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.