Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day Five: Reversal of Fortune

A lovely night of free sleep at Atrene Camp, and I’m ready to start Day Five. I’ve got lots of ingredients and two axes to sell, so I think I’ll head into Anvil. Maybe I’ll have enough cash afterwards to pick up more than lunch.

As I head toward the main road, I see my Khajiit buddy loping up the road toward me! Maybe he finally wants to talk to me?

Yeah, he does. “Your money or your life,” he says. Wait, haven’t we been through this once already?

Well, it worked last time: I tell him I have no money. Now, he’ll wander off and our strange relationship will continue, right? Ha ha! Good times.

Kill You For Free

Ruh-roh. What the hell, man? I thought we had an agreement! You were the gruff criminal with the heart of gold, and I was the fish-faced putz in the vest! We were a great team!

Hacked by Axe

I guess he doesn’t feel that way. He attacks with his ginormous axe, and I backpedal, trying to ready one of the axes I got from the skeletons. I attempt to yeild, hoping for a truce, but he’s not having any. Mere feet from the corpse of the wolf he saved me from, he slams his great axe into me, drawing blood and blurring my vision.

Axe Fight

Okay. If it’s gonna be a fight, then it’s gonna be a fight. No one to save me this time except me. That’s life in Cyrodiil, baby. Quite often you wind up going toe-to-toe with the people you know best.
Suddenly, something huge and iron fills my field of vision — and it’s not the highwayman’s axe. It’s the Imperial Legion soldier I’ve seen patrolling the main road from time to time! He’s come sprinting out of the undergrowth, rushing right past me and swinging his huge honkin’ sword at the Khajiit! Unbelievable. He circles around and slams his weapon into the highwayman’s back.

The Khajiit, foolishly, continues to target me, instead of defending himself against the much larger, pointier threat. And in a just a few moments, it’s over. The highwayman is dead, and the soldier sheaths his sword, gives me a look, then marches back off into the trees to find his horse.

Well, that’s that. Too bad. I’d sort of gotten used to seeing the gruff Khajiit skulking around every time I passed. He was merciful to me, once, and even saved me from a wolf. It’s a shame, and it’s sad, how things ended up for him.

On the other hand…

One man’s misunderstood life and violent, tragic death is another man’s free fur armor and giant honkin’ battle-axe! Awww yeah! That’s life in Cyrodiil, baby! One minute you’re mugging travelers, the next, a bald twerp is leaving your naked body next to the road and heading into town to sell your belongings.

Turns out, the soldier who saved me is headed back to Anvil, so I walk along with him. Funny. The Khajiit saved me from the wolf, and the soldier saved me from the Khajiit. Who knows? Someday I might need saving from the soldier.

That’s life in Cyrodiil, baby.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day Four: Go Northwest Young Man

Since I scoured the area south of the Brina Cross Inn yesterday, today I’m going to head north and west. I figure if the ingredient gathering doesn’t go well, at least I can come back down the coastline and maybe liberate some crab of their meat to make up for it.

Atrene Camp

After a breakfast of ham and strawberries (breakfast of Champions of Cyrodiil), I take the main road west and then take the path forking to the north, where the Khajiit highwayman is still skulking around. He still doesn’t want to talk to me. A few minutes later I stumble upon a camp. There are a few bedrolls and a tent, but no one around — maybe this is where the Khajiit hangs out when he’s not holding people up. Inside the tent is a locked chest. I brush the crab-flecks off my lockpick, and pick the lock. Inside, there are 10 gold pieces, a silver urn, and a repair hammer.

I hesitate to steal the contents. First off, it probably belongs to that highwayman who was nice enough to not kill me. Second, they probably used to belong to whoever he robbed. It just doesn’t feel right. I do try to borrow the repair hammer to fix my rusty dagger, which took some abuse during my crab fight. I fix my dagger but break the repair hammer — oops. I had intended to put it back. Maybe I can buy one later and stick it back in the chest. Or, maybe I can just run away before anyone spots me here.

crowhaven map

I head west again, spotting a few more deer, but none close enough to sling a fireball at or chase down with my knife. Ahead of me, up an incline, squats the crumbling remains of a fort. I creep up to investigate — I haven’t been finding a ton of ingredients, but they do seem to grow more around large rocks or walls. I catch a glimpse of something walking around just inside the wall of the fortress. I creep a bit closer as it walks by in the other direction. It’s a skeleton!

Wow, an actual member of the undead! Maybe Crowhaven is a hideout for necromancers or vampires or something. It doesn’t see me as it shambles back and forth, and I wonder if it’s a skeleton archer. If so, and if I could defeat it somehow, I’d have a bow without having to buy one in a shop. As I peer at it, though, I see that it seems to be carrying an axe and not a bow.

That’s when another axe hits me right in the face.

skeleton attack

It catches me completely off guard, as axes to the face often do. I was so intent on watching the one skeleton I didn’t notice the other one charging me. They’re using velociraptor tactics! Clever girl… I run backwards down the hill, causing the original skeleton to spot me as well, so now I’ve got two angry piles of bones after me. Run away!

Skeleton attack

Wait! I’m an NPC, not a… not a… running away… thing. I’ve seen plenty of NPCs fight foolishly to their own deaths! I should be no different. So, after running away for a while, I turn and stand my ground.

The skeletons are pretty slow, and have a big wind up before they swing their axes, so I manage to get some slashes in without taking any big hits. I use a combination of my Flare spell (a wimpy fireball) and dagger attacks to take one down, and cast Blessed Word (my birthsign’s Turn Undead spell) to repulse the other. As it flees I repeatedly stab it in the backbone until it flops into pieces. My health slid down to about half, so I cast a heal spell on myself a couple times, and then pick up the two axes. One is iron, the other steel, and together they’re worth maybe 20 or so gold resale.

I’ve survived my first real fight but I don’t want to push my luck by checking out Crowhaven. Instead, I continue west until I reach the ocean. There, I find something else: an ancient Ayleid ruin called Garlas Malatar.

Garlas Malatar

The Ayleids were an ancient race who inhabited Tamriel long, long ago. Also known as Heartland High Elves, they were tribal, and their downfall is often attributed to OH HOLY CRAP! JACKPOT! THERE’S ALL SORTS OF INGREDIENTS TO PICK AROUND HERE!

I paddle excitedly into the water and start stuffing sacred lotus seeds and water hyacinth nectar into my pants as fast as I can. A couple mudcrabs clack over when I climb back onto land, and are dispatched from a safe distance with my Flare spell. Suckas! I head south along the coastline, finding new clusters of herbs and crabs every couple hundred feet. I think this will prove to be a pretty lucrative day. And hey! At long, long last, the sun makes an appearance.

Just in time for it to set. I’ve wandered pretty far south, actually, and I’m almost back in Anvil again. I don’t want to shell out for a room, so I decide to down some crab meat for energy and double-time it back to Atrene camp. It’s closer than the Brina Cross and I’ll be able to save ten gold. Provided, of course, no other bandits are using the camp when I get there.

It’s full dark when I make it back to the road, zip past the highwayman again (guess he’s working the night shift). As I get close to the camp, though, something springs out of the bushes right at me. A wolf! The first live one I’ve seen. I backpedal madly. I’ve been running the whole way from the coast, so my fatigue is very low (thanks to a mod for that) and I won’t be doing much damage with my dagger (or axe) if I connect.

As it turns out, I don’t have to connect at all, because another growling bundle of fur meets the wolf head-on. The Khajiit highwayman, swinging his mighty, two-handed axe, makes short work of the wolf! My hero!

See, he’s all gruff on the exterior, but I knew he liked me! He spared my life once and just saved it again. Even if he won’t talk to me, he sure seems to care. To show my appreciation, I skin the wolf and take the pelt so I can sell it in his honor. It’s the least I can do.

Wolf with lockpick

Hey, this wolf is carrying a lockpick, just like that crab was. What the hell? Who the heck is going around trying to pick these animals?!?

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day Three: On The Road

Map of Brina Cross

I’m up at 4am on Day Three, ready to leave Anvil behind. Look, there are plenty of nice NPCs in town. I’ve gotten to know some of them. I’ve joked with them. I’ve admired them. I’ve boasted to them. Heck, I’ve even coerced them. I don’t even dislike the actual, physical town. It has a nice statue, a lovely lighthouse, some charming buildings, some lunatics, a chapel filled with slaughtered clergy… everything a town should have.

But I can’t live here. A single, over-priced inn, and not enough employment opportunities… it’s not the place for an NPC just starting out. I’ve got to move on before I wind up blowing Penniless Olvus to get my gold piece back.

Anvil exterior

Thus, the road I shall hit! Hopefully, there’s somewhere nearby I can live on the cheap, and just commute to Anvil when I need to sell my loot or go shopping. I buy some ham (2gp) from the guy in the lobby, then head out of Anvil, north, along the darkened road.

Soldier On Horse

I pass a heavily armored Legion soldier on horseback, which is sort of reassuring. I don’t know what dangers these roads hold, so even a slow-moving cop on horseback is comforting.

A little further up the road, and around a bend, I see a small stone wall and what looks like a diverging path to the northwest. Suddenly, out of the rain dashes a Khajiit armed with an enormous battle axe. He has an interesting proposition for me:

Hmmm. I mull it over. If I choose to give him my life, he’ll probably take my money anyway. On the other hand, I have no money. I decide to tell him that. To my surprise, he mutters something about how times are so bad even an honest highwayman can’t make a living, and wanders away.

Huh. I’m sort of shocked. I thought for sure he’d gut me like a crab and pull a lockpick from my corpse, but he just turns his back and stalks off into the rain. Weird. If I were, say, an adventurer, I’d probably never have tried that approach.

I try to engage him in conversation, but he just tells me, more or less, to piss off. Around then, an actual adventurer, clad in armor and hauling his own giant axe, strolls down the road heading for Anvil. The highwayman doesn’t try to rob him; instead, they just start chit-chatting. Maybe because that Legion soldier is approaching at the same time.

This is about as close as it gets to rush hour in Cyrodiil. I leave the bustling crowd and stay on the main road until I come to a small, fenced in farmhouse with a stable and small garden. My spidey-sense tells me it’s the Brina Cross Inn, which is confirmed by a sign.

Brina Cross

I’ll be happy to get out of the rain (I’m starting to think the Gods hate me or my weather mod is broken), but if they don’t have an affordable room, I really won’t be able to stay. But, as it happens, they only charge 10 gold a night for a room! I’m saved! The owner of the inn, Christophe Marane, is even nice enough to buy the few odds and ends I’ve collected on my long, slow walk up the road. I’m back up to 17 gold, my exact starting amount. Hopefully, the ingredient gathering will be a bit more fruitful up here, and with any luck, in a few days I’ll be able to head back into Anvil for some gear.

I head right back out in the pissy weather with a new lease on life. I can make this work! I’m sure of it.

I scour the countryside to the south of the inn, not finding an overwhelming amount of fine pickables, but doing a little better than I have lately. I also find a spot with a nice view of Anvil from up on high. Again, too bad the weather is so gloomy or it’d make a nice picture. Er. A nice memory. I circle back around and hit up the fields to the north of the inn. I spot a deer, but it spots me as well, and dashes off into the undergrowth. Someday I’ll own a bow and at least one arrow. This I so swear!

As I turn my head to watch the deer flee I realize I can see, in the distance, the city of Kvatch. Ah, Kvatch! Long may she stand. I’m sure nothing terrible will ever happen there.

I head back to the inn. On the road, I see the Legion soldier again, dismounted this time. He’s killed a wolf, it seems, and so I hurry over like the pathetic bottom-feeder I am, and skin the carcass. Then it’s back to the inn, where I sell my haul to Christophe. Deduct the price of the room, and I’m still up 32 gp at the end of the day. Not a bad rebound. I eat some bread, cheese, and grapes, then have a chat with an inn resident, the lovely and alluring Arielle Jurard.

Arielle is hot

Frankly, I can’t remember what we talked about. I’m sure I joked as much as I boasted, and admired as many times as I coerced. But she coerced my heart.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day Two: Taking a Dive

(Note: From here on, some pictures are clickable for larger versions.)

Time to start Day Two, and I start it by stealing stuff. I don’t loot the entire hotel room, but I do help myself to the folded cloth on the dresser.


Look, it’s a hotel. They expect you to take the folded cloth. I also snag a sweet roll off a table in the hallway before heading downstairs to the somewhat crowded lobby. I’m still a little peeved at the cost of the room and I’m determined to make up for it.

It’s cloudy and partly drizzly when I leave the hotel and head for the docks to begin what will hopefully be a more lucrative line of work: diving for pearls.

Anvil Docks

Now, I’m no Argonian, but I should be able to swim well enough to collect my weight in pearls, and Cyrodiil is known for its high percentage of pearl-bearing clams. I head out past the lighthouse, carefully navigate down the cliffs to the ocean, and stroll into the surf.

And, after paddling around in the water for a couple hours, it becomes apparent that there are no clams in the waters of Anvil. I don’t find Clam One. There’s nothin’ but rocks and sand and water. There aren’t even any slaughterfish!

I hate this freakin’ town. As I glumy crawl out of the water, while it’s still freakin’ raining, no less, I run into some of Anvil’s surlier natives.

A mudcrab! And two more close by. Well, luckily, I’m feeling good and stabby. This rusty old dagger isn’t ornamental! I dodge in and out of range, slashing and slicing away with my trusted dagger that I’ve never used before. Moments later, it’s over.

dead crabs against rainy sky

Who’s ya daddy? That’s right, Ugly Clown-Face Trout-Lipped Guy’s ya daddy!

crab lock

Well, that’s weird. I plunder the crab for their presumably delicious meat, and one crab has a little surprise in it. Which raises the question: exactly who was trying to pick a crab? And why?

I soon find another Nirnroot, but no clams or other ingredients. I even find another of those weird stone formations, but no pickable herbs around it. It’s already lunchtime and all I’ve collected is 3 gold pieces worth of crab meat. And it’s still raining! Is this Anvil or Seattle? I grouchily eat my stolen sweet roll and an apple for lunch, and decide I could use a pick-me-up. I head over to the lighthouse to see if I can reach the top and maybe — despite the lousy weather — see the distant spire of Imperial City’s White Gold Tower. Maybe that’ll inspire me.

Anvil Lighthouse View

I have a chat with Ulfgar Fog-Eye, the lighthouse keeper, who seems to be making a damn comfortable living by lighting a fire once a day. Nice digs, and he doesn’t seem to mind that I just walked into his house and started nosing around in his stuff. Too bad he doesn’t need an assistant; it’d be nice to earn enough money to buy a sword or maybe some sleeves. I climb the steps to the top of the lighthouse and, while I have a nice view of Anvil, I can’t see the Tower in the distance. It’s just too darn overcast.

Astoundingly, the day is about over. I head into The Flowing Bowl, and buy a loaf of bread and a wheel of cheese (4gp total) from Maenlorn, who I notice is selling my wolf pelt for 18 gp. I sold it to him for 5. Nice mark-up, jerk.

Out of curiosity, I wander into the local Magic-Mart, or as they prefer to call it, the Mage’s Guild. I’m curious to see how much a mortar and pestle costs — I could use one to combine ingredients and make potions, which often fetch a higher price than their raw components. They’re going for 43 gp here… and I only have 38 gold anyway. Plus, I don’t have any ingredients besides crab. So, a pointless exercise.

Glum, I head back to the Count’s Arms hotel, and rent a room for the night. Minus that 25 gold, I’m now down to 9. Nine friggin’gold pieces. I got here with 17, so I’m now officially operating at a loss.

When I get to the room it hasn’t even been restocked with food! The plates are empty! And no fresh folded cloth! That tears it. I’m done with Anvil. Screw this lousy burg! Tomorrow, I’m getting up early and hitting the road.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day One, Cont'd: Greedy for Ingredients

As Nondrick, I don’t have a whole lot of job options. I can’t start a shop — no one would ever buy anything. However, I can find things to sell to existing shops. There are some that’ll buy clothing, weapons, armor, jewels, and all sorts of other items, magic or otherwise. And, some will buy food and alchemical ingredients.

Ingredients are my best bet for making a living. I don’t have to steal or kill to get them — they grow in the wild, on farms, and even in cities. It can be dangerous wandering around in the wilderness, but hey, I’ve got a dagger. Today, I’ll explore the area northwest of Anvil and see what I can find.

Nondrick Sets Out

The sun comes out briefly as I stroll off into the waist-high grass, snagging a couple usable portions of arrowroot and aloe vera leaves from beside the road. I say “stroll” and I mean it — caps lock is off. I won’t be running everywhere like your fearless adventurers tend to, I’ll be walking like your average NPC does. It’s uh… it’s a change of pace. It’s… really incredibly slow. But hey, I figure moving slowly might give me a new appreciation for the game and I’ll see some things I’d have missed if I were sprinting through the landscape full speed.

So, I stroll. My spirits are high but are quickly dampened by 1) the rain that immediately starts falling again, and 2) the first thing I find on my expedition: the skeleton of a dead NPC.

You okay, buddy?

I’m no pessimist, but I’m definitely not taking that as a good sign. The bones are within a stones throw of the city and the unlucky wanderer is carrying one gold piece. I also manage to scrape up some bonemeal from his dead sorry ass (hey, it’s an ingredient).

Wayshrine of Mara

After some more milling around in the rain, finding jack shit, I spot a shrine in the distance and wander over (turns out to be the Wayshrine of Mara), pray (ie: click on the altar), and get a blessing from Mara (a poof of light) that reinforces my willpower. (I guess if I wanted to diet or something, Mara would help me stick to it. Also a help: I’m broke.)

I also spot some unusual rune-covered rocks with a cluster of ingredients around the base, and start gathering — some fennel seeds, white seed pods, lady’s mantle leaves, and a few others — a nice haul compared to what I’ve got so far. I have to admit, I thought there’d be more to find out here. For all the rain Anvil seems to get, the grass is all dead and yellow and barren of herbs. I decide to head back and try the other side of the road.

On the road again, I spot a wolf!. My first creature encounter! (Unless you count the skeleton.) I quickly duck into a crouch (or crouch into a duck). By slightly bending my knees I am instantly much sneakier and harder to see, despite still being smack dab in the center of the road. It doesn’t matter anyway, the wolf is dead. I can’t tell why — a city guard may have killed it, or a passing adventurer, or perhaps it choked on a bone from the dead guy I found earlier. Either way, I skin it and take the pelt — I can sell that too. Rummaging around in corpses is paying off today!

Buxom Babe ISO Mace

As I cross the road I spot a farm house, and I psychically deduce that it is called Whitmond Farm. There I run into an angry woman named Maeva the Buxom, who bitches to me about her husband, Bjalfi the Contemptible, who has run off to a fort with an heirloom of hers, a mace called Rockshatter. I sympathize, really, but I’m not going to chase down a guy with a nickname like “The Contemptible” who has a mace with a knack for shattering rocks.

Dahhhhhhh hi

Come on. Look at my face. It’s a face that screams “Please hit me as hard as you can with a magical mace.”

Instead, I wander along the outer wall of Anvil. No ingredients or plants of any kind out here. I don’t feel right robbing Whitmond Farm of its produce, but I’m genuinely starting to worry. Anvil seems like a rotten place to live already. Only one expensive inn and barely any ingredients. I can’t just hope to find stacks of dead wolves every day. What am I going to do?

What's all this then

I spot a weird plant I’ve never seen before… I can tell immediately it has no general resale value and that it’s called a Nirnroot. I certainly am insightful. I also spot a guard patrolling the shallow water outside Castle Anvil. Maybe a mudcrab gang has been causing trouble. I poke around inside the castle for a few minutes, then head back into town. I briefly wonder if I can sleep inside the Chapel, but it sure doesn’t look like a good place to rest.

Hey, you okay?

I wouldn’t sleep there, would you?

Outside, I see some weird preacher guy ranting about something or other, but he’s clearly nuts so I don’t bother listening. I also meet a guy with an interesting hobby.

Okay gotta go

S’cool. S’cool. Everyone gots ta make a livin’. Hey, man, I ain’t judgin’. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to run away very fast.

Out of curiosity, I go see if I can sleep in the beggar’s bedroll, but I can’t because it’s “owned.” Same with a bedroll I spotted out behind the stables. I guess if I really want to sleep, I’ve only got one choice in Anvil. First, though, I cash out — I sell all my collected ingredients (and wolf pelt) to the friendly gay elf in The Flowing Bowl, then head to the Count’s Arms.

After sales, I’ve got 63 gold. Minus 25 for the room at the Arms, I’ve got 38, so my day’s profit stands at 21 gp. Not terrible, but not great either. At least I have enough for an overpriced room tomorrow night.

no free HBO?

And, at least the overpriced room is sorta nice. I quickly snatch up the food on the table — a potato, a leek, and apple, some grapes, strawberries, and a bottle of cheap wine. I eat my earlier beef purchase, one of my apples, and drink the entire bottle of wine in a gulp.

Night Night

Dang, that was a long day. I scoured a pretty large area for ingredients today, and those few I found won’t grow back for a while. I might have to try something different tomorrow, because I can already tell the ingredient plan just isn’t going to work in Anvil.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day One: Fresh Off The Boat

Huzzah! I arrive in Anvil at around 1:30 in the morning, ready to begin my ordinary life of non-adventure and menial toil!

Anvil is a small harbor city. Docks, a lighthouse, a few homes, presumably shops and inns, and a castle. It’s dark, foggy, rainy, and mostly silent when I walk off the boat to have a look around. The first thing I need to do is scout out a place to live — maybe find a cheap room at an inn — not for right now, but so I don’t have to search later tonight. I’m clothed only in a vest, pants, and moccasins, and my only possessions are a dagger, an apple, and 17 gold pieces. It’s gonna be a rough start.

I spot a small cluster of my fellow NPCs on the dock. An Argonian and Wood Elf are punching each other, an Orc and a human woman are chatting about someone named Velwyn Benirus, who is apparently trying to sell his mansion. See, I’m in town for all of five minutes and the game is already hurling quests at me. Screw you, game that’s packed with literally hundreds of hours of adventure! I ain’t havin’ any!
Orc And Slut

I talk to the Orc, Krognak gro-Brok, who informs me bluntly that Mirabelle Monet, owner of a local boarding house, is a something of a slutbag. Seems a bit rude of him, since she’s the woman standing right there, listening, but when I talk to her she cheerily confirms it: she loves them sailors, all right. She won’t even rent a room to you if you’re not a sailor. I chat briefly with the two guys punching each other, too. The Argonian is a sailor named Hauls-Ropes-Faster, and the Wood Elf is batshit insane, babbling some nonsense about how he has slugs on his back and how his clothing scares the fish. Too many punches to the head, I guess.

I poke around in Miss Monet’s boarding house, The Fo’c’s’le, for a few minutes, then head for an establishment she recommended, The Flowing Bowl. I’m greeted at the bar by Maenlorn, a short, pleasant, clearly homosexual Wood Elf, who informs me he runs the place with his twin brother. I look over his prices and buy myself some beef (two gold pieces) in case I get hungry later. Oddly, despite lots of booze around the place, he won’t sell me any, nor will he rent me a room. Great. I’ve already found two inns, but neither with a room for rent, unless you’re a seaman crawling with venereal disease.

Maenlorn, and the others I talk to, all tell me about a supposed gang of female thieves who prey on the married men in town. Luckily, I’m single, so hopefully they’ll leave me alone! A few NPCs also mention that joining the Fighter’s Guild is a good way to make money, but that sounds a little too dangerous for my tastes.

So, I’ve got beef but still no bed. I head into Anvil proper, and find my way to a place called The Count’s Arms, which has rooms available… for 25 gold a night! What a rip! There’s gotta be a cheaper place to rest in this city, I can’t afford that.

Near the north gate, I spy a bedroll and some other personal belongings, next to the person they belong to: a beggar named Penniless Olvus. We chat about the female gang, as one does with beggars, and then I decide to give him a coin. Not because I can spare it (I’m down to 14 gp now) but because, frankly, I need the karma. I note that even though Olvus is no longer penniless, he doesn’t change his name to One-Penny Olvus — I guess then he’d have to change all his business cards and stationary.

A few city guards I talk to suggest I join the Fighter’s Guild as well — and I’m starting to sense an agenda here. The Guild wants fresh arrow fodder, so they force the local inns to charge outlandish prices for rooms, which drives the poor, sleepy masses to the Guild to find employment. Nice racket. I spot a supposedly abandoned house, but my hopes are dashed when I find someone named “The Stranger” is already living there — plus, the place doesn’t have a bed anyway.

He’s a stranger, all right. I’d try to get to know him, but hey, dawn is nearly here. Finding a cheap bed will have to wait until tonight– today, I’ve got to make a living.

The Character

Hey Nonny Nonny

A few notes on the character I created for this, Nondrick P. Cairk’tir.


Right off the bat, I tried to discourage adventure from finding him. I mean, just look at him. Can you imagine a statue being made of this guy? He sure as hell doesn’t look like the Champion of Cyrodiil, so maybe the game will leave him alone.

Since I’m playing without reloading, though, I need him to be, if not heroic, at least durable. Nords are pretty sturdy, are good fighters, and are good with armor (which I hope to one day afford). They come with +10 Strength and Endurance, and -10 Intelligence, Willpower, and Personality. Sounds a lot like me, except for the strength and endurance parts.

They also have a Frost Damage spell, a nice constant resistance to frost, and a Shield spell. For his Birthsign I chose The Ritual, which gives him a tasty once-a-day major Restore Health spell called Mara’s Gift, for those moments when he’s in a real life-or-death jam.

As for the custom NPC class, it’s nothing complicated. I chose a Combat specialization, and for my two chosen attributes I picked Willpower (to offset the Nord penalty) and Endurance (ie: hit points). For my Major Skills, I went with Athletics, Blade, Block, Destruction, Marksman, Restoration, and Speechcraft. It’s a decent blend of skills I’ll use a lot and ones I can practice if I really want to level.


That’s the starting pot — we’ll see it if pays off.

The Mods

The Dragonfires Look Okay To Me

A quick word about the mods I’ll be using — no real need to read this unless you’re actually interested in Oblivion mods, or if you notice some things in my Oblivion that aren’t in yours.

I already use a number of mods for Oblivion — one to make the natural environments a little prettier, one to make the weather a little more realistic, one that supplies you with a keychain (you pick up a lot of keys in Oblivion, and they tend to clog your inventory page), some UI mods, and a couple others. To give my NPC the best chance for a mild-mannered existence, however, I’m gonna have to make some core changes to the way Oblivion plays.

First stop — the immense mod called Oblivion Modular Enhanced. It has so many facets that I won’t even try to list them all, but I’m mainly using it for one big one: The Main Quest Delayer Plug-In.

See, Oblivion starts you off in a jail cell in Imperial City, and thrusts you right into the main quest of the game. It’s true that once you’ve escaped the prison you never have to revisit or continue the main quest, but still, it’s hardly the start my run-of-the-mill NPC is looking for. He’s no son of prophecy, he’s just a Random Joe Tunic.

The Main Quest Delayer plug-in takes care of that problem. You start the game in the coastal city of Anvil, fresh off the boat, with just a handful of coins, a dagger, and an apple. The Dragonfires are still lit, the Emperor is safe in the Palace (I understand you can even go see him).

The main quest just doesn’t start at all — unless you want it to. Get arrested by an upper echelon officer in Imperial City, and you’ll wind up in that fateful jail cell, thus kick-starting the true beginning of the game. But, I won’t be doing that.

The Mod also has some other neat-sounding features I’m not enabling, but that some of you might want to check out — increased fines for serious crimes (and executions for severe ones), you can play as new races like werewolf, Lich, or even as a Dremora, they have a new pricing and weight system for items in the game (I’m going to stick with Oblivion’s original econmics), and there’s a ton of new character classes (I’ll be using a custom one).

I’ve got a mod called Primary Needs, which affects my health unless I eat and sleep, something just about all NPCs do in Oblivion.

I’ve installed another Mod, called Crowded Roads, that adds some adventurers on the roads between the cities. I just think this is a nice touch — the roads are generally empty except for monsters, the occasional soldier, and you. Since I’m not playing the hero in this game, it makes sense that there’d be more explorers and adventurers around to fill the void. Plus, if I do need to travel between cities, it might be a good idea to tag along behind a real brawler, in case I run into trouble.

There’s a mod that lets you experience the effect of drunkeness when you drink to much — not essential but another nice touch, I think.

Finally, there’s a mod that adds cats. I think having some cats running around in the game would be good. Cats are nice.

The Rules

One Rule To Rule Them All

To get the full NPC experience out of Oblivion, I need to set some rules for my character. First and foremost, my character will have to eat and sleep.

Sounds pretty basic, but Oblivion ain’t exactly The Sims. Your character isn’t required to do either of those things. You can do them, there’s nothing stopping you, but there’s nothing making you, either. However, there are some mods that penalize you if you don’t, for instance, by lowering your stats (like Strength and Fatigue) if you skip meals or don’t get enough sleep. I think this sort of management would be incredibly annoying if you were playing the game for real, as many dungeon crawls and fort invasions can take days of game-time, and who wants to look around for a place to nap when you’re plundering Sancre Tor? However, as a mild-mannered NPC, I think I’ll have enough free time to manage my eating and sleeping. After all, I’m not going to be spearheading any assaults on Oblivion gates.

Luckily, unlike The Sims, at least I don’t have to worry about finding a place to take a dump.

There are some mods that make drinking water a requirement, too. You can buy a waterskin and fill it at a well, and then you have to drink water to survive. It’s a neat idea, but I’m aiming for NPC realism, not real realism. The game’s NPCs do drink, mostly in taverns, but don’t have to fill up skins at the well. So, neither will I.

I’ll obviously need some sort of job to make money. I can’t just walk into the Copious Coinpurse and ask for an application, and even if I could, no one would ever show up to buy anything, as the shops are only there for the player’s use. Still, there’s money to be found by collecting alchemy ingredients from flora and fungi, or hunting animals for meat, and selling the goods to merchants and innkeepers. If you have alchemical equipment you can also use those ingredients to make potions, and sell them. You can dive for pearls, too, and sometimes you come across forgotten treasures in the wilderness. If things get really rough, there’s always flat-out theft, though that’s dangerous, and stolen goods are hard to move without a fence.

Anyone who plays Oblivion knows that joining a guild is a great way to make money, because, in the case of the Mage’s Guild and Fighter’s Guild, as soon as you join you can run around snatching everything off the tables and bookcases, and sell the loot back to the guilds or any other merchants (it’s not considered stealing if you’re a member).

I won’t be doing that, though. No legally looting the Guilds. I’m not saying I’ll never join a guild (though I’m not planning to), but it doesn’t make realistic sense that they’d stand there watching me stuff my pockets with books and armor and silverware, and then pay me to have it back.

Granted, it doesn’t make realistic sense that I could fit books, armor, and silverware into my pants to begin with, but let someone else do a website for that sort of realism.

I’ll have to live somewhere, naturally. If I can make a decent living I can stay at an inn, though that’ll be pricey for a guy who collects fungus and crab meat for a living. You can’t just sleep anywhere — you need a bed or a bedroll, and you can’t carry either of those around (there are mods for portable bedrolls, however). I think finding an easily accessible, inexpensive place to sleep could be a challenge. Again, a guild would provide me with a bed, but then I’d feel obligated to perform a few dangerous and exciting guild assignments — and who the hell would want to read about that?

No Fast Traveling. If I want to get somewhere, I have to do it the old-fashioned way, by holding down W (or toggling Q) and letting my legs do the walking.

So, I have to eat, sleep, work, and live somewhere, and walk everywhere. Escapism? What the hell is that?

One last rule, and this is the biggie… this is the real biggie… there will be no reloading.

No reloads. No going back to saved games if something I did didn’t work out the way I’d hoped. No second chances, no revisionist history. If I pick a pocket and get caught, then I get caught. If I try jumping a ledge and miss, then I miss. If I die… I’m dead.

It’s tough. It’s potentially tragic. I’ve died many a time in my other games. But I’ve gotta really commit to this NPC thing, and (aside from the Adoring Fan’s remarkable powers of resurrection) when NPCs die, they stay dead. And so shall I.

…to a degree. I’ll overrule this rule if some real-life mistake affects the game. For example, if I’m attempting to talk to a merchant and my cat puts his big fat ass on my mouse, which makes me accidentally click one of the merchant’s items, thus stealing it, thus summoning the guards, well, that’s a do-over (this has happened). That’s not my NPCs fault. In life, you don’t go into Crate & Barrel and try to ask a question but accidentally pocket a silver vase. Generally.

Also, if a glitch occurs in the game or a mod causes some problem, I’ll reload. But that’s really it. Otherwise, my NPC will live his boring, pathetic life as if it were the only one he has. Because it is.