Friday, 21 July 2017

Uukrul: Speak Foe and Enter

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

Having completed their training run, the team returns to the mirror maze defeating a fire lizard and finding the plot device mirror which Andraste breaks to reveal a mysterious plaque. The noise attracts a bunch of monks who turn out to be very dangerous, forcing the team to flee to the other end of the mirror maze where a previously locked grate is now open.

Clearly, Uukrul's a dick.

As soon as they step through, Uukrul shows up and shuts it behind them, asking them to beg through the bars if they want it reopened. Balthazarr rejects the offer and instead leads the squad past floating eyes, a giant worm which Helga destroys, and away from the same group of monks - still in slow pursuit - from before!

They reach a room of testing with three paths, one full of locked gates, one with the promise of a fight, and one a dead end with a sign saying that only a single word will open it. Nabirye takes this literally and just says "word", which opens the path. How very modern.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Uukrul: HOYAMOQ!

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

After the close call against Thurazz last time, Balthazarr decides to take the team on an upper level patrol again for experience, and to keep an eye out for stone hearts that they supposedly will need to defeat Uukrul. That last bit of knowledge was courtesy of Helga now being able to access the higher tomes in the magician's circle.

As expected, there is not much that can challenge them now - but through careful navigation and searching they do find secret doors they previously missed (or in two cases, missed due to floor spinners). Secret doors are annoying. Most cannot be forced. A few have levers that open them. Some need a magic word.

For all other times, there's Hoyamoq. A prayer to the god of knowledge. Like most prayers, it doesn't always work and even when it does - you need to repeat it. Many times. So poor Andraste is there praying in front of a wall, reciting "Hoyamoq, hoyamoq, hoyamoq..." over and over until the door opens. Helga found this hilarious, but later on she'd find variations that need the wizard spell "Talis". And yes, it also requires repetition.

So at what point can I just cast fireball or something to explode it open?

Despite the silliness, it's actually quite a productive (albeit long) outing - netting a variety of treasures and three stone hearts!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Neverwinter Online: The Cloaked Ascendancy

Late review, I was stuck in the Far Realm with these guys...

Given that Tomb of Annihilation (the next module) is just around the corner, this is a very late review for the Cloaked Ascendancy which comes after the terribly grindy Storm King's Thunder. Yes, it was so bad I actually quit Neverwinter for awhile and am now playing catch up.

Fortunately the rag-tag band of mages who have returned from the Far Realm make for interesting adversaries not just mechanically but story wise too. It helps that you get to interact with each of them at least a little bit while going through the story chapters, instead of just having some "bad dude" that you never see waiting at the end of a dungeon that you need to take a deus ex machina from or just murder in general.

Nothing very cloaked about them though.

There is only one new area, the River District, which is not just pretty but very functional in terms of dailies. This cuts down travel time from the last modules grind by a metric ton, since there you were required to venture into 4 zones towards the end. Daily.

Of course the grind is still here too, but at least you have a bit of variety on how you want to fill your "daily bar" in this campaign. It's a mix and match of heroics, dungeons, or capturing and upgrading guard posts. Don't worry, all options still include a copious amount of murder. You can choose to just kill 1000 each day too, but that's a real slog.

If that was brought down to 100, like the stronghold daily, it would be much better (10 times!). The guard posts I mentioned before are a great addition too, unfortunately the logic on them is the reverse on what it should be where players actually benefit -more- if they fall to enemy forces.

Shroud of Souls, the short "finale" of the campaign, holds a few really good adventure segments which I wish there was much more of. Evernight in particular is a faaaaantastic place. A world full of undead where everything is messed up? Now I know where Dark Souls takes place. :P

I have a feeling the Cryptic guys took some inspiration from it.

Definitely one of the better modules for me. Hopefully this continues with the Tomb of Annihilation. We won't have long to find out!

Reviews and Tutorials

Welcome to my "new" reviews and tutorials page! I decided it needed a reboot after the photobucket burn, but all my previous ones are still available here.

PC Game Reviews:
Neverwinter Online: The Cloaked Ascendancy 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Uukrul: Earned Respect

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

He knows he's a hot lizard.

Finally finding the passage out, the squad fights through a few hell hounds, fire lizards and the mandatory group of orcs led by a mid level captain whom Nabirye drains of life (strange that's a paladin ability). There's also a magic immune gremlin demon who gets too cocky and discovers that Helga is quite capable with a knife, thanks to her previous experience with the Porkul Pickers.

This area is quite odd, in that it is a mirror of itself right down to the repeating encounters in the rooms. It is no wonder that Mara's vision here tells of a mirror that would be important with the quest. While looking for it, the team discovers a lower area with odd clues... it's a crossword puzzle!

Correctly identifying the word opens a secret door that holds yet more obscure clues to further puzzles. LOL. While this is a nice change of pace, it is quite rudely interrupted as Orc Lord Thurazz attacks with a pair of witches and orc fodder! It is a very difficult battle, which almost sees the end of Helga and Andraste, with Nabirye and Balthazar not far behind, but the combat is a draw - as Thurazz's forces were also in the same shape.

With a begrudging respect for Balthazarr, Thurazz finally signaled the retreat. Balthazarr did the same.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Uukrul: What's behind door number...

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

After evading numerous orcs and escaping from cave dew plants the team again ran into the Krefator (acid reptile), and in an attempt to run past - Balthazarr was almost laid low to its corrosive spit. Lucky for him the next sanctuary was right around the corner, and his allies could use the attached teleporter to revive him back at the town.

Resupplied, the squad returned to that point and upon exiting the sanctuary received another vision from Mara, warning that the passage ahead was cursed! That's a very mild way of putting it. The passage led to a 5x5 room, with doors all over. These doors led to funky teleporters, spinning floors, and lightning traps which were painful to navigate, especially since the compass did not work here.

She needs to get back to Oz.

The only enemy in this place is the hedge witch who Nabirye guesses is behind the curse. Despite fitting the cauldron brewing trope, the hag is incredibly strong - easily standing toe to toe with Balthazarr! It is ultimately Andraste's prayers that smite her down. Helga, whose magic couldn't harm the witch at all, finds a magical medal of escape on her corpse. A good bonus on top of the huge XP!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Uukrul: That Bloody Bat

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

With Thurazz in (slow) pursuit, Balthazarr, Nabirye and Kebiroz rush deeper into the large cavern, fighting past the troglodytes and slaying an evil wizard residing within. That wizard held another adventuring party captive for "experimentation", so the team set them free and were joined by Andraste the war priest, and the mages Helga the short and Duke Edmund the mad who openly stated he wanted to take Uukrul's power as his own.

Before they could even step out of the room, the giant bat that had killed Lazybum in one hit flapped into the room and began shooting poison and plague (out of its ass I imagine, since bats don't really spit). Taking a direct hit to the face, Kebiroz succumbed to the giant bat poop horribly while the rest fled for their lives.

Balthazarr didn't escape unscathed though, as the poop had infected his wounds from the earlier fight. Now "plagued", he began coughing and wheezing and soon the elderly Duke Edmund found himself "plagued" as well! Unfortunately the Duke didn't have the warrior's fortitude and after a few steps died in a fit of wheezing, puking and soiling himself.

That bloody bat then attacked again, but this time Balthazarr manages to hit it critically and slays the flying fiend!

But I just wanted some fruits!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Uukrul: A Lack of Agility

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

Behind a locked grate and up a hole in the ceiling the team encounters a large band of thieves who are very annoying to fight since they are good at evading AND have a habit of stealing gear from the party mid combat. Like Balthazarr's newish sword. From his hand.

The combat screen.

During the skirmish Null25 is knocked down a pit and breaks his neck, which is annoying given all the training he had gained. Still, with the battle won and the thieves trove taken Balthazarr finds his replacement in Ruby the eager novice back at the guild.

Tired of training Balthazarr decides it's time to try cross the massive cavern on that murderous floor beneath the hermit's safe zone. It is an ill omen that the first thing they run into when doing so is a rejuvenated and powered up Thurazz - now an orcish lord, having been granted unholy powers by Uukrul himself!

The squad is no match for Thurazz's new found strength and have to flee deeper into the cavern. Unfortunately Ruby is too slow and is caught by Thurazz's spiked whip. With a massive heave, he flung her back into melee range and exploded her head with swing of his grizzly metal hammer.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Uukrul: Bling is King

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

Training in the upper halls against rodents, dogs, scorpions, giant ants and crabs (yeah, wtf) proves most useful especially as the team finds previously unexplored areas and keys to open a few of the locked grates. As they progress into the hall of orcs, they once again run into Thurazz and his minions - thrice!

The first time they are forced to flee, but on the second it is Thurazz who needs to run as Null25 wounds him severely. The third time they find his base and, despite the orc chieftain's skill with a poisoned dagger, Balthazarr defeats him in close quarters. Nabirye also begins using her healing hand power on enemies, which proves to be effective as an attack - limited only by her own health, since using it for good or ill drains her of life.

Most importantly they finally find the temple district and magic circle which lets Kebiroz and Null25 earn more rings that enable stronger spells (coz bling is king yo). Kebiroz gets her chance to shine by turning the multitudes of undead in the tombs below the temple - forcing many to flee from combat. Her prayers of healing also keep the party alive just long enough to escape the very same tomb as starvation began to set in.

How the heck do they know that?

Balthazarr makes it a point to load up on rations before their next delve, and thanks to the surplus of gold they all get some better equipment to boot.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Uukrul: The First Task

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

While resting at the hermit's zone, the paladin Lazybum and sorceress Sarina who were already resting here join the team, and Sagaris asks them all to retrieve his black rod from the next floor down which he warns is far more dangerous (because apparently increased pressure makes things tough/evil I guess).

The fully powered squad heads down stairs and promptly gets owned. Pluribus is acidified by a rancid mold, Ila gets devoured by a giant spider, Yen Sid fails to turn "the happiest zombies ever" that tear him and Sarina apart and Lazybum gets one shotted by a giant bat who does 90(!) points of damage in a single strike.

So happy!

Balthazarr barely makes it back to Sagaris' safe zone in defeat. Clearly he needs a team with more training so using the super handy nearby teleporter (provided you remember the name of the one you want to warp to) returns to town to assemble a new squad, composed of the war priestess Kebiroz, Nabirye the hunter paladin, and Null25 the pk mage.

The first task is: Training!!!

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Uukrul: Orcs and Geezers

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

The next level is full of orcs, most of whom are low level as indicated by the color of their karate belt. Brown orcs are easy, Black orcs are brutal (the squad usually flees when they show up). There's a whole spectrum in between. Alas while exploring one narrow passage they are set upon by an orc led by chieftain, Thurazz!

With nowhere to escape they are cut down one by one until only Sapphire is left standing, she does her best to lure the orcs away from her downed team mates but is unable to defend herself for long. The orc band beat her down and abduct her for whatever nefarious purposes orcs keep in mind.

Balthazarr was surprised to wake up at all, finding that he, Yen Sid and Ila had been dragged somewhere safe by his old friend, Pluribus the wise. The wizened mage told him that many others from the nearby land had ventured into Eriosthe too, for the shared goal of helping to defeat Uukrul, after they all had witnessed visions of Mara.

That's what she looks like by the way.

While getting their bearings, they happened to come across another old fellow in dirty robe - the hermit Balthazarr was sent to find! He introduces himself as Sagaris and ushers the team to his home - a small series of tunnels which are safe from monsters.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Uukrul: Wrong Turn

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

The Krefator!

In their haste to save Anyolina, the team took a wrong turn and suddenly found themselves facing a large acid reptile called Krefator. The beast melted Toothless down into a more consumable puddle as Balthazarr dragged Anyolina out of there and down the correct road. He needn't have bothered for she succumbed to the poison along the way.

Distraught at the loss of his team, Balthazarr gave heavy thought to abandoning to the quest until a vision of Mara encouraged him to carry on and find an old hermit on the lower levels. Something in her words gave him the strength to make it back to the adventurer's guild hall and recruit a new team composed of battle sisters Ila the paladin, Sapphire the mage, and the loner priest Yen Sid.

This squad performs much better (since I looked up the manual and can use spells now), surviving a poison pit thanks to Yen Sid's Sirdhe prayer, defeating Sharruk the giant worm in a literal shit tunnel, and finally catching up to the evil rogue where Balthazarr exacted vengance for the fallen.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Uukrul: Knife Party

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

Apart from numerous, almost indecipherable signs on the wall, the only thing living in this area were stray dogs and giant rats. Angoff and Anyolina quickly learned that their magic and prayers would not work as intended down here (mainly because you need to put in a hard input of what magic phrase to say), so it was back to bashing things physically.

Does that look like it's saying "woof woof" to you?

Behind a closed door they found another person, an evil rogue charging tax for all who wanted to pass by. It was a difficult combat which ended with the man fleeing down a hall. The team pursued him right into... a market place? Finally they had reached the city hub itself, but had no time to take in the sights as they pursued this evil doer right into a trap!

The mob of knife wielding peasants was effective in their task of stabbing Angoff to death, before retreating into the various nearby alleyways. In a stoke of terrible luck, Anyolina was poisoned by a scorpion in the scuffle and with her old gods deaf to her pleas, had to endure the burning poison as Balthazarr and Toothless carried her and rushed back to the town proper.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Uukrul: Welcome to Eriosthe

Part of the Fate of Heroes series - spoilers ahead!

Despite his role in thwarting Molag Bal's schemes, Angoff still found himself shunned by almost everyone at Coldharbour due to his previous crimes as an ex-terrorist leader. Hoping to redeem himself, he asked Meridia for guidance. "To erase your sins, you must destroy someone far more terrible than you," said the daedric prince.

"Deep in the underground city of Eriosthe is a foe who poses so great a threat to the world that Mara, the divine, and her allies failed to subdue. He is known as Uukrul. Defeat him any you will find absolution."

Angoff thanked her and immediately set off on his journey. While Meridia did advise that he not try accomplish this task alone, no one was actually willing to accompany him. Only when he crossed the final desert to the great mountain that held Eriosthe did he find a group who were still very young in their careers as adventurers, and had no knowledge of his past.

Or his strange illness. Yep this is part of creating a character.

For the promise of gold and glory, they joined him in his quest: the not so timid priestess Anyolina, the aged paladin Toothless, and the too-smart to be a fighter Balthazarr. A long passage into the mountain led to a dead end to the untrained eye, but Angoff tapped his staff against the rock wall - causing the magical door to open. The four stepped through and now found themselves in the large, dust covered welcome hall of fabled city.

Fate of Heroes

After a nice break from blogging it's time to start up another story! As usual, some spoilers abound for the games involved and I'm taking a little creative license to link things together. :)

Chapter 1 - Welcome to Eriosthe (The Dark Heart of Uukrul)
Chapter 2 - Knife Party
Chapter 3 - Wrong Turn
Chapter 4 - Orcs and Geezers
Chapter 5 - The First Task
Chapter 6 - Bling is King
Chapter 7 - A Lack of Agility
Chapter 8 - That Bloody Bat
Chapter 9 - What's behind door number... 
Chapter 10 - Earned Respect
Chapter 11 - HOYAMOQ!
Chapter 12 - Speak Foe and Enter

Friday, 7 July 2017

Neverwinter: Sahha

I missed out on (or skipped) the Summer Festival last year, but now it's back along with the Sahha mini-game which translates into an odd 5 vs 5 game of soccer/volleyball. After the non-event which was Lliira's Celebration, due to having no updated rewards and a really poor interaction method anyway, this is quite a step up - though not as good as the Protector's Jubilee or annual Siege of Neverwinter.

I hope the devs find a way to put this permanently in.

The rewards aren't great though for a ten minute match, and it is prone to afk-ers but it still is quite fun. In our alliance there is a guild vs guild sahha contest going on which sounds really fun going so far as to have dedicated goalies and such. The other summer events are still around too - flax griefing collecting, troll killing, pig and chicken herding as well as a water fight which I've not yet tried.

Doubt I will too since when I'm in that zone, I'm just focused on sahha. :P

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Photobucket Burn

As you probably have noticed, all the images on my blog are now either broken or an advertisement for Photobucket, which has been my image host since I started in 2011. They've been a decent host over the years, with only a handful of down times that I can remember.

Alas with their decision to monetize their service, and me not willing to pay $400 odd for it, I bid them adieu today with no ill will whatsoever. Thank you for being a great host in the past PB! Now I'll have to look for a new free alternative for posts moving forward.

For those wondering, no - I'm not going to fix all the broken images. I'll just retrieve the ones I like (mostly my own art) and maybe put them in a gallery somewhere. Apart from my photo stories which will really be broken now, the majority of this site has mainly been about the text anyway so I'm not really fussed.

This gives me a good opportunity to start a new chapter, and start fresh in some areas which I've been keen to do for a while now. Thanks for your patience while I slowly segregate everything before this post, to everything coming next. Have a good day all! :)

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Today I Smiled: Neverwinter Birthday!

The Fourth Protector's Jubilee, which is the annual in-game celebration of Neverwinter Online's birthday, has come and gone - leaving those who attended and participated in the optional events with a lot of free goodies. While I missed out on the last one, I still recall there was speculation if it would ever reach year IV. I'm happy to report that the game is going stronger than ever!

It wasn't only Neverwinter's birthday recently, but also mine, which meant I got even more free stuff in game courtesy of my brother, Dragonlord, who gifted me with a Celeste and lesser bonding runes among other things, and a random stranger named EdwinaVC of the Blackcloaks (alliance) who gave me a Hell Emblazon Worg mount! Thank you very much!

As a PSA for those who play NWO: get the Wanderer's Fortune mount boon if you don't have it already. It's a fantastic source of refinement points, so much so that bag space is again an issue for me.

Wish I could put these thrones as static statues.

While on the topic of Dungeons and Dragons I'm also happy to report that my group has finished the Legend of Drizzt boardgame, and have now moved on to Castle Ravenloft to face the ever present Strahd. It's pretty cool so far - I'll have a review up on that after we play it a bit more. Nice to know the next module, the Tomb of Annihilation, has a board game slated for simultaneous release.

More blog posts coming up shortly, here are some interesting clips for you to watch: a very impressive coin magician and a kid who solves the Rubix cube in his head. Might look like he's doing nothing, but just wait till that blind fold goes on. What's worse - this is a tournament - so there must be others doing the same thing. :O

Have a great day everyone!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Ghost in the Shell: The Scarlett Johansson Version

There must be no jails in the future, because Section 9 is all about killing.

Based on an anime of the same name this movie cherry picks a bunch of stories from the original content and mashes it up into one narrative, much like how the previously Asian protagonist is put back piecemeal with a pinch of amnesia into Scarlett Johansson. There are certainly worse bodies to get resurrected into!

I'm kinda glad none of the others wear a white, form squeezing body suit. :P

As expected from a GITS story it has a terrorist group, a corrupt company, a bunch of fight scenes and a lot of eye candy. I mean other eye candy, apart from Scarlett. Section 9 is well represented too, with a good choice for Batou, an almost cameo for Saitou and Togusa, and an elderly yet authoritative Aramaki. Who only speaks Japanese, while the rest of the cast speaks English. Yeah that did bug me a bit. The meshing of stories also made for some plot holes.

Also, by making trying to make this somewhat kid friendly by removing the gore and nudity (and blood) featured in the animated counterpart - it does make it fall short to GITS veterans. The futuristic capacity also had some ludicrous looking moments with things that don't translate well into real life. Keep your eyes open for people wearing ridiculous bubble helmets filled with ads. Even the opening surgical staff could probably not see where they were going at all.

So, not as entertaining as the originals but still worth a watch if nothing better is on. I give it 2.5 spider tanks out of 5. Would I watch it again? I'd probably give my consent, but not anytime soon.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Neverwinter: Up the River

After that lengthy campaign in TESO, I've found myself back at Neverwinter with the new grind of the River District. So far, it has been pretty entertaining investigating the conclave of Far Realm mages acting as the antagonists in this module - all while trying to dig up lost riches for the now broke Lord Neverember.

It's certainly much better than fishing in the Sea of Moving Ice, which is what ultimately led me to rage-quit take a break in the first place. Slightly regretting that now as it just means I have more currencies to grind up on. It does help that I finally got a purple mount (thank you Siege event for that free one) because damn, speed makes things more bearable. If you are only spending on one thing in the game, get the fastest mount you can afford.

Dragonarm 2017

My guild, Dragonarm, is still small but have made much headway with the Stronghold in my absence - same with the rest of the Greycloak Alliance, with the Greycloaks themselves nearing the max level 20! I also quite enjoy the addition of the Marauder event, even if it's only worth doing once a week, as it gives the alliance yet another avenue for cooperative play.

It comes as no surprise, during our last guild event, where we six manned a Marauder attack, that I am pretty much the weakest now of my team. Haha. I seriously only out DPSed the Gray's dedicated healer alt. Look at those numbers!

Ah well, I guess I'll just say I'm playing the game on "hard mode". :P

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Today I Smiled: Throttling Back

Phew, finally my Creative Writing Experiment is finished! While it was kinda fun to do, it also did take a lot of work doing it - not to mention a gap of around a year halfway through. I think I'll be returning to my simpler writing styles like in my Skyrim journal, which is also finished for now. This isn't the end of my stories though, as I still have many "survivors" on my list who need a chance to shine. :P

I will be throttling back my post frequency though. I know I keep threatening to do it and never actually do it, but this time I actually want to focus on a few other projects so don't be surprised if I start only posting once or twice a week for awhile. When said "other things" are out of the way, I will revisit the post scheduling.

What those other projects are? Well, I'd like to make more headway with this Game 13 thing that seems to keep going through cycles of re imagining / re configuring. There's also a tiny bit more story coming to Tales at the Bonfire when I get it written. Lastly I'd also like a bit more time to grind in Neverwinter since I'm way "behind" (behind who or what, I'm not really sure, probably "everyone" is a suitable answer), but I'd like to be ready for dinosaurs. ^_^

Friday, 16 June 2017

Nameless: The Last Ship

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

"Lord Warrior," said the novice acolyte as he gave a hurried genuflect. "Those monsters have breached the walls, we must evacuate now!"

Gigal nodded, looking one last time at Nessa's portrait before throwing a large tarp over it. The sounds of battle within the halls of this final stand had rattled the remainder of the Shadowstar cultists within. Gigal's small retinue of guards moved quickly to take her towards the Northern tunnel, an escape route designed by the old King that would take them right to the docks.

"What of the Urn?" asked Gigal without breaking her stride.

"It's already being ferried with the first boat to the master," replied one of her retinue - who was suddenly cut down by a large battle axe. A crazed, bald dwarf sprang from the adjoining corridor - making short work of more of Gigal's guards, who were unable to fight back effectively having heard what happens the worms within their enemy touch their skin.

As the last of her allies fell, Gigal charged forth herself in a full sprint - surprising her diminutive opponent as she sprang off a nearby wall to sail right over his attack. He spun around just in time to see the arrow that would pierce his brain and kill his body. Gigal didn't hesitate to flee, and picked up the pace through the tunnel and straight to the docks which were now on fire.

The few remaining guards were being overwhelmed here, so without hesitation Gigal spotted the closest ferry that still seemed operational and raced to it. Weaving and dodging past the clumsy worm infected that noticed her. Once she was on the boat, she set sail immediately - catching the tide that would pull her vessel out to sea, and out of reach of the deep ones.

She was fortunate that the cultists had begun loading rations on board, for she would be at out at sea - alone - for longer than she liked. It was during those days of lonely drifting that her mind thought of Nessa with a pang of regret.

When she finally made land, all her searching for the Shadowstar cultists led to nothing, as if they had all packed up and gone into hiding. After a captive for so long, this freedom felt terrifying. Her only skills were that of combat though, so when she learned of a caravan hiring adventurers to clear out some "cursed" hamlet, she signed up immediately.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Nameless: Pretty as a Picture

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

All that was left of Silvain.

Nessa blinked back the tears as she watched her last ally turn into dust. Filled with rage she turned to the slowly approaching  Lord Warrior, whose helmet was now missing. A mess of long blonde hair contrasted against the pitch black armor and Nessa was surprised that the Lord Warrior had a familiar, feminine face.

"Gigal?" she asked with more than a hint of confusion.

"Hello sister," replied her old arena team mate, as she suddenly sprinted forward into an attack. Her emotions unchecked, Nessa countered it sluggishly and was too slow to evade the follow up, catching an armored shin to the face, knocking her out cold. When Nessa regained consciousness,  she found herself stripped of all her gear, her ankles and wrists chained to a single point to the floor behind her.

More troubling was that she found herself in an intricate magical cage, facing a canvas filled with monstrous shapes. Gigal stood nearby but she was busy talking with one of her Shadowstar minions while a few others chanted in an unknown tongue around her. Finally Gigal turned around as the panicked minion left the room in a hurry.

"Congratulations," she said as her gaze locked with Nessa's. "Thanks to your interference by damaging the urn, the plans of the Shadowstar here are ruined for now. Furthermore, with the costly battle against the deep ones that I can't help but thing you had a hand in starting - they are withdrawing entirely from this region."

"Gigal... why? Why are you helping them!?" asked Nessa angrily.

"Because they helped me escape. They gave me the the opportunity and the means to take down Tectuk and I did. Most importantly, because they didn't leave me behind." Nessa felt that last one was definitely directed at her. Gigal continued, "So now I'm going to do what the rest of you did to me. Your friend Jann was very forthcoming with his imprisonment techniques. I'm told time moves much slower for those inside a painting."

"Wait, Gigal... you can't be serious."

"You left me in a place where I was regularly abused and had to fight for my life. Now you will get to experience that. Forever."

"Please, no! Let me go, you can't do this!" begged Nessa.

With her middle finger raised in a final gesture to her captive, Gigal didn't even break her gaze as she gave the command to proceed. Nessa screamed as a bright flash of light engulfed her, and as it faded she was gone from her shackles and from the cage - transported into the picture with the horrible creatures within.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Nameless: The Answer to Unasked Questions

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Silvain spent most of her life among the tomes and mystical volumes of the Veiled Alliance library, and was always one of those people who look for answers to things no one had asked. A few such questions were: if the elemental urn is so dangerous, why can't it be destroyed? Can it even be destroyed in the first place?

With the magic of the artifacts surging around her, she strummed the lyre - channeling all the power at her disposal - in hopes of finding those answers. The tumultuous blast of energy was far greater than when Jann used the instrument, and the Lord Warrior tumbled out of the way just in time. To Silvain it didn't matter though - she was targeting the urn.

She didn't care that the cup, the seal and the lyre had begun disintegrating around her. She didn't care that her skin began to char from the inside from the overwhelming power that went through her. These, she knew would happen. As she her body slowly began to turn into ash she remained unmoving and focused on the seemingly untouched urn which, along with its pedestal, stood so out of place from the destruction around it.

And then it happened... the urn cracked... and cracked some more. And then a little piece of the top shattered... Silvain sighed with a small smile as she vaporized completely into nothingness. Everything she sacrificed in that attack had merely damaged the urn, but there in her final moments, she found her answer. If the urn could be damaged, it could be destroyed.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Nameless: Explosive Volume

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

With a flick of his wrist, Jann sent a huge ball of flame hurtling towards the three women but the spell exploded harmlessly against the shield generated by the Seal of Fire Silvain held up in front of it. The magic shield did nothing to stop the Lord Warrior's arrow though, which painfully pierced through her extended forearm, forcing her to drop the artifact.

As Nessa rushed their black armored foe, parrying more arrows with her shield, Fayina threw Rhone's spear at Jann - but she missed as the goateed mage hopped down from his perch while he simultaneously produced an ornate looking lyre. With a single strum, violent energies shot forth towards his targets. All Fayina could do was push Silvain out of the way as the magic from the lyre dismembered her in a sudden, violent explosion of blood and entrails.

Wide-eyed, Silvain used her good hand to conjure a wall of stone which blocked the next chord strummed by Jann. Through the debris of the crumbling wall, he didn't notice that the timid librarian had also magically flung a tiny few tiny rocks in his direction. The pebbles hit the strings of his instrument and to his horror, made it sound - firing the energy in his direction and completely obliterating him and the pillar he had jumped down from.

Meanwhile, Nessa had closed the distance and cut through the Lord Warrior's bow with her sword in a furious, flurry of attacks. This didn't stop her opponent though, who proceeded to fight unarmed - evading and deflecting Nessa's sword strikes and skillfully disarming and throwing her across the garden plaza with a surprising, spinning counter.

It was only at that moment that Lord Warrior spotted Silvain crouched to one side on some sort of impromtu magic circle, with the cup of life and the seal of fire at her feet and the lyre in her hands.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Nameless: Evil Intent

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

The night sky showed Silvain that they were almost out of time.

The city was more alert than usual the next morning, with armed Shadowstar soldiers aggressively patrolling the streets and what few civilians were about were hurriedly ushured into their homes. This made it more difficult for Fayina, Nessa and Silvain to sneak closer to the main frustum where the Lord Warrior was said to reside, but it soon became clear that they were not the only threats active that day.

The trio watched from a small, shaded alley as the city guardsmen clashed against a large group of ragged individuals. Some looked like disheveled miners, others wore the familiar greenish garb of the tree folk. One of them was a splitting image of Buster, down to his axe. Silvain held Nessa back as she began to move to assist them, not just because they had a more important mission - but more because this ragtag group attacked with no strategy. No tactics.

Yet for each one slain, the guards seemed to panic more - as if terrified of the blood being spilled around them. Soon they started fighting among themselves as well. While Nessa and Silvain squinted to try better understand what was happening, Fayina called their attention with a loud whisper.

"Now is our chance."

With all the guards now attending the commotion, the grand stairs to the pyramid was clear. With a deep breath, the trio sprinted across the open causeway and into the main Shadowstar headquarters. There was no looking back now

They moved quickly and quietly along the cold marble floor of the interior, counting themselves lucky as the lack of defenses continued inside. That is, until they reached a large open air garden in the center of the building. There, on a small altar was the elemental urn and beside it stood a menacing figure in black armor holding a wicked bow. The Lord Warrior was waiting for them.

"Right on time!" exclaimed a voice familiar to Nessa, as a thin man with a long goatee stood up from his perch atop a nearby decorative pillar. Jann smiled at them with evil intent.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Nameless: Plan B

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Silvain sprung awake as she heard the wooden door open, rolling out of the small cot and grabbing her knife of the small bedside table. Underneath the very same table was a small sack containing the Cup of Life - rewarded to her and Fayina for rescuing the forest folk just a few days ago with the promise of its return once the elemental urn was retrieved from the Lord Warrior.

Silvain was living proof that the artifact worked, having healed the spear wound in her side completely. Alas, its healing properties could not restore the dead, leaving many of the forest folk and Silvain's comrades in shallow graves.

Peeking around the corner from the back room she saw there was no need to worry, as Fayina was already hugging the familiar figure that had just entered... it was Nessa, and in her good hand she held a peculiar stone which Silvain recognized from the books in the old library. The seal of fire.

"Where is everyone else?" Nessa asked.

"We're it," answered Silvain as she came out of from behind the door. "And we're almost out of time. Whatever the Shadowstar are planning to do with the urn is probably going to happen in the next few days when the stars align once more."

Nessa grimly nodded. "Then we do what I wanted to do in the first place. Tomorrow, we go after the Lord Warrior and stop whatever those cultists are trying to do."

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Nameless: Remembrance

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

While escaping the volcano was equal parts terrifying and tiring, watching the temple and a good number of its residents get swallowed by the rising lava was heart breaking. There was nothing Nessa could do or say as Rhone and less than a handful of her soldiers watched and cried from their safe vantage point.

It was surprising to see them cry at all.

As if suddenly remembering she was there, Rhone inhaled sharply and stood up. "You must leave the seal," she said in a tone unmistakable as a demand. Her loyal soldiers were a little slower to take the cue, but also wiped their tears away to face the human with spears and shields at the ready.

"Rhone, I need..."

"That is the last piece of our temple," interrupted the captain. "The last piece of who we were. You cannot take it. We will not let you. I will not let you."

"Don't do this," warned Nessa as the soldiers began advancing on her.

"You leave us no..."

Before Rhone could finish her sentence Nessa's throwing dagger had plunged into one of her bulging, black eyes - piercing her brain and killing the captain out right. With the advantage of surprise she then spun into the nearest soldier, parrying his spear with her blade and beheading him on the second turn.

The remaining two lizards then both attacked, one lunging forward and one leaping with a downward strike, both missing as Nessa unexpectedly shifted direction and rolled past them - severing the tail of the lunger on her way past. Off balance, he made for easy prey as the gladiatrix swept behind him - using him as a shield from the spear of his comrade, much to his dismay.

With a well timed shove, Nessa impaled the tailless one onto the his ally's weapon and then made quick work of the last disarmed foe. With all of her opponents dead, she collected Rhone's spear as a remembrance and began the long trek back to the city.

Friday, 9 June 2017

TESO: Forlorn Crags

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

Having defeated Molag Bal, I venture next to the vast expanse known as Craglorn where a lot of my crafted goods have been being sent. A new threat has arrived in this zone: Aliens Celestials. Namely the Celestial Serpent, who managed to corrupt the Celestial Mage and Celestial Warrior. A band known as the Star Gazers, asks that I help them put these things back in the sky where they belong.

Easier said than done though as this zone is intended for group content, excluding me from at least 70% of the area. Still, I do manage to cleanse the Warrior's Apex stone, and assist a time traveling soldier to destroy an ancient emperor who uses terracotta warriors.

I also slam the local Iron Orcs, who have a penchant for feeding victims to their troll pets. After slaying their entire leadership structure I mess with the Scaled Court's research in making new beasties (Mantikora) and atronarchs (six armed air elemental)! Ultimately I also save the Celestial Thief from the Serpent's grasp, forcing the Serpent celestial to withdraw.

Ugly beasties.

Alas the actual final fight against it is blocked behind a "Trial" gate (requires team) so I doubt I'll ever get to see that. Worth noting the ATITD Pilgrimage idea is alive here - in the form of visiting six delves within two hours. Pretty cool, and still easier than the ATITD version! 

Having done most of the available content (I don't have the DLCs) I think it's time I take a well earned break, and thanks to one merc band in this region being called the Greycloaks, I have a good idea of where I'm headed back to.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

MMOs: TESO Level Scaling

[Added to my MMO Design folder.]

Years ago I did a post about the problem with levels in an MMO. Having now experienced the Elder Scrolls Online, I now get to see the other / another side to it and that is level scaling.

Much like in Skyrim, the bad guys always match your level - irrespective of map zone. This is a truer scaling than what Guild Wars 2 tried to do, where a level 70 who is "down leveled" in a lower level zone can still steamroll everything. Here's a quick Pro/Con tongue in cheek list for what TESO does:

Pros: You can now go in any direction immediately and not his "Foe Walls" to your quest progression. Wandering into a level 60 zone while level 5? No problem! Those enemies will hold their punches for you. Also, this means your friend who just joined the game can come into that uber, end of game quest with you. Nice!

Cons: Missed the tutorial happy cake dungeon (that doesn't exist - just my example) and are going back as a max level character? Expect those tutorial monsters to have a lot of new DPS heavy moves and hundreds more HP - enough to actually challenge you! Also, congrats - you just finished the game after 3 months? The guy next to you finished it in 1 day... while level 5.

I can understand why people both like and dislike the system, and while I don't mind it since I do prefer people to be able to immediately play together in games, I still think having no "over all" levels is the best approach.

By that I mean, don't attach Life or HP to levels, or if you must make it by the smallest of fractions. A new player gets 100hp. And end of game character might have 110 at most. Getting hit by a bus, or more likely stabbed with a sword, should still one shot either.

And don't even get me started about level based gear either. Blargh.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

TESO: Molag Bal

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

Beyond the torture chamber is the path up to Molag Bal's fortress, and by powering up the magic amulet via absorbing the life of the prophet, I gain a temporary boost of super saiyan strength - literally one shotting the armies of dremora that try get in my way. Even flights of demon dragons and thick fortress walls are no match as I blast my way up the mountain to the towering daedric prince trying to throw down meteors at me.

I like how my pet monkey is just casually following me at this part.

I get up to him and blast him down to a more manageable size, fight him in a more standard fashion and ultimately chop off both his arms! This forces Molag Bal to flee and Meridia is kind enough to restore my missing soul as a reward.

Winning pose!

With that victory, Lyris and Sai head off to the sunset together and Abnur, who is missing, is reported (by Meridia no less) to have taken the cheat amulet with him to Cyrodiil for his own use - though he won't be able to do anything with it for a few generations. Now re-souled I am free to do whatever I want, and I get a nice cauldron hat for my trouble. I suppose chasing Tharn into Cyrodiil is an idea, but that's all PvP land. Regardless, main quest complete!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Nameless: Unsealed

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

The shaking was getting worse as Nessa followed Rhone's lizard forces down the spiraling stairs in what seemed to be the very heart of the volcano itself - a huge spacious cavern with bubbling lava, ravenously consuming the rocks falling onto its molten surface. Amidst the chaos, a battalion of Shadowstar soldiers fought against the Verini guards.

"Quickly!" hissed Rhone to her column of warriors. "We must return the seal to pacify the great fire god!"

With a primal roar the lizardman phalanx surged forward with Nessa and Ladel bringing up the rear. Past the melee, Nessa spotted the caped Shadowstar commander barking orders at his troops as he retreated further into the volcano. Tucked under his arm was an ancient circular stone, no doubt the seal of fire itself! Unwilling to let the artifact slip away, she signaled to Ladel and the two of them broke off from the main combat across some precarious looking stones slowly sinking into the caldera.

It was a dangerous shortcut, especially for the rotund Ladel, but one that paid off as they soon ran into the Commander and his two guards, both of whom where caught by surprise as Nessa ran one through with her sword while Ladel manhandled the second one, throwing the screaming man into the lava.

"Stay back," the commander began as he threatened to drop the seal into the magma. Nessa had anticipated this though and instinctively rolled past him - severing his extended arm and catching the artifact with her shield hand - which in itself was a dexterous feat since she only had three fingers on it. Ladel took the opportunity to bash the now one armed man, sending him reeling backwards and forcing him to jump to another rock.

"Go," said Ladel to Nessa. "I've got this." The big man then jumped after the commander, who now had drawn a knife to defend himself.

Knowing the battle would be meaningless if the volcano erupted, Nessa ran back to Rhone's forces who despite heavy casualties were actually winning the fight. Finding the lizard captain at an opportune time, Nessa pushed the stone to her. "Rhone, use it quickly!" she urged.

But the captain's gaze lingered on something behind her... the huge stone pillars that once supported the city of Verini were crumbling into the boiling lava, soon followed by chunks of the city proper itself along with hapless citizens. "It's too late," she said sadly as she watched the destruction all around her. "It's too late."

"All forces retreat!" ordered a teary eyed Rhone. Nessa took one last glance back at Ladel, who was still fighting the commander, just as a huge slab of stone crushed them both into the burning sea.

Monday, 5 June 2017

TESO: Writhing Worms

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

With all the alliance zones mostly done now (still missing some group content and a few bits and pieces) I return to the Prophet's cave to find he and Lyris haven't done a damn thing since I last saw them ages ago. Since my GFX settings are better now, I reattempt that rescue mission they wanted to do... to rescue Abnur Tharn, and then a Redguard sword master named Sai Sahan, and then a magic deus ex machina amulet to use against Molag Bal.

Wouldn't be a magic duel without at least one beam contest.

Naturally the worm cult leader, Mannimarco tries and fails to stop us at each step of the way - ultimately fighting for real to try take the amulet for himself because he wants to replace Molag Bal. He really shouldn't have said that because after I beat him down, Molag Bal's giant hand comes through a gate and whisks Mannimarco away to Coldharbour.

His mistake was not taking the amulet instead, because we follow close behind and sneak through the very same torture chamber where Mannimarco and other familiar villains are getting their comeuppance, a few of whom are of the Tharn bloodline (not that Abnur minds since they are all douche bags like that). Most of the prisoners beg to be freed from their torment, but I ignore all of them because that's what they all deserve.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Nameless: It's not Luck

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Dariya quietly led her team deep within the pale, purple city constructed with alien architecture avoiding the many "infected" denizens within. While most seemed to be wearing the husks of miners there were others dressed far differently, from lands much farther across the seas.

Her son and the two dwarves were rightfully terrified of these worm folk, whom Dariya had only read about in rare, old tomes from long lost cities. The plan was simple: steal the magic crystal and escape. She was somewhat surprised at their progress through the city, as each patrol passed them by without a glance.

The crystal itself was also easy to spot, magically rotating above a dry fountain in an open plaza. Reaching the plaza undetected was another matter however, and Dariya just prayed their luck would hold out.

She only realized when they were within the last hundred meters that it wasn't luck. It was a trap. Dozens upon dozens of the worm folk were waiting for them, and even more blocked the way they came. The floor where they stood was covered with arm sized tentacle worms, wriggling their way towards the party.

"I don't suppose we could parley..." asked Dmitri in a trembling, hushed tone. His mother shook her head. "Don't forget why we are here. The plan remains the same. We'll make an opening, you two grab the artifact."

"Ta hell with that! I ain't dying for that piece of shite!" exclaimed Arslan as he charged toward the exit.

Before they could say anything more, the crowd surged forward. Throwing fire and lightning, Dmitri and Dariya cleared the path to the fountain while Buster charged in with grit teeth, hacking the stragglers that got in his way.

Dariya was so focused on covering Buster that she was surprised when she was suddenly showered with blood and turned to see the decapitated body of her son collapse to the ground. A crack of lightning from her fingertips made his assailant explode into giblets, but also knocked her to the ground.

There, beside Dmitri's head, she was consumed by fear as she witnessed the sea of worms closing in on her. In the distance she could see them already on Arslan who was being held down into their wake. Not willing to experience that, she gathered all her magic and uttered one final spell, detonating herself in a magnificent explosion of fire and blood.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

TESO: The Last March

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

Reaper's March is a breath of fresh air after the stifling forests of Malabal Tor. Apart from the Imperials assaulting this zone (led by Tharns no less) there's also an evil khajiit spirit called the Dark Mane (also conjured by a Tharn) raising scary looking Khajiit warriors wherever it goes. The main quest involves assisting a pair of twin sisters in stopping this threat, which is great.

Capoeira esquivas are useful here too!

Unfortunately that "threat" occupies only maybe 1/3rd of the region, with the rest occupied by local bandits, gamblers, an arena and skooma peddlers. I do get to free Barbas (the talking dog) from a prison of his master, Clavicus Vile, though. There is also an awesome side quest at a scary mansion with a massive cavern underneath occupied by Imperials who are looking for the Oghma Infinitum. Hermaeus Mora tells me they cannot have it.

Quite a literal army of bad dudes in the tunnels.

Finally I'm at a level where I can solo handle the group of 8 or so mobs here, and manage to take down the boss too. For all my work, Mora appears and snatches the Infinitum at the last moment - rephrasing that "no mortal" can have it. I manage to retain a single page, still enough to make most people insane.

After beating back the Tharns and destroying the Dark Mane, Queen Ayrenn seems more agreeable to an alliance or at least a cease fire with the Pact but I don't know. She looks, talks and smells like a Thalmor scum. Odds that she will keep her word are next to nil.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Nameless: The Lyre

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Florin's quick reflexes had saved Romila and Jann, as the air elemental's lightning blast flew past overhead. The mage sisters were not so lucky, catching the brunt of the attack with one screaming as she was thrown off the mountain while her sibling was pinned against a large rock by the force of the magic and electrocuted to death.

After a brief pause, it fired again but this time the lightning arced around Jann's outstreched hand - tracing the invisible barrier he had conjured. Beside him, Romila was whispering to herself silently as all her focus remained on the air elemental. With a sudden, dramatic gesture, the air elemental suddenly dissipated like a clearing fog.

"Dispelled," Romila sighed as she wiped the sweat from her brow.

Florin nodded and cautiously advanced up the path the elemental had been guarding which led to a small plateau. There stood a plain stone altar.

"This should be the place, yet its not here," muttered Jann disappointedly.
"Maybe it's some sort of puzzle," mused Florin as he examined the altar. "I don't think someone could have climbed the sheer cliff face to sneak past the elemental guardian..."

"Unless they had wings," corrected Romila as she pointed to a nearby cliff side that clearly supported some form of nest.


It took almost an hour for the trio to find their way up to the nest, and it was far larger than Florin had imagined. All sorts of shiny trinkets of various sizes lay scattered within, as well as a few man-sized eggs and the bones of various creatures. He definitely did not want to find out what lived here.

"There it is," said Romila as she pointed to a strange looking harp which fortuitously was at the edge nearest them. Without missing a beat, Florin gingerly climbed into the nest and retrieved the artifact. Upon turning around however, he saw a hint of steel at Romila's throat, followed by a spray of blood. As she collapsed with a surprise look to the floor, he could see Jann grinning behind her with a bloody knife in hand.

"Traitor!" Florin roared, but as he climbed out of the nest, his leg suddenly bent in a way it shouldn't, thanks to Jann's magic - immobilizing him on the spot and causing him to drop the harp.

"No hard feelings," sneered Jann as he snatched the artifact from the ground, while using his magic to dislocate each of Florin's arms. "I just prefer to ally myself with winners, you see."
With a final wave, Florin was sent painfully screaming and tumbling into the middle of the nest a broken and helpless man.

As if on queue, the shadow of a gigantic winged creature passed overhead, accompanied by the loud flapping of wings. Jann made a quick escape, leaving the panicked and screaming Florin as bird food.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Nameless: Forest of Spears

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Tabitha yelled as her great sword was deflected by her opponent's shield, which was enough of a distraction for Fayina to plunge two daggers into the lizardman's back. Behind them, Silvain unleashed a spell with a clap of thunder that threw four more lizard man captors off their feet.

Tabitha made the most of this opening, rushing the four downed opponents and finishing them with brutal elegance before they could fully recover. Meanwhile, Magnolia was busily freeing her bound people and directing them away from the melee. She had freed about a third of the captives when the tip of javelin exploded out of her chest, and with a wide-eyed expression collapsed into the remaining prisoners, drenching them in her blood.

Silvain spun to face the new threat, throwing two magical balls of fire at the enemy squad. One missed entirely and exploded against a tree, but the second found its mark - talking half their number out and wounding a few more before a sharp pain hit her side and knocked her over.

A look of horror came over her face as she saw the long spear haft rising up to the sky. A lizardman soon appeared beside it, jagged blade in hand but before it could strike Tabitha's great sword cleaved his head from his shoulders. Silvain could feel her damp hands begin to shake as she tried to stop her blood from spilling out to no avail. Everything went black.


Tabitha had no time to tend to her downed companion as the lizard people drew closer. Fayina was doing her best to flank them but Tabitha could see that the thief was tiring quickly and could not get through their defenses.

Without wasting time she charged into the fray, brutally cutting down more of their reptilian adversaries and exchanging blood for blood as their more and more of their spears cut into her. A blow to the back of her knee unbalanced her, causing her to collapse onto all fours.

The nearest lizardman would have finished her off right there had Fayina not lunged into his side, shoving one dagger into the creature's head and another into its side. Unfortunately this wasn't enough to save Tabitha as the final lizardman attacked from behind her, shoving the length of his spear through her rear and piercing all the way through to her mouth - giving her a most undignified death.

Screaming with rage, Fayina charged the now weaponless lizardman head on, slicing and dodging, dodging and slicing, slicing and slicing... slicing and slicing... slicing and slicing. It took a few moments before she regained her mind, and found herself covered from head to toe and sitting in the entrails of what was left of her foe. The battle was won.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

TESO: Unfriendly Terrain

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

Malabal Tor is perhaps my least favorite zone in the game so far. The cliffs and forest make the zone bloody annoying to navigate, exacerbated with the amount of back and forth travel required by the local quests. While there was a Redguard incursion, the main foes along the shore consist of pirates, some of whom are in talks of alliance with the Worm Cult and the Imperial Empire.

Which also includes bad breath Daedroths.

More troublesome are the orcs already in league with the Worm Cult, who are trying to summon Malacath to Nirn - a plan I obviously put to an end with some assistance from Malacath's nemesis, Boethiah. The overall bad dude here is "the hound", and his houndsmen of Hircine.

If you thought "werewolves" then you are right. Lots of them. Of course it is more difficult chasing the scum down than it actually is killing him, but I am elated regardless afterwards because it means I can finally leave this annoyingly designed zone. Side note: How is it that giant wasps make zero noise despite constantly flying? Stealth magic?

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Nameless: Time to Rumble

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

"What brings you here, manlings?" hissed Rhone in what Nessa assumed was her version of a friendly tone. "Wait, let me guess - you are here for the seal of fire?".

"How did you know?" Ladel blurted out like a buffoon, causing Nessa to grimace.

Rhone simply laughed. "That is the same reason those soldiers have laid seige to our home. They too tried diplomacy at first. Our answer to them is the same we must give you. Please understand, the Fire Ruby keeps our god, calm. There is simply nothing you can say or do that..."

A sudden, deep rumbling interrupted the captain's speech as the whole mountain shook briefly.

"Does that happen often?" asked Nessa as she steadied herself against a nearby wall.

Before Rhone could reply the rumbling returned, more intense than before. The other lizard folk began screaming and running past in terror.

"It can't be..." Rhone hissed angrily as she began to march deeper into the mountain. Ladel and Nessa followed close behind. "What's happening?" asked Nessa in a more demanding tone as a few more soldiers joined their group.

Turning the corner to an opulent staircase that spiraled further down the depths she got her answer. The bodies of dead lizard warriors and a few Shadowstar soldiers ley strewn lifeless on the floor. They had breached the walls.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Nameless: Worms

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Dariya frowned as the little ball of light she had conjured slowly fell to the ground. "It's not here," she said to no one in particular.

"Looks that way ere too," quipped Arslan as he held a lantern closer to the spot she was staring. "So some taffer just gone and nicked it, yeah? Whaddaya think Buster?"

Buster wasn't looking at them though, he was looking back towards the mine cart they had used to descend to this deep and seemingly lifeless level. Then he saw it again, the shadows moving in the distance yet closing in.

Wordlessly he put his lantern on the ground and readied his axe. Arlsan understood right away and did the same with his sword and shield, at the same time Dmitri nudged his mother to prepare as well.

After a brief pause, they charged out of the darkness wielding pickaxes and hammers. It was only after Buster killed one that he realized they were just miners, only there was something off about them.

A bright flash of illumination lit up the chamber as Dmitri's fire ball set a good number of the attackers on fire, making it easy for Buster and Arslan to land fatal blows while their targets were distracted.

The last of them happened to collapse beside one of the lanterns on the floor, and from his mouth crawled out a hideous worm with tentacles. Dariya wasted no time to squash it with the end of her staff as the others recoiled in horror.

"Kill the worms!" she ordered as more began emerging from the corpses of the miners, too many to squash one at a time. Dmitri finally stepped forward with another fire ball, setting both the corpses and the parasites alight.

"You've seen these before, mother?" asked Dmitri. Dariya could only nod silently as a cold shiver ran down her spine. Wordlessly she turned towards a nearby wall and cast a variation of the revealing spell she did earlier.

With a silvery shimmer, a strange, purple door decorated with alien looking membranes materialized before them. "I think I know who took the artifact," she whispered.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Nameless: Summit

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

Florin pressed himself against the cave wall as much as he could as the massive red-coil mountain snake slithered past, not paying him or his team mates any mind. Once it was out of view, he signaled the rest of his squad to continue onward into the cold, howling wind and towards the bright opening ahead.

Despite the cold it felt good to stand on open ground once more, and they all paused a moment to catch their breath as well as make the most of the spectacular vantage point they now stood at, being able to see for miles to the horizon. Florin smiled at the rest of his team and noticed Romila looking the other way.

Following her gaze up the path, there looked to be a dense and compact cloud the size of a horse blocking the way. A cloud that wasn't being affected by the gusty wind. His eyes widened with sudden realization of what they were looking at as electricity began to spark violently from the innocuous looking air elemental.

"GET DOWN!" Florin yelled as he grabbed those nearest him and dove to the ground.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Nameless: Ruined

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

The village of the tree folk was in tatters, littered with debris, damaged surroundings and recent blood splatters. Most worryingly, it was deserted. There were no survivors hiding among the ruins, no bodies left lying in the mud. Silvain tried to comfort Magnolia, who was beside herself in tears.

"What lies to the North of here?" asked Fayina as she and Tabitha returned from scouting the nearby area.

"Some forgotten, ruined temple," replied Magnolia between sobs. "Why?"

"There are a lot of tracks going in that direction, it's possible some of your people are alive," explained Tabitha. "We're going after them."

Hearing this Magnolia recomposed herself as best she could and nodded.


The old stone temple, now covered in vines, sat in a steep valley, giving the girls a good view from the edge of the treeline. Sure enough, a small band of tree folk, bound together at the wrists, were being led into the main plaza by reptilian-like humanoids each carrying a spear and shield.

"What are those?" whispered Fayina. Magnolia could only shrug as she too had never seen them before.

"Doesn't matter what they are," growled Tabitha as she unsheathed her blade. "Not after we're through with them."

Friday, 26 May 2017

Nameless: Mount Verini

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

With a scream, Nessa swung her sword down hard into the shoulder of the Shadowstar soldier who collapsed in a shower of blood with a horrified look on his face. The last thing they expected to find at the gates of the ancient temple built into the volcano was an entire regiment of enemies laying siege to it.

An entire regiment now dead or dying.

With the battle over, Nessa surveyed the losses to her allies and they were equally severe. Of her team, which was reinforced by three other mages who Jann had freed from cursed paintings, only Ladel the cook remained upright, puffing with exhaustion.

Her eyes then came across a familiar thin body lying in a broken position near the middle of the field - the merchant Notaku. With a missing leg and a clearly broken arm his lifeless eyes just stared across towards the massive gates of the temple.

Gates which slowly began to open with a loud grinding noise. Lizard like figures walking up right on two legs, each with a spear and shield marched out and surrounded the two wary survivors. Their leader, marked by a different coloration on her helmet stepped forward.

"Enemies of our enemies are our friends," she hissed with a slight bow. "Please come in." Nessa and Ladel were happy to oblige, since the artifact they sought was supposedly within the temple anyway. Nessa noticed that half of their entourage remained behind to collect equipment and the dead.

"I am Rhone," said the guard captain as she led them into a huge, gold-gilded hall with magnificently carved figures decorating both sides. "Welcome to Verini."

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Nameless: The Other Problem

[This is part of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

"Someone mind telling me what this magic crystal is doing in an active mine?" grumbled Buster openly as his team drew closer to the divide in the solid rock face ahead. It was Dariya who replied. "It was decided when we first found the artifacts that it was too dangerous to keep them together, lest the Wizard King claim all of them in one fell swoop. So, we only kept the urn under guard and hid the others with magic in hard to reach places."

As she finished, the group was mere paces away from the large, black maw in the divide that served as the mine entrance. Beside it was a large wooden building that served both as a guard post and the foreman's office. From it a tall woman with short hair, a plain face and a physique so muscular that it was easy to mistake her as a man stepped out to meet them.

"You don't look like a dig team," she uttered in a deep baritone voice. "Are you here about the other problem?"

"Whaddother problem?" asked Arslan without thinking.

"Problems in the lower levels. Not just our usual monsters either, entire dig teams are vanishing without a trace. There's a bounty posted for anyone that can sort it out."

After a brief awkward silence as the men folk exchanged dubious glances, Dariya edged her way forward and in her strange tone said "Yes, that's what we came for."

The man-lady hesitated a little at this but eventually produced a small roster sheet for them to sign their names on, pay a small entrance fee, and then directed them to a small store of supplies they'd need like oil, flints, lanterns and helmets. Once fully kitted out, the four finally headed towards the pitch black tunnel that served as the mine entrance.

Despite the brave faces, not one of them was eager to enter.