Archive for the ‘Nondrick’s Non-adventure’ category

The Elder Strolls

December 10, 2011

For those looking for more Nondrick, well, there isn’t any at the moment.

However, for those of you looking for something that is kinda like Nondrick, there is! PC Gamer asked me to give Skyrim the Nondrick treatment for their website on a weekly basis.

Since I couldn’t really replicate Nondrick’s distinct fish-faced look in Skyrim, and since 200 years have passed since the events of Oblivion, it seemed reasonable to create a new character who just happens to be a distant descendant of Nondrick. Meet Nordrick.

Nordrick will be non-adventuring through Skyrim the way Nondrick did in Oblivion: walking everywhere, avoiding adventure, and trying to scratch out a living. You can read the first installment here. The diary will be running on Saturdays!

Monster Mashed

July 12, 2011

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.

Dope On The Water

June 21, 2011

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.

Bravillage People

June 16, 2011

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.

The Alchemist’s Code

February 15, 2010

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.

A Bitter Brew

January 21, 2009

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:  it’s not that great. It looks exactly like every other chapel I’ve been in. On the other hand, I finally find a priest selling a spell that will allow me to heal my horse, Beaker. It’s called Convalescence, and it costs me about 230 gold. Worth it, though, as now I’ll be able to take care of my beloved horsie.

I visit a few other shops, plus the Mage’s Guild, looking for ingredients to cure my wolf-borne diseases. I’m also looking for some shoes, since I don’t seem to have any for some reason, and a leather helmet to replace my iron one. No luck on either front. I’m also starting to get a bit frustrated about my disease situation. I just need one stinking ingredient with the Cure Disease property, but I can’t 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. That’s not bad at all. I check out some nearby houses to see what mine might look like, and it’s practically a mansion for your humble alchemist. Beats my one room hovel in Imperial City, though I’m 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.  I’d better check out the surrounding countryside to peep what groweth there.

I strike out to the west and north the next morning. There’s 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 you’ll ever make!” I’m 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, I’m 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 Water’s 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 they’re waiting for TV to be invented.

I’m 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. It’s sort of like in a movie, when a mobster smashes a reporter’s 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. It’s 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? That’s way better than my collection of silverware I’ve pulled out of wolf rectums. Way better. I’m insanely jealous.

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

I approach a house and, since it’s unlocked, let myself inside. It’s 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. I’ll never cure my diseases. Not without having to resort to theft. Not without breaking my rules.

I’m beginning to feel like a failure of an NPC. I don’t have a kickass cheese collection and for all my time spent picking ingredients and mixing potions, I’m still crawling with canine parasites. And I don’t 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 it’s 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. I’m 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? I’ve raided a garden. I’ve 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 Shepherd’s Pie on the table. I pick it up to examine its properties.

Bingo. It’s 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 Shepherd’s 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?

Dog Day Afternoon

September 30, 2008

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.


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