Archive for September, 2012

Countdown: Seven Days

27 Sep

I’m going to be making an enormous announcement about a week from now, and the reason thing have slacked off here is that I’ve been kind of scrambling to make sure it happens. I’ve got a ton of work to do before everything’s squared away.

What I’ll tell you now is that in addition to the announcement, there’ll be a dollop of new content–and I do mean new content.

So I’m going to be struggling to get everything ready, but I’ll find the time to do a little bit of Skyrim posting, because we’re at a cliffhanger and all. Just try to bear with me until the announcement. We’ve got months of labor coming to a head here, and I want to make sure that everything I do, I do right.

Probably check back this weekend for some more conventional content. Again, I’m very sorry the usual stuff hasn’t been on as regularly, but I promise, I have been working. You’ll see what I mean soon enough.

 
 

On Inconvenient Lizards: The Redemption of Cahmel (Let’s Play Skyrim, Part 11)

18 Sep

Riften is what you get when you build an entire city out of somebody’s front porch. I’ll grant that its sweeping gangways and staircases do somewhat relieve the monotony of modern Skyrim architecture, in the sense that digging splinters out of your ass relieves the monotony of standing around.

The first sign this place was going to be a party was when I got to the front gate and the guard said, “Hold on there. There’s a ninety-nine septim visitor’s tax.”

“Yeah, no there isn’t.”

“Okay, fine, just keep it down.”

“That was actually a scam? I’d figured it as ‘bad joke.’ Next time try charging people to leave.”

So I hadn’t actually entered the city and I’d already had to dodge a shakedown. When I’d hopped on the cart to travel here, the carter had said, “If it’s your first time in Riften, be sure to visit the meadery.” I was already wishing he’d said, “If it’s your first time in Riften, be sure to go somewhere else.”

The Riften welcome wagon was apparently comprised by a bearded guy leaning against a beam and glaring. “I don’t know you,” he said as I drew near. “You in Riften lookin’ for trouble?”

“Do you ask everyone who comes into town that question? Do you have some trouble you want to get rid of in a hurry?”

“You better watch yourself,” he sneered. “We own this town. I’m an enforcer. You step out of line, I’ll crush you good. They call me Maul. Want to know why?”

“Because preteen girls walk all over you when they’re bored?”

"No, it's short for 'Ja-maul.'"

He growled and made a watching-you gesture with his fingers. I made a more straightforward and economic gesture with mine. Our ballet concluded, I proceeded to the tavern to get as hammered as possible.

This wasn’t just because I’d arrived in Riften, and was already seeing how my day was likely to go. Getting absolutely sloshed whenever there’s an economic windfall is a family tradition, and I’d just acquired more gold that I think anyone in my household has ever had aggregate. I could have spent it on equipment, but I’d done that at the last town I was in—scraping together all of my funds to buy a full suit of iron armor. When the sixth bandit I killed yielded a sixth full suit of iron armor, I began to realize that purchasing gear was a bit of a mug’s game.

This apparently wasn’t an average night at the local slop joint. A priest of Mara was holding court in the tavern, talking to anyone drunk enough to listen. I was a little curious, so I started to head his way, but all of the sudden a Nord stopped me and said, “Never done an honest day’s work in your life for all that coin you’re carrying, eh lass?”

“That’s either the worst pick-up line or the best way to get the shit kicked out of you I’ve ever heard,” I replied. “I’d ask if you try it on all the girls, but judging by your physiology you’ve still got at least one testicle.”

“How’d you like to earn some more?”

“Right, I’m intrigued. I can’t think of anything you could follow that with that wouldn’t make me beat you senseless. I really cannot lose here. Please, continue.”

Of course I earned all this money honestly. It's hard to murder someone disingenuously.

“All I need you to do is steal a ring from this guy and plant it on this other guy while I cause a distraction. Are you in?”

“Okay, so you weren’t propositioning me. You were just conspiring in the middle of a public tavern, with a stranger, to commit robbery and fraud. You’re not stupid, you’re just stupid.”

“Very well! I’ll await you in the market.”

How long had I been in this city? Three minutes? Three minutes, and I had already had to deal with three moron criminals. Clearly there was something I didn’t know about this place. I found a woman eating at a table in the corner and sat down with her.

“Hey,” I said. “Any idea…”

“I presume you’re bothering me for a good reason?” she barked.

“Beg pardon?”

“Fool! Do you not know who you’re speaking to? I’m Maven Black-Briar, and I run this town!”

“You don’t say?”

“I built this empire with my own hands. I have ties with the Thieves Guild and worse. My enforcers line every street of this city, infest every warren, watch from every vantage. One step out of line and we’ll tear you apart without blinking an eye. My advice, wretch, is to stay out of our way!”

“Yeah, okay,” I said. “Relax. I was going to anyway.”

“You’d better.”

“No, not you, I was talking to the voices.”

The guards arrived with seconds of the first blow, and by then, Maven doubled over with her nose split open and gashes all over her body, delirious from blunt trauma and blood loss. I kicked her into the wall to make room for the arresting officer.

I'm not sure that woman sitting down grasps what's going on. Her expression is less, "That woman just smacked Maven around with an axe" and more "Is that bard coming to my table? I really hope that bard doesn't come to my table."

“What’s the fine?” I asked.

“Uh…forty gold?”

“Outstanding. Keep the change.”

 

On Inconvenient Lizards: The Redemption of Cahmel (Let’s Play Skyrim, Part 10)

16 Sep

(Okay, getting it together, here. I’ve got a comfortable buffer in place, and there’ll be another post Sunday night Monday, since it needs some editing.)

“The golden claw!” said the shopkeeper ecstatically. “You found it! Oh, I’m so pleased to have it back on my counter. Funny, I remember it being larger!”

“Do you!” I said, rubbing the soreness out of my shoulders.

“Yeah! Weird, huh?”

“That is definitely the weirdest thing I have seen or heard all day, yes. Thank you.”

“Anyway, thanks a lot! Now, I think I owe you some…”

“Hang on a second. Indulge me: how many people do you think died so I could bring this back to you?”

“I…huh?”

“I’m just curious. When you picture what happened between me going off into the mountains with an axe on my back and me coming back from the mountains with your claw, how many freezing corpses do you see? How many men and women were hacked bloodless and left facedown in the snow, who would still be alive and laughing right now if you hadn’t asked me to get your trinket back?”

“Uh…”

“Do they actually appear? Because on my way back, I was wondering about that. You seem like a pretty gentle, respectable character. It occurs to me that for someone in your position, asking an adventurer to go find something of yours might not carry a dark overtone. It’s like, you’ve found lost goods before, right? All you have to do is rummage around and check under the cushions and bam, you’ve found that pesky pair of spectacles. You associate finding things with innocuous poking about. So when you hired me to go get your item back, in your head, was it like that? When you hired me, did you see me just running off, looking under a bunch of rocks, and coming back with your claw?”

“Um…”

“Or did you know what you were doing? Did you grapple head-on with the image of dozens of lives being literally ended over possession of this chunk of metal? Over your chunk of metal? Did you grapple with that idea, and win?”

“But…”

“People died. Lots of people. They died awful, violent deaths. Because of you.

I held out a hand, and he weakly pressed the bag of four hundred septims into it, his gaze cast downwards to the floor. He took a shuffling step back, blinking in mute horror.

“So how much for these?” I asked, dumping fifteen bloodstained sets of armor onto the counter.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

The Week to Come

12 Sep

There were two snags at the end of the last week.

First, my buffer vanished out from under my feet. I’ve done over a hundred textual Let’s Play entries over the years, and somehow I’ve never nailed the fine art of having more gameplay than I have written content. So, I’m gonna play some more Skyrim, get some more screenshots, and get a nice big one up before Friday, along with another Barney.

Secondly, I’m getting close to revealing what I’ve been working on the past several months. Suffice it to say that the unveiling is slated for early October. Specific date should be pinned down before the end of the month; I’m shooting for October 1st, and I’ve been working to make that happen, but I can’t be sure.

I’ve been haggling with my crew about when we want to to The Ship. A possible date is Friday the 14th, but that might be bothersome. If we can’t stream that this week, I’ll do a fill-in-the-gaps stream as compensation.

 

 
 

On Inconvenient Lizards: The Redemption of Cahmel (Let’s Play Skyrim, Part 9)

06 Sep

So since we’d passed “sitting down and playing with shapes,” and subsequently, “sitting down and playing with shapes on a door,” it looks like I was due to see whatever it was the ancient Nords hid behind these babyproofing-grade security measures. I wasn’t sure which would be more offensive: finding something worthless, which would make this setup completely pointless, or finding something important, which would make this setup outstandingly inadequate. Either way, I was taking it. I’d hacked open like fifty dead alcoholics to get to where I was standing, and I wasn’t leaving until I’d found out why I had just hacked open fifty dead alcoholics to get where I was standing.

If slaughtering the ancestors of this race for no reason besides fun and curiosity is wrong, then yeah, that sounds about right, actually.

Past the door was a majestic walkway to a plinth. The wind howled from some unseen source, plying me with shivers and whispers. The walls glittered with anticipation. My axe stirred in my hands as if to say, “I got your back, guy.” There was nothing to do but press on.

As I walked forward, I began to hear voices. That wasn’t itself shocking. I’d been hearing voices for the past few hours; at first they were calling out “Kill! Hack! Slash! Destroy!” But after a while, they were down to, “Kill that…oh, yeah, there you go. Is that another draugr? Then quickly, dest…yeah, like that. Uh…oh, go kill that—yeah, great, okay.” And then they were just popping in every half hour to say, “Well…keep up the good work, I guess.”

But these voices were different. For starters, I didn’t understand them. They were in some kind of brutish, ancient-sounding tongue, kind of like if you gave a guy a head cold and made him communicate in angry coughs and sneezes. All the same, I felt a strange sense of belonging, like every step I took connected me personally to a rich tradition of Nords stretching from the modern men of Skyrim to the ancients of yore. Every step made me feel more like I belonged in this nation. But I kept walking anyway.

And then the lid to a sarcophagus popped off, and I was relieved. I didn’t mind being a part of Nord history as long as I got to kill it as well.

How exactly do you get elected Draugr Overlord? Is it a hereditary position? Are there tryouts?

The guy who climbed out was a tough son of a bitch. I’d been polishing off most of the bozos in this cave by sprinting up to where they were lying and smashing them to bits before they managed to get their pajamas off. Trying that with this guy just got me smacked in the head. I was this close to needing to use strategy, but thankfully, Plan A emerged triumphant in the end.

So now it was time to investigate that chanting. There was a wall of runes at the back, and when I got closer to them, the chanting got louder.

And that’s when it hit me.

What’s “it”? I don’t know. If I knew, I would have hit back. But all of the sudden energy flowed into me, and I knew a nonsense word like the one the wall was chanting, and I made the executive decision that this was weird as hell and I was going to pretend it hadn’t happened.

Because I’m assertive, I made the further executive decision to grab all the shit I could get my hands on and run.

 

Holy Walker: Vegas Like a Champ

05 Sep

I’ll be uploading the next Cahmel later today (as in, Wednesday, for the chronologically insecure). In the meantime, I’d like to talk about what I’m considering for the post-Ship stream series.

Most of you will be familiar with Fallout: New Vegas. Either you’ve played it, or read news about it, or watched Josh hop and mangle and troll his way through it in one of our more popular seasons of Spoiler Warning. Suffice it to say that it’s one of my favorite RPGs of the past decade, and one I’ve played many times.

And soon, I’m going to play it again by a special set of rules. I call the recipe Holy Walker, and you can play along at home if you like. Here’s how you do it:

First, you turn on Hardcore mode. Hardcore mode means you need to eat, sleep, and drink. You need to use special medical supplies on crippled limbs. Healing items work slowly. Ammo has weight.

Then, you download a mod called JSawyer. It’s a complicated beast, but here’s a list of the bigger changes: initial hit points are one fourth of standard, health items have weight and are most frequently of lower quality, carrying capacity is halved, deprivation is doubled, there’s less food and water, XP gain is halved. It’s brutal. Scorpions can kill you. Powder gangers can kill you. Sleeping for too long can kill you, because you can die of thirst in less than 24 hours. It’s nightmarish.

Then you set the difficulty to Very Hard.

Then you have to obey the following rules:

  • You are playing one continuous game. Loading may only be done at the beginning of a session. If you die, that’s game over.
  • You cannot use violence, even nonlethal violence.
  • You cannot travel with a companion, for they would do violence on your behalf.
  • You cannot use, sell, or carry addictive substances.
  • You cannot steal for any reason.
  • You cannot loot the dead.
  • You cannot lie.
  • You must seek nonviolent means whenever possible.

It’s impressive that the game even can be completed with these restrictions, but trust me, it can. I’ve done it before, only without JSawyer and on Normal difficulty, and with a lot of sweating and profanity when it came time to do the Boomers run.

If you give this mode a go, let me know how you do. I know I’ll be doing a dry run before I consider doing it live.

 

On Inconvenient Lizards: The Redemption of Cahmel (Let’s Play Skyrim, Part 8)

02 Sep

I’m writing this abroad, and don’t know how long this slightly dodgy internet is going to last, so I’m uploading this as I write it. I might have to finish it and add screenshots later on, so if it ends on a cliffhanger, that’s because my net blinked away.

When we last left our courageous heroine, she was mowing her way through a field of freeze-dried, guttered scarecrows. You can tell there’s something important in here, because they’ve used considerable magical power and a series of crafty hidden mechanisms that would require the work of genius artisans—all to produce an army of rotted corpses with rusty weapons, milling around puzzles and traps that might accidentally be bypassed by a curious badger.

Check out this floor trap I ran into. Sorry, I meant to say: check out this cool stone that looks nothing like any of the other stones in this dungeon, and is not a trigger for a trap.

Now, check out this wall of spikes right in front of it. Sorry, I meant to say: check out this wall of goddamned spikes right in front of it. You would have to have literally no sapient deductive ability for the link between the trap-like object and the strange floor pedal to be unclear. Is that what these traps were built for? Animals? Undead? Blind, flightless, hemophiliac dragons with mental disabilities? Because I’m thinking any enemy you could snare with these things would have also been stymied by a ha-ha.

And so, to combat the threat of totally brainless invaders, they set up totally brainless defenses. You can’t fault Nord logic, in the sense that you can’t brush a rooster’s teeth.

About fifty anemic zombies later, I came across a big round door with a hole in the center the shape of the golden claw Chucklenuts had been going on about “knowing the secret” of. Now, I don’t claim to have a knowledge of dungeoneering and Nordic semiotics to rival Dead Guy’s, as I’m given to understand he was a respected voice in the field of clueless tomb-raiding jackhats. But I’m willing to honor his legacy by taking an amateur’s stab at this puzzle:

The claw has three symbols on it.

The door has three rings with symbols on them.

The claw can be placed in the hole and turned to activate the okay I’ve already got the door open.

 

The Week to Come

01 Sep

As announcement season draws closer (approximately twenty days), I’m making the time to revisit a couple projects. Consequentially:

  • Monday: Cahmel
  • Wednesday: Cahmel Again
  • Friday: Barney
  • Sunday: Cahmel Again

Yeah, that looks about right.