Friday, 30 September 2016

Dark Souls: Kingseeker's Deathtrap

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

The mysterious death of the lava giant causes a good chunk of the caldera to solidify and be "survivably" traversable. Unfortunately the zone is home to a whole bunch of demons and while I manage to kill -one- it takes too much time and too many resources, especially as there are like six more behind him? Yeah, I decide to get out of there - purchasing a uchigatana from Shiva at Blighttown so I don't leave empty handed.

That's one ugly sock puppet.

I arrive back at Firelink to find the mute girl is dead, Lautrec is missing, and both Petrus and Ser Dick are as useless as ever. In the nearby ruin I also meet Kingseeker Frampt, the ugliest sock puppet ever, who tells me to go to Anor Londo to retrieve "the Lord Vessel" - something that can hold gigantic souls. Filled with purpose I head to the gates of Sen's Fortress (I wonder if there's any relation with Sen Mag dungeon from Mabinogi) which serves as the path to Anor Londo. Due to his absence I assume Ser Chubby forged ahead once that gate opened so I follow suit, only to find the entire place is a fricking death trap!

Blade pendulums: Check!

Apart from the reasonably tough lizardmen guarding the place, the layout is filled with narrow ledges with blade pendulums, dart shooting pressure plates, giant boulders rolling down various corridors, and chests that are actually really strong and freaky mimics! Since the bottom, flooded level (where you fall to if you goof up on the ledges) is inhabited by a number of those stone headless lightning things I decided that up is the way to go.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Skyrim: Meeting Death

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

Since those two kids are pretty independent, I just put in a word with the locals to keep an eye on them while I return to questing. Daddy's gotta work right? Well, no not if I'm this rich but more like.... daddy's gotta kill people. MUAHAHAHAHAH *scary face*. 

Sofia gets it.

After some regular bandit and vampire hunting Sofia, Bo and I arrive at the ruins of Azhgarfund - an interesting ruin with logic puzzles, fake walls that you have to jump backwards into, and a giant robot who almost kills both my companions simply because of how strong his armor is. The room was designed to weaken him upon luring him to the corners but the brute force method certainly felt more rewarding. He was ultimately tougher than the "summoner" mage at the bottom of the dungeon who basically didn't summon fast enough. :P

A true man shaped tank!

We then traveled to Dawnstar where an entire clan of Ebony Warriors (related to that first guy I guess) had taken over the Quicksilver Mine. The battle was ultimately fast but furious, and again the girls came near death but we walked away the victors. We were then tasked with finding a missing Vigilant of Stendarr caravan and suddenly a dwemer bot rolled up to us and teleported me (and only me) to some weird room with little explanation. I was now in the company of Nobby Nobs, Fred Colon and... Death?

He's as surprised as I am.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Dark Souls: Queelag and the Lava Giant

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

It's not long before I'm drawn to the horribly large spidery looking thing at one edge of the swamp. It's a lair, and judging from the hollows lying on the ground with large egg sacks growing from their bodies, I wasn't going to like what was inside. If you guessed it was a lava spitting drider named Queelag, then you've obviously played this game before. I am joined by Maneater Mildred in this battle, apparently she was very impressed by my thrusting last time and didn't want me thrusting any other females. I am sad to say she got bathed in lava. To be fair, so did I.

Man, I'd hate to see what happens if she farts.

It took a few attempts but eventually the drider is slain and the bell right behind her is rung which prompts a cutscene of a giant opening a familiar looking gate where Ser Chubby is. How I saw this in the spider lair, I have no idea. Deeper in the walls are covered in egg sacs, and one of those egg carrier bastards asks if I've come as a servant. I say no and promptly kill the hideous creature and the maggots which burst forth from his cancerous eggs (eww) since he was blocking the way to another bonfire.

A bonfire right beside another drider! Fortunately this one is peaceful and while I am super tempted to slay her, it's obvious that she is the fire keeper of this flame so I leave her be and follow another tunnel which exits into the Demon Ruins. The place is flooded with lava so there's not much to explore here. That is until I piss off the resident lava giant. Knowing I can't fight him (and survive) I decide to flee. The big guy leaps after me and misses, so I whack at his hand a little and he falls off the edge and ... dies? What?

Oh no, I'm falling into the lava... despite being made of lava... what?

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Skyrim: Crazy Cats

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

There's no cat like Skullcat!

Turns out the Khajiit's of Elswyr also submitted to the Thalmor after the White Gold Concordat was signed, but this particular group were rebels which made me really happy. After clearing the woods of some mini dinosaurs and huge spiders, Bo, Sofia and I were given an airship whith Khulam the telepath khajiit navigator and Skull Cat the khajiit pirate to stop a small Thalmor incursion (with their Igma, monkey allies) into the jungle which culminates in airborne boarding! Sofia executes their commander in his quarters.

Airship boarding!

After beating up some argonian pirates we also handle their other problem in the form of a fat Sload who wants to eat everything. He's stupid enough to get us to find food for him though which gives an easy opportunity to poison and subsequently kill him while he is weakened. Oh, and he had some sort of viral bomb which we "disarmed" (by killing an infected dinosaur) too.

Fat bastard.

With that done and the rebellion trully underway here it's time to bid farewell to my new crazy cat friends and head back to Skyrim. I'm going to miss them.

Aww... I'm going to miss them a lot!

Our first stop upon getting back was my house where Rayya had made absolutely ZERO progress in decorating it. Where the hell is all my gold going you incompetent steward? Anyway, since that is going nowhere I decide to convert the alchemy lab in my Riften property into some children's bedrooms to adopt two little girls: Sofie the flower seller at Windhelm and Lucia the beggar Whiterun. I think Njada would have liked that. And at least here, they get to play with the other kids at the orphanage.

So strange. So strange.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Dark Souls: Down, Down to Blighttown

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

With seemingly nowhere else to go in the forest, I returned to Firelink Shrine and was pleased that Lautrec (whom I had freed earlier) was now here and thankful to be free. Petrus was still waiting for his group, and Ser Dick reminded me ringing only one bell is meaningless. Thanks Ser Dick. Since I now had a divine rapier I decided to retry that graveyard and was pleased that I could now defeat the skeletons residing there. Alas the skeletons in the catacombs further in had a skill I wasn't expecting: they'd get back up with full HP. That was enough to send me running and looking for a new place to explore.

Also, if the divine weapon doesn't connect it doesn't really help...

I ended up choosing to venture into the ogre cave, discovering they aren't so hard to defeat after all being so open to counters and backstabs. They also make looting shit very literal. Still, the tunnel opens up into a massive underground slum called Blighttown where pretty much everything tries to poison you. The giant mosquitoes, giant leeches, ugly spider things, blowdart guys, even the floor when you reach it is a poisonous swamp (which coincidentally slows your movement). What a wonderful place. I wonder if it is connected to where the monsters from Dragon Age spawn from... Interestingly, Shiva the Ninja is here too - selling overpriced gear.

In one of the cisterns I am "invaded" (the not so good side about quasi-multiplayer thing) by Maneater Mildred who thankfully is an NPC since a) no one would intentionally name their character that and b) she opted to use a ladder instead of take a six foot drop. This led to an easy victory as I could basically stab her butt while she was stuck on the ladder. After resting at the local bonfire I get my more of my anti-venom moss ready (thanks spriggans) before heading out to explore the rest of this horrible zone.

Weakness: Woman therefore try rear!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Skyrim: Moonpath

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

After dropping off the Elder Scroll at Whiterun (which in hindsight is silly, I should leave it with the Dawnguard) the town once again came under a bandit attack, this time with Morag Tong in tow. I let Bo lead the guards while I observed from the parapets. The enemy had no chance, inflicting zero friendly casualties. While inspecting the battlefield I happened to come across an inebriated and almost naked lady asleep on the hay in the stables.

Lol!

Waking her up, she introduces herself as Sofia and pretty much insists on being my stalker joining the party. Bo has no issues with this so I give her some of my previously acquired gear and head out to Falkreath where I've been informed of a visiting Khajiit caravan. The cat couple who run it are about to head back to their home of Elswyr, and since I could use a vacation from the cold, we all tag along.

The resident beast of burden.

It's a decent journey, with stops to clear a bandit blockade (Khajiit bandits ofcouse) South of Riverhold and a detour around a broken bridge at the edge of the woods but soon we reach the Heart of the Tenmar Forest where the Pahmar (talking tigers) welcome us and give us a cool canopy home, complete with talking tiger guards! Of course they had problems of their own and were counting on us to help them.

She asks the important questions... :P

Dark Souls: Cats and Dogs

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

I am surprised to find the next section of forest guarded by people (not hollows)! It takes some adjusting to get used to their combos but with the handy bonfire I eventually have them down well enough to progress towards the ruined tower they are guarding, and it's sole inhabitant: a talking cat! The kitty is the leader of the "forest hunter" covenant (group) and invites me to join in a convoluted "ye olde" way of talking. I accept after learning it means the rest of the clan outside will stop being hostile to me! Win! :)

Alvinia - one sinister looking cat.

After briefly chatting to their field commander, Shiva of the East (I suppose he's a ninja?), I am free to go even further into the woods coming across a small colony of the cutest mushroom people ever. Since they aren't hostile I just leave them alone and push on until I reach a strange circular graveyard across a bridge. Upon examining a gigantic sword in the center, I am attacked by the biggest wolf ever, who so happens to be able to wield said gigantic sword.

Drop! I said Drop! Uh oh...

Sif (the wolf) proceeds to thrash me a couple of dozen times before I give up and follow a winding path down to Darkroot Basin. After beating another knight and a few crystal golems I am dissuaded from hanging around by the powerful water breath of a nearby (like, rifle range nearby) hydra. Instead I opt to go into what looks to be the base of a stone tower and run smack into Club Knight again. I'm much stronger both level and equipment wise now though, and even more adept at parrying so this time I win. I take his pretty awesome ring which lets you carry heavier stuff and learn his name was Havel.

Good night, club knight!

Feeling confident with the win I make the trek back to Sif and... promptly get thrashed again. Lol.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Skyrim: The Lifeless Vaults

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

The theme set by that steam dragon continues in this dark place which really lives up to its name. Nothing down here is "alive", but there are plenty of automatons looking to kill us. Not just the usual ones either: there are flying "Empress" types, "Hollow Sentries" and a variety of unique "boss" robots who wait it small arenas with closed doors. A lever opens the door, but one must then sprint through before the door closes, and some doors are blocked with intense fog and flame meaning you can't see what's on the other side...

Often because the things on the other side generate intense flames and fog!

Bo and I split up often in this dungeon to cover more ground. She rather handily takes care of all the little adds while I handle the arenas, trap hallways and boss chambers. This place is impressive and full of combat.

Combat and Parkour!

Ultimately none of the defenses stop us from reaching the Elder Scroll though, and while I am glad for the victory I am also slightly concerned that my previously 900+ damage weapon has degraded to the 130 range. Still more than enough for regular adventuring.

More than enough for you, hammer-axe robot!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Dark Souls: Jolly Cooperation

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Feeling brave with a closer bonfire I decided to head back to that church and beat up the hollows guarding it. The mage on the second floor was a bit scary, but by fighting everything else out of his field of view he had no backup when I got to him. Near the back I found and freed another knight in cool gold armor: Ser Lautrec of Carim, but the main event was on the roof where a pair of gargoyles blocked my path. Good thing Solaire was there to back me up! :D

Jolly Cooperation!

With him tanking the gargs this fight was pretty easy. Upon their defeat Solaire went on his merry way while I finally reached the bell tower and rang the first bell. Woo! This summoned a creepy guy called Oswald but he didn't do much else apart from "offer to pardon my sins" and laugh like an insane person... something he shares with almost everyone else I've talked to actually.

He mentions that Cleric Petrus is also drenched in sin...?

Before moving on I notice that Andre the smith is selling something for 20,000 souls. Figuring I would need that item eventually, I camp the church and purchase the strange medallion. Good thing too because I use it to open a door in the next area I go into: Darkroot Forest, home of spriggans, living statues and... a giant moth that shoots magic missiles!? It takes some evading, patience and a few throwing knives but I eventually slay the overgrown bug. Thanks to player left messages (because this game has a cool quasi-online thing happening) I also find a hidden bonfire behind an illusionary wall giving me another save point before venturing deeper into the woods.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Skyrim: What's Inside

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

I sat for awhile in Hjerim, watching the Morag Tong assassins bleed out all over the floor. Some didn't have their heads attached any more. I barely noticed when Bo, who I had sent to scout the perimeter, returned with a bloody parchment in hand. There were no other assassins nearby, but she did find another corpse - one with a strange letter on it indicating a dead drop in town. I wasn't really in the mood for any adventuring but she persisted. She had gone to the dead drop, and found another parchment: one indicating that another dwemer ruin (these seem to just keep popping up) contained an Elder Scroll.

Such an artifact could not fall into the wrong hands so I got up from the chair and headed out to the "really obvious" location. I say that because it had a pillar of light shining right above it. It was also guarded by a dragon. Not just any dragon - a DWEMER STEAM DRAGON! Cool! I didn't want to destroy such wondrous technology if I could avoid it so I tried use Bend Will...

And destroyed my enemy by making it my friend. :)

It must be the only dragon so far that hasn't gone hostile on me after the shout expired. Happy with that outcome I let it go and continued with Bo to the entrance of ... The Lifeless Vaults.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Dark Souls: Knight Land

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Past the Lesson Knight was an old stone tower, the bottom of which was guarded by a knight wielding a massive club and heavy armor, who I dub Club Knight. Despite my improved parrying this guy had a whole different set of very punishing (near 1HKO) strikes so I decided to avoid him for now. Instead I went to the top of the tower to face... a bull demon! I wasn't having much luck against him either though, so ultimately I decided to cheat. He was a lot easier to kill after buying all those explosives from the merchant. :P

Have some cheese!

Beyond him on the parapets I met Solaire of Astora, who was praising the sun and suggested I try some jolly cooperation when the opportunities present themselves. Well I certainly could have used some assistance crossing the main bridge guarded by a red dragon! It took a few goes before I managed to run past it to the bonfire it guarded. The hollows attempted to guard this district with an armored boar, but it was easy enough to encourage it to charge into the nearby fires - effectively killing itself.

Sprinting towards a dragon - not usually a good idea.

It looked like the church was the main structure here, judging from the suddenly awesome looking guards around it, so I skipped it first and was rewarded with another bonfire. This one was near an "old but built like an ox" blacksmith named Andre and nearby waiting at some closed gates is another knight I call Ser Chubby (for obvious reasons). The last inhabitant near this bonfire is a giant headless stone snake thing with a large staff that shoots lightning. Yeah, I ... just stayed away from that one.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Skyrim: Even in Death

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

Well, that's an ominous looking robot...

The Nerevarine was hunting down some giant robotic WMD, and it was really difficult to miss when we found entered its room! All of us were having trouble damaging it though since it seemed to repair itself incredibly quickly. A series of levers around the chamber seemed to be the tacticians way of working out how to defeat the robot but I chose a different path: Slow time. Under the effects of that shout, the mechas regeneration could not keep up with my damage output and I sent him flying.

Literally.

After thanking us for our assistance, the Nerevarine said his goodbyes and headed off to wherever Azura guided him next but not before telling us that he sighted the strange Ebony Warrior camped nearby. Before we could investigate Mandryn showed up though and he was not pleased with us letting the Nerevarine go, so much so that he attacked tried to attack. Bo gave him a few new windpipes. A letter on his person revealed him to be a member of the Morag Tong.

Guess he wasn't expecting that!

With a shrug it was time to deal with the Ebony Warrior, but I wanted to make a pit stop first: at a dragon roost to tame a reverend dragon! Challenge accepted Ebony Warrior! With Bo, Red Shadow and myself atop this beast the Ebony Warrior was torn limb from limb, though to his credit it did take longer than I expected. Sure hope he wasn't expecting a fair duel! After he was dragon poop I decided to report back to Njada in Windhelm about our success, only to find Morag Tong assassins already defiling her corpse when we arrived.

And so, even in death the Ebony Warrior defeated me. :/

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Dark Souls: Lesson Knight

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Surprisingly the giant bird didn't kill me, it just brought me to a cliffside camp called Firelink Shrine which is home to an imprisoned mute woman, a chubby cleric named Petrus, and some random guy I'm going to call Ser Dick - thanks to his "winning" personality. Dick informs me I'm not the only one to escape from the prison, and suggests our quest involves the ringing of two bells for some reason. Petrus has no insights in the matter, instead offering to sell miracles (spells, but my faith was too low) and covenant membership to "The Way of the White" (PvE flag) while awaiting the rest of his party.

That's one way to make a quest hook I suppose...

Left to my own devices I decide to explore and find a few ways to go: a graveyard with skeletons that kick my butt, a flooded ruin with ghosts that I literally can't hit, a valley with drakes, a big dragon (whom I stole some treasure from) and scary ogres, or up towards what looks like a city guarded by low level hollow soldiers. To the city it is! The town is appropriately named Undead Berg since there are tons of hollows here, all hostile except for one psycho merchant who happily trades wares for souls.

Yep, souls are the main currency for everything here, and they are very easy to lose (through dying). I spend a lot of time in this area working out another key mechanic in the game: parrying, which requires specific key press timing to execute but if it works leaves your enemy wide open. My favorite training partner comes in the form of a towering knight, who killed me a quintillion times while I honed this skill. I was both relieved and sad when I finally passed this self imposed test, because unlike the other hollows - he didn't respawn.

Right in the crotch.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Skyrim: A Criminal from Morrowind

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

In search of the Morrowind criminal, Bo and I headed to the foundling little hamlet of Little Vivec as suggested by Mandryn (who claimed to be following other leads but I suspect he was just drinking all the ale in that tavern). The new community was made up of Dunmer who had fled from the racism of Windhelm and they had a fair amount of courier work to hand out. None of them wanted to talk about the strange warrior who had come through a few days before.

I figured taking out some local bandits for the community might loosen their tongues but they were all dead when we arrived at their camp, apparently beaten to it by the mysterious stranger. Finally one of the dunmer admitted that this stranger was seeking some nearby dwemer ruins so Bo and I hoofed it over there and followed the trail of dead bodies and broken robots deep into the small facility.

A trio of riddles also blocked the path but they were easily solved once I worked out the cool mechanic. Basically the answer to each was an item, and so if the answer was "time" for example, I'd need to put a watch into a nearby box to unlock the door. Good design work there I thought. :) Finally we caught up to this mysterious warrior, and he asked for our help. I immediately said yes.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Dark Souls: Sir Estus and the Master Key

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

The land is broken. How or why it happened... I don't remember. I don't remember a lot of things after putting on that mask. All I know is that in this place, the undead are corralled to the Northern Asylum where they are locked up to wait for the end of the world. Such is my fate, for apparently I too am undead and each passing day brings me closer to losing what's left of my humanity... but not this day. A strange knight wordlessly dropped "the master key" for me through a hole in the roof of my cell which has bought me my freedom.

After wandering halls with folk further along the path to being "hollow" I finally come to a pair of large doors: the exit! Except it is abruptly blocked by a gigantic, fat demon who serves as the very first boss fight. My broken blade does next to no damage to it but fortunately as a wanderer, I've got some pretty good dodging skills. So good that they accidentally take me through a small side door out of the arena.

Your sacrifice will not be in vain.

This is fortuitous since the new path has better equipment for me to use and actual regular enemies I can practice on. I come across the strange knight again higher up... but he is dying so he gives me his flask which is the primary healing item in this game. I leave Ser Estus (so named because he gave me the Estus flask) and eventually find myself back with the fat demon. Properly armed this time, I falchion his rear to death.

His butt might be scary, but his front is much more dangerous!

Finally outside the walls I head up to a nearby cliff to scout out the surroundings when suddenly a giant raven appears and grabs me in its talons!? Wow. That was a short game.

Dark Souls: Tales at the Bonfire

I had never played (or heard of) Dark Souls prior to being gifted all three games of the series recently (thanks Juris!) and I've become so addicted to them it actually has pulled me away from Neverwinter Online! Much like my Skyrim adventure journal, I've decided to record my experience here because... that's what I do. :P

Obviously there are spoilers ahead!

1.   Ser Estus and the Master Key 
2.   Lesson Knight
3.   Knight Land
4.   Jolly Cooperation
5.   Cats and Dogs
6.   Down, Down to Blighttown 
7.   Queelag and the Lava Giant
8.   Kingseeker's  Deathtrap
9.   Sunlight City
10. The Murderer
11. Rite of Kindling
12. Back to the Great Swamp
13. Covenant of Hollows
14. A Big Improvement
15. This is Dark Souls
16. Lord Vessel
17. Crystal Clear
18. Vision of Beyond
19. It's a Trap!
20. Praise the Sun
21. Death Knights of the Deep
22. Darkest Dungeon
23. Over the Edge
24. Quest Hook
25. Knights of the King
26. Kill you Later
27. Manus and Gwyn
28. Reading  between the Lines
29. The Fourth Knight
30. Highest Calling
31. What Goes Around 
32. The New Hub (Dark Souls II)
33. Eagle Knight Surprise
34. Pity there's No Pity
35. Gear Shift
36. Poison Peak
37. Weakness: Woman therefore try rear!
38. Effigy
39. Here be Pirates!
40. Creepy Crawlies
41. Light Bringer
42. Gutter Trash
43. Crushed
44. De ja Vu
45. Cool Turtle
46. Gesture of Friendship
47. Earth Mover
48. The Jester
49. Song of Defeat
50. Castle Climber
51. Way of the Blue
52. The Shrine of Amana
53. King's Grave
54. Me:OW
55. Monster Keeper
56. A Flight of Dragons
57. Silly Little Human
58. History Lesson
59. Victory feels good!
60. Ebony and Ivory
61. Two Havel
62. The Crown Collector
63. Meat Grinder
64. Size Compensator
65. Keep your Kings close
66. The Darksign Lives
67. Of Ice and Fire 
68. One Way or Another (Dark Souls III)
69. And my Axe!
70. The Circus is in Town
71. Diplomacy
72. Right in the Nuts
73. Marathon Man
74. Farron's Keep
75. Watch This
76. Unholy Ground
77. Whack and Roll
78. Target Acquired
79. Hurrah for Vengeance
80. Urban Espionage
81. Road Blocks
82. Epic Justice
83. Not so Uplifting
84. Disconnect
85. Five Finger Discount
86. Yhormine, Aldrich!
87. Dancing with Dragons
88. A World without Fire
89. Archdragon Peak
90. Dragonslayer
91. Oh Brother...
92. Let there be Light
93. Fireproof
94. The Second Painting
95. Birdverine
96. Vilhelm's Doom
97. Mountain of Madness
98. Return from whence thou cam'st...
99. Fighting Fully
100. Thy place of belonging.
101. Casualties at Arrival (side track into Darkest Dungeon)
102. Lowly Apprentices
103. Scribe Duty
104. A Call for Election
105. Chain of Command
106. Slowly, Softly
107. The Tragic Extent
108. A Town in Flames
109. Leave Nothing Unchecked
110. Facing the Abyss
111. Destroy. Them. All.
112. Ringing Ears, Blurred Vision
113. The Precipice of Oblivion
114. We were rewarded with Madness 
115. Battered and Broken

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Skyrim: The Ebony Warrior

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

Arriving at Windhelm I decided to check in with Njada but only got to the town center when a massive Ebony Warrior approached me and having "accomplished everything" wanted to duel me as his final challenge in life. I told him I'd think about it, and when he turned around I called the guards on him (by making him angry via pickpocket). I stood back as I watched the Ebony Warrior decimate the five guards that arrived, learning that he had decent restoration skills and that he too was dragonborn. That's not such a big deal these days.

I should really consider lighting a torch for screenies...

Not willing to risk the lives of any more citizens I let the giant of a man leave after he sheathed his weapon. I had hoped to track him outside but he simply vanished once he reached the gate! Concerned for her safety, I thought I'd advise Njada to move house but she adamantly refused since there were others in the city that required her protection.

My next stop was Riverwood where I recruited Bo after returning Marauder's body to the camp (it sort of got there on its own actually, kinda strange). She mentioned a possible lead in the local tavern and sure enough a dunmer named Mandryn was there asking for my help to track down a dangerous fugitive from Morrowind for a measly 500 gold reward. "Did this guy wear Ebony Armor?" I asked, "If so I think I've already run into him."

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner 2)

"The Empire Strikes Back" of the Maze Runner series.

This is a direct continuation of the Maze Runner, picking up right where it left off - a helicopter taking the band of survivors over a zombie wasteland of a city to the relative safety of a non-descript facility, run by Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen). While that should set alarm bells going off in audience members who watch Game of Thrones, it takes the protagonists a slightly longer time to clue in that not all is as it seems. I suppose that's only natural since they don't have HBO.

It channels a bit of Fallout too.

Like the previous movie, there's a fair bit of action here as well as some well needed answers as the world is a bit more fleshed out which has surprising similarities to the Star Wars universe (sans Jedi). Don't expect an explanation for the giant spiders in the last installment though. Ultimately the film serves to move pieces around the board in preparation for the next one, ending with a slightly unsatisfactory climax.

All up I feel it's still worth a watch with good effects and valid reasons why the antagonists aren't so effective, but mostly because it is the bridge between movie A and C. I give it two and a half zombies out of five. Would I watch it again? Only if it happens to be on and I'm too lazy to change the channel or do something else.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Skyrim: Curiosity and the Karstaag

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

Since the supplies Rayya had ordered had not yet arrived, Marauder and I manually dug up the stone required after discovering a nearby quarry. With all the necessary materials now, we managed to complete construction of Hjalmarch Hall. The next stage would be interior design which is something I'm not keen on so again I left the steward, Rayya, with bags of gold and instructions to furnish the whole place.

Looking good... on the outside at least!

During the process of loading and unloading supplies Marauder noticed an odd skull in my pack, one labelled "Karstaag" which I picked up from some frozen cave in Solstheim. Realizing there was another location that shared that name ("Castle Karstaag") we decided to check it out again since I had already previously cleared it with Sero awhile back. I noticed the skeleton on the giant throne was missing its head, so doing the logical thing I put the skull there and... BOOM! Magical energies sent me flying!

The spirit of Karstaag, who happens to be a frost giant, had been awakened and it began thrashing both Marauder and myself. I managed to subdue it through force, granting me the ability to summon Karstaag myself, but not fast enough to save Marauder who had been crushed underneath his giant foot. Giant spirit foot? Erm. Anyway, with that done it was time to take the ship back to Windhelm.

She enjoyed it so much that she died.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Snowpiercer

Even at the end of the world, everyone has their place.

The world has frozen over, and the last remnants of humanity are aboard a super long and advanced train (the titular "Snowpiercer") which circumnavigates the globe. The main problem is that while the front of the train is full of luxury and the upper class, all those crammed in the tail end of the train are treated as third world garbage. As with most oppressed people this is the tale of their revolt, to be more than what they are.

This is one crowded train.

Led by Captain America Chris Evans, this is a fascinating movie that had my full attention at all times. The acting across the board is also surprisingly good as are the action scenes which complement the crazy "world" that is the train. I'm not going to spoil any more of it for you so I'll simply say - watch this movie. I found its mix of action and drama to be really good, and highly recommend it to everyone. Just be sure you watch with subtitles for the few but important korean speaking bits.

I'd eagerly watch this again at the drop of a hat, and give it four doors out of five.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Skyrim: Minecraft

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

Since Rayya has a head for all things housing, and is decent enough in a scrap, I assigned her to be the steward of Hjalmarch Hall - the Dawnstar property, and instructed her to buy a whole bunch of supplies and furnishings. While she did that, I returned to Riverwood to recruit B.T.'s sister in arms, Marauder, to loot my stash of ingots at Whiterun and the stash at Ravensburg castle.

Supplies!

With those we are able to construct the main hall which connects to the small house (now the foyer) and acts as the central hub to which other house "wings" can be attached. I start work on constructing the bedrooms but run out of quarried stone to finish the job. A courier finds me here, telling me that Ralis again wants my help at the dig so I instruct Rayya to put a whole bunch of construction items on the list of things to get too.

Two handy fast travels later and Marauder and I are at Ralis' site. This time -everyone- is dead, and based on his scattered journals, Ralis has been a servant of Azhidal this whole time, "feeding" people to him. Marauder easily clears out the risen draugr only needing my help in the final chamber where Ralis successfully awakens his dragon priest master, killing himself in the process.

Apart from all the draugr and the zombies Azhidal is raising, the dragon priest has an interesting shout that simply removes 25% of your total life. If only he used it more often. Upon his destruction, all the zombies and draugr "died" once more which happened to just save Marauder from being undead chow. After looting the place and collecting the black book at the end I am now at level 75, and it was time to head back and finish that house!

Yeah, house building sounds better than staying here with Shub-Niggurath.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Skyrim: Hearthfire

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

After painting Raven Rock red I returned to Falkreath and recruited Rayya who seemed knowledgable in all things housing. In fact, she advised that there was more land being sold at Morthal and Dawnstar which I did buy for 5,000 gold each. Each property (including the one I previously bought in Falkreath) came with enough supplies to build a small house on site, which I did. It's pretty cool to see it come up piece by piece.

Makes me wonder if Stonehenge was just an incomplete house...

With three unfurnished little houses and a lot of room for expansions and furnishings I decided I'd have to settle on one spot and focus all my efforts there. Since the Morthal property was too close for comfort to ruins and the Falkreath one was a stones throw away from a necromantic altar (and the disturbing cave) I decided on the Dawnstar location, which is actually quite far South of Dawnstar, near the plains of Whiterun was the obvious choice.

Before I'm able to get to work though another message from Ralis arrives, asking for more help. Sigh. We go, find more draugr which Rayya clears out while I donate another 5,000 gold for the "final push" of the excavation. A random high elf mercenary also attacks us along the Solstheim shore but Rayya handles him easily. It's good to have talented side-kicks.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Skyrim: Raven Rock Rumble

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

Having finished our business on Solstheim, Valdimar and I headed back to Raven Rock where the resident orc jackass, Morgul, who previously had less than two sentences for me accosted us saying that I inherited a debt. Apparently the new steward I previously got for Neloth owed him 1,000 gold. That debt was now on me, and he threatened to send enforcers to remind me about it.

Thank you, whoever put that option! :P

Despite it being such a paltry amount, his tone really irked me so I threatened his life. He said that the guards would come and arrest me, not him - instantly revealing that they were corrupt and in his pocket too. I gave them the benefit of the doubt though by circling around to his body guard and slicing his neck from ear to ear then immediately stowing my weapons. No one saw me do it. Morgul instantly went on the attack though, and the town guards joined HIS side, proving they are corrupt.

While the orc died easy, guard captain Veleth delayed me somewhat with his decent parrying letting his men turn Valdimar into a pin cushion of arrows. After I finished with him, I went after all his men and executed them so that all - even chasing them into various buildings as they fled like the cowardly dunmer rats they were. A trio of Morag Tong assassins took advantage of the chaos and crept into town only to be slaughtered along side those they opposed. Based on the orders they were carrying, their target had changed to me. Good luck with that.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Just the 3 of Us

Spoiler: You never see the third person.

Uno (John Lloyd Cruz) is determined to attain the rank of captain at his airline. He also likes hitting the bottle (a lot) and after one particularly heavy drinking session at a pub with the worst fake band ever, gets it on with a random girl, who turns out to actually like him anyway but was doing the whole love from afar thing.

Just from the poster you can tell this movie was the wife's idea. :P

Well, random girl starts stalking Uno because - surprise! Babies can happen when you have sex. That  is mainly what the film deals with and boy, Uno, is certainly a dick at the start. And a slow start it is. It also has odd bits, such as the requirement of  "stalking" music when being stalked. Having groups of people just  spontaneously speaking as one also is something I'm not really used to.

While most of the acting is average (with a lot of overacted parts), the stand out is Uno's no nonsense evaluation instructor (played by Richard Yap), who as far as I'm concerned, nails all his scenes and works well as an antagonist. All up its an entertaining enough flick, and possibly worth one watch if you understand Tagalog or find a copy with subtitles. I give it two cacti out of five. Not really something I'd watch again unless the wifey makes me though. :P

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Skyrim: Worthless

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

With Solitude on its last legs I made my way to nearby Morthal where the jarl had assigned Valdimar as my housecarl. Interesting since I don't have a house in Morthal, but anyway... Fortunately Valdimar was interested in visiting Solstheim, because that's where we were headed. After unloading the deliveries for Neloth we learn that someone's been sending ash spawn his way as of late. A cursory investigation leads us to suspect his ex-apprentice Ildari, whom he tried to make a zombie. Yeah that would do it.

I guess "n'wah" is Dunmer for turd, because Ildari just pooped her robes.

We track her down to an abandoned fort and I let Valdimar demonstrate his skill... and it is quite lacking when facing multiple opponents. So, instead I let him go after Ildari while I take care of her adds. This works out much better for him as he finds victory in that battle. Neloth rewards us with membership to House Telvanni, which means exactly ... nothing. Great.

We stop by Ralis' dig on the way to Raven Rock and find that the draugr have again caused grief. Valdimar has no issues clearing them out (I suppose he's more familiar with Draugr) while I count out 3000 gold to help fund not only more labor, but some mercs as well. Pity I can't actually hire a new dig master, one who has foresight.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Banner Saga I & II

An interactive piece of art.

There's a lot of walking in this game.

The world is ending, but goddamn it's still pretty. Truth be told I was gifted Banner Saga II first, played a bit and was so enthralled by the art style, music composition, and detail to the map and characters that I bought the first one to play through it properly. I'm glad I did too, because you get to build more of an attachment to each character in the story, who also double as your units in the tactical battle sections.

While this is no XCOM, there are still basic strategy options in play here mainly due to the shared stat of Strength, which is the damage you do and how much you can take before getting KO'ed. Since your squad will do less damage as they take more damage, ensuring that getting "first strike" is pretty important which often leads to battles where you just sit put and wait till the enemy is in range of a full charge. I like that.

These units can be levelled up by spending renown (which I should mention you can also gain via the training tent in II), which happens to be the same currency to buy food to keep your small army of followers happy and alive. Since characters can unexpectedly die, leave or turn against you this can be frustrating for some players who dislike "blind choices". Not for me though, I love the decision making section (and the "stuff happens, deal with it" part that comes after) - considering it to be the main part of the game.

Everyone obeys the squares!

The negatives for me is that both games are on the short-ish side (an understandable side effect of having the branching effect) and that they end somewhat abruptly with you wanting more! Guess that's not such a bad thing. I give these sagas three banners out of five, and am looking forward to the next one!

Monday, 5 September 2016

Skyrim: The Fall of Solitude

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

Wish I knew how to pilot this beast...

Frea was having fun traipsing around the mainland with me, collecting taproots from spriggans, briarheart hearts, and random grapes from the local stores. My horse Red Shadow, who isn't allowed on boats due to too much pooping and thus never made it to Solstheim, took a liking to her too. They'd ride around while I'd fly up above on my tamed ancient dragon. Bend will is pretty cool. Pity the dragon goes hostile again after a bit, so that didn't end well for the flying lizard. :P

Gimme your grapes!

It was while heading out from Solitude that we chanced upon a huge bandit force coming to attack the town. As in Whiterun and Riften before it, I went to rally all the people in the city but could only muster less than a handful of willing warriors. Since I've been taking a "if they survive on their own, they deserve to live" stance lately I watched the battle play out as townsfolk and guards alike were slaughtered. Frea did her best to rally the defenders but when her allies fell she was surrounded and was pounded to death.

The bandit mage is right for once!

The bandits then stormed the city, slaughtering all in their path. Even the Penitus Occultus losers got taken down more easily than the bards in their college. With total chaos across the city I waited on the throne of the Blue Palace (because that's where the boss would be) and sure enough the bandits came to try take it for themselves. They failed.

Despite their defeat, the number of citizens remaining now could be counted on one hand. The days of Solitude were at an end.