Nondrick's Non-adventure

The Alchemist’s Code

When last we left Nondrick, roughly eighteen years ago, he was faced with a moral dilemma. Stealing a Shepard’s Pie from someone’s home to cure his wolf-born infections (Witbane and Helljoint) was weighing heavily on his soft mind — was it the wrong thing to do? Was it in keeping with his NPC nature? With his back against the wall, would Nondrick fill his pockets with stolen goods?

In a moment of desperation I’d mixed up the ill-gotten curative and stood there, bottle to my lips, debating, worrying, and trying to remember the Alchemist’s Code. What I eventually remembered was that I’d never actually invented an Alchemists Code. So, I invented one.

What I can find is mine. What I can’t find, I can buy. But stealing is kind of a dick move.

Okay, it’s not the most eloquent code ever written. But stealing, along with fighting, adventuring, romance, and writing eloquent codes, just isn’t Nondrick’s thing . I decided, eventually, to leave the potion in the house I’d broken into, along with a trinket or two to make up for ruining someone’s dinner. With that, I trudged out into the night on aching, infected joints, to find where I’d parked my horse a year ago and to continue searching for a cure that wouldn’t involve stealing a baked lamb entree from a stranger’s dinner table.

Of course, this being Oblivion, when the game closes a door it opens a window. Unfortunately, opening a window in Oblivion is a dangerous prospect, because sometimes an enraged pigs rushes through it and tries to kill you. Today, as I travel north atop my faithful horse, Beaker, boars finally make their appearance in the game.

Boars are actually pretty tough: they’re fast, durable, and challenging for any character who hasn’t leveled up properly, and Nondrick’s improved speechcraft and mercantile skills, which certainly help with his career, haven’t left him particularly capable of dealing with boars easily.

Killing a boar requires a lot of blocking, back-pedaling, and just plain running away, while making the occasional swipe with a sword or blast with a fireball. The first boar I encounter drops me quickly to about one-quarter health before I’ve even done him much damage. I heal quickly with my Mara’s Gift spell, then find myself battered down to half-health again before I finally send the little piggy to market.

While I’m carving up the boar, a Timber Wolf leaps snarling out of the woods. I blast the animal with my frost spell and hack him down to size, hoping he doesn’t infect me with yet another disease. My health is now worryingly low, and I don’t have much in the way of curatives. I use my Heal Major Wounds spell, but since I’ve never built up my magic abilities, I can only use it once or twice before running out of gas.

As soon as I’m back on Beaker, I spot a fellow traveler heading my way. He sees me as well, and thrusts a fist skyward. I’m hoping he’s waving hello, but no, he’s casting a spell: a scamp spawns beside him and attacks me. Ignoring the conjured beast, I chase the spellcaster around, trying to smack him with my sword. Cripes, can’t these stupid animals and evil wizards just fight amongst themselves and leave me out of it?

A retarded little parade ensues. The conjurer can run backwards as fast as I can run forward, so it’s a futile chase for a while as I follow him around. Meanwhile, his scamp is chasing me, so the three of us make circles all over the road and through the grass, nobody gaining on anyone. Finally, the warlock runs back-first into a boulder. Pinning him against the rock, I hack away at him while his scamp repeatedly sets me on fire.

Eventually, he folds and his scamp vanishes.

Back on Beaker, I proceed slowly up the trail, gathering ingredients from horseback (somehow). With the city of Bravil in my sights, I spot a plant with large leaves by the base of a tree. My keen eye for plant life tells me this is Mandrake. Wait a second. Wait a second!

I slide off Beaker and yank the Mandrake roots out of the ground. I check the properties in my well-thumbed copy of Mushing Up Plants For Fun And Profit.

There it is. The Cure Disease property! I mix the Mandrake Root with the remaining sample of Elf Cup Cap that has been gently decomposing in my pocket for days. Bam! One Cure Disease potion. I chug-a-lug and check the active effects — all traces of the disease are gone. Hurray! I have rid myself of wolf-cooties!

Wow. I’d sunk pretty low there for a while, but finally managed to complete my personal quest, ridding my body of unwanted canine pathogens. Nondrick was once again complete, and could walk triumphantly into Bravil. Or, if not “triumphantly,” then at least proudly. Well, “proudly” may be overstating it. How about, “not crawling with diseased ticks.”

Yeah, that’ll do.

Living in Oblivion

Nondrick Update

Well, I promised an update in April, and clearly I missed the window. But, I don’t want to break my promise — that’s just not something I do — so it looks like you’ll have to wait until next April. Seeya in 364 days!

Seriously, I’m working on it, and it should be here in week or so. It’s pretty obvious you have no reason to believe me, since I’m always saying stuff like this and never delivering. But it’s coming, and it’ll be here soon. If it’s not here soon, you’ll see it eventually. If, eventually, you don’t see it, it’ll be here someday.

In the meantime, why not subscribe to the feed? That way, you’ll know if it gets here soon, eventually, or someday without having to visit the page. http://livinginoblivion.wordpress.com/feed/

Nondrick's Non-adventure

A Bitter Brew

I reach Leyawiin at nightfall, meaning the shops have closed and I’m forced to peddle my mushrooms and mushroom-related potions at the DragonClaw Inn. This isn’t a huge problem, except that innkeepers generally have a 50 dollar per transaction limit, so selling my 52 Restore Fatigue potions for 13 bucks each is going to take a lot of clicking.

Still, when I’m done buying, mixing, and selling, I’m sitting on over 2,600 septims. Noice! I’ll have to see what a house goes for in this town. For now, it’s off to bed in the Dragon Claw Inn.

In the morning, I hit The Dividing Line, a weapons and armor shop, get everything repaired, and sell off my extras. I’m ditching all my heavy armor — it’s just too slow and clunky when worn by an alchemist who is already far too slow and clunky. Leather armor it is, until I can find something light to upgrade to.

Next, I visit the Great Chapel of Zenithar. Forget what the tour books say: its not that great. It looks exactly like every other chapel Ive been in. On the other hand, I finally find a priest selling a spell that will allow me to heal my horse, Beaker. Its called Convalescence, and it costs me about 230 gold. Worth it, though, as now Ill be able to take care of my beloved horsie.

I visit a few other shops, plus the Mages Guild, looking for ingredients to cure my wolf-borne diseases. Im also looking for some shoes, since I dont seem to have any for some reason, and a leather helmet to replace my iron one. No luck on either front. Im also starting to get a bit frustrated about my disease situation. I just need one stinking ingredient with the Cure Disease property, but I cant find one, or buy one, anywhere. With all these canine diseases in my system, I’m more dog now, than man.

Meanwhile, the hot topic in this exciting new town is focused on one thing: a woman named Rosentia Gallenus and how her house smells.

Well, this is a bit sad. The game has definitely gotten the impression that I’m not looking for adventure — in fact, I’m actively avoiding it — and it’s stooping so low as to repeatedly invite me to check out a stinky house.

Two things about this. First off, even as a non-adventurer, it’s just not appealing. Okay, it doesn’t sound dangerous and thrilling, which is a plus in Nondrick’s book, but it doesn’t sound pleasant, either. Why not have her house smell like fresh herbs? Then I might take a peek.

Secondly, if I were an adventurer, running about trying to close Oblivion gates and stave off demon hordes, why the hell would I want to check out a smelly house, either? Sure, it sounds like there’s definitely a problem in there, but I’m busy trying to save the frigging world. This seems like a quest fit for absolutely no one.

Okay, that’s a little better. An adventurer might pop his head in now and see what’s going on. Still, I ain’t interested.

At the castle, I discover that the house for sale in Leyawiin can be had for only $7,000 bucks. Thats not bad at all. I check out some nearby houses to see what mine might look like, and its practically a mansion for your humble alchemist. Beats my one room hovel in Imperial City, though Im not crazy about the location. Leyawiin is in the very deep south, at the very bottom of the game’s map, and as a gatherer, I need fertile land in all directions to make a living. Id better check out the surrounding countryside to peep what groweth there.

I strike out to the west and north the next morning. Theres not much to find in the marshy landscape except more mushrooms. A Khajiit bandit (female, of course) attacks me after I poke my unprotected noggin into Undertow Cavern. She falls with just a two swings of my longsword. Should’ve spent more time practicing and less time on the complicated hairdo. Women!

Upon finding Telepe, some Ayleid ruins, I hear a voice yell Showing your face around here is the last mistake youll ever make! Im a little confused, since the speaker sounded like he was about a mile away and hollering into a bucket. No one appears and attacks me as I wander carefully around. Eventually, Im struck by a number of arrows, but I still have no idea where from.

I stroll away, arrows protruding, confused. I’ve learned my lesson, though, and I won’t show my face in that general area again.

In a small settlement called Waters Edge, I let myself into the home of Jolie and Eduard Retiene, a pleasant couple who have chosen to spend their day standing and silently contemplating one of the walls in their home. Guess theyre waiting for TV to be invented.

Im so desperate for finding a curative ingredient that I break one of my rules and raid their garden, picking all the vegetables and examining their properties. No dice. Feeling guilty for stealing from these humble, gently retarded farmers, I drop a silver cup and a couple repair hammers in the garden I just molested, as a form of payment. Its sort of like in a movie, when a mobster smashes a reporters camera and then chucks some bills from a roll of hundreds on the ground, only not even remotely as cool.

A little further up the road, I find the settlement known as Border Watch. Its sizable, with several homes and a cluster of citizens all standing around talking to each other about horribly boring things. I stop at the Border Watch Inn, where the owner has get this — a cheese collection.

How awesome is that? Thats way better than my collection of silverware Ive pulled out of wolf rectums. Way better. Im insanely jealous.

I step back outside, and chat up the locals. One of them has a cool black cloak and hood. Again, Im jealous. Nondrick would look great in a hood like that. At least from the back. Im starting to hate Border Watch its making me feel inadequate. These NPCs are much cooler than I am.

I approach a house and, since its unlocked, let myself inside. Its totally trashed. Weird. In a busted crate, a potion of Cure Disease mocks me. The game itself is mocking me, I decide. As I chose to snub the overflowing adventure it constantly attempts to drown me in, it has chosen to make my own personal quest, to cure my own diseases with my alchemical skills, impossible. Ill never cure my diseases. Not without having to resort to theft. Not without breaking my rules.

Im beginning to feel like a failure of an NPC. I dont have a kickass cheese collection and for all my time spent picking ingredients and mixing potions, Im still crawling with canine parasites. And I dont even have a pair of shoes or a nice hood. No wonder I never score with the honeys.

I wander around the town for a bit. There are several sheep walking about. Maybe its the wolf parasites infesting my system, but I consider killing one of the sheep. Mutton might have some curative properties, after all. No one is around. Im desperate. I hack at a sheep, which takes considerably longer to fall than the female bandit from earlier.

I kill it, and open it up to see what’s inside.

This sheep, somehow, is completely empty. Mutton-free. I guess it was full of air. Goddamn discount sheep.

Despondent, I let myself into another house, which is also weirdly trashed. I spot some shoes on a table and consider taking them. Why not? Ive raided a garden. Ive murdered livestock. The game is clearly denying my the few things I want and need, and it’s turning me into a crazed, thieving, half-wolf NPC.

I also spot a Shepherds Pie on the table. I pick it up to examine its properties.

Bingo. Its the ingredient I need to cure myself. And all it will take is an act of theft.

Is it really theft if I leave something as payment, like I did in the garden? Am I being un-NPC-like? Am I failing in my goal in playing as a benign alchemist? Am I betraying my inner-Nondrick by killing air-filled livestock and swapping near-worthless items with unknowing NPCs?

Screw it. I mix up my Cure Disease potion. One part purchased Elf Cup Cap, one part stolen Shepherds Pie. The deed is done. I drop a couple repair hammers as payment and walk outside.

I can cure myself right now. Right now! But should I? My one self-driven quest is at an end, but it meant buying one ingredient and stealing another, and then smooshing them together in a cup. One sip, and I’m cured.

But can I do it? Should I do it? Should I belt back this bitter beverage of betrayal? Should I deviously down this dirty drink of disappointment? Should I peevishly partake of this perverse potion of something starting with p?

Living in Oblivion

Hiatus

Nondrick is on a bit of a hiatus (obviously). Some other games (Fallout 3, Left 4 Dead) are keeping me busy at the moment. I hope to have some new Nondrick stuff up the first week of December.

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.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Dog Day Afternoon

In the interest of keeping this blog a bit more lively, I’m going to try something several people suggested: post more often but with shorter posts. That way, I don’t feel like I have to write a book every time I sit down to play and blog, which hopefully means I will play, and blog, more often.

Anyway. Cheydinhal. I made it in early this morning, and as a result, Nondrick doesn’t manage to crawl out of bed until afternoon. Not much on the roster today except to sell the loot I accumulated during the trip — the many bits of weapons and armor I took off the people who forced me to kill them. Also, if you remember, Nondrick contracted Helljoint, a disease carried by wolves. Gonna have to do something about that, too. It’s a family motto of his: “Undiseased joints are better than diseased joints.” Not the snappiest motto, but they were poor and it was all they could afford.

Just down the street from the hotel, I find a weapon and armor shop. There I sell the axes and armor cluttering up my inventory. I stroll out with about 900gp.

Considering how badly I’ve been getting pounded lately, I decide I need to beef up my defenses. So long, leather cuirass. So long, newly acquired iron cuirass. I’m moving up to steel, baby. It costs a pretty penny, but the assorted bandits, brigands, and beasties outside the cities are toughening up, and I’ve got to keep stride.

I go with the steel cuirass, iron greaves and boots, trade in my leather shield for an iron one, and nab an iron helmet. Naturally, after selling the armor off my back I forget to put on my new purchases, and wander around outside half-naked for a little while.

Eventually, I realize my mistake and check out my new duds.

Eh. Kinda badass. Too bad the helmet doesn’t cover more of the face, though. The face remains a problem.

I’m going to spend the day in town, and I don’t want to clank around the whole time, so I head to a trade goods shop for some street clothes. I also mix and sell some potions, as is my M.O. After all the selling and spending, I’m around 550 gold.

There. Lookin’ like an alchemist again. I hit up the Mage’s Guild, too, hoping to sell some potions and maybe find a ‘Heal Other’ spell I can use on Beaker the next time bandits turn him into a pin-cushion. No luck. The mage on duty has a few affordable spells, but nothing to heal a hurt horsie. I buy some ingredients and mix ‘em, winding back up around 900 gold again.

I come across an abandoned house as I’m wandering around. Hmm. If there’s a bed in there, it’d be a free place to sleep while I’m in town. The door is locked, but my psychic powers clearly identify the house as being abandoned… it’s a little against type, but I pick the lock and slip into the house. Harmless enough.

The place is pretty trashed. Cobwebs, broken furniture. No bed, but I find a couple souvenirs for my own home: a couple mugs, a bowl, a plate, a broom. A real find is crammed under a shelf: a book!

It’s called Waters of Oblivion. It’s worth 75 gold, but I think I’ll keep it.

I said keep it. Not read it. Snore!

In the basement I find a huge ancient evil talking door.

Plus, in a crate, I find a burlap shirt and some shoes. Sweet!

Back outside, it’s a crummy day. Raining, pretty dark. I meet a drunk, a couple beggers, and a guy who threatens to have me arrested for some reason. Nice town, I guess? Not feelin’ the love. I also meet a hot elf chick who really likes dogs.

Well, heck, I’ve got a disgusting dog disease. Does that do anything for you, sweet thing?

Speaking of which, it’s already gotten a bit late, and that disgusting dog disease still needs curing. It’s draining my speed and agility, plus, I’m feeling the urge to lick my own butt.

In this game, you can get any disease cured for no cost — Oblivion is practically Canada in that respect. You just have to visit a chapel and get your pray on. There’s someone already standing at the altar, so I patiently wait in line. Nondrick is a gentleman.

While I’m standing there, though, waiting for the lady in front of me to finish whatever the hell she’s doing, I realize something. I don’t think Nondrick is really much of a praying man. He just doesn’t strike me as religious. I don’t think he opposes religion, but, let’s face it, the only reason I’d visit a church is to hit on a priestess or get my body cleansed of canine filth.

Besides, aren’t I somewhat of an alchemist now? I’m not really supporting the trade if every time I get the sniffles I go running to the Gods for a hankie. I’m a man of science. Dammit, I’m not going to pray for a cure. I’m going to cure myself.

I leave the church and head back to the hotel to bed down for the night. That’s it. I’ve wanted to find a quest, a personal quest, I mean, for Nondrick to undertake. Ever since I met that weirdo obsessed with tomatoes I’ve wanted for Nondrick to have some sort of personal goal for himself. I think this might be it.

Look, if Oblivion had achievements, surely this would be one. “As an alchemist, cure a disease using a potion you created from ingredients you gathered.”

Screw the church. I’ll cure what ails me.

Interludes

Oh Hai

Sorry. Sorry sorry sorry.

Been caught up in Spore and other things lately — this weekend I shall fire Oblivion back up and continue Nondrick’s quest adventure aimless walking around.