Owlaf’s Adventure in Skyrim

(This is me typing in my experience from my more recent playthrough. I’ll try to keep a consistent character and limit fast travel as much as possible. I’m using a variety of mods, today’s highlight being Frostfall and Campfire, as well as Alternate Start: Live Another Life, and Become a Bard.)

It has been three days since I awoke at a strange place in the middle of nowhere. It was like I was on top of a glacier with stone towers jutting up out of the ice. The remains of a campsite was all around me, tents ruined, corpses burned. It was amazing that I was still alive. Whoever attacked us clearly didn’t want to leave any survivors.

Yet who could do such a thing? Why attack a mining expedition, if the manifest nearby was anything to believe. If there was an expedition, they must surely have died too.

I shivered. I suddenly realized I was only wearing a set of old mining clothes. I had a few apples, but that was it. The nearby chest was locked, but I had no lock picks. Not even a bobby pin.

I started running across the snow, hearing my boots crunching, just barely audible over the howling wind. Ah yes. Of course I would wake up in the middle of a freak blizzard over a freak glacier in the freaking north! Curses! I could barely see in front of me, which was why I almost ran into a man in black robes and nearly knocked him over. I skidded to a stop just in time, only to see him create fire in his hands and threaten to attack me. Nearby in the snow I saw another dark shape. A corpse. Freshly killed. I smelled it now. With the wind blowing so fiercely, it was hard to pick up any scents.

The mage tried to burn me, but I grabbed him and punched him in the chest, hard. And then he fell over dead. I was shocked he went down so easily, but then I realized maybe they were both mages and they just had a duel, so the fire mage was still injured when I happened upon them.

All well… they had robes. Much more coverage to protect me from the harsh elements. I slipped the robes on, as well as a hood, took whatever gold and other items of note they had on them, and then I continued to run south, through the blizzard, stumbling in the snow drifts as I went.

I seemed to travel up to a mountain, and through a narrow pass, then down the snowy slope. I smelled no further trouble, but my teeth were clattering. I was getting colder and colder by the second.

Then I smelled wood burning. Food cooking. People… I followed the smell as best I could, but as I got colder, I moved slower. I dragged my feet and eventually saw the building. Stumbling up to structure, I found a trap-door set into the ground right next to the building. I yanked on the ring, but the door was locked! I looked left and right, but I saw no other door.

Oh Gods above! Don’t tell me the door is on the other side of the house!?

I walked around the building. Around the first corner was only windows. The second corner revealed piles of firewood, a wooden porch, and the door! At last!

I took two steps… and then I fell to the ground and everything went black.

Hours later I awoke. Turns out I was just outside an inn, a tavern just off the road that was to the west of Windhelm. The Nightgate Inn, I discovered. I recovered slowly from the blizzard outside, sitting by the fire. I offered what little gold I had to the innkeeper, but he told me to keep it. He said it was the least he could do to save a poor soul from freezing to death. Of course he did offer food and drink for a price, but I barely had any gold to begin with. I asked for a map and he provided me with one. I guessed where I had come from and traced the route with my finger, stopping to tap the map over Nightgate.

It looked like I had quite a few options. The icy road would lead me east to Windhelm or west to other places. The road split into three directions, one going east to where I was at now. One south to Whiterun, one went west that eventually led to either Dawnstar or Morthal.

I had had enough of the northern parts of this realm… Skyrim is it? They should have called it Cold-Biting-Snow-rim. In fact, forget the “rim” part. Land of Cold-Biting-Snow would suffice. A bit long though, so Skyrim it is.

I rolled up the map and headed for the door.

“Are ye mad? There’s still a blizzard out there!”

“Oh, so I should just sit here, and do nothing whilst imposing on your hospitality without paying you any recompense? I can’t just sit and do nothing.”

“On your own head be it, but just remember if the snow doesn’t get to ya, the bandits will!”

“Bandits?”

“There’s a whole group of them hiding out in an old draugr crypt nearby, just to the east along the road. They’ll cut you to pieces if you don’t freeze to death first.”

I shrugged and said, “I have my fur, and I have my claws. I will return someday and repay you for your kindness, unless I become preoccupied with other things and then I forget. Warm sands friend.”

The moment I was outside, I started running again. I remembered smelling people before I collapsed outside Nightgate. The smell out here was not like the smell from in the tavern. The tavern smelled cleaner. Out here though, the blizzard wind brought me the bandit’s scent. I just didn’t realize it before.

If they could camp out here in the middle of nowhere and survive, then they had supplies, and who better to steal supplies from than from a den of thieves? Nobody would miss these bandits at all.

*   *   *

Night was falling. I had left the bandit’s lair well behind me. I found the place where the road split into three and I took the path that led me south. I had managed to pilfer quite a lot from the bandits’ lair. Mostly food that was still fresh, extra clothing, and some items I thought might be useful to sell. I also had a variety of weapons. Swords, daggers, a bow and some arrows. When I first approached the bandits I used my claws to attack the two sentries standing guard outside, but since then I decided to use a sword for attacking. For one thing, I couldn’t block as well with my fists, and for another thing the sword reached slightly longer than my claws could. I planned to use the bow to hunt for food, but the only thing to attack me on the roads was a pair of wolves.

Farther south I went until I finally was out of the blizzard. Night was almost here however and I knew I would have to find a place to bed down. Maybe there was another inn or tavern nearby. No, wait, that was a farm. I ignored it. The next two buildings were also farmhouses. Whiterun hold was nearby, but if I recalled right, the Nords didn’t like Khajiit in their cities. It was also why it was so hard for me to find work.

The land was no longer covered in snow at least. Tall yellow grass grew from the ground, fields of it rolling to the west while mountains rose to the east. And still I kept going south.

It was dark by the time I made it to a small village called Riverwood. I heard music cheerfully being played in the tavern called The Sleeping Giant. I remembered being a bit of a musician myself. I no longer had the instruments…

Thinking fast I went over to the lumber mill. I found a wood cutters axe and used it to chop firewood. That alone could have come in use when camping in the wilderness, but I had other plans. I had some animal pelts from the wolves I had killed earlier, as well as some of the supplies I had gotten from the bandits.

A few hours later I was ready.

I headed into the tavern and asked one of the owners if I could perform there. “Of course,” he said. I had to ask their local bard to take a break, then I produced my newly fashioned lute and played a couple of songs. The night was old though, and there were few patrons still there. Understandable. I did arrive in town just after the work for the day was completed, and I had to craft my musical instruments in the near-darkness of the blacksmith’s forge, but I had excellent night vision to aid me. And I could polish and style the lute later. For now, as long as it played music, it would do.

Once I was done, I collected my little pay from the innkeeper, and as a bonus he let me have a room for free. It was midnight when I finally laid down on the straw mattress and sighed before finally passing out.

Survived being frostbitten, killed bandits, and worked as a bard in a tavern. Not a bad day I guess. Not too bad. Bad for bandits, but not for me.

* * *

Rumors of unrest reached my ears the next morning. While I had breakfast of cheese and tea, I eavesdropped on a couple of farmers. Not too hard to do considering my ears. According to the gossip, the Jarl of Windhelm supposedly rode to Solitude to visit with the Jarl there, who was also known as the High King of Skyrim. From what I understood about the political workings of Skyrim, each hold in the land was governed by a leader called a Jarl, and one of those Jarls ruled over the others as High King, and the High King had to answer to the Emperor of Tamriel. From what I heard, it seems it’s not uncommon for a Jarl to travel to another hold to meet with their neighboring Jarls to discuss business or even just for a social visit, but that wasn’t the case a few days ago. It seemed Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak went to Solitude and challenged High King Torygg. A lot of the gossip is saying it was murder, and some even say Ulfric shouted at Torygg. I know not what he shouted about, but I figured they must have had an arguement and then Ulfric slayed the King with a sword or axe or something. But shouting him to death? Right. Sure he did.

Rumor had it that there was something going on at Helgen keep, a military outpost of the Empire. Maybe the Imperials were marshaling their forces to try to apprehend Jarl Ulfric, who knows. There was a caravan of horses and carts a few days ago in the mountains, according to some other gossip. The only other thing I heard was the tavern wench yelling at one Orgnar to get a fresh batch of ale in. Potatoes in his ears, really! I chuckled at that under my breath. I left a septim on the table as a tip for my breakfast, then I shouldered my backpack of things and left town.

I was somewhere between Riverwood and Helgen when I thought to myself, Wait… wasn’t there a general goods store where I could sell this junk I looted from the bandit lair? Bugger! Growling to myself, I trudged uphill, slipping occasionally on an icy rock. I was walking through small amounts of snow again before long.

Once the walls of Helgen appeared at the top of a rise I quickened my pace. I was very close when I heard a large beast roaring. My eyes nearly popped out of their sockets when I saw it. A DRAGON! A large black creature with two hind legs, the front limbs being massive wings that made the air vibrate when it flapped them, long neck and tail, the tail ending with barbs and spikes, and the head roughly triangular with impressive looking horns and fiery eyes. It roared again as it flew up into the air.

I ducked behind a rock as it flew overhead, and I turned and watched through a shrub as the beast flew off into the distance. When it vanished over the mountain ranges in the north, I looked back at Helgen expecting more dragons to appear. None did, but I did notice the smoke rising from behind the city walls. The wind shifted so I could see it now, and it also brought horrible smells to me. Burned wood, charred flesh, blood…

I ran up to the gates of Helgen and pulled them open. A scene of devastation met my eyes. Houses that once belonged to simple people were burning down. Rubble from one of the towers lay across the road. I could see bodies burnt beyond recognition. I went through the village trying to search for survivors. When I saw a woman holding an infant, both of which were burned to death, I lost hope. There were no survivors at all.

The last corpse I examined had a journal that miraculously escaped damage. It told of how the guards captured Ulfric Stormcloak and a band of his rebels, as well as a horse theif. They had stopped at Helgen and they were prepared to execute Ulfric and his men. My guess was the journal was actually more of a log-book and the soldier who owned it was some sort of scribe, writing down events for posterity.

I flipped through the book. One of the last notes was that the horse-thief tried to make a run for it and was shot with arrows. The first person to be beheaded was a soldier who shirked his last rites. A note about loud roaring in the distance.

Then the lower half of the page was covered in ink. My guess was the scribe got quite startled when the dragon attacked.

Sure enough on the next page, the writing was no longer neat and well written, but messy and jagged as if hastily scrawled by a shaking hand from a panicky person. It told of how a dragon suddenly appeared. Of thunderous noises, rocks falling from the sky for a brief moment, then the dragon flying around and breathing fire. The scribe took refuge in the building, writing down the sounds of devastation around him. The last things he wrote was some dribble about the end-times, and noting some soldiers went into the keep to find some escape tunnel that let out to the north of town.

I closed the book and left the city, heading back north to look for a cave of some kind.

* * *

An hour or so later, I left the blacksmith’s house. Hadvar would be staying over for the next few days, but I decided to move on. Hadvar was the only survivor from Helgen, who was injured in the tunnels leaving the keep. Luckily I had a healing potion that I had looted from the bandit lair the day before and he was able to drink it to heal himself. Afterwards I escorted him back to Riverwood, where his uncle was a blacksmith. Hadvar told us much of what I already read in the scribe’s journal, about how a dragon attacked the keep just before Ulfric could be executed for murdering the High King of Skyrim. I was right about one thing at least: The Imperials were marshaling their forces to bring justice to Ulfric, but I never would have guessed they could capture Ulfric so soon, or that a dragon would appear. Hadvar thinks Ulfric Stormcloak escaped in the confusion. I only hoped there were other survivors besides soldiers. Women and children lost their homes today.

I had been about to set out on my journey again when a passing courier offered to sell something. The Black Horse. I once heard of it. It had been a newspaper that was originally printed in the Empire, but for the last two hundred years or so it hasn’t been printed. It used to be founded by the Empire so every copy was free. But now, sadly, it wasn’t. I had to buy the latest edition. The courier offered a subscription, but I refrained since I had little gold.

The latest edition talked about the rumors of dragons and of the attack on Helgen (A pretty fast publication I thought), and of vampire attacks in cities. The article on vampires mentioned the Vigilants of Stendarr. Vigilant, eh? A word that means someone who takes the law into their own hands. Apparently these vigilants hunt down daedra, witches, werewolves, and vampires. Their hold was up north. I decided to check them out and see if it was a faction worth joining.

* * *

Most likely not. While the leader of the Vigilants offered restoration magic training, I refrained from doing so because of the little gold I had. I also had no love for their holdings. Their headquarters was surrounded by snow. Enough snow! I had enough.

Before I left however, I did look around and saw they had a great many items of worth. I decided if they wouldn’t offer me membership, then I might as well take some of their supplies off their hands before I headed out to the cold, unforgiving wilderness.

My packs were much fuller before I left, but I did manage to steal many alchemy ingredients, potions, and a mace.

I know. I was trying to turn a fresh leaf, but I thought to myself, when would I ever set foot in the Hall of the Vigilants ever again?

* * *

And now here I was. Trudging along the path at night. A single torch I had stolen from the Hall, illuminating my path ahead, my boots crunching on whatever snow covered the cobblestone path.

When I awoke a few days ago at those ruins on the glacier, I had no memory of how I got there. I didn’t seem to remember my life before then, but I was beginning to feel a bit familiar with what I was doing now. Travelling from place to place, robbing from the rich, and keeping everything for myself. Well, maybe not entirely true… I had to get rid of my stolen goods to a fence after all. And then there was the incident in… in… Cyrodiil? Did I live in Cyrodiil and some point in my past?

Yes! I was born in Elsweyr, but I had traveled north to Cyrodiil to seek my fortune and I had ended up stealing from a great many houses in my time there. The last burglary I attempted failed abysmally, and they threw me into a jail cell to rot in for the rest of my life.

I wound up becoming so thin that I was able to squeeze through a drain in the floor and dig my way into the sewer system and make my escape. I had decided it wasn’t safe for me to rob anyone in Cyrodiil for a long while, so I fled north to Skyrim. For a time, I considered I should try to go straight; just stop stealing for a change and try to be an honest khajiit. I figured I should keep a good profile and stay out of trouble, or eventually I would be unwelcome in every province in Tamriel.

Well, the last job I took was that excavation team in the far north. I wasn’t the only khajiit on the team, our group was quite large in fact, but after that bandit raid, I was knocked unconscious and they thought I was dead. When I woke, I had lost my memory.

And now here I was, becoming a thief all over again. And after all the trouble I went through to avoid trouble! I growled to myself. What was the point of trying to go straight when there was always a bandit or another thief that would take advantage of you anyway? Maybe that’s why I wanted to be a thief more than anything: so I could steal from others before they stole from me.

I frowned and glanced over my shoulder. Nobody was following me. As I went on, I decided on a pact: I would not steal from anyone unless they could afford it, or they had stolen first. Bandits and other highwayscum was fine. Nobility in the cities, probably okay. Somebody who vexed me or who I didn’t like, definitely. But never from farmers or poor people. Didn’t seem fair to me that a miner who broke his back day after day break stones apart to find gemstones should get paid a pittance when the gems went right to a fair lady who did absolutely nothing to earn it, you know? People who never did an honest day’s work in their lives but were filthy rich anyway? Yeah, share the wealth! I’d be willing to steal from the rich and give to the poor in some way.

I resolved to steal gold from the next rich person I saw, and use the septims to buy some produce from the market and share it with the next beggar I saw.

Maybe…

The cold air blew gently, and I tugged on my hood a little, trying to block it from my face. I walked on, and on…

I’d would have run if I wasn’t carrying so much!

* * End * *

 

(This is a work of fiction based on my gameplay of the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Some of this is based on actual gameplay while other parts will be invented by my own imagination. No copyright infringement is intended.)

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Aching Feet and Tennis Elbow, What’s Next? Wait, Forget I Asked!

I guess you can say I work too hard at my day job. I tend to do a lot of the chores, and I’m starting to get the bad back and arthritis to prove it. I know aging is a fact of life and everyone gets old and gray, and I don’t really have a problem with that. It’s the problems that can come with aging. The aches and the pains that we go through in our lives.

I still can’t believe that I got tennis elbow… and I don’t even play tennis. The only time I held a racket was back in high school where I tried to play tennis, but only because it was part of the curriculum, you know, learn about all the different sports, exercise and health and all that. But tennis elbow? I managed to get that from moving boxes at work. All that heavy lifting. So I’ve had to deal with that since just before Halloween. It turns out it takes forever to heal, and of course there is a possibility of it recurring in the future.

Makes me wish I could steal the delorean and go back in time and warn myself about the tennis elbow, and even then slap myself in the face and tell me to take better care of myself! Ah well.

But over the Black Friday weekend, it wasn’t the elbow that bothered me so much, it was my feet. My shoes are pretty much too old and I need a new pair, but my problem is I can’t find the pair I really need, and that’s extremely funny because I work in a retail store that sells… shoes.

The plus side is if we’re not busy and I did all my cleaning duties and whatnot, I can browse our own merchandise and try on shoes to see what fits. Unfortunately, nothing does. So I turn to getting inserts to put in, you know, insoles, to try and add some extra cushion and comfort, but even that isn’t working either.

So I’m practically limping while trying to limit the use of my left arm, and on Black Friday one of our co-workers couldn’t come in because she had strep throat and was still contagious at the time. Bottom line, she wasn’t there to work on the biggest sale day of the year. The rest of the weekend went surprisingly slow enough, probably because people got hung over from the whole shopping thing on that Friday. I couldn’t blame them really. But my curse of working in retail (or food services way back when) was that I always had to work Black Friday and I never got to shop on that day either, so I don’t know what it’s really like to be part of the crowd trying to get to the last toy on the shelf. I see it happen to other customers all the time, but to be that customer myself, it’s never happened.

On Sunday it was me and that co-worker who was sick the other day. The day was almost over and it was pretty slow. That co-worker of mine got all the trash from the cans scattered around the store, but it had been ten, maybe twenty minutes and she hadn’t put new bags in those cans. So I go to the register where we kept some under the counter with the cleaning supplies, and I see three big trash bags, completely full of paper and trash, all tied up and ready to be taken to the back in preparation for throwing them in the dumpster. And there was that co-worker, leaning on the counter, checking/typing on her cell phone.

I refilled the cans with new bags, and when I got back she was still messing with her phone. So I pick up all three bags and started walking to the back with them.

“I was gonna get that,” she says.

I didn’t answer, but I did think to myself, “Pfft, when? You just keep chatting on your little phone, I’m sure your personal life is much more important that your job. Keep up the good work… if any!” And I kept thinking such thoughts as I carried those three bags to the back. “I cleaned the floors, manager cleaned the mirrors, you go the trash… No wait… you started too, but then I finished the job. If we earned commission on the chores we pulled, you’d be running to do everything before I could blink.”

Of course commission really comes from selling things. I could understand commission earnings like from selling cars or houses, but from picking up trash? Nah! Not on this planet… but then if we got commissions for planting trees and picking up bits of paper on the ground, the world would be a much cleaner place. Kind of sad, really, where we only do things because we get paid, and everything else that’s probably more important gets ignored because we think to ourselves that it’s not our job.

But if you get paid by the hour, isn’t it unfair to carry out tasks that other people could have done, but didn’t because they were on their personal cell phones? I mean sure, I could check my shipment while moving shoes on a shelf, but she couldn’t text to someone while collecting trash?

Needless to say, I worked hard all weekend. And my physical injuries are sure to be ignored by all of course. I even mentioned my tennis elbow to my manager, but I’m not getting any compensation from the company because I can’t exactly prove that it’s a work related injury.

On the other hand, I haven’t bothered to tell the higher ups that tennis elbow is caused by repetitive movement of the arm and can take months to properly heal. “Repetitive movement”. Like say, lifting heavy shoe boxes on a shelf? It could also be caused by typing on a computer, and many other things. Bottom line, it started at work, and it’s been hurting since. Do I get anything for it? No. Meanwhile, my co-worker gets strep throat and doesn’t come in to work on Black Friday, the one day a year where nobody has the day off, period, and that’s not the only time she’s neglected work for personal reasons. I swear, she gets more illnesses than Kagome from the series Inuyasha.

As for my aching feet, yesterday before my shift ended, I tried on a men’s sandal, Adidas, the one called Addissage, which has short little nubs of rubber/plastic/whatever it is to give the insole of the sandal a hard but bumpy texture. It’s supposed to be good for aching feet.

I grabbed one, dropped it to the floor and let my worst-aching foot slip into it, and OH MY GOD, it helped immensely. Shame I couldn’t wear them as a work shoe because it doesn’t have a strap that goes around the back of the sandal, but I might buy myself a pair just for my own foot therapy. After the holidays I might need it.

Hmph…. I still need a pair of actual working shoes though, preferably athletic so I can tie it up, not one of those slip-on shoes, but I might have to actually have to go with the slip-on option. My feet are just plain killing me.

It must have been over a month, maybe almost two since I got the tennis elbow, so I can only hope that it’s almost healed. As for the rest, well, I need to double check my feng shui.

Been a Long Time…

Wow, it’s been a year and a half at this point. It’s hard for me to be able to stay consistent and keep blogging all the time,, which is funny because I am a borderline OCD. But then that part of me really shines at my day job, where organizing things comes much more naturally. I need to figure out a way to keep blogging and turn it into something I can relentlessly pursue.

Some things I’d like to touch up on. First was the release of Skyrim Special Edition. Since I already bought the original game on the PC, I was given the SE for free, which I thought was kinda nice. The graphics were amazing, but I wasn’t too sure my computer could handle it. Turns out I could use an upgrade here and there. My system is definitely not ready for Fallout 4, a game I was curious about trying, but I decided to hold off on it since my system can’t handle it. I’d rather wait and be sure I can run it that buy it and discover I can’t.

The only thing I didn’t take to in Skyrim SE was the fact that I had to get used to the original interface. On Skyrim, I use a mod called SkyUI, which alters the user interface to make it much more friendlier to use. All the options to search for items, and sort them by value, weight, name, whether items were enchanted or stolen. The perfect mod for the OCD player, at least in my opinion. Without the Skyrim Script Extender however, using mods in the Special Edition was limited, and as such, there wasn’t a SkyUI for me to use. There’s other options out there I assume, but it just wasn’t the same. In the end, I had to shelve the Skyrim SE and go back to playing the original Skyrim. After all, I was sure my computer could handle it, and it had all the mods in perfect working order already.

And then of course there’s Inigo. A fantastic mod made by someone called SmartBlueCat (SBC). Inigo is a follower that is a khajiit that is very unique. You won’t find another mod like him. Others may come close, but I like to think that this cat is the top. He currently has over 7000 lines of unique dialogue, and every so often he does something that knocks my socks off. Once, after I sold some of my goods at a caravan, I heard Inigo starting to talk and I looked back to see him standing before the caravan leader and trading with him! He then came to me and gave me a few items he bought for me at random! I wouldn’t be surprised if he bought himself a dozen sweet rolls as he did this.

And as for World of Warcraft, Owlaf is still there. Legion was interesting and the upcoming Battle for Azeroth raised my eyebrows. It looks like Jaina is coming back, but some of my friends believe that she has a lot of explaining to do, like why she didn’t help us fight off the Legion during this last expansion. I tend to agree. Jaina was mad because the Kirin Tor allowed the Horde back into Dalaran, and she left the counsel and hasn’t been seen in the game since. I am also wondering whatever happened to the Black Prince, the last member of the Black Dragonflight… or so he was until you learn a secret from Ebonhorn during the Highmountain Tauren questline in Legion. The Black Prince hasn’t been seen in a while and he was concerned about the Legion invading Azeroth, but now that that’s taken care of, what does he think about the Alliance and Horde turning on one another?

The idea of the Horde and Alliance’s tenuous peace being broken is intriguing. It kind of reminds me of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, just after they return from the locker. The ship is back in the realm of the living. Captain Barbosa looks out over the edge of the boat, the sea wind blowing into his face, and then he suddenly turns, pulls out a gun and aims it at Jack Sparrow! Jack pulls out his guns and takes aim, and so do Elizabeth and Will among others on the ship. Everyone is turning against each other. Nobody pulls the trigger at first, but just stands there aiming at one another.

Then Barbosa just laughs, and everyone else joins in.

I imagine the Alliance and the Horde are going through the same thing. Now that they’ve dealt with Argus and the Burning Legion, they turned on one another, weapons raised, and as they stand there glaring at one another, they start to laugh. I can imagine a parody of that Pirates scene being made for this.

Arrows in Skyrim Falling Short

I noticed something that is pretty annoying in Skyrim, and I’m sure that any player who has played as an archer will know what I’m talking about. Every so often, when you’re not noticing because of all the fun you’re having, for example you’re killing draugr in a crypt, you’re still using those old iron arrows because heck, it’s a new game and you have yet to craft better ones, and the steel arrows are adding up in your inventory in the mean time – you have better ammo but you’re saving it for later. (Personally, when I run out of iron arrows I try to never use them again and almost consider them a trash item from that point onward).

2016-01-10_00001Well, anyway, you’re in a crypt, sniping draugr, and all of a sudden your arrow falls short by about 2 feet instead of sailing straight and true to your target. You’re like, “What the hell?” and you frown curiously, “Not this bug again.” Another arrow and it falls short.

I think I figured out the bug. Lets say you start off using iron arrows, and all of a sudden you run out. The game knows you still have some arrows though, and it automatically will equip the next arrow type to be used. Could be steel, could be forsworn, falmer, ebony, any arrow will do. The problem is this auto equipping. When the game autoequips your next arrow, your character will fire it only a few feet.

I believe that the way to fix this is simple – the moment you realize you’ve run out of ammo and you’re using a different arrow, go to your inventory (on PC press “I”; XBox users, you’re on your own!) deselect the ammo you’re currently using and select it again. In other words, manually unequipping and reequipping arrows fixes the problem. In a way this is good because sometimes you might not want to use the arrows the game automatically has you using, like say you ran out of ebony arrows and you’ve automatically switched to the Falmer arrows when you really would like to use your glass arrows next? Naturally you’ll switch them out manually. Falmer arrows belong in a museum!

So if ever you’re hunting or whatever in Skyrim and your arrows are falling two feet away from your bow, un-equip and re-equip them to fix the bug. Hopefully my theory is correct and it works on everyone. Let me know in the comments if you can.

One other thing to note, I have not altered my bows and arrows by modding in any way, except for the spinning arrows mod, which makes my arrows spin so it looks cooler during kill camera events in the game. Also it’s more realistic, since arrows do actually spin in flight and it helps in making the arrows fly in the first place. So if you’re bored with an arrow moving to your target by kill camera, get that Spinning Arrows mod and cackle maniacally as you watch the arrows spin and sail right into your targets’ eyes. Bullseye!

Owlaf’s Adventures: Ranting about Flying, and Soloing for Things

Flying or Grinding? Choices!

WoWScrnShot_092915_141911Owlaf is still my main, considering all that she’s done in the past to farm reputations and collect mounts and pets. Even though the last two items are account wide now (with the exception of class specific mounts for some reason), my druid remains my favorite class to play most of the time. Other times it’s my mage, hunter, or monk. I wished that reputations became accountwide so you wouldn’t have to farm for rep on more than one character. I mean think about it… the latest expansion and patch: Tanaan Jungle. The achievement required to get flying in Draenor involves several things, one of which is reputation. You have to be revered with the three factions in that jungle. With everything in the game, it’d make you want to only focus on one character to get that far up the reputation tree, but once you do earn this achievement, you unlock flying in Draenor for ALL your characters. It’s an account-wide achievement, so naturally all your characters, despite their level, can fly in draenor once you earn this achievement.

However, I’ve been procrastinating. Again. When I learned about the rep grind and how it involved questing every day, and only one or two quests at that, I balked at the challenge. I downright hated it. In the past you had to reach the maximum level of that expansion in order to unlock flying. Back during Burning Crusade, it was level 70 (68 for druids and flight form – I still have the moonstone from the questline to get the faster flight form too!) When Wrath of the Lich King came out, they had you use ground mounts in Northrend until you reached level 80, at which time you could purchase a cold weather flying license that let your character fly in Northrend at last.

Then Cataclysm came out. The whole land of Azeroth was changed. Up to this point, you could only fly in the Outlands and Northrend. With Azeroth being remade on a computer graphics scale, it gave Blizzard a reason to “finish” their design of Azeroth and allow us to explore every nook and cranny from a bird’s eye view. Unfortunately we had to purchase a master flying license from the flight master trainers so we could fly in old Azeroth and the new Cataclysm zones like Twilight Highlands and Mount Hyjal. Back when Cataclysm was released it sounded reasonable, but now it’s kind of silly. You pay 250 gold for the expert riding (flying) and pay another 250 just to be able to fly in Kalimdor, Eastern Kingsoms, and Deepholm? One would think they’d get rid of the Flight Master’s License entirely and just have the Expert Riding Skill grant flying in Outlands, Eastern Kingdoms, Kalimdor, and Deepholm, because odds are, at the level you get this flight training is at 60 and you’ll have a few quests to wrap up in Azeroth before you enter a portal to Outland and begin questing there. First level of riding is 4 gold at level 20, then at level 40 the next ground speed costs 50 gold (not counting reputation discounts mind you)… then at level 60 you pay 250 to fly in outland and another 250 to fly everywhere else? O.o Talk about money sinks, but this is just senseless to me. One would think you pay once to fly in the places you’ve already been and are qualified to go. Now once you reach Northrend you can learn the cold weather flying at level 70 instead of 80, but it’s 500 gold, same amount is costs to fly in EK, Kalim, and Outland.

Now after the cataclysm, we visit pandaria… and as of this writing you cannot fly when you immediately get there at level 85. Nope. Even with a new expansion out, you still have to level to 90 to get the flying in Pandaria, and it still costs a whopping 2500 gold. Quite a steep price for flying training when you reach a level where you no longer are questing in Pandaria and are instead about to go through the dark portal and head into Draenor. Might as well not buy it if you’re leveling a new toon, folks. It was worth it while the expansion was out, but not if you’re only going to be there for a short while. Just get to 90, slap the flight master in the face, and go through the dark portal to draenor.

Oh, and if you get the achievement on your main, all your alts can fly in draenor, regardless of level. How nice is that? No gold sink this year. I guess we can thank blizzard for that, but I’m hoping I’m not alone when I say I wish I could have just purchased the flying and be done with it instead of reputation grinding. Never before in this game did we have to grind reps to learn how to fly in a specific zone – we always talked to someone and gold exchanged hands and we were airborne. Reputations, if I may remind blizzard, is there for certain rewards that are supposed to be worth grinding for, like the mounts and pets, or a specific trinket or armor/weapon that is better than whatever could possibly drop anywhere else. We never had to rep grind to fly.

And that’s just one criteria for the achievement needed to fly. You also have to explore, collect treasures, complete quests, those kinds of things, just to prove you know draenor better than the stinkin’ flight masters. Crazy world of warcraft, eh?

So when I’m not rep grinding, I’m farming for other things.

Soloing for Mounts and Pets! Weee!

Recently I found that on my druid Owlaf, I can solo Dragonsoul on 25 player mode Heroic. I go for 25 player because more loot drops in that mode, and heroic because Deathwing drops two mounts, one of which only drops in heroic, but unless I’m mistaken the one that drops from DW on normal mode also can drop in heroic. I figure two birds with one stone, huh? Or perhaps two dragons with one butt whooping moonfire! BOOM!

But it can get kinda close to shaving my tail feathers. Morchok in heroic mode splits into two beings which share a health pool, so you just have to focus down on one of them. The only thing to be wary of are the crystals that drop on the ground. When their time runs out they explode and make you jump in the air, so spellcasters like me have to watch for that. Otehrwise it’s pretty simple and you never even get to the part where he yanks you underground to his position then spreads horrible black stuff on the ground where you have to run and hide behind stuff that juts up from the ground. Phase one, easily killed. For Warlord Zon’ozz, you better bounce the purple ball (void of the unmaking) back and forth between yourself and yourself (or a friend if you chose not to solo it). One method you can try is to damage the boss a bit as you’re moving while also playing ping pong with yourself. Bounce this ball ten times then kill the boss and you get an achievement, but you might die in the process on heroic mode even if you are level 100, so be careful! Anotehr method that (as a caster) I prefer to do is I bounce the ball, then try to kite the boss around the ball and get the ball to hit him. If the ball hits the wall you get thrown up into the air and can take serious falling damage, so you want to avoid that. Instead I hit the ball myself a couple fo times, get it to hit the boss, then he goes to the center of the room and I can stop worrying about the ball hitting the wall and I can stand still and unleash hell on him.

Next is Yor’sahj the Unsleeping… I bet he drinks a lot of coffee if he’s true to his name! I take out a coupld of the blood mobs patroling around the boss, then just engage the boss with starfall (glyphed now so it hits every bloody thing int eh room (no pun intended!)) and a hurricane so I can kill the rest of the bloods while also begining the encounter with this boss. I don’t even worry when he calls blood, I just pwn him. Even when the bloods reach the boss and all four abilities activate, I shrug and kill him. No worries there.

But now, folks, we get to the challenging parts. First up is Hagara the Stormbinder, a female orc shaman who can summon some serious lightning totems. It’s a shame that a person who uses the very elements of the world could turn evil and want to destroy everything when you’re supposed to revere the elements and the land and such, but oh well. Shrug your shoulders and get on with it. Before you pull though, you might want to glance at her weapons. If they look like they have snowflakes, that’s alright, but if it’s arching with lighting, “Uh-oh”. The reason being is after about 30-40 seconds, she casts her special. If it’s frost, four big ice crystals appear and you just need to killt hemt o maek her vulnerable again, but if it’s lightning, you’d need more than one person because you’d have to make the lighting chain from one totem to the other until you can overload them all and cause them to vanish, but there’s no way you can do this alone. Hunters and warlocks can command their pets or demons to move to a certain spot to help, but soloing is impossible. The only alternative is to kick her butt as fast as possible. Hagara is a DPS race, but not quite so desperate as Ultraxion!

Yes! Ultraxion! The dragon that has a chance to drop a mount (not one required for the drake mount achievement, but oh come on, I still want it!) This is the ultimate DPS race when you’re soloing. When he casts Hour of Twilight, it can have devastating consequences. Normally, in 25 man heroic mode, it has to hit no fewer than 5 players. if it does, then the protection around the Aspects vanishes and they become vulnerable. Ultraxion of course notices this and casts Twilight Eruption, which kills everyone including himself. Unfortunately this does not count as killing the boss since you die as well, so the encounter resets and you have to try again. So if you’re soloing and he casts Hour of Twilight, then he’ll cast Twilight Eruption immediately after that. Your only chance if soloing 25man heroic is to kill Ultraxion within 40-50 seconds. Any longer and you lose. Of all the fights, this one is the toughest to solo, but if you can do it, the rest is easy. Well, mostly easy!

Next up is the boat… or air ship… When you begin the encounter with Warmaster Blackhorn, you’ll only be dealing with adds. Killing the dragons that carry in the two adds is a must as when they fly out they’ll sometimes attack the Skyfire, and you want to minimize as much damage as possible on the ship, but you don’t want to kill them if they have their passenger on their backs while they’re still flying over the sea. Let me explain. Once when I first tried soloing this, I killed a dragon before it flew over the Skyfire, and dragon and humanoid add went falling to the sea. At first I thought, “Aha! I don’t have to deal with that add anymore! SWEET!” and the next thing I knew I was dead and the fight was over. No explanation whatsoever. Then I realized that I can’t let the add fall to his demise, he has to land on the deck of the Skyfire. So I shrug my shoulders and carefully kill the dragons as they fly over the deck, and in this way they can drop their precious adds and not cause the fight to reset! Beyond that, watch out when Blackhorn yells “Goriana! GIVE THEM HELL!” Stand in the hell to absorb the attack and prevent damage to the Skyfire. In heroic mode Goriana aslo fires a broadside attack to the Skyfire, which is unavoidable, so don’t worry too much about it, just kill the drakes overhead (NOT overboard!) and the adds. Also beware of that goblin sapper, we dont’ want him to damage the ship either. Once the adds phase is done, Blackhorn will land. I say take out Goriana first since she’ll heal the boss. Once she’s injured enough, she flies away and you can focus on Blackhorn. Blackhorn himself can cause spell schools to lock out if he roars while you’re casting, and can do a stomp that you ought to avoid. Other than that it’s a fun fight.

I wonder what ever happened to Goriana… she flies away at the end of the encounter… More on this speculation later!

Now another challenging fight occurs. The Spine of Deathwing. Nothing can be more fun than riding on the back of an enormous dragon while ripping is back to pieces! Deathwing probably won’t approve of this impromptu acupuncture, so he’ll sometimes roll to toss you off his back. Soloing this is tricky because he’ll want to roll constantly. See, the original fight idea was that DW will sense you on his back, and if he sensed most of the raid on one side of the back he’d roll that way, but if the raid distributed evenly across his spine he wouldn’t roll. Although you’d want to make him roll to get rid of the Hideous Amalgamations. This is how I do the fight:

Start off by killing three of the tentacles (one will always remain up even if you kill it – another will appear to replace it, so just kill the first 3 for now). Stand in a hole where one of the tentacles was, it will root you down (sort of) and you can survive a barrel roll from DW now. Once he rolls, the three Amalgamations will fly off. Now you can focus on waiting for the bloods to emerge from the holes. When you think  you have 9 or 10, kill the remaining tentacle. While a new tentacle pops up, an Amalgamation will appear from the recently deceased tentacle, and you can kite it over the blood remains. When he absorbs nine, kite him as close as you can to the plate, and kill it. Once it dies it causes a nuclear blast that rips up the plate, kill the Burning Tendons, and the plate detaches from the spine. Rinse, repeat, and you’re golden.

I should probably also mention that you need to prevent DW from rolling when you have your one Agmalgamation up and you want it to collect blood and blow up a plate. If you’re soloing, you need to dance… that’s right, kite the add across the bloods while moving from one side of the spine to the other. If you have Deadly Boss Mods installed, you ought to hear the word “Beware!” go off every second or two. FUN FIGHT! REALLY!

At last we get to the Maelstrom. When the fight starts I usually jump to the right platform where Kalecgos is (blue platform) and kill the limb there, then I go across to green, then Bronze, and finally end with Alexstraza’s platform. The reason is that red dragon will breathe fire on the burning tentacles and any corruptions, which is a nice help. I take out the corrupted tentacle that impales the aspects and myself as soon as I can, but on most other limbs I can DPS the limb so fast that the Mutated Corruption has no chance to spawn.

Once old DW is down for the count, you loot the treasure chest and hope and pray that you get the mounts. if not, wave goodbye to the Maelstrom and tell Deathwing, “See you later! Good work, sleep well, I’ll most likely kill you next week!”

Other Farming Adventures

Tundra Icehoof

The Tundra Icehoof, A possible drop from four rare mobs in Tanaan Jungle. I got mine from Doomroller yesterday. WOOT!

And that’s what I do when I’m not farming reputations in Draenor… kicking Deathwing’s butt and farming mounts and pets. Owlaf has collected 567 pets, and 230 mounts (well, 232 if I was on my Death Knight or Warlock, really!) I really hope I can get to 250 mounts so I can get the reward for that achievement, although now I hear that there’s yet another one when you reach 300 mounts. I guess I better get back to the argent tournament and farm for the tokens I need to buy the others from there. >.<

As for the pets, I’m currently focused on getting two remaining pets I need for the Raiding with Leashes III achievement. All I need left is the Fragment of Desire from Black Temple, and the Sunblade Micro Defender from the Sunwell raids. Once I get those I’ll have K’ute, the reward pet from this achievement.

And Owlaf isn’t the only one to farm these either. I have five other level 100 characters, and in between getting brewfest tokens this week, I’m also taking them on a whirwind tour of mount and pet farming where I can, but only Owlaf is deep in the Tanaan Jungle grinding those reputations, just to let everyone else fly.

I’m still alive!

Sorry for being M.I.A. for a while, but a lot has happened over the past few months. It’s a bad habit of mine, I get tired of blogging and/or run out of ideas and then stop blogging for a while, but I’m still around. Today I logged in and saw that Anise’s Cabin happens to have gotten over 800 vies this week. I was surprised. I mean, Anise’s Cabin? really? Heh. I guess a lot of people probably wonder about the letter in the cellar and whether she really is a harmless old woman. Hmm!
Well. I’ll be back with more. Especially with videos. That’s right. I’m going to try streaming! Should be interesting!

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!

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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