Archive for the ‘Let’s Play Skyrim’ Category

On Inconvenient Lizards: The Redemption of Cahmel (Let’s Play Skyrim, Part 19)

19 Feb

Mount and Blade Stream at Noon PST on Wednesday!

It could be that some of you are considering taking up recreational lycanthropcy. Maybe your local evening scene isn’t as engaging as you’d like, and you think three-inch fangs would spice up your outings. Maybe you’re kind of cold some nights and can’t afford a coat. Maybe seaside bullies are always kicking sand in your best girl’s face. Maybe, just maybe, you are medically insane. If any or all of these apply to you, then before you take the plunge, you’re going to want to do what I really didn’t have time to, which is to consider things rationally.

So let me walk you through what my first time was like. I won’t give a recommendation either way, but you might be able to glean my perspective nevertheless. I call this guide:

Fangs for Nothing:

No, Seriously, Screw You Guys, That Sucked.

Chapter 1: Turning Yourself

So you’ve found a couple of clearly deranged Nords willing to lure you into a hidden chamber and gibber propaganda at you. Well done? You can now rest easy knowing the hard part is over. The hard part as in the part that is difficult to accomplish, not as in the hard part that is most unpleasant or unsafe. I feel like I need to make that clear.

At this point in the process, one of the Nords will grab the wrist of the other and saw it open with a knife. This may alarm you. You will probably be concerned that the wound is absolutely pouring blood. Watching the frothing wolf gore fill the stone birdbath may gross you out a little. If you feel lightheaded or nauseous, my advice to you is to get out right goddamned now, because trust me when I say this ritual has not even begun to get nasty.

Now that the filthy dusty bowl is full of wolf juice, your part of the ritual has arrived. What you’re going to need to do is grab a handful of blood and drink it. Yes. Uh-huh. No, I am not shitting you. What did you think the blood was for? To float little paper boats on? To humidify the room? To serve as stock for a lovely turnip stew? This is a wacko cult ritual, buddy, not tea at grandma’s house. You are going to swig a warm fistful of filthy blood and you are going to like it.

Did you? You did. Okay. Now you may have noticed that you didn’t like it. Yeah, it’s pretty fuggin’ gross. I guess I could have warned you about that, but I didn’t want you to wuss out.

Chapter 2: Okay, What Now?

That’s a tricky question. I’m going to assume that the ritual worked, and that you are a now a savage stalker of the night, and that you weren’t just duped by a couple of mischievous and extremely dedicated hobos. I don’t really have a guide for that situation. But if you’re a werewolf, great, keep reading.

If–like my sponsors–you are thrust from the safe and private confines of the ritual chamber onto the public streets, you will find yourself in an interesting predicament. The city will be full of many people that consider werewolves unsettling for some unfathomable reason. They may leap to the conclusion that just because every other snarling fanged muscular beast in the continent is trying to kill them, the one racing down the streets at night towards them has a similar design. This will mean that commoners will run from you and warriors will attack you, which, I am forced to assume, is not something you’re used to.

Your temptation in this situation will be to kill a few of them. I’m not saying this is a bad idea. It’s certainly a direct solution. But if you’re supposing that this will discourage the rest from attacking you, I can tell you from speculation if not personal experience that this doesn’t hold water. Your best bet is to do what I did, which was swing around town desperately like a runaway kite until being shot at stops happening. This strategy is recommended for individuals with a congenital dignity deficiency.

Let me go leave you with this: at the end of your madcap jag, you’re going to be sleepy, amnesiac, and stark naked. Don’t create any situation you wouldn’t want to deal with in that state and you’ll be be fine.



On Inconvenient Lizards: The Redemption of Cahmel (Let’s Play Skyrim, Part 18.3)

14 Feb

My first hint that the appointed hour had come was when I said hello to Skjor, and instead of loudly declaring that we couldn’t talk in public, he invited me into the “secret” door into the Skyforge. So this was the VIP room, huh? I’m liking the stone-basin-and-creepy-ass-lighting motif. I’m also liking how that werewolf’s apparently been standing there for at least thirteen hours, because she definitely did not come in with us and I’ve been standing out there all god damn day.

“Hey,” I said. “And hey, wolf-thing. Are these basins hot baths or something? Is this some kind of day spa?”

“No,” said Skjor, “this is our inner sanctum, our secret-place. It is here the most guarded rituals of the Companions take place.”

I found my gaze drawn upwards to the two gaping, conspicuous holes in the ceiling, and then down to the wolf snarling and howling loudly. “Okay,” I said. “Secret companion rituals. What a relief that you guys have those. Me, I can’t trust a pseudo-militaristic organization unless it’s got some kind of bestial shaman-cult conducting rituals somewhere around the office. This is a pretty cool thing. Thanks for sharing it. I’m just going to go around the city watch and not tell any of them about it.”

“The time has come,” said Skjor in a raised voice. “We are short on numbers. Now it is time to make you…one of us.”

“A ritual! To make me on of you! Just what the doctor ordered. So does this ritual involve, say, bloodletting?”

“Yes. Yes it does.”

Outstanding. So how do you open this secret stone door? Is there like a lever or something?”

“Another of our number, Vilkas, poisons the rest of our brethren! He rails against the ritual–says we should be cleansed of its influence!”

“Or like, a button? Handle? Switch? Anything?”

“He calls it a curse! But we’ve been blessed. How can anything that gives this kind of prowess be a curse?”

“No. Seriously. How do you open this fucking door?”

“Join us,” he said. “Join us, and receive the true power…the power of the werewolf!”

I turned around. Skjor stood there expectantly with the face of someone completely sane who is doing something totally reasonable involving lycanthropic ritual blood pacts. The werewolf stood by patiently. I got the sense it was here in more of a support role than anything else.

“Okay,” I said. “So let’s say for the sake of argument that I accept your proposal, and become a werewolf.”

“Why wouldn’t you? You can’t lose! It really is perfectly straightforward.”

“What are the drawbacks?”

“There are no drawbacks! There is nothing wrong with it whatsoever. Not unless you’re afraid of your true potential.

I glanced backwards at the door. Then I glanced back at Skjor, who was already holding the knife, eyebrows raised expectantly.

“Eh,” I said. “Why not.”


On Inconvenient Lizards: The Redemption of Cahmel (Let’s Play Skyrim Part 18.2)

13 Feb

Remember: stream at Noon, PST, today! Don’t miss another thrilling episode of “Those Sons of Bitches Stole My God Damn Horse Again.”

“So I killed those wolves,” I said to no-one in particular upon re-entering the Companion’s hall. “It was great. I bet you’re all real jealous. So what’s next? Cave full of spiders? Tower full of fruitbats? Infestation of dryrot in the basement?”

“Actually,” said one, “apparently Skjor has a special job for you.”

Skjor was the one who’d sent me after the fragment of Wuuthrad. This place evidently didn’t have a boss, so he was the closest thing they had to an authority figure. If I ever decided to indulge my latent instincts to stick things Man-ward, he is the Man I would theoretically stick it to, and holy shit this turn of phrase doesn’t sound right when you break it down like this.

As a matter of fact, Skjor didn’t have a job for me–just an instruction. “It’s too public out here,” he said, sitting alone at the table in the empty guild hall. “Go outside, tonight, to our big publicly-accessible forge at the side of the building. We’ll go in through the secret door together.”

“What secret door?”

“You’ll know it by the plainly visible outline.”

I killed time until night fell, then went outside. He was standing by the forge in front of what looked for all the world like the outline of a door. Alright, so they were pulling me into their confidence, were they? They were recognizing that I was a one-woman wrecking crew who could be just what they need to set their shit straight, and they’re actually taking advantage of it? It’s about time somebody got their act together.

I walked up to him and said, “Alright, I’m ready.”

“We can’t talk now,” he said. “Come back tonight.”

I looked up. There was a lot of moon happening. “You mean…later tonight?”

“I just said we can’t talk right now.”

I spent a good fifteen seconds thinking of a counter-argument to that, and came up with a pretty compelling one. But since I was pretty sure a backhand would get me kicked out, I just sat down cross-legged and waited for it to night even harder.


On Inconvenient Lizards: The Redemption of Cahmel (Let’s Play Skyrim, Part 18)

12 Feb

Things had been going pretty well. You know? I’d come to this goddamn country to blow the raspberry at the family curse, and after hard work and diligent questing it finally felt like I was gaining ground. I was ready to claw respect from this soil with my bare fingers if I had to—anything, anything, to put paid to the family traditions of humiliation, discomfort, and frequent blackouts. Anything at all.

Which was why I was stark naked in the middle of a freezing cold snowbank with no memory of how I’d got there. It’s cute little moments like that that make me ask which I hate more: myself, or absolutely everything else.

“Hey,” said the female Companion who’d found me—Aela, I think her name was. Funnily enough, it wasn’t until the exact moment I started conversing with a Nord that I realized I had a headache.

“Hey,” I said, intending to follow this with, “shut up for the next fifteen seconds while I try to remember how to scream in agony,” but she cut me off first.

“So…” She gestured at me. “So, that was your first time. Always a unique experience. You didn’t do too bad, all considered.”

“Okay,” I said. “Listen. What I need from you, right now, is to explain exactly what you mean by that.”

“Well, I mean that it was your first time letting your wild…”

“And if you say absolutely anything that could be interpreted in a clean and a filthy way, I am going to go ahead and take a third interpretative stance, which is that you’re asking me to chokeslam you through the permafrost. This is what we call ‘innuendo.’ So I invite you to put whatever risible quip you had queued up next through an editing pass before you slide it out your piehole. Go ahead. I’ll wait.”

Aela paused, rethought what she was going to say, and settled on: “For your first time turning into a werewolf, you did pretty well.”

And that’s when the memories flooded back. Fire in my blood. Fire in my brain. Aching jaws, aching limbs, every muscle screaming to be thrown into action. And more screaming, real screaming—real people, terrified out of their minds at the loping remorseless monster that leapt down from rooftops and plunged into shadows. A beast grim and feral. A beast arrows could not halt and blades could not kill. The horror of the night made claw and tooth and baleful eye. The horror, in fact, that was me.

These memories, and more, rolled across my mind’s eye.

“Damn straight,” I said.


08 Feb


On Inconvenient Lizards: The Redemption of Cahmel (Let’s Play Skyrim, Part 17)

31 Jan

I’m trying to imagine a group of people who would be well-informed enough to lay a trap for the two of us, and simultaneously stupid enough to lay a trap for the two of us, and I have to say I’m having a bit of trouble with the logistics. Because whoever they are, they seem to have confused “four or five weedy guys mailed in straps and buckles” with “adequate muscle.” In a bar fight, these people would have less survivability than an empty bottle or a conveniently-placed stool; playing for keeps, I rated their chances at somewhere below “no.”

As it turns out, I wasn’t wrong; I was just grossly overestimating them. Not because they were any weaker than I thought, but because my snarky Nord babysitter can apparently turn into a friggin’ werewolf. In a moment, his six feet of iron-hard muscle became seven feet of diamond sinew, razor claws, and snarling, ravenous jaws. He unleashed a roar that blew my hair back and knocked chunks off the ceiling.

“You’re mine!” yelled one of the bandits, who very quickly and very briefly became my role model.

The fight was over in about five seconds, and most of that was taken up by his nonchalant beast-mode posturing. The actual murdering part seemed practically incidental. When he was done, he turned back to his previous non-murder form and found the switch to open the portcullis.

“So…” I said, evenly.

“Yeah,” he sighed. “We can become werewolves.”

“Uh-huh. Do I get to do that?”

“If you join the inner circle, yes. Until then, absolutely not.”

“What if I just kept pissing you off until you bit me?”

“That wouldn’t work.”

“I don’t know. I can be pretty annoying when I want to be.”

"How do I weapons?" "I don't know, I'm just weapons."

The rest of the dungeon was pretty uneventful. I mean, it was uneventful unless you consider hacking apart the restless dead with a greatsword to be an “event,” which would immediately mark you as a tourist. I don’t think I’ve performed a single errand in the past month that didn’t sooner or later involve butchering some goddamned draugr. This one time, I had a dream where I was killing hordes of draugr, and then I woke up, and I was fighting draugr. I had fallen asleep in midswing. The most exciting part of the dungeon was when I had to pick up the shard of the axe, because it meant handling a dangerously sharp metal splinter. “Whew,” I remember thinking as I fended off a snarling draugr. “That was close. I could have gotten hurt.”

Oh, yeah, and I found a wall that chanted and stuff when I got near it, but it doesn’t seem to have done anything. I could reflect on it, but I don’t like thinking about things that are irrelevant to myself or my interests, so I think I’ll pass.

“So that’s it?” I said on our way out. “I got the shard, now I’m a Companion? What do people usually have to do?”

He shrugged. “Various things. We’ve given a lot of different kinds of tests, each focusing on a different part of the warrior’s spirit and the techniques that rest in…”

“Do the tests involve killing draugr?”

“The tests do generally involve killing draugr, yes.”

“So what can I expect now that I’m in the fold?”

“One might reasonably expect a certain amount of draugr.”

“I’m not sure if you’re kidding or not.”

He shrugged again. The I reflected that the term “Companion” was something of an overstatement.

I’ll be honest, I kind of zoned out through my initiation, which took place as soon as I had the shard returned. It was all very touching—werewolf boy attested how he’d have my back in a fight and sing my praises no matter what, which I thought was touching, considering he’d known me for a day and had spent most of that insulting me. It just goes to show that beneath the veneer of disrespect lies a hidden core of apathy. Or that was how I interpreted it, anyway. To be fair, I thought I was pretty cool, so I couldn’t go make fun of someone else for saying I was cool, could I? It was classier to give other peoples’ tastes the benefit of the doubt.

"Brothers and sisters of the circle, today we welcome a new soul into our mortal fold"? Now I know why they're called the "Companions" and not, I don't know, the "Poetry Slampanions."

Anyway, time to see how much draugr was in my future. Let’s see what’s first in the job queue.


SickStream(?); Stream ON, Monday, Jan 28!

21 Jan

(Stream is announced for Monday, January 28th, for 5:00 PM PST. I may be staging it later the following weeks, but tomorrow, 5:00 works better. See you there!)

I’ll cut to the chase. I woke up Sunday morning so sick that I’ve been sitting here for eight minutes and after a dozen edits, I’ve barely managed to write a sentence conveying that information coherently. I spent five of those minutes trying to make the information funny, gave up, and spent another three trying to get the information there. I don’t even have some kind of mutant voodoo South American monkey pox; as best as I can tell, I’ve got a case of a common cold, a headache, not enough sleep, and an immune system as robust as an analogy I cannot come up with.

This is all great and perfect, of course, because today is the day my new stream launches. Real talk, here: I might be able to do it. Or I might be able to do it in some discomfort and without any actual humor value. Or I might be physically incapable of doing it after a day and night of nonstop coughing. Any or all of these might be the case after a good night’s rest and some nourishment, and I’m in no position to speculate. All I can tell you is that at 5:00 PM PST, I will be on my Livestream’s channel, and that this will either be to triumphantly launch the Mount and Blade series or to spit excuses in a voice like the Crypt Keeper and delay it some more.

Anyway, about the stream. I’d set it up for 5:00 PM PST, and today’s affair will indeed be at that time, but as several European readers have pointed out, this time is extremely inconvenient across the pond. The thing is, I can do it at any time on Mondays. 5:00 was when I held the streams earlier, but I’m not under the same restrictions on Mondays this quarter. I’m considering moving it to noon instead. Feel free to chime in on that in the comments.

Alright, that’s enough typing for today. That’s enough consciousness for today. Time to get a drink of water and let my body unruin itself.

EDIT: Hoooo boy. That was a good, solid, restorative four goddamn hours are you kidding me? Yeah, I’ll still show up to see you all off, but don’t count on this one. I can barely talk properly, let alone project. Pathogens are throwing a prison riot in my body. I’ll be fine, but I’ll also be over there, resting, if anyone needs me.


On Inconvenient Lizards: The Redemption of Cahmel (Let’s Play Skyrim, Part 16)

21 Jan

Short post today because I’m sick and not feeling terribly funny. Check the above post for more info.

“Listen up,” said Farkas, the Companion who’d been sent as the companion from their company that was sent to accompany me on this campaign. “I ain’t your wet nurse. I’m just gonna be following you through this here tomb until you locate the fragment of Wuuthrad, the ancient battle-axe of Ysgramor, founder of our ancient order. With any luck, you’ll die in the attempt. Any questions?”

“Nothing comes to mind,” I said, yanking my greatsword out of the fortieth draugr we’d run into. This place seemed to follow the Bleak Falls school of interior decorating, which was to scatter restless corpses around like they were cherub figurines at a matriarch’s beach house. I had to say that thus far this mission had failed to thrizzle. I suppose I couldn’t complain. I’d fully expected to still be hovering around skeever-stomping territory at this point in my career; the fact that they’d given me a job that required trustworthiness, or even a modicum of sobriety, was pretty unusual. Then again, they did saddle me with a supervisor whose gravelly, dangerous voice and gravelly, dangerous bearing told me I better not try anything, or else he might get cynical and world-weary at me.

“Looks like someone’s been digging here,” he said. “And recently.”

“I can tell you’re more experienced than I am,” I said. “I never would have noticed that.” This was chiefly because I didn’t see anywhere one could dig, let alone any signs that digging had happened, let alone any possible indication that this had been recent, and had no idea how they’d have gotten past the Dandy Draugr Welcome Wagon when I couldn’t breathe without bumping chests with one of them. This wasn’t the only logistical hurdle I was hitting; as far as I could tell, I was running into a bit of a dead end. Ten minutes careful, patient exploration revealed that the only option I could try next was a small niche with a lever in it. Risky, because going near the lever would mean putting a (currently open) portcullis between me and my exit–but hey, I had a job to do. I pulled the lever, and predictably enough, an iron grate dropped between me and my companion the Companion.

“Now look what you’ve got yourself into,” he snarled contemptuously.

“Send me on a quest of dire importance, lead me to a room with one option, call me an asshole when I try it. Classy move, chief.”

“Just sit tight,” he said. “I’ll find the release.”

“You do that. Funny how I couldn’t find one five minutes ago, but being the big badass super-guy, I’m sure you’ll have no trouble pulling one out of nowhere. Hey, maybe you could ask those guys who just came out of nowhere.”

A half-dozen men and women closed in around Farkas, weapons drawn and attitudes crappy. They briefly debated what to do, then agreed to take him on. “He wears that armor,” said one, “he dies.” I’m not sure how he came to that conclusion, since Farkas’ armor was a spiffy indestructible folk-art masterpiece and these clowns were dressed in belts and pot iron. I sat down quietly, prepared to–as necessary–help Farkas find the switch after triumphing after these loathsome blackguards, or pretend that I’d never met him before.


On Inconvenient Lizards: The Redemption of Cahmel (Let’s Play Skyrim, Part 15)

14 Jan

(No update on Mary Sue until the next playtest results come in.)

When I walked into the Companions headquarters, the first thing I noticed was that the red-and-gold handwoven motif embroidered into the linings on the table was unique to this area, and was—therefore—probably of some sort of ceremonial or historical significance. The second thing I noticed were the two people beating the tar out of each other.

A wood elf woman and a dark elf man stood over the rug, taking wild swings while the rest of the room sat and watched. And to be fair, the fight had a certain mesmerizing appeal. Their back-and-forth had the naked savagery and technical prowess of a swinging-ball desk toy; neither blocked, feinted, or grappled in the entire time I watched. They didn’t trade blows so much as share one between them.

Keep in mind that whatever this fight was, it was not brief. I watched for three or four minutes, with an increasing feeling of self-consciousness, as the two prize specimens paced back and forth swinging at each others’ face-spaces with reckless abandon. Sometimes, as if by minor miracle, a blow would connect. This had the same awesome effect as an immovable object struck by a stoppable force. I tentatively placed my money on the one not swinging her bare knuckles at sharp rusty metal plates over and over again, but really, it could go either way–and I wished it would. I’d gone from amused to fascinated to mildly embarrassed. I can’t imagine what it was like for people who saw this sort of thing regularly.

Read the rest of this entry »


On Inconvenient Lizards: The Redemption of Cahmel (Let’s Play Skyrim, Part 14)

08 Jan

Winning guild is Companions, winning submitter is overpoweredginger. Initiate post protocol.

I was in the throes of a paramoral dilemma: through what specific venue should I pursue murdering and looting? I’ve tried to pick out a career before. Back home, everyone assumed I’d take on my father’s line of work after he died of liver disease. Which was always a pretty sure bet, since his position was “town drunk” and he was paid in bar credit.

Torn by indecision, I decided to reach out to an arbiter.

“You,” I said to the redheaded Nord across from me. “I’ve got a hypothetical dilemma for you. Ready?”

He chewed his lip nervously and remained silent.

“I’m talking to you this time,” I explained, “not the axe.”

This didn’t calm him much, but he nodded.

“Alright,” I said, “assume you’re pretty good with an axe. Right?”

He nodded again.

“Supernaturally good. Kind of frighteningly good, actually. Like if the greatest bard ever born discovered a lyre after a lifetime of silence. Where once was an emptiness of the soul and senses, now there is purpose–now there is beautiful form just waiting to be realized. Like that kind of good. Are you getting this?”

Swallow. Nod.

“Now let’s say you need money–”

He ripped his coin purse off his belt, flung it at me, and bounded screaming off of the cart.

Closing the distance and stopping him was tricky, because I had to contrive a way to do it without chopping off his legs. But a minute later, and with a little grace and tact, I managed to retrieve him without harming his legs.

“Where were we?” I asked.

“You were shaying you needed to get shome money,” he said, piling handfuls of snow onto his head wound.

“Right. So what are your thoughts on the matter?”

He mulled it over for a minute, leaning back, staring up at the sky. Well, either he was thinking it over or he was blacking in and out. I’m not a doctor. Finally he said, “I guesh you could join the Companionsh.”

“Yeah, I was thinking about that, but aren’t they kind of…well. Nordish? No offense.”

He spat out a tooth.

“Good point,” I said. “Can’t be too picky in this kind of market. When life gives you Nords, make a bunch of broken, bruised Nords.”


“Oh,” I said. “That time I was talking to the axe.”

Whiterun is a hold founded in the midst of a half-dozen farms. One can envision it in its primordial state: a tiny village square wherein Nord farmers came to trade their cabbages for other, more exotic cabbages from the next field over. Over centuries of expansion and development, Whiterun has since acquired all the class, urbane sensibility, and grandeur I’d come to expect from Nord society.

“Cabbages,” cried the street vendor, “Get your cabbages right here! Finest cabbages for ten acres! Cabbages!”

“This is Whiterun?” I said to the vendor. “Kind of small, isn’t it?”

She laughed. “Would you believe that’s the first question foreign travelers ask me?”

“You don’t say.”

“Me, I think it’s funny. Whiterun is huge! This is one of the biggest towns in the land!”

I looked behind me at the city’s edge. Then I looked ahead, and–up the hill, just past the jarl’s house–saw the city’s edge. One of the biggest towns in the land, she says.

“Where can I get drunk?”

“Would you believe that’s the second question everyone asks?”

A few steadying drinks later, I noticed a woman in the tavern wearing armor. This was a bit strange because she wasn’t guarding the place, or robbing it, or doing much of anything at all in it, actually. She was just sitting at her table drinking, all the while dressed head to toe in heavy steel plates. This raised the question of what kind of deranged battle-obsessed lunatic wears full armor when she’s relaxing.

She spotted me staring at her, nodded to me. “Nice armor,” she said.

“Oh,” I said. “Yeah. Thanks.”

We ended up in a brief conversation. Brief, in that it consisted of two sections, one after the other. The first section was the “getting to know you” phase, and lasted a sentence apiece. The second was the “challenged to a fistfight,” phase, which, again, was a sentence apiece. Then we played a drinking game that consisted of having a fistfight and then getting completely smashed.

Day six in Skyrim. I made a friend.