Adventures of Amaki’dar: Thugs from the Dead!

A dark and rainy night in a new game, and I'm walking back to Whiterun Hold, a torch in my hand, and walking in the rain because I'm over-encumbered. Darn those mammoth tusks!

A dark and rainy night in a new game, and I’m walking back to Whiterun Hold, a torch in my hand, and walking in the rain because I’m over-encumbered. Darn those mammoth tusks!

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about Amaki’dar’s many adventures in Skyrim. Well as a heads up, I’ve started a new game. Basically one of my favorite addons was updated and it seemed best to start a new game, at least according to the mod makers. If you didn’t there were ways to safely install it, but I couldn’t be bothered.

So this is what happened to Amaki’dar so far. After escaping Helgen, she talked to the blacksmith in Riverwood and helped him forge a dagger and helmet. At one point, when she was going to improve the fit of the helmet, she turned to the workbench, and grabbed a steel ingot by mistake. Of course if it was real life it’d have been no mistake, but being a video game it’s different; I had turned towards the table, but my cross hairs were down on the steel bars when I hit “e” to begin using the table, and that was how I ended up grabbing the steel ingot by mistake. Try to explain that in real life, you’d only get a confused look… and then handcuffs probably…

Anyway, in game, Amaki’dar accidentally grabbed a steel ingot, and the blacksmith of course sees and says, “Hey! You can’t take that!” and the steel ingot was automatically taken out of my inventory. What a lousy start for a Khajiit thief, huh? But beyond this, he did not get hostile or anything, possibly because I was helping him at the forge. I work on the helmet, and he tells me the usual, keep that dagger and helmet and remember him when I’m making skyforge steel. Heh, I thought to myself, I bet you’ll make me think of you long before then by sending thugs after me, right!?

I complete a few more quests, one involving killing a dragon and then climbing up the path to High Hrothgar to visit the graybeards. I now have to journey halfway across Skyrim to find a tomb and retrieve a horn. Joy. What fun. I was walking north down a mountain path when I encountered an argonian who was selling skooma and moonsugar. Naturally I pickpocket the lizard and kill him. It was then I remembered that I needed to return to Klimmek! I had taken supplies up to the graybeards for him, I needed to tell him I was finished with the task.

So I got back but he seemed intent on staying indoors, with the door locked. Picking the lock and breaking in… well of course that’s breaking and entering, tresspassing, invading, and I knew if I did that I’d get nothing out of Klimmek except, “You’re not supposed to be in here!” and possibly a bounty if I didn’t leave straightaway.

I wait outdoors instead. Literally, pressing “T” to bring up the wait option and waiting an hour at a time. Before I knew it, “We’re here to teach you a lesson!” comes from behind me. Uh oh.

Three thugs! I knew it! My drawrven bow and iron arros didn’t even dent their armor, so I looked in my inventory and pulled out an elven mace and nettlebane. I start slashing and smashing away and I get the three down a bit faster than if I had used my bow. It pays to be prepared for the melee.

I loot their bodies, finding 100 gold on each, and one had the contract. I read it expecting to see the blacksmith’s name on it. Instead, the contract was sent by one “argonian.”

Dead thugs in Ivarstead. Oh what a fine mess!

Dead thugs in Ivarstead. Oh what a fine mess!

“WHAT!? That stinking lizard is DEAD! I killed him myself when he saw I was… pick… pocketing… er… ahem…”

Amaki’dar then whistles nonchalantly and walks past the staring guards, and considers finding that argonian and find out exactly how dead bodies can hire thugs!

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Top Searches – An Owl’s Perspective

Okay, so it’s not really my top searches, but according to my blog stats, I’ve seen that people found my page by searching for Skyrim things, like “skyrim conjurer/illusion build,” but this one caught my eye: “skyrim how to fight conjurers.”
Being the type who plays with a bow and arrow in Skyrim, nearly always, my answer to that is simple: An arrow to the face… or the knee if you’d like. That’s how I’d fight a conjurer. Kill the magician, and it’s summoned minion should vanish automatically.
Of course, there are times when you find a conjurer fighting something it’s conjured, and in cases like this, the mage cannot control it’s minion and is now fighting it to the death. My answer woulds till be the same: arrow to the head or knee… and that goes for both the mage and the rebellious minion!

Facelifts in Azeroth

I must admit, I might actually miss the old face design. I noticed a difference, when I was logging into my druid on the current version of the game. I saw her face on the character selection screen and thought, wow, bid difference methinks! I had been testing out the beta for a few days, trying to get used to the changes to Balance (the way it automatically changes eclipses and no more proxy starsurges is something to get used to), but today as I logged into Pandaria, I saw my mains current face and realized I was getting used to the new face that I saw on the character selection menu in the beta and I actually felt a pang of emotion. I guess you could say it was regret – I’ve played with this character for years and her face was gonna be changed forever in a few months when they roll out the updated models.

Just for the fun of it, I decided to take screenshots of both, sort of a before/after image for myself. I felt like making it when I saw the difference and felt like I’d want one. In fact, when they updated the art of the bear and cat forms and gave then unique coloring based on hair color, I had taken a screenshot of the cat form before the patch was released and compared my old cat form to the new one. I was glad I did at the time. I guess it’s my way of honoring the old art work and welcoming the new.

Now I did notice some news that was datamined recently, saying that you can change your character’s face in the game by visiting the barber in your capital city. This is good news, because the artwork is new and players had been playing the same faces on their characters for years in most cases (best guess). With this new feature allowed, this will give players a chance to see all the new artwork in the game and chose how to make their characters look right from the start of WoD.

Night Elf Face Art

It’s a tradition I do – when new artwork comes out, I take pictures to compare old with new, just to remember what was. Notice how much brighter the eyes are, and the smother hair/eyebrows.

It brings to mind of a feature in Skyrim, where they added a way to allow you to change your face by talking to a face sculptor in Riften, who charges an incredible fee of 1000 septims, which is the same price for a horse, but this allows you to alter your character’s face in the game. Of course, you cannot alter your character’s race or sex in this way, but still, it might be nice to get rid of that scar on your nose, or change you eye colors, or select different war paint.

I think it is nice that Blizzard is giving players the ability to change their character’s faces in game. With the artwork taking such a major change, I can imagine people are wondering what their characters will look like when they enter Draenor for the first time, and wondering what other options are there. This will give players the chance to see all the extra artwork without being forced to make a new character to do it, and it lets them change it on their main characters if they wish. I’ve played Owlaf since the beginning of Wrath of the Lich King (what a story that was), so I’ve grown used to the way my character looks, and int he beta, the most I’ve done was try out new colors and face paint (female night elves have face paint whereas the male night elves get beards instead). I’m thinking when the real thing is launched, Owlaf might race to the barbers and sit in the chair and see what options are available, what new look I might try.

So it seems this time around, when WoD is officially released, I won’t be charging through the dark portal to immediately begin the questing. Instead, I run for the barber’s for some odd reason. Silly me! Hehe.

Although if I have to be a bit of a critic, I guess I better point out one more thing I have to wait for, same for any and all moonkin druids. Blizz is updating the artwork for the characters at long last, and they’ve already updated the bear and cat forms, replaced the travel form (cheetah to stag, with a glyph option to use cheetah if you’re feeling nostalgic), and given the Worgen and Troll druids their own bear/cat/moonkin art. I think the next thing we druids are anticipating is an update to the moonkins artwork. If you notice they way they changed the glowing eyes on my night elf, you can definitely see that they might consider updating the moonkin art to reflect this aspect, not to mention bringing it up to date with the rest of the artwork. True, they did come up with new artwork int he talent tree “Incarnation: Aspect of Elune” but all this does (aside from increasing spell damage for a few seconds) is make it look as though your moonkin is wearing armor made of tree bark. While this is a cool look, it does nothing to the original skin of the moonkin, just adds armor on top of the moonkin for a few seconds.

You can see the original moonkin under that tree bark armor.

You can see the original moonkin under that tree bark armor.

Considering how the character models are being updated (and very nicely I must say), I think, and hope, that all moonkin druids are keeping their feathers crossed. We’d like to have our moonkin’s updated to look just as beautiful, and maybe more unique. For example the main difference in moonkins before the Cataclysm had the night elves moonkin with dark feathers and antlers while the tauren had brown feathers and bull horns. When Cataclysm came, it introduced Worgen who could be druids and it allowed Trolls to be druids. The Worgen and Troll moonkin forms, however, are nearly identical in every way with the Night Elf version with the exception of skin recoloring (especially noticeable in the troll as their moonkins have orange feathers). We might enjoy seeing more variation in their artwork, like maybe have a troll moonkin with bone earrings, or with voodoo trinkets and fetishes hanging around their necks, or maybe tusks coming out of the beaks? What about the Gilneans? The curse that left them as Worgen has seeped into their bear and cat forms, so maybe their moonkins can have more wolfish qualities, maybe fangs curving down from the beak, more menacing looking claws, maybe even alter the shape of their heads or beak to make it more wolf-shaped in some way. These are just ideas of course, but hopefully something might come from it.

No change to the Moonkin art yet, but keep yer feathers crossed!

No change to the Moonkin art yet, but keep yer feathers crossed!

In the meantime, we’ll definitely enjoy the new artwork for our main characters and our alts as we plunge into Draenor.

Owl’s Two Cents: WoD Garrison Limiting Professions?

In The Beginning…

…we start a new character. Let’s say you’re a Night Elf, then your starting zone is in a giant tree called Teldrassil. Lovely place really. Much better shading than the hot and sandy/rocky places of Dutorar where Orcs and Trolls begin questing. As you run through the trees dealing with mobs the quest givers tell you to deal with, you level up, and once you get to level 5 you get to begin training in professions. Huzzah! As a druid, I usually go with herbalism and alchemy. Why? Because druids can shapeshift into various animals for travel, and they do not revert to their true caster forms when they gather herbs off the ground – the only requirement if you’re in flight form for example is that you must be on the ground and not hovering in the air above the herb.

Uses of Druid Shapeshifting for herb gathering:

  • At level 16, druids automatically learn Travel Formwhich takes on the form of a stag and lets you run 40% faster, only usable outdoors. There is a glyph that lets you make your travel form appear as a cheetah (which was the original form since WoW was released – they changed the default to a stag when Mists of Pandaria was released). At level 16, this gives you a useful ability to run faster from point A to point B, and while in this form, even though you can’t cast spells (if you do you revert to caster form automatically) you can still gather herbs without automatically shifting back. In fact, your druid in stag (or cheetah) form will animate digging at the ground as you gather the herbs, and once you’ve collected it you can take off running again. Quick and easy.
  • Also learned at level 16 is the Aquatic Form, which allows you to swim faster underwater and allows underwater breathing (nice tip, if playing a druid and you have to go afk while underwater, make sure you’re in aquatic form so you don’t return to your game only to find that you’ve drowned.) With the aquatic form at your disposal, you can shift into what I call a demented walrus, or a deranged sea lion, and swim faster than normal, and in this way you can collect a few underwater herbs. Stranglekelp is the first you’ll find, but at level 80, if you quest in Vash’jir, you’ll find other herbs to collect, not to mention more beautiful scenery to swim about in. (and if you’re like me, you might despise looking like a demented walrus, so there is the glyph of the orca, that lets your aquatic form (or swim form as I call it) appear as an orca, which is much nicer looking.)
  • upon reaching level 58 as a druid, you automatically learn Flight Form (as of patch 5.0.4), and it is at that level that players can begin entering the Outlands as they quest up from 58-70. This is the fastest way to gather herbs, to simply fly around, land next to an herb, gather it, and fly away without losing your flight form. Other class types wouldhave to dismount to gather an herb and remount their flying (or running) steeds, which takes 1.5 seconds to do. Flight form druids, therefore, can gather herbs much faster.

So with those shapeshifting forms in mind, gathering herbs is a breeze, especially once you can fly. Of course if you can get a hold of the engineering-crafted mount, the Sky Golem, you can gather herbs while mounted, although the flight animation of this mechanical wonder can be a bit annoying, hence I prefer to gather herbs on my druid anyway.

With the druid’s ability to gather herbs while shapeshifted is a great bonus in my book, so I usually tend to learn herbalism at level 5 and level it up along with alchemy. Alchemy uses herbs to make potions, like for healing and mana restoration, as well as for temporarily boosting stats like your overall health or your strength or agility or intellect. It can also transmute metals into forms that are otherwise unobtainable, such as transmuting trillium into living steel, and it can be used to transmute lesser gemstones into more valuable ones. As such, an alchemist can be helpful to other players who are blacksmiths or jewelcrafters, as well as every player who needs a flask or a potion to enhance their gameplay.

At first, at level 5, you can pluck the Silverleaf from around trees and Peacebloom from ground as well as uproot the Earthroot right when you learn Herbalism, and with alchemy you can start brewing potions like the minor healing potion. So basically at the start of the game, once you reach level 5, you can start leveling up herbalism and alchemy right away. It’s something I love to do when I’m bored with questing or running around in dungeons.

Enter Warlords of Draenor (Beta)

I’ve been able to play a bit of Warlords of Draenor in it;s Beta stage. It can be pretty laggy because most of the time a lot of other players are online at the same time, so the server can be a bit overwhelmed. Then there are bugs and incomplete things out there. Sometimes I ride past some blue and white cubes on the ground and wonder what rock or shrub that will become in the future. But the one thing that irked me was the lack of training for my professions.

I copied my character Owlaf (my trusty Night Elf Druid, Balance) for the test realm, and began questing through the dark portal and fighting orcs galore. After a while I finally ended up in Shadowmoon valley and began building my garrison. Of course I started questing after I discovered that I could not train up my alchemy or herbalism skills, so there I was capped out at 600 skill points in both professions. Normally I’d stock up on my empty crystal vials and have an empty herbalism bag and train up so I can gain skill points in herbalism right fromt he get-go, but no. The Iron Horde is attacking! Fight back, the flower picking and potion brewing MUST WAIT! And I’m thinking, sheesh, I’m not the only one fighting these orcs am I? Fine, fine, I’ll blast them with lunar and solar energies. Fine… sheesh.

So eventually I got to my garrison and started building it up. No profession trainers or anything there yet. Jeez, where are they?! I love to level my professions, I mean I brake for herbs on principle, and I can imagine some people would love to go on a ore mining, creature killing/skinning craze from time to time, but herbs in shadowmoon valley seemed scarce. Either I wasn’t the only one gathering herbs consistently, or draenor is very poor when it comes to herb spawning locations. I mean if there’s only five locations that herbs can spawn in one zone, then I’d say nerf the amount of creatures available to skin, because there’s more mobs and animals out there than there are herbs. Jade Forest in Pandaria is a smorgasbord of herbs, while Shadowmoon Valley was like, “Herbs? What’s that?” … in my opinion anyway.

While questing around, the few herbs I found I collected, but the one downfall that I absolutely detested was that since I was unable to train up my herbalism, I was not gaining any skill increases for these herb pluckings. I mean sure, I was gathering the herbs, but not raising my skill at all. With each expansion, all trade skills got an increase that you trained and leveled to gain. In Draenor it seemed oblivious.

Then I found and completed a quest “Shadows Awaken” and the reward was a little box called “Gift of the Draenei”, and when I opened it, since I’m an alchemist, it gave me an item called Mysterious Flask, which began a quest of some sort. So I click it to activate it and I had to bring it to someone at my garrison. When I finally get round to it, the quest giver, and it leads through a quest chain where I eventually obtain two things. One is the garrison blueprint to let me build an alchemy lab at my garrison, and the other is, finally, A Treatise on the Alchemy of Draenor.

You know, I always thought “treatise” meant something like a treaty, like a signed paper to propose peace or something… turns out the word “treatise” means “a book, article, etc., that discusses a subject carefully and thoroughly.” Well, I guess my blog is either “A Treatise on the Ramblings of a Druid” or, “An Owl’s Two Cents” or perhaps, “My Rant on WoW’s Beta”… tkae your pick.

Anyway, I get this… treatise… and read it, and boom, my alchemy skill is increased to 700, finally allowing me to gain skill ups from 600 up to 700. Great! Wonderful… now where the hell do I learn recipes that can help level up this skill, eh? So far I can still transmute trillium bars into living steel bars. What do I do with these draenor herbs, mmm?!

So then I go to my garrison and get them to build my alchemy lab. Oh look, it’s gonna take a while for them to build it, and once it was done I could do daily work orders to get the things I’d need to craft certain items and learn new recipes. It all seemed rather tedious to me. I’d rather just go to the trainer in Stormwind or some other capital city and learn the skills/recipes there, then go out in the world to farm to my heart’s content.

But nooooooooo. I have to go 4 or five quests to open the garrison building and learn the draenor alchemy skill so I can get dailies to level it up and learn new recipes. It’s so limited and time consuming, which I despise at times.

As for the herbalism, I’ve trained in it on my beta character, but I can’t even remember how that happened. Probably after a quest or two that gave me a treatise on the skill itself perhaps. Why they are forcing us to learn our trade skills via questing, I don’t know, but I’m sure this will tick off those players who avoid questing as much as possible and would rather farm their way up to the maximum level.

Of course I’ll quest as much as the next person, but when I first started playing this beta expansion I wanted to sink my teeth into herbalism and alchemy, not kill dozens of orcs and build a garrison. I guess now I have to play backwards. I mean, when you start leveling in Pandaria, you COULD go to Sunsong Ranch and begin the tilling quests that gradually opens up the farm for you, but you’re stuck with only four mounds of soil to plant seeds in until you reach level 90. In Warlords of Draenor, they have you build up your garrison before you can focus on other things like your personal professions. The Sunsong Ranch provided the means to grow food ingredients for cooking, but the garrison is focusing on all the other professions as well, and you absolutely must unlock the garrison and build buildings in order to progress in any and all of your professions. With Sunsong, it was more of a bonus, a way to grow your own ingredients for your cooking skill, but there was a cooking trainer near the market place all ready to go and level your cooking from 1 to 525 in a pinch. As for the garrisons, you HAVE to quest and UNLOCK the trainers for your professions. It sorta sucks to me. I have no idea what Blizzard was thinking when they came up with this.

Final thoughts

So basically, in Warlords of Draenor, when it comes out, don’t rush to your profession trainers in Stormwind or Orgrimmar when you first log in, it’s pointless. Just quest and build up your little garrison and eventually you will get the blueprints to build your profession specific building and somehow learn the Draenic (Profession Name Here) along the way. No rush, it seems. I hate it because I’d like to level it up as soon as I log in, and as I ran around killing orcs I could be gathering herbs and leveling my herbalism in the process, but NO… you gather some herbs at first maybe, and eventually you learn the next level of herbalism, and you can’t do a think with those herbs, other than perhaps sell them on the Auction House, until you quest enough to learn some alchemy. To me, this seems very limiting. I don’t know how it will be for all the other professions, but I’m guessing it’s about the same: Quest for a while, get blueprints, build the profession garrison building of your profession specialization, THEN you get a quest or two and a vendor to buy your new recipes from…. what a headache. Imagine going through all this when the game is released this November. All those new players running around doing the same thing as you all at once? Oh, joy.

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I tell ya, I loved how it was when Mists of Pandaria came out. You went to the trainer, trained up for the next level of alchemy and herbalism. For herbalism I could now go out into Jade Forest and start picking herbs left right and center, and with alchemy it gave me only two new potions I could make, but when I crafted those potions, I’d randomly learn a new recipe, and each of those new recipes also had the potential to learn new recipes when I crafted them. So with Mists and Alchemy, I was able to learn new recipes as I crafted potions and flasks, and I was leveling herbalism as I went. With Draenor, I feel like it’s going to be tiresome, slow, and extremely limited… since I only seem to find one herb a day in the wilderness and I am forced to buy new recipes instead of discovering them like I used to.

 

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