Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Pilgrimage of Kate & Maurice, Finale: The Eldergleam


     I'm Kate, a wood elf warrior with no gold who can only use bows. My companion Maurice is Breton pilgrim on the verge of death. Together we're traveling halfway across Skyrim's massive world, on foot, to Eldergleam Sanctuary. There's just one catch: if Maurice dies along the way, we have to reload and try again from the beginning. We're nearly there, and all that stands in our way is a brief patch of hilly forests and the wolf pack directly in front of us.

     I'm. . .calm. Almost eerily so. We've fought and crept our way through the interminable gauntlet of ice wolves and sabre cats, snuck past the bandits at Valtheim, and slew the great demon bear of the river. What are a few mewling curs? As if in some sort of hypnotic trance - and to be fair, I've been awake doing this for far too long at this point - I coolly draw and wait for the now familiar nudge of Maurice colliding head-first into my body, a habit Skyrim's companion AI seems to love. Almost unaware of what I'm doing, I loose an arrow at the most visible wolf and systematically extinguish the other two as they charge in from either flank. We leave the bodies and continue on our way.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Pilgrimage of Kate & Maurice, Pt. 4: Giants and Dragons and Bears, oh my!

     I'm Kate, a wood elf warrior with no gold who can only use bows. My companion Maurice is Breton pilgrim on the verge of death. Together we're traveling halfway across Skyrim's massive world, on foot, to Eldergleam Sanctuary. There's just one catch: if Maurice dies along the way, we have to reload and try again from the beginning. Right now we're locked in mortal combat with our arch-nemesis, an unavoidable cave bear, and Maurice charged across the river towards him when I wasn't looking.

     I can start to feel my chest tighten. I really don't want Maurice to die. He's kinda mean and incredibly moronic, but I've become attached to the guy. We've did so well this time. Not here. Don't let him die here.

     No, I won't. I can't. It's not over yet. Maurice only just crossed the river, and he's hasn't reached the bear yet. I might still be able to get a few arrows out before they clash and the foolhardy Breton is viciously mauled. I quickly take aim and watch as my arrow soars through the air and thuds pathetically into the ground next to the bear, hurting absolutely no one. Crap.

     If my chest was tightening before, now it's tied itself into a Gordian knot and set up a winch on either end. This is really bad. Maurice has almost reached the bear, which means another shot like the one I just made has a good chance of hitting my companion if I'm not careful. I don't have a good plan. Even if I do manage to hit the bear, how will I ever do enough damage in time? The desperation is clawing its way into my mouth. Shoving it back down as best I can, I take aim again, sighting at its chest so the arc will lift the arrow into its head. The bear is standing up on its hind legs, about to take a deadly swipe at the now-nearby Maurice. I fire.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Pilgrimage of Kate & Maurice, Pt. 3: The River of Death

     I'm Kate, a wood elf warrior with no gold who can only use bows. My companion Maurice is Breton pilgrim on the verge of death. Together we're traveling halfway across Skyrim's massive world, on foot, to Eldergleam Sanctuary. There's just one catch: if Maurice dies along the way, we have to reload and try again from the beginning. After surviving a gauntlet of wolves and painstakingly sneaking past a predatory tiger, we're immediately greeted by another of the feline menaces.

     The Sabre Cat is looking right at us. It's dark out, but it's not that dark out. How are we not being detected? You're just pretending to ignore us, aren't you? We're beneath your notice, is that it? Don't you mock me, kitten. If I didn't have to look after this profusely-bleeding excuse of a traveling companion, I would crush you. With arrows. In the face.


     I'm sorry dear I didn't mean it when I called you names, don't look at me like that, let's just go.

     In an unexpected and not entirely logical twist, I've started to develop survivor's syndrome with someone who keeps dying. Initially, Maurice's idiotic berserker charges into the gas-piston jaws of death annoyed me, but I started finding it a weird kind of endearing after a while. Eventually, my gut response morphed into what it is now: absolute terror. When he pulls out his comically large war axe and bull rushes a pack of wolves or giants that will surely slay him, I can't help but feel reminded of that time one of my dogs ran into the street as a puppy.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Pilgrimage of Kate & Maurice, Pt. 2: The Heart of a Lion and The Brawn of an Atrophied Llama


     I'm Kate, a wood elf assassin with no gold who can only use bows. My companion Maurice is a Breton pilgrim on the verge of death. Together we're traveling halfway across Skyrim's massive world, on foot, to Eldergleam Sanctuary. There's just one catch: if Maurice dies along the way, we have to reload and try again from the beginning.

     We were close. We were so close. I guess I have to hand it to the guy - not many people would try to interfere in a fight between two giants and a dragon while wearing no armor. I sigh, but can't be too angry about it. If I was gonna die, I'd want it to be in a blaze of dragon-charred glory too. I reload, and we're back at Hamvir's Rest.

     I lost count of how many attempts we've made long ago. In theory it shouldn't be that hard; we just walk there, right? In practice, though, there are a few major roadblocks.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Pilgrimage of Kate & Maurice, Pt. 1: A Match Made in Skyrim's Sleepy Hollow Equivalent

   There he goes again, flinging himself headfirst into the jaws of danger. No, I mean he's literally throwing himself into the cave bear's mouth. I nock an arrow, breathing as calmly as I can, and I sight at the bear's chest as it raises its claw to strike.

     Let me back up a bit.

     I recently acquired Skyrim, and I've been trying to figure out how I want to approach it. I have virtually no experience with the game - everything I know comes from an article or two I read online. I do know from word of mouth, however, that it's absolutely massive, and that if I'm going to be playing it over the school year I need to impose some artificial rules to constrict it a little.

     Among my experiments to figure out what these rules should be is a wood elf named Kate Halpulte. She can neither pick up gold nor buy or sell items, and as an additional rule can only use bows and self-affecting magic (that is, I can't cast things on other people). So, in essence, a sniper assassin.

     Not far into the game, a priestess in Whiterun gave me (or rather, Kate) a quest to find an evil dagger so I can get the sap of a special tree so I can revive a different special tree outside her temple - it makes sense in context, I swear. A few days later, I'm back in Whiterun and during my travels I came into the possession of the aforementioned evil dagger, so I decide to pay the priestess a visit to see what she has to say. There, in her temple, a fateful encounter occurs; I meet Maurice.