Interludes

Nondrone P. Carrikter

Just for fun, and so people would stop asking me about it, I created a distant future version of Nondrick in Fallout 3 today.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t make him nearly as goofy looking as Nondrick. There’s simply no “Trout” setting on the face creation tool. But, I did my best.

As I mentioned on my 1Fort blog, this does not mean I am doing, or planning to do, a Fallout 3 blog. Not in the slightest. Even though it appears fate would like me to, because check out what I found on a dead Feral Ghoul.

Even in the distant post-apcalyptic future, you can make a silverware set from the leavings of dead monsters. Some things never change.

Living in Oblivion

Ghosts and Doldrums

I think the adventure of this game is catching up to poor Nondrick.

Today alone, I’ve served time, been recruited by the thieves guild, killed a man over a hundred dollars, found a mysterious shipwreck, and been attacked by a ghost.

Two ghosts, in fact, that inhabit the aforementioned shipwreck. Forgive the lack of screenshots of the ensuing battle, but you do not fuck around taking pictures when ghosts are involved, not when you’re a fifth level potion merchant with most of his skills in Personality.

No point in using my powerful frost spell, as ghosts are immune to frost. No point in poisoning my blade, as ghosts are immune to poison. I have two things working for me, however. I have a silver blade (coincidentally collected the last time I was stupid enough to get on a boat), which is especially handy because ghosts cannot be harmed with conventional weapons, only silver or magical ones. And, while ghosts cast frost spells of their own, as a Nord, I am myself 50% frost resistant.

I hack and slash madly, not even bothering to power up my swings, trying to ignore the other ghost behind me. My spastic attacks don’t do a whole lot of damage but I manage to take down the first ghost, who collapses in a puddle of goo.

I’m worried about my health so I step outside to heal. The second ghost follows me and I wade in, swinging wildly, hacking and slashing and swinging until he, too, melts into a blob of ghost-flavored pudding.

Whew. I actually did okay. My health didn’t even drop to half. Plus, I’ve now got a place to spend the night, as the boat has a couple beds.

As cool as it would be to live in a shipwreck full-time, this is only going to be a temporary stay. I assume the ghosts will respawn after a couple days, and there may be other ghosts on the lower level. I’ll only live here one night, maybe two. I’m also a little concerned about Beaker. While I’m in here sleeping, will he wander off?

To be safe, I mount up, ride onto a rocky hill, and jump Beaker onto the deck of the ship. Hopefully he’ll stay put for the night.

I eat and get some rest, and in the morning, Beaker is still in place. I head out on foot, to the east, along the river, to gather up whatever ingredients I can find. I also switch back to wearing leather armor. The steel and iron is good for protection, but man does Nondrick walk slow when wearing it.

The day is fairly uneventful, save running into an Imperial Legion Hunter, killing a mudcrab, and, oh, very nearly dying after being double-teamed by two imps, one that roasted me with fire and another that shocked me with lightning. At the same time.

Again, not much in the way of screenshots because I was much too busy trying to stay alive. How close a call was this one?

The closest yet. The arrow is pointing to my health bar, or rather, where my health bar should be. It’s so low you can barely even see the end of it. Yoikes. I need some sort of Imp-proof outfit, clearly, because these guys are getting pretty vicious. I might have to invest in some sort of conjuration spell so they don’t gang up on me so badly.

I heal up and head back for the night. In the morning, I try to get Beaker off the boat with mixed results.

I’ll say this for Beaker: he’s got good posture, even when slowly sliding backwards off a shipwreck. Eventually, we’re back on land and heading south again. Tired of getting ambushed by bandits, we follow the river and stay off the road.

I come across Blankenmarch, a small settlement populated by three NPCs who walk back and forth, having stilted conversations when they happen to bump into each other, which is every time they turn around. It’s a pretty tiny town. I leave Beaker behind, and scour the area, still coming up short on curative ingredients. At some nearby ruins, some creature unlucky enough to have noclipped through the stairway growls and claws at me through the stone, but can’t free himself except for one paw.

I’m not sure what it is. A troll, perhaps. I give it a wide berth.

I come across a tomb by the river. It sports a headless statue and some scattered bones.

I take action to correct the problem.

There. Now he has a head.

Later, I find a dead deer.

Hey, look. Those are some pretty big mushrooms.

Yeah, they’re some big mushrooms all right.

Hah. Hah! Take that, game of Oblivion! You think you can force adventure on me? On me? Bring on your haunted ships and mysterious messengers! I’ll respond by inspecting dead deer and noting the size of fungus! Try to entice me into becoming a shady, selfish thief? I just took time out of my day to make sure a statue had a head.

When are you going to learn, Oblivion, game packed with thrills and adventure? You can’t win. You can’t beat me. You can’t beat me because I’m not even playing the same game.

And now, if you don’t mind, I’m off to Leyawiin to sell my mushrooms. Some of them are quite big!

Living in Oblivion

An Arrested Development

Like everyone else in prison, Nondrick is innocent.

I’d been harvesting mushrooms inside Castle Cheydinhal, under full view of the guards, which indicated such activity was legal. It set a precedent, that did. I spotted some flowers on the throne, and figured, hey, free mushrooms, free flowers, right? So, I helped myself. Turns out, these flowers were a token from the Count to his late wife, who died, ahem, falling down the stairs.

This is a clear case of entrapment. One plant can’t be okay to steal and another be verbotten. It just ain’t right.

At any rate, when you’re arrested in Oblivion, you have three options. Resist arrest, which means you fight or flee the guards (usually a combination of both), pay a fine, or serve jail time. In this case, the fine is one gold coin, something I can easily manage.

Problem is, after agreeing to pay the fine, the game crashes to desktop. I reload, and, being the honest sort, pick the same mushooms I’d picked and steal the same flowers I stole. Once more, I’m arrested, agree to pay the fine, and am treated to another crash. Swell.

I try this four or five more times, and each time I try to pay the fine, the game crashes. Looks like that’s just not going to work. I choose to serve time instead, and nary a crash — I’m sent straight to jail. Ah, well, that’s the legal system for you. My crime “spree”, as it was called, has landed me in the clink.

I’m stripped off all my belongings, dressed in tattered rags, and sent to a cell. This is a low-point in Nondrick’s career, to be sure. The lowest. Jailed, humiliated, no possessions, body festering with canine diseases.

I’ve got one lockpick, apparently smuggled in an unnamed Nondrick-hole, but if I break out I’ll probably just get in more trouble. I’ll just serve my time. You know what they say, you only do two days: the day you come in and the day you get out. West siiiiiiiide. Of course, as it turns out, they only hold me a single day anyway.

Serving time isn’t good for you, though. With no rehabilitation program, spending time in a cell will lower one or some of your attributes. Luckily, I only lose one point in my hand-to-hand skill, a skill I’m fairly sure I’ve never once used.

The Count himself has arrived to watch me be released from prison. Despite me stealing his flowers, he’s kind enough to introduce himself.

Sure, throwing a guy in jail for picking up some dead posies, that seems generous and just. I joke with him a bit about mushrooms, throw in some boasts about how I once stole some fabric from a hotel, admire his mohawk, and threaten his life until he trusts me enough to offer me a house for sale. For $15,000. Pretty pricey. I’m hovering around the 1,000 septim mark, and have been since I got here. This just hasn’t been a profitable trip for me so far. I thought, by now, I’d be rolling in loot, but I haven’t been turning much of a profit since I left Imperial City.

I think I’m done with Cheydinhal. Time to move on. I’ve only got two more cities to visit, Leyawin and Bravil, and I think I can hit them both up before returning to Imperial City.

I head back to the hotel, selling my junk before I turn in for the night. Then, I’m roused out of my slumber by a terrifying visage.

It honestly scares the bejesus out of me. I’m sitting there, watching the hours tick by on screen, and am suddenly treated to a jarring crash-zoom of that lady’s scary mug. She forces a note in my pants and leaves.

Apparently, the Thieves Guild has spotted my talent for stealing flowers while in full view of the most powerful man in town, and want to recruit me. Sure, who wouldn’t? I’ve stolen one worthless item and gotten caught doing it. I’m clearly a star. What is the Gray Fox going to say to me? “I’ve seen your moves, kid. The way you walked right up to the throne and grabbed those worthless flowers and went to jail for it? You’re good. You’re real good. With my help, you could be the best.”

I get a couple more hours of rest, and then find Beaker out in the stable. Come on, dude, time to blow this dump. I figure we’ll make straight for Leyawin, following the river along until we reach the road, then hit Bravil on the way back up to north Imperial City. That’s a long-ass ride, though, so hopefully we’ll find a couple stops along the way.

As we gallop along, I’m treated to a nice view of Imperial City and some ruins, get chased by a couple wolves, stop to gather a few ingredients here and there (at one point I actually lost Beaker for about five minutes after leaving him to go pick up some plants). Eventually, I reach the river and follow it out to the road.

The road sucks. I’m chased by imps, wolves, and bandits every hundred yards or so. Luckily, running from a wolf leads me to a bandit, and they fight with each other. Running from another bandit leads me to an imp, and they fight. In each case, I wait until one is dead and the other wounded before cleaning up.

So, I’ve got a couple suits of armor, some weapons, and a few portions of Imp Gall. I explore a bit around the road, gathering herbs, but still have found nothing to cure my barkin’ pnemonia or doggie woggie flu.

As the sun sets, another Khajiit highwayman accosts me as I try to cross a bridge. The whole “Your money or your life” deal again. Just for kicks, I give him 100 gold, then jump off my horse and stab him in the back.

We duke it out. He lands a blow with his axe and I turn green. He’s cleverly draining my fatigue with poison. I retaliate by cleverly draining his health by killing him.

I take his stuff, retrieve my gold, and as I look up from his corpse, I spot something in the fading light.

Is that a boat?

It is indeed, a shipwreck in the river. Cool. Ships have beds, right? This would be a great spot to hole up in for a day or two, if so. I find a huge hole bashed in the side of the ship, and step inside. Granted, the last time I slept on a ship I got into all sorts of trouble, but what’s the chance of that happening twice?

Guh-guh-guh-guh-guh… ghoooooooost!

Living in Oblivion

Walk For the Cure

The crap weather continues as I slowly clank my way south to begin my new quest: to rid myself of wolf parasites that have infested my joints. Man. Picking flowers to cure wolf cooties. Did Aragorn have to deal with this kinda shit?

Right away, I can tell this isn’t going to go very well. The landscape is green and grassy, but there aren’t a whole heck of a lot of ingredients around. I gather what few I find, but nothing that bears the disease-curing properties I so desperately need for my knees and elbows.

I pass through Harlun’s Watch, a small, seemingly pointless village with no shops or inns, head down to the Reed River, where I hope to find more plants around the water’s edge. Nothing doing. I discover a cavern called Vahtacen, and poke around inside, hoping to find mushrooms. Instead, I find torchlit passages and a number of Welkynd Stones, which are semi-valuable and good for recharging your Magicka. Hmm.

I’d kind of like to swipe these, but I’m not much of a dungeon-scouring thief. I decide to poke around further to see who these stones belong to. If it’s some sort of leathery bat monster, I won’t feel so bad. I spot an Argonian woman walking around in a chamber deeper into the caves. She doesn’t look like a bandit, more like a mage — robes and no armor. Still, I don’t want to chance talking to her, and decide not to swipe all her stones.

Sometimes it really sucks not being adventurous.

Back outside, I spot some deer. Maybe venison cures disease? Can’t remember. Can’t hurt to check. Can’t hurt me, anyway. I manage to take down a deer with a single critical bowshot, which is pretty cool except that it wasn’t actually the deer I was aiming for. I was aiming for a running deer, and he just happened to run right by a stationary deer as I loosed my misguided arrow. Well, if anyone was watching, they wouldn’t be able to tell. Venison, unfortunately, doesn’t cure my ills, but it makes a nice snack.

The weather gets worse as I make the long, slow, wet slog back up to the city, having found nothing of real use. The next morning, after selling my take, I head north, aiming for Lake Arrius. The weather is better, but again, even though the vegetation is lush and green, there ain’t much to pick. I discover Wind Range Camp, which appears to be abandoned. Excellent. If I can bed here tonight I won’t have to walk all the way back to the city, and can spend some more time exploring.

A few moments later, however, a bandit shows up. He somehow spots the ugly dork in highly reflective steel armor crouching nearby, and we clash. I’d cleverly poisoned my blade while I was waiting, and I stick him once. He turns green as the poison eats away at him, and soon he’s weak enough for a single slash of my blade to take him down. I loot his body, finding a few gold coins and a copper ring. Also, while fending off his blows, my block skill increased, meaning the next time I sleep I’ll gain a level. At least the day isn’t a total waste.

There’s not much going on around the lake but a waterfall and a wolf. After killing the latter and collecting the pelt (and a gold coin the wolf was somehow carrying), I head back. Another fairly fruitless expedition. Very few ingredients to pick, and none have the properties I need. I’m getting a little frustrated. The east coast of Cyrodiil is a huge letdown for the traveling alchemist.

I’m nearly back to the city when suddenly I burst into flames. Eep. Imp. After cutting him out of the air, I arrive back in the city, a little banged up. I think I need to upgrade my self-preservation skills. I sell some potions, decide to spend a couple hundred on a Cure Major Wound spells from the Mage’s Guild, and head to bed, where I attain my fifth level.

I briefly consider going with Luck, because frankly, I could use some, but in the end I choose to raise my Intelligence, Personality, and Endurance. It’s been about thirty days since I landed in Anvil, and I’ve finally reached level five.

I decide to bum around town the next day, since I haven’t been to the castle yet and I’d like to see if they have a house for sale. I could use a day without bloodshed or drama, as well. It’s at this point that I notice I’ve not only failed to cure my current disease, but I’ve also somehow acquired a new one.

Witbane is a disease that drains your intelligence, and (according to the Oblivion Wiki) it can be contracted from dogs and zombies, neither of which I’ve been in contact with. Puzzling. Wolves, I’ve seen plenty, but no dogs. Unless I picked it up a few days ago from that dog-trainer lady, I have no idea when I might have contracted it. There aren’t even any toilet seats in Cyrodiil. So, now I’ve got two types of canine-related diseases, and no cure for either of them. Spiffy. Won’t be long before I’m chasing cats and eating my own poop.

I head to the Mage’s Guild again, and find one ingredient with disease-curing properties: a mushroom called Elf Cup Cap. Well, I’m halfway there, at least. Now, I just need another ingredient to mix with it. Or, I could just ditch this alchemy nonsense and take up religion, which is sounding more appealing every day.

I make my way to the castle, where I notice a bunch of indoor planters. I spot some mushrooms growing among the plants, and, as is my habit, I start stuffing them into my pockets. They won’t cure my diseases, but that’s no reason not to pick ‘em.

I do this for a bit before I notice that the little “hand” icon is red when I hover it over the mushrooms, which indicates items that, when taken, are considered stolen. I’m not just gathering mushrooms, apparently, I’m pinching them.

Yoikes! I’m no thief! On the other hand, the guards are standing right there and haven’t arrested me. Just a glitch, perhaps? Either way, I continue harvesting the mushrooms. If they’re a little lax on crime in Cheydinhal Castle, it works for out me.

I continue crawling around the bushes inside the castle, taking all the mushrooms I find. Eventually, I pop out near the throne.

The count is sitting on one throne, while on the other sits a little bundle of flowers. Hell, this castle is crawling with ingredients! Why did I bother with walking around the woods, putting myself at risk, when I could stock up right here? Without thinking twice about the red “hand” icon I’ve been seeing for the past few minutes, I snatch the flowers, just as I realize they are tagged as “bouquet of flowers”. Meaning they’re not an ingredient, but instead an object. Meaning I haven’t harvested the flowers. I’ve stolen them. From the castle throne room. Off the throne. Right in front of the Count. And his guards.

Um. Whoops.