Official Kick Off Day of KOTFE 4.0a…My thoughts PT 1.


Star Wars The Old Republic-10-26-2015 22-41-35You know, sometimes there is so much to write you about you start pondering just how you will be able to get all of it out and make sense. For the last week I have been a part of the early access on SWTOR: KotFE and have been having an absolute blast. Key point in this release: STORY LINE!!!! Hmm let me make it clear just in case you didn’t quite get it…STORY LINE!!!!!! There. That should clear up any misconceptions that I have seen amongst the disgruntled Gammorean crowd (best I could think up for trolls…what can I say?). I decided with all of this massive information I wanted to talk about, I would go ahead and break it down in a series. How many parts will largely depend upon what I do or do not cover with each post. This first will deal with the story line and a bit of what I experienced during it’s process. Some game mechanics will be mentioned in the aspect of identified bugs and progression points. So, without further a due…welcome to SWTOR 4.0a! Wait a sec 4.0a already?!? Ya there were some initial mechanical bugs they were working on. Patch notes cover down on the issues, though I think other glitches aren’t completely addressed. We will go further into that a little later.

The Story. It blew me away! I hadn’t expected to be called onto Darth Marr’s fleet and requested to assist with an Immortal Empire incursion. But it continued to get better by the Star Wars The Old Republic-10-20-2015 19-49-15moment. Yes, there is a ton of cinematics and really I felt like I was in a movie at times. There was an immediate urgency to what was going on. And umm having a billion fleet ships appear in front of you with no where to run…ya I was already not liking this Eternal Empire. Now there have already been several walk throughs posted on the internet. If you want to go see someone elses’ game play go for it. I hate following those things because I like to see what happens on my own decisions based upon my character’s personality.  But death for people you know can and will happen. Oh and yes, there are old companions you can put a bolt through. I’ll give an example later. For the moment, I will say it felt like a race against time. I mean your current team is locked into the docking ring and can’t get on board or off. The Eternal Empire is punching through with assault troop shuttles and boarding every corridor. You are trying to make split decisions that affect the lives of your crew and those on board Marr’s ship. It ain’t easy kid! Ultimately it will come down to you deciding whether or not to go ramming speed or evac all the crew out. I’ll let you figure out what happens either way. Remember, decisions have consequences. Down the road, these critical decisions may very well haunt you or …you may gain new allies.

Star Wars The Old Republic-10-20-2015 19-33-58This is the basis for everything that you do throughout the first 9 chapters which have been released. Like I said, there are a ton of walk throughs, but it’s far more exiting if you just experience the whole thing yourself. Plot twists and turns abound. Of course you link up with Valkorian pretty damned quick. You also get to meet his charming children (Vaylin is my favorite Daddy’s little psycho child).  Of course you are offered the world at your feet. But what will you do? Take a knee…or fight? Again, choices my friends. Speaking of Valkorian, Darin DePaul did just an Epic job at voicing Valkorian! Really to the point, every single voice actor who participated in this expansion really really knocked their character’s voices right out of the park. I am truly amazed by what they were able to create. All of the main cast characters just made the Immersion hit right home for me.  So my deepest gratitude for their hard work and dedication. Hat’s off to Bio ware for choosing such fine voice actors. At any rate, you get grabbed into the story line pretty damned quick. Get ready for a roller coaster ride of plot twists back and forth. One thing is for sure, Valkorian (The Sith Emperor reincarnated) seems to be one step ahead of EVERY ONE’s plans. That includes his own family. Some of his lines are epic in nature. It makes you feel like you are dealing with the devil himself. Rightfully so, but again there are many plot twists involved. True to Bio ware’s roots, the story line is engaging and in my opinion some of the best work I’ve ever seen in an MMO. Their ability to blend single story with MMO is really outstanding work.

New Companions:

Well a couple of them are old, but over all new. You get to meet Lana Beniko pretty quickly as you come out of carbonite (a story chapter unto itself). One thing I am very Star Wars The Old Republic-10-20-2015 20-34-36happy with is that Lana got a makeover. Her hair and face were softened up for a bit more realistic appearance compared to her days during the Revan expansion. I’m glad Bioware did this, she just wasn’t very well designed during Revan. T7 comes to your aid pretty quickly too (at least on the Trooper story). But you also get to meet Koth, HK-55, and Sena. These will be your core companions during the story line chapters. Each one with interesting personality traits etc and it becomes up to you to meld them into a team…based on your decisions. But none to worry, you will encounter other companions that you can use down the line as the story progresses. It was a jaw dropping moment of coolness when I found out my Trooper got to use SCORPIO on missions. Ya and she is awesome in the combat zone! Rendering of the new companions was done with precision and realism as far as video games go. No, you don’t get to dress up the new core companions any, but really they aren’t that hard on the eyes. Since they are so involved in the story line cinematics, it probably wasn’t feasible to allow for their appearance to re skin at your heart’s desire. Or at least not cost effective in feasibility. At any rate, they just look so incredible in their rendering and voice acting, I was extremely happy with the results. It was a small trade for me to not be able to mod their appearance.  cool thing is as you gain influence with each of your companions, they become more effective during combat regardless of the role they play. Me, I love them as healers, it allows me to burn through everything on whatever class I’m running.

Star Wars The Old Republic-10-21-2015 21-28-36As time progresses, you really do want to get these people with high influence for you. Their effects in battle are noticeable during heroics and solo missions. Also you will come across some old followers in the first 9 chapters as well as new followers. Build their influence with you and they will back you in every way. As for the new ones, I guess I am most partial to Sena during herioc missions, though Scorpio is my close second. Why Sena? Well, a melee healer/tank makes for fun on my Vanguard DPS. Aside from that, there is always something comforting about her voice (another terrific voice actress) when she reassures you that all will be well during the heat of a fight. It helps her light sabre and her shields are always popping so she can handle herself as well as any if you get separated. Anyways, I guess everyone will have a favorite.  Koth is pretty cool too, reminds me of Han Solo. His outfit is something I would pay Cartel Coins for if I could get my hands on it. To me, that would be a bad ass outfit to own.

Graphics:

In general, the story portion of the graphics is outstanding. I did notice some stuttering on my rig during scenes. Now, I own a mid grade machine (Alienware) and that is something that Bio Ware needs to take into consideration. Not saying to turn down their graphics, but be aware not everyone has a rig to handle the scenes. The rest of the issues were more often inconveniences. The no pants issue and no weapons issue on companions still is happening even after the most recent version so be warned. It is also being noticed on mercenary decorations (personnel) do not have their weapons even though the stance looks as though a weapons is drawn. Some hair cuts are still clipping into heads and clothing. Getting into a taxi and then “zoning” to a new area only to see the bike or taxi becomes invisible. Most of these are not game breaking just annoying. Hopefully future patches will resolve this issue.

Lag on Oddesan:

There were actually 5 instances of Oddesan (the place where you start your Alliance to go up against the Eternal Empire at the end of CH 9) still had significant lag issues and delays between 2-3 seconds. Again, I checked my Internet Up and down just to see if it was on my end or through the router. So such issue. Any other area I zoned through (Planets for Heroics) had no issue with lag. I am theorizing this is because of the huge amount of return subscribers (remember early access time) was more than expected on my server Ebon Hawk. This will be an issue if more players sub to see the content. Again, not game breaking just annoying every now and then.

Over all, the Early Access was a pure success in my opinion. Are there tears and crying out there? Yes, and they have every right to speak their minds. I don’t mind their tears either, they taste like wine to me. The execution of the release is pretty damned good and I consider my monthly subscription as well invested entertainment value with replay-ability. There are things that need tuning, but over all I’m pretty impressed.

Time permitting I will post again in the next day or two on my thoughts about the new leveling rules, Mechanics for Heroics and other sundry areas of interest. So far folks it’s a thumbs up all the way. There is enough to do after the story line that I have no problem logging onto Logan’Varo and continueing his goal to build a kick ass alliance and take down the Eternal Empire!

Till next time, keep your blasters clean and your hyper drives Revved!

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To Boost or Not to BOOST…that is the question…..


Since the release of patch 3.2 and the mighty x12 xp boosts for subscribers, I’ve noted a great deal of different opinions on Bioware’s decision to impliment a full summer of fast leveling. Some of my very favorite and very respected blogger’s (https://zerneblog.wordpress.com , https://waitingforrez.wordpress.com , https://partybusiness.wordpress.com , and Star Wars The Old Republic-04-23-2015 17-17-03http://swtorcommando.blogspot.com ) to name a few, have put across the pro’s and cons of this experience boost. I hesitated posting anything about the x12 as I wanted to be sure of my own thoughts on the matter at hand. To be clear, you must know your own motivation when dealing with such fast leveling in context of the game. There are times it is very handy and times when it is detrimental to the experience of the game pending upon why you play. So here is my take on the bonus and a few possible scenarios as to why or why not use the boost:

– I want one of each class on each faction. I want to experience each Class Storyline to completion, not for skill but simply to enjoy the storyline. In this case, I don’t like to be side tracked with a bunch of side quests that take away the pieces of the puzzle for the story itself. x12 XP is very handy for just experiencing the character POV (point of view) within the context of the entire SWTOR story arch. for this, the boost is pure awesome. Oh, keep in mind you get huge commendation bonuses for class storyline completions as well.

– I have a mid level range character where I understand or have studied the necessary builds and skill rotations. however, I want to get it to level cap so I can pitch in further for my guild OPS/HM FP’s. Great idea to get these alts to cap so they can be useful for end game content! Again, minimal time investment, maximum returns.

Unknown Game-05-03-2015 22-02-27– I am experimenting with new characters and different class builds but if I don’t like it, it won’t hurt too bad to re roll and start over. This honestly doesn’t bother me in the least, I’ve taken characters all the way to LV 50, felt I didn’t enjoy the class and well…kicked them out the airlock for a re roll. Because the XP bonus is there, trying something new but with the same name or look won’t hurt me too bad, especially if I am not having fun and want to try a different specialty. As a subscriber since November of last year, I get a couple of sets of mod-able gear that while not pretty, still effective with minimal investment. Over time, if I decide to keep the character, I can create different outfit looks through the outfit designer tabs which aren’t nearly as huge of a credit sink as I thought they would be.

– Some of my dearest friends have moved to a different server for (XYZ) reasons. I can’t/won’t spend money for the transfer. But I don’t want to loose connection with all the cool people I’ve met. Easy money here, re roll and fast level. It honestly doesn’t take more than 30 minutes to burn through the first 10 levels. Those who are veterans of the game probably have several account bound items they can pull up quickly to assist them in their goals. By level 15 you can buy your first ride and BOOM! You are speeding through levels faster than Han Solo can make the Kessel Run!

– I love to RP, but some of the places my fellow RPer’s go I can’t get to because of my level. Look once you have experienced the Bioware storyline whether major or minor you’ll  want to start creating your own story if you are an avid Star Wars The Old Republic-05-04-2015 7-16-20RPer. If you already know what you want your character to be involved in, boosting up fast allows you to participate in the higher level events.

OOOORRRRR…..

– I’m new to the game. I don’t understand the how and why of each class. I want to enjoy the ENTIRE story to include all the side quests/planetary quests/Heroics on each planet and get all the possible achievements. In this case, turn off the XP boost once you get to fleet. Then get ready for the long road to High Adventure! Without the XP boost, you can feel you have the appropriate challenge on each planet and the ability to finish every available quest while still earning xp. This is actually important. Part, not all, but part of questing is getting a reward that has meaning.

– I love PvP, but I need to practice my class more and prefer to stay in the War Zones as much as possible to get my twitch down to both science and art. Turn off that xp boost for story classes so you level appropriately and get all the practice time you need killing your fellow players a zillion times over! I did this personally when I rolled my PVP Operative. I am by no means an expert at pvp and need every bit of practice possible with my character to make him the absolute best possible fighter in the warzones. No xp bonus means I can spend far more time in the war zones fighting without worrying about leveling too fast. Conversely I may turn the xp boost back on if say the long haul through Midbie range (lv 30-55) gets annoying. I hit 30, turn the boost back on till I get to say 45 and then turn it back off to get back into the pvp battlegrounds and work from there.

– I’m still an RPer but I want to develop my character’s attitudes/motivations based upon experiences held in game. Each interaction and choice has meaning, even the side quest givers. Hell I even walk from zone to zone instead of speed run or vehicle mount if it’s accessible. Ok, again a case where turning off the XP is a very viable option. This is a long term investment and a serious challenge. I don’t think I’ve run across someone who has actually pulled this off. Variations of this is perma death re rolls…very challenging stuff and very deadly in consequences. But some people like to take it to that level to really immerse themselves into their avatars. Choices they make get more real if a perma death is involved. Now this could be a case of turning on and off pending upon personal progression.

– I’m a crafter and want my crafting to be meaningful to my character. If I out level my skill ability, the crafting means little for me. Well, serious stuff here. If you are boosted in XP and burning through levels, you will without a doubt surpass your crafting skill in ability and make the crafted items irrelevant. In these case, having the boost turned off is preferable.

My point in all of this is whether you choose or not choose to use the xp boost is entirely up to you in personal motivation. Take a moment to examine why you play and quickly you will be able to determine whether the x12 boost is really for you or not. Now I know some hard core end gamers complain that people are leveling so fast that they have no clue how to use Star Wars The Old Republic-05-03-2015 17-24-36their class and it makes doing PUG HMFPs a pain in the ass. True, but then I keep a list of friends who I know will do the job right and a list of people who are useless. To be sure, the standards of my guild are fairly high. I mean they will teach you what you need to know but if you can’t learn you probably won’t be welcome back to any of the OPs events. Not that they are mean, but if you aren’t progressing neither are they. See, that’s how you avoid the speed levelers who aren’t willing to learn thier class, your guild. Get into a good one and you won’t have to worry. But that’s a topic for another day.Till next time, see ya on the high ground!!

When the Blaster hits the Bone


So for the last few days I’ve been having fun on the Imperial side as an Agent/Sniper. The class itself is the same as smuggler/gunslinger in mechanics just with a rifle instead of twin pistols. The storyline is bar none the absolute best in the entire game, especially when playing double agent. I won’t ruin it for those who haven’t gone through it, but I still watch the entire cut scene series and interact with much vigor every hour of play. Believe me, it got personal! I don’t think I’ve cursed out so many pixilated adversaries in my entire life. But that’s what I loved about the story. I totally got immersed into each scenario. So much fun to be had! The twists and plot turns just had me riveted and wanting to see what happens next.

So, the creation of Mharius “Cypher Agent/Sniper” happened last Thursday afternoon. I created him as a cyborg, thought the darkened round hippy shades were too cool and had a lot of fun setting him up. I spent a fair amount of credits on his outfit, but kept it pretty conservative in style (Sniper’s Jacket and Belt, Savage Leggings, Slicer’s Boots, Nefarious Bandit’s gloves). I kept the color scheme in the grey and it just felt right if you know what I mean.

As to the companions, always a challenge keeping them happy, especially Kaliyo. She’s a hard one to read as far as interacting. But, anything can be patched up with a few luxury items for her. I do recall pissing her off at least a couple of times. Nevertheless, Kaliyo has been hands down my best partner in the combat zone. Occasionally the good Dr Lokin was fun as a healer, and I did try SCORPIO (wicked awesome concept, but not nearly as resilient as Kaliyo is). Over all, Kaliyo has been correct in her arrogant phrase “Can’t live without me can you?” Ya, she’s right, I spent some credits to be sure to keep her geared up, but she handles so well when I need to stand off and take my time sniping out a target.

At any rate, I had sooo much fun on this sniper I’ll be keeping him for quite awhile. Currently he is a recruit on an Imperial guild which I have applied to. I’m still on my 2 week trial status with them as a candidate but all is going well on that end. I haven’t dropped Damios out of the picture, but I am an altiholic by nature, so I’ll be experimenting more with all of the classes.

If you haven’t done the Agent story, believe me, you got to try it, even if ranged combat isn’t your forte. The story alone will make it worth your time. Ok, That’s it for now. I’ll be checking in soon on further developments. You all have an awesome day, and thanks for dropping by.

Day 5-6 Fistfull of Credits…BHW, Voss: Kisses, Carbonite, and Kingpins..


Well the weekend was pretty busy after I had recovered from my traumatic encounters with caffeine, nicotine, and whiskey…

So I’ll tell you a story of the damnable trouble one poor smuggler turned bounty hunter has gotten into;

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A mutated assassination beast…dead.

It all started with a meeting. Senator Dodonna was pretty shook up after the mutant attack on her. Of course I had to console her. I mean powerful as she was, she still could fear for her life. Rightfully so too, those mutant beasts could have torn both of us limb from limb. This is why I always say two blasters are infinitely better than one. I also always say there is no such thing as fighting fair. Extra numbers, extra thermite grenades, a couple of pistol whips and a dagger or three are your best friends.

Anyways, this led me to escorting her back to her private apartments.

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Always ready to console those under duress.

I woke up the next morning in the lap of luxury. Satin sheets, scented air, pools and food and drink to excess. Needless to say, the powerful do enjoy their perks. As to Dodonna, just incredible. I always thought she was attractive, but waking up to her in nothing more than a silk robe, well it’s a memory I’ll not soon forget. She offered me a drink and sat on the bed. I thought maybe we were going to enjoy a fun-filled morning, but that was not to be. After a long discussion she made it clear that while this interlude was exhilarating for her, neither of us would fit in each others world. The wealthy Senator certainly wasn’t going to give up her standing or the perks that came with it running the hyper lanes with a privateer. She also knew I would never stand to be a tamed trophy boy. Nope, it was better to have a happy memory and a fond goodbye kiss. WOW! Usually I’m the one to leave them pining. I mean either that or getting slapped in the face with a string of expletives that would make a Gundark blush.  Well, she had the run of this one. I couldn’t blame her. She was right, we don’t “fit”. But dammit I would have hoped at least for a few more crazy nights in her private quarters. Instead, I got the cheek caress, kiss farewell, and a slap on the ass. Watching her walk away in those shear robes left me without words.

But I’m not one to dwell too long on this. I used her, she used me and I doubt either one of us cared. It was off to the hyper lanes again. I won’t go into too many details but Dodonna had me looking for some new tech on Belsalvius as well as track down a Crime Lord named Ivory. After some serious problems on a prison planet gone riot, I finally tracked Ivory down. Turns out we had something in common. A hatred for Rogun. In the end, I made the old crime lord my employee. So lets see, a smuggling crew, a pirate raiding fleet and now serious contacts in the underworld. Yup, my plans for the future just got closer. The downside to all of this? Well, Dodonna wasn’t pleased that I didn’t get the tech she was looking for. She also wanted Ivory alive…not “dead”. Ok, lovers sometimes keep secrets from each other. But the thing is, I needed Ivory for my own operations and he was far more valuable to me alive than dead. Star Wars The Old Republic-04-25-2015 3-31-05

With all of that, we at least got word of who sold the mutant beasts to take out the Senator. Hey, I promised I’d deal with them ok? Besides, it was one step closer to killing Rogun. whoever sold those mutants over had closer contact to Rogun and I wanted him dead. Lucky me, the BBA also had two contracts out on some Exchange goons operating out of Voss. Apparently the Voss don’t take kindly to the Exchange raiding their sacred sites. I couldn’t figure out why they wouldn’t just go kill these goons themselves, but who am I to argue? They weren’t amused when I brought the first one back dead. But a deal is a deal and I will get my credits. Especially when my neck is on the line. I let them know, Carbonite freezes were a tricky business and I charged Extra for that sort of thing. Needless to say, with a little effort, the second one went down too.

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So a couple more contracts done.Thid gained me enough notoriety to gain my first Kingpin hit. Back to Coruscant I went. My reputation was starting to be known. Sure, I was the Newcomer, but a few heads were turning about in my direction for such fast turnarounds. The contract brokers gave me a big one this time. I didn’t think anything of it. Just another hit. Boy was I wrong. Damned near died for it too. This wasn’t just another hit. The target was savvy and deadly. Our initial encounter was nothing more than us walking into an ambush. Even Akaavi was surprised. We were beaten back so bad, we had been blown straight off the landing pad in the Justicar Sector. Nothing but a five-minute drop into splatterville for us. Akaavi saved our skins though. She had a power grapple and a locking glove that kept us alive. Nearly broke both our spines in the process, but we didn’t die. So swinging from a sensor conduit on a single cable is no way in my book entertainment. I punched out my emergency beacon locator and called in a favor from The Coruscant Coalition. Needed their extraction fast, and some extra muscle to take this bastard down. They sent me Handit, for a fee of course. But well-earned. Even if I only broke even, I couldn’t come home like a whipped akk pup. So Handit extracted us, sent Akaavi to the kolto tanks and got me readied for another run. This time, we were ready for his style. I gotta say, having Handit there laying down a wall of cannon fire is something to behold. Between the two of us, and a medic, we took the Kingpin down. Not easy and left more than a few bodies in the wake but the job was finished. Taking back his head was a pleasure. The look on the Brokers even more of a reward. They thought I was going to be a corpse for this run. Guess next time they’ll think again…Star Wars The Old Republic-04-26-2015 15-39-29

Ok, so I had a lot of fun this weekend.  The freeze dried stiff in carbonite was fun because his  minions did some enormous knockbacks that left me spinning. I was not at all prepared for what a kingpin meant as a contract…silly me. I wanted to thank the help from my Guild: The Coruscant Coalition for their back up on taking down my first Kingpin Contract. Way cool of them! While it wasn’t necessary in reality, I did donate 20k in credits to the guild bank for the assistance. Hats off to “Handit” aka Handitover for his timely intervention. Without him this would have ended very badly over and over. I’m still leveling on Voss, almost lv 46 now. The guild would never force me into power leveling or anything, but they are looking forward to seeing at least one of my alts make it into the beginning ops by this upcoming weekend. So, Damios is my sole focus now as the BHW comes to a close. It was a lot of fun and now back to serious leveling. Hope you all enjoyed the story and please drop some feedback when you can. Till next time, may your account be full of credits and your hyper drives never burned to a crisp…

DAY 2: A Fist Full of Credits…Bounty Hunter Week


(CAVEAT: For those reading early, I usually post my screen shots in the evening when I get home)

With Coruscant finished, it was time I set my sights on a new target. Well, wouldn’t ya know, my old stomping grounds on Nar Shaddaa came up on the list. Now, I love Nar Shaddaa. Sex, Gambling, drugs, unrepentant violence, yup I’m at home there. Anyways, this trip took me all over the place, but the favorite part was hitting up Club Vertica. That gorgeous giant casino that no one ever goes to unless there is an event. Now, club Vertica is really a pretty huge area to cover as far as casinos go and you have to take a hover taxi to get there. But once there, it’s a pretty incredible place. Too bad it doesn’t get used nearly enough. What surprised me is so few people from the RP community bother with it. I mean I know plenty go to the Slippery slopes, but in my mind, that’s a pretty bland cantina. Now, on the Jung Ma server, Slippery Slopes gets a lot of action because it’s neutral ground, so both Imperial and Republic can rub shoulders…your cut each other to pieces in duels. Pretty cool mechanism if you ask me. I wish Vertica was the same way.

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Anyways, Nar Shaddaa made perfect sense to go hunt down a bounty. Now in this case, it ended up being a rivalry between casino operators. One had more money to take out the other “less civil” owner. Who am I to pass up on a deal like that? I’m telling you now, EVERYONE on Nar Shaddaa is dirty in one way or another, so it didn’t bother me that this was more an assassination than justice. So the hunt began, and let me tell ya, all those shady bastards at Club Vertica just had no intention of talking. Very closed mouthed lot. They ended up dead for thier troubles. No skin off my back, I was perfectly willing to share drinks and polite conversation.

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But I found out the target got a little jumpy and was hiding out down in the Red Light District. No surprise there. It’s a good place to disappear when you need to. Still, you can hide all you want, but unless you system hop a lot, some one will give you up. Now, this target wasn’t an easy kill. Matter of fact, he and his cronies were pretty hard to handle.

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Lost an eye out of that mess from a knife gouge. Sure, Kolto tanks healed the damage, but not the sight. Thankfully, the underworld can be your best friend for a price. And though my profits were cut a bit, I got a cybernetic patch to cover the worst of the damage. Regular sight is still gone in that eye, but that’s ok. See, now I can use it for low light and infra-red requirements. Not to mention it does have a decent targeting system. Can’t say I’m as pretty as I was, but my indelible charm wipes away those nasty little scars.

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Ok, so bottom line when I was turning in my bounty contract at the Bazaar on Fleet, I ran across a vendor that gave me a modable head-piece that looks like a cybernetic eye patch. I couldn’t resist! I think it was faction gear with the contraband stuff, not sure but it was way cool for an added touch that I don’t see most people do. Now I did switch my scars from the right side to the left, which cost me about 40 Cartel Coins, but I liked the result and it gave flavor to my character for immersion. So, what sort of things do you do to add that individuality to your toons? You don’t have to be an RPer, but what makes your character come alive for you and make you keep wanting to return to it?