Nondrick's Non-adventure

Monster Mashed

So, here’s my plan for the next few days.

Anvil was pretty disappointing for adding to my meager fortune or even practicing my chosen profession of alchemy: the land around the city was mostly barren of ingredients and even the city shops were pretty empty of stuff to buy, mix, and resell. I feel like I need to make up for lost time and do some real hardcore gathering before I return home to Imperial City. I don’t want people just noticing my stained fingers and how they attest to my diligence in mixing potions and learning their secrets. I want people gawking at my stained fingers and how they attest to my diligence in mixing potions and learning their secrets.

The most fertile place I’ve ever seen in Cyrodiil was the area around Skingrad. There were pick-tastic plants everywhere, and I made some good hauls the last time I was in the area. So. I’ll head along the Green Road toward Imperial City, but when I reach the river I’ll head due west, making straight for Skingrad. There, I’ll set up Beaker in the stables, and spend a couple days picking the landscape bare. That way, when I get back to Imperial City I’ll have a bit more to show for my multi-city tour. I know it’s a little dangerous to leave the road and head straight through the unclaimed wild, but I feel a little more confident dealing with wolves and imps than I do bandits and highwaymen.

And so, we’re off in the early morning light. It’s not long until we encounter our first opposition of the day: a bandit bowman. Luckily, he’s already dead, lying face-down by the side of the road, folded up like a cheap hotel towel. I strip him of his weapons and fur armor — and why is he in fur armor, anyway? I’m level six, now, shouldn’t chain-mail be making an appearance as the standard light armor? I’m tired of my leather duds and the iron armor proved too heavy and noisy. I want to get all blinged out in chain links, but I’d prefer not to have to buy it.

Soon after, another bandit appears, this one alive, angry, and wielding a hammer. Did actual warriors ever really carry giant hammers? Seems like a really exhausting way to kill someone, by hitting them with a huge honkin’ hammer.

This bandit goes straight for Beaker, ignoring me to wallop on my poor horse. Seems like an iffy strategy: I’ve already climbed down to the road and I’m the one with weapons, spells, and armor. Beaker just stands there, taking the hits, while I dig into the bandit’s back until she’s dead. She, too, has fur armor. I strip her, pause to take a spiritual bong-hit off a nearby wayshrine, then continue up the road.

Speaking of the road, I suddenly notice that my Crowded Roads mod is once again taking itself a little too seriously. It’s supposed to add a little extra foot traffic, but this is ridiculous. It’s more like a parade.

While I don’t mind all the extra company, the only wildlife I’m seeing along the road is dead boars. I’m assuming the boars have been attacking the mod-added travelers, and the travelers have been punching the boars to death. I don’t really want to fight boars, because they kind of scare me, but having every boar in the game being killed for me by a crowd of randomly generated wanderers just feels a bit like a cheat. Well, I’ll be off the road and on my own soon enough, I guess.

Beaker and I soon reach two lodges, The Inn of Ill Omen (that sounds ominous!), and the Faregyl Inn (that sounds faregyl!), and I briefly pop into both for a visit. I meet a Khajiit (cat-person) named S’jirra who tells me she’s lost some of her jumbo potatoes, without which she cannot make her “famous” potato bread. Zounds. After Anvil, which tried to tempt my adventurous impulses with ghost stories and multiple disappearances, the game seems to be lowering its standards a bit here to see if I’ll bite.

Normally, I wouldn’t even pose any follow-up questions about anything that smelled remotely like a quest, but, jeez, we’re talking about some missing potatoes. It’s not like she’s asking me to close an Oblivion Gate or save Bruma from demons or anything. What the hell. I can at least ask her about them. She tells me she put her potatoes outside and someone ran off into the woods with them. Well, I’m not going to go actively search for the crook, but if I spot anyone with potato-sized lumps under their coat, maybe I’ll stop them and ask a few questions.

After buying all the food in both inns, churning it into potions, and selling it back at a mark-up, I head West, and almost immediately spot a large, burly, mostly naked figure running through the trees. Ogre. It’s an Ogre!

He spots us and approaches, and we’re a little too close to do anything but fight. This is kinda scary: I’ve never fought anything remotely this big or dangerous before. Luckily, I’ve got a couple things going in my favor. First, I’ve already poisoned my blade. Second, the Ogre, like everyone else lately, seems to hate my horse a lot more than they hate me. Is it my high personality score making enemies decide, “You know, he seems like a decent fellow. I’d like him to die last.” Or, is it just that a paint horse is more obvious a threat than a fish-faced guy who can barely lift his own sword?

The Orge wades in, punching Beaker repeatedly. I ready my frost spell, then plunge in and touch the Ogre with a bunch of magical coldness. Then I hit him with my sword, both hurting and poisoning him. Already, I can see his health diminish to almost nothing.

He’s still swinging, though, and now he’s swinging at me.

And then, I am saved! Beaker, driven by his extreme love of me (or more likely he’s just tired of being a punching bag for every violent creature we meet), rears up and starts kicking the Ogre. The Ogre falls back into a bush, and Beaker charges him, sort of nudging him with his head. I don’t know if it was my poison or Beaker’s semi-ferocious charging that kills him, but the Ogre drops dead.

Attaboy, Beaks! My hero.

I lay some healing magic on Beaker’s wounded butt, then retrieve the Ogre’s teeth, and also find the cat lady’s missing jumbo potatoes in his possession. Well, since I’ve got them, I might as well bring them back to her. I am not really happy with having completed a quest, but this didn’t feel so much like a quest as a coincidence: she mentioned her potatoes were missing, and my horse and I happened to poison and head-butt an Orge to death, and the Ogre happened to be the guy who stole the potatoes.

Cat lady is happy to have her potatoes back, and even offers to kiss me, but I’m not really into cat people. I just like her as a friend. Cat woman gives me some bread she made out of potatoes. Funny. When I mix potatoes and bread I just get wet potato mush. She’s got mad skills.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Dope On The Water

Having spent the night standing next to my bed, meditating on what I’ve learned about making potions and bragging to Counts, I’m up early to reach Level Six. Cool. I choose to upgrade my Intelligence and Personality, as I use them more than anything else and yet they still feel a bit lacking. I also upgrade my Strength, for those instances when thinking and boasting must give way to slashing and stabbing.

 

Did the game just call me ignorant? I see it’s been paying attention.

Now, I’m off to track down Varon Vamori, a local who I’ve been told can train me in Speechcraft. I check my map and sure enough, his home is shown, which means I walked by it at some point yesterday and magically harvested his name and address. My map is like a precursor to the Google Street View van.

I arrive at his house just as he’s stepping out his front door. I talk to him, but he doesn’t offer to train me. It’s possible he’s off-duty: not everyone’s services are available 24/7. So, I decide to follow him, shadow him at a distance, slyly, like some sort of detective from another time period with a name like Cole Phelps. (That’s the detective’s name, not the time period’s name. The time period’s name is Frank Walters.)

Vamori walks to the Mage’s Guild and stands at the top of a staircase, staring at a locked door. Hoping to not distract him from his important door-inspecting activities, I crouch directly behind him and wait for a bit. An hour passes, and I speak to him again, but he’s still not offering me any training. Hmph.

Great. I’ve wasted a couple hours staring at some unhelpful dude’s butt. Still, it doesn’t mean the day is a complete loss. I throw on my armor and head out of town to check out the surrounding area. If it looks like a good place to regularly harvest plants, I might just think about settling down here in that affordable dump that’s for sale.

First things first: I check on my faithful, patient horse Beaker. I’m not going to ride him today, I just live in a state of constant, crippling fear that he’ll eventually wander off, and I want to make sure he’s still alive and standing where I parked him.

Sup, Beaks? Who’s a good horsie? You is! Yes, you is!

Oh, right! I nearly forgot. While mixing up potions last night, I discovered I’d made an interesting one: Water Walking. I decided not to sell it, because who could resist the chance to walk on water if they had the chance? Not me, certainly. Since I’m on the waterfront, I chug it down and go for a watersprint, just for kicks.

Wheee! This is actually pretty cool, running around on water. I don’t think I’ve ever actually tried it before, as my other Oblivion character was mostly interested in mixing up poisons and Nondrick is mainly interested in mixing up boring mush made of carrots and bread to sell at a profit.

I’m in the middle of the river when I realize it’s running out, so I hightail it back, reaching shore at the exact instant the effects wear off. I’m greeted by a mudcrab, who demonstrates just how impressed he is with my brief godlike abilities by attacking me. Pff! A crab? I eat enemies like you for breakfast!

That’s not an idle boast, I do literally eat him for breakfast, since I’ve got that mod installed that requires me to eat regularly.

It’s actually quite lovely in the hills surrounding Bravil, but for all the fields of grass and flowers, there’s literally nothing growing that I can pick for potions. Disappointing, to say the least. I stroll around all morning, not finding a single ingredient, unless you count… danger!

Oh yes. Though the hills are barren of plants, it turns out Nondrick is not alone after all. In the near distance, a mysterious figure lurks. His motives unknown, his intentions unclear, this figure stands silently, motionless, his dark gaze fixed with purpose on okay, look, I’m just being over-dramatic to make this encounter seem more exiting. It’s just some dude from town, Jean-Pierre Lemonds.

I’m not sure what he’s doing out here, standing around, but we don’t have much to talk about. I seem to remember from reading the Oblivion Wiki a couple seconds ago that he’s a former Arena champion, now retired, who spends his time drinking in the Bravil pubs and hunting on the weekends. He doesn’t appear to be hunting, though, just standing around staring at grass.

Unlike Jean-Pierre, the local wildlife is getting some exercise. A short while later, a wolf runs up to attack me, and I swing my sword at him. And, um, the fight is over. Wow, a wolf hacked down with one blow. A single blow! That extra strength I invested this morning in is already paying off.

I walk a bit more, getting a nice view of Imperial City and really, nothing else. No plants, no roots, nothing to pick, nothing to make. Hm. Since there isn’t much in the way of ingredients out here near Bravil, and the town itself is kind of a bummer, I think I’ll be heading back to my hovel in the Big IC. No real point in subjecting myself to the depressing, drug-riddled city of Bravil if it’s not going to pay off.

As I head back to Bravil for the night, another wolf approaches, intent on killing me for daring to intrude on nature. Pff! I eat enemies like you for breakfast! Oh, wait, I can’t eat a wolf. I can only sell their pelts. Okay, then: I sell enemies like you to Innkeepers and use the proceeds to buy breakfast! Which I then eat! For breakfast!

My revised (yet still scathingly clever) battle-cry turns out to be inaccurate, however, as this isn’t a wolf, it’s a Timber Wolf, and even with my increased strength it takes several blows to chop him into merchandise.

Not a whole lot else happens for the rest of the day. I find a dead boar, and before I can even threaten to eat him — for breakfast! — I discover someone has already eaten him, possibly for breakfast, as his inventory contains no meat. As it gets darker, there’s some brief excitement as I’m double-teamed by a couple lightning-bolt throwing imps, though my super-heal spell and a some frenzied hacking and slashing whittles them down to their component parts.

That’s it for the day. I re-rent my room at the lodge, planning to get up bright and early so I can invent the rear-view mirror and put this town in it. Tomorrow, I’ll set out for my hovel in Imperial City once again, though this day spent gathering zero ingredients has left me feeling bothered and restless, and I already know I’ll be making a slight detour before I get back home.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Bravillage People

So! Before we were rudely interrupted by the passage of sixteen months, where the heck were we?

Oh, right. Nondrick. That guy. He had been winding up his tour of Cyrodiil, headed for Bravil, suffering from a series of wolf-born diseases, and having no luck finding the ingredients needed to cure them. After entertaining dark thoughts of the theft of a Shepard’s Pie, he stuck to his vaguely defined principles and was rewarded in true karmic fashion, finding a wild herb that allowed him to brew a potion that would cure his wolf-cooties.

That brings us roughly to… now! Bravil! An ugly, dirt-poor city on the Nibeny Bay. Having spent the night in the affordable and aptly named Lonely Suitor Lodge, he decides to spend the day doing what he always does: mixing and selling potions, walking around slowly, and talking to everyone about anything that won’t lead to quests and adventure.

That last part isn’t exactly easy here in Bravil. While their main import is poverty and the color brown, their leading export appears to be intrigue. Almost everyone in town wants to talk to me about something called The Forlorn Watchman, which I’m guessing isn’t just a city guard who can’t find a date.

In the Mage’s Guild, an Argonian named Kud-Ei wants me to help her find her missing friend, Henantier, insisting I am the only one she can trust with the task despite the fact that I just walked in the door ten seconds ago. The other mages are passive-aggressively chatting about someone named Aleron Loch, who is also missing, hoping I’ll overhear and lend my questionable investigative skills to the case. Don’t these people ever go to the cops when someone disappears? There’s also more talk about The Forlorn Watchman and a few chat to me about Necromancers. The only thing positive I hear is someone recommending that I steer clear of mudcrabs. Can do!

Wandering around outside, I start to see why people don’t go to the cops: many of the citizens are drug addicts, and probably don’t want the narcos snooping around in their business. A door advertises itself as a “Skooma Den”, and two dudes are feverishly chugging down the drug right outside in broad daylight. I sort of wouldn’t mind Nondrick getting his hands on some Skooma (he’s no square), but the door to the den is locked and these two won’t share. Guess I’ll have to stick to wine.

Popping into the Fighter’s Guild for a moment, I watch two members hacking away at each other in a friendly sparring session, taking a break only long enough to tell me that The Forlorn Watchman is a g-g-g-g-ghost! So, ghosts, missing persons, necromancers, drug addicts… I figure real estate can’t be too pricey around here. Maybe I should inquire about a house.

I stroll over to the castle to talk to the only real estate agent the city has: the count. Naturally, he doesn’t want to sell a house to someone who he just met: the guy who oversees a town full of junkies and ghosts doesn’t trust just anyone with his valuable real estate. Luckily, I’m pretty good at winning people over, and after quickly divining that he loves a braggart and hates being admired, I convince him I’m worth selling to.

After poking my nose down in the jail, just to see if there are any interesting prisoners (there aren’t), I get lost in the castle for a bit, somehow winding up in the servant’s quarters and then the dining hall. When my slow pace finally leads me back outside, it’s dark, so I head back for the night. I check out the other inn, which is a little expensive, but chock full of interesting looking company.

I’ve got a couple things planned for the next few days. First, someone mentioned there was a Speechcraft trainer in town, so I’d like to track him down and see if he can give me a boost to my already impressive conversational skills. Second, after charming the innkeeper with my aforementioned silver tongue, Nondrick’s odometer turned over and I’m due to level up while I sleep tonight. Wow. I only started this blog in 2007 and Nondrick is already on the brink of Level Six! Amazing.

Finally, the Count told me the house for sale only cost 4,000 septims, the cheapest residence I’ve found besides my hovel, and I’ve almost got enough coin to afford that. Of course, the town is full of spooks and scumbags, and I’m entirely not sure I want to live here. To make my decision, I’ll need to explore the area nearby and see if the landscape is littered with enough plants for an ambitious, level-climbing alchemist like Nondrick to survive on.

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.

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?

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.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day 27: Trouble by the Boatload

I’m interrogated the moment I step out of my bedroom on the Bloated Float, by a large Nord named Lynch, who cleverly determines that I don’t look like a professional outlaw.

I tell him I’m just a passenger, hoping he’ll leave me alone or not feel threatened. My other choice was to tell him to mind his own business, which I somehow think wouldn’t defuse the situation.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t accept this answer. Two things, only two, come to mind: I could tell him I’m with the City Watch, or tell him I’m in his gang. Unfortunately, there’s no option to explain that I’m a humble radish-picker who took a nap in the wrong floating hotel.

I tell him I’m in his gang, despite the fact that he’s already surmised I am not. This does not feel right to me. I should be able to beg for my life or offer him some money or something in exchange for not killing me, right? Apparently, the game has not caught on that I am a cowardly silverware collector. Hasn’t it been paying attention?

He says something menacing that I forget to take a screenshot of, and then draws a gleaming sword that looks like it’s about twice my height. Ah, fuck.

I’m not even wearing armor. Sure, I could pause the game by bringing up my inventory screen and put on every piece of armor I’ve got, but I’m trying to roleplay here. I’m trying to roleplay a very stupid peasant in a very dangerous situation. There’s nowhere to run. There’s nowhere to hide. A short sword and some humble merchants clothing are all that stand between me and the hereafter. Between me and the end of this blog.

We square off. I hold up my blade defensively, waiting for him to make the first move. Cripes, lookit that thing he’s holding. If he misses he could sink the ship.

He takes a swing, I block, and then fling a fireball at him. I miss, despite being about an inch away. Stupid third-person perspective. I fling another and hit, and he lights up like a Christmas tree that’s had a fireball flung at it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to do much damage. Gonna have to use my blade to win this one, I think.

Our weapons clang off one another in the narrow hallway as we hack at each other. He’s thrown off balance when I block one of his blows, and that’s when I strike, then get back into defensive posture again, always keeping my guard up. I throw in a fireball or two, which hit but again don’t do much damage. He lands a couple blows and my health drops to about half.

I back up and throw some more flares his way. My kingdom for a Backburner! Still, I think I have him on the ropes. One more good slash with my substandard blade and he flops dead against the door.

Lynch doesn’t have much on him. A measly 4 gold, the key, and a set of leather armor. He’s also carrying a note.

Guess Lynch doesn’t read so well. I put on his armor and take his silver longsword. I have to admit, I look kinda badass.

At least until I put on my stupid fur helmet. Kinda ruins the look, but I need all the protection I can get. I heal myself a few times, then free the bouncer, an orc, who’s been locked in a closet. He tells me he can steer the hotel back to land, but he won’t go up to the deck until it’s safe. Looks like I’m not out of this yet.

I eat some food I find in the storage room, heal myself back to full health, and creep upstairs.

At the top of the steps I spy another brigand. I think about attacking her before she sees me, but I’m just not that kinda guy. Maybe I can talk my way out of the rest of this quest.

I tell her I’m in the gang, and that Lynch sent me up to help her. I guess I’m as poor a reader as Lynch was — his note specifically stated not to bother her, and she knows I’m lying. Oops.

This time, I’m much better prepared. I’ve got armor, a shield, a dead animal protecting my head, and a sword that does three times the damage my old one did. She’s a pushover. She also doesn’t have much loot on her, except 5 gold, her armor, a steel sword, and a key to the top deck.

I definitely can’t swim home from here.

I head aft, and wind up directly behind a hulking Nord henchman named Wrath. He doesn’t see me. I decide to poison my sword this time, to hopefully avoid any extended combat. The only potion I can mix up is a Burden (which could potentially root him in place), so I soak my blade in it, then talk to him.

I feed him some lines about how I’m in the gang, which doesn’t work for the 3rd time in a row. Jeez! Why are these outlaws so suspicious of a complete stranger in their midst?

We fight. He dies. Man, I’m lovin’ this new sword. I’m keepin‘ this new sword. I take his armor and steel sword and the handful of change he’s got in his pocket. And yet another key, this one to the cabin of the hotel owner.

The wussy orc bouncer tells me he won’t turn the ship around until he knows his boss is safe, so I’m going to have to rescue him from his cabin. I heal myself again, then prepare my ace-in-the-hole: my frost damage spell. It does 50 points of damage, but I have to be close enough to touch someone to use it, and I can only use it once per day. Still, it’s gotta be better than my wimpy flare, which doesn’t seem to hurt anyone but mudcrabs.

I enter the cabin. There I’m faced by a very attractive woman, Selene, the apparent leader of this gang. Behind her is the proprietor of the hotel.

I tell her I’m the ship’s cook. She doesn’t believe me. I’m getting a little TIRED of these distrustful BRIGANDS.

She’s fast, and cuts into me with her sword, which is apparently magic as it starts draining my fatigue. Not good. The lower my fatigue, the less damage my attacks will do. I run right up to her and cast my frost spell right on her, well, bosoms, let’s say. Immediately her health drops to almost nothing. Score! Thank you, Nordic heritage! I block her next attack with my shield and make a big swing with my sword while she’s off balance. Whammo. She’s down for the count. Whew.

Ormil, the guy who’s hotel she stole and who she was holding captive, the guy I just saved from certain death, turns and walk right past me, leaving the cabin without a word of thanks or even a look in my direction.

Fine. Nice gratitude, asshole. I look around his cabin, and see a table with some food on it. I decide to take some, just for his rudeness. I’m totally stealing your carrots, jerk. And I DO. I STEAL HIS CARROTS. I take an apple, too. Let no one tell you Nondrick doesn’t have a dark side.

I strip the dead brigand of her belongings, another set of armor, and her magic sword, the Blackwater Blade, which absorbs fatigue. That’s pretty cool, a magic sword, but honestly, my new silver sword does more damage, and I think I’m gonna stick with it. If I get a magic sword, I gotta recharge it when it runs out of juice, which means paying mages for their magic, and then they always try to get you to buy the extended warranty, and it’s just a big hassle.

With all the junk I’ve picked up, I’m over-encumbered and can’t move. I drop some of my old fur armor on the floor until I’m light enough to walk, then head back into the bar.

There, Ormil finally shows me some gratitude for saving both his life and his stupid hotelboat. He explains that to boost his floating hotel business, he made up a story about some treasure he had on board, and that’s what the four brigands were after, and what they died for. Good job!

We get back to the city, and Ormil gives me a reward: 75 gold. Wow, thanks. He then rifles through my pockets without my consent, removing all the keys I’d collected. Don’t worry, I won’t be back. And I’m not returning your produce. And, with that, I’ve completed my first, and hopefully last, genuine quest.

I do, however, have a personal quest to attend to. This adventure on the boat, while unwanted and unwelcome and, frankly, very un-Nondrick, has at least made up my mind about something.

I went to the Bloated Float because it was late and I needed a place to sleep. And I did that because I didn’t have a place of my own to sleep. I didn’t have a safe haven. I didn’t have a home. I’m rectifying that right now.

I walk to the Office of Imperial Commerce and buy that shithole in the Waterfront District for 2,000 gold.

There. Done. Did it. Done did it. I’ve got Nondrick a home.

Now I can end the blog.

Just kidding.

My new home, um. It ain’t much. Just a bed, a fireplace, and a table. Not even a friggin’ chair.

Still, four walls, a roof, and it’s mine. Besides, I can cozy it up a bit, right? I start going through my pockets and putting my carefully collected items around the room.

On my bedpost, I put my hourglass. You know, so I don’t oversleep. I also put out my crystal ball, so every morning I can see what kind of day I’ve got planned. And, I put the folded cloth I stole from the hotel in Anvil, my first hotel, down at the foot of the bed. I also put a pot on the floor. Fer, y’know.

On my table, I (awkwardly) lay out the silverware I’ve found inside dead, filthy animals. A couple forks, a knife, and a spoon. I also put out the stone pitcher and mug, and a couple pots. Guess I’ll have to buy a plate at some point, or maybe find one inside a dead rat.

Well, it certainly ain’t much, but it’s home. And hey, there’s my very own bed. I think I’ll give it a test drive.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day 26: Gambling Man

I’m standing in the Office of Imperial Commerce in the Market District of Imperial City, listening to a catcher’s mitt tell me that she’s got a house for sale.

A hovel, eh? I’ve worked hard for my money. I’ve picked weeds, I’ve killed wolves and women, and I’ve mushed up questionable potions for over three weeks. Do I really want to blow my wad on a hovel? A dump, maybe. A shack, perhaps. But a hovel?

I decide I’ll think about it a bit. It’s not like I can sell it later if I change my mind.

Part of the reason I’m hesitant is that the waterfront isn’t the most convenient place to live. It’s surrounded by a lake on three sides. I don’t fancy Nondrick much of a swimmer, so anytime he wants to go a-gatherin’, he’ll have to walk all the way up to the bridge and cross it to reach the outside world. And that only gives him access to the area west of the city — if I want to explore to the east I have to circle around the entire city, which takes a while. Most cities have at least two exits, but here there’s only one real way in or out.

I’ll think about it. In the meantime, let’s take some time to explore the city and see what it has to offer a guy with a full changepurse.

Like, say, gambling. Here in the arena district, you can bet money on the fights (or just watch them for fun). Two combatants, one from the BLU team and one from the RED — er, wait. One from the Blue Team and one from the Yellow Team will square off and fight until one of them is dead. I place 100 bucks on the Yellow Team (representing my own cowardice) and enter the arena.

With Nondrick watching from the balcony seats, the two combatants square off. For Yellow, a female with a two-handed axe. Blue’s champion is a guy weilding a mace. Neither have shields, so they just pummel each other’s faces with their weapons until finally, happily, the Yellow warrior fells the Blue. Nondrick won!

I rush back down to the bookie who gives me 200 gold. I doubled my investment and all it took was a man’s life being brutally and irrevocably taken! I think I’ll make another bet.

This time I bet on Blue, and I’m glad. As the combatants rush each other, I notice the Yellow warrior, a woman again, has no weapon. She’s just using her fists and her complete lack of intelligence in this fight.

[By the way, If you're wondering how I'm watching from the arena floor while Nondrick is watching from the balcony, there's a console command, "tfc", that lets you leave your character and fly your camera around, noclip-like. Wish I'd known this from the beginning.]

Not surprisingly, Blue wins the round easily. I win again, and I’m up 200 gold! Clearly, I have a gift for gambling. I plunk another 100 bucks on Blue.

Immediately, I realize I’ve bet on the wrong horse. They’re both armed with one-handed axes, but the female Yellow gladiator has a shield, and the male Blue does not. Dumbass! Why don’t you have a shield with you? Borrow one from a friend if you have to, your life is on the line! I wish we could see the contestants before the fight, like you can do with racehorses. But then, I also wish racehorses would fight to the death. It’d be the best of both worlds.

The Yellow fighter strides away without even looking back, vanishing like my money just did. Dang it! Gotta win back my money! I don’t have a gambling problem, I swear.

I run back outside and bet on Blue again. This time, I think it’s a good bet. My guy has a huge two-handed hammer, and the Yellow chick has only a one-handed axe and no shield.

Wow! Blue immediately clobbers Yellow so hard she drops her weapon. Boink! While she bends down to pick it back up, he’s got a clear shot at her head! He doesn’t take it, however, perhaps being too much of a gentlemen. It doesn’t matter in the end, though, she ain’t got much game and it only takes a few more swings of his hammer to viciously pound her to death. Then he walks off, stepping on her face in the process.

So, I guess he’s not a gentleman after all. But who cares, he’s my personal hero because I just won another 100 gold! I’m three for four today! And I’ve never even put points into my Luck attribute!

One more match and then I gotta go. I swear. This is the last time I bet on people murdering each other today. I do not have a gambling problem.

I put my money on Yellow this time, feeling they’re due for a win. You can watch the entire fight here on YouTube, including some thoughtful reactions from Nondrick in the booth after the match. I won’t spoil it, but once again, someone thought it would be a good idea to show up without a weapon. Though this same someone appears to teleport during the match, a clever move, the outcome is never truly in doubt.

Okay, that’s all the bloodshed I want to see today (this is a lie: I want to stay and keep gambling). That hovel on the Waterfront seems more appealing now, being so close to the Arena. That was fun. Reminds me of that To The Death feature some guy used to do on some website.

Even outside the Arena, people are getting in on the action, and I watch a lizard and a lady wearing a bra spar for a bit. They tell me they’re busy training. I’d like to suggest they try training with weapons, because fists just aren’t the way to go. I’ve just seen the proof.

I head over to the city’s Arboretum, which is quite lovely [YouTube]. Along with all the lovely statues, trees, plants, and other foliage, I notice a sewer grate in the ground, leading to the tunnels under the city. I decide to take a look. You know, I don’t want to just visit the cheesy tourist traps like the Arboretum, I want to really experience this city! I want to see the grit and the grime, the filth and the stink, the shadowy underworld of this gleaming city. Otherwise It’d be like going to New York and not checking out the subway, or going to San Francisco and not checking out Oakland.

Immediately, I’m attacked by a giant rat. So it is like the New York subway.

Wow, swanky city indeed, even the rats are born with silver spoons in their intestines. It’s so damn classy down here.

I find some other junk in a couple rotting crates — a hand scythe, a couple covered pots, a stone pitcher, a pickaxe… someday these will adorn my home. Possibly some day very soon, if I decide to buy the hovel.

I come across some mudcrabs and dispatch them with fireballs. I come to a door that informs me it leads to Bloodworks, which is directly under the arena. Maybe I could meet some of the gladiators, and thank them for killing people so that I may make fill my pockets with gold.

Or, maybe I should get the hell out of here. One corpse dangles from the ceiling, another appears to be nailed to a wall. In an adjacent room, I hear the creaking of bones and see a skeleton pacing slowly about.

Time to creep back out the way I came.

It’s getting late as I finally make it to the waterfront to check out the hovel firsthand. It doesn’t look like much, but the view is nice.

I’m still not sure if I should buy it. In the meantime, I need to find a place to rest for the night. I stroll along the Waterfront, where some pirates sing to me and rudely insinuate that my pants are, as they put it, “fancy.” A few minutes later I find an inn, called the Bloated Float. It’s actually a boat anchored to the dock that’s been converted to a restaurant and inn. How novel! I’m a tourist after all, I guess.

The rooms are 10 gold for the night, so after a quick meal and a drink, I head down to my bunk for some sleep. In the morning, this message greets me, appearing before my eyes.

Ah, crap. Is this game still trying to make me do quests? Haven’t I made it clear that’s not my scene? Sigh. I’ll just do what I always do, ignore it and carry on with my day.

Then this guy greets me, appearing outside my door. A big ass dude with a big ass sword, wearing some impressive-looking armor. He’s… not going to be easy to ignore.

It looks like adventure finally found me. It looks like my luck’s run out.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day 25: Adding to the Mix

As I stand outside the gates of Bruma in the early morning light, I let out a big, gusty sigh. Not Nondrick, but me, Chris, the guy behind the keyboard.

Here’s the thing — I’m really not looking forward to the long boring walk back down that road. It’s slow, it’s tedious, the few ingredients I found on the way up probably won’t have regenerated yet, and I probably won’t even get attacked because I killed all the wolves on the way up. It took three game-days to get up here, it’ll probably take close to that to get back. That translates to, I dunno, an half-hour or so real-time? Forty-five minutes? An hour? I don’t know, but I do know I just don’t feel like doing it.

I set a rule when I started — no fast-traveling. I’m not totally against breaking my own rules, and this seems like a fair cheat to skip what is certain to be a boring trip, but I’m afraid if I let myself do it once I’ll do it again later, and then again, and then it’ll be a regular thing.

Another option is to run instead of walk, but that’s sort of another rule of mine. You really don’t see NPCs sprinting around unless they’re being pursued or in pursuit, and it’s another habit I don’t want to slip into.

Of course, there’s a third option, and I’m standing right in front of it.

Could I buy Nondrick a horse? It’s breaking one rule — NPCs, except for Imperial Legion Soldiers, don’t have horses. Then again, the stable owner has horses, even if she doesn’t ride them around, and the stable owner is an NPC. And I plan to buy a house someday, which NPCs don’t do, though most of them already own houses. So, on some level it seems like buying a horse is fair enough. That’s one sort of shaky way to justify it.

The potentially bigger issue is that the cheapest horse costs 500 gold, non-negotiable. That’s more than a third of the money I’ve spent the last twenty or so days accumulating. That’s a big purchase for something that I don’t have complete control over. Horses can die — they can be killed by bandits or monsters or other animals. They can fall off cliffs. They can get just plain lost if you don’t stable them — I think they eventually wander back to where they were bought, which would mean another long slow walk up to Bruma to retrieve it. It’s definitely risky.

But the idea is in my head now. I really want to avoid that walk, and it would be cool for Nondrick, always the loner, to have sort of a pet. A pal. Plus, I won’t take him with me everywhere. If I’m out scouring for ingredients or exploring, I’ll leave him in the stable, but there are going to be times when I want to travel between cities quickly. Like right now.

Ah, why the hell not? I plunk down my cash and wander out to the stable to retrieve my horse, whose name is apparently “My Paint Horse.” Really rolls off the tongue. I use the console cheat “setactorfullname” and rename my new companion. I’m an alchemist, so what’s the first name that pops into my head?

Yeah. Beaker and I are totally BFF now.

It’s a completely uneventful ride down from the Jerall Mountains. The dead wolves are still lying in the road, so new ones haven’t spawned to replace them and we travel unmolested. While Beaker isn’t going to break any speed records, it’s much, much faster than walking and we read the bridge to Imperial City before noon.

The weather has soured quite a bit, and it’s gray and rainy as we make our glorious, thrilling… well, honestly, it’s just a really crummy ride to the gates of Imperial City [YouTube] Stupid weather! It couldn’t have been sunny? For this? Shouldn’t the game know when I’m reaching its crown jewel for the first time and make the weather nice for the occasion? No. Guess not.

But hey, I’m here! I made it. Imperial City. No shit.

I park Beaker in the stable outside the gates, and step into the city, triumphant. Then I immediately dash back out to the stables, to make sure the game didn’t teleport my horse back to Bruma or anything stupid like that. Yup, Beaker is still there, safe and sound.

I step back into the city again, slightly less triumphant than I was a moment ago, but still very, very triumphant. At least 96% as triumphant. I have a triumphant look around Talos Plaza.

I find my way to a hotel, the Tiber Septim. It’s huge, classy, and 40gp for a room. I decline to make a reservation, but I chat with the woman behind the counter, Augusta Calidia, then buy all her groceries, smoosh them into paste, and sell them back. I end up with 1062 septims after our transaction, so even after buying Beaker, I’m back in four figures again.

I head to the palace, and have a look around for famous spire that I’ve been getting tantalizing glimpses of since I got off the boat in Anvil. I’m sure it’s around here somewhere…

I wouldn’t mind taking some time to go sightseeing, but with the weather so crummy it doesn’t seem worth it right now. Maybe I should get down to business first. So, I pick some mushrooms in the graveyard, then head into the Market District.

There are all sort of shops here. Magic shops, potion shops, armor & weapons suppliers, bookstores, a store that just sells shields, a jewelry store, plus several inns and pubs. I head to a general store called The Copius Coinpurse, where I buy all the cheap ingredients they’ve got. Instead of mixing them up, though, I head over to an alchemy store called The Gilded Carafe. Again, I’m just stockpiling, and I buy everything worth 2gp and under. I wander over to an inn called The Feedbag, and buy all the cheap stuff there, too.

I’m down to about 600 gold now, but I’ve got sacks full of corn, bread, apples, pears, cheese, grapes, carrots, lettuce, and other general groceries. Time to mix. I whip up some two-ingredient potions, like Corny Pear Juice, Grapey Cheese Glop, Tomato Radish Squeezin’s, Blackberry Onion Slush, Potato Rice Stew, and Ham Watermelon Surprise (the surprise is that it tastes even more disgusting than Corny Pear Juice).

It all amounts to 86 Restore Fatigue potions, which the proprietor of the Feed Bag is willing to buy for 10 dollars a pop. When I’m done, I’m back up to 1543 gold. I can pay off Beaker.

I find another alchemy shop, The Main Ingredient, and buy them out of rice and pears, selling back the potions for another couple hundred bucks. I also buy some of the more exotic (yet still inexpensive) ingredients, and make some more interesting brews, like five Burden potions (they sell for 60 gold), Resist Paralysis (12 gold), and Restore Intelligence (also 12). I’m close to 1800 bucks, now.

I stroll over to the Merchant’s Inn, as I am more or less a merchant, where I find rooms that go for 20 gp per night. I also find yet another treasure trove of groceries, and when I’m done mixing and selling them, two things have happened.

There’s that, which will make my potioncrafting much more versatile. And, there’s this:

I made over a thousand bucks today, all by visiting a handful of shops. I wasn’t in any danger, I didn’t have to explore caves or ruins, I didn’t even have to brutally slaughter any women. All I had to do was buy and sell. Amazing.

I hang around the Inn for a bit, people watching, then head up to my room. In the morning, I’ll be visiting the Office of Imperial Commerce, right here in the Market District. Something tells me there might be a house for sale around here I can afford. Okay, I happen to know there’s a house around here I can afford, because I’ve played the game like five times before.

I also happen to know it’s a real dump. So, like I had with Beaker earlier, I have another dilemma approaching. I can buy Nondrock a house, a real house, just like I’ve wanted to do since I started. But is the hovel in Imperial City the house I really want to buy him? Should I wait and find something nicer, even though it’ll be much more expensive?

I’ll sleep on it, I guess, and decide in the morning. And even if I don’t wind up with a house tomorrow, at least I got a horse today.

Nondrick's Non-adventure

Day 18: Close Calls and Waterfalls

I awake, feeling stronger, smarter, and even more charismatic than ever.It’s my first day as a Level Three Administrative Alchemist!Time to facilitate the strategic acquisition of salable assets!

As if in recognition of my sudden gain in power, the world outside the gate of Chorrol greets me with a mouthful of wolf teeth.I don’t know what the deal is with the wolves in Cyrodiil. They don’t seem hungry, just angry. They’ll run right past a soft, tasty deer to bite into a legion soldier dressed in spiked plate armor, or, in this case, a botanist dressed in hair.

But hey, I’m not sweating it. I’m level three. I use my newly enhanced intelligence to determine the wolf’s every move (it has one move:  to bite me) and every weak point (its weak point is its body) and my increased personality skills to sprinkle the battle with witty comments (such as Yahhh! and Whulhuh!), and in a moment, thanks to my newly increased strength, the wolf is dead.Yeah.I’m pretty much a badass.

‘Then it’s back to my main chore, pickin’ flowers, which is not so badass.Still, there’s some good pickin’ in these thar woods. I figure I’ll make a big loop, heading north, then west, then south,and end up by the gate on the other side of the city at the end of the day.

Other than a rat attack, nothing really happens for a while, other than the always exciting and volatile act of pulling plants out of the ground and stuffing them into my, well, whatever it is I carry all my stuff around in.Then I come upon this scene:

Look, I’m not the adventurous type, really, I’m not, but it’s a door under a waterfall.It’s a freakin’ door under a waterfall.I’m pretty sure anyone, anywhere, upon discovering a door under a waterfall is obligated by natural law to have a peek inside it.

I have a peek.It’s a bandit hideout.Time to exit, cave left. I know I was just crowing about being leveling up my strength, but I leveled up my cowardice as well.

I step back outside and am suddenly set on fire.Ouch.

An imp is flapping toward me, flinging fireballs every few seconds.I somehow hadn’t noticed that the soothing music that always plays in my head had turned dark and ominous, a sure sign I’m in danger.I dodge the next blast but am hit again.Fur armor and fireballs probably don’t mix very well.

I keep a large tree between us, periodically popping out to hurl arrows at it.Eventually, it tires of the ranged combat andcloses the distance, at which point I hack it out of the air.

Hey, I had a pretty nice shot there. Right in the imp noggin.

To celebrate, I strike a heroic pose on top of the waterfall, just in case someone is taking pictures.Luckily, someone is.

At the foot of the waterfall I find one of Oblivion’s little treats:a forgotten treasure chest.It’s always fun stumbling across something like this.I kind of wish every time you did, an e-mail got sent to the person at Bethesda who stashed it here, just so they know you found it.

This chest has 8 gold pieces and a crystal ball worth 5 bucks.When you’re playing Oblivion, really playing, I mean, this sort of treasure is a huge letdown.When you’re playing as a humble root merchant, as I am, this is awesome.It’s free money and a trinket to hold onto until I have a mantle to place it on.I’m happy as an imp slathered in gall.

After I wade out of the water, probably smelling like wet, burned hair, a wolf greets me, a wolf with a very nice pelt and a little hidden treasure of its own: two gold pieces.

Hm. Maybe he was saving up for a place of his own, too.

A little further north I come across Nonwyll Cavern, and, hoping to find some mushrooms I carefully venture inside.Crabwalking, my sneak skill goes up about 700 times in the space of four seconds.Something is in the cave.Something very, very close by.I scuttle back out.

Once outside, I am immediately struck by lightning. Ouch.

Not from the sky, from some angry god, but from another leathery winged imp.He blasts me again, and again, as I desperately switch to my bow to try to take him down.I miss a few times and he flaps over to melee range.I switch to my sword and shield but as I swing to hit him he gets me with another shot.

An alarming message appears, one I haven’t seen yet. Looks like, 18 days after starting it, I’ve finally finished the tutorial.

That ain’t good.No reloads with our boy Nondrick here.It’s kill or die.

Cleverly, I choose kill.But still, a close call, the closest I’ve had.These beasts are getting stronger. I’ve really got to start being more careful, and I’ve got to put some thought into becoming a better, stronger fighter.My chosen trade takes me into danger often enough that I’ve got to be prepared to deal with it.

I use my Mara’s Gift spell to heal all my wounds. I was down to about 1/4th my health.

A few minutes later I kill a rat that owns a knife.Man, soon I’ll have an entire flatware set from items I’ve found inside parasite-ridden animals.And won’t my dinner guests be pleased to hear where I found the utensils they’re eating with?

Nightfall.I’m on my way back to Chorrol.I’m attacked by a female bandit, and then another.The first is a pleasant looking Redguard woman, the second, a female Khajiit. I suppose she’s pleasant looking.I’m not really into cats. In that way.

Both fights go about the same. I backpedal while flinging fireballs at them, they lunge with axe or warhammer, I take a few lumps, they eventually fall before my blade.One the one hand, it’s nice to see a lot of ladies in the bandit trade, a traditionally male-driven occupation. Girl power!

On the other hand, neither of the lovely ladies seem to have been very good at being bandits. Apart from their armor and weapons, they’ve got diddly to show for their efforts. The wolf I killed earlier had more gold than they did.

I head into the city, a bit troubled. In my first couple weeks of being an alchemist I’ve had to kill three or four women. It just seems wrong. Here I am trying to live a mild-mannered life and I’m droppin’ bitches like Nico Bellic.

GTA: Grand Theft Alchemy.