Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Upgrades not so Scary

With the brand new machine setup I've been able to start attacking the games that were previously unplayable, the first of which being Silent Hill: Homecoming. I haven't played many Silent Hill games, the only other one I have was Silent Hill 2 which is what I will use to compare this game against. As an aside, I did enjoy the movie of it too and am looking forward to the sequel of that as well. So back to the game, how was Homecoming?

Well, just like my compy, the protagonist has gotten an upgrade - he's pretty handy with weapons. In fact Alex (protagonist) is so much more proficient than James (protagonist in #2) that it becomes a negative the further you get into the game/as you improve. Why? Because of all the horrible critters and monsters lurking about, Alex is the worst. Once you are experienced enough you will be disemboweling hideous pale spider things, beheading poor half-bodied souls, and eviscerating things that foolishly thought they could eviscerate you!

Everything is less scary if you're an axe murderer.

This in turn, makes it much less scary because you know full well that any creep that decides to pop out of that fog you can just mutilate. Additionally while there are spots where critters just continously spawn, the streets/maps just don't feel as "full" as in number 2 which had the rather annoying repopulation method of - if you exit an area and come back, everything lives again. Strangely I prefer that method as it really puts more focus on fighting as a last resort and running the hell away as priority #1.

The creepy environment is still done well though and the monsters are rather terrifying the first few times. Story-wise I prefer James' plot, it just felt it had more weight to it than Alex's, but his was ok enough. I think the other main problem for me anyway was the scariest part of the game is right at the start, and as you work through it it becomes less so where as the reverse is true for James' visit to the town. All up Homecoming is a decent action game with a few scares. It's definitely not as scary as it's predecessor though, so if you are looking good for horror stuff just go for Silent Hill 2, Dark Corners of the Earth or Nocturne... which reminds me I never did finish the last act of that game. Hmm, maybe it's time for a revisit?

Monday, 21 January 2013

Crysis Management

I somehow managed to get Crysis: Warhead running on my PC (after years of it sitting on my to-play list) and was quite impressed with the fluid, albeit railroaded, gameplay. To be honest though, I found it on the easy side, despite playing on the hardest mode. I guess all that practice with the L4D2 zombies improved me as I don't recall the original game being so easy. That said the final boss still took me a few tries to beat! The rest of my games have been taking a backburn though as they are venturing into the realms of "my compy can't handle them" anymore. It's ok, hopefully sometime this week I'll it will be getting an upgrade.

Hasn't stopped me from playing my other games though - board games! Primarily been playing "Lords of Waterdeep", a really clever and competitive game in a D&D with a focus of management and manipulation. So far I've fared better (won) in bigger groups but when it's one on one I'm usually on the losing end. The premise of trying to gain the most influence on the city through completing quests is pretty simple and very elegantly done. The lack of dice rolling and an 8 turn limit also makes it go pretty quick (in comparison to Arkham Horror at least) but it's the strategy that may take time (as that's where all the fun is). Lastly it's very fast to get into and quite quick to setup which are two more positives, I just wish there was a cooperative mode where you had to fight the board but that would be kinda hard to do I think.


The other one I got to play recently was "Settlers of Catan" which I totally got thrashed in. Still fun, but I feel that you are often at the mercy of the dice. Comparatively speaking I like Waterdeep more because there's less luck involved and you never have turns where you do nothing (which was a common occurence in Catan if the dice gods didn't favour your villages). Note that you still need -some- luck in Waterdeep to be able to get the quests you need but other than that it's all on you.


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

A Crushing Victory

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

After the battle I quickly marched back to Jovasskr where I found the traitorous draugr Ria hiding under her bed. After executing her for treason right there, I took a quick casualty list around the town. Those that had died included the sorceress Golda, Fulmine Knight, Kayla Grunzwald, Manya Esperanza, Andurs the priest, Juliette the maid, and Sinchan the Stinky - though his 4 other compatriots and one travelling Blades named Angelica survived the ordeal. Also lost all but four of the guards in town but I knew their numbers would quickly come back given Whiterun's prime location in the scheme of things.

Mounted up alone to do another lure run and headed back to the two orsimer camps. The smaller one had only one soldier left so I took care of him right there, making him a pin cushion. Their main base however still had seven, and as an aside a bunch of Stormcloaks were trying to attack the base from Rorikstead but were intercepted by a small imperial contigent. Their battle ended really quickly when an ancient dragon decided to show up and roast them all. His appearance gave me a change of plans. Instead of luring the orcs I instead helped the dragon to fight them, letting him breathe his fire while I made them run circles.

It chomped only one of the orcs before they finally killed it, but by that stage the rest were really hurt so I called Dummy to distract a pair while I dismounted and slew four in close quarters before hunting down the remaining two. At the end, no more of their clan were breathing. I looted what I could from their camps and set them alight with fires of victory. Doing one last sweep I noticed there was an extra casualty here - Mai'q the liar was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

I wanted to track down the coward Torvar next, and I had a good idea of where he would be. Rode quickly to Riften and snuck into the Ratway where lo and behold, Brynjolf was waiting for me. No longer protected by fate I challenged the conspirator to a duel and ran him through at the center of the little walkway. I then proceeded deeper into the Ratway killing a random vagrant before finally finding the coward Torvar hiding in Esbern's old hole in the wall. I wasted no time beheading the bastard - hopefully this time he will stay dead.

I breathed a sigh of relief with those lose ends tied up and headed back to the surface. Hopefully now this war torn region would know some peace. 

Monday, 14 January 2013

Whiterun turned Red

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

With Torvar in tow and me riding my new horse we travelled back across the plains to the orc camp (they had walked back) and found only a handful of adversaries left. Ofcourse I made the mistake of turning my back on my draugr companion and in a flash he had vanished - fled to who knows where. Damnit, I'd have to hunt down the coward later. First I had to deal with these orcs. I opened fire from horseback to lure them after me and I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere because suddenly I was in their MAIN CAMP which has around twice the number of orcs than the first, as well as a towering commander who kept yelling stuff about eating my heart. Worse, nearby I found the corpse of Odahviing - he had been slain by these bastards, no wonder he no longer responded to my call. After eating his soul I continued leading them back to Whiterun and despite getting knocked off my horse a few times I killed a few more and managed to get the commander with five of his soldiers isolated from the rest of them.

Guess the others went off to chase misbehaving little kids?

This time the guards fought back, but they were cut down and I was pushed back into the city proper. Guards and random adventurers began engaging in combat now and I'm pretty sure one of the orcs got felled at that point. The remaining enemies though carved their way through the defenses so I fell back to Jovasskr where draugr Ria was supposed to help me. Instead she just smiled and let the enemies through - TRAITOROUS SCUM! Didn't have time to deal with her right there so I pulled back to Dragonsreach where the fighting continued and dead bodies were left in the wake of the orc threat. I led them all the way out to the top balcony and with a well timed FUS ROH DAH! sent two of the goons flying over the railing to their instant deaths. No such luck for the commander since he was too heavy so I lured him and his remaining two guards down into the dungeons where even more guards died fighting them.

Once it was just me I dropped down a little hole in one of the cells which was too small for the big orcs to follow, then made my way to the exit. To my surprise the trio appeared there behind a barred gate. A locked gate. That I could shoot through. They were screwed. Iced the two extras and hurt the commander terribly so that he fled. I went after him up into the guards barracks and got the last four guards in the city to smash him down, making him kneel before me for a few moments before one of them with a heavy warhammer smashed it down upon the commander's ugly face, killing the enemy leader right there.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

King of the Hill

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

I had to change my usual visit somewhat in that this time I didn't want to kill any of the guards, if possible, because I was going to need them against those orcs. Fortunately I still had an invisibility potion that let me sprint up all the way into Dragonsreach undetected. There on the throne waited Jarl Bossman, discussing with his court mage how clever his plan was. He was supplying the orcs with free passage and supplies while they run about and decimate as many Stormcloaks as they can while the Imperials rebuild their army to take back the region (following their loss in the civil war). The Riften thieves guild (ie. Brynjolf) was in on it too, providing scouts, maps, intel, and occasionally kidnapping a girl here or there for Jarl Bossman's pleasure. The punk made me so angry I smashed my hand down on a nearby table - and became visible. We all drew our weapons simultaneously and I was surprised to find an ally here - a maid named Juliette who was tired of being Jarl Bossman's toy.

One by one I cut all of his court down but I left Jarl Bossman himself to be executed by his own servant who thanked me profusely after plugging a final arrow into his head. As if on cue more guardsmen came into the castle and between the two of us we tried to explain about what the Jarl had been doing and of the orc threat but they were having none of it so I opted for a diffent route. Since all of these idiots are greedy bastards I simply bribed them to work for me. After all my adventures I could afford it anyway and they easily accepted the sound of gold, swearing their service to me (until there's a better offer ofcourse) but for now, I was King of the Hill. I asked Juliette if she wanted to leave town but she opted to stay, saying there was another slave taken in a few days ago, but not to the castle.

We went to Jovasskr and to our surprise found the draugrs Farkas, Mia and Torvar there. People who were supposed to be DEAD. Furthermore, a slave girl named Kitana was there too which riled me up even more. These bastards were in on the Jarl's plot! I ordered them at once to release her but Farkas refused - and would non stop talk shit at me. My sword through his chest shut him up good, then I tossed his corpse on the fire (again) to hopefully slow down his regeneration. I got Juliette to free Kitana and told the shaken girl to go to Windhelm where Njada would look after her then turned angrily on the remaining two draugr and they surprisingly backed down. I suppose having witnessed Farkas' brutal treatment scared them? Anyway they said they could help me against the orcs, and Torvar even offered to come with me on the "lure" run. I accepted, telling Juliette to head back up to the castle. As the old saying goes, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.


Cats do it all the time.

I did a quick sweep of the town afterwards, finding there were quite a few new adventurers here which was good (and makes sense being the trade capital of the region). I told all of them and the guards what was coming, and to prepare. Then I did something I should have done a long time ago... I bought a horse. :P

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Fall of Fort Greymoor

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

Decided to investigate this new orc threat (Urukhai mod) and not far from the Western Watchtower I found my first group. There were only three or four of them, fighting bandits, a pair of mages, and an ancient dragon; and they were tough as NAILS. Maeci made the mistake of trying to duel one and she was soon impaled right through one one of their wicked blades. I summoned Odahviing to the chaos and the fight ended up near Fort Greymoor where the Stormcloak guardsmen came to my aid. Many of them died in the combat but we managed to kill all the orcs. Worse was their "leader", a strange cloaked figure called a Black Swan. One shot from her bow would kill me instantly, so (after a few reloads) I decided instead to sneak up right behind her and backstab her to death. Turns out she wasn't even an orc, but a redguard!?

Who knew ballerinas were so deadly?

A second Black Swan soon appeared and out of nowhere the kid from Falkreath, Chelsea came running - firing back at my foe. I was also surprised to learn she could use basic Thuum! Between the two of us we killed the next sniper as well as a random Nightingale Assassin who appeared shortly after. Damn that Brynjolf. Looks like he escaped the guards afterall. Anyway, we reported back at Riverwood and agreed that what I had just spend 20-30 minutes fighting was a scouting party. Holy hell. I got Lighting and the cleric Aluna to go to Fort Greymoor with the remaining soldiers because we were going to need them. I tried to get Chelsea to stay there too but she stubbornly refused so together we went off to scout the plains for more orcs, and it wasn't long before we found their camp, South of Rorikstead. There were maybe 8-12 of them here in a tight group.

According to plan, we opened fire from far and began sprinting back to the Fort. Didn't realize their dual wielding beserkers could run faster though and for all her shouting Chelsea was soon cut down by the rampaging mob leaving me to sprint away from them all on my lonesome. I tried calling Odhaviing again to cover my back but for the first time he didn't show. Through stamina potions I finally made it back to the Fort which was by chance being reinforced by a wandering dunmer named Talon Dreth and his mercenaries. Almost immediately my pursuers arrived and the battle began in earnest with everyone engaging the orsimer forces, but they were just way too strong. The guards and the mercenaries were cut down, as was Lighting whose throat was cut on the stairs. The cleric Aluna tried to flee to Whiterun but she was mobbed before getting very far. Maybe only one or two of the orcs had fallen.

Being the last one left I lured the mob up into the parapets then jumped the wall, giving me a head start run. I actually did manage to kill a few more of them because they were quite injured from the battle - even beheading one that strayed too far ahead of his buddies, but I was still falling back. Back to Whiterun - where the guards wanted me dead. No choice though since these enemies were simply too powerful. I was in for a surprise when I reached those gates though - the guards and orcs ALLIED against ME and didn't fight each other AT ALL! What the HELL? I got myself out of there quickly, trying again in vain to summon Odahviing. I did ice a few more of the orcs though but at least half their number remained as I hid in the distant hills until they got tired of looking for me. While there it suddenly clicked. The orcs and Jarl Bossman were in league with each other, that's why the two forces were so friendly. Angrier than ever, I marched back towards Whiterun - it was time to get some answers.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Girl Power!

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

On the way into Markarth (to try find more adventurers) I got a letter from Gunmar saying that there was a vamp parading around in plain sight in the city that needed slaying. Guess he magically knew I was headed this way? We find the red eyed bastard easy enough so I tell Sparrow to use his "master wizardry" to kill the dude in one shot. Sparrow refuses because he's really just a whiny little brat. Fine, I instead tell him to lay low while I snipe the mark. My arrow lands right into the vamp's face but he is still standing, dazed and not quite sure what hit him since we are stealthed quite a ways away. Then my genious hireling decides to charge, yelling and casting the brightest spells known to man attracting the attention of I'm guessing every single guard in the city. Moral of the story: SPARROW IS AN IDIOT. I let the guards gang rape him while I finished off the vamp at which point the "master wizard" (who I think got confused between wizard and wanker) was eviscerated at the meat stand and all the guards turned their attention to me.

With them swarming I was pushed back into the tavern where as luck would have it an adventuring party of five bosmer gals were present - and I learned later that they too had felt the not-so-gentle touch of the guards during their stay here. They decided to help me outright (way better than my previous companion) and the tavern erupted into battle, arrows and blood flying everywhere. Some of the civilians also became casualties in the mayhem and in the end every single guard was dead (and stripped - I do that to all my enemies) as well as all but one of the bosmer gals named Maeci. We got out of that city quicksmart and pushed on to Falkreath where the guards were again very welcoming (ie. not). A young archer named Chelsea was here but she was just old enough not to be called a kid so I told her to stay put while I went and talked to the Jarl about his guards.

Girl Groups - always a good distraction.

Surprisingly the Jarl is very pleased with me, so why the hostility? Turns out his number one guardsman is an Imperial supporter, based on his armor. The burly man actually tries to fight me - laughable. Knowing he's not worth my time I let Maeci, who is half his weight and a head shorter, duel him. She guts that loser easily, right infront of a smirking Jarl. I kinda like the old guy now. Anyway we continue on to Riverwood where the guards are even MORE aggressive (they don't ask for my surrender now) and again we're forced to permanently subdue them. A Vigilant of Stendarr named Aluna helps us do this, and afterwards says that the Jarl of Whiterun has been hiring kidnappers to get girls from neighbouring towns for his own pleasure and must be stopped. WHAT? Looks like he is to be my next target... Jarl Bossman, This time fate will not protect you!

However at the tavern my plans are altered when I meet another adventurer, a pink haired she-knight named Lighting (yes that's how it was spelled) killing a random Orc in the tavern. She says she has been tracking a large group of daedric worshiping orsimer from the southern regions - probably the same bunch I heard about before - somewhere on the plains around Whiterun. They ravaged her village and she's out for revenge. Must be a small army to be able to just chaotically march through the lands though - especially Thalmor controlled lands. Must be something else behind their sudden appearance.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Good Help is Hard to Find

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

Having lost the last of my army to the vampires I decided it was time to look for additional aid again since there should be new adventurers in the region since my last recruitment drive (added more mods). To start with I just wanted an extra guard for Njada at our new "Butcher's" house in Windhelm. As an aside, she had found out how "the Butcher" severed the threads of fate on his victims. Turned out it was pretty simple really - a simple incantation (ini file change) that banished the fates from your actions temporarily. Needless to say, I used it because there were quite a few people left alive that really, should not be. 

Back to hiring people, I had a quick sneaky look in Riften and Windhelm itself only to find no one. Managed to hire a "master mage" named Sparrow at Winterhold but he was not interested at all in guard duty. Actually the douchebag didn't seem interested in following any of my orders anyway but I took him along anyway. Paid a visit to the newly reopened Sanctuary at Dawnstar. Seems Babette managed to claw her way out of there afterall AND hire a new initiate while she was at it. Sparrow outright refused to kill either of them (what the hell am I paying this LOSER for) so I did it myself - beheading the idiotic initiate and then shoving my flaming daedric blade down that bloodsucking "child's" throat, and now without fate protecting her she died screaming in agony - as she deserved.

Unfortunately there were no new adventurers at the inn there or at Morthal (where the dumb guards had to be slain again since they attacked me). There was a new, pretty girl at Solitude named Jessica though - but she too wasn't interested in guard duty. In fact she was looking for adventure headed out of the region since she had just escaped from some rogueish slavers at Whiterun. Slightly curious when I heard that but I had one more person that needed immediate killing first. Sparrow and I headed up to the Valerica's tower (though Sparrow stayed outside since he's obviously a coward) at the Volkihar Castle and once I got there I wanted to ask her one more time if she wanted to cure herself, to be rid of the disease but she gave me no option, indicating that she would continue her evil vampiric, necromantic ways for all eternity. Not without the threads of fate, bitch! Ran that abomination through, ending her miserable un-life then tossed her corpse back down into the Soul Cairn to be devoured.

Hey guys! Lunch time!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Surviving Zombies and Ninjas - I am Alive!

Other than the Dawnguard expansion for Skyrim (which is generating the majority of content on my blog if you haven't noticed) I was fortunate enough to receive a whole bunch of other games, most of which I've hammered through since I've already got a small stockpile of unplayed ones that I need to get to when I have the time, or the upgrades I need to run them. In this post I'll be reviewing three which all have a similar thread - "survival". I may journal my adventures in them later too if I'm feeling up to it. :)

DEADLIGHT

In this 2d platformer you play as a gruff, no nonsense survivor of a zombie apocalypse with a fatal allergy to deep water. The game itself moves pretty fast and is actually quite good at keeping the pace going, and given everyone is a silhouette you won't even notice that there are only really two types of enemies. There are two things I didn't like about it though - the very linear path which makes for quick game play and secondly your character being a douche. He is so headstrong to move in only two dimensions but that rule doesn't apply to everyone else. It is quite frustrating to see a set of stairs leading to a balcony you have to get to, but you can't use them because they're a few steps in the background. It also makes it awkward when foes in the distance are coming forward onto your "playing field" and you try to attack them - you will miss until they are on your "line". In short it is a mix of fun and frustration and by the end you'll be wondering how someone could do half the stuff in the game even though he's so heavy (apparently) that head high water is fatal to him.

This would be an even shorter game if the power was still on.
 

I AM ALIVE

After the previous game it was so nice to be able to move in three dimensions again, and what a nice environment to do it in too - a dusty city full of rapist cannibal scum and a handful of survivors spread out all over the place. There is a unique stamina/health bar here that I haven't seen anywhere else and I must say I rather like it. Your stamina drains here when you run, climb, or wander in the sea of dust for too long and once that's gone your health soon follows. This is slightly more realistic than the guy in Dead Light who only got tired when he swung weapons or sprinted but otherwise was as ok as the Prince of Persia with jumping, climbing, and jogging everywhere.

Ironically though this game has much better platforming/climbing than Dead Light and for me climbing the crumbling sky scrappers was very awesome. Where it is let down is in its combat system. It is a button mash fest in hand to hand which you auto lose if a second opponent hits you and a really silly bluff game in "ranged" combat. The ratio of scum to your ammo after the start is usually 3:1 or better in their favour, which means you just point your weapon and try to make them surrender or back off into a fire or a long drop. Once or twice may be ok, but in EVERY battle (none of which are avoidable) you will be doing this. Tense maybe. Stupid - definitely. I found Dead Light's simple combat much better.

Look out! He has one arrow! (literally)


MARK OF THE NINJA

Back into 2d platforming and all I can say is wow. This looks like something that could be made with Flash or more likely Silverlight but is so impressive and immersive it actually trumps the above two games. It has LONG game play and many multiple paths and customizations to complete objectives aside from the extra mind puzzles and secret rooms. It also has more enemy types than the two above games combined and combat is quick and brutal. You can play as a ghost and not kill anyone (well, almost anyone) or you can hunt down and execute all your enemies. Going toe to toe is generally not good though since they have guns and outnumber you but if you are skilled and lucky enough, you can.

The light is also your enemy!

It truly is amazing that I rate this cartoony thing highest of the lot but it deserves it. It has a good story and very easy controls. It's the strategy that can be hard. I agree with Tobold, this is what makes good games good. I liked it so much I even went through the whole thing in New Game Plus (all baddies 1hit-Kill you). It's good that they put some humour in it too - you can play like Garret the Master Thief with Path of Shadows (you are silent but have no sword), Solid Snake (complete with the sneaky cardboard box), or a murderous version of the god damn Batman with Path of Nightmares where the baddies panic easily and end up shooting each other most of the time. This game is highly rated on steam and it deserves it. I highly recommend it too! :)

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Parting Ways

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

The patrol run was going well, Beleval and I easily wiped out a medium sized bandit encampment to retrieve another set of dwemer schematics for Sorine, then proceeded into a cave to eliminate a master vampire before he could turn the many resident conjurers into allies. While the mission was a success, Beleval's inexperience was her undoing - slaying a flame atronarch at close range. The explosion knocked her off her feet and she screamed in agony as she burned to death.

Swung by Windhelm to make sure Njada was settling in ok before heading back to Fort Dawnguard to report in. She had taken a strange liking to "the butcher's" hidden room which was funny. Back at Dawnguard HQ I picked up Agmaer again to finish off the last part of our patrol - retrieving a shield relic from more vampires. Since it was on the way, I decided to swing by Morthal to check on Serana. I was getting worried since there was no sighting of her for awhile.

The guards didn't take kindly to my arrival as always, so I called Odahviing to help them understand to get out of my way. The battle was prolonged somewhat when a thalmor soldier brought an Elder Dragon into town. After eliminating all the enemies I scoured the town for Serana but to no avail. Failon was of no help either, too absorbed by the dead dragon to talk to me. This incident makes me wonder if there are actually other Dragonborn out there?

Super unlikely I think to myself.

Anyway we pushed on to the location and massacred the small vamp coven to retrieve the shield, which I gave Agmaer since it seemed it would be more use to him and checked in back at Dawnguard HQ. There, to my surprise was Serena, waiting for me and now fully human. With all that's happened I offered her to come stay with Njada but she declined, saying that she would be more useful to the Dawnguard. So with that I gave her a big hug and waved goodbye to the others. Isran knew I couldn't carry them forever. It would be up to them now to continue the fight on their own, and you know what? I think they'll do alright.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Immortal Blood

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

While Njada and the rest of the Dawnguard secured the castle, Serana and I headed up the last tower to the cathedral where we found Lord Harkon waiting for us. He has a few choice words for his daughter and she for him which distracts him long enough to not notice me sneaking behind his back. When he finally realizes I'm missing, I hit him with a sunhallowed arrow and commence the battle. He manages to survive for awhile, prolonging the fight with summoned scum but in the end, he is turned into a pile or red dirt on the floor.


Now if -this- was the boss I think we would all be dead. :P

Once he is dead Njada and Isran enter, the latter thanking Serana for her help and the former just happy to see me ok. As we are leaving, I convinced Serana to find a cure for her vampirism and after thanking me she headed off on her own to pursue that personal goal. Provided she is successful this would just left one more vampire in her house, her mother. After making a quick trip into the Soul Cairn once again I found Valerica at the boneyard and executed her on the spot. Rather, I would have liked to if she wasn't protected by threads of fate (DAMN GAME).

Instead I tell her Harkon is gone and she returns to the castle to pursue her studies. In necromancy. As a vampire. This riles me up pretty bad, but there's not much I can do about it right now so I make like the Terminator and tell her "I'll be back". After a quick stop to Markarth to sell Calcemo an exploding dwarven bolt, I take Njada to visit Fort Dawnguard since she wanted to have a look before heading off to her new residence at Windhelm. While there I agree to help out with a few loose ends - more vamps on the loose whose locations were found from the castle tomes. The elf Beleval is assigned this patrol with me and her skills are tested early as we ran into (and slew) a pair of vampire scouts just outside Fort Dawnguard's walls. 

Sunday, 6 January 2013

We Charge the Castle

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

From my vantage point atop a nearby abandoned tower I confirm that Isran is an idiot. For whatever reason his group rushes the long stone bridge immediately meaning any dragon support I call down will most likely result in friendly fire. Worse, most of them bypass a pair of gargoyles and vamps who charge down the bridge to my team waiting in reserve. Still, they are outnumbered out here so I concentrate my sunhallowed fire onto the bridge proper where the Dawnguard group is getting thrashed and it seems to turn the tide for them somewhat, until I hear a large angry growl next to me.

Goliath? Is that you?

One of the gargoyles had made it up the tower and resisted my soul rend shout (thanks for nothing, Dummy) so I was forced into close quarters combat until I finally killed the sentinel. Once that was done I did a quick scan of the battle field: all the Dawnguard forces were either dead or kneeling over like bitches to the remaining two vamps on the bridge. Just outside, my group didn't fare much better - Cutter and Bane were lying dead on the sand along with one vampire and a death dog, Anni was floating face down near the jetty and I can only guess the various red smears around were what was left of Lynn. Jordis and Njada were still fighting off the remaining vamp and gargoyle but were not doing well so I prioritised them first and sniped off their adversaries before doing the same to the remaining enemies on the bridge.

Miraculously most of the Dawnguard team weren't dead (yet) and staggered to their feet to continue the charge into the castle proper where the vamps were waiting at good spots to blast us with their magic. I returned fire from the entry balcony while Jordis charged forward with the other brazed Dawnguard fools. A second wave of vamps from a different door appeared and rushed Njada and I, forcing us back to the entry way but we managed to down them on our own. When we did catch up with Jordis in the basement, she had bloodshot eyes and an extremely pale complexion. She lunged at us when she saw us but Serana shoved her aside with her magic and I could only stand dumbfounded as the two gals fought it out, at that moment unable to raise my weapon against one of my best followers.

The fight lasted a few minutes until finally Serana landed a direct hit with her lightning spell, throwing Jordis violently against a wall before her smouldering body crashed lifelessly to the floor. After making sure she was dead, we returned to the castle proper which seemed to have been fully cleaned out. Only one more opponent remained.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Fielding All Assets

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

After a quick stop at the lake to loot the broken king, my little band returned to Skyhaven Temple to swap out Bane for Anni the elven archer. For Bane's efforts I had promoted the khajiit to becoming a guard for Njada but understandably, he first wanted to see the current vampire threat ended. It was time to head back to Fort Dawnguard with Auriel's Bow but as usual we hit all sorts of side quests on the way: hunted a giant deer, two frost dragons, wiped out a bandit base, another master vampire and got Dummy to teach me the "Soul Rend" shout which seems pretty cool. He doesn't seem anywhere as useful as Odahviing though, so with our bargain done I think I'm going to let him rot in the Soul Cairn now.

We also stopped by the Mage's College to hand in some falmer tomes and it is becoming more and more apparent that other than Tolfdir, most of the other people there have a healthy hatred of me - and are becoming more open in their methods of disrespecting their "leader". I decide to let it slide for now since there are bigger fish to fry and we finally return to Fort Dawnguard, where we discover a small group of refugees(?) striking up camp right outside in hopes for protection. Isran isn't too thrilled about them, but his eyes light up when he sees the divine bow and after a stirring speech rallies most of his members for an all out assault on Volkihar Castle.

Agmaer and elf Beleval are to remain with the doggies and a few trolls to help the gate guard protect the refugees and base while we are gone. Knowing how strong the Volkihar clan is first hand I decided to field ALL my remaining resources for the upcoming battle: Anni, Lynn, Cutter, Bane and Jordis who was excited to get out to the front again. Even Njada, whom I would have preferred to stay safetly at home would have none of it after hearing what we were attempting, so she also came along. We met up with Isran's similarly sized group at the shore of the castle itself and when I asked what the exact plan was the crazy bastard just smiled devilishly, looked at me with excited eyes, and basically said "We charge the castle!"

This isn't going to end well, is it?

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Bane of the Falmer

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

From the vision from the scrolls led us back to the dark cave I had previously cleared with Cutter. Fortunately all the shortcuts were now open so it was pretty quick to traverse down to the shrine. This time, the snow elf paladin Gelebor was there - explaining that he'd give us the bow provided we kill his brother - who happens to be sitting behind a swarm of falmer that wiped out this colony. "Great. Sign me up," I said.

Turns out the shrine, or "Wayshrine" as he called them was actually a portal that would lead deeper into their Sanctum. The three of us followed the deep dark path through falmer scum (including larger, general types) until we reached a very pretty valley high up in the mountains. Both Bane and Serana didn't like the cold. Continued finding wayshrines here and clearing out small caves of falmer until we reached an icy lake. NO sooner had Serana questioned the thin ice when suddenly two named dragons shattered their way through. This was a great fight since there was no cover and the dragons would occasionally dive, smashing more sections of the ice - Bane was caught in one such section and fell into the lake leaving Serana and I to down the fire breathers. I'm not the Vanquisher for nothing though, and soon enough the twins were dead.

After pulling the Khajiit out of the water we continued clearing the valley of falmer scum and the deeper we went, the more fortified their positions became. Still, with three of us we managed to do keep up a good pace - eradicating everything in our path until we reached the Inner Sanctum at the mountain summit. Inside all the falmer had been turned into icicles but that didn't stop some of them from attacking us. We also fought past a frost giant before reaching Gelebor's brother who turned out to be behind the whole thing.

"Imma stab you with my icicles," said the Ice King.

He made us fight through his army of ice statues (lots) before fleeing to the balcony and once there he revealed his hand, right before summoning more ice elementals into the fray. Given that the three of us were exhausted having spent hours fighting uphill I could see that this freak was aiming for a prolonged battle. I deftly got into position and let out a "Fus Roh Dah" when suddenly he pulled Bane in beside him. The Thuum sent both of them over the railing and I watched helplessly as they both fell to the icy lake below - it was so far I couldn't see where they landed.

"CRAP," I exclaimed loudly as Gelebor showed up thanking me for my help, somehow knowing his brother died just then. He also offered me the super magical bow we came for but it was the extra reward that was awesome. From out of the newly opened Wayshrine popped out a cold, and wet Bane. He had survived the fall by chance, falling into one of the large holes the dragons made earlier. I couldn't help but hug the silly cat while Gelebor laughed and Serana smirked. After getting Gelebor (who was going to stay there) to imbue the power of the sun into all my elven arrows it was time to head out. We looked to Bane if he was ready to go and he nodded, saying "You're taking us somewhere warm, I trust?"