An Old Dungeon Master With a New Computer

misplacedbravado wrote:

I don't think upgrading the Keep's soldier's equipment is essential; when it comes time to defend the place, your NPC allies won't be as effective, but my party ended up doing the larger part of the fighting anyway.

AUs_TBirD wrote:

Ouch...that sounds like something that should have been patched long ago. Sorry for that huge annoyance, but hope you'll get an equal amount of enjoyment out of the new playthrough.

Thank you sincerely, Misplaced and AUs, for reading my trials and travails, and more importantly for your morale-boosting feedback. You will be happy to hear that I am really enjoying the new game, playing with more experience and also because Ginny is cuter as an Aasmir Planetouched character than she was as an ordinary human. If I have to fight the final battle relying largely on my own party I can always set the game difficulty level to "easy", even though that really runs counter to Ginny's sensibilities.
Greetings, folks, from Lookout Mountain. My daffodils and forsythia are sprouting tentative blossoms amongst the scrub pines and walnut trees...as the frigid air that is been kept fenced off around the Arctic Circle shatters record low temps in Alaska, and will probably show my flowers the error of their ways later this month. Well, Ginny has "cleaned out" Troll Cave and Bonegnasher Lair and has yet to find the elusive ore deposits. Perhaps there is a procedure that I am not using, which is covered in the player's manual. The little booklet that came with the used game I bought doesn't seem to help. Is the cursor supposed to change when passed over the ore's location? The map from a NWN2 website showed that I was scanning the right area in Troll Cave. Any feedback is much appreciated.
The second playthrough reminds me of how enjoyable the interaction is between Neeshka and Khelgar. Ginny is careful to "side" with the dwarf and tiefling equally, so as not to damage the fealty of either. That "great cleave" battle tactic of Khelgar's can change a grave outlook (no pun intended) to certain victory in a flash with one swipe of that axe. He has saved the wizardress on numerous occasions when she is being ganged up on and sure to fall beneath an onslaught of brutal force. Way to go, Big K!
I will be sure to hoot, holler, and jump up and down if/when I locate that first ore deposit, while keeping an eye out the north window on that blue air... that is probably keeping an eye on my daffodils. Until then, keep yours blades sharpened, potion bags full, and your troll-control (no trademark yet applied for) kits supplied with fire and acid.
Happy adventuring AND mining!
MV

ORE DISCOVERED IN NEVERWINTER!
Greetings from Lookout Mountain, the scenic plateau veined with clear streams deep canyons, populated by genuine rural folks, and the occasional barn whose "SEE ROCK CITY" roof message amuses flyover pilots. Well, Ginny the wizardress has located the elusive ore deposits in the orc caves of Eyegouger and Bonegnasher. It turns out that the accomplishment is made known by a small message in the game commentary box, appearing amidst the usual combat and movement mode notices. The cursor remains unchanged when passing over the deposit, which looks like someone splashed a bucket of silver paint on the cave wall. Also, the keystroke "z" fails to highlight the area. I concede this as a good idea, keeping the game from becoming too easy, but there are so many unusual things to see in the game that it could really get tedious to walk on every floor tile in the vast world of NWN2.
"Okay, genius, you're so good at complaining; what's YOUR solution?" Hmm, hey, how about this: Every time a new area is loaded NWN2 offers a tip to the gamer, such as "Save early, save often", or "Keep your spell slots filled". I suggest another tip that would appear in the early stages of the game, a tip that reads something like "Watch your message box when you are near interesting areas. Your cursor or z keystroke doesn't cover everything".
My comments on the ore deposit issues should in no way be taken as a disparriagement of NWN2. This game is engrossing, entertaining, and the graphics and music are lovely. "When are you gonna start Skyrim?" my friends insist. After I finish NWN2. I hope my machine will take Skyrim without my having to uninstall NWN2 and Baldurs Gate2. It has 4 gigs of RAM but 3.75 of it is usable.
Until I find out that and the next ore deposit keep your swords upgraded, quivers full, spells memorized, and armor repaired.
Happy adventuring!
MV

MichaelVirginia wrote:

"Okay, genius, you're so good at complaining; what's YOUR solution?" Hmm, hey, how about this: Every time a new area is loaded NWN2 offers a tip to the gamer, such as "Save early, save often", or "Keep your spell slots filled". I suggest another tip that would appear in the early stages of the game, a tip that reads something like "Watch your message box when you are near interesting areas. Your cursor or z keystroke doesn't cover everything".

More esoteric and game-specific tips like the one you suggest sound a lot more useful than the sort of "general knowledge" tips. I've found—or at least I perceive—that Skyrim has an annoying tendency of telling me new tips in the loading screens after I've just discovered or begun whatever it is it now wants to tell me. The game definitely takes into account what you've been doing lately for determining what to display as a load screen tip. But instead of always telling me about x when I might have just discovered x myself, it could occasionally randomly tantalize me with something about y instead. Forewarned, and all that.

T'WAS A DARK AND STORMY (NEVERWINTER) NIGHT

Greetings, folks, from Lookout Mountain, the charming plateau that offers everything except crowded metropoli. I had to turn off my computer twice last night due to recurring visits by severe thunderstorms. Before the second storm cluster came through I was afforded a dramatic view of the first cluster that dominated my southern horizon. Constant lightning illuminated, in a weird and uneven way, a complex cloud mixture of billowing towers, interspersed with the wispy and spreading tops of spent cells. Thankfully my place received only heavy rain and some hail, though areas north and west weren't so lucky. When God decided to give me a break before letting loose with another Level 14 Chain Lightning spell, I got back into my Robe of the Good Archmage and re-entered Neverwinter Nights 2.
Virginia the Wizardress has reached Act III, after a satisfying trial of facing an attack in Castle Never without any help from her party. One really appreciates the value of a good thief and fighter companion after facing a mob of wraiths and Shadow Priests, aided only by a few Royal Guards. Ginny was overwhelmed by the mob attack after I decided to use only attack and defend spells. After a trip to the kitchen for more nachos and limeade I decided to summon a monster before engaging the enemy. Wow, what a difference! The undead horde was so busy with the hired gun that Ginny had all the time she needed to cut loose with her "I mean business" spells. Lord Nasher was saved, and Ginny was rewarded with knighthood and captaincy over her feudal estate. The curtain came down for the night as thunder again rattled my windows.
Ginny is now soliciting allies and organizing her forces from her newly acquired manor Crossroad Keep, readying for the coming showdown with the King of Shadows & C. My replaying of this game, starting January 21, has paid off. The troops are now armored, thanks to the ore deposits found on the second time around. I hear tell that there is a blacksmith in Port Llast who might come to Crossroad Keep and upgrade the weaponry so that will be the next item on Ginny's agenda. There will be no storms to dodge tonight but muffs and mufflers will be needed as winter reminds me that it's not done yet with Lookout Mountain.
Until next time, keep your spells memorized, swords sharpened, potion bags filled, and an extra Cloak of Electrical Resistance handy for that next spring outbreak.
Happy adventuring,
MV

SPRING IS HERE IN NEVERWINTER
Greetings from Lookout Mountain, where someone who loves nature and words just has to launch into celebration. Faint puffs of purple and white dapple the hillsides as wild plum, serviceberry, and redbud welcome spring with their blossoms. Falcate orange-tip butterflies (little white fellows, about an inch across) bounce and skip amongst field violets, bluets, and henbit, the first act in an insect concert of color. The strengthening daylight makes me feel a sense of release from the gulag days of dark and cold so recently past. And Ginny the Wizard readies for the King of Shadows in Neverwinter Nights 2.
"Never underestimate the power of a well-placed low level spell" is one of the tips a NWN2 player sees when a game area is being loaded. I was really made to appreciate this after Ginny forged the Sword of Gith, needed to defeat the King of Shadows. Upon completion of the forging a Shadow Reaver appeared, along with a retinue of Greater Shadows and Blade Golems. The Reaver pronounced the doom of Ginny in a hoarse and hollow voice that assures bad breath, and then the battle was on.
And what a battle it was! Ginny and her sorceress ally Qara saturated the shadows with powerful elemental spells while Khelgar the dwarf fighter had at the nearest Blade Golem. The Shadow Reaver is immortal until the cleric Zhjaeve reads the True Name scroll, and my party was preoccupied with his allies. The game doesn't allow Zhjaeve to read the scroll for a while so the challenge is to keep her alive while she readies her recitation. In the meantime, the Shadow Reaver is free to cast spells unchallenged. My sorceress Qara caught the raw end of a Prismatic Spray spell and "enjoyed" the rest of the show as a petrified spectator. Khelgar, Ginny, and the rogue Neeshka held their own with the protection of Stoneskin and Energy Immunity that were strategically bestowed prior to the fight. Summoned creatures also kept the Reaver's allies tied up, buying time for Zhjaeve to scurry off to the side and make ready with the scroll. One of the Reaver's Fire Elementals started a cookout on Zhjaeve and I saw Z's hit points start to drop. If she goes, so too does the whole battle.
"Never underestimate the power....", oh, yes, that tip I mentioned earlier. Zhjaeve raised her hands and cast a lowly level one Sanctuary spell, thus becoming totally beneath the notice of the Fire Elemental and anyone else bent of ruining Ginny's day. One by one the Reaver's stooges fell before Khelgar's Ironfist Hammer, Neeshka's +3 sneak attacks, and Ginny's area-wide elemental spells. The purple message then appeared in the combat commentary box: "Zhjaeve uses item's special power". Time to save the game right there!
Five minutes and 25 nachos later the Reaver lay dead, Qara became un-stoned, and all gained a new level. It was back to Ginny's fortress for another report from the field commander Kana and another construction project by Master Veedle.
I don't want to depart without mentioning how pleased I am with the second playthrough of Neverwinter Nights 2. Ginny talked her way out of a battle with the red dragon on Mount Galardrym in the first playthrough, opting to use the wyrm's aid in defeating the Fire Giants. The wizardress' glibness failed her on the second playthrough so she was forced to fight the serpent in its lair, after a taxing battle with the giants. You know you are in trouble when the rogue Neeshka says "We are in over our heads". My dad used to have a saying that went something like "Youth and skill will ever be overcome by old age and treachery." Ginny attacked the dragon, siding with the giants (thus betraying the dragon), until the beast was defeated. My bruised and bleeding party then had to tackle the giants, who were a heck of alot easier to overcome than that red dragon. If there are any of my readers out there who beat that dragon without the aid of the Fire Giants........here's to you, you are worthy of the throne of Neverwinter! Back in the dragon's lair was a treasure trove that made upgrading of Ginny's fortress to the best level possible.
All because I messed up in the first playthrough. Varied results for different choices is one of the features that, in my estimation, makes Neverwinter Nights 2 an excellent choice for a D & D aficionado. Until next time, keep your potion bags full, spells memorized, swords sharpened, and eyes out for the next butterfly and blossom.
Happy Spring Adventuring,
MV

I always enjoy the updates - keep adventuring!

MARCH MADNESS AT NEVERWINTER

Greetings from Lookout Mountain, the charming plateau that has it all yet remains rustic and uncrowded. The ridges are covered with a patchwork quilt of every imaginable shade of green as the trees completely buy in to the idea that winter is gone. I sure hope they're right. I seem to remember one April 25 that started with 29 degrees. Everywhere I looked I was reminded of that salad that made its way to the back of the refrigerator, not to be rediscovered until two months later.
While the radio in the kitchen vibrates with emotional sportscasters at basketball stadiums all over America Ginny the Wizard has made it to the Final Four in Neverwinter Nights 2: three Shadow Reavers (with Black Garius/King of Shadows waiting in the wings) at the Vale of Merdelain. Holy Toledo, what a headsplitting melee of colors and sounds! With all the area-effect spells between the Reavers and my party, Kelghar's electrified hammer, and summoned Fire Elementals the game crashed twice last night with the dreaded black screen and the message "Neverwinter Nights 2 has stopped working". I can only hope that this is just one of those things every dedicated RPG gamer has to go through. A good computer that uses a gigabyte of memory on a RPG is bound to misplace or misread a file here and there, right?? Heck, my own brain has more files to shove around than my computer and I can assure you that data get misplaced or misused; just ask my Bridge partner who had to endure my playing a card at the wrong time to blow a 3-no trump contract last week.
I tried a variety of tactics against those Shadow Reavers for two hours last night. Monster summoning, spellcasting, even running away to a safer area to lure the enemy hither, in staggered fashion, to defeat. It seems that neither Ammon nor Zjhaeve could complete the true name recitation required to defeat the Reavers. A little Internet research turns up info that A and Z get interrupted by area-effect spells from the Reavers and that patience is the key here. Another pitcher of limeade and another tray of nachos will be needed to slow me down, I guess.
March Madness will soon give way to the Boys of Summer, and Ginny the Mage will have (I hope) a King of Shadows icon etched into her staff. Right about the time the first pitch at Turner Field in Atlanta is coming to my kitchen via the radio Ginny will enter the vast world of Skyrim. Until then, keep those potions mixed, swords sharpened, armor repaired, and plants protected.
Happy adventuring!
MV

NEVERWINTER2 COMPLETED, NOW FOR SKYRIM

100 years ago a luxury liner left western Europe, on its way to New York. 100 years later Ginny the Wizard leaves Neverwinter Nights 2 and sails on her way toward the unplumbed vastness of Skyrim. I'm sure icebergs abound there.
NWN2 was an enjoyable experience but I must confess to feeling a bit let down by the very brief and anticlimactic conclusion. I'm sure many gamers would hesitate to undertake a 2-month adventure knowing their characters will meet their demise at the hands of collapsing masonry after meeting and defeating powerful foes at every turn. Others might take a more philosophical view, saying that once you have saved the world..well, it's someone else's turn to take the stage, while you take your place in the museum of past heroes. In any case it would have been nice to see a closing movie featuring all the main NPC's extolling the epic achievement of defeating the King of Shadows by Ginny and her cohorts.
My computer is being upgraded to handle Skyrim, and I will enter that vast world sometime near the end of this week. While I am waiting I dragged out the old Dell tower machine with 128 megs of RAM, and tried to play the first Neverwinter Nights game. It's amazing how far computers have come in the past decade! You know you have a slow machine when you can fix a plate of nachos while your character is exchanging one item of dialog with a NPC.
My next post will be on my first experience with Skyrim. From what friends tell me, it's not a place for complacency. So, until next time, keep your swords sharpened, potion bags full, and a close watch for swooping dragons and looming icebergs.
Happy adventuring,
MV

MichaelVirginia wrote:

My next post will be on my first experience with Skyrim. From what friends tell me, it's not a place for complacency. So, until next time, keep your swords sharpened, potion bags full, and a close watch for swooping dragons and looming icebergs.
Happy adventuring,
MV

Cannot wait.

Michael, be sure to look into "Avernum - Escape from the Pit". I think you'll find it interesting. It's on Steam, and the company is Spiderweb Software.

SNOWSTORM IN APRIL

Well, not exactly outside my window but I've sure seen alot of it in the boreal world of Skyrim. Greetings, folks, from Lookout Mountain, the charming plateau that has it all, at least all that I would want. The persimmons, pecans, walnuts, and tulip poplars didn't appreciate last week's frost, and probably won't be too thrilled at another 35-degree night Monday, but no permanent damage seems to have been done to the local flora.
Yes, Ginny the Mage has entered the world of Skyrim, and has already killed three dragons that seemed to home in on her like the bugs to those musty hawthorn blooms in my woods. I temporarily discarded my "no complacency here" advice and trooped confidently into an encampment that contained a giant. He grunted and stamped his feet on the ground, reminding me of the ape scene in "2001 A Space Odyssey". No brains here, Ginny assumed, no problem. Two swings of the stone axe later, and t'was time to reload the game after the wizardress had her you-know-what handed to her.
My first impression of this game is awe at the spectacular scenery. I felt like I was back in Alaska when hiking up the mountain to Hrothgar from Ivarstead. I didn't think it possible to improve on the display detail from Oblivion but I believe Bethesda made it happen. The colors are breathtaking, and the image detail for NPC's is superb.
I prefer the comprehensive inventory screens of Oblivion, Baldurs Gate, and others to those of Skyrim. Skyrim's inventory menus are easy to access but seem a bit too compartmentalized for me. The Favorites menu has proven useful to me but it was still nice to see everything Ginny carries in one picture in past games.
The world of Skyrim, like the one of Cyrodil in Oblivion, continues the open-ended genre of Bethesda D & D RPG's. Some nights I like to complete a side quest or two, basking in the warmth of an appreciative villager; other nights I just like to wander about in the mountains and woods, exploring a cave here or a watchtower rock there, ever keeping an eye to the sky for another one of those pesky dragons.
I have had some video issues in this game, and wonder if any of my readers experienced similar problems when playing Skyrim. When I enter some of the buildings or castles the screen will suddenly go black and force me to move the mouse up and down. The image of the indoor setting will return in spots but remain black in others. Ginny had to stare at the feet of the Greybeards when learning her dragon-powered Shouts from them; trying to look up to see their faces brought a black screen. The wizardress' patience was stretched when she had to shout blindly in the blackness at the random targets given by the Greybeards. Some other indoor areas appear is if viewed through watery glass, and some indoor fires create a blob of orange or green light that spreads across the screen like blood soaking a paper towel. I emailed Bethesda from the computer at the Senior Center and received some instructions for a possible fix. Because my computer has no Internet at home I will need to take it to my repair guy with the instructions. Notwithstanding these occasional video problems, Skyrim has really captivated my imagination, and I eagerly anticipate returning to the land of snow and mountains tonight. Until then, keep your spells memorized, your quivers full, your swords keen, and don't tick off that guy who looks like the GEICO caveman standing by the fire at Cradle Crush Rock, scratching his back with a stone axe.
Happy adventuring,
MV

Michael,

You may also be interested in Legends of Grimrock on STEAM. Old school RPG that harkens back to the CRPG classics such as Wizardry and Eye of the Beholder.

Happy Gaming.

GETTING HER FET WET IN SKYRIM

Greetings, folks, from Lookout Mountain, the charming plateau that has it all, or at least all that I would want. Well, Ginny the Mage has explored a bit more of Skyrim, and, knowing her huge limitations, has made intensive use of the Sneak and Archery skills, skulking about and taking potshots at monsters and bandits with her Dwarven Bow of Ice. Hand-to-hand combat is pretty difficult in certain spots due to graphics issues Bethesda and I are corresponding on to resolve. When I move the mouse to swing around to face a flank attack the image sometimes jerks or trails the mouse movement in a rubberlike fashion, making targeting the enemy problematic. Still, the game is alot of fun, no two ways about it.

I compliment Bethesda on their improvement of the map feature from earlier games: once the cave, rock, or castle has been explored it is tagged as "cleared"on the map. This really makes keeping track of what needs to be explored much easier, especially when I can't figure out why I haven't found that quest-completing artifact.

Like Oblivion, Skyrim allows the character to explore areas underwater, something I don't remember experiencing in other RPG''s. Where else can you meet and receive skill training from an Argonian (water-loving reptile) you happen to meet under 200 feet of water? Using shock spells to defeat hostile slaughterfish would be the modern RPG's answer to an old Sea Hunt episode; Mike Nelson (Lloyd Bridges) had to reload his speargun.

Until next time, keep your potion bags full, swords sharpened, spells charged, and make sure that leather armor is pre-shrunk before you cross the stream.

Happy adventuring,
MV

MY COMPUTER SKYRIMIZED...NOW LET'S STAY ALIVE

Greetings from Lookout Mountain, the charming plateau that has it all, or at least all that I would want. My computer now has a new video card and power supply; the upgrade set me back some gold pieces but the gaming pleasure in Skyrim is so far worth the investment. Smooth and dependable movement from scene to scene, no jerking or jumping, no image blackouts. There was one freezeup in Stillborn Cave that required my reloading the game but the crystal detail of the graphics is breathtaking.
Ginny the mage, with renewed confidence set out for one of the northern sites called Fort Kastav. "More humility and planning needed here" she wrote on her parchment journal after a Master Conjurer made short work of her with rapid-fire lightning attacks. Even with precision mouse performance I was unable to hit the ever sidestepping conjurer more than once or twice, while SHE nailed Ginny who tried the same moving about, but with no appreciable result. And all of this was with Apprentice level difficulty on the game setting.
I am sure my younger readers, who grew up on video games instead of Wham-O backyard toys and Parker Brothers board games are exchanging smiles and looks that translate to "oh, that was easy; " Well, I just don't have that blazing hand-eye feel for my mouse so am forced to figure out another way to get past that conjurer. The Dragon Skin power didn't seem to help a whole lot against her magic, and setting a Fire Rune did put a dent in her health but not enough to forestall Ginny's imminent demise. Conjuring a Flame Atronach was an investment in futility when the conjurer effortlessly charmed the minion into turning on Ginny. I did pick off the conjurer's skeleton lackeys and felly necromage from the top of the fort, using the Dwarven Bow of Ice but the conjurer isn't in view from that location. Ginny is at Level 24 and has some use of apprentice level spells, so hopefully increasing her skills and experience will make the fight with the conjurer a little more manageable. I have tried to judiciously assign perks, investing primarily in archery, destruction magic, and restorative spells, and have nine unused perks at my disposal. I will pass along another update later on my progress in noodling out how to deal with this pesky electrical spellcaster.
Until then, keep your potion bags full, swords sharpened, and don't forget to wear that Amulet of Surge Protection the next time you run across a robed figure in the swirling snow.
Happy Adventuring,
MV

FORT KASTAV TAKEN

Greetings from Lookout Mountain, the charming..yeah, that one. Well, patience and planning finally paid off at Fort Kastav in Skyrim. Ginny continued her sniper tactics atop the roof of the fort, picking off two skeleton archers and a necromage. The Master Conjurer was, as stated in a previous post, out of range so Ginny did a little mountaineering until she was standing atop the Kastav Prison. From there she fired arrows into the conjurer, ducking behind a rock after each attack. The enemy partially healed herself after every third attack so it looked like a looooong night was in store for the Breton bowgirl. "Oh, well" Ginny thought, "I'm gaining skill levels in Sneak and Archery so let's just relax and take potshots while the radio keeps my character manager entertained with Rome Braves minor league ball." About ten minutes into this scheme the enemy conjurer suddenly collapsed on her knees after being hit with an arrow that drained her hitpoints to a new low. I saw my chance and fired another arrow that finished the powerful mage off. Ah, the wonders of a Critical Hit, something I had forgotten about.
"There must be something REALLY good here, for so powerful an enemy to be stationed here" Ginny figured aloud as she entered the fort. A thorough search turned up only a few trinkets, nothing to write the folks back in Tamriel about. I was not disappointed in the slightest; the feeling I got from overcoming that Master Conjurer was reward enough.
Ginny is now exploring areas west and south of Whiterun, working her way to Falkreath, where she will hopefully be able to buy some new spells. Until next time, keep your swords sharpened, spells memorized, and arrow quivers full, REALLY full.
Happy adventuring,
MV

HIATUS IN OBLIVION

Greetings, all, from Lookout Mountain. The little creek just feels better and better as the temperature rises and the endless battle against the honeysuckle and kudzu goes on. My computer gets a good bit warmer playing Skyrim now that my house is heating up in the subtropical sunshine so I decided to let Ginny take a vacation from the cold of Skyrim and spend a little time in the more clement climate of Elder Scrolls IV. I had no idea I would still be in Tamriel a month later.
Instead of pursuing the main quest in Oblivion Ginny the mage is bouncing around from village to village, dungeon to dungeon, and so has not had to contend with the Daedric portals that the main quest gives rise to. "Let's let sleeping Dremora lie" she says, while gathering gold and magical items with the zeal of a child on Easter morning. During one jaunt earlier this week Ginny caught a "virus" from a vampire attack. I apparently missed the hemophilia-something-or-other message and so suddenly am notified that Ginny is a vampire. That little problem put me through a mountain of tasks for a cure, and reminded me that Oblivion is a pretty complex and labrynthine game, even if not as big as Skyrim. That little problem also reminded me that getting pleasure and fun from a game Ï've already played is a blessing that has my gratitude. If it truly leads to happiness it must be a good thing.
Until next time, keep your arrow quivers full, your potions stocked, spells memorized, and a spare icepack on your PC in case you're in Skyrim during the summer.
Happy adventuring
MV

Oblivion was a good game. As an actual game, I think it may have been better than Skyrim. It was more coherent, and the main storyline and eventual resolution were both fairly epic and very clear that This Is The Last Battle. I found the final battles in Skyrim so easy that I was quite surprised to discover that I was officially finished.

The world of Skyrim is enormously, vastly better. So much more interesting just to look at, never mind explore. But I think that, as a Tale of Epic Fantasy, it was a little inferior to its predecessor.

RETURN OF THE GINNY

Greetings all, from New Orleans. I am away from Lookout Mountain, celebrating a 60th birthday with my two daughters: riding inner tubes on the Bogue Chitto River and mixing the Oh, P'shaw card game with some gool old fashioned junk food and monster movies on the DVD player.
Virginia the Mage got to 40th level in a replay of Oblivion when the game started acting up. Lingering blobs of light from spells cast long ago, sound glitches and keystroke freezes forced me to quit Oblivion and return to Skyrim. I really hope that the problem is confined to the Oblivion CD, and so far Skyrim is running fine. Ginny is be-bopping around Whiterun, Riften, and the surrounding countryside, relearning the keystrokes needed for combat and movement. I sure got spoiled by that custom spell I created in Oblivion, entitled "How the West Was Won". Summon a monster and go invisible in one spell; works especially well when you are outnumbered. Well, so far that is not available in Skyrim so Ginny has to sneak about and take potshots at monster groups with her bow, hoping to draw enemies singly. If the whole group descends on my character it's sayonara and reload.
Ginny is now a 31st level mage with some pretty decent destruction spells. She bested her first Frost Dragon last week, and is, as said before flitting about on minor quests, relearning the game. I discovered my first Daedric ruin last week, and can only imagine the challenge that awaits.
Until next time, keep the potions mixed, swords sharpened, spells memorized, and don't discard the long hair from that last troll you killed. You might need to make a wig when you turn sixty!
Happy adventuring,
MV

NOT AS LADYLIKE BUT ALOT OF FUN

Greetings, all from Lookout Mountain. The days are shorter, the leaves are beginning to change, and the creek is ALOT colder than a week ago. Time to put away the swimfins and gear up for another winter assault on the invasive plants here. The longer nights find Ginny the Mage in Skyrim, gaining prowess in hand-to-hand combat. Not too long ago she had to make sneak arrow attacks and run like you-know-what from Draugr Scourges and Shadowmasters. This was growing tiresome, not to mention the effect on Ginny's self esteem, so I decided to send her out to the open plains around the Western Watchtower near Whiterun. Here, she spent game days and nights developing her Block skill, fending off attacks from sabrecats and wolves. She changed in and out of heavy and light armors, and was delighted to see those skills increase as well. Level increases came lickety split, enemy attacks became much less damaging, and soon Ginny found herself becoming one tough gal indeed.
When attacked by a Draugr Deathlord last night Ginny Cast a Flame Cloak spell, then hoisted a Glass Shield in her left hand, while having a Fast Healing spell at the ready in her right. The Deathlord whaled away with his battleaxe, and Ginny smothered the damage with the shield and an occasional Fast Heal while the Deathlord was staggering from a Bash. All the while Ginny's fire aura had the undead warrior on a steady Timed Bake that soon reduced it to a charred pile of bones. I used this combat combo again later when Ginny was ganged up upon by three Forsworn bandits. Ginny did have to slug down a couple of Healing Potions "while the oven was on" but the end result was the same. (No, I am not renaming my heroine Betty Crocker, as the humor is lost in the medieval world of Skyrim.) She still has to be careful when approaching a well-fortified bandit encampment but Ginny has a more self-assured spring in her step and swagger of her shield as she leaves the pussyfooting days behind.
Skyrim continues to be a delight: so many things to do, so many places to explore, such exquisitely detailed imagery to enjoy wherever Ginny goes. If the map icons are any indication she will be exploring the world of Skyrim for many days to come...with less Sneak and more Speak.
Until next time, keep those quivers full, swords sharpened, spells memorized, and an Assertiveness Training manual handy in your knapsack.

Happy adventuring,
MV

BACK FROM..AND TO..THE MOUNTAINS
Greetings, all, from Lookout Mountain. Yes, it's been five long, dark, and chilly months since my last post. I waged a largely successful battle against low-light depression, thanks to the spectacular environs of Skyrim, a loving Bridge group, and that ever chatting radio on the kitchen counter. Now the light grows stronger outside, and the buds on my forsythia and serviceberry swell, promising cheering colors in a few weeks.
Skyrim...oh, me, where to start! My wizardress went hither and thither, filling the world map with discovered locations like business cards in the foyer of a popular restaurant. Powerful monsters of all kinds fell under the might of Ginny's flame cloak and blocking, as she explored the vast world of Skyrim, while the darkness and cold held Lookout Mountain in the grip of winter.
Last month I decided to get on with the main quest of defeating the dragon Alduin, ready to finally bring some conclusion to the game after hearing rumors of a new RPG in the works from Bethesda. The quest journal instructed me to talk to the orc librarian Urag about an Elder Scroll. Every time I attempted to do this he just sent me on another errand to retrieve a book or Shalidor insight. After three or four January nights of this I finally decided to check online for a clue. The Wiki game site mentions that the scroll is found in Blackreach, a huge area that I already "cleaned out", or so I thought. Well, after a couple of hours of slugging through a fresh family of monsters I finally reached the end of the quest and spotted the scroll, a tiny object resting in the lens apparatus, having been overlooked during my first visit to the site. Once the scroll was secured the quest was completed: Big Al was defeated easily and order was restored to Skyrim.
Like Oblivion, Skyrim is an open-ended game, allowing the player to continue to enjoy and explore the game after the main quest is accomplished. I suppose Ginny could book a few speaking engagements in Riften and Whiterun, or write a book on the finer points of dragon fighting. I have started a new playthrough in Skyrim because the game is so complex as to allow different early decisions to make available quests that were not seen in the first game. One caution here: don't get spoiled by the tremendous power your first character had and forget that your new self is quite vulnerable to those soreheaded cave bears and snow cats. Ginny's reincarnation is back to sneaking and guerilla warfare with bow and arrow, putting my gray matter back into puzzle-solving mode, with a large dose of humility. Just playing a game of hide and seek with Braith, or catching butterflies near Ivarstead is a graphic picnic, away from the gray and cold outside my living room window. as winter slowly gives way to another hope-lit spring on Lookout Mountain.
Until next time, keep your swords sharpened, your spells memorized, your potion satchels full, and your eyes peeled for tundra cotton and sabre cats.
Happy adventuring,
MV

Good to hear you are well, Michael! Keep up with the narratives, love reading them.

MichaelVirginia wrote:

One caution here: don't get spoiled by the tremendous power your first character had and forget that your new self is quite vulnerable to those soreheaded cave bears and snow cats.

The skill system in Skyrim is so flexible, that you can even completely change your playstyle with the same character (as I have, twice so far)—but yes, the same caution applies when you've, for instance, hung up your sword and shield and trying your hand at magic. "Two frost trolls? Pfffttt." /fade out /caption: "15 seconds later" /fade in "Run awaaaaay!"

OLDER FRIENDS ENJOY OLD TIMES ON THE OLD MOUNTAIN
Greetings, all from snow-dusted Lookout Mountain. Yes, my home turf strongly resembles Skyrim's Winterhold, next to the Mages College. An old friend of mine with whom I played paleozoic games like Dungeon Master and Bards Tale II in the 80's on his equally Paleozoic Commodore Amiga machine, stopped by on his way back to Ohio from a Florida vacation. It was really good to see Bob again, and be introduced to his family. He had not played Skyrim before but was quite curious about the game after following my Gamers With Jobs ramblings here.
Bob's wife and daughter quickly gave in to sleep after the 560-mile trip from Disney World so it was just he and I, standing before the vast world of Skyrim. Being the veteran gamer that he is (and a Dungeonmaster of the original cast) , Bob quickly learned the keystrokes and survival strategies. I went to bed a little after midnight and later learned that Bob had played Skyrim until almost five in the morning. He and his family were on their way back to Ohio by ten. Yes, a true gamer.
I mentioned in an earlier segment how replaying Skyrim affords one different quests to undertake. Well, Ginny the Mage got drunk at the Branded Mare in Whiterun, and was propelled through a quest that made her the owner of the Sanguine Rose staff, a gift from the mad god Sheogorath for indulging his capriciousness. The staff summons a powerful Daedric warrior whose disposition befits one who has been unceremoniously yanked from Oblivion. Wow, that raving sorehead has saved Virginia's hide more than once, when the combat got a little too up close and personal. Ginny's blocking, Thuum Firebreath, and Fast Healing have proven to be a winning combo but when she is outnumbered 3 to 1 by a sullen gang of burly orc berzerkers (and game difficulty level set to Expert-thank you Bob!); well, time to strike up the stick.
Well, time to dust the snow off the rake and resume the endless battle against invasive plants on the old mountain. Until next time, keep your swords sharpened, spells memorized, potion bags stocked, and a sharp eye out for those NPC's. One might just be a dear friend from the distant past.
Happy adventuring,
MV

MichaelVirginia wrote:

Until next time, keep your swords sharpened, spells memorized, potion bags stocked, and a sharp eye out for those NPC's. One might just be a dear friend from the distant past.

Or a new drinking buddy you don't remember meeting!

Sounds like Bob had a great visit. It's been a while since I was up into the wee hours of the morning playing a computer game.

Staying up really late playing games with buddies is always an unforgettable experience. Next time Bob should just send his family on to Disneyworld and have them pick him up on the way back

LOOK OUT, LOONEY TUNES, HERE COMES SKYRIM!

Greetings, all, from Lookout Mountain, the plateau of pleasant pictures. Well, I never imagined laughing so hard as to almost fall from my chair during a computer game but Skyrim proved me wrong earlier this week.
Ginny's reincarnation (second playthrough) was skulking about Greymoor Fort outside of Whiterun, gradually closing the distance when the gate sentries took offense at my presence and attacked with bows and arrows. My planned response was to flee the scene, once establishing that the fort is populated by bad guys, then return with long-ranged attacks. During the retreat my wizardress noticed a wandering giant serenely making his way past the fort with his stone axe resting assuredly on his shoulder. "What a great way to really be a troublemaker" thought Ginny, who altered course, leading her pursuers in the direction of the scantily-clad caveman. It took no time for the Greymoor thugs to set upon the giant, forgetting Virginia's existence. The now safe Ginny stood on an elevated rock outcropping and enjoyed a spectacle, worthy in comparison to a Warner Brothers cartoon, unfold.
When the first arrows pricked the giant's skin he reacted slowly but lethally, and I could hear the famous words of the Incredible Hulk in many an old Marvel comic book: "Hulk with smash puny humans!" The stone axe descended again and again, hitting one bandit so hard as to propel him skyward, ever rising until he became a tiny black dot before vanishing into a deck of cumulus clouds. By this time I was laughing so hard as to be unable to operate the keyboard. Wiley Coyote never had it so good.
After dispatching the first attackers the giant disappeared from Ginny's view as he passed through the front gates of the fort and entered the courtyard. I imagined a repeat of Sylvester Q Pussycat in a fenced-in yard full of guard dogs or Yosemite Sam in a den of lions: the sound effects told the story. Moments passed and the giant exited the Fort Greymoor area, allowing Ginny to enter the courtyard. Unlike Sylvester and Sam, the bandits don't come back for more fun on another Saturday morning cartoon.
Until next time, keep your spells memorized, your swords sharpened, your potion bags full, and a soft (but wary) spot in your hearts for wandering giants.
Uh, b'dee-duh, b'dee-duh, dee-duh, that's all, Folks!
Happy adventuring,
MV

STILL PLAYING AFTER ALL THESE YEARS

Greetings, folk, from Lookout Mountain, the plateau that has it all, unless large and crowded cities are your thing. The fall colors are spectacular outside as the plants that know this area power down for the winter, while the ones that don't (garden annuals) hang limp and blackened by the October freezes. The seasons seem shorter and shorter, blurring together as I hurtle toward the black hole that is the end of life. The staff is a little heavier, the potions a bit harder to swallow, and the Detect Invisibility spell doesn't work as well on those thief-assassins.
Ginny the Mage has taken two vacations in the Skyrim universe, and had a brief but entertaining visit to Daggerdale. This latter game is a cross between a Mario Brothers and an Elder Scrolls adventure; it has the combat simplicity of the former and the graphical detail of the latter. Daggerdale is a nice "brain rest stop" for when you just want to fire away at the bad guys while admiring the scenery.
My son-in-law is sending me the Fallout series for Christmas, so that should keep me busy until Bethesda rewards my patience with the next Elder Scrolls work. Until then, keep your potion bags full, your swords sharpened, and (for those my age) and extra set of Depends handy for the next time that frost dragon drops out of the sky.
Happy adventuring,
MV

MichaelVirginia wrote:

STILL PLAYING AFTER ALL THESE YEARS

You're not the only one! Even though I've exhausted all the main story threads in the game and expansions, it still floors me that I still, after two years and 300+ hours, have unique quests and story threads to explore—not to mention character builds, other skills, etc.

Heh, seeing these posts gets more fun over time. It kind of reminds me of Alistair Cooke's "Letter from America" series.

b ^_^

One of my favorite threads to see revived, every time.

I shied away from Daggerdale after playing the buggy-as-hell demo, but might try again if it goes on uber-sale at some point.

It's a bit old at this point but I have been getting some great mileage out of Eschalon, Book 1 after getting sucked back into it. Might be worth a look-see, though with the Fallout series ahead of you, you'll probably be busy for a while.

Enjoy!