80 Scion 1331 AE
I encounter a spider cave after fleeing centaurs in the Heartwoods. That cave wasn’t best place to hide, but at least I inadvertently solved a spider infestation in the Township of Claypool! Lots to do in that little village. The militia stationed there requested I bring them a kask of ale from the Monks at the Krytan Freeholds. Having never been there before, I made an uneventful journey to the Freeholds by following the roads. On my way back I attempted to save time by riding cross country, but after being chased by Ettin and a very angry Treant, I’m not sure how much time I really saved. So many grumpy folks in this world! Anyway, the militia in Claypool were happy to get their ale and I earned a weeks wages for my trouble!
While resting in Claypool, I heard about a hunting lodge that had a problem with a wild bore, so I sought it out in the hope that I could hone my hunting skills. Unfortunately when I arrived I found that the job was already done by a group of adventures. I did get to help set some traps, until I crested a hill and my heart sank. Seeing the Shire of Beetletun on the far side of the valley below put a knot in the pit of my stomach… I camped out the night with some hunters in the Queen’s forest and made my way back to the Reach in the morning.
I brought Mrs. Hemmingsworth some fresh picked flowers and she traded me a hot meal for a smile and bit of raw bore meat. Later I headed into the city to see Gulvar. He wasn’t surprised to see me, but I could I tell he knew something I didn’t. He told me there was an armorsmith who could refurbish his armor, but it would take quite some time. I wasn’t sure if I could afford to get a replacement suit of armor, but I went to see the armorsmith at Gulvar’s insistence. There I made a contract to use their gear, both armor and weapons, at a discount provided that I tell folks about their shop while I am on my adventures. Not a bad deal considering they supply gear to the Black Lion Trading company too! Fixing Gulivar’s old suit will be expensive though, but I only had to pay half up front to leave it in their care.
Late that afternoon, as I sat on a side street wondering where to go from there, a dusty flyer for the carnival whisked up onto my leg. Wouldn’t you know it, the flyer indicated that Carnie Jeb and the gang were in Beetletun this week – not far away at all! After what the White Mantle did to my friend in there though… I’m honestly afraid to step foot in the village. But, I figured that if Jeb is there, then there must be money to be made and it was probably safe. I rented a room for the night in the Reach and set out for Beetletun in the early morning.
The carnival wasn’t hard to find, with its loud music and hollering drunkards. Speaking of hollering, Jeb wasn’t hard to find either – always sparing with someone! How he manages to remain both boastful and upbeat after countless defeats is anyone’s guess, but I think it makes him feel good to let average folks “beat the strong-man”. It was great to see Jeb. We tried sparring like the old days, but we kept being interrupted by a seemingly unlimited supply of adventurers! Ah well, at least Beetletun did prove to be a safe little town now. In fact, I helped solve some of its biggest problems by aiding some children with an infestation of bees and getting my hands dirty by removing some White Mantle graffiti from an elderly lady’s house. It was a good experience!
It was over ale with Jeb that I remembered the brewery monks had told me they would be in need of an escort through the swamp to make a delivery to a Lionguard outpost. Ever boisterous, Jeb pushed me out the door of the tavern and told me I had best “get to work, ya heathen!”, so off I went in the dark to the Krytan Freeholds. I arrived too late to make the escort (days apparently), but I was able to strap a keg to Misty and make a special delivery myself the next day. What a strange ride that was…
I left at the monastery near mid day, but after entering the swamp it was dark as night. I kept to the board walk and ignored the lights I saw in the mists until I heard a shrill scream. I’ve seen a lot in my time, but that sent chills through me something fierce… Still, Misty and I carried on down the boardwalk. Sharply the screams turned to moaning wails and persisted… Followed… At one point I looked to my right and saw a ghost, sad and alone not far off in the water. I had never seen a ghost before, only heard the stories of the Foefire… The ghost was weeping, the shadow of a man on his knees in the mud. Misty let out a huff as if to tell me to get off and speak with him, so I did. Listening to his tale lead me to freeing him and many other ghosts from the shadows that haunted them, using a spirituality I wasn’t aware was within until that encounter. Amazing… I fought shadows and horrors with light magic and I wasn’t afraid!
The swamp was quiet. I completed my delivery and met the nicest Lionguard captain. The Lionguard seem like a noble group of people from many races and walks of life – happy to put themselves in harms way to keep the trade routes open, safe. They seemed equally impressed by my steed, Misty, enough so that the captain asked if I could take some messages to their outposts far off in Caledon forest. I was apprehensive about leaving Queensdale for the first time, but life really was playing out for me just like Gulvar said it might: There I was out in the world meeting people and opportunity at every turn. So, I took the job! After supper I am heading off to visit all the Black Lion forts in the Caledon forest, delivering private mail and picking up any to bring back to Queensdale. What an adventure this will be!
– Dwayne Murphy
Levels 10 – 15
I think of the problems that I have noticed while levelling thus far, the only one of any importance really is that is hard to create your own narrative in the game. There are many interesting characters to meet throughout the game and you’re free to imagine anything you’d like about most of them, because there story isn’t told beyond that moment in which they are locked in time on the map where you can interact with them. However, they can’t join you on adventures, so you’re basically left playing the game with “imaginary friends”, making up an imaginary story along the way if you happen to wish to include any of these characters in your journey through the levels. Short of making a handful of roleplaying friends who you can call upon to play roles for you, it’s just you travelling the world all alone. And I am finding it difficult to both play the game and make a story told in first person journal entries that is more than simply a synopsis of the quests and events I encountered.
Maybe that is a good thing, telling the story that is actually in the game, because then other people would know that they too could have a similar experience as my own. I don’t know…
Anyway, game play wise it is obvious that the system which scales down the character isn’t perfect. Even in white gear with basic vitality/toughness runes, I was essentially invincible to non-critical direct damage from one or two NPCs. Of course that wasn’t true for condition damage, but it did mean that most of the content was no longer challenging. Apart from that, it really is funny how much of a focus there is on killing other sentient beings in the game. Like seriously, there is so much you can’t do if you choose not to kill sentient beings!
“Joining the Lionguard” as a role-play (which you will read more about later) was actually really cool, but it was difficult to translate my imagination into the practical playing of the game. However, I think if a person really took the time to research all of the content in the game related to the Lionguard, it would be possible to level throughout the game world as a Lionguard by “taking new assignments” at progressively higher level outposts. And then once you’ve reached level 80, you could decide where you’d like the character to be stationed out of all of the available locations. Some would say that is a waste of a character, but I think it would actually be a way to add more “character” to one’s character! It’s really too bad that there isn’t even a simple system to facilitate this sort affiliation, beyond our limited choices in the linear “personal story” that was included with the game. That’s not to say that I don’t like the personal story, it’s that once you’ve done it on a character, it will be pretty well the same story on all the rest of your characters too. It would have been nice if they had a system that was modular, where maybe you have UI that allows you to drag and drop events and associations that your character will encounter as they move through their story. They could have standard and random layouts, as well as layouts created manually by the player. Perhaps they could even have events, characters, companions, and faction associations that could be unlocked for use on new characters. I dunno, I think that would have a lot more replay value than what is in the game now and it would have allowed people like me to make characters like Dwayne be a real part of the Lionguard in the game itself, rather than just in my imagination.