Thursday 27 December 2012

Reading is Bad for You

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Our next stop was to retrieve a holy warhammer for the guy who hears voices in his head at a bandit cave near Whiterun. The first thing I encounter when I get there is an angry face of a guard who attacks me out right (kinda wanted here too). He's soon joined by another, and then by a pair of bandits. Then out of the blue, a familiar cat figure appears - Bane who had been tailing us decided to come out of the shadows to assist. "Khajiit guards your back," he says smugly. With now three of us, there was little danger as we raided the cave and then a second location for more schematics before returning to Dawnguard HQ.

Alas, it turns out the moth priest had been blinded by his own folly and now I have to go do a ritual to read them. The place was easy enough to find, a well hidden and very pretty glade. After attracting some bugs to me (yuck) I managed to read all three elder scrolls in succession (I think purely to make use of the open scroll animation) and got a vision of a map before snapping out of it. At least I'm not blind!

Alternative Solution: Elder Braile Scrolls.

Seems our next task is to retrieve some bow of a god, which is also what Lord Harkon wants apparently. Just as we were on our way out a large mob of vampires and a pair of gargoyles show up! How did they know we were here? We are forced back by the overwhelming numbers and I lose track of both Bane and Serana. I opt to take the high ground on the opposite bank and setup a firing position from there. The exploding bolts and fast reloading crossbow sure come in handy here. One of the thralls actually makes it up to my position but I just shout him off the cliff to certain death.

Eventually I spot Bane far below fighting like a wild cat, even though he is knocked down again and again. It's still enough to keep the enemies in the open though and eventually I snipe the last one with a slow motion headshot. With the last enemy defeated I regrouped with both Bane who had survived the ordeal, and Serana who seemed to be badly wounded (crawling). Got her to feed on an enemy thrall (possibly the one that went sky diving) and upon leaving she was back to her usual self.

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Scavenging Spirit

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Located Valerica, Serana's mother who sheds some light on the history of vampires and the kinky nature of Molag Bal which may explain why she has such a fascination for boners *cough* skeletons. Anyway she's trapped in the boneyard (rofl) and needs us to go slay the keepers that are powering the force field. These three headless bosses are impressive in their dragonbone gear but not really difficult to defeat. The last one was the easiest, I threw him from his floating tower and took his bow.

With the shield down we finally claim the elder scroll from Valerica - after easily beating up a dragon that lurks down here. The draggy is surprisingly resilient to death though, and we have a chat later where we exchange names: he calls me Vanquisher, I call him Dummy. We're cool. Though Serana wants to leave now that we got what we came for, I decide to finish off this zone thoroughly so I won't have to come back which means spending hours looking for pages of "Saint" Jiub's book. Goddamn.

I found the skull of a dead horse (who I can't summon due to lack of magicka), the shards required to awaken the reaper (total pushover), and the gem with part of my own soul before I found all ten pages for the fool. Fortunately his reward for it is a really awesome amulet which almost makes it all worthwhile. We then hoofed it back to the land of the living and instead of heading back to Dawnguard HQ decided to do some quick quest detours on the way back starting with stealing some schematics from the falmer beneath Markarth.

Why don't you obey me?

Using Whirlwind Sprint made this an incredibly quick task for me since I could jump across an inconceivably large gap to the main control chest right away. Serana on the other hand seemed content jumping off the highest ledge into the falmer infested ruins and zapping her way out. I didn't really concern myself since she was evidently very capable in combat. She also has more personality than most of the NPCs, making me kinda wish Bethesda had a few more people with this much depth (and it's not super deep at all).

Sunday 23 December 2012

Did I just Die Again?

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Katria, Agmaer and myself rode the lift far down into the depths where we finally found the Aetherium Forge our spirit guide was looking for. She then told me to turn off the steam. Are you nuts? That generally makes things explode! Anyway, after a mandatory fight with its guardians (where I turn the steam back on) I use the rare ore of the key itself to make a crown for Katria. She is happy and finally goes off to Sovngarde (I guess). I run one more rescue mission with Agmaer wherein we slay another master vamp and free a bearded male orc civilian who calls Agmaer "my love". Uhhh, awkward.

With a lot of experience now under his belt I bring Agmaer back to Dawnguard HQ then proceed to meet Serana where she is waiting for me  - but not before I instruct one of my people, Bane the khajiit, to tail us covertly from a good distance. I'm not dumb enough to wander around with a bunch of elder scrolls and have no backup, and I figure if anyone can sneak up on a vamp it would be a cat. So into the castle we go via a side entrance. Skeletons and gargoyles seem to be the main guards here, but are generally no match for Serana's magic anyway. A feral vamp and her doggies are the only fangs I get to slay on this excursion.

We finally reach the tower of her mom and find a portal to the Soul Cairn, the only catch being I have to be partially "dead" to enter. Serana offers again to vamp me out or alternatively partially soul trap me which will weaken me somewhat. I obviously  choose the soul trap option (because vampires suck!) and then descend into the realm of not quite death, but more like used black soul-trap land? It is a bizzare and somewhat large place, but thankfully it is not as huge nor as darkly foreboding as Blackreach. Oddly the skeleton theme continues here, with bonemen being my primary adversaries. Pity for them my aura whisper removes any surprise attacks they have, since I can pinpoint them, bash them through the sand to make them climb out, and finish off with a sneak attack when they are defenseless.

Lots of non-hostile souls here too, the funniest being "Saint" Jiub, the slayer of Cliffracers! Unfortunately he also has a damned collection quest in here too. Blaaaargh! x_x

Whoa that takes me back.

Saturday 22 December 2012

Angry Fangs

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Outside the ruins there was still no sign of my buddy Ono, so I headed back towards the orc settlement and quickened the pace as I saw spell-cast lightning arc in the darkness up ahead. On the road I passed a pair of the charred vigilant remains and was correct in guessing what was attacking the settlement. Another Volkihar vampire. Ono was here, aiding his kinsmen in the battle but after a long struggle only he and I remained. The rest of the orcs here were now either rotting corpses or ashes blowing away in the wind.

We decided to get out of there ASAP and tracked down the second part of the forge key in an easily accessible shrine. The third piece was much harder, being in the depths of Radthalbar. On our descent through there we got attacked by a pair of dwarven spheres right in a hallway with helicopter blades. Being fleet of foot I dodged out of there easily, but the spheres and Ono were shredded into pieces.

This was all that's left of them.

Found the key part past more falmer scum then decided to head to Fort Dawnguard to hand in stuff since I was in the area. There the newbie Agmaer asked if he could come along to get some experience since Isran didn't seem to be sending his troops anywhere. With Ono's fresh demise in my head I reluctantly said yes. The final 4th piece of the key was fortunately easy to reach but the "lock" itself was in some ruins guarded by bandits. The poor guy got thrashed pretty badly and it was soon evident it would be up to me to take them down.

Suddenly the bandits turned their attention to new opponents behind us, a pair of Volkihar vamps with an undead legate in tow (in broad daylight). THE HELL? Grabbed Agmaer and hauled him to cover while the vampires ate the bandits (I assume, because I didn't see them anymore) and soon enough they were coming for us. Katria then suddenly appeared with her ghostly bow and drew their spell fire. She could surprisingly take their hits while I sniped them off from a safe distance. I guess ghosts beat vampires then?

Friday 21 December 2012

Quakey Shakey Heart

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

The elder scroll is read back at Fort Dawnguard but apparently it is missing two more pieces. One being one I already had, and the other Serana believes is with her mother who is hiding somewhere, which we deduce is probably in the castle - the same one that the person she is hiding from has lived in for centuries. Ironic, but it does make sense. Serana doesn't want me to bring anyone with me when we do infiltrate it - she has understandable trust issues. She goes to wait at the dock till I'm ready which means it is sidequest time! :P

She wants some alone time with me. ;P

With Lynn in tow I bought back the elder scroll from Urog (get a discount for being archmage lol), defeated another master vamp, rescued a crazy guy from yet another vamp who has charmed a small army of vigilants which we are forced to literally cut through, and finally launched an attack on a major bandit outpost for more schematics. We got separated in the melee and I was beginning to fear the worst until I saw she was comically running after fleeing enemies every which way once I got closer. With that done she had completed her patrol and we returned to Skyhaven Temple where I got Ono the orc next to explore some dwemer ruins I read about in a random book.

Our nearest waypoint was a small orc settlement which pleased him somewhat. From them we heard rumors about a large band of warlike orsimer heading into the region soon too before we continued to the site. The rumbling ruins seemed to have stolen Ono's courage with him vanishing a short way in. Didn't matter though as inside I met a new strange ally: the spirit Katria whose body was also still here. Apparently she was looking for an ancient dwaven forge, and after navigating through annoying falmer and their new "flying" charrus as well as dwemer traps we found one piece of the "key". Oh goodie. Fortunately she had done her research and the remaining spots were marked in her journal meaning they should be easy to find. She was going to go spirit on ahead while I had to trek like a sucker.

I'm kinda curious how spirits work in this world. She can kill stuff with physical arrows... yet I'm carrying her bow and her armor (she makes a funny comment about that), and she can also just appear and disappear seemingly at will wherever she likes but can't take her own journal... thinking about it too much makes my head hurt.

Thursday 20 December 2012

Too Good to be Bad

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

I took the douchebag Cutter for patrol next. First up was to patrol that cave I had marked earlier - a super dark place filled with spiders and trolls with a wierd shrine at the bottom, then returning to Fort Dawnguard to see how things were progressing. There was a new gate and gate guard for starters, as well as two new female hunters, and they had a visiting vampire looking for me. Yep, Serana walked into the den of vampire hunters. Seems she wants to help us read the elder scroll she has and after managing to convince Isran not to smite her (or torture her further) we learn we need a Moth Priest to do the task. One happens to be in the province too, how convenient.

Serana doesn't trust Cutter either though so she opted to remain with the other vampire hunters while we go do quests. Just read that line again to get an indication of how much of an asshole Cutter is. Anyway we complete other tasks on our hunt for the priest including slaying a random master vampire and retrieving schematics from those try hards, the Summerset Shadows. We get a lead that points us to Dragonbridge but once there the townspeople suggest I ask the guards about the moth priest. I do just that and they reply with "You have commited crimes against the people of Skyrim!" and attack, so naturally we kill them in self-defence.

And we all know offense is the best defense!
To make absolutely sure I even ask the penticus occultus agent stationed there if he knows anything about the guy and he replies with a smug "Yes?" without even standing up and leaving his arms crossed over his chest. This bastard wasn't going to tell me anything so I beheaded him too with my opening attack. Not like I was going to let any Imperial Scum live anyway. With no leads I decided to look around and found a carraige down the road. A trail of blood and a foolishly dropped letter pinpointed where the kidnapped priest was taken, and Cutter and I made short work of the vampire kidnappers and knocked some sense into the old dude while we were at it too.

With the mission complete I returned to Skyhaven Temple to pick up Lynn who was next on rotation as Cutter bragged about his feats to the remaining members of my small group. Despite my dislike for the guy he is actually proficient in what he does - killing things and bragging about it afterwards.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Two for Two

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

The first person I went to recruit was the tamer Gunmar who I found outside a nearby cave. Seems he was being tracked too, by a bounty hunter! After bonding through shared manslaughter he agrees to join after I help him kill a murderous bear. Aren't all the bears here murderous anyway? Once that easy task was done I trekked back to Skyhaven Temple to get Wynd, the transgendered elf, for patrol next - starting at Markarth (where I finally found my 100k gold - yay) and then went to find the artificer at her remote campsite beside a river.

I guess some bears are more murderous than others.

Once we got there we were met by the strangest sight - a thalmor soldier fighting a giant crab fighting a frost dragon in the river itself, and to make matters worse Sorine the artificer suddenly charges into the fray. Knowing we kinda need her alive we engaged all the opponents, drawing their ire. Wynd made the mistake of getting too close though, and there was little I could do as the giant crab grabbed him in its giant pincer and then have the dragon ice them both. His body was swept down with the current by the time I killed the dragon. Sorine wasn't even thankful, but at least she agreed to join the Dawnguard after I returned her bag of gyros to her.

While there I spotted a cave I hadn't been in before and marked it on my map, then returned to Skyhaven Temple for reinforcements and found Vilkas alive and well again, waiting for me at the entrance with his wolfish. I seriously have lost count how many times I have killed this were-draugr. He asked if I wanted a lesson in two handed weapons, so I requested a duel the traditional way - I punched him in the face three times. In the course of our battle I sliced him, hacked him, and pushed him down a small rocky cliff (with me in pursuit) and when he was on his knees saying "Enough! I am no ma..." I stopped him right there by grabbing his hair and slicing through his neck with Rayna's daedric blade, beheading the ugly bastard. Let's see if he can regenerate from that.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

A Bloody Massacre

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Solving the puzzle brought me another surprise, as it freed rather fetching, elder scroll carrying vampire girl named Serana. My first instinct was to kill her but since she seemed disoriented and non hostile I thought I'd question her first. Simply put, she wanted to go home, and wanted me to take her there. Since it was unlikely it was going to be a trap, I decided not to pass up the opportunity to get the location of a secret vampire base. Back topside I decided to swing by Solitude to rummage through more of my gear, and to check in with Jordis and Njada who were a little curious as to who my new raven-haired, red-eyed, friend was before pressing on.

Turns out the "secret vampire base" is a bloody great castle just off the northern coast. How did anyone miss that? Anyway, we literally stroll inside (for some reason I can't go on a murderous rampage right now) and are welcomed by her father, Lord Harkon Volkihar and his court. As thanks he offers to make me a hideous monster (LOL). I politely decline and explain it was hard enough to cure my werecorginess so instead he banishes me back outside and warns me not to return. Naturally the first thing I try is to get back in there but I am defeated by their closed gate. With a sigh I decided to go to Skyhaven Temple to rummage for my things there and upon hearing of her friend Rayna's death, Alyssa asked to accompany me against this new threat.

Seems the vampires are on the ball though, because upon our return to the Dawnguard HQ we founnd it under attack by a small group of high level vampires. In a rage, Alyssa charged into the fray along with most of the other Dawnguard members (some new ones too). It was a massacre on all sides and in the end only the most powerful vamp, Isran and myself remained alive. I the chaos I didn't see what killed Alyssa the first time, but I certainly know what turned her into a pile of dust after she was raised as a familiar - Isran's gigantic warhammer. It was a long fight to defeat the last Volkihar vampire, and at the end Isran was in such a beserked state he kept trying to attack me too! I hid from him in his own fortress for a day (well, a cave behind the fortress to be exact) to let him cool off.

Dude was pissed.

Apart from Isran and myself, only the newbie Agmaer and the two war huskies survived (because they stayed in the keep). It was no surprise then that my next task was to recruit two "specialists", a tamer and artificer, because Isran knew his group just got pwned.

Monday 17 December 2012

The New Order

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

With the arrival of Dawnguard as an early Christmas present I have returned to continue the story here for a bit! :)

The winds seemed colder as Rayna and I reached the final strech to Winterhold, having navigated past many dangers mostly in the form of witches and infected people for some reason. Once there I finally performed the final ritual to rid myself of that curse placed on me and paid off my dues to the college so that they would stop treating me like a leper. I sort of forgot where I left all my gear though, so after rummaging around the archmage's quarters we continued on to Windhelm again to look for stuff and crafted some gear while I was at it, reaching level 50. I ended up having to still raid my house and the castle kitchens for food due to my low supply of potions (and gold) before continuing south to Riften to do the same.

Seems a new person is inhabiting the Ragged Flagon, but since she isn't really allied with the thieves guild I let her be again heading South to try find this new band of vampire hunters we had heard about from a guardswoman at some remote mine. It took a little while before Rayna found the crack in the mountain leading to their base, a large but dilapidated castle manned only by a handful of people. There was an orc wielding a new weapon on the outskirts too - a crossbow! I let out an audible "ooooh" as he handed me a spare to try out, then continued into the structure with another newbie named Agmaer where we met their slightly psycho redguard leader, Isran.

Because insane people make the best leaders right?

I get my first task almost immediately, to go check out some crypt that has the vampire's attention for some reason. Wasn't hard to find since I had passed it earlier (though I couldn't reach it initially)and once inside Rayna and I were quickly introduced to the Dawnguard's main adversaries - vampires, and their pets. They weren't much of a problem until my companion got jumped by a more powerful one, her risen spider and her death hounds. Rayna fought fiercely but finally had her life drained out of her by the vampiress before I could reach her. With no choice but to leave the pale, cold corpse of my companion behind I continued deeper underground felling more undead scum that stood in my way until finally, I reached a strange circular puzzle that pierced my hand unexpectedly. Ouch!

Wednesday 12 December 2012


Seems official that my poor old compy is edging closer to death which is sad, but given that many of the new games these days require better than XP anyway it may just be a sign for me to upgrade. As in, a proper upgrade and not just Juris and I whacking in new bits into the box haphazardly. As an aside, Juris also introduced me to the Spoony Experiment, a review site which I found to be hilarious and entertaining. Among the vast list of stuff there is a Retrospective on Ultima with a video for each game! Thought it may be of interest to any UO players still lurking about to see the history of Sosaria. :)

In sadder random online news a webcomic I've been following called Rustyandco about a Rust Monster, Gelatinous Cube and Mimic, seems to have 404ed into non-existence probably because the Wizards of the Coast sent a band of adventurer (lawyers) to slay them. It's a shame since I thought it was really good. I guess it will serve as a reminder to me to be careful when I eventually get around to making my own comic. Or rather my next one.

Anyway, since my "focused" game is currently unplayable I've been turning my attention to more creative works at the moment, at least until I install some bridging game or something should the compy last that long. Also should look at getting my fitness back up - it's been awhile since I stopped capoeria now and it is showing. Looking a little chubby is one thing, but it's the feeling -slow- that gets me. 

Speaking of fitness though, here's a person that impresses the hell out of me. Her stage name is Stacey Minx and other than being cute, she's a medal holder in poledancing and a fitness trainer. I guess what really gets me is that I still remember her as a little kid, being impressed by my speedy rubik's cube solving skills. Part of me wishes I was that fit. Unfortunately the rest of me likes eating sinfully rich chocolate cake. :P

Saturday 8 December 2012

Week #14 - Hibernation Elsewhere

Part of my Explorer of Tyria journal - you can find the rest here!

This is probably going to be my last "weekly" blog for GW2 since I'm not playing it enough to warrant it anymore, especially with Christmas coming up I'm expecting to have a few other things to do. Not to worry, I'll still update this journal though, just when I have enough content for it.

Managed to run Honor of the Waves explorable with DL, Yue, Elena and random asura Pompi. Sure felt super safe having 3 guardians on the team and sure enough, we managed to go through it and defeat Wullam the Plunderer in underwater combat suffering only one death (and zero again when we fought the Claw of Jormag once we exited). While it was fun it also means yet another bag slot is not occupied by dungeon tokens that I probably won't use unless I grind for more of them. And here I thought Arenanet didn't want to make a grindy game? They could have at least either made the things tradable, or stack "outside" like coin and gems.

It might be sinking, but it's still awesome.

Speaking of which, in preparation for my Christmas time absence I've spent time this week converting karma into gold via the mystic forge, then stocking up on gems since the value of gold seems to just continously be getting crappier. Hopefully the upward trend of gem prices continues so I'll have some funds when I get back - Still have to finish the main quest afterall.

Turns out I did that just in time too, because as of this posting for some reason I can no longer log into GW2. Everytime I attempt and verify access I get taken to a black screen where the mouse cursor becomes a hand... and then nothing. Breaking out of that and trying again results in the loader sitting at Downloading 0/0 kbs. Not sure what is causing this behaviour but I suspect it's my own compy giving up the ghost. :(

Friday 7 December 2012

Failures of Communication

Part of my Explorer of Tyria journal - you can find the rest here!

I'm very surprised (to put it politely) at the way ArenaNet is handling their official comms. I, like many others I'm guessing, would expect to see their updates and messages to players on their main site and again within the forums but this is not the case. Instead they broadcast out to gw2wiki, reddit, twitter, facebook, youtube and the like. I don't have a problem with them doing that, but for them to then NOT POST A LINK on their OWN PAGE screams out that something is broken in their way of thinking.

Even the recent AMA (which I had to ask another forum poster what the hell it was, because the staff/mods didn't bother to reply to such a simple question) was on reddit, a site I don't really find to be user friendly at all. It's like they are trying to spread their PR and at the same time attempting to hide it from their actual consumer base.

At least they aren't trolling like some Aussie DJs recently did, which seems to have resulted in a fatality. Who is laughing now?

Such pretty murderers.

Monday 3 December 2012

Week #13 - Out of Content

Part of my Explorer of Tyria journal - you can find the rest here!

Less GW2 this week as I finished off Dawn of War II: Retribution and the Walking Dead. Both of them were very cool but it is unlikely I'll play through them again as I feel it will be unrewarding to just be covering  the same content as before which is exactly the problem I'm having with GW2 - there's no real drive for me to do anything since I've already played through most of the story with one character, fully explored the map, and am not really interested in pvp, crafting or grinding dungeons. Also I'm in a timezone that doesn't suit their "one time events" which just further turns me off so we'll see if ArenaNet manages to hold my attention.

Did manage to finish off the last of the jumping puzzles in the game with Scavenger's Chasm being the damn long finale for them. Not real good rewards for going back to any of them but there are 8 chests all up that are pretty easy for a thief (6 if non rogue) to get to daily, not counting the ones in WvW. 3 at Lion's Arch, 1 at Straits of Dev (just swim around that forcefield), and 4 at Southsun Cove (2 per jump puzzle - the second in each is guarded).

Guildwise I went with DL, Yue and Thaldir on separate occasions to run Ascalon Catacoms story mode (again), and 2 exploration paths to fight the Howling King and Ghost Eater. It was pretty fun, but what would be MORE fun was if the entire dungeon was another "world" map that everyone could enter. Mandatory instanced stuff works ok for scripted story but there was nothing in the explorable paths they couldn't do with their already set Dynamic Event system. Anywho we also made a play for Zhaitan on the weekend, miraculously getting a full party only to find the dragon had wised up to our plans and bugged/froze the quest chain leading up to opening the gates to Arah which meant no finale for us.

Frustrated, I took it out on his minions instead who were also frozen in the quest chain, sending endless waves of their number at a particular Pact position only to be met by a small army of players (and one robot I think) farming them for high level supplies. Apparently it had been this way for a number of days now said one of the farmers, and not just on my server if the forums are to be believed. Beginning to doubt Arenanet's capabilites in general if they can't sort out something so trivial.

Sunday 25 November 2012

Week #12 - High Forces

Part of my Explorer of Tyria journal - you can find the rest here!

The opening of Southsun Cove and investigation into the new Consortium led to some higher guild member activity this week, but alas due to timezone mismatches I think only Yue and Austea were able to participate in every event, including slaying an ancient karka! I kept myself busy too by pretty much attacking every single jumping puzzle and mini dungeon in the game with my alts (in the low level zones for cheaper respawn fare) and main (everywhere else) and have now completed the vast majority of them, with Yue helping me through the visually impressive Obsidian Sanctum. Stand-outs for me were the also incredibly pretty Hidden Garden (which Faiotan, who I had met in a Fotm PUG last week, helped me access), Sector Zuhl which was quite forboding since the dredge dug too deep (soloed that Giant Destroyer Troll!), and the new Skipping Stones which is incredibly fun (but just short of that Clocktower). 

The Dark Reverie, while not so fun is a painful but necessary lesson in air-kiting apparently and if you are attempting Coddler's Cove make sure your graphics settings are higher than "low" because when I went there there were a ton of orbs missing. Managed to also get into a random team to run the Ascalon Catacombs story mode which was entertaining but what I found even more fun than that -or- the jump puzzles was the dwarven ruin at Dredgehaunt Cliffs. DL and I went in not knowing what to expect and it was FUN! They should make more open-world dungeons like this in my opinion. They can even share the same "darkness" mechanic. Much better than having to get 5 people to run one of the instanced places, making it quicker to organize.

Lastly Yue, DL, Thaldir and I managed to encounter AND defeat the Claw of Jormag (twice) this week. He's certainly the most annoying of the dragons thus far but that also makes him the best "boss" battle having extra abilities of both the Sunless one and the Shatterer. Well, when people aren't just farming his summons that is.

I'm gonna farm that dragon good... eeeheheheh!

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Week #11 - Setting the Board

Part of my Explorer of Tyria journal - you can find the rest here!

My ranger finished her story segments this week, ultimately joining the Vigil on level 25. Gotta love all the little side stories that each race gets to do and I'm glad I did them. If you ever wonder where all the steam creatures are coming from, ask an asura who has an "infinity ball" background. I got her to run more jumping puzzles and grab more dive goggles afterwards, and positioned my other mules to do the same - my thinking being that since gravity doesn't really discriminate, it's better for my lower lev chars to do the lower lev jumps leaving the 75% in the harder zones for my main.

Speaking of jump puzzles, I'll briefly mention Pig Iron Quarry which my thief and DL ran this week. Very fun, just wait for the screen to stop shaking before you jump! :P However there is something I love more than jump puzzles and those are mini dungeons! We raided a large shiney treasure guarded by lotsa golems, as well as a hylek temple with Yue. These really encouraged coop play rather than the individual skill that is also fun, but in a different way, for jumping segments. Looking forward to finding more!

We also ran Twilight Arbor Explorable this week with Austea Scarlet and a random fifth. Quite tough, especially the spider queen and whipping vines - too bad the main boss was a bit of a loser (easy), unlike the bosses I faced with a pick up group (PUG) at the new fractals dungeon. Very pretty place those fractals. Our first spot was the swamp, but after failing a few minutes we restarted and got the cliffside which was spectacular! Alas our fighter glitched out into space so being the nice people we were, we left to get him. Next one was funny, since we were all turned into dolphins, though i didn't particularly enjoy that - why the frig would I want to -sneak- past things I would otherwise easily kill? Whatever. Blizzard map was next and that was awesome, and we finished off with the dredge base which was challenging but very fun especially when we finally got that legendary drill-suit down.

Fractal Dungeon - more fun than these.

Ofcourse this also meant the new enemies, the Karka, were beginning to appear with the Lost Shores patch. Alas since one of the NPCs during the investigation phase was not spawning, I couldn't really do much here but DL and I did bump into a Karka "raid" at Morgan's Spiral which served as a good introduction to our new crustacean enemies. Lastly Juris is now also level 80, which hopefully means we'll have enough people to attack Arah, and Zhaitan, soon.

Monday 12 November 2012

Week #10 - Different Roads

Part of my Explorer of Tyria journal - you can find the rest here!

My charr warrior finished his business this week, hunting down an asura necromancer and defeating the rebel Ajax to earn me the Vigil Banner (which, comparatively speaking was the easiest path I found). After he finished on level 31 I decided to see the stories of the two remaining races, and why not - there were free achievements to do so anyway so I made a Norn engineer who was very fun to play. Obviously more fragile than the warrior but she did alright saving a minotaur spirit, repaying a debt to an Iron Legion platoon for taking one of their tanks on a drunken joyride (LOL) and defended the last remaining dwarf, Ogden Stonehealer from the Dredge. That was awesome - at least I got to see and talk to him, something even my level 80 thief hadn't managed to do. Since she didn't need to go after a banner she finished off on level 24.

Next up I made an asura ranger which I am finding super strong - stronger than the warrior in fact! Haven't done much of her story yet and instead was focusing on leveling up AND thanks to the Mad King's Clock Tower, I've decided to hunt down the jumping puzzles that I haven't yet done. Morgan's Spiral was pretty easy, unfortunately the one after it in Nightmare Court territory is proving a bit too tough for her at the moment, I'll have to come back to it later. She is currently level 14.

Gravity is not my friend.

Guildwise DL, Thaldir and my thief managed to help Trahearne cleanse the Heart of Orr so all that is left now is to wander into Arah and kill the dragon. We also attempted 3/4 man Cadecous' Manor (Story mode) with Juris which wasn't that bad despite a few deaths. Good to see that Thaldir, who came late (we were already 60% of the way through) was still able to join the instance and though he didn't get some of the chests was still rewarded for his participation. It's a very awesome mechanic indeed. :)

Monday 5 November 2012

Week #9 - Racing the Clock

Part of my Explorer of Tyria journal - you can find the rest here!

The arrival of the Mad King really side-tracked me this week, and while my first attempt to join in was just an uber lagfest last week it was better this time around as more of his zones got unlocked - spreading the population. After killing a Shadow Behemoth in Queensdale who I stumbled into while looking for a "pumpkin" haunted door the very first bit I participated in was also my favourite - the Mad King's Clock tower, a timed jumping puzzle.

For me - Hours of Fun!

Took me over three hours to finally clear it but it was incredibly enjoyable more so because of all the people I met and talked to while running the thing. I was fortunate enough to also be able to assemble the full story behind King Thorn, explore his labyrinth, fight him during his ascent, play a few rounds of Mad King says, and do each of the event themed pvp related activities of which I found costume brawl to be the funniest (and most fun). There was promise in the Inquisition one though, I hope next time they make it a coop event where people are the villagers looking for environmental weapons and possibly have to protect their village against waves of attackers because that would be better for me. I also took the opportunity to spend 10 gold and buy the whole set of Mad King armor and am laughing now when I summon the flocks of ravens against hordes of orrian scum.

Did manage to progress the main plot too again with DL and Thaldir, cleansing an Ossuary then pushing forward through risen giants and princes with Vigil Tanks and chatting to an avatar of Grenth at the Cathedral of Silence. While it is easier to wander the Cursed Shore as a team, it makes slower going since we kill -everything- in the way. Ofcourse that means my charr warrior didn't progress his path at all - however I still made him explore all the cities and clear out hearts in Queensdale, Wayfarer Foothills, Diessa Plateau and the Plains of Ashford. He finishes this week on level 22.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Famile Recipe: Hamburgers

Part of my Recipes to Disaster journal.

Been a while since I attempted to cook anything, what with all that computer gaming and all. This time around it's good old hamburgers - a variation on them anyway! :D

500g ground beef
4 slices of white bread
Salt & Pepper
Soy Sauce
Tomato paste
1 onion (minced)

1. Remove edges of the bread.  Cut remainder into small squares (eg. Cube the bread :P)
Joe's note: I ended up smashing the remaining bread with a fork in step 2 anyway so don't worry about shape. Just make sure they are small. :P

2. Put a little bit of milk in a small desert bowl.  Put bread cubes into it.  There should be enough milk to soak the bread, but not enough that there is extra milk leftover in the bowl when the
bread is removed. 
Jim’s note:  This step (bread & milk) makes a massive difference in the taste of the  final hamburger – and is the actual ‘secret’ to why mom’s hamburger’s taste fantastic.  Don’t skip it.

3. In a mixing bowl: 
a. mix ground beef with minced onion and the milk-soaked bread
b. Salt & Pepper (tancha) 
c. break in an egg
d. Add 3 cooking tablespoons of tomato paste or ketsup
e. Add 1 cooking tablespoon of soy sauce
Jim’s note:  mix this really well – takes 10-15mins of manual mixing with a fork. 
Joe's note:  I mixed mine for 10 minutes. Failed to read the "with a fork" bit though. Just got in with both (clean) hands and massaged it all together!

4. Form the hamburger patties from the mixture.   You should be able to get 12 big hamburgers (or various combinations of smaller ones)
a. Use a knife to ensure hamburger is packed by lightly tapping lengthwise and crosswise on the patty.
Joe's note:  A dull table knife will suffice. Also use it to make them "burger" shape and fix up frayed edges.
Jim’s note:  You can freeze the patties at this point for serving another day.

5. Cook the hamburgers:
a. Heat up a little bit of oil in a skillet.
b. Put the patties in the skillet and cook 5-7 minutes to each side. 
Jim’s note:  will depend on how strong your fire is.  Again tancha.  

6. Serve. Joe's Note: I like these With ketchup, rice and canned pork & beans! :P

Joe's Result: 10 out of 10 (compared to mom's)! Om nom nom! Not bad for a novice! Helps that this was way simpler than the last thing I tried to cook.

Monday 29 October 2012

Week #8 - Miserable Mesmer

Part of my Explorer of Tyria journal - you can find the rest here!

As the title suggests I was not having a lot of fun using my mesmer. I found him weak, his illusions kinda useless and in general a slog to level up. It's almost like you are required to weapon swap using him and long story short, you need a lot more key presses to kill an enemy. To be fair, they have some really nice long ranged attacks but the minute you gain a tactical advantage (like stand where an enemy cannot hit you) the game makes your target invulnerable (even in instanced missions). THIS IS STUPID. If it is a method of anti-botting then sorry, this just kills the entire game for ranged classes.

Found a good vantage point? Too bad. It's useless!

Stuck it out with him and pushed to level 28 still, hitting storyline missions way above until I finally needed help to retrieve a sword made from Jormag's blood. DL's assistance was required to finish that and upon completion the mesmer completed his job of gaining me the Priory banner, meaning he now goes into the barracks. It will be my warrior's turn next to get me that last banner but he's just level 6 and still working on an anti-ghost rifle.

Main story wise DL, Thaldir and I (main thief) killed a Mouth of Zhaitan in a very buggy mission. Open the doors from ON TOP of them if you get stuck here too. Since that took us long (due to the bugged doors) that's all we got done apart from smashing events at the Straits of Devastation. The first part of the Halloween event also started up but I found Lion's Arch way too laggy to participate. Nice to see the place all dressed up though.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Fastest 100% World Completion

Part of my Explorer of Tyria journal - you can find the rest here!

Now that I've done it myself I thought I would write up a guide to help others complete their own 100% world completion achievement the fastest way possible.

Be like Snake! :P

The Scout:
Fastest paced character from what I can see is the Thief. Remember your mission is to scout, not to fight every critter that happens to be in your way. I won't go into traits as you will be able to work out what you like best with this, but the skills you'll want to be using are:

Steal covers a lot of ground and useful for escaping mobs if you use your targetting correctly.
Hide in Shadows is useful when things get hairy, go invis.
Signet of Shadows but never actually activate it. Passively it will give you +25% speed continously.
Shadow Refuge - Switch out with Signet of Shadows when you are going for a commune or combat skill point. 7 seconds invis is more than enough to commune!
Shadow Trap is useful as distraction while you flee, or as another damage dealer if you choose to fight.
Thieves Guild the same as above but x2.
Roll for Initiative - gets you much needed init and more importantly is another -moving- skill you can use to escape.

Gear to Bring:
Double Daggers works well for mobility, since you can Leaping Death Blossom "through" incoming enemies and cloak and dagger into stealth for an additional escape. Remember, you run faster -out- of combat though and if you are fighting try land your first strike from hidden to your target's back for maximum damage. A shortbow is handy too to help with some heart tasks, like shooting dredge turrets and such but if you prefer something else go for it.

Underwater primarily use a spear. In close quarters and one on one, you should be unstoppable (unless you are poking a megalodon you idjit). Spam your block attack (3) to regain initiative then (5) to spend it all while dodging.

The Zones:
This may seem counter productive but do not scout zones geographically - like, don't start at Rata Sum and work your way across to the Blazeridge steps. The level difference can hinder you quite a bit if you are not in an appropriate zone. It's easy enough to work around though. Your first rule is to never move on until you've completed a zone entirely.

Now to your actual scouting sequence: Start out by completing each city - including Lion's Arch.

Then use this listing here.
Do all the lowest level zones. Then do the next lowest level and so on, leaving the level 80 stuff for last. As you complete each "tier" (like all level 1-10 zones) return to Lion's Arch for some crafting for a small level boost. You'll be able to gauge when to do this anyway since your bank will be filling with mats as you go - this is if you are harvesting majority of nodes on the way (and you should especially if they are unguarded).

Always chat to the heart person first as half the time the fastest way to complete a heart is a non-combat method. A good rule of thumb for "collection" stuff is get 10-15 items first before heading back to hand them in.

Skill Challenges:
Memory Test - easily accessible for anyone anyway
Food - if it is guarded, throw down a shadow refuge AT the food as you are running at it. Take and eat it, stealth out.
Commune - Same as food. If it is very well guarded throw a thieves guild and shadow trap to keep the enemies busy on your approach. Underwater you will need to kill the guards. You can still bring thieves guild if there's a nearby shore.
Fight - Use thieves guild and shadow trap followed by steal if you have "thrill of the crime" as your NPC pals also get the bonus. Follow up with cloak and dagger and backstab. If the enemy survives just kite while throwing daggers (and/or caltrops) and stealthing until your thieves are ready again. In cases with many opponents just aim to kill one at a time then flee/recover. They hang around for awhile anyway so don't rush.

The Mists:
As the old adage goes: If you can't beat them, join them. Make use of the free server transfer and hop onto the dominant of the 3 warring realms. You need to move fast though as the landscape of who holds what is prone to change. Dedicate at least 2 hours to finishing everything here and hop between the three borderlands and the eternal battlegrounds each time you hit a "block", coming back later to see if your side has retaken what you've not yet scouted.

Monday 22 October 2012

Week #7 - The Furthest Lands

Part of my Explorer of Tyria journal - you can find the rest here!

Welcome to Orr!
After collecting a magic orb I pushed on to Fort Trinity this week, at the front lines on the Straits of Devastation where I begun my infiltration into Orr by slaying one of Zhaitan's Eyes. I found Orr to be a very fun place - no heart quests to do and almost exclusively Risen bastards all over the place. Even the wildlife is hostile! That didn't stop me from finishing off that region, followed by Malchor's Leap and the Cursed Shore though - stupid zombies cannot stop a single well-prepared thief.

With all the PVE zones now completed my next task lay in the Mists which was a tough ask given that my home server of Gunnar's Hold is pretty weak in that department, especially against this week's rivals of Baruch Bay and Kodash. Scouted what I could and then made use of the free server transfer to hop onto Kodash for a day. The Germans really know their warfare, and in a span of a few hours they had conquered not only the Eternal Battlegrounds, but all of the Borderland regions as well making my exploration completion very easy. In contrast though, their PVE zones were almost devoid of players. :P

Now that I have my 100% World Completion Account medal you'd think I would attack the main story next but no - I want those other pretty banners too, so I created my appropriately named "Bannermen", an iron legion Charr Warrior and a Sylvari Mesmer to fetch me the flags of the Vigil and Priory respectively. Only did the introductory mission of the Charr, fighting Duke Barradin with Rytlock (only level 2) before switching over to work on the Sylvari who I think will be more troublesome to level. They do have a good story line though, and broadens the depth of info a bit on Trahearne, a particular magic mirror and Caladbolg (to the expense of Caithe I think). Also had a really fun mission helping the Priory defend a fort against the Risen via use of remote controlled golems. That's got to be one of the most fun missions I've played so far. :)

Guildwise our weekly hunt was a bit quieter this time with only my brothers DL and Jim showing up. I took them to the Blazeridge Steppes to help level Jim up and once there we faced the Shatterer but this time with very few people. All our nice turrets got destroyed over the course of the battle which meant I was up close and personal to the dragon this time but he still had no chance. :D The Kami Katze and Thaldir both reached level 80 as well, but no new members this week - and low login rates. Even our allied guild RoF is going through a lull as one of their members switched over to earn us points since none of his own guild were on.

Thursday 18 October 2012

Week #6 - Falling from High Places

Part of my Explorer of Tyria journal - you can find the rest here!

Played a bit more GW2 than usual this week and completed the flame legion stronghold of Fireheart Rise, along with Sparkfly Fen and its resident winged beast, Frostgorge Sound (didn't encounter the dragon here), the Dredgehaunt Cliffs and its very evil vistas (deaths +++), Timberline Falls and Mount Maelstrom which is home to a very impressive volcano - and very annoying destroyers allied with Inquest. I still wonder about those Mole-men Dredge sometimes. For "blind" critters they seem to have an unusual liking for rifles and very high, easy to fall off places.

Also continued the main story a bit, participating in the loss and subsequent recapture of Claw Island which involved slaying another death dragon - perhaps a twin to the one of Sparkfly Fen? Anywho, the Risen aren't so bad. I prefer them to the burning destroyers any day. In fact I think the Risen are the weakest/least annoying of the dragon slaves, or maybe a close second to the Branded. Certainly gives room for expansions though.

Also I still feel I'm getting promoted way too quick. From Initiate to Agent was just one task. Interesting to note that it was an Agent and not a Lightbringer who was assigned to protect Queen Jennah. Guess she's not that important? :P

The guild had our usual point-gathering session this time at Bloodtide Coast though we started a bit late due to disconnects. We also gained no new members this week and our count is on 19 members, though almost half are not on Gunnar's Hold and are not representing us. I'm wondering if it's time to kick them?

I reached level 80 this week somewhere during the Frostgorge Sound exploration, and DL reached it the following day. Most notable battle for me was falling into a troll infested canyon while looking for a vista, where it so happened another thief was already fighting the massive mob. Between the two of us, we killed ALL the hairy freaks including a veteran, and a champion troll. It was awesome. :)

And fails.

Thursday 11 October 2012

Week #5 - Dragon Down

Part of my Explorer of Tyria journal - you can find the rest here!

Lost a few more days to Mabinogi until the event there ended but I still managed to clear out a bunch of areas including the Iron Marches, the Fields of Ruin, Bloodtide Coast, and the Blazeridge Steppes. I kind of like the idea that each dragon has their own type of followers: the risen, the destroyers, the branded, the icebrood - it keeps things varied, though I do question some of their choices - namely flaming crabs and undead fish. Haha! :P

Changed up the guild run this week to start at the Caledon Forest and proceeded through the Brisban Wildlands and then the Harathi Highlands. Strangely we got -less- influence than we did when we just camped our previous zones. I suppose easier events = faster events? Once I was back on my lonesome I also finally became a full agent for the Order of Whispers and was given my next task of gaining an alliance with the Skritt. I'm not really chasing down the story event at this point as you may have guessed.

Memorable battles this week were against a pair of champion wasps (with only 1 other player) and it was a good lesson in kiting with a shortbow. Took ages to kill those bastards. Not so dangerous was my first dragon - "the Shatterer". I actually battled him twice since it took me so long to finish that zone that he returned. Seemed safest to me to sit in a cannon and shoot at him/provide covering fire for the dudes below which proved to be easy wins. If only he was smart enough to land -behind- the cannons, then maybe he'd have a chance. ^_^

"Flanking!? What does that mean?"

During one of those battles I met and recruited a jolly cat dude so our guild count is up by +1, and now I'm on level 67. :)

Just thought I'd mention a few things I've found I don't like about the game too...
1) For some reason I can't log into their forums. I get an "unusual" error related to invalid tokens.
2) Can't talk while harvesting - or you can sort of, then it breaks both actions
3) Can't view vistas in combat mode. Long after you've gone out of combat mode. Relog to fix :/
4) Can't choose yourself to go into/out of combat mode - non issue if you can view vistas in combat
5) Gear breaks only when you are "defeated". Prefer it if it breaks based on damage - regularly.
6) NPCs don't revive you, though you -often- revive them.
7) Friendly NPCs regularly lose to enemies in their zone, which can be stupidly funny (death by mosquito)
8) The Mists count for exploration requirement. Not too bad if your shard is winning maybe, but thats a 1 out of 3 chance. Very annoying for non-pvpers like myself.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Week #4 - Memory of a Flame

Part of my Explorer of Tyria journal - you can find the rest here!

Yikes, a bit late on this post so expect week 5 to be up in a few days too! Anyways I lost a number of days due to playing Mabinogi this week (AP potions are just too rare to pass up!) but I still managed to clear out the Diessa Plateau, the massive Lornar's Pass and the centaur controlled region of the Harathi Highlands where I helped run major offensives against the four hoofed fools. Also managed to join my guild for another event run, camping Queensdale and the Kessex Hills.

When I was back on my own again I continued up into the Iron Marches which are mostly controlled by "branded" critters I think. However the flame legion did have a massive base there, and during my infiltration I found they had summoned an old friend of mine - a massive fire elemental, just like the one at the Metrica Province a few weeks back! This time I was aided only by a small squad of NPCs (otherwise solo), which turned out to be a good thing - because it meant I didn't lag and could pretty much avoid his attacks. It took me forever but I finally killed that sucker.

Yippee Ki-yay!
Erebos has been busy recruiting on Henge of Denravi so I actually lost count of how many new guys we gained. One of them, Rufio is already level 80. I, on the other hand, just reached level 58. Lastly, did you know they are making a new Die Hard? :D

Edit: Forgot to mention the Guild also had enough points this week to get a guild stash and hire a guild armorer! Woohoo!

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Week #3 - Late to the Party

Part of my Explorer of Tyria journal - you can find the rest here!

Tried out a fair bit of crafting which I find really fun, especially the discovery section of it before going back to my main goal of exploring the world! Completed Caledon Forest, the Brisban Wildlands, Snowden Drifts and the Gendarran Fields this week. Also had our first guild "event" to earn us some influence - mainly cycling around the Kessex Hills region. I also got to see the intro to the Order of Whispers and the Vigil thanks to accompanying Thaldir and DL respectively on that part of their missions.

As tempted as I was to see the Priory's intro movie I ended up also joining the Order of Whispers and faced off against some stupid soldier carrying a cursed artifact as the finale to the first "act". The bomb plan was good, but couldn't we have found a less dangerous place to fight instead of the throne room itself? I'll just not think about all the commoners he may or may not have killed on the way up.

The funny cat mentor I was introduced to after made up for that though, and after out drinking a bunch of pirates and simple rescue op he found himself transformed into the gal we freed to decoy her pursuers - a mission I found very funny indeed! This week I also entered my first "dungeon", the story mission of Caudecous Manor along with DL, Yue and two RoF members. Yeah it was tough, but nowhere near the difficulty I thought it would be. Still, it is supposed to be the easiest place so there's lots of scaling to be had later on I imagine.

Finished off mid-exploration of Diessa Plateau, where I had immense fun solving the jumping puzzle at the broken wall to the South followed by intese deaths to a giant attacking a nearby town. I find I lag too much when there are lots of people which makes my point blank evasions a bit hard to do. Seems the game really wants me to pickup that short-bow and strafe shoot everything (becomes a bit -too- easy then). Anyway, the guild gained 2 new members and I'm now on level 47. Meanwhile our guildie Erebos on Henge of Denravi is now level 80.

Nothing to see here but Apples! :3

Thursday 20 September 2012

Week #2 - Burninating the Countryside

Part of my Explorer of Tyria journal - you can find the rest here!

Did a few more story-line quests this week including assisting Juris with a crazy bandit cult, defeating a surprisingly tough carnival Ringmaster, fighting various undead, helping our asura engineer Thaldir in a bunch of his ones - my favourite being intentionally getting jailed by the Arcane Eye to jail-break a professor. That was fun! Covered a lot of ground running from quest to quest too, but not as much as when I just put my mind to it. Areas cleared to 100% this time are the Wayfarer Foothills, Plains of Ashford, Kessex Hills and Metrica Province. Moved on to the Caledon Forest where I found my first bugged quest - a skill challenge with a Tengu (biiiiirrrdmaaan!) that doesn't fire.

Stand-out events were Juris managing to kill a bunch of veteran trolls (with me as bait) then escaping their cave, randomly encountering a shady NPC who summoned some demons, playing with the cute doggies in the Caledon Forest and defeating a whole bunch of boss-types including a Giant Jungle Worm in the depths of the same said forest. The best one this week though was when DL, Thaldir and I were completing stuff at the Metrica Province Reactor when a Fire Elemental appeared. Ohhhhh man. Tons of people showed up to help including our very own Yue, but everyone (almost) just got dead over and over and over. Obviously my evasion skills need work, as was again shown when fighting a bandit boss who for some reason was stronger -outside- his power armor in a different encounter. Anyway, back at the reactor - the Fire Ele eventually got bored and left and all our guys got absolutely nothing for it other than an increased death count and less coin! :P

All those piles were once people.

Strange as it sounds I look forward to facing it again once I've levelled up some more. Finished this week on level 36, while Yue reached 80. The guild also gained another new member, and DL has completed some of the various research stuffs which means we can start holding guild events soon!

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Week #1 - Where am I?

Part of my Explorer of Tyria journal - you can find the rest here!

Arrived in Queensdale (Gunnar's Hold) with my standard rogue class and after the "tutorial" mission began exploring the countryside and unlocking my weapon skills on various hapless creatures. The graphics are pretty damn good, and I quite like the art style for the cutscenes with what I call "reserved animation". I also find the dynamic events to be really fun and a good innovation to mix things up while travelling through a zone, the highlights for me this week were helping the Norn in a full on assault on the Sons of Svarnir with my brothers and DL and I getting wiped out by Krait slavers in a particular village. Best of all I like how low-cut the Queen's dress is! ;P

Something like this!

My brothers (DL and Jim) also assisted me with my "story" missions a few days in, which involved rescuing Riot Alice and convincing her to stop working for evil bandits then stopping said evil bandits from poisoning a well at the cost of an idiot's life (sorry Quinn you had it coming) and finally killing the bandit boss. I do like the that we were given the "choice" of what to do though. Proceeded to then look for missing kids at the circus and passing clown college (very fun) to track down a crazy hypnosis inducing ringmaster. Later on I helped Jim infiltrate some mole men WMD construction plant via pretty funny costume wearing. As interesting as it is, the story mode didn't seem to yield as much xp as plain old exploration though so I left mine alone at that point to go wandering and get some easy exp's exploring the main cities.

The vista thing is a nice concept (which seems stolen from Assassin's Creed) but some jumping puzzles are just annoying - deadly annoying. Anyway, by the end of the week I had 100% completion on Divinity's Reach, Queensdale, Hoelbrak (barrel brawl was fun), the Grove, Rata Sum (mess to explore), Black Citadel (even messier), and the central hub of Lion's Arch where I completed the Ghost Pirate's cave too as a bonus. I know I'm probably still missing treasure chests in some of those areas but I can always go back for those. Finished up on Level 22, while fellow guildmate Rammy had already reached Level 80 (though he did start a few weeks earlier). Our guild also gained 1 new member.

Explorer of Tyria

Thanks to my guild, I've been given Guild Wars 2 and thought I'd record my experiences in the game, just like I did with Diary of a Marked One and Skyrim Adventure Journal. :)

Possible spoilers ahead:
1.   Week #1 - Where am I?
2.   Week #2 - Burninating the Countryside
3.   Week #3 - Late to the Party
4.   Week #4 - Memory of a Flame
5.   Week #5 - Dragon Down (gained Order of Whispers Banner)
6.   Week #6 - Falling from High Places (reached level 80)
7.   Week #7 - The Furthest Lands (100% World Completion)
8.   Week #8 - Miserable Mesmer (gained Priory Banner)
9.   Week #9 - Racing the Clock
10. Week #10 - Different Roads (gained Vigil Banner)
11. Week #11 - Setting the Board
12. Week #12 - High Forces
13. Week #13 - Out of Content
14. Failures of Communication
15. Week #14 - Hibernation Elsewhere 
16. Stockbroker Wars 2
17. The Fall of Zhaitan
18. Flame, Frost and Donkey Kong
19. Deal Breaker: Melted Alliance
20. Your reward is Crabs
21. Dragons Bashed
22. Path of Pirates? I don't think so.
23. Aspects of Fun
24. Achievement Based Play
25. Vote for Ellen Kiel!
26. Ellen Kieled it! Time to celebrate with the Queen!
27. Queen's Gauntlet: Thief Experience
28. Treasures of the Crown Pavillion
29. Mabi improving Guild Wars 2
30. Invasion of the Everything
31. Preparation is Half the Battle
32. Box 2: A Less Super Adventure
33. Dragon Hunter Rox
34. The Maddening Grinds

Bonus Guides:
Fastest 100% World Completion

Due to not being able to log in (thanks ArenaNet), this story has ended. Thanks for reading!

Monday 17 September 2012

Showdown at Sky Haven Temple

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! In this entry I am following my custom scenario "A Curse of Iron". You can follow the rest of the story here!

Since he had done such a good job I offered Kharjo to join the Blades but he refused as I thought he might. I set him free of his debt, hoping he had a safe trip back to Elsweyr. Mjoll then called me over and asked how I was doing, taking me outside to the training area for a little chat. It was there that she revealed she too was working for the Thalmor, explaining her sudden disappearance from Riften before. Mainly it was to get back at me for letting Aerin die. Well that's too bad. I drew my iron sword and readied my hide shield while she pulled out my high level magical ebony blade. The hell? Seems she has all my old stuff too!

Our duel lasted for a long while, but she certainly had the upper hand with that magic blade. Furthermore each time I would get her to half HP she would fully heal! It was then I realized that she's using my potions! Things took a turn for the worse when Esbern appeared as well and began thowing magical fire at me. Great, he too is now the thalmor's bitch. No use continuing the fight out here so I pushed past into the temple proper where my large group of friends waited... and did nothing. It's like they didn't know if they should obey me or obey the leaders of the blades! Fortunately one of them decided to help out - Kharjo, who hadn't yet left took on Mjoll while I delt with Esbern, hacking him down as quickly as I could and then returning to the fight against Mjoll for perhaps the longest / best boss fight ever.

Kharjo and I would alternate as each of us would get knocked back, while she just kept healing. Eventually though she ran out of potions and in one furious backhand I sent her head flying from her shoulders. With their leader(s) dead, the remaining people stood even more gobsmacked as before... until they eventually took a knee and accepted me as their new leader. I thanked Kharjo again and the khajiit gave his farewells as he exited the temple. All that was left now was to get this curse off me which meant another trip to Winterhold, so I asked for a volunteer to come with and the knight Rayna jumped at the opportunity. We made our way out and the forsworn were nowhere to be found - they probably fled after their "leader" was killed, so we continued on the road where we passed Kharjo again, as well as Maiq, and upon reaching a pretty high bridge came across a patrol of imperial soldiers with a prisoner. I grinned to Rayna who knew what I was thinking and after slitting the throat of the guard at the very rear, charged the remaining two with sword held high.

Skyrim is for the Nords!

Taking a break from Skyrim again here, so I thought I'd leave you with a few extra goodies. :)

Skyrim Cosplay with Jessica Nigri
Skyrim Cosplay with Manzi de Young
Skyrim Cosplay & Music Video with Lindsey Stirling and Peter Hollens
Elder Scrolls Online

Sunday 16 September 2012

Fighting the Forsworn Army

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! In this entry I am following my custom scenario "A Curse of Iron". You can follow the rest of the story here!

Received a letter from Tolfdir via courier today, while he hasn't found a cure for my condition yet he has learned that the spell cast upon me has a limited range and must be done from a pretty high altitude. Given I was in Markarth the best spot would be from the city itself, but since that's too obvious the second best spot would be at Dead Crone Rock which is where I needed to head next. First I managed to finally upgrade all my gear again then with Kharjo in tow we followed the path, right into a wandering bandit chief party. What the hell. There were four of them! All chiefs, no indians. After that fight we ran into a witch and a Shadow Nightingale!? Seems like something really wants to keep me away from this place.

Managed to kill them too then had a bit of peace and quiet until we reached the forsworn camp at the base of Dead Crone Rock. Despite killing the sentries quietly and smoothly the sheer number of opponents here was problematic, but Kharjo and I persevered (mainly using lots of food) and slaying them all. We were in for a surprise at the higher level though, where my missing horse Shadowmere was fighting the Briarheart and his pet troll! WTF. No Idea how the hell that happened, but I'll take any help I can get! After we cleared out the outside we assaulted the tower itself, easily clearing out the few remaining forsworn and reaching the highest point with the Word wall. There I found the tome that had been stolen from the mages college, and after browsing some pages found what was afflicting me. More importantly I found what I needed to cure myself.

Other than a skilled mage (which I'm not), I was going to need bear claws, taproot and a giant's toe - and I already had all except the last. However I knew exactly where to get one - slightly annoyed I had to leave Shadowmere again though, due to the non-iron metals in his saddle (or being, what the heck type of horse is he anyway). We returned back down the road where we were ambushed by a lone wood elf (stupid girl) and then ran into Maiq the Liar. Chatted for a bit then moved on to Karthspire. I knew there was a dead giant there that would be easy pickings. What I didn't know was that all the forsworn had returned to the area, making it a hell of a task getting to it given I was out of arrows. In the end we just had to bolt, grabbing the toe while evading spells and arrows of the defenders then running quickly up into Sky Haven Temple where they refused to follow.

All that's missing is a Scorpion King.

Thursday 13 September 2012

End of the Road

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! In this entry I am following my custom scenario "A Curse of Iron". You can follow the rest of the story here!

Asked around at the Winking Skeever for clues, getting an extra one from the kid Minnete who happened to be there too then began going door to door looking for the agent in this city, but finding none. Visited Proudspire Manor to let Njada and Jordis know I was ok (tested them and they weren't agents either) then went next door to the Bard's college where everyone seemed to check out until I got to the kitchen. It was the old cook! I simply waited for an opportune time and slit the old man's throat as he ate. With that easily accomplished I noticed more Pentius Occultus agents lurking about so with Kharjo we set to work eliminating all of them, where I managed to finishing stab one and throat slit another. A pair of guards got involved and they needed to die too, fortunately I managed to snarf a hunting bow from one of them. We then quickly shadowed our way back down the side entrance and began to hoof it to Morthal.

I knew this would be a harder task since I couldn't swim "up" waterfalls meaning I'd need to be on the road this time, and sure enough Dragonbridge proved a very tough place to pass with it's high volume of guardsmen (bad luck as a patrol was there too). Told Kharjo to just buy me time then escape so we split up, with the cat holding off a large portion of the guards while I high tailed it outta there. After what seemed to be a really long sprint across the mountains I was clear, and back on the road where I encountered a friendlier group of three Stormcloak soldiers who happened to be walking in the same direction I wanted to go. Figured it was safer to travel together so I just strolled with them down the road, and after a few minutes a familiar khajiit came running up - it was Kharjo! He somehow gave the Dragonbridge guards the slip and got ahead of us.

Even Chaos Knights go for strolls.

We were in high spirits as we neared Morthal when a group of forsworn raiders attacked. There were only three of them, but each of them managed to kill a guardsman before either myself or Kharjo could finish them off. I was so angry that I (finishing move) beheaded the last one. Finally we made it to the City of Stone and easilly found the last agent inside the Silverblood Inn itself. It was Muiri, who apparently would do anything for money. Despite the inn being crowded at the time I already knew how to take her out - hidden from a room with an arrow to the neck. Why would she turn on someone who helped her!? No matter, at least I'm closer to getting this curse removed.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Old Acquaintances

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! In this entry I am following my custom scenario "A Curse of Iron". You can follow the rest of the story here!

After a quick resupply at Fort Dunstad, avoiding a wizard fighting various wild life, and examining a Shrine to Dibella that I had missed before I finally made it back to Dawnstar and went into the tavern to find clues. It was dinner time and there were a fair number of people here but none of them seemed to be the thalmor agent. Decided to stop by the iron mine again to get more ores but could only get two this time since the ones I harvested from my previous visit had not returned. Continued investigation on the docked boat but the sailors were all clean, then finally found the scum in the museum - that traitor Silas whom I had helped earlier! He hid his involvement well, but there was no tricking me. I asked him for a bowl of stew and he obliged - as he stirred the pot I shoved my sword through his back, killing the traitorous bastard. Should have let the dremora eat him.

On my way out of town I happened across a Khajiit caravan, the one with my friend Kharjo! I got him to join me and I asked him why he was previously imprisoned. Turns out he was selling drugs to kids. Just like the caravan is doing now. He refused to kill his fellow cats though, so I backstabbed all his compatriots for their sins and warned him that the same would happen to him if he didn't pay off his debt to society (me). Then the curse must have gone into a second phase because out of nowhere, Ria's corpse appeared and began floating around like a wisp mother. We all attacked it and when it "died" she vanished (no, it actually crashed the game so I had to reload). Now I'm seeing things. Great.

Trippin' balls!

Pushed on to Morthal passing two empty imperial camps on the way. I couldn't upgrade my sword though because I had forgotten to smelt the damn ore! Didn't matter as it was a quiet and uneventful run, and we snuck into the tavern in the dead of night to get some info. Since no one was there I decided to look around, finding Falion fighting a mudcrab for some reason on the street. Since he was busy I continued to the Thaumaturgist's hut but found no one there. Next building was the Jarl's longhouse but I knew that always had guards so I went back to Falion and found the fool cowering behind a house. When I asked him what was wrong he pretty much blurted out that he was the thalmor agent and ran to the edge of town with Kharjo and I right on his heels. It wasn't hard to beat him into submission, breaking his will. Fortunately for him threads of fate still protected him, letting him live another day. Satisfied that his role in this was over, our next stop was Solitude - gaining entry by swimming across the bay and climbing up the less used side-gate.

Tuesday 11 September 2012

A Comedy of Errors

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! In this entry I am following my custom scenario "A Curse of Iron". You can follow the rest of the story here!

I had initially planned to enter via the secret Companions entrance but wasn't able to scale the damn wall up to the opening. The guard standing behind me must have thought it amusing since he just waited there till I gave up before arresting me. Figured that like Riften, this was probably the easiest way in so I surrendered and found myself in Dragonsreach dungeon. Slipped out via the floor grate pretty easily and found the prisoner storage chest within reach from the tunnels below... only my pick broke. Damnit! Slightly frustrated, I left all my gear and cooked food and made my way out of there collecting what I could while sneaking around the guards barracks.

Once top side I was careful to hide behind the houses and time the guard patrol to enter Breezehome and raid it of any useful stuff. This turned out to only be food and hides. Better than nothing, so I used the nearby smithy to make a new set of superior leather armor then snuck inside to steal an iron sword and dagger. Wasn't quite sure how I was going to get clues from the tavern since the guards kept a close eye on the place, so instead I asked Mila, a little girl for some assistance since Tolfdir mentioned kids could detect that same "vibe" I did. She mentioned something about a creepy old woman so I checked the feeble lady first who was very rude but otherwise ok. The blacksmith couple were also fine as were a passing red guard guy and another random lady on the street. Timing these "chats" was getting to be tedious.

Finally an nice old lady named Lilith came by and I knew precisely what the kid meant - she seemed in a hurry to get out of town. I politely bid her a good day and as soon as she walked past I slit her throat right there on the road before she exited the town proper. Then came my grand escape plan. I snuck my way as far as I could to Jovasskr to use the secret wolf exit but was sighted at the upper crossroads near the loud priest, so I ran dodging arrows to the cave door only to find it wouldn't open! So much for that. I tried scaling the walls a few times but that wasn't getting me anywhere so in the end it came down to me sprinting out the front door, being chased by a large group of guards across the field. Must have been quite a sight for the dragon that was circling overhead. Fortunately for me it decided to come down on my pursuers leaving me scott free to escape into the North.

Queue: Yakety Sax!

Monday 10 September 2012

Swan Song at Falkreath

Adventures in Skyrim - spoilers ahead! In this entry I am following my custom scenario "A Curse of Iron". You can follow the rest of the story here!

After getting out of the lake I continued West, finding a pair of orc hunters taking down a bear. One of them was killed in the process so I took his arrows and the bear's hide and followed his friend from a distance. The poor sap walked right into a bandit ambush and died from arrow to the head syndrome, while I carefully evaded the scum - reaching another empty imperial camp where I could cook up all the food I had looted from the docks. Salt is an important commodity! Continuing into the mountain pass I was escorted briefly by a mounted hunter for most of it before he turned back. On the road I found one of the Khajiit caravans I had been hunting, only they were already dead - another elaborate and large scale bandit ambush that I avoided. Probably a subgroup from the ones camped at Helgen which I steered clear of.

Eventually I reached Falkreath and the whole way I was wondering how I was going to break into town without getting spotted by the guards. Turns out I just needed to jump the fence, then using a new found skill thanks to the challenge blog - rode up the waterwheel to the roof of the timber house and quietly made my way to Dead Man's Drink to get some clues as to who the Thalmor agent was here. The tavern was packed so I made sure to interview everyone, highly suspecting a random orc who was present. As it turns out the person I was after was the young bard named Delacourt who seemed extremely worried to see me. I needed a way to kill him in a crowded room without everyone alerting the guards... then it occured to me.

It's a growing epidemic!

I asked him to perform Ragnar the Red which he did, and while everyone stood around watching him I hid in one of the rooms and sent an iron arrow into his mouth near the end of the song. The audience was shocked, but had no idea who did it. I'd like to say now that I wanted to do some cool exit strategy to ghost myself out of there but the minute I stepped out I was sighted by the guards and had to simply run for the hills (well, the mountain) literally. Once on the otherside I just jumped in the lake and followed the river (fighting off slaughterfish) while carefully avoiding Riverwood - breaking a few wolf necks in the process. In no time at all I was approaching my next target city... Whiterun.