Friday, 31 August 2012

A Test of Skill

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

Moved on to the last bit of training using some of the challenges found on the Skyrim Blog. For obvious reasons, some of these had to be reloaded either because I died, killed someone I didn't want to, or temporarily paid my bounty to run the challenge. Also it seems some of the towns have also been reading the blog, since they were hiring skilled unscroupulous people to test the defenses and skills of their guardsmen! Since I fit the bill, they granted me a short truce to put them to the test. ;)

A bit like this!

Challenge: Whiterun Crime Caper
5 minutes to cause chaos and rack up the highest bounty you can! No shouts, no potions, no switching of weapons and no surrender!
Lvl 49 using Daedric Bow of Freezing - Best score: 8401. Terrain was favourable for my bow here and got this first go.

Challenge: Windhelm Crime Caper
5 minutes to cause chaos and rack up the highest bounty you can! No shouts, no potions, no switching of weapons and no surrender!
Lvl 49 using Blade of Woe and Superior Ebony Dagger - Best score: 7281. This was nightmarishly tough for me as the guards constantly killed me in the tight confines of the tavern.

Challenge: Markarth Crime Caper
5 minutes to cause chaos and rack up the highest bounty you can! No shouts, no potions, no switching of weapons and no surrender!
Lvl 49 using Blade of Woe, Superior Ebony Dagger - Best score: 11520. My experience fighting the bastards of Markarth paid off here, since I already knew how to make them run in circles. They still killed me a few times though.

Challenge: Solitude Crime Caper
5 minutes to cause chaos and rack up the highest bounty you can! No shouts, no potions, no switching of weapons and no surrender!
Lvl 49 using Blade of Woe, Superior Ebony Dagger - Best score: 9285. Needed so many retries here for a totally different reason - I kept killing my witnesses and reducing my own bounty! Doh! :P

Challenge: Crimson Nirnroot Hunting (timed)
Starting at the Alchemist's Shack in Blackreach (near the Afland Lift) how long does it take you to get 10 crimson nirnroots?
After angering the guards in all those places I figured I needed to lay low for awhile, and there's not much lower a place than Blackreach! This took me 10:53.2. :P

Now that I'm feeling back in shape it was time to test out how my soldiers were doing and since Anni the elven archer was the longest "untested" one there she was up first. We went to visit Esbern at Sky Haven temple and to my surprise Mjoll had returned from being AWOL! She was very evasive when I asked where she ran off to before though. Disturbingly the bodies of the other two blades members were there too. Eww. Anyway, first up was a dragon hunt, and Anni had no problems taking down the blood dragon we were sent up against. After reporting our victory we headed to Rorikstead, where during my training I discovered some places I had "missed".

Before we got very far though we were attacked by a guard who had brought with him a mercenary in full ebony plate! Anni again proved herself here and was given that armor as a reward. She continued to impress in the Falmer cave of Gloomreach, though a shadow master did manage to hurt her leg at one point. After clearing the place I figured she had passed the test and was about to return her to the home base in Solitude when I realised I already had a -secret- base elsewhere. *facepalm* With secret agent girl having been killed by Mjoll awhile back, I figured it was up to me to rebuild the blades now and left Anni in the much more spacious fortress of Sky Haven Temple.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Doing the Hard Yards

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

Decided to continue training using some of the challenges found on the Skyrim Blog. For obvious reasons, some of these had to be reloaded either because I died, killed someone I didn't want to, or temporarily paid my bounty to run the challenge.

Challenge: Salmon Catching (success I think)
Go to where the river has rapids near Whiterun. You have two minutes to catch as many salmon as possible.
On my best attempt (3rd try) I got 12. First one was 4. :P

Challenge: Wheel Riding (success)
Ride a paddlewheel up from the water and get off on the landing above.
Went to Riverwood for this one, and it was not as easy as I had thought. Still managed to get up there on my 4th attempt though.

Challenge: Chicken Cart (success)
Your goal is to kill a chicken using only a wooden cart.
Took a moment before I realized I had to jump at the cart rather than walking into it. Dead chicken indeed. :)

Challenge: Giant Boxing (death! Lots of it! :P)
Go to Talking Stone Camp and find a lone giant. With no armor or weapons your goal is to punch it as many times as you can. You are not allowed to leave the camp's perimitter.
Best run I punched the guy 4 times. He kept sending me flying though!

Challenge: Torch Run (success)
With no armor and only carrying a torch - run on foot from the gates of whiterun to the Jarl's house in Morthal in under 5 minutes.
After death by sabrecat and death by bandit arrow, I managed to reach the dang place with a time of 4:53.4.

Challenge: Dovah-Sprint (fail)
Run from the gates of Whiterun to the chest outside High Hrothgar in under 7 minutes.
Massive fail for me here - only reached it at 9:42.8.

I lose stamina just looking at the picture. :(

Challenge: Dovah-Descent (success)
Get from High Hrothgar to Riverwood in 2 minutes or less without using Become Ethereal or dying.
After one horrific fall, I managed to get down there in one piece (more or less) in 1:51.9.

Challenge: Cliffside Retreat Archery Test (success)
Put a bucket on the hunter's head. Shoot from 3 marked positions.
Again, archery is my forte. Won on arrow 4.

Challenge: Waterfalling (timed)
Get a corpse from Nilheim Tower down to the shore of Darkwater Crossing as fast as possible.
Using a bandit who "volunteered" this turned out to be really difficult for me, requiring many retries to get her to the bottom lake. Only made it to shore at 6:46.3.

Challenge: Dragon Catching (timed)
Catch as many dartwings as you can, as fast as you can.
Starting near where the hunters are bathing near Darkwater Crossing, I got 10 (and almost killed by a bear) in 5:02.2.

Challenge: Logging Wine (timed)
Drag (not pick up) as many bottles of wine from one end of a fallen log to the other in 2 minutes. The fallen log is West of Knifepoint Lookout.
After running into a hagraven fighting a spriggan (pretty even) and clearing a pair of bandits I tried this and only managed to get 4 across (dropped 1 too). :/

Challenge: Mistwatch Catapult (fail)
Setup some containers at the tower door and use the drawbridge to catapult stuff into them.
Used two small baskets and one large one and for ammo had 12 mugs, 2 slices of cheese, 14 pieces of salmon and some wine. Score - ZERO. Good thing I've never needed to man a catapult! :P

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Training Surprise

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

Set my new recruits to train under the experienced and watchful eyes of Jordis and Njada, however since I was still quite rusty too I decided to do some training myself and came across these "challenges" on the Skyrim Blog which I thought I'd try out. For obvious reasons, some of these had to be reloaded either because I died, killed someone I didn't want to, or temporarily paid my bounty to run the challenge.

Challenge: Target Practice (success)
At Solitude, stand on the level of Beirand's smithy and shoot five shop signs without moving.
With my archery skill, this was easy. Even bagged two more penticus occultus fools on guard duty without being detected while I was at it.

Challenge: Solitude Tourist (timed)
Starting at the gates, do a set of six tasks in the city and return to the gates.
Pretty poor run I think, finishing only at 6 minutes 02 seconds.

Challenge: Bird Sniping (success)
At Solitude docks, shoot down 5 birds using a maximum of seven arrows.
This one was a little tough but I got lucky and on my 3rd load of 7 arrows killed a 5th bird with my last shot.

Challenge: Arrow Catch (fail)
Fire arrows into the air at any speed. Catch three in a row.
For the life of me I couldn't even catch a single arrow, and I was pretty much standing right underneath them as they fell. Must be doing something wrong. :(

I had as much luck as Adam from Mythbusters.

Challenge: Yelling at Jovasskr (success)
Using one level one "Unrelenting Force", yell everything off a long table.
Needed a few tries at this since those plates were bastards to move. Eventually got it though!

Draugr Interruption:
After that last challenge the old lady who minded the place mentioned something about keeping secrets and with a sly, wrinkled grin descended to the living quarters. Suspicious, I followed her and used Aura Whisper to find that two other people were down here! I went to investigate and found that both Skjor and Aela had come back from the grave! Damn, would-be-draugr! I couldn't let them live. When I asked Skjor how he was still alive (after I saw him butchered by the Silver dudes) he simply said "You've yet to prove yourself, whelp" and tossed me a steel two handed sword.

I punched him a bit to accept his duel and given my unfamiliarity with 2-handers this became a cool and somewhat long fight. Aela kept cheering her wolf-buddy on from the side lines with chants like "kill him!", but it was Skjor who eventually found himself run through as he tried to flee like the coward he was. I tossed the sword aside and then set my sights on the bitch Aela, punching her repeatedly while yelling for her to show her true form. Either she couldn't or wouldn't, but she couldn't even fire an arrow in retaliation and eventually I grappled her and in a wrestling move finish knocked her lights out. Or killed her. Not sure, but if she could no longer wolf out then maybe stabbing her at Boethiah's pillar before actually did something.

I now knew the old maid had known this whole time that she was assisting werewolves and so I had no choice but to beat her to death with my bare hands - smashing her head down on a chair to finish her off. After picking up Skjor's steel two hander again I stalked up to the forge where the smith continued his business. I questioned him and reading between the lines could tell that he had known of the wolf threat the whole time. For his insolence I challenged him to a duel, and much like Skjor - he was cut down where he stood. Then I tossed his worthless carcass into the fire before sneaking out of town.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Recruitment Drive

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

Vacations at home are so relaxing, and memories of the civil war and defeating the soul-eating dragon are so distant now I'd almost forgotten them. My lizard buddy Derkeethus decided to leave us though, to investigate a rumor about vampires or some such becoming more and more prevalent in the region. Wished him the best of luck as I figured it was time other heroes picked up the slack while I enjoyed my R&R. However one night a visiting bard, Judith De Los Santos (aka Makulah/Malufenix), inspired me with her renditions of familiar songs to get my level 48 butt back out there and righting the wrongs of the world. First up was a session in the basement to simply re-learn my higher motor skills, and then I decided to send my little band out to recruit more adventurers and return them to our base of operations at Solitude.

If only I had a huge mustache I'd get more people too!

While Njada stayed home to mind the fort and her shop - Wynna and Anni travelled the snowy mountains and recruited Mia, the dark-elf blade at Dawnstar as well as Alle, an elf blade and Ono the orc at Nightgate Inn. Rayna went to pick up her "knight" friend Alyssa at Old Hroldan while Jordis accompanied me to Morthal where, using an attack my an ancient dragon as a distraction, we snuck past the guards and found Lynn, another blades girl and Wynd, a gay (male with female voice?) dark elf willing to join up. Sent them back with Jordis while I pushed on into the plains. Didn't want to risk Whiterun itself so instead I found the khajit named Bane at the Honningbrew Meadery and after getting him to murder his Black Briar employer sent him off to Solitude.

At Riverwood all I found were angry guards but my old pal Ralof was there to help fight them off. He didn't want to join my army though so I proceeded to Riften where again the guards gave me a merry chase. Another shady character called Maul tried to fight them off when we entered the docks area but they ran him through pretty quick. Did manage to get Anu the lizardman archer at the Meadery there though and between the two of us, killed all the guards on the way back out. He mentioned an associate of his at Ivarstead on the road so we stopped there to pick up the arrogant knight named Cutter. He sat idly by as we killed the pursuing guards and seemed very up himself when asked to join. When we returned to Solitude, he even went out of his way to attack another ancient dragon beseiging the city - at the guard barracks (the guards who wanted to arrest/kill me). He managed to somehow survive all that, and scared a penticus occultus agent (imperial scum) out of hiding for summary execution by yours truly.

I thought I had wiped out all the Imperial agents running about, but I suspect they are being shipped in to investige -me- and the small army I'm building. Glad the guards don't have the cahones to just barge in and arrest everyone, it probably means I've cut their numbers down so much that they only have enough people to patrol the inner keep. Speaking of which my house is getting kinda full now, with fifteen (myself included) people sharing the place. Njada isn't saying anything but I can tell she's annoyed.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Station Lockdown

My journal through Stalker Online! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Turns out R4wEC, my new ecuadorian friend, had a lot of quests to complete in the Lubech station area so I decided to help him out - killing dogs and brownies mainly while keeping an eye out for spare parts wherever we travelled. He also advised me to steer clear of the Last_Light clan as they were "looters", an interesting assessment. It was slow going - back and forth in the mist but it was good to have someone watching my back and vice versa. Made a little money selling mutant parts at the Police Station but my funds were drying up pretty quick due to the price of ammo. Really need to find more "arts" soon.

They fetch a lot of money!

We were also both given a task to courier some documents to "the second post" wherever that was, but more alarmingly the gate guards today did NOT want us to exit this area due to the horrible mutants outside. Interesting indeed as I didn't think the gate would be "one way". Not a big deal however as we just took the tunnels underneath the wall, a quick trip since I had previously explored the whole of this underground area.

Once top side we decided to try again for "the city", blasting the mutts that got in the way and carefully avoiding wind and fire anomalies on the road. An encounter with a lone stalker of the First_Light faction startled R4wEC a little until I pointed out they were probably different clans. Got lucky on our approach as none of the other stalkers at the village us till we were in the protection of the guard zone. I say lucky because some of them were packing some scoped high-powered rifles, and we would have been easy pickings coming down the open road during the day like we did. In any case we made it and R4wEC went to get some shut eye while I headed to the chef for some chow.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Crisscross Scouting

My journal through Stalker Online! You can follow the rest of the story here!

The next day I decided to try finish a few more quests at the Station so I made my way back towards the apartment complex via a different route, encountering Revenants! These zombie guys were a little scary but alone were still no match against automatic rifles. I eventually came across a "gate guard" manning a large metal fence to a walled off zone. He let me through back into the misty dusk of the Station area where I then proceeded to sweep through the various sectors in the grid, killing a lot more brownies in my house to house searches.

Someone should have put this sign up. :P
A fenced-off section in the North East was home to large numbers of mutants too, dangerous due to the numbers they came in be they rats, brownies or spiders in the playground.

Eventually I found the Palace of Culture which I had somehow missed earlier) which had the entrance to the underground beside it. Followed the stairs down into the Labyrinth to
find it wasn't at all as mazey as I had first hought. It was big, but easily navigatable. Once outside I explored to the edges of the train track to the South finding only more large packs of wild dogs roaming the streets.

After spending the night with the next gate guards I awoke to the sound of gunfire - another stalker named R4wEC was shooting down the mischevious canines so I went to help him. We partied up and decided to try head for "the city" but on the way there encountered a pair of other stalkers heading the opposite way, giving us a warning that a duo of well-armed bandits waited up ahead. Just as well as my new companion had tasks to complete in the Station area anyway, so we hoofed it to the nearest gate and returned to the fog.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Bear-ly Returning Alive

My journal through Stalker Online! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Back tracking to the old farm was trickier than I thought as violent wandering bears had taken up residence in the fields and forests I needed to cross. Ironically in Ultima Online, Skyrim, and Mabinogi where my character has a sword and bow I can take out bears just fine. Here where I have an AK-47 I empty an entire clip into the beast and still lose. :P

It's like the bastards were waiting for me.

After a few attempts I managed to sneak past. Also encountered "normal" spiders who are actually easier to handle that the small counterparts (bigger target, still low HP). Was pretty smooth going from there until I reached the first SILENCE fort I visited - the guards there opened fire! I guess it is to do with how much time is left before the base comes under siege? Anyway I just steered clear and ran back up the hill to the road and through the broken wall back to the city.

A large shape lurked in the burned forest nearby though - it was another bear. Being a smart-ass I shot the thing and bolted to the town gates. Didn't get loot or XP since the town sentry killed it (eventually) but it felt good seeing one dead for a change. After selling various critter bits I was carrying I upgraded my gear according to Pioyer's previous instructions then repaired my nearly empty guns, and bought fresh ammo too. A fair number of Last_Light faction members were beginning to enter the town (accompanied by loud gunfire) so I figured it was best to lay low at this point and let them passby. Sure enough, I spotted Null25 on approach in the far distance of the fading light just before I found some dark shadows to conceal myself in.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Country Walkabout

My journal through Stalker Online! You can follow the rest of the story here!

It was pretty easy going, traveling the country. The thing I saw earlier was a fortress controlled by the SILENCE faction. Seems they controlled a large portion of the midlands here as my journey North-East led me to two more of their strongholds (the one on top of a mountain was really nice)! The guards seemed friendly enough too. Killed more boars and spiders as I trekked through forest and field to another fort, this one held by the GROM_INT group. Less friendly here as they didn't even let me trade with them but at least I could spend the night in safety. At the break of dawn I continued East into the tall grass and I must have stepped on a spider nest or something because before I knew it, dozens of the arachnids were on my case.

If these are "small" I'd hate to see what "big" ones are!

Managed to kill all the leggy insects and make it back to a road where I fought and killed a mountain brutor. I wonder if this muscular dwarf is related to the burers? I tried to continue down the road through the valley but there was some large-scale anomaly here causing me to stagger. Kinda missed my psy-helmet now too. Pulled back and opted to follow the road West instead. Made for easy travelling again and though I thought I heard distant gunshots at one point, I didn't run into a single soul on this journey. Took a small dirt path North to some old farms but found them quite empty. After spending the night by a campfire I pushed on across the fields to another small deserted village. Looked like everything here was looted.

With no more map to the West I followed the road South, finding some larger boars now. Another fort, this one held by the GROM faction, was coming up but I didn't make it there as their sentries opened fire on me! Had to backtrack to the empty village to lick my wounds and rest up for the night. I had less than half the ammo I started with now, and my guns were slowly deteriorating. As nice as it was out here I had no choice but to try make my way back to the city eventually.

Which is a pity because it can be really nice out here.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

A Good Place

My journal through Stalker Online! You can follow the rest of the story here!

As we trekked down a lonely road we passed multiple anomalies, some moving around. Larger mutated dogs prowled the streets here, and I took note that even my heavily armored companion was sniping them from as far away as he could. Eventually I saw where we were headed, a small village on the outskirts of the metropolitan area. Smoke from the chimneys were a tell-tale sign of life. Came across a poison anomaly on the road first which Pioyer pointed out had an "art". He instructed me to learn to pick it up which was quite painful, but I managed to get out before dying. With a short congratulation we continued to the village which boasted every single type of shop I've seen so far - what Pioyer called "the city". He explained that selling "arts" was the best way to make money and after selling the one I got for 30k, I really believed him.

He then took me to the local outfitters and got me to buy a backpack which allowed me to carry 10 kgs more weight. After advising what armor I should buy next when I had enough funds, he took his leave - having to rest up for future adventures. Alone again, I decided to explore the surroundings during the day, finding more brownies in houses and learning the big dogs had a bigger aggro range (nothing the AK couldn't handle though). Also found some small boars and a "small" spider (not very small) that Emile was talking about before as well as a line of guild houses nearby. Most importantly I bagged another artifact, this one selling for 50k! At night I explored the village more, and noted there were much fewer stalkers out here (counted around 4 separate people) which made sense.

Yeah, I'm not going out there at night.

Figured that since I was in pretty good shape equipment wise, I went for minor repairs then headed out to explore this region. Started my journey with the nearby burnt forest, taking down a couple of young boars on the way to a broken part of the wall. After crossing the rubble and climbing a rise I found myself on a road! I checked my map and saw that I could go anywhere from here so since old habits die hard, I decided to follow it North but soon got side tracked off it to explore some buildings I could see in the distance across the plains. 

Looks much better in the day.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Journey to the City

My journal through Stalker Online! You can follow the rest of the story here!

There was a lot more traffic at the station today as I counted seven other stalkers talking amongst themselves, doing business or just passing through. Loaded up some ammo then took a task to find out what brownies eat. Fortunately for me, it's not people - as a wandering one managed to knock me out after my gun jammed. After getting it repaired and getting healed up I was running quite low on money and ammo so I thought I'd try go for an ammo stash I heard about hidden somewhere in a nearby warehouse. The place now acted as a giant dog pen though, with those mutated mutts all over the place. Killed a few before the sound of a heavy rifle scared the bejeezus out of me. It was a polish pro-stalker named Pioyer and he was showing an american "newbie" called Emile the ropes. I asked if I could loot the heads since they were leaving them behind and he said it was fine. He also said that I should tag along - I didn't find the ammo stash but I did find a teacher.

A teacher with a heavy machinegun.

He took us to a field near the police station to show us anomalies, explaining the whirling death ones were very dangerous and how to retrieve "arts" (artifacts) - suggesting we purchase a magnetic grip when we are able. He offered to take us to the next part of the city (which he called "the city") but Emile refused, wanting to train up first. I was game to do so, but he took one look at me and said I needed gear first. Emile left us to return to hunting dogs while we returned to the station where my new benefactor outfitted me with 10k rubles, leggings, a vest, a hat, and most importantly an AK47 with 700 rounds of ammo! Just as we were preparing to leave my old frenemy, Null25 showed up, having been similarly outfitted by someone else and now belonging to the "Last Light" faction, and asked if he can tag along. I had previously told Pioyer of my last encounter so he knew I wanted to avoid him. This didn't stop Null25 from following us though, leaving me somewhat uneasy.

The trip took us past the police station and a graveyard to another guarded building. This one had stairs down which we took into some spooky looking tunnels. While we were at it Pioyer taught me how to sprint. The tunnels branched out into a bloody labyrinth in the next section and Pioyer pulled me aside down one tunnel and made us wait for a few minutes. We could hear Null25 calling out for our position and in truth I felt bad leaving him out there but I would have felt worse bringing him along. I can only hope he simply turned around and went back to the station. After many turns we eventually came to stairs going up which led us to the middle of a field in an apartment block complex, and the bright sunlight was a good change from the mists of the first area. "Ready your AK," said Pioyer - confirming that we had come to a dangerous place; however this wasn't "the city" Pioyer was referring to.

Those aren't just ordinary dust devils.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Welcome to Lubech

My journal through Stalker Online! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Eventually the train pulled to a stop at an old looking station surrounded by heavy mist. There were a number of homeless people outside, as well as some well armed security personel. I instinctively checked for my pack but remembered that I had lost pretty much all my gear (and money) catching the damn train in the first place. A man called "Blacksmith" told me where I was, at the city of Lubech - which I've never heard of before... maybe the zone was expanding? He also handed me a map and gave me directions to another guy inside the station proper who was equiping "newbies" with a small medkit and a small pistol with 100 rounds. The interior was pretty well setup, they had electricity, a bar, an apothecary, a number of shops and a courier bank system in place - anything you stored in one bank could be delivered to another as long as your standing at the other end was high enough. Still, this place was quite deserted. Maybe the other guys who came on the train had already moved out?

Having received my "care package" I took a walk out into the streets of perpetual dusk. It reminded me of Silent Hill. Little mutated rats scurried around in the tall grass that was overgrowing the place, and the small delapidated wooden homes nearby were now occupied by little malevolent imps called Brownies. Two bullets were enough to take those fast moving freaks down though, and some houses had random spare parts I could collect for later crafting. Behind the houses I found large packs of mutant puppies - zombie dogs who I used as target practice, and took their heads back to a homeless guy collecting them. The rubles I earned were barely enough to buy back the ammo I had used though so I took a job to deliver a message to a nearby police station in hopes it would pay better. The streets were mostly inhabited by the mutant dogs, but the cop shop wasn't that far away. The building was also guarded by security but had less facilities within, though I did find the clan registar upstairs. There was little money in the task I did though, and with no ammo vendor here I decided to head back to the station before I ran too low.

If pyramid head shows up, I'm outta here.

After restocking I decided to try explore the streets to the south while looking for spare TV parts for another homeless dude. Threw rocks (out of bolts) to make sure no anomalies were ahead of me and carefully avoided a cluster or rats beside a burned out car. I hadn't gotten very far when suddenly I was being shot at! I turned around to see another stalker/bandit named Null25 shooting at me from near point blank! Fortunately these pistols are crap, so I managed to survive and empty a clip in his direction. Decided to make a run for it while he took cover, but it wasn't long before he and his bullets were after me again though (at least it looked like it) so I carefully positioned myself on the street to bait him to take cover behind the burned out car and soon enough he did. Not sure if my plan worked, but between me shooting him and the rat pack that should have been nibling his feet he retreated back into the station. I used the opportunity to do the same. Once inside the guards deterred any futher shooting and he apologized for shooting at me, thinking I was a bandit. Told him not to worry about it and decided to spend the rest of the day resting up indoors, under the watchful eye of the guards.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Monolithic Defense

My journal through Stalker Soup - a mega mod for Shadows of Chernobyl! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Holy crap. Upon arriving down the main Southern road I came across a monolith controlled check-point under attack by a military squad PLUS a helicopter. Deciding to stay far away I watched through my binocs as the monolith team absolutely tore the military guys and their flying support into pieces! Though it didn't look like they lost any of their own number I figured they should have at least been injured so began my own assault. Downed the first two with sniped headshots while they were unaware (damage bonus I guess) then began slugging it out with the remaining four from behind an overturned supply truck on the road. Killed two more in the shootout, but the last two were giving me big problems. One had a heavy MG while the other was armed in a super exo with a Vintar - they were beating me no matter what I tried. It soon became clear that due to my low count of remaining ammo and the growing annoyance of having to restart the game per death I would not be beating them this night. With a loud curse and louder gunfire I withdrew back to the warehouses and left them to their victory.

It was like bashing my head against this.

With a quick check on my map it looked like there was another way to reach the Radar and that was through Yantar of all places, so I made my way to the merc checkpoint I had cleared earlier which led me back to the Rostok Wild Territory. Unfortunately the game decided to continously crash at this point, and having a 24 Gigabyte game (stalkersoup is huge) with frequent crashes, bugs and long loading times chips away at the appeal even to an avid fan so it was time to say goodbye - but this isn't the end of the story.

The Rostok Wild Territory was a war-zone as I arrived near the train station there with another bunch of mercs attacking a big group of free stalkers loading up a cargo train with supplies. I rushed to the defense, using my remaining rifle ammo on a flanking group of mercs before getting knocked down by a nearby grenade. Still managed to stand up with my ears ringing and continued to hold off the attackers with my pistol to a lesser degree as the remaining free stalkers finished loading crates and the train started to move. They called out to me to get on board while they provided cover so after emptying my current clip I chased after it with bullets flying overhead. Had to ditch my pack to keep up and lost my pistol as I jumped on, taking cover behind some of the food crates that had just been loaded. The two guys that helped me on weren't so lucky, one taking a bullet to the head and his buddy getting his legs shot out in quick succession - they both fell, gear and all, out the door. After a few minutes the train was safely on its way - picking up speed away from the surviving mercs. Seemed like I was alone in this carraige now, speeding to god knows where. My armor was damaged beyond repair so I discarded it, and found a warm blanket to curl up in and sleep until the train reached wherever it was headed.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

America! Fuck Yeah!

My journal through Stalker Soup - a mega mod for Shadows of Chernobyl! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Heading North through Garbage I was jumped by a pair of pseudodogs that managed to hurt me a bit. Kept pressing forward to the Duty outpost and just as I was about to reach there all hell broke loose - I had to sprint to cover as bullets flew everywhere and in quick order the Duty guys were dying left, right and center! A large mercenary group was attacking, all armed with Colt M16s so I figure they're Americans. Bastards were trying to kill me too though so I had to put an end to all of them. Only two duty guys were left alive after the massacre, and it took me a few trips to Raven, the fat merchant at the depot, to sell all their stuff. Continued to the Bar, killing a chimera and bloodsucker duo and a (tough) pack of dogs on the way in. Once there I figured I'd do the arena circuit, easily completing the first bunch of fights but could not finish since I was "not experienced" enough to proceed. Took my winnings and picked up quests from all over, without any real intent to do any of them this time. This time I'm looking out for numero uno.

Just like Team America!

Continued the march North where I found a friendly group of Freedom dudes in a farmstead I could trade with. Also took out "Master" again at Wolf's camp - this time with a bullet to the head after selling him all my stuff (then taking it off his corpse). Seems that somewhere during the arena battles I had misplaced my knife! Oh well. Since I was nearby I decided to clear out the bloodsucker village again but without my fancy radar thing or my good guns this was a little more dangerous than usual. Fortunately the quest completed after I killed just two. Snuck into mill to collect gear and got out of there before I woke up anything else. I was told by the Duty guys (back at the Bar) that there was a good rifle held by some mercs nearby so I went hunting that - found a few of them camped out in another farm, but the main group was at a roadblock. Managed to catch them unawares and only had to fight their two sentries. The rifle was a little underwhelming though. Interesting to note these ones too all had Colts - more Americans?

Still, I took it and their gear then sold stuff at the Freedom base at the Warehouses before proceeding to the barrier again, hearing gunfire as I approached. No monolith dudes rushing it this time, but a pair of bloodsuckers had killed all but two dudes. After reloading all my weapons I pushed on to the Radar.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Anomaly at the End of the World

My journal through Stalker Soup - a mega mod for Shadows of Chernobyl! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Monolith patrols were abound in this place, and I managed to down a dozen of them before the high radiation in the area became too much to bear. Decided to withdraw for now, only to find there was no way back! Well shit. Loaded the game from the Warehouse and returned to the Bar where I picked up a ton of quests - the main one being in Radar again, as well as my green scientist suit (good rad protect). Now that I was all prepared I journeyed back to the Warehouse... or tried to - only to find the way there -gone-! Instead I walked down the road, hoping it connected only to fall off the edge of the world and into bytespace. Frustrated by the long loading times and the broken travel links I decided to call it quits here. And so due to this strange anomaly I was hit by another bout of amnesia and blacked out.

Oh man, not this again.

When I awoke sometime later, I found myself near Cordon - as "the Collector". Yes, I love the game so much I'm willing to try it's other mode out still! Seems I traded all my good weapons for a lot of MP3 USB sticks. After the initial blowout in which I was joined by free stalker Petrushka in my hiding zone, I made my way back to Cordon to see Sid. Petrushka didn't follow me and instead died to Colonel Vodka's team. As soon as I arrived, the town was attacked by two waves of mercs! Managed to fight them off and yoink their gear, but Sid was no longer opening his door to me so selling stuff was going to be tricky since not many people here had money (and half of them were dead). Decided to forge my way North again, killing a large bandit group at the farmstead and fortunately finding a pair of veteran free stalkers I could sell stuff too.

Had to eliminate a smaller military team at the tracks crossing (one of whom had invis armor), and found one of the downed soldiers was just wounded. Decided to give him a medkit, and he changed alliance quickly to a free stalker. This was a good call as he had quite a bit of money to buy more gear. Left my new friend and continued on my journey, finding Fox's group under attack by dogs as usual. They had it under control before I arrived, losing only one member. The rest of the road was relatively clear. Also nice to note that "the Collector" difficulty is far easier than "Master" which I was playing before in that there are now 80% less anomalies. Where as before I had to navigate a tight maze in a sea of death, now I can actually just walk down the road which is kind of refreshing. :)

Friday, 17 August 2012

Breaking Dawn

My journal through Stalker Soup - a mega mod for Shadows of Chernobyl! You can follow the rest of the story here!

The sun had begun to rise as I made my way towards the small stalker camp North of the rails where I met "Guide". The asshole didn't want to help me unless I got him a Tunder rifle though so feeling dejected I came back the way I came, sniping a few soldiers and wiping out a large bandit crew that had taken a farmstead before reaching the newbie village. Got a bunch of rewards from Sid, and handed in the laptop to Fanatic who then told me that opening a portal requires an artifact, and to open the next portal I need another laptop from the other lab. Bastard. Fortunately I had the "soul" artifact he wanted and he opened up the warp North of the railtracks (ofcourse, because putting it right there would be too easy). Sure enough I found it there, and after eliminating the pack of dogs wandering around it I stepped through to find myself at the Army Warehouses which was now the Freedom base. Seems that portal was a one way deal - typical.

The Freedom guys were quite passive, not caring if I took all their food and stuff though I did make a point to restock on VOG grenades from the people that had them. Outside the area was littered with anomalies and I found a neutral stalker camp led by Wolf (finally handed in his quest) in a metal scrap yard. Part of his group was "Master" who I also had to take out, so I punched his lights out too. He managed to stand up with his exo suit though but wasn't fast enough to retaliate. My next task here was just over the nearby hill covered in mist - to eliminate a bloodsucker village. Once I got up there my radar was just going crazy with how many of them there were. As soon as I opened fire, seven of them (and two zombie rats) rushed the hill I was on - stopped only by Saiga shells to the head. There were six more in the village as well as two Izolm. The radar adjustment ensured that none of them could get the drop on me anymore.

With that clear I did a West-East sweep of the region and decided to hike up to the next area called Radar. Before I got there I reached an Freedom outpost called "the Barrier" that only had two living soldiers left. They asked me to help them against an incoming wave of monolith troops. I looted their buddies and took up position watching the road. Soon enough three squads of Monolithians came charging down, but not one of them got past the makeshift fence. Can't speak for the two chimeras that wandered in afterwards though. After two trips back to the warehouse to sell loot I decided to push further into the next area known as Radar. It was foreboding that the road there was guarded by eight izolms.

Monolith is out there, and they don't like trespassers.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Night of the Full Moon

My journal through Stalker Soup - a mega mod for Shadows of Chernobyl! You can follow the rest of the story here!

My second task at Agroprom was to locate Ghost's diary for Kruglov. The idiot placed it on a highly irradiated hill guarded by pseudodogs. After sniping said dogs it took me a few goes using anti-rad to locate the thing only to then suddenly take fire from a nearby hill. Since it was night time and a storm had begun pouring rain from above I had no hope in fighting back from that open location so instead I opted to make a wide run back to the facility where the friendly stalkers were camped, losing my pursuers in the process. There was no point in going back out there with poor visibility so I decided to nap only to be woken up by another blowout at midnight. Once it passed, so had the storm and the full moon lit up the surroundings enough for me to travel. Returned to Garbage after killing a pair of would-be robbers and traded in some dog parts for equipment and cash from the fat trader. From there I decided to cross over to the Dark Valley to try wrap up more quests and was pleased to find a Duty Squad guarding the Western woods of the area. I proceeded North where Fox had joined Bes and Mole's camp, and handed in Strelok's armor to Bes as I promised earlier.

Decided to try retrieve a laptop from the lab here too so I circled around the bandit buildings, killing their lone sentry as well as a wandering burer then remembered to detour into an abandoned house where the injured guy I left here from last time was still bleeding out. Must have a lot of blood? Anyway gave him a medkit and he accompanied me to the lab entrance where I eliminated a random mutant camp (rats, snorks and bloodsucker) before continuing downstairs to face the pair of poltergeists that survived my previous venture here. Finally cleared the place but they managed to smash my armor. With the laptop in hand I made my way back to the surface only to find a new military APC had parked itself right outside the gate! I used up what little grenades I had left but the damn thing was still alive. There was no way I could outrun it's autocannon and no cover to run to from there so I made my way upstairs to the roof and did some parkour to the next building. It was a long drop from the roof, but was the only way I could see to get out of the perimiter without passing the APC. Needless to say, it hurt. - but I lived!

Did a huge circle around the area again, passing Bes' camp and the Duty team to avoid the APC and reach the bunkers in the bottom part of the region. There I was meant to hunt down a stalker called "Vampire" which turned out to be pretty easy as he was just chillaxing by the fire. Punched his lights out to complete the quest then took the South path to return to Cordon.

I like to think this is what he looked like.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Basic Bread Crumbs

Part of my Recipes to Disaster journal.

Just thought I'd put this up here because I was totally surprised my wife didn't know how to make them and wanted to go buy a packet! What? My mom taught me this ages ago, and all you require is a large plastic bowl and some sandwich bread.

Why a large plastic bowl? To catch all the crumbs - this can be kinda messy especially if you're not used to it. Plastic, so it's light and you can keep in on your lap while watching TV!

Why sandwich bread? It's cheap and usually readily available. Don't waste your nicer breads by turning them into crumbs.

Step 1: Wash your hands. Soap & water.
Step 2: Get a slice of bread and tear it into a size that will fit within your hands, palms flat together and fingers straight - like you're praying.
Step 3: Now pretend that bit of bread is soap and "wash your hands" vigorously. Let crumbs fall into the bowl.
Step 4: Repeat Step 3 until you have enough crumbs. Any pieces that you deem to be too large, just pick up and atomize as before.

There you go. Piece of cake... erm... crumbs.

Recipes to Disaster

Since I'm keeping a journal of everything else, I though I may as well keep track my culinary attempts just for laughs and so that you can try out the stuff I'm making since I know they're good... when skilled people make them! For novice me however, it mainly comes down to luck! :P

Basic Bread Crumbs
Family Recipe: Almondigas (aka Albondigas)
Family Recipe: Hamburgers

Guns make the World go around

My journal through Stalker Soup - a mega mod for Shadows of Chernobyl! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Managed to convince Sakharov to tell me where to get a mini-gun and he told me to talk to the army guy that was arriving by helicopter. As if on queue I heard the chopper arriving and stood outside to meet Major Dad. Yes, that was his name. He told me that the good doctor will exchange the gear for me in exchange for some data disk to be retrieved from the wild territory. I agreed, then watched as he got back in his helicopter and just as it was taking off, it hit a random anomaly and exploded. WTF? Kruglov also asked me to return into the lab to pick up a laptop which I did, meeting very little resistance this time around before heading back to the Rostok Wild Territory to look for this data thingie. The usual sniper bandit and dogs were there but this time there was also a huge amount of RATS! Spent so much ammo eradicating those little vermin that I was almost glad when I then had to fight a lone random poltergeist - at least he was easier! Scoured the area for quite awhile till I finally found the tape hidden in some grass near the railroad tracks. Low on ammo I decided to make my way to Bar first, using the last of my sniper rounds on a Merc squad guarding the exit.

Then I became like Gene Hackman at the end of this movie.

Right after entering the "safe zone" I had to do a quick-draw duel against an "invisible" stalker of the "Avenger" faction. It took a few loads before I managed to shoot him dead before he could launch a grenade into my face. Not sure where he came from but after looting his stuff made my way to the Barman to sell goods and hand in more quests. Got a new sniper rifle for it too. Decided to continue South to complete tasks there and after testing out my new rifle on a burer and his dogs on the South road and waiting for a blowout to pass, made my way through the Garbage (after handing over 10 medkits to a Duty captain there) directly to Agroprom with no incident. Found a friendly group of stalkers had taken up residence at the facility there, though half their number was killed by a rampaging bloodsucker.

Since I had a task to clear out a bandit who had taken up residence in the tunnels below, I decided to do that first and managed to salvage his super exoskeleton armor before continuing to Strelok's stash again to loot the items I previously left behind, and some I missed entirely. A pair of Izolms and four blood suckers tried to stop me but they all got saiga'd to death. Upgrading my radar to detect those tentacle-mouth freaks was really paying off. A small military squad was also present at the very end but the grunts had no idea what hit them and didn't even put up a fight.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Family Recipe: Almondigas

Part of my Recipes to Disaster journal.

Ok, mainly for Dunbi from the RealityRavings site. This is an old-ish recipe that needs updating, but it's what I followed for my first attempt and what my brother still uses! A variation of it can also be found on my cousin's old blog. The result should NOT be a soup! :P

Edit: Apparently it's also called Albondigas, despite me calling it Almondigas this whole time! My childhood was a lie!!!

2/3 kg of minced pork
½ an onion, minced
2 eggs
Boiling water
1 & ½ tbsp salt (confirmed this is too much, mom uses 1.5 teaspoons - but I used tablespoons so there!)
3 cooking tablespoons of Tomato paste (erm, that means heaping)


Part One - Make the Balls
1.  Put flour into a bowl and set it aside, you'll be using it later in step #5. Also get an empty plate ready.
2.  Put ground pork in a mixing bowl (not with the flour).
3.  Crack open the eggs and add them to the pork. Also add the salt and a few shakes of pepper.
Joe's Note: If you are like me, you may need to remove eggshells at this point :P
4.  Time to get your hands -very- messy! You washed them first right? Good, get in there and massage the pork so that the egg mixes in fully.
5.  Once the meat is mixed with the eggs take a tablespoon of it and put it in the flour bowl.
6.  Gently roll it in the flour once then pick it up and in the palm of one hand roll it about like a dice until it becomes round.
Joe's Note: You do NOT want to roll it between both hands or compress it in anyway! If you do it will make the balls tough to chew and not nice later. 
7.  When you are happy with it, put the flour-ball onto the plate and repeat Step 5-7 until all that pork is used up.

Part Two - Brown them Balls (*snicker*)
1.  Prepare a strainer with a paper towel on top.
2.  Heat oil in a skillet or pan. The less oil you use, the faster the balls will brown.
3.  Brown the balls and remove from skillet - put them on that strainer.
Joe's Note: You are NOT cooking the balls at this point, just making them retain their shape! Infact, it's better if they are just a little colored. Should only take a minute or two before you take them out.
Jim’s Note: You can freeze them at this point (to serve at some future date by waiting till they cool down, putting into a container and putting into freezer)

Part Three - Making the Sauce
1.  Heat oil in a caserola,  re-use/transfer the oil from the previous step if you can. This adds flavour!
Joe's Note: Caserola = Caserole = cooking pot? :P
2.  Saute the onions till translucent and add tomato paste
3.  Mix in the balls.
4.  Add enough boiling water to cover the balls. 
Jim’s Note:  this is a tancha – small caserola = cover balls; larger one = not completely covered.   Remember this will become the “sauce”.  Too much water will make it soup! :P
Joe's Translation: Less is more when it comes to sauce! Don't try cover all of them with water (because I use big cooking pots)!

5.  Boil until balls become tender.
6.  Add a pinch of salt to the sauce at this point, so that it has some flavour on its own!
Jim’s Note:  Need to mix constantly (but gently) with a cooking ladle or the bottom ones will begin to stick to the caserola
Jim's Note 2:  They will start to disintegrate – that’s when you pull them out.  Should look like “almondigas” at this point.

7.  Serve

Mom's Advice: The longer you let that sauce reduce, the thicker and tastier it will become. Ofcourse the trade-off is you have to be there stirring the thing the whole time.

Joe's Result out of 10 (with mom's being a 10): 6 or 7.
I put too much water and made one ball to compact. Also, didn't wait for disintegration because I was getting hungry. :P

What I like eating with it:
Rice! Mom usually partners white beans with it too, but I'm ok with just plain rice.
And no, I don't know how to cook rice - that's why I have a rice cooker. ^_^

Another Lab of Horror

My journal through Stalker Soup - a mega mod for Shadows of Chernobyl! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Not that type of Lab.

With my psi-block helmet on it was time to march into that facility, and by march I actually mean very cautiously navigate past a deadly anomaly field. I had been warned that once I stepped in, the helmet could only protect me for so long so I made it a point to move a bit quicker, using my spray-and-pray Necro rifle to hose down the numerous zombies and snorks lurking within. The building I was meant to explore was blocked by a nasty teleport though (it threw me to the snork swamp - reload :P) so I had to find my way up to the higher levels using an adjoining structure and sneak in through a window. Once inside it was down, down into the darkness. This lab was pretty straight forward, just dark and home to more dead brains and jumping idiots. Eventually I reached the multi-level core and that's when the timer started. I had to shut down the death machine quick or I'd soon be one of the dead heads. The Necro served me well here as zombies began piling in from the higher levels and from behind me. With four switches to hit on various floors I had no time to take cover and had to spray from the hip. Eventually I made it to the top control and managed to shut that bastard
down. Huzzah!

Now I just had to get out - the ladder I used to drop down was broken and I couldn't go back that way so I forged ahead to the final chamber but stopped quickly as five burers blocked the hallway ahead. This was a challenge but I managed to get past them by using a turn in the hall and their greed. I noticed most AI here like to loot things so I tossed a rifle out at waited at the corner with my Saiga shotgun. Sure enough one of the dwarves shortly showed up, going directly for the item. A single shell to the side of it's head finished it. Soon after the second dwarf came to loot the first - he met the same end. This repeated until all five were dead in a humorous congo line with none of them having noticed me at all. Victorious I marched up to the door confidently and was faced with the largest group of fleshes, rats, and dogs I've ever seen! With a quick switch to the Necro I hosed them all down, as well as the Controller lurking in the back behind them. Having collected what I came for I found a hole in the floor which indicated my exit. Sure enough I found myself in the now unused tunnels beneath the facility, now inhabited only by snorks and a pseudogiant. The sounds of a helicopter outside plus heavy gunfire was not good but it turns out the military was not what I had to worry about. After climbing up a tall ladder I saw that there were now two "super" chimeras running around along with a whole pack of snorks - I call them "super" because they had lightning circling around them and each time I tried to shoot at them from above my shots reflected back and killed me! :(

After much loading, I decided to be quiet and watch what they'd do - the lot of them jumped straight down the long shaft I just climbed up. While they were down there I took the opportunity to FLEE. Didn't get very far before they caught wind of that and began chasing after me though, but now being on lower terrain I filled their bellies full of holes and they died before their claws could finish me off. With my armor in ruins, I hobbled back to the Research Outpost and handed it as many quests as I could, earning a bit of cash which I quickly spent on medical supplies of all kinds.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Generation 16 Tips - Let not light see my black and deep desires

The last of the Shakespearian story-arcs, this supposedly revolves around "Macbeth" but has almost nothing to do with the original prose. Pity I was hoping they'd include "Titus" but I guess that was too much? The difficulty ramps up a fair bit here, forcing you to fight numerous Peaca spawn in big numbers so it pays to have a bunch of highlevel buddies by now. Like before your decisions will affect the ending.

The Witching Hour (solo)
Scathach beach and cave are full of really high level monsters, fortunately you don't need to fight any! Just mount up (I assume you have one by now) and ride past till you reach the shipwreck.

Death of Someone Important (solo as William)
Huzzah, you get to finally meet King Ethan MacQuill II for all of 1.2 seconds! Firstly you need to deal with Morrighan and her cronies though. Given your character has Rank 1 in everything now you shouldn't find any problem beating the mobs here. Just follow the mission prompts.

Assassin (solo)
You will face three fleet footed elven assassins here (damn you Castanea) all of whom have heavy stander and aggro far, pretty much at the start of the mission. One of them comes with a bow, and all of them will ignore the NPC you are supposedly protecting in favor of killing you first! Trans/demi early and mana shield up in case they land hard hits on you. If you have time you can summon Adniel but if you are prepared for them you should be ok with standard god skills - if aligned with Morrighan use Wings of Eclipse first to take more hits, if you've reverted back to Neamhain use Shadow Spirit on yourself to hit all of them followed up with fury of light and spear of light.

Even Ezio would be caned with your demi-god skills!

From Beyond (solo as William)
Been awhile since you've visited this place, and there's a new grave for you to see. A group of undead Peaca scum will ambush you here so again be ready to fight and thunder as needed. The hollow knights are dual wielding swords which actually makes them -less- dangerous since they have no bows but treat everything here with caution.

Necessities (solo as William)
You'll face Golems, Aonbharrs (careful of the cheating floating stones), and Balrogs in this mission. First two groups are easily enough dispatched with thunder while the Balrogs (gargoyle AI) will probably not live long against your smash-mill - even if you are using a pickaxe at this point. Once they're dead it will start to rain so dig those firey rocks and complete the mission.

Truth Helm (solo as William)
After killing -all- that other stuff 10 stupid alchemists stand in your way. Really? If you need help here you're doing something wrong. :P

Secret Meeting (bring high level help)
A very tough mission so you'd best bring a strong team. Ironically it is easier if you (party leader) remains talking to the NPCs at the top of the watch tower until your friends kill the three, rather large waves of Peaca monsters pouring into the grounds below. If you decide to join them then Andras, Odran, Padan, and Sinead will join the combat but should any of them die the mission will fail. Prep potions before attempting this and keep your mana shield on. Also avoid using normal attacks (almost everything has stander) and try stagger your trans/demi (don't do them at the same time) to match with what your allies are doing so that you don't all use up the extra power during the first wave - although with a strong team you'll probably finish this mission with both still active. Should you keep disconnecting then you may need to run the mission with fewer people. Also if it is still too tough find someone of a lower level to be party lead. Rare to find anyone on INT or below at this stage though.

The Third Guardian (solo)
Another visit through Rundal with not much new in terms of enemies, unless you are on hard mode in which case there may be some over powered red spiders and skeleton wolves in here for you. They won't be any smarter though so just fight as normal and prepare to counter or windmill as needed. Don't underestimate the boss - infact it is probably safer to over-kill her and trans/demi as your opening move. Shakespeare will try help here, just use him as bait. Most of Merrow's strongest attacks are evadable if you aren't busy using long animated combat moves like smash or windmill (you can't knock her down anyway) - she has a forward wave attack and an area attack that illuminates itself with giant circles which you should stay out of. Harder to evade her smash and counter though. Demi-god skills are probably the best way to eliminate her quickly.

Blood and Death (bring high level help)
You'll have a big NPC army to help you out here but what you most need is a full party. One of them (the oldest one creation wise) is going to be Shakespeare with R1 everything and will help in making things go smoothly. You must fight through tons of Peaca scum to reach the castle and a few more within, and the party leader must survive both boss fights (first against a lich and then against obvious main baddie) for the mission to be completed. Easiest way to do this is for him or her to hang back and let his faithful party members do the majority of killing at those points (stay out of the throne room and do not "rest"). Apart from the things you've already faced now there are these as well (all multiaggro at this stage):

Giant Firefly - With melee immunity, good defense against magic and range and a huge deadly windmill radius, you'll want to campfire magnum shot these things from far far away.

Demilich - may be hard to lure him away from his buddies but given that he teleports you may be able to isolate him. He will have lots of HP and can chain cast advanced magic (obviously). Probably better to use demi-god skills on him to end him quickly, team ganking windmill (he can/will teleport behind you) is probably the way to go.

Ghasts - summoned by the main boss they cannot be knocked down, have a ton of HP behind very high defense and do major damage. Group windmill to keep them busy. Actually you may just want to group windmill everything in the final room anyway as there's not much room to do anything trickier. :P

Main Boss - has a number of advanced skill too such as final hit, life drain and assault slash. Party windmill spam him against a wall to keep him off his feet, and his summoned Ghasts in check. Only Admiral Owen will be assisting at this point and if he dies it is game over. 

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Generation 15 Tips - The villainy you teach me, I will execute

Finally we get some insight to what the heck Shakespeare is doing in Mabi in the first place! Gone are the nice cutscenes though, but at least you'll be taking a break from that stage dungeon for a while. Your responses to NPCs here WILL affect the title you get at the end so keep that in mind ("the sharer of joy" if you are usually positive, otherwise "the lone wolf"). Also this arc is loosely based on "The Merchant of Venice" but quite a bit has been changed (as usual).

Who you Gonna call? (solo as the mysterious man)
Oh noes, ghosts and wisps. Not much strategy here. Just keep punching to win.

Good thing too since these guys are on a break! :P

I'm on a Boat (solo as Bassanio)
Avast! Pirate scum! At least they aren't skeletons. If you've fought bandits before they behave just like this, otherwise - time to learn how to deal with this AI. :P Most baddies here have stander of some sort so smash-mill as necessary. Your buddy Antonio can take quite a few hits but given he's fighting with a fishing rod (idiot), you'll need to do most of the killing. Since it's an RP - you lose nothing if you fail so don't worry about it too much.

No Longa in Memory (solo as Portia)
Same old monsters here, and given that this lady has one of the best bows in the game AND is an elf you may as well use it. Don't forget you can still counter and windmill even with a bow, and she can hide if you want to sneak past orb and prespawned rooms quickly.

Alby your Price of Love (need two friends)
Your allies are going to be Bassanio and Antonio meaning you as yourself should be stronger than them in this run. Depending on your level there may not be anything new down here, however if you've run all the previous generations then you may be seeing some new opponents (higher tier, all multi aggro) which I'll cover now:

Black Poisonous Spider - as their name suggests, they are poisonous so kill em quick. Windmill is ideal.
Spider Wasp - treat as a stronger version of the Longa beetles.
Beetle Wolf - wolf AI with heavy stander. Smash-mill.
Grendel - bear AI with heavy stander. Smash-mill.
Cobweb Mummy - skeleton ghost AI with different skin. Smash-mill.
Spider Archer/Ranger/Fighter/Soldier - treat as very high HP goblins that only take 50% damage. Some have poison. Fight well and be ready to trans/demi if needed.

Gremlins and Goblins (solo as William)
A potential tough fight here and you have an NPC named Bella to protect/shield you. She actually has more HP than you so use her attacks as a distraction to get in and land a smash but beware of multiaggro as your familiar opponents are all hard-hitting. Like all RPs though you can just try again if you fail.

Ashes of Rabbie (fastest with a friend)
This version of Rabbie will be harder than usual since it is scaled to your level. At "ADV" you'll encounter armored skeletons too who have heavy stander so just like the Verona Dark Skels previously just smash mill them all to death. You will also meet two types of rats - cave rats (multi aggro and spawns in big groups) and giant sewer rats (poisonous) who are best to be windmilled to death quickly, otherwise you'll find yourself dying the death of a thousand bites. Lastly you will also meet skeleton squads. These self-destructing bomb carriers are best dealt with from a-far (like the lost sahagins) but have the passive defenses to counter it, and their explosion will hurt anything nearby potentially creating chain explosions. Ensure mana shield is active regardless when they are about and once again trans/demi if needed. Fortunately there are statues to revive at in here should you die.

Cursed Avon (solo as William)
This RP is easier than the last since you now have a bow and better skills. Remember that if there's a campfire nearby you can also use it to double your damage output with the bow. Lastly you should be proficient in dealing with skeletons by now meaning the poison skelies shouldn't be able to touch you to poison your ass. The exploding skels should also be easy since you have range and the room to use it, and the Skeleton ogres behave pretty much just like regular ogres.

Leave it to Fate (solo)
Nicca and Ethna from Qilla will help you out here and they are almost unkillable so just worry about yourself. The bandits that board the vessel can be pretty tough though (and for some reason I lagged a lot when doing this) so I advise trans/demi off the bat and don't be shy with the god powers. Killing the bandit leader ends the mission.

Scars of the Past (solo as William)
Should be a piece of cake for you with your RP char's uber skills now. You can use thunder to lay waste to anything in your path and probably should charge it up once there is only one measly goblin left in the wave (let the guardsmen handle it), that way you get to blast either the black wizard or black warrior with it as soon as they spawn. Pretty fun mission.

Escape from Belvast (solo)
You have Portia with you now but she's quite fragile so you want to do most of the fighting yourself. You need to evade the big giant guards or auto-fail and the correct path is ironically where the human guards are. These guys have a bit of HP and multi-aggro (pretty much like bandits actually) so you probably should time your mission to enter before trans time (like 4 am), trans/demi up and eliminate the first two groups then trans again for the last part. Don't be shy with your powers - they are there to be used, and don't forget to consume the souls of these innocent dudes while you are at it if you get the chance. A bow can help you snipe-lure them too, and you have a bit of space to use it after the first group.

A Pound of Flesh (fastest with friends)
Exactly the same run through Alby as before (unless you reached next difficulty level), probably a good idea to bring friends to help you clear it. The boss is an old friend who had no chance against you alone so now he should be really screwed. ^_~

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Generation 14 Tips - O brawling love, O loving hate

Welcome to the next segment of Shakespeare's story-arc, this time dealing with Romeo and Juliet. It is very similar to the previous generation in that everything is solo, you have to read fast (if you haven't read "Romeo and Juliet" before), there are some nice cut scenes and it's still pretty easy. Here's a quick rundown of the combat parts!

Act I - Can't Choose Your Family
Ironically harder if done on lower levels, you will side with each of the families (you turncoat!) for 1.5 minutes each and have to keep 5 dudes on your side alive through out. Go for any opponents with spotlights first, followed by supporting any friendlies in danger and you should be OK. Enemies re-spawn when all of them are slain so if you can keep one alive a little longer it could help.

Act II - Shakespeare loves Skeletons
Romeo has a mini-sneak mission here but it's nowhere as hard as following Claudius. Just avoid the guards and make your way up the stairs. Later you'll also meet Verona Dark Skeleton soldiers, who are basically normal single-aggro skeletons with passive defenses. Just smash and windmill (they can windmill back) as you see fit. If you need practice just run through Rabbie normal again but by now you should know what you are doing. Used to be a panther mini-boss here too but since it was too difficult (pfft I beat it with my main and my mules) it was removed.

Act III - Stabby Stabby
Epic RP duel takes place between Romeo (you) and Tybalt who outclasses you with more HP and passive defenses. Good test of your skill as a player here and if you are competent should win in one or two tries. Afterwards it is more Verona skelies for you, but this time you have to protect a nurse. They're trying to make you rush into doing the wrong thing but there's an easy counter for it. Trans and Demi then destroy those bones with ease. What's the point of them if you don't use it right?

A bit like zombie farm! :P

Act IV - Gardening with the Undead
Somewhat dangerous mission now, as soon as you enter you will be multi-aggroed by one of the skeletons and a verona ghoul (poisonous, has windmill) or verona ghost (most dangerous) of the set. You need to fend off the attackers but try to leave one of them alive while you harvest herbs or they'll all respawn. Use pets to distract opponents if needed. If a panther shows up you may want to exit the mission as they can be very problematic. If you are far away and have a snake you can easily kill it with poison and patience though. Definitely trans and demi while running this mission regardless. Afterwards you get to meet the 2nd guardian and all you need to do is run away as you are scripted to lose. :P

Act V - Road to Suicide
It's Romeo's turn to harvest herbs but again the damn skeletons are here. Try harvest first if possible before eliminating them. Windmill spam works best. Afterwards he gets an RP duel against Paris, who is a lot like Tybalt. However Paris is very aggressive which makes him easy to catch with counter. Once the lovers are out of the way the 2nd guardian will reappear. He's even easier than the reaper. To evade the majority of the attacks stand behind him or just shoot the slow bastard to death. My mule giant had no problem using basic knuckes on the thing though and seriously just punched him to death and drinking potions everytime he took a hit.

Golvan's De Ja Vu
The first of the extra stories you can do after completing Act V, it sees you running two long and dangerous missions to return a book to a stupid paper cutout - twice! Coill will have things you've already encountered previously along with possibly poisonous snakes and giant versions of opponents you've already faced. The big guys, much like ancient titled critters outside, can take more hits and dish out more damage but they have exactly the same AI as their smaller counterparts so don't freak out. The boss lady is pretty tough and can summon fire sprites (ironic given she's made of paper) so you may want to lure her away with ranged. I highly recommend trans/demi against her too, at least the first time around. If you feel you can take her without either on your second pass, go for it. Lastly, it's usually stupid to drink from the fountains so don't. :P

The stage dungeon segment poses it's own problems. The snowfield spiders multi-aggro and have a bunch of HP but if you lure them one at a time you should be able to neutralize them easily, just like the trolls. Giant Spider can be handled with smash-mill if it's alone but you should save your trans/demi (or plan to use a second one) against the giant troll as he is quite dangerous, and the giant castle golem after him even more so. Shadow spirit will help keep them stuck in place while you cane them so I hope you've been eating the souls of your enemies.

Ascon's Sadness
The second extra mission revolves around an old man's past. This is the first mission where your replies to the NPCs can change a few things but nothing major will be affected so just pick whichever you want.
After getting beat up in Ascon's RP mission you'll eventually find yourself working for the Rich Man of Emain Macha. First run is through Coill with denizens you've already met, as a bonus you can bring a full party and will probably be faster with a few extra hands. The boss is a Giant Ice Sprite who can be very deadly if you let it cast Ice Spear. Take care of its companion sprites then demi/trans up and smash that heavily armored freak. If you brought a team you can just take turns smashing but make sure -you- land the final hit so you can claim the jewelry pouch.

Second job is a solo run through Rundal to capture a kid cyclops. Again, nothing new for you here - just mixed groups of the same old stuff till the boss room. There's an entire cyclops family in there and while you can try just tame the kid cyclops and run, I prefer to make it an oprhan first by luring the others one by one and slaying them with demi/trans. Obviously if you kill the kid or run out of taming bait you'll need to re-run this dungeon. The Rich guy gives you free baits if he doesn't detect you have any in your pack, so just drop what you have and ask him for more before heading for the dungeon.

Might be a cousin in Morrowind.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Generation 13 Tips - The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune

The epic storyline in Mabinogi goes in a totally WTF direction at this point as it begins to introduce Shakespeare; Literally. It is also nothing like the previous story-arcs and is quite easy despite being a pure solo event, more so if you've just come from whooping a deity in G12. Some really nice cutscenes here though but be prepared to read NPC conversations really quick if you want to follow what's going on (and for some reason haven't read "Hamlet" before).

Act I - Welcome to Avon
I am assuming you can handle Alby, Ciar, overly cute furry rats, and wolves by now. There's a named wolf you have to fight in one part but if you did the final battle class board mission you would have already defeated him. The only new things for you here you get to fight with some help:

Snow Trolls (with Laertes)
They only know smash, counter and defense and unless they are the giant version have no passive defenses simply making them big multi-aggroing goblins. Laertes is an ass-kicker so if you aren't quick he'll take all your XP. The giant snow troll may cause him troubles though (depending on your total level).

Elsinore Ghosts
Horatio will help you out here but he's useless so you're going to have to put these things back in the grave yourself. They also multi-aggro and have instinctive reaction (dont smash to open) as well as poisonous hands but no stander of any kind so just fight normally to eliminate them.

Acts II & III - Have an Antagonist
After bashing some goblins and being introduced to the Grim Reaper (don't fight him yet, just stay away from his attacks - if he jumps into the floor, MOVE) you need to stalk Claudius on the stage. Getting too close, being detected or being too far at any point fails the mission. Failing loses nothing so feel free to keep retrying - he always follows the same path too.

You will also face a Castle Wall Golem later on who has instinctive reaction and passive defenses against range and magic but is weak to melee so just like the ghosts, normal combo/windmill it to death. If you feel threatened you can always pet revolver, or trans or demi for overkill. After him you'll be sent into Rundal to fight a Siren. Nothing new here other than her unless you are doing this on hard so I'll run through them quick:

She's like a succubus that can summon Sahagins, use advanced magic, teleport and has high passive defenses in everything. Sounds pretty scary, but if you want you can lure her with a long bow away from her summons. Alternatively, just trans/demi and tear her to pieces. I seriously just pallied up and killed her in one smash. :/

You'll encounter these doggies if you are at "hard" level and they behave just like ratmen. A single windmill should be able to swat a whole bunch of them to death or deadly right away.

Sahagin Ranger/Fighter

Again only found it you are at "hard" level, you can treat these multi-aggroing fish idiots as goblins with windmill. Being over level 1000 though, they shouldn't be any cause for concern. Send them back to Dagon however you see fit.

Act IV - The Curse of the Black Pearl

Bet you didn't know he was in Hamlet.

So Hamlet and his two buddies are on a boat to England and are are attacked by a bunch of rats followed by a number of Barbosa's (skeleton) pirates. You will be playing the part of Hamlet it this strange mission and if your skeleton slaying technique is rusty, will probably be running it a few times. You lose nothing by failing though, and failing is easy when you have to protect your two idiot friends (both of whom Hamlet tricks into getting executed in the original story).

Afterwards you will be defending civilians against sentries for around 5 minutes which is pretty easy, just look out for their smash and counters. Windmill/assault slash like mad if you want to clear them quick and then you get a nice trip to the graveyard where you have to re-murder a number of weak Ghost Cloakers. If you beat Oroborous already, your smash should be able to 1 hit KO them.

Act V - Well that was Easy
Hamlet is going to challenge you to a duel (LOL) and if you lose you have it coming. Then you get to fight the main boss, the scary looking Grim Reaper who is perhaps the easiest end-boss in all the story arcs so far. He has three attacks - if he spins in a sommersault he is firing in a straight line where he is facing. If he is spinning like a top he is attacking a small arc in front of him (where he originally was facing), and if he jumps into the floor he is gonna pop out beside you and slice your face so keep moving until he reappears. If he manages to land a hit, all your stats will start to drain which is kind of a non-issue. To beat him just stand behind the idiot and use fast normal attacks (ie. not smash) and when he turns around to look at you just run through him to his back again. Alternatively you can just wipe the floor with him if you trans and demi. Your choice. ^_^