Sunday, May 6, 2012

Genjo, the Detective, Takes the Case

I woke up in Silent Moons Camp and started my day looting the place. I took all the food I could find as my own supplies were running thin. I only took coins and arrows from the fallen, but left everything else they carried out of respect for the dead. I didn't find much else of note until I began to explore the forge. I found a small journal of compiled notes about the place that I assume were written by the bandit mage I'd encountered yesterday. From his notes, I learned this place was called the Lunar Forge and was used to craft weapons that were enhanced by the power of the moons. I gathered up all of the enchanted weapons and headed out of the camp to sell all this stuff in Whiterun.

Exhibit A: Overlooking the Battle at Silent Moons Camp
As I was making my way out of the camp, passing all the mysteriously slaughtered bandits (and a mudcrab) I noticed something I hadn't seen yesterday. There appeared to be a trail of arrows that had missed their mark leaving a scattered trail out of the camp. I decided to follow the arrows, picking them up one by one and adding them to my own. After a short walk, I found another dead bandit - this one appeared to be a hunter or scout. What could have done all this carnage? I knew Skyrim was not a safe place, but something about this slaughter unnerved me. I saw no evidence of dragons, and I'm apparently the resident expert on dragons in Skyrim. Judging by all the arrows stuck into the ground, I assumed it was something closer to the ground - shorter than a man perhaps. This felt like the work of a fierce sabre cat.

I surveyed the surroundings and found a dead fox. It had no arrows in it so it so I assumed the sabre cat had gotten this little fellow as well. It appeared that the cat must have been interrupted, probably by that bandit scout, and a chase ensued all the way back to Silent Moons Camp. It was all starting to come together in my mind, but where was the cat? I didn't see it west of the camp near where I found the fox, so I decided to give up the search and head back to Whiterun with all the looted items I had recently acquired.

Exhibit C: Dead Fox
Passing southeast of Silent Moons Camp, I caught sight of an deer and managed to lodge an arrow into its neck which caused it to bolt straight into the water where mudcrabs managed to bring it down for me. These mudcrabs apparently make better hunting companions than my wolf. Well, they would be if they were friendly, anyway. I had to kill two of them just to get to my fallen prey and it was there another unusual scene unfurled. I found the bandit mage who had been working the Lunar Forge. He was surrounded by dead mudcrabs and was either a victim of mudcrabs (the thought still makes me laugh) or the sabre cat had passed this way in a foul mood.

Exhibit D: The Dead Bandit Mage among Dead Mudcrabs
Solving the disappearance of the bandit-mage was a comfort, but I now had the problem of where was this man-eating cat? I dug out a silver vein near the fallen mage. I took his coins and the potions he was carrying. I picked the deer clean as well for I would need the leather to continue to work on my own armor. Between the fox and the deer hide, I envisioned a nice pair of leather bracers in my future.

I continued back to Whiterun keeping an eye out for this murderous animal and it wasn't long before I spotted it napping in the sun. I was actually surprised to see it was a sabre cat, considering I had no real knowledge of the beasts and was just making some educated guesses about what had transpired. Perhaps I could find work as an investigator - if they have those up here in Skyrim. Well, now that I'd solved the mystery of Silent Moons Camp, there was just one final task - bringing the creature to justice. I looked at all the junk I was carrying and decided I wasn't ready. I rushed back to Whiterun as quickly as I could.

The Murder Weapon Cat Napping
 I sold a lot of my collection to a Khajit caravan outside the city walls then went in and spent the next couple hours moving my wares around the city. I took an hour to reinforce my leather armor and piece together a set of leather bracers. I sold everything I wasn't using anymore - weapons to the Warmaiden, all my extra leather, fur and hide to the Drunken Huntsman, and all my potions to Arcadia's Cauldron. Then I marched up to Dragonsreach and found Lydia because I felt I could use the backup hunting Skyrim's great cat. She was eager to get out of the city and fight alongside me, and so we set out to bring the beast to justice.

By the time we got out of Whiterun the Khajit had broken camp and moved on. I had warned them of the cat, but I was worried about their safety so Lydia and I broke into a jog out to where I had last seen the cat. Fortunately for the Khajit, it was still napping and so Lydia and I set to work. I fired the first shot, which woke it. It was not pleased. Lydia launched a flanking attack while I summoned the wolf quickly. Lydia backed off and the wolf tore into the cat, but it was no match for the great hunter of the Skyrim plains. The cat then set its sights on me and I fumbled to summon a blade to my hands as well as pull the wolf back into reality. Lydia, the wolf, and I made a final surge attack on the sabre cat and it fell before us. It was no dragon, but a great fight and worthy opponent.

Surprisingly, I live through this!
 We took what we needed from the sabre cat. I did a count of my money and realized that I was still short about a thousand septims from buying the house for sale in Whiterun. I didn't have enough leather to craft anymore weapons or armor and I knew where I could make some good money - Gerdur's Mill in Riverwood. I decided to part ways with Lydia after thanking her for accompanying me on the hunt and she headed back to Whiterun. I continued on to Riverwood.

Case Closed on the Mystery of Silent Moons Camp
A thunderstorm blew into the valley as I approached the bridge over the river, so I hustled to the Sleeping Giant Inn where I was fortunate enough to have a quiet dinner with Camilla. I hope Faendal doesn't mind. I'm sure I'll see him tomorrow at the mill where I'll be working until I can afford the house in Whiterun. It feels good to be back in Riverwood, though.

Quiet Dinner with Camilla

- Genjo, the Dragonslayer
24th of Last Seed, 4E 201

The OOC Corner - Reader's Poll & Author's Notes

Genjo proves himself to be an effective Stealth-Conjurer. Stealth and Conjuration continue to get the most votes and I think from now on I'll default to either Stealth or Conjuration when the option is available to add perks to those two areas of expertise. It's a strange combination, but it's the polls don't lie and they're the most requested. This will free up the poll to focus on more "choose your own adventure" questions rather than choose your skills - though when in doubt I may ask more about skills, especially if Conjuration and Stealth are not options or have branching paths (such as Necromancy). 

Mods I'm running:
  • Arrowsmith v3b
  • Dynamic Merchants
  • Im's More Complex Needs
  • Camping
  • Realistic Lighting
  • Fixed Followers Lite
  • Realistic Thunder

I haven't changed anything here.

Now on to the poll!

Genjo is currently saving up to buy his home in Whiterun.
You decide where life takes him after he purchases Breezehome.

Should Genjo join the Companions (Warrior's Guild) in Whiterun?
Should Genjo study Conjuration at the College in Winterhold?
Should Genjo study Dragon Shouts with the Greybeards of High Hrothgar?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Mystery of Silent Moons Camp

I’m unexpectedly writing tonight from Silent Moons Camp. I started the day unsure of what to do. Yesterday I killed a dragon and rumors are flying around Whiterun that I’m some kind of Dragonborn. These sages called Greybeards summoned me to High Hrothgar which is several days journey to the top of the highest peak in Skyrim. It honestly seems too daunting. I had originally come to Whiterun to deliver a message and run errands, but the dragon’s attack really interrupted my plans of a simple trip to the city. Anyway, I decided I’d stick around Whiterun and try to understand my role as Thane a bit more. I needed to confer with my appointed housecarl, Lydia.

Breakfast with the Housecarl
The thought of having such a servant makes me slightly uncomfortable, but Lydia seems honest and loyal to Whiterun and thus to me as her thane. We spoke this morning for a long time and she offered to accompany me on my errands. I reluctantly accepted, but she came in handy. We spoke with Proventus about purchasing a home in Whiterun, which I felt would be proper for a thane, but the price tag on property was much too high. This provided me a proper goal. I asked Proventus if the city had any paying work I could do and he let me know there were bandits holing up in some ruins known as Silent Moons Camp. So my quest for septims is what brought me out here.

Business Over Breakfast
I’ve never considered myself a bounty hunter or a mercenary, but my experiences in Skyrim are proving that if I set my mind to it, I’m capable of these feats. I tucked the bounty note Proventus had given me in with my belongings - which were quite heavy and overflowing my satchels, I might add - and headed into the city to see if I could take care of some of those errands I had come to do originally. As I was leaving Dragonsreach, however, the Court Wizard, Farengar, caught my eye and I decided he and I should speak.

He was condescending as usual, but offered me some advice on studying magic in Winterhold at the College there. I told him I was most interested in my ability to conjure a spirit wolf companion and he pointed me to some books in his collection. There was a spellbook detailing the summoning of a spectral, magical blade to battle with and another to raise the dead. I stared at the second book for a long time, and Farengar assured me that necromancy was only one side of conjuration. Still, it felt wrong. I bought the book on binding a blade as well as one called Candlelight which would light up dark rooms - something I sought earlier last week. As I was leaving his office, Farengar asked me if I would deliver some salts to the town alchemist, Arcadia. I agreed since I was curious about alchemy.

Lydia and I stopped for lunch on our way to Arcadia’s apothecary where I spent a long time reading through the spellbooks and getting a fundamental understanding of how to cast the two spells. I wanted to test them out, but the center of town was not really the time or place. After getting the basics of the spells down, we delviered the salts. I stopped in at the the local merchant, the local blacksmith - who asked me to deliver something up to her father Proventus - and the local hunt shop where I unloaded quite a bit of merchandise I’d been collecting. I still only had 2000 of the 5000 septims I needed to buy a house in Whiterun. Silent Moons Camp was still calling.

Crafting in Whiterun

I sent Lydia to deliver the sword to Proventus while I worked a few hours on the smelter, turning all that ore I’d dug up around Riverwood into ingots that I could later work into weapons and armor. I decided to see if I could craft myself a better pair of boots before heading out for adventure. Even though my hide boots were dear to me after so many days in those blasted footwraps, I replaced them with actual leather. I thought about working on some other weapons or armor to trade away since I had so much raw iron, but I needed more leather for the bindings. Since I couldn’t make any thing else, I was ready to investigate the bandit’s camp and maybe do some hunting en route. Defeating bandits was becoming a regular part of my life in Skyrim, and Skyrim never seemed to have a lack of bandits.

I spot my first mammoth!
I slay dragons, but I'm scared of mammoths.

It was somewhere around 3pm when I set out from Whtierun for Silver Moons Camp. I tested out my new spells with excellent results and summoned my wolf companion to help me hunt. Unfortunately, the first elk I came across the wolf just stood there while the elk ran off. He’s not much of a hunting companion, but at least he’s a good distraction in a fight. It wasn’t too long before Silent Moons Camp came into sight and I began my approach. The camp itself appeared to be dug into a decent sized hill, so I decided once again to take the high road. I came in over the crest of the hill looking down into the camp expecting to see bandits going about their business. That’s when things got unusual.

There was nothing stirring in Silent Moons Camp. I couldn’t find a single person. I thought perhaps they were out on a raid, but I could see smoke rising off their cooking fire on the north edge of the camp. Someone must have been here not too long ago. I edged around the camp, and climbed up on some rocks. It’s there I spotted a dead body lying down in the center of the camp. From where I was standing I couldn’t tell if it was a bandit or some hostage they had dragged in here, but I had a suspicion it was one of the bandits. I started to edge closer to the body to get a better look when I was distracted by the sounds of metal striking metal - rhythmically. Someone was using a forge nearby.

The Mysterious Corpse at Silent Moon Camp
I turned my attention to the crest of the hill, where the largest structure was built into the ground. The sounds were coming from there, so abandoning the mysterious dead body, I headed up into the rocks to see if I could get a better look at the ironworker. I carefully, silently made my way up the rocks and saw the domed ceiling of the rock building built into the hill. I hoped that the top was open to the sky as it was clearly where the forge was located, and so I climbed up carefully onto the roof and edged my way closer to the peak. I was right. It was open. I could see the man inside working on a sword. He didn’t see me or hear me over his loud work. Was this the bandit leader I’d been sent after? I was so unsure. I didn’t want to kill an innocent man.

The Roof of the Lunar Forge

I edged around the open circle to get a better look at the man and that’s when things took a turn for the worse. I accidentally knocked some rubble loose and my hiding spot was discovered. The man immediately shouted at me and lightning streaked from his fingers and knocked me backward. I nearly fell from the roof, but I readied myself for my attack. I summoned my wolf, who dove into the forge area and began attacking the wizard-blacksmith. I fired arrows that all missed and the wizard disappeared into the ruins after dispelling my magic wolf. I watched and waited, but the wizard did not return to the forge. I thought he may try to get me up on the roof so I began to watch the perimeter for his flanking attack. He didn’t come.

I went to the edge of the roof to look down and find the wizard ready to shock me again - it’s an odd sensation that I didn’t wish to relive quite so soon. After the pain subsided, I sent arrows after the wizard, but he just ran down the stone steps into the camp. I assumed he’d wake his allies to come to his defense but no such attack came.

I cautiously dropped down to the stone steps and wandered into the camp armed with my bow. I proceeded slowly, because I was afraid I was walking into some kind of ambush. No attack came. I saw there were a lot more dead bodies in the camp than I had seen previously. They were all bandits - and one mudcrab. I laughed briefly at the thought of one mudcrab killing all six bandits before the wizard himself had to come down and stop its rampage. It was not likely, but I could see no other explanation. I found no traces of bears or giants or mammoths rampaging through the camp. The only other explanation I could venture was that another bounty hunter had come before me - or the wizard himself was a bounty hunter. I did not know.

The Remains of the Bandits at Silent Moons Camp
I saw a door leading into a stone structure and thought the wizard had hidden himself away inside. I summoned my wolf back to my side and entered the dwelling. As I entered I was nervous because I heard talking. I thought the wizard had fled inside, but the voices did not sound right - they weren’t discussing me. They seemed oblivious to the carnage outside. They either didn’t know, or had done it themselves and thus weren’t concerned. I wasn’t sure how to proceed. I pushed toward the hallway where the voices were coming and was spotted. The fight ensued and I met one squarely. My magical blade summoned instantly to my hand, I plunged it through the bandit’s chest - my wolf quickly defeated the bandit’s ally. Then we were alone.

Summoned Sword Saves Our Skins
I scoured the entire camp and found no trace of the wizard I fought in the forge. He has long fled. I did find that the forge is known as the Lunar Forge and the wizard was likely trying to make Lunar Weapons - an enchanted weapon that draws its strength from the moon. It was an interesting prospect and one I may pursue in the future in order to make money, but tonight I just needed a place to sleep. I don’t know what I will tell Proventus of this adventure. I defeated a single bandit, but I certainly did not find the organizer. I suspect it was the wizard and he’s beyond my reach now. Tomorrow I’ll have to carry all I can from this camp back to town in order to sell it - and hopefully find or buy some leather so I can start producing more weapons and armors to sell in Whiterun.

Cozy, isn't it? 

- Genjo, the Breton
23rd of Last Seed, 4E 201

The OOC Corner - Reader's Poll & Author's Notes

I apologize for the month-long hiatus to any loyal readers/followers. Hopefully, I will be more consistent and able to update shortly after the polls end from here on out. Please forgive me! Last adventure's poll ended in a 3-way tie. It really derailed my creative process, and then this blog just slipped to the side-lines for a bit. I decided to go my own way and make my own goal of buying the home in Whiterun before having any grander adventures.

Mods I'm running:
  • Arrowsmith v3b
  • Dynamic Merchants
  • Im's More Complex Needs
  • Camping
  • Realistic Lighting
  • Fixed Followers Lite
  • Realistic Thunder

I haven't changed anything here. I added a "Fishing" mod but it's not running for Genjo (yet) as I see no real need for him to fish. It would have been handy for his poor-man's life in Riverwood, but now that he's moderately successful, I don't see him taking any fishing trips in the near future.

Now on to the poll!

Should Genjo work on his archery? 
Should Genjo learn to smith steel weapons and armor?
Should Genjo work on his conjuration?
Should Genjo work on his stealth?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Genjo the Dragonslayer

22nd Last Seed, 4E 201

Faendal, Bosmer

Dear Faendal,

When you receive this letter, only a day will have passed since I last spoke with you. I wanted to apologize to you for declining your offer to accompany me to Whiterun. I really could have used your bow by my side today - and what a day I've had. You are my closest companion in Skyrim and so I wanted you to hear this from me before you hear it from anyone else. Late this afternoon, I was asked by the Jarl of Whiterun to assist in defeating a dragon which was attacking a western tower. Using my wits and your extensive training in archery, I was able to slay the monster. I was not alone, of course. The Jarl's housecarl was with me and a small detachment of city guards. They were key in distracting and wearing the beast down, but when it came to the last moments of life and death, it was certainly I who slayed the thing. The guards whisper that I am ... a Dragonborn. The term is unfamiliar to me, but apparently it is of great significance among the Nords. No doubt you will come to hear of this in the coming days and I wanted you to hear from me first. Please pass on my story to Camilla, too. She is another great friend to me and this will give you an ample reason to talk to her, no?

Lucan proudly displaying his claw.
After we returned the Golden Claw to the Riverwood Trader, I last saw you as I was leaving Riverwood to come to Whiterun and speak with the Jarl Balgruuf the Greater. No doubt the detachment of soldiers he has sent to Riverwood to reinforce you against further dragon attacks has already arrived ahead of this letter.We parted ways on the bridge as I had decided I needed some time alone to reflect on the events of our adventure. I'm sure you recall during our two large encounters I was not only able to summon a spectral wolf to my aid, but later shoot flames from my fingertips into the open arms of the undead overlord. You may have guessed by my reaction, but neither of these things did I expect. I wanted to spend some time alone in the wilderness seeing if I could harness these abilities without the accompanying near-death experience.

Ghost-Wolf 1; Real-Wolf 0

I found a quiet spot along the river and spent several hours in meditation. I decided to focus on the summoning spell rather than divide my efforts. After much meditating and trying to recreate the thoughts, feelings and actions I went through - I was able to summon the wolf with moderate success! I wanted to continue to work on the fire spell, but I had wasted a lot of time already and decided it was better to get to Whiterun.

Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize killing creatures minding their own business was my civic duty...
I saw my first giant and gave him a wide berth. He seemed to be contemplating his existence farther downstream. I'm not sure how hostile these things are, but this one seemed pretty harmless. Still, after I'd left him behind I heard the sounds of battle and when I discovered the scene I was chastised by a painted woman for my cowardice. Apparently the giant had been killed by a group called the Companions? This Aela told me if I was worth my weight as a warrior I would not have fled the giant, but instead tested my skills against it. I'm not sure I agreed with her, but I am curious about the Companions. She told me to inquire at Jororvaskr in Whiterun.

Lunch in the Wind District

At the time, I thought this would be the height of adventure today. I approached Whiterun with news of Helgen and was allowed entry. I thought I'd spend the day exploring the city, buying and selling what goods were available. I overheard the local blacksmith saying she was overworked and thought I could maybe lend a hand if I had time. I hoped I could begin my life in Skyrim here as a trader and merchant. I hoped there would be no more need for rushing into dungeons to recover stolen artifacts. I was quite content for a simpler life, but that is not how things turned out, I must say.

When I met with the Jarl of Whiterun, everything changed. You remember that carved stone we found in Bleak Falls Barrow? That Draugr Overlord clutched it as it attempted to destroy us. I'm sure you remember. That stone is apparently a Dragonstone that the Jarl and his court wizard, Farengar, had been hoping to recover. I'm not sure of its significance, but Farengar was delighted to see that I had it in my position and had assumed it was buried deep in the barrow. He'd been trying to think of a way to get it out of there without actually risking his own neck. What a wizard, eh? Anyway, I can only think that it was fate that brought me to Jarl Balgruuf on this day with the Dragonstone in hand. The guards and soldiers of Whiterun would now have me believe it is because I am a creature of destiny, that I am a Dragonborn.

You want me to do what now?
I wanted to ask Farengar about summoning when he was done telling me how monumental this Dragonstone would prove in their study of the dragons and their return to Skyrim, but our conversation was interrupted by the urgent news from the Dunmer housecarl, Irileth sent us up to the war room to meet with Jarl  Balgruuf yet again that day. A guard had come from the western tower with news that it was under attack from a dragon. Irileth was quickly dispatched. Farengar was sent to study to the Dragonstone I'd brought, and the Jarl pleaded with me to assist Irileth. He explained that I was the only one among them who had seen a dragon before and so I was the most knowledgeable in all of Whiterun on their movements and abilities. It goes without saying that I did not feel like an expert on dragons at the time, but the Jarl was right in saying I had more experience than any others.

Genjo, the Hunter

I thought briefly my encounter with Aela on the way into the city, who told me that if I were a true warrior I would have sought to test myself. I knew without much more thought that I would help however I could. Jarl Balgruuf provided me with a suit of leather armor in my size which was greatly appreciated. I changed into my armor, and gripped the ancient Nord bow we recovered in the Bleak Falls Barrow and rushed after Irileth to help brief the guard and repel this dragon. The people of Whiterun were depending on us.

The Long Run to the Tower
The run out to the western tower was exhilarating. I was scared beyond belief. I don't remember what words of encouragement were said. I don't remember what info I provided on the movements and habits of the dragon of Helgen. All I remember is feeling alive. I was about to face this most powerful of foes. I was about to prove my worth as a warrior.

All was quiet at the western tower when we arrived, but it did not remain so for long. The dragon returned with a vengeance. My first instincts were to keep close to the tower. I could fire upon the monster and duck into the cover of shelter the stone provided. Irileth and the guards were another story. They encircled the perimeter and were able to confuse and distract the dragon by attacking it from all sides. The world was engulfed in chaos and dragonfire. I saw a man swallowed whole and another tossed like a ragdoll into the air with just a powerful shout from the dragon - a shout much like the draugr overlord used to toss me into the wall during our battle. I provided as much cover as I could from the entryway of the tower.

Genjo, the Tower Defender
The battle soon began to rage behind the tower and my options were to run out into the open or climb to the top - both options exposed me to that deadly breath of fire from the circling dragon. I chose to rush out into the open, firing upon the beast whenever it was still or dropped to the ground. I was invigorated by Irileth's display of heroics. She would truly make the Jarl and her people proud. As the dragon flew, she filled it with arrows. As the dragon crawled along the ground, shouting and breathing fire, she drew her sword and hacked at its rough hide. She was truly fearless and through her display I felt filled with determination.

Only one of us walks away from this showdown.
We made our final stand on the road leading to Whiterun. The dragon landed on the cobblestone to face off against Irileth. I saw him shout and her body get tossed nearly a hundred feet away. I rushed in from the dragon's left side raining arrows into his wing and neck. I did not know if any guards remained standing at the time, but it surely felt like all the rage of the dragon now turned upon me. I saw Irileth pick herself up and ready herself, but she was now far away. I never faltered and I never backed down. I poured arrow after arrow into the dragon's face as it crawled along the ground toward me. I felt it's hot breath as flames danced all around me. We nearly killed each other - in its final throws I was engulfed in flames and if not for the quick actions of a nearby guard, I would have perhaps been consumed by the fire.

As the flames were extinguished, however, I saw that I still stood and the dragon did not. Then another unexpected thing happened. The dragon began to melt and burn away - it's flesh and scales being consumed by some unearthly power and in the blink of an eye a powerful blast of energy filled my entire being. The guard says I absorbed the dragons power and urged me to test his theory. He urged me to use the word of power I learned in Bleak Falls Barrow - the one glowing upon the stone that only I could see. It burned in my mind and danced on my tongue. The word poured out of my mouth and with a powerful gust of energy the guard was pushed back several feet. It was then that he and his surviving troop proclaimed me a Dragonborn.

What is happening to it?
What is happening to me?

I do not understand how this could be, but I'm left with an uneasy feeling. If these claims are true, if I am the Dragonborn and absorbed the dragon's power, if destiny has brought me here to Whiterun to slay the dragon, could it also be true that I am personally the reason the dragons have returned? Have they come for me? Have I brought this horror to Skyrim? I do not know, but I have been summoned by the Greybeards to High Hrothgar. To Jarl Balgruuf this is all the evidence he needs to proclaim me Dragonborn. He says no one can refuse the summons and that if I am Dragonborn the Greybeards will help me understand my new powers over the Thu'um, the Dragon Shouts. Just yesterday I was astounded that I could summon wolves and flames, and today I am forced to accept that I may be even more powerful than a magical adept - I may have unlocked the power of dragons themselves. I do not know what to do, my friend.

Proclaimed Thane of Whiterun!
The Jarl of Whiterun was so thrilled that I defeated the dragon, he named me Thane of Whiterun and has permitted me to own property here. He gave me a Greatsword of Dismay as a symbol of my office and appointed me my own housecarl, named Lydia. I met with her briefly and she explained to me the great honor of being named Thane and that her duties as housecarl were more or less as a glorified bodyguard and attendant. Perhaps someday soon I can invite you to my home here in Whiterun, but I feel there is much I do not understand about myself and my new responsibilities as Thane or as Dragonborn.

I hope all is well in Riverwood and you and Camilla are well. Perhaps we will see each other again soon, or perhaps I will journey up the mountains to High Hrothgar. I do not yet know. Either way, I will try to write again soon.

Your friend,
- Genjo, the Dragonslayer

The OOC Corner - Reader's Poll & Author's Notes

This was truly not the adventure I planned, but it was quite the adventure. I had hoped I could speak with Farengar about Conjuration and instead he stole the Dragonstone from me and spawned Mirmulnir. I accidentally passed a threshold of no return and I briefly thought about how Genjo would react to this situation. I think he acted accordingly and as a player I really needed to pass this at some point in order for dragons to spawn in the wild. Playing it safe is only fun when the game is constantly thrusting you into dangerous situations you need to avoid or engage. So Mirmulnir needed to be defeated, but where Genjo goes from here is up to the readers.

Mods I'm running:
  • Arrowsmith v3b
  • Dynamic Merchants
  • Im's More Complex Needs
  • Camping
  • Realistic Lighting
  • Fixed Followers Lite
  • Realistic Thunder

I discarded "Craftable Arrows" for "Arrowsmith" which I think is slightly more realistic than the mod I was using before as it not only requires wood and metal, but feathers. I thought I may give it a try and haven't had a chance to explore it (no need for arrows) but it seemed slightly more complex (realistic) than the previous mod I was using to create arrows.

I added the "Fixed Followers" mod in order to keep my followers leveling with me and fixing some bugs and glitches that will make them more realistic in the long run rather than buggy and weak. I also added "Realistic Thunder" which mostly changes the sound files for rain and thunder but not much else. That's just a benefit for me as I love rain and thunderstorms so much.

Now on to the poll!

Should Genjo head to High Hrothgar to learn more about being Dragonborn?
Should Genjo stick around Whiterun and investigate the Companions?
Should Genjo learn more about his magical talent?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Genjo the Treasure Hunter, Part 2

After recovering from the attack of the thugs, who were sent to teach me a lesson, Faendal and I made our way into the temple that had been built above this barrow. We heard talking as we entered and proceeded carefully. It appeared there had been a scuffle with some skeevers which some of the bandits had lost. Skeevers aren't very formidable, so it gave me some hope that after the struggle to survive outside with the hired thugs, these bandits would be push overs. My assessment was correct. Faendal and I managed to strike easily from the shadows and the battle was over before the bandits were aware it had begun.

This structure was ancient and enormous. My heart was still racing from the near death experience outside, so I was jumping at every shadow just beyond my torchlight as the two of us made our way deep into this temple. The bandits were few. We killed perhaps one or two more from the safety of the shadows as we made our way towards the burial chambers under the temple structure. It was becoming a bit disheartening that none of these bandits had the Golden Claw. Could Lucan and Camilla been wrong about these bandits taking it? Camilla seemed to think Lucan knew more about the Claw than he let on and that one of the reasons he set up shop in Riverwood was because of the Claw, so it gave me hope that it was somehow tied to this ancient burial ground.

This is some unsettling decor.
The depths got deeper and darker, and suddenly they were covered in spider webs that we had to practically wade through. It was unnerving. I didn't see many spiders, so I could only dread what had covered these catacombs with all this web. The deeper we went into these catacombs, the more terrible things were becoming for Faendal and I. Unfortunately, I didn't have to wonder for very long. A voice was calling out from the halls ahead of us, begging for help and warning us of imminent danger. When we pushed through all the web-filled hallways into a large open chamber, a truly blood curdling creature descended from the ceiling high above. Fortunately for us, this spider was previously wounded.

We run away like heroes a moment later.
Faendal and I retreated into the narrow halls where this monster could not fit and filled the creature with arrows while it spewed web all over us. We fought to free ourselves and fire more arrows, but as long as we were in these narrow halls, and no smaller spider friends arrived, we were safe. Between each arrow fired, we managed to rip web from our legs and hands, keep ourselves free enough for the next shot, until the monstrous spider finally fell to its death. We freed our legs and feet from the accumulated web and proceeded into the large chamber to find out who had been shouting for help.

We found a man completely wound up in web that the spider had apparently been saving for later. He referred to himself as Arvel the Swift and was obviously a bandit. Before we freed him, I asked him about the Golden Claw and he told us that he not only had the claw, but understood how to use it to unlock the secret powers hidden within this tomb. Faendal and I exchanged a glance. Hidden power? He said if we helped cut him free of the web, he would not only give us the Claw, but show us how we could use it. I asked him to give us the Claw first, but he insisted it would be impossible to retrieve with all the web covering him. With a name like Arvel the Swift, I was expected a betrayal, but there was nothing else to be done. Faendal and I cut him free.

As soon as his feet hit the ground, Arvel the Swift swiftly set off down the tunnel behind him laughing at us for our stupidity. I began to chase after him, but Faendal grabbed me by the shoulder and spun me around. He asked simply, "Where is he going to go?" Faendal was right. I had gotten too caught up in the moment. I almost risked everything to chase a simple bandit into an underground tomb. Perhaps there were more spiders waiting to pounce, or worse. We proceeded cautiously through the halls as we had done before, and as it turned out there was much worse waiting for us below than giant spiders.

Not so Swift now, are you?
Arvel the Swift met his end before we could catch up to him. We found a group of ancient undead Nords standing over his dead body, and as carefully as before, Faendal and I crept forward to flank them and rain arrows into their bodies. We hoped it was enough to kill something that was supposed to be dead already, and thankfully it was. These draugr, as they are called in Skyrim, are not as powerful as they are repulsive. Still, we worried at any moment the rest of these corpses would wake up and be upon us, so we moved quickly and silently to Arvel's body where we found he did in fact have the Golden Dragon Claw in his possession. Victory was ours! We'd gotten what we had come for, but there was something nagging at both Faendal and I. What lay beyond? What treasure lay hidden within this ancient crypt that Arvel was so desperate to gain only for himself? What forbidden secret powers would we find if we pressed onward with the Claw?

We spoke of it for only a moment and agreed, we would continue forward. We expected to find more draugr littering the halls of the catacombs, but they seemed as easily dispatched as the previous bandits to our flanking tactics. We had little to lose and a secret, buried, Nord treasure to gain. We pressed on through the swinging axe traps, and the lumbering undead, ever vigilant to protect whatever they were buried with in the Bleak Falls Barrow.

Incidentally, Draugr have better lighting than Bandits.
We emerged somewhere deep in the mountains late into the evening and I realized we hadn't eaten, so we stopped to snack on some bread and fruit I'd brought with us. We ate quickly, eager to move on and be done with this dangerous adventure, but it was nice to stop for a brief respite. It allowed our nerves to calm down a bit and I was able to go on without jumping at every shadow. There were draugr out here, as well, but they were more agitated than the previous ones we'd encountered. They actually appeared to be patrolling rather than sleeping in their crypts. I'm not sure if "sleeping" is the correct word. Perhaps "idling" is more accurate. Anyway, we made our way carefully forward and managed to defeat all the draugr patrols without any incidents.

Fresh air is always welcome after the stench of an ancient crypt.
Once we made it through the open, mountain air, we found ourselves back inside another part of the temple. The architecture was more like the original temple entrance and less like the underground catacombs. This journey had taken us into the deep, hidden inner sanctum of this ancient temple. The modern Nords think this only a burial ground, but this was clearly an elaborate construct to worship one of the gods, and perhaps hide some secret, ultimate power. It was becoming clear that what had started out as a trip to get back a stolen artifact was now becoming quite a bit more for Faendal and I. We pushed through more patrols, and all the elaborate tricks and traps the inner sanctum threw at us. Finally we found ourselves at our goal.

Genjo at the Door of Destiny
We entered an elaborate hall with murals of an ancient time that ended with an ornately carved door which functioned like some kind of puzzle-box in order to open it. It also appeared to require the Golden Claw as a key to the whole device. I'd noticed similar symbols carved into the Claw itself so I compared them to the door. Sure enough the Claw held the clues to opening the door.After the turning the symbols on the door to match the ones on the Claw, and inserting the Claw into the "Claw-hole" I watched as the door mechanism whirred and in a series of impressive twists and turns, the door pulled back to reveal the protected chamber within.

Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. As I made my way along the cold, stone pathways toward the altar before me, my eyes were drawn to the glowing, pulsating light emanating from the wall carved of the very rock behind the altar. Faendal later told me that there was no such light as far as he could remember. I was entranced by it, however, like a moth to a flame. I walked mindlessly toward the wall to reach out and touch the glowing characters etched into the stone, and just as my hands touched the stone surface I felt as if my mind exploded and my vision went black.

It's speaking to me...
When I regained my senses, I could tell Faendal was shaking me and shouting, though his voice sounded muffled and distant. Slowly my hearing returned and Faendal had spun me around to show me that a creature was emerging from the coffin near the altar. There was a guardian to this hallowed place. I shook my head to fight off the dizziness and help me focus. I readied my bow to take out whatever crawled out of this coffin, but unfortunately arrows were not enough for this incredibly dangerous draugr. Earlier I had thought and written they were more repugnant than powerful, but this one was equally powerful.

The undead warrior charged at us shouting words that seemed familiar somehow. They were words at the edge of my memory. They were words that lifted me off the ground, and threw me backwards against the wall, knocking some clarity into my thick skull. I was about to die. A power surged up inside me and I found my mind instantly focused like a knife. A surge of power ran through my spine and down my arms exploding in flames from my fingertips! I was capable of yet another spell I had previously been unaware of. I had set this monstrous draugr on fire. It howled in rage and chased after me as Faendal filled it with arrows. We continued our barrage of arrows and fire until the creature moved (nor shouted) any longer.

Genjo, the Fire-Wizard!
We had won.

We took a moment to recover then begin filling our pockets with anything that wasn't nailed down. The draugr overlord had been wielding a magical battle-axe, but was also carrying a heavy, carved stone with various designs and markings all over it. It seemed important, so I made sure to carry it back to Riverwood. Faendal and I didn't really take the time to look over much of what we had. We were too exhausted, so we decided we'd work out the details later of divvying up the loot. We were just happy to have the Golden Claw, discover the secret chambers of Bleak Barrow Falls and be headed back to our beds alive.

Fresh Air! I missed you!
It was deep in the night when we emerged from the temple into the mountains. Faendal and I decided we wouldn't bother waking up Lucan and Camilla, so we parted ways and went to sleep. I'm at the Sleeping Giant Inn now wondering about the things I've done and seen today. I summoned a spectral wolf and destroyed an undead overlord with flames that came from within me. What else am I capable of? I didn't know I had these powers in me until I was faced with death. Perhaps I should seek out a magic school to help me encourage these powers. I'd also like to find someone who can explain to me what happened at that wall behind the altar. What were those words I heard? Why did I see the wall glowing, but Faendal did not? All these things run through my mind tonight, but I'm to exhausted to think about it any longer. Tomorrow, I return the Golden Dragon Claw to the Riverwood Trader, and then I'm off to Whiterun and finally speak with the Jarl. Perhaps the Jarl will have more answers for me.

- Genjo, the Breton
21st of Last Seed, 4E 201  

The OOC Corner - Reader's Poll & Author's Notes

I'm sorry it took me a week to post this. I had planned to release it the day after my last poll ran out, but my wife and I discovered a new game that literally destroyed our free time last weekend. Thankfully, that addiction is back under control, though we're still playing frequently when we have the time. I apologize again for not getting Part 2 up sooner. 

Mods I'm running:
  • Craftable Arrows
  • Dynamic Merchants
  • Im's More Complex Needs
  • Camping
  • Realistic Lighting

The "Realistic Lighting" mod really makes dungeon delving difficult. Even when I post the screenshots, I often have to increase the exposure slightly so you can see what's going on. I'm sure none of you want to look at pictures of black screens (other than to impress upon you just how dark it is in an unlit cave). Fortunately, I'm well stocked on torches, but unfortunately that makes me more visible to my enemies. 
Genjo will be going to Whiterun when he wakes up, but please decide what skills he should develop.

What skill should Genjo develop?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Genjo the Treasure Hunter, Part 1

It was only five days ago that I cheated death at Helgen. Today, I cheated death again.

Divines smile on both of us!
I did my usual morning routine of working at the lumber mill and thinking about my future. I went to bed thinking I'd be going to Whiterun today, but as I watched Faendal working at the mill, I realized I had some unfinished business here in Riverwood. I approached him and asked him if he wanted to join me on a quest to help the Riverwood Trader, and by association help Camilla. I knew what his answer would be before I asked. We took the time to train our archery skills together, then we geared up and dropped in on Camilla and Lucan to get the details of their burglary. Thus the quest to retrieve the Golden Dragon Claw was set in motion. If we'd known what we were in for up at Bleak Falls Barrow, we may have reconsidered.

The Morning's Last Respite
Camilla walked us to the edge of town, explaining to me in detail how to reach Bleak Falls Barrow, where she and Lucan believed the bandits had taken the Golden Claw about five days ago. None of us were sure they were still there, but there was only one way to find out. Faendal and I began our way up into the mountains for a day we won't forget anytime soon. Our climb started out as unremarkable. We killed a wolf that had not seen us yet. Then we found the tower I had seen in the mists two days ago. It seemed like a good outpost for these bandits that were infesting the surrounding Riverwood area so we approached it cautiously.

You can't see him, but Faendal is lurking in those bushes to the right.

We were correct. There were several bandits holed up in this tower. They were probably some form of lookouts for the troop located farther up the mountains at the Bleak Falls Barrow, but they failed. Faendal and I learned a valuable lesson from this tower encounter. We make an excellent team. Without any real communication, we devised a flanking maneuver using our stealth, and it was augmented with our long hours of archery practice. We were able to surround and defeat bandits before they could even get to us. I would draw them out by marching up the road. Faendal would slip around in the bushes and fire from a hidden location. The tower bandits were no match for these tactics. After carefully investigating this tower for the Golden Claw, we decided to move on.

Intimidating Complex
When we reached the entrance to the Bleak Falls Barrow, which you can see for miles around, I realized it was going to be a problem. We couldn't just march up the front steps or we would be swarmed with bandits on all sides. This called for caution and careful planning. I instructed Faendal to stay alert and keep watch while I scouted the perimeter for alternative ways up to the barrow. I hoped we could out-flank all the bandits camped here as easily as we had at the tower just down the mountain. This scouting mission ultimately saved my life as I'll explain in a moment. I found two alternative ways up to the entrance. One path involved inching along a narrow ledge to get to the far side of the complex and work our way up from behind. Although we would be behind the bandits, I would have preferred to strike from the high ground, so I continued my search.

This ledge will be important later.
I ultimately found a way up to the top level of this structure and decided Faendal and I would strike from here. I had counted four, maybe five bandits in my scouting and Faendal agreed. We could easily overtake this force with the advantage of surprise, stealth and the high-ground. We launched our attack. Again, without communication, I drew the bandit's attention while Faendal flanked the bandits who rushed up to impale me. It was expertly executed. Though, we both received some cuts, scrapes and arrows to the knee. The initial rush ended and both of us thought we'd gotten all the bandits, but there was a chance one or more were lurking in the shadows waiting to ambush us, so we proceeded carefully along the top level to the entrance of Bleak Fall Barrow.

Faendal used to be a lumberjack like me, but then he took an arrow to the knee.
We were standing at the entrance when we saw three men approach. We immediately hid behind some pillars and watched as one remaining, hidden bandit was run through by the three men. We could see that unlike the bandits who had been wearing leather and hide, these men were wearing some strong, iron armor and were well armed. The fact that they ruthlessly murdered a bandit only showed us that they meant business, but were they friend or foe? Faendal motioned that he'd never seen them before and so we waited and watched as the three men approached. They were coming up the stairs, heading straight for us. They appeared to know we were there, despite being well hidden.

I decided that there was no point hiding so I came out from behind the rocky pillar with my weapons secured and my hands raised. I told them I meant them no harm and we were looking for something that was stolen from a nearby town. They ignored me. The obvious leader of the three thugs turned to the other two and said, "Yup. He's the one we were sent to find. Get him!" A chill ran to my bone. I was in serious danger, and unprepared for it. Faendal was by my side instantly, but within seconds he had been disabled, perhaps dead. I lost sight of him as I rushed backward, pulling my dagger free in an attempt to defend myself from these men. As the fear gripped me, a sensation welled up inside me - something unusual that I'd never felt before. It tingled and burned simultaneously and with an outstretched hand a blast of blue energy shot forth.

Genjo the Summoner
I summoned a spectral wolf to aid me in my battle! How? I still am confused where this dormant magical power came from. It must be a part of my Breton heritage, but why had it only now manifested? Was it the fear or the adrenaline? I didn't have time for these thoughts in the heat of the battle, however. The wolf served me well as a distraction, but he was not powerful enough to take on even one of the three men. As they turned part of their attention to my wolf companion, I took the time to drain what limited supply of health potions I had available. It was becoming clear to me that I could not fight these men all at once and alone.

I rushed down the stairs away form the entrance to the barrow and stumbled over the bandit these men had killed on their way to find me. My spirit wolf was gone. I felt it fade out of existence. Faendal was no where to be seen. I was all alone and these men were bearing down on me. I tried to face them, but they managed to flank me much as Faendal and I had done to our foes earlier. I tried to keep a pillar between myself and the men, but eventually one circled around to sneak up behind me. I was bleeding from multiple wounds. I was feeling faint. This was going to end in death if I didn't think quickly. I jumped down to a lower level and realized I was near that narrow ledge I had found earlier - there was no way they could flank me there! This idea proved to save my life.

I ran to the ledge as the men were rushing down the stairs behind me. I managed to lodge an arrow in the lead man, slowing him, but the other two were quick to take his place. I just needed to keep them focused on coming at me and not give them a chance to go around and surprise me from behind. I carefully inched along the ledge, careful not to lose my footing on the snowy shelf. Then I turned to face the men one by one. I could barely stand, I was getting so weak from blood loss. I knew that this was going to be my final stand. It was me or them. One by one they came out onto the ledge. I slashed and jabbed with my dagger - a tool that seemed inadequate looking back on this fight. The first man deflected my dagger easily off his weapon, but the force caused him to slip and he fell from the ledge to his death. The man behind him was stunned by what had happened, then he was enraged. He lunged at me and I managed to step back out of the way of his thrust. I sliced at him and he tried to dodge, but also fell to his death. I heard him crunch in the snow below me.

The last man did not seem so foolish. He did not come out on to the ledge. He could see I was wounded and close to passing out. He had a cruel smile on his face and waited for me to come to him. He wouldn't be baited and he knew if he just waited long enough, I'd pass out soon. Then my salvation came. An arrow pierced his throat, the force of which sent him sailing off the cliff to join his companions in the afterlife. Faendal emerged and helped me off the narrow ledge. We had both nearly died, but somehow we had come out alright. We had defeated these powerful men. We laughed in near hysterics through the pain as we bandaged each other's wounds and drank the potions that would heal them and restore us to health. We had done it.

Here They Fell
An inspection of the men revealed a contract for my death or capture from an unknown "bandit." I suspected the incident at Embershard Mines had caught up with me, as I could not recall angering any bandits prior to that. Perhaps they were affiliated with these bandits at Bleak Falls and had hired men to track me down and bring me to bandit-justice. I do not know, and with such a vague signature, there is no way for me to find the man who sent these men after my head. Faendal and I ate lunch and recovered. We allowed ourselves time to calm down after that fight that was so close to ending in our own deaths. We had to rally and recover before we could enter the barrow itself and recover the Golden Claw.

Who is this mysterious "Bandit?"
I will continue to log this adventure later. For now, I must rest.

The OOC Corner - Reader's Poll & Author's Notes


This half of the adventure was incredible. I was so anxious and stressed out about defeating these men who literally had me to the brink of death twice! I could not even continue playing after this I was so worked up. Trying to play for an audience, and trying to keep a game character alive when the world is out to get him is quite an exhilarating experience. It's very rewarding for me. Genjo is only level 2 and only been on 2 adventures, but they're probably the most fun I've had in the entire game thanks to this blog and my loyal readers. I hope you continue to enjoy it for a while to come.

Mods I'm running:
  • Craftable Arrows
  • Dynamic Merchants
  • Im's More Complex Needs
  • Camping
  • Realistic Lighting
Now onto the Interlude Poll!
I will only run this poll for 36 hours instead of 48, so I can post Part 2 sooner.

What skill does Genjo improve?