[Normally I alternate different posts with Oblivion ones, but all my other ideas were half-baked by the time Wednesday rolled around, and I’ll be damned if I post a late update twice in a row. Side note: please forget about the update rate in the first three years of this blog.]
“Thank you so much for retrieving Ardaline’s staff! You’ve performed well and will have your recommendation.”
“Oh, it were real easy. All Shush had ta do was-“
“You needn’t tell me the details of what was involved in getting it. It’s perhaps better that I know nothing about it.”
“Oh, okay. Den Shush won’t tell nothin about it.”
Don’t worry folks, we’re really not missing much. One of the dullest of all mage’s guild quests, this one basically boils down to using a bunch of free charm scrolls to bypass persuade checks. I suppose it did culminate with me stealing a staff back from someone, but I didn’t even have to do that. I just wanted to make use of all those sneak points for once.
Shush turned to leave when de lizard lady dat ran dis guild spoke up again.
“Excuse me...Shush, was it? I was wondering if you could help me with something else.”
“Hey, dat’s no fair. You said Shush just had ta get de staff back an you’d give him de ricky-mandate-hun.”
“Oh don’t worry, you’ve already earned your recommendation. But if you’re interested in some further rewards, I have another job I need help with.”
“Rewards IS a gud ting” said Shush. Shush nodded. “Wot does you want Shush ta do?”
“It’s about my friend Henantier, I need help locating him. Would you please follow me to his house?”
So den Shush an de lizard lady walked out of de mage-y guild at Bra-ville an walked across de street to her friend’s house.
I quite like Bravil’s aesthetic of multi-level ramshackle huts. It adds some variety to the mostly generic medieval architecture. All the same, building the mage’s guild out of flimsy wood seems...unwise.
“Why is we goin in your friend’s house if we needs ta find him? Is we lookin for mystery clues?”
“Something like that” said de lizard lady as she unlocked de door an started walkin upstairs. Dere were two beds in de upstairs room, an one of em had an elf guy sleepin in it. De lizard lady sat down in a chair an Shush sat down on de other bed.
“So Shush...have you ever had a dream?”
“Yup, Shush has lotsa dreams. Shush dreams of bein de greatest orc fighter mage-y sneaky person in all de land!”
“No, not that type of dream. I mean the type that happens when you go to sleep.”
“Ooooh, sorry. Yup, Shush has lotsa dose. Shush dreams of bein de greatest orc fighter mage-y sneaky person in all de land, an also Shush are king an all de mudcrabs is dead.”
“I see. Well, my friend Henantier was very interested in dreams. He thought he could use magic to manipulate them, and enter them on his own terms. Instead, well...his results backfired. Now he’s stuck on the bed there.”
Shush scratched his head an looked over at de elf on de bed. “Dat’s Henenentire?”
De lizard lady nodded.
Shush stood up, walked over, an looked at de elf all close-like. Den Shush looked at de lizard lady an pointed to de elf.
“Shush found him, can Shush get de reward now?”
“Not sure why you needed help, he’s right dere!”
“You don’t understand. He’s there but he’s not REALLY there.”
Shush looked back at de elf guy. Shush kneeled down next to him and poked him a few times.
“Shush is pretty sure he’s dere.”
“I don’t need your help finding Henantier’s body, I need your help waking him up.”
“Well Shush can scream real loud if dat’s wot-“
“Henantier magically trapped himself inside his dreams. I can’t ask the guild to help him because if they found out they’d expel him for dangerous experiments. But if you’re willing, you can enter Henantier’s dreams and save him, with this.” De lizard lady pointed to a shiny green stone onna string around de elf’s neck.
“This is a dreamworld amulet. It’ll allow you to enter Henantier’s dreams and fix whatever’s going wrong there. I can’t go because he knows me, and may dismiss me as a figment of his imagination. Are you willing to enter his dreams in my place?”
“So Shush gets ta go into a dream where Shush can smash some stuff an save a guy? Sounds like fun! It’s only been a week or so since Shush slept last, but Shush suppose he could take a quick nap.”
De lizard lady nodded an took de shiny rock off de elf while Shush laid down on de other bed. She walked over to Shush wit de rock.
“Alright, here we go. Thank you, and good luck.”
De lizard lady put de string wit de shiny rock around Shush’s neck, an den tings went all dark for some reason. After a bit, Shush started seein again, but de room looked...different.
Shush couldn’t quite put his finger on what it was.
As Shush got up from de bed, he heard a squeal on de other side of de room. He turned around to see dat elf guy from before.
“My word! Are you real? How did you get here? Do you know the way out?”
“Hey, are you dat Hem-end-here guy? Shush are s’posed to get you outta here.”
“You are? Oh that’s wonderful! How do we get out?”
“...uh...hm. Wake up?”
“Wake up, what do you mean by that?”
Shush walked up to de elf an screamed in his ear. “WAKE UUUUUUUUP!”
“Ow! Why are you doing that?!”
“Don’t you know dat dis is a dream-y place?”
“A dream, you say? I don’t know. I’m having trouble remembering anything at the moment. The only thing I can recall is the feeling that I’ve lost...something. Several somethings, in fact. Maybe if you can find the things I’ve lost I can find the way out?”
“So Shush just needs to find your stuff? ‘Kay. Are dey in dis door here?”
Shush opened a perfectly normal door in de wall dat was upside-down for some reason.
“Wait, you don’t even know what you’re looking f-“
Trial of Patience
Just as Shush was walkin into de door, everyting went all dark for a sec. Shush blinked an den all of a sudden Shush was standin on a platform in de middle of nowhere. It were dark all around an in front of Shush but in front of him. In front dere were two tings. One was a bunch of big floor tiles stickin out of de ground, and de other was a piece of paper on a stand.
Walkin up to de stand, Shush picked up de piece of paper. Dere were a bunch of symbols onnit, but Shush didn’t think dey were letters. Shush didn’t see de man with a hat or de snakey symbol or anyting like dat. Shush scratched his head. Shush couldn’t count dat high, but it looked like dere were de same amount of symbols on de paper as dere were tiles stickin out of de ground. Shush stuck his foot out an poked one of de tiles. A buncha sharp pointy tings flew in front of Shush real fast.
For some reason, stepping in those huge gaps BETWEEN tiles is not an option.
As you may realize from the above image, I’ve finally got a real, actual screenshot from my game! I kept forgetting to deal with that, because I played all this in like a single god damn weekend months ago. Sorry to break the illusion for you. I left a trail of save points for me to go back and take screenshots from, and I’ve solved the issue there. (The solution was to stop screwing with the useless in-game screenshots and just download fraps already). Shush looks a little different at the moment due to being surrounded by the green light of the dream amulet. Also naked. But don’t worry, further screens will start intermittently trickling in.
Aren’t you glad? Now you can see how ugly the character models are in real time!
Awww yeah, check out that sexy 2006 minotaur head. Hey, at least it’s SUPPOSED to look weird.
Hm...Shush would have to think real hard about dis puzzle for a minute.
...okay, after a minute, Shush still didn’t know how ta do dis. Shush guess dat he should stop an think bout it more. ‘Cept, like, REAL hard thinkin dis time.
What about...nah, dat’s not it...
...screw it. Shush are just gonna run through real fast.
Shush got a jumpin start so dat Shush wouldn’t be on de tiles for long. De shooty pointy tings were super fast an a few hurt Shush before he got across. But Shush were waaaaay faster den usual on account of not bringin his clanky clothes with him into de dreamy place. Shush made it to de other side of all de tiles an dere was a shiny circle floatin at de end of it. Shush grabbed it an couldn’t see again, ‘cept dis time everyting went white instead of dark.
Even though Shush was too cool to do it, that was a decent puzzle. Especially for Bethesda, whose normal idea of a puzzle is “there is a switch that opens a door and this is all the non-combat stimulation you’ll get for several hours.”
“Ah! You’re back.”
Shush looked up an saw de elf guy he was s’posed to be savin again.
“Hey you, Shush got a ting. Did dat make your brain better?”
“I’m afraid not. I can feel something...building, in the back of my mind. But I think you need to recover more of my lost things before I’m ready to leave.”
“Well, guess Shush will just try another one of dese doors...”
Trial of Courage
It’s a good thing all caves are lit with unidentifiable green light.
Dis time when Shush could see again, dere was water all around. Shush were in some sorta cave, an dere was another stand in front of him. De stand had a container on top of it, an when Shush looked inside he found a potion. Shush opened it up an sniffed it. It didn’t smell like a flavor Shush liked, so Shush threw it away. Den Shush dived in de water an started swimmin. Shush got his water breathin spell ready in case he needed it, but de underwater tunnel was so short it didn’t even matter.
At de end of de underwater tunnels Shush saw another glowy circle ting. Shush walked up an grabbed it, an tings went white again.
So yeah, this challenge isn’t as cool as the last one. It’s very straightforward, and easy at that. I understand that they didn’t want people to get stuck if they wasted the water breathing potion, but their solution is to make it so it’s not even needed. They actually give you a second water breathing potion part way through the underwater tunnels, too. So it’s less a trial of “courage” and more a trial of “hold forward until you reach the end”.
Trial of Perception
De next door Shush went in reminded him of de first one. Shush was standin on tiny bits of stuff in big black space. Dere weren’t no pieces of paper dis time doe. Shush moved forward an fallin rocks almost hit him. Den Shush almost got hit by a swingin blade-y ting, attached to a floatin bone. Shush decided dat he would avoid de plates on de ground from now on. Also de swingin blades.
Dey didn’t look fun either.
After some more fallin rocks, some more blades, some weird smellin gas, some jumpin across big black holes, an more fallin rocks again, Shush saw de next shiny circle thingy. As Shush walked up to grab it, he wondered what all dese blades an stuff had to do with de elf’s dreams.
It’s true that all of this has basically no rational explanation. These challenges aren’t a reflection of Henentier’s mind or fears or anything like that. It would be cool if they were, but they aren’t. Instead they’re just a bunch of random challenge rooms the designers thought up that couldn’t exist anywhere in the normal game world. And you know what? I’m completely okay with that. Obviously the whole game can’t be this way, but sometimes it’s fun to let a video game just be a video game.
Test of Resolve
Dere was only one more door Shush could enter, so Shush figured it was de last ting he needed. Shush nodded at de elf guy as he passed an opened de door, which was covered in blood.
Next thing Shush knew he were inside of a long tunnel. Dere was a red light at de end of it an another container next to Shush. When Shush looked inside he saw LOTS of smash-y tings an clanky clothes. Dis was de type of challenge Shush liked! So Shush grabbed some a bunch of de clanky clothes an a nice smashy hammer before goin into de light.
On de other side of de light was a big arena. Dere was one of de glowy stones up where Shush couldn’t reach. De door closed behind Shush. De sky was red an stormy, an lights were all around de arena. Dere were two doors on each side, an dey slowly started to open. Comin out of de doors were two really big guys. What was weird was dat dey had human-colored chests but real big heads dat looked like bulls. Dey were both holdin really big hammers an runnin straight for Shush! Shush grinned an gripped his own hammer. Dis was gonna be a fun fight!
Shush were wrong. It wasn’t a very fun fight. I mean, Shush s’poses dey hit pretty hard. But Shush hit harder. Ah well, at least Shush got to do some smashin. Shush walked up de new stairs dat appeared an took de glowy ting...
This is actually a tougher fight than I made it seem, but for stupid reasons. Y’see not only do you have to use specific equipment for this fight, but you can’t use magic. The general three pillars of Bethesda games are Combat, Magic and Stealth. This set-up makes two out of three of those types of character completely useless. Combine that with a lack of equipment and items you may have been using to succeed, and throw in Oblivion’s awful level scaling system. Eeeyup. For some, it’s pretty much the worst thing ever.
But even if you just hit things and therefore don’t have trouble, like Shush here, it’s still boring. The thing about magic, stealth and other gear is that it helps with Oblivion’s lackluster combat system. Sure, the normal combat may be incredibly basic, horribly scaled, and take too long, but at least you have options. Here, you don’t even have that. I would’ve much preferred Bethesda just let you have magic in here. Sure, you could probably cheat past some parts of the dream. But finding clever ways around problems is part of the fun of open world games like this.
“Oh, thank goodness you’re awake!”
Shush sat up, realizin dat he was back in de non-dreamy house. De lizard lady was lookin at Shush, an de elf was gettin out of bed next to him.
“Yes, and I’m awake too, thanks to you” he said. “It’s good to see you in the real world. Are you doing alright?”
“Yah Shush are doin fine.” Shush hopped out of bed. “So Shush heard dere was a reward for dis?”
“Of course! Your bravery deserves to be rewarded. I don’t have much in the way of coin, but allow me to present you with some things that may help in your travels.”
Den de elf handed Shush some pieces of paper.
“Those are magical scrolls. They’re like spells, except you can only use them once.”
“Oh. Are dey really nice spells?”
“Most definitely! That one is flare, the most basic fire spell. That one is the lowest-level healing spell. This one here is, let’s see...I think it will give your enemies a rather nasty cough for almost a whole minute!”
“...how much shiny gold coins are dey worth?”
“Well let’s see, all six combined...56 gold.”
Shush decided to leave an never come back.
I wish I was god damn kidding. It’s not quite as bad as 50 neopoints, but this is still pretty insulting. The lowest level quests in guilds give 100 gold, and I was already level 10 when I got this one. It’s not like I’m gonna use the scrolls either. They really were some of the worst spells in the game.
Seriously though, 56 gold? I had a total of over 17,000 on me at the time, and that’s after I bought a mansion.