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Nondrick Update

May 1, 2009

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

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

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

Hiatus

November 25, 2008

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

Ghosts and Doldrums

October 23, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I take action to correct the problem.

There.  Now he has a head.

Later, I find a dead deer.

Hey, look.  Those are some pretty big mushrooms.

Yeah, they’re some big mushrooms all right.

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

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

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

An Arrested Development

October 14, 2008

Like everyone else in prison, Nondrick is innocent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is that a boat?

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

Guh-guh-guh-guh-guh… ghoooooooost!

Walk For the Cure

October 6, 2008

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

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

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

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

Sometimes it really sucks not being adventurous.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Um.  Whoops.

Hounds From Hell

August 18, 2008

So, I’ve got a house. Of course, it’s a bit plain, and in case MTV stops by I’d better spruce the place up a bit. The ugly lady in the Office of Imperial Commerce told me I could buy some furnishings for my pad by talking to Sergius Verus at Three Brothers Trade Goods, so I’m off to the Market District.

I find the store, but while his two brothers are manning the counter, Sergius is standing around outside and won’t sell me anything. I wait, watching, as he strolls around aimlessly, but after an hour he still hasn’t gone into the store. I guess it’s his day off.

Well, there’s plenty of ways to kill time. I hit up a few other shops and pubs, buying their ingredients, mixing them up, and selling them back. It’s not long until I’m back up to about 1500 gp again.

Then I’m off to the arena, again, to catch a late match. I watch people in dresses slaughter each other while I bet on them from the safety of the stands. I put a hundred on blue, and I am not disappointed. Add another hundred bucks to my wallet.

The next morning I head back to Three Brothers and catch Serguis behind the counter. He’s selling a lot of upgrades, but they’re around 700 septims each, so I can only buy two: the sitting area and the storage area. I walk back home and my purchases have been delivered. Nice! No assembly required, so they’re already better than IKEA.

There’s now a couple seats around the fireplace and a chest and bureau against the wall. The chest has a bowl and some yarn in it already (I put the bowl on the table), and the bureau has a few outfits neatly folded in it as well. I put on the new clothes, store the old ones, and even place the skull I picked up in Weatherleah on the top of the bureau. This is really becoming a kick-ass pad. Anyone want to come over and watch some fire with me and my skull?

Unfortunately, beng a homeowner carries with it some responsibilities. I’m pretty much broke after buying the home and furnishings, so I think it might be time for a little business trip. Out into the wild, to gather ingredients, something I feel like I haven’t done in ages.

So, no sooner do I have a home that I find I must leave it. At least it will give me a chance to hang out with my other expensive purchase, Beaker the horse.

Beaker is right where I left him, standing in the stables, and soon we’re galloping along the road outside Imperial City, headed south.

The plan is this: make a big southern loop around the city, find an inn somewhere to spend the night (since it’s already around noon), then, in the morning, strike out east for Cheydinhal, where I can stay for a few days while I scour the area for ingredients. I also (unwillingly) agreed to find out who was impersonating Reynald Jemane in Cheydinhal when I was back in Chorrol, so I’ll look into that, only because I’ve already been paid to.

Man, I love Beaker. He just eats up the road. After all the walking I’ve done, it’s nice to be able to get somewhere in a reasonable amount of time.

Of course, the first location we reach is the crosshairs of a bandit archer, who opens fire as we’re crossing Old Bridge. I ride past him as a couple arrows strike me, get Beaker to a safe distance, and then dismount and charge.

The bowman, not an idiot, runs as soon as I get close to him. I’m too slow to catch him, but I eventually manage to corner him against some boulders, and he draws a dagger. He drops shortly afterwards, and I take his clothes. As you do.

He also has a steel bow, higher quality than my iron one, so I nab that as well. Meanwhile, I’ve got a few arrows stuck in me.

Including one he somehow shot straight down into the back of my neck. Not sure how he managed that one, or how I can still move my legs with an arrowhead lodged in my spine.

A little further down the road I come across Pell’s Gate, a small community of people who stand around staring into space, walking short distances, staring into space again, and offering rumors to passersby. They don’t have an inn, however, so we continue on.

The sun is starting to set when I spot a wolf or a dog in the distance. I slide off Beaker and take aim with my bow, not especially worried. I’ve been fighting wolves since day one, but if it’s a dog, its master may be close by.

I score a hit and the wolf runs at me. I can’t help but notice that even with a critical hit, the wolf does not appear to be hurt. At all.

I score another arrow as it gets closer. Again, its health barely even registers the strike.

I stupidly don’t get my sword and shield ready until it’s already biting at me.  And apparently, it hasn’t been brushing its teeth.

Oh, man. It gave me a disease called Helljoint. Will I still be able to enjoy my active lifestyle?

I notice a couple things all of the sudden. This isn’t just a wolf, this is a Timber Wolf. That’s, like, a better wolf than just a normal wolf, I guess, which would explain why the arrows didn’t do much damage, and why this wolf is attacking much faster than they usually do and is not falling dead after a couple swings of my sword.

I also notice this:

That short red line that is so short it’s almost not a line? That would be my health bar after just a few bites. I’m suddenly, scarily, very close to being much less alive than I’ve been accustomed to.

Luckily, the wolf isn’t doing so great either by this point. Backpedaling, blocking, I finally manage to drop it. Man. That was my closest call yet, and I didn’t even realize it until it was almost too late.

I heal up with Mara’s Word, topping off my health, and take a look at this disease I’ve contracted.

Helljoint is draining my speed and agility? Not my speed and agility! That’s what Nondrick is known for!

Well, I am an alchemist. Maybe I can cure it or something. I have some Root Pulp in my sack, which has curative properties, but nothing else I can match it with. Good thing I’m on an ingredient finding trip. I poke around in the woods as the sky grows dark. I find some ingredients, but nothing with Cure Disease elements.  I find an angry woman, however.

She rushes toward me from a nearby fort, brandishing a huge two-handed sword. I guess there’s two types of people in the world: those who gossip about mudcrabs, and those who want to cut you in half.

She has a dog, too, who joins in attacking me. Swell. What a great idea this trip was.

I’m back down to about half-health before she finally falls, and the dog, meanwhile, has begun to attack Beaker, who stands there like a fucking idiot doing nothing. GET AWAY FROM BEAKER, MANGY CUR!!

Luckily, the dog isn’t tough to bring down, plus, he’s carrying some silverware, a knife, which I can add to my dinner table when we get home.

The dead female marauder is wearing some iron armor. Hmm… wonder how that would look on me?

Completely different, that’s how. This certainly is a realm of magic and mystery!

While I’m standing there, I notice two more figures rushing out of the gloom in my direction. Luckily, it’s just a couple of Imperial Legion Foresters, hunting deer. I follow one, who has managed to chase a deer into the river. He finishes it off with a few arrows, then runs off, not even bothering to collect the carcass. I guess he just hates deer. Everyone needs a hobby.

Works for me, though.  I help myself to the meat (and the steel arrows stuck in the corpse), and brew up a potion of Restore Health using the venison and some lavender. I fills me back up to 100% within a few seconds.

It’s gotten quite dark out, though it’s a clear night and the stars make it easier to see. Still, I haven’t found an inn, so this may wind up being an all-nighter. I cross another bridge, where yet another Khajiit highwayman demands money in exchange for not killing me.

We square off, and he dies pretty quickly, but no sooner have we crossed the bridge than another bandit runs out of the darkness and attacks Beaker’s butt.

GET AWAY FROM BEAKER’S BUTT, MANGY CUR!!!

It turns out I’ve got the only thing that will cure this bandit’s hatred of horse buttocks, so I administer a lethal dose. A lethal dose of death.

We come upon a ruined, burned out shack that used to be an alchemist’s (not a good omen, if you ask me), and I find some potions scattered around, and a few gp in a chest.  No bed, however, so we press on into the night.  Near Fort Magia, directly east of Imperial City, I run into a Legion Guard heading in the same direction.   He’s nice enough to clear the path by killing a couple wolves while I watch from my saddle like a big wimp.

As I make the eastward turn toward Cheydinhal, I find a cabin, which is locked.  Jeez, I could have sworn there were some inns or camps along this road.  If only Nondrick could open one.

We run afoul of yet another bandit, who attacks Beaker.  Why do people hate Beaker so much?  Beaker is cool, man.  Another bandit appears and starts zipping arrows from the treeline, again, at my horse.  This trip keeps getting worse.

As the bandit and I hack and slash at each other directly in front of Beaker’s snout, a few of my blows go sadly astray, striking my horse.  I know this because as soon as the bandit dies, Beaker attacks me.  Well, that’s just great.  Dude, I thought you were cool!

As fitting as it would be for the hapless Nondrick to be kicked to death by his own horse (it would be pretty much the perfect way to end the blog, you have to admit), I defuse the situation by running away, then circling around and getting onto Beaker’s back.  That seems to calm him down.  Meanwhile, arrows keep plunking in from the woods.  Beaker doesn’t seem to give a shit about that, for some reason.

Will this night never end?  Sighing gustily, I get back off the stupid horse and race into the stupid woods to find the stupid bandit.  He flees, but right back into the road, where I cut him down before he can draw a melee weapon.

Poor Beaker is a pin cushion by this point, at less than half health, partially due to my wild, inaccurate swings.  I think if we make it to Cheydinhal alive, I’m going to need to buy a Heal Other spell.

At least I’m doing a lot of looting.  I’ve got so many sets of dead bandit armor and weapons I can’t even carry it all.  I discard the cheapest items I’ve got — clothing, fur boots, some gauntlets, until I’ve lightened the load enough to move.

Finally, I reach Cheydinhal.  It’s seven in the morning.  I need food and rest.  I lead Beaker into the stable, then enter the city.  Right by the main gate I stumble upon Newland’s Lodge, rent a room for 10 gold, mix and sell everything I’ve got to the clerk, and head up the steps to bed.

Coming down the stairs at that moment is someone familiar-looking.  It looks just like Reynald Jemane, the guy who gave me fifty gold to find out who in Cheydinhal was impersonating him.  Looks like I found him.

Turns out, they’re brothers, long-lost, and Reynald dashes off to be with his drunk sibling, inviting me to join them in Chorrol.  Think I’ll pass, thanks, I’ve got a long week of near-death experiences and horse abuse lined up.

Well, the unwanted quest is done.  That was pretty easy.  There’s nothing to this adventuring stuff.  Trying to make a living as an alchemist, that’s hard.

It’s 7:45am when I finally make it to bed.  Rough night.   I lost my clothes, dropped in the road so I could carry more armor.  Almost lost my horse to various attacks, including some of mine.

And, almost lost my life.  Again.  I know I keep saying I’ve got to be more careful, but man, I’ve really got to be more careful.

Sorry For the Delays

July 16, 2008

Hey.  Sorry I haven’t updated in a while, but I just haven’t had a good stretch of time to play Oblivion and very little time to write.  I should be able to get on it this weekend and have some new entries start rolling in early next week.  I appreciate the patience!

Day 24: Made for Bruma

June 4, 2008

So. I developed a bit of a bad attitude on the hike to Bruma, but I’m determined to be a bit more positive today. After all, despite the dreary, uneventful trip through the mountains, I’m in a new city, with new people to meet, new places to explore, and, potentially, new women to ogle.

After a quick breakfast of corn and oranges purchased from Olav, I strike out into the city. Bruma is a frosty place: even the buildings seem huddled together for warmth. I find my way to the Jerall View Inn, a pleasantly roomy tavern, where I talk to the innkeeper, Hafid Hollowleg. I’m rewarded for joking with him by my Speechcraft odometer turning over. My ascension to Level Four is suddenly imminent.

I’m a fool, all right! A level-gainin’ fool! I won’t gain my next level until I sleep tonight, but I think my new positive outlook is already working for me.

I proceed to buy up everything Hafid has in stock, squeeze the resulting glop into bottles, and sell them back to him, winding up with a nice 1320 septims when I’m done.

When I step outside again, it’s begun to snow. How pretty. I stare dumbly at the peaceful beauty for a bit, then I poke my head into a shop called Novaroma, and see what they’ve got for sale.

Monkeypants!

I have nothing to add to that.

I also pop into a shop called Nord Winds to sell my wolf pelts and a few other odds and ends and get my armor and weapons repaired. I take a look at some of the clothing they have for sale, and consider some heavier steel armor, but it’s a bit expensive. When I’m done there I’m sitting pretty at 1475 gold. Next, I head over to the Mage’s Guild where I find a fetching woman behind the desk.

Mushroom Daiquiri, please! Shaken, not stirred. I follow my usual pattern — leer, chat, buy, mix, sell — and wind up with over 1500 septims at the end. Hey, I’m getting pretty wealthy. Maybe it’s time to price some real estate.

I stroll over to the Castle Bruma to see if I can get the skinny on houses for sale. Bowing low before the Countess (okay, I’m crouching, but it’s the best I can do), I find the usual obstacles in place: she doesn’t know me well enough to talk housing.

Well, that can quickly be solved by telling a few jokes, bragging about my awesome abs, admiring the way she sits there all day doing nothing, and threatening her life. Bingo, now we’re fast friends, and she informs me she’s got a place for sale.

The price tag: 10,000 gold.

Now, that’s pretty pricey. I’ve been playing for over three game-weeks and I’m nowhere near that. Still, the way I’ve been working the alchemy grind lately, it doesn’t really feel so out of reach. I’m getting more persuasive, I’m a better salesman, and my potion skills are slowly increasing. Buying a house, for the first time, feels within the realm of possibility. That’s kind of exciting.

Of course, even if I were loaded down with gold, would I just buy a house, sight unseen? Shouldn’t I have a look at it first? While they won’t let me poke around inside the house that’s for sale, maybe I can get some idea of what the houses are like in Bruma by simply walking into people’s homes unannounced.

So, I’m off to barge into people’s houses and stare at their stuff like some kinda creep. On the way out of the castle I run into Gan Luseph, the castle mage and healer.

So. I get the third degree before the countess will reveal the city’s real estate listings, but she lets this pervert wander around casting spells and hitting on tourists? Nice.

I wander around Bruma for a while, trying to get into people’s houses. No luck. I encounter locked door after locked door. I thought people in the north didn’t lock their doors? Finally, I get inside one, the home of Lyra Rosentia. It’s quite a nice place. The furnishings are pleasant, it’s very cozy, and the breasts are fantastic. I talk to Lyra a bit, and not only is she pretty, she doesn’t seem to mind that some weirdo has wandered into her bedroom. I check out her home while she walks from place to place, stopping every now and then to stare at a wall. Everyone needs a hobby.

I find another unlocked door, that of Arnora Auria. She is… not so pleasant. She glares at me with real anger, though it’s hard to see her glare over the glare of the enormous gigantic jewel hung around her neck. Still, her house looks very nice, even though the atmosphere is a bit chilly.

I continue my tour of Bruma, walking into another home. Whoops. Did I come at a bad time?

A little CSI: Bruma, huh? Despite the brutally murdered dead man lying on the bed a few feet away, I can’t help but wonder if this house might be for sale shortly.

The sunlight is petering away. I head to the church for a quick prayer and blessing, then wander back through the falling snow to the Jerall View. There I’m happy to once again see the lovely Lyra Rosentia. I wouldn’t have made her for a barfly, but knowing she hangs around taverns alone late at night certainly does nothing to lessen her appeal.

The Oblivion wiki has this to say about her:

Lyra Rosentia is a completely generic female Imperial Commoner living in Bruma.

Commoner? Generic?

Ain’t nothin’ generic or common about that caboose, baby! Nondrick likey!

Unfortunately, her conversation is a bit generic, and we quickly run out of things to say to each other. So, I spring for a room at the Jerall (25 gold) and settle in for the night. Which means it’s time to level.

Okay, after this I’ve really got to put some points into strength and endurance. But for now, I’m going to gamble another level on helping me become a better salesman, alchemist, and all-around charming bastard.

Well, except for one angry woman and an apparent murderer on the loose, Bruma seems like a nice enough place. The houses I wandered into without permission are cozy and I could see living here myself. The biggest downside to living in Bruma is that it would mean I’m living in Bruma — not the most convenient place to reach and a poor center of operations for a slowly wandering alchemist. There’s not a whole lot of ingredients to pick nearby, and it’s ages from anywhere else of interest.

Still, it’s on the maybe list. It’s the first town I’ve found that will let me buy a home without being a famous adventurer, and the price is high but not completely out of reach. We’ll see.

Tomorrow, though, I’m out of here. Bruma is small and I think I covered most of it today, except for all those jerks who keep their doors locked for some reason. In the morning, I’ll be on my way.

And this time, I mean it: I’m heading for Imperial City and nothing — nothing — is going to stop me. Not even me.

Day 21 – 23: A Dubious Detour

May 27, 2008

It’s a very pensive and moody Nondrick P. Cairk’tir who awakens next to his bed in the Wawnet Inn this morning. I’m feeling a bit conflicted about a few things.

First, Chorrol. I have to admit, I didn’t really spend much time there. Part of my goal is to find a home, which, granted, I wouldn’t be able to do in Chorrol, but regardless, I didn’t really give the town its due. I didn’t explore it much or really make an effort to get to know the residents, which is part of the purpose of playing the game like this in the first place. I’ve been a bit too driven toward making money and visiting Imperial City, and so I think I left Chorrol behind a little too early.

Which is why, on my mind this morning, is another city not far from here: Bruma.

Bruma, crouching in the mountains to the north, is a cold, snowy city, and one I’m frankly not overly fond of. Still, Nondrick is a Nord and thus Bruma is his homeland. I know when I enter Imperial City, with all its distractions, it’s going to be hard to leave. I think perhaps I should visit Bruma first.

It’s a tough decision. Extremely tough. Imperial City is a two-minute walk from here and Bruma is a two-day hike, at least, through a barren, frosty landscape. I hate to put Imperial City in my rearview, but I feel obligated to. Besides, I wanted to stroll into Imperial City a success, and while I’m doing pretty well for myself as of late, I’m still not much of an alchemist. I’m not much of anything.

I sullenly sell my hedge clippings to the innkeeper, buy up all of her cheap groceries, mash them into mush in a bowl, and sell them back. I’m up to almost 1200 septims.

Then, reluctantly, I walk north, leaving Imperial City behind.

Sigh. Well, what’s another week, really.

Just up the road I spot a traveler headed in the other direction.

I stop for a moment. Something seems a bit odd about this fellow. I thought at first that he was an Imperial Woodsman, what with the uniform and bow, but that’s not a Legion uniform. Who is this guy? I catch him up and have a chat.

Turns out he’s the Countess’ Bodyguard. The Countess of Leyawiin. Which is hella far south of here. What the heck is he doing way up near Imperial City? As a bodyguard, what the heck is he doing more than two feet from the Countess? Strange. Must be a bug.

The north road turns east, the weather turns gray, and a wolf turns into a dead wolf. A strange wolf at that: he’s not carrying any gold or silverware. Strange. Must be a bug. Nice view up here, though.

I happen upon a small town called Aleswell where neither ale, nor all, is well. The entire populace appears to be… well, quite frankly, they don’t appear at all. They’re invisible.

They relate to me a tale of a wizard who lives nearby, who turned the entire population see-through, and beg for my assistance in releasing them from the curse. Yeah, see, I’m not really into that scene.

As I leave Aleswell, hunger suddenly strikes me. Oops. I forgot to eat today. Not only that, I used all my existing food to make junky potions to sell to the innkeeper. Well, I’ll just push on.

It’s already dark by the time I reach the north fork that will eventually lead me to Bruma. I spot a wolf in the road, which I eventually determine to be a dog, not a wolf, and dogs have owners. This isn’t always a problem, but out in the wild, a dog owner is usually a bandit. On the plus side, a bandit in the wild usually has a bedroll, so I might have a night’s sleep for the low low price of killing a man. And his dog.

Just then, my hunger pains increase. My health begins to drain. Then my agility. Followed by my speed, endurance, fatigue, willpower, and strength. This isn’t good. These are the hunger effects from the mod I installed. If I head to the bandit camp, I’ll have to fight the dog and the bandit with my attributes reduced. The bandit may have food, he may not. He may also have buddies. I shouldn’t be looking for a fight in any case, really, but especially not when I’m in such poor shape.

Backtracking to the Wawnet Inn will take the rest of the night, and I can’t stay in Aleswell because the invisible jerks won’t rent me a room unless I cure their invisibility. Shit. I’m stuck.

My hemming and hawing pay off, however, as I see some distant torchlight approaching from the west. Imperial Guard, on horseback. Saved again!

The dog, showing no more smarts than your average wolf, charges, and the soldier makes short work of him while I watch. The dog’s owner appears, a marauder archer, and begins loosing arrows at the guard. Undeterred, the soldier corners him and makes short work of the lawbreaker, while I pitch in with one or two very carefully placed arrowshots. The last thing I want to do is hit the soldier.

I strip the dead marauder, and the soldier, not satisfied with my post mortem, conducts his own examination of the dead man’s junk. Nothing’s moving.

The bandit was camped at some ruins named Sercen, and poking around in some sacks and barrels, I find enough food to return my attributes to normal. There are also a couple bedrolls, and hoping more bad guys don’t show up during the night, I settle down for a few hours’ sleep.

In the morning, I’m headed north. I kill a few poverty-stricken wolves and a rat as Imperial City slowly recedes behind me. I wander off the road left and right to pick ingredients, but I don’t find a whole lot, and with the steepness of the landscape, I tend to find a lot of unclimbable hills and dangerous looking cliff edges, and wind up having to double back to the road. I do that whole thing where you think you can climb the hill, then you’re walking in place, then you jump around a lot trying to move forward, then you slide backwards, then you come very close to jumping right off a ledge and dying, thus ending your blog in a very stupid way.

I think this trip to Bruma might wind up taking longer than I already thought it would.

It’s mid-afternoon when I find myself peering down at a small settlement. My keen senses deduce it’s Bleaker’s Way. Nice town, as it turns out. Nothing horrible happening here. At least, not at the moment. I even find a free bed in the attic of one of the houses.

Another boring day of trudging uphill awaits me the next morning. You know what? This trip sucks. Nothing is happening, and while I’m generally a big fan of nothing happening, nothing is happening. I regret not just going to Imperial City when I had the chance. And just think, I get to walk all the way back down this stupid trail in a couple of days. I slay a wolf with two gold pieces, and another carrying nothing around but a few bucketfuls of its own blood. Man. Even wantonly murdering animals doesn’t cheer me up.

The landscape turns snowy and I find a strange rock that I decide to touch. It gives me a demonic glove and an eensy evil dagger that I am unable to put to any real use. I’d feel like a tool killing anything with this anyway. It looks like something you’d find sticking out of a club sandwich. Everything sucks up north. Even the interdimensional enchanted weapons.

Amazingly, it’s nighttime again when I finally reach Bruma. Jeez, three entire days to get up here. I got some gathering done, and I’ve got a pocketful of pelts to sell, but what a terrible trip. I head straight for Olav’s Tap and Tack, a dingy inn near the main gate, sell my wares to Olav, and start chatting up the locals.

Ongar the World Weary informs me without prompting that no way is he some sort of shady merchant! Definitely not! Then he proceeds to demonstrate just how unconnected to the Thieves Guild he is by dropping into a crouch and pickpocketing everyone in the room. He’s terrible at it, gets caught, the alarm is raised, a city guard runs in then immediately exits. This happens about five times. Bruma, City of Glitches!

Well, there better be more of interest here than incompetent Thieves Guild fences and snow. It took me three days to get here, and, quite honestly, I’m already ready to leave.

Day 19 & 20: Fortitude

May 8, 2008

It’s Turdas morning, Heartfire 13 — man, is it Heartfire 13 already? I’m still writing Heartfire 12 on all my chequetims.

Anyway, I’m up around nine and headed to Fire & Steel to sell the armor and weapons I took off of two dead she-bandits the night before. My own fur armor is in extremely bad shape after being set on fire and electrocuted, so I wind up selling some of the armor I’m wearing and keeping the some of the less battered bandit bits for myself. I also have my weapons repaired and then step back outside into the fresh morning air.

Hm. Is the fresh morning air a little chillier than it was a few minutes ago? Oh. Oh, right.

I forgot than when selling the armor off your back, it’s a good idea to then equip the armor you’re replacing it with. My bad! Sorry, citizens of Chorrol.

It’s a little weird for Nondrick to be so buff, considering what a dork he is. Clearly, all those women he’s been killing have done wonders for his abs. I quickly put on my humble alchemist clothes and head over to the Mage’s Guild. Time to do some grinding. There I meet this intriguing mage. (Notice yet another baldie in the background.)

Woman Gone Wild! I’m actually a big fan of the book. These shady oil painters travel around the coasts of Cyrodiil, getting young, mead-filled maidens to spend a few hours undoing the complicated ties and straps of their undergarments, and then painting portraits of them in the buff. The paintings are meticulously duplicated into smaller versions and then distributed to young males for a reasonable price. My favorite series is Woman Gone Wild, Volume Six: Blotto in Bravil.

Did I beat that joke into the ground enough? Good. Good.

I do my alchemy grind with the counter jockey at the Mage’s Guild, selling my collected haul, buying cheap ingredients, mixing weak, flimsy potions, and selling them back. When I’m done, I’m sitting pretty at 578 septims. Not bad, but it’s no time to rest on my laurels: it’s time to go gather some.

I head east, pickin’ as I go. It’s an extremely uneventful morning, uninterrupted by even a single wolf or rat attack, though I spy a winged imp far off in the trees and give him a wide birth. Eventually, I come upon this welcome sight.

I’ll be honest — walking everywhere and never fast-traveling isn’t… easy. The click of my mouse could instantly transport me to any city in the game. Sprinting would decimate my lengthy travel time. There are long stretches, like today, where I’m not attacked, there are few ingredients to pick, and not much of anything interesting to look at, and I think, man, why the hell am I playing like this?

But at moments like this it somehow feels worth it. In other playings of this game I’ve spent days, weeks even, in Imperial City. I know it inside and out. I barely even look at the city, I just zip there, run to the merchants, unload my junk, and dematerialize to my next location. But playing as Nondrick has restored a good deal of majesty and mystery on Imperial City, and catching a glimpse of it through the trees, seeing it grow closer and larger each time, is a bit of a thrill.

I continue to wander. An imp makes his intentions known, and is hacked out of the air with none of the drama of the last two. Night begins to settle in for the evening, and I realize I’ve wandered pretty far east. Luckily, the road isn’t far north, and luckily again, I find an Imperial solider on horseback is headed in my direction. I walk with him, scurrying off the road here and there to pick ingredients, then hustling back to stump along in the safety of his torchlight. It’s a long, slow trip but I gather a nice collection along the way.

A wolf springs out of the darkness and I don’t even ready a weapon, as the soldier slides off his mount and cuts it down — the wolf, not his horse — leaving me to cut the steaming pelt off its hide. A little further up the road I find a dead Khajiit bandit, perhaps slain by my soldier on his trip down the road earlier. That means free armor for me, though I can’t find his weapon anywhere.

It’s quite late by the time I make it back to Chorrol. I hit up the Mages Guild and the clerks at both inns, selling my haul and grinding out some potions, before stumbling into bed.

My total cash is now up to 926. It seemed an uneventful day, but I almost doubled my money.

I don’t sleep more than a few hours — I’m tired of running out of sunlight and trudging home in the dark — and I bust out early. Heading straight along the road before dawn, past Odiil Farm, pushing east. I reach Fort Ash, which actually straddles the road. I’m met by it’s apparent keeper, a Khajiit highwayman.

As it turns out, I’m really not in the mood to do either. Have at thee, foul cur!

It’s a pitched battle. He’s hampered by the fact that his weapon is two-handed, meaning he telegraphs his attacks and can’t block my blows effectively, and I’m slowed down by the fact that I have to fight in third-person perspective to take these pictures.

Hoping to build up my fighting skills a bit, I refrain from casting spells and just hack at him, blocking when he lunges, swinging when he pauses, and eventually he goes down.

Owie. He really did a number on me. I heal up with Mara’s Gift, then decide to check out the bandit’s crib. Hopefully, he’s got a bedroll I can use — I’m always on the lookout for somewhere I can sleep for free between cities.

Fort Ash has an underground interior, but I’m staying away from that in case it’s full of bandits. I’m all for exploring the crumbling exterior levels, though.

As I climb to the second floor, my spidey-sense goes off: Imp. He’s dispatched with a few arrows and a couple slashes of my sword.

There are some barrels scattered around the second floor of the fort, and I grab an apple from one and a stone cup (to go along with my Adventurer’s Dishware set) from another. Lying on the stone surface I find a Potion of Detect Life, worth 45 gp. Nice! I also find a dead goblin and swipe his rusty iron mace. Looks like there were some tenants here before the Khajiit moved in.

In an unlocked chest I find some iron arrows, and next to it, on a step, a small pile of gems. Oh, I’ll be taking those as well. A topaz, a ruby, and an emerald, the last worth 20 bucks. This is turning into a small, poorly funded gold mine.

On the next level up, another dead goblin is relieved of his sword. I find some more ingredients in a couple barrels and a few bottles of mead, plus four GP in small sack. A skeleton lying next to a chest gives up some bonemeal and — yes! Another pewter fork!

I can’t wait to eat with it. The chest itself holds a silver pitcher, which will also someday find a place of honor on my dinner table. Now if I could just find a dinner table.

A surprising amount of loot. I’m glad it was all outside — I never would have poked around indoors to find it — and I stroll away from Fort Ash with my pockets jingling. I feel a little guilty, because it sort of seems like adventuring, this killing and then plundering, not the sort of thing a soft-headed alchemy major should be engaging in.

Luckily, those thoughts are quickly erased when I come upon this sight.

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Hmm. I think, um… I think I ain’t going back to Chorrol. Yeah, I ain’t. I can’t. There’s no way I can turn my back on this view. No way.

It’s getting dark as I press on. I slay an enraged rat who owns a lockpick, and fight off an Imp who flings frost spells at me. It’s pitch black when I reach the doors of the Wawnet Inn, just across the bridge from Imperial City.

The innkeeper has a room for 10 gold, quite affordable for the suburbs. As I head up to my room I encounter a man sitting on the staircase. He’s a salesman, as it turns out, or, more specifically a buysman, as don’t purchase anything but instead unload upon him all the crap I’ve got clogging up my pockets. And, when our transactions have been completed:

Not bad at all. For the first time, I’m in four figures. And I’m on the doorstep of Imperial City. Everything’s comin’ up Nondrick.