turns over and a new decade begins, before I can truly plan for the future campaign, I need to end this one. From August of 2018, delayed once and story rearranged, then again with a rough end date of ‘summer 2019’, and then finally the . And now here we are, the home stretch, the bottom of the 9th, the heroes are down, but not out just yet. One final rally, and one last baseball metaphor, and just maybe these next few weeks will be a walkoff.

Continue reading →

Posted by Robert Wall in Tabletop, 0 comments

To Great Friends, a Tribute to D&D

As I begin to write this, I can say with the utmost confidence that a campaign I’ve been running for over 18 months is barreling towards an ending. I’m not sure if it’s the ending the players will want– hell, I’m not sure if it’s an ending want, but it certainly is getting there. As I write this, I have ran 94 sessions, the first of which began on April 10, 2018. There were ups and downs, emotionally draining days and ones where none of us could stop laughing; there were times when someone was miserable and wanted to be anywhere else, but for those 4-6 hours on what was probably a Tuesday or Saturday night, we all tuned out the world and told a story together.

Because that’s what D&D is, isn’t it? The amount of calculations and interactive details you can get in a video game today won’t be topped with a few dice. No amount of words I can conjure will give as vivid an image as the rendering of wounds from the latest AAA game. But the one thing D&D does, that no video game can, is tell a story. Games have limits. Worlds have limits. Writers must eventually stop writing a script, and send it for editing. But when you run a game of D&D for a few friends in a campaign of your own design, those limits don’t exist. Instead, what you have, wholly unique to the tabletop genre of gaming, is cooperative storytelling. And it can be weird, but when it’s good with a few friends– it’s so very, very good.

Continue reading →

Posted by Robert Wall in Tabletop, 0 comments

In Retrospect: My Top Ten Games of All-Time

I’ve always lacked a certain level of self-awareness, and that seemed to show up more when I did top-10s than at any other point. Nothing makes that more obvious than thinking I was clever when I called my random top-10 posts “Venn’s Ten” with all the pride of a clueless writer with no, well, self-awareness. So here we have a chance to redeem myself, looking back at what I ranked as my top 10 favorite games of all time, circa August of 2012.

I had a few simple rules that I went through when I did this ranking, which I’ll go ahead and quote here:

  • Only one game for a series
  • A series with major changes to the games cannot be ranked as a series
    • Rock Band has no major changes, so it can be
  • Console games are a-okay

And, well, that was it. So, without delaying my constant need to shit on something people enjoy (even if it is myself!), here’s my 7-years-later retrospective of what I thought the pinnacle of gaming was in 2012!

Continue reading →

Posted by Robert Wall in Gaming, 0 comments

Gaming: 2019 in Review

I always enjoyed lists for how easy they were to write, and the short-form meant that I could try and just write quickly and publish without lots of time letting something I write sit and stew, so it feels like a pretty good place to begin with me getting back into the swing of things. So, here we go. It’s been quite a while since I gave Torchlight 2 a game of the year nod, but let’s see what it’s like, writing about games seven years later.

As a quick aside, I didn’t really play quite a bit that came out this year, and I have a backlog bigger than I ever would’ve expected myself to have, going into my late 20s. For the grand majority of the year, I was running two D&D groups while having a full-time job and owning a home, so free time for things I wanted to try with no guarantee of being interested in was scarce. So without further adieu, completely arbitrary categories for my games of 2019!

Continue reading →

Posted by Robert Wall in Gaming, 3 comments

One more, for the road?

It has been a long, long time since I tried to write something even remotely blog-like. Branching Dialogue, as a website, was used as hosting for my other projects and anything resembling its original incarnation seemed to have fallen by the wayside, for better or worse. But I miss writing. Every time I read some long-form review for some random game from 15 years ago, or see a recommendation on Youtube for a 3-hour-long video essay, I get that itch to write again. So here we are again, I suppose?

This isn’t the first time I’ve written one of these, but with hope it’ll be the last. This time around, I’m not doing some overt marketing scheme, or trying to get some sort of following. I’m just writing to, well, write. So, while I can’t really assume that anyone is ever going to read this, I’m still going to write. I don’t know yet if it’s going to be my thoughts on the things that have taken over my life since last I used to write, such as more tabletop gaming (D&D, etc.) or introspective articles about who I am as a person and why video games shaped me into that person. But most importantly, it’s a way for me to dump a lot of words that no one cares about into my corner of the internet which, coincidentally, no one cares about either.

So I can’t say for sure what I’m going to be writing about just yet, but this is the way it’s going. Maybe it’ll be stories of my gaming conquests, or stories of my unending D&D campaign I’ve been running for a year and a half now. Whatever the case may be, I’m excited to try and write things once more, pushing them out into the unending ether of the internet!

Posted by Robert Wall in Meta, 0 comments