Remaining Defiant in Dark Souls

So, I like Let’s Plays. Gives me a good glimpse of games I never would have tried or am on the fence on, and it’s interesting seeing other perspectives of games I already know well. But I’ve noticed a big problem in all the lps I’ve been watching/reading. They’re always trying to make progress. Constantly trying to hit some sort of performance goal, or even (gasp!) attempting to actually beat the game. What’s going on with that? Where’s all the aimless wandering, the unfocused milling about, the pointed refusal to move yourself towards completing the game? Everyone knows it’s when you’re doing nothing of value whatsoever that you get the best material. Last time, on Aether’s Glorious Dark Souls Conquest Mk. II I tried to deliver just that sort of experience, but I failed. That’s becoming kind of a standard thing here, isn’t it? My failure. In any case, the game tricked me, and I accidentally ended up making progress.

Well, now I’m determined to not let that happen again. No more progress until I’ve exhausted all other avenues of effectively wasting everyone’s time! Will I succeed in this endeavor? Find out below!

After kicking Sif to the curb, I make my way back to Quelaag’s Domain, deep in the bowels of Blighttown. This is actually pretty troublesome, and not just because Blighttown is a hole that no healthy-minded being would ever even think about. No, the problem with Blighttown is that there’s no bonfires I can warp to in there, meaning that if I’m going to traverse it, I’ve got to get halfway through the blasted sewer level again. But I do it. Why? Because I apparently lost all sense of self-respect around the time Frampt decided to give me a saliva-bath.

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Anyways, so I get to the lower level of Quelaag’s Domain, around where we killed the spiderbabe and rang the second Bell of Awakening. I notice that there’s a section of wall that isn’t covered in spiderwebs, making it oddly suspicious. The note on the floor claiming ‘illusory wall ahead’ is a pretty damning clue as well. I give it a good smack, and the wall fades away, leaving me with this view. Being surrounded by literally thousands of infant spiders in those egg sacs does not exactly strike me as a good time, but still, treasure. There could be treasure. I love treasure. I head into this new hallway.

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No treasure down here, but that bonfire is pretty tempting. Blocking my way, though, is this unfortunate soul weighted down under so many eggs nested in his flesh. He asks me if I’m a new servant. Servant to what, I don’t know I’ve no interest in killing him just to get to the bonfire, so I humor him. He lets me inside for an audience with ‘Our Fair Lady’ before shuffling aside. The bonfire’s already lit. Usually the bonfires I’ve been finding out in the wild, I’ve been lighting myself. In fact, the only bonfires I’ve found that have already been lit when I came across them were…

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those tended by fire keepers. Well. I suppose like everything else, ‘fair’ is in the eye of the beholder. I try to offer some conversation and pay my respects, but I just can’t understand her. She’s saying something, but not in any language I’ve ever heard, and her words seem to leave my head as soon as they enter.

Well, whatever. I have the option to join her covenant of bug-infested psychopaths, which I’m not going to do because seriously, no. Mr. Hive at the entrance, Eingyi, as he’s apparently called, does offer a weird list, the ‘Servant Roster, and some pyromancy upgrades for sale. I take the opportunity to boost my flame a few levels. I consider putting him out of misery, because seriously, did you see him? He’s more gross spider-baby than man, now. He seems pretty happy with his arrangement, though. To each their own, I guess.

On my way out, walking through the floor of Blighttown, I run into someone new. Someone I didn’t see here before. Someone just hanging out. Seriously? Who just hangs out in Blighttown?! All of Lordran to go chill in, and you choose the God’s Dungheap to spend your time? Something’s obviously wrong with her. She’s surprised to see me, claiming that only those with unique gifts can do so, and introduces herself as, well…

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The fabled Mother of Pyromancy. The one responsible for granting the art of pyromancy to mortals through the Great Pyromancer Salaman. Apparently, I remind her of the historic flame-wielder, and offers to teach me pyromancy as well. The power to make more things burn better? Of course I’m up for that! She warns me that in pursuing her pyromancy requires giving something up. Heedless, I pick up two new spells from her, the first a more powerful version of my fireball and the second a spell that engulfs the area around me in flames. Both circumstantial, as I don’t get enough uses out of them to make them my mainstays, but I can see getting some good use from this. As I leave her, she gives me a warning to always fear the flame, else it will consume me and I will lose myself. Then…

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Aww, I’m touched. So far, all the pyromancers I’ve met have been such nice, caring…

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Ok, less touched now. Still, the Mother of Pyromancy. Here in Lordran. Quite an awesome opportunity! I’ve got to tell Laurentius. A quick port later, and…

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He notices my pyromancy has grown, already, under Quelana’s tutelage. I let him know about the Mother of Pyromancy, thinking that he’ll be interested in it just the same as I. After all, just sitting around Firelink with nothing to do is sure to kill your hope and drive you hollow. He was kind to me, giving me a part of himself through this pyromancy flame. The least I could do is give him this one positive note to keep his sanity afloat. He resolves to reach her on his own, claiming himself enough of a pyromancer to be able to handle it himself.

And hey, while I’m here, do you remember Frampt? The primordial serpent? You can feed him items in exchange for souls. A wide variety of items, including one that I’ve been picking up over and over again in Blighttown.

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Hey, you remember when he decided to transport me inside his blasted mouth? The indignity of it? Yeah.

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Down the hatch.

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Pressing On in Dark Souls

Last time, on Doom, Despair, and Dark Souls, my status as the Best Chosen One became known to the world after I rang the two Bells of Awakening. Of course, this isn’t a role one can take lightly. Just being a chosen one has a lot of responsibility, but being the World’s Best Chosen One is more than most people can bear! Will I be able to handle the burden? And what is that burden exactly? Let’s find out together!

We ended up in Quelaag’s Domain last time, a giant sexy spider’s den deep in the bowels of Lordran. This place has an exit leading even deeper, into a place called the Demon Ruins, but honestly, after a sewer level and that blasted Blighttown, I’m done with being underground. I need some sun on me. So I head upwards, back towards Firelink Shrine.

Upon arriving back at the closest thing I have to a home base, I stop for a bit to chat with my new best friend, Laurentius of Great Swamp. You remember this guy. He’s the guy who gave me the power to unleash the fiery passion in my soul upon my enemies. I buy up all his pyromancy spells, because being able to throw fire is awesome, and he tells me a bit about the nature of pyromancy magic. A pyromancer’s power truly does come from the soul, as it turns out, and when Laurentius gave me my pyromancer’s flame and the ability to throw a blaze from my hands, he also gave me a little bit of himself.

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I’m honestly touched.

Aside from that, there are two new things at Firelink Shrine, one good, and one bad. The good part is that we have a new resident, yet another person who’s not a complete jerk. Yay!

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Although he does happen to be a bit monstrous.

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Ah, so that’s all the Best Chosen One needs to do? Just become the next Geezer Zeus, lording with godly might over the realms of man? I just link the Fire, cast away the Dark, and purge Lordran of the Curse of the Undead? Is that all?

If you’ll excuse me a second, I’m starting to get a little lightheaded.

It’ll be ok, right? I am the Best Chosen One, after all. It’s not like I’ve died dozens of times already just ringing the Bells of Awakening, and besides, even if I have, which I totally haven’t, I’m undead, so it doesn’t much matter. I can die all the times! All I’ve got waiting for me is eventual demented insanity, and an eternity of looking a burned and wrinkly and…. ugly? Ok, I’ll do it. I’ll purge the undead curse. I can’t go through life not being beautiful!

To cure the undead, though, first I need to get the Lordvessel from Anor Londo. Before that, though…

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Right. So, the Kingseeker Frampt does have some usefulness for me, besides just dispensing direction and looking like an inbred worm demon. He’ll eat my junk items for me, removing them from my inventory and giving me some extra souls in return. I take advantage of that, to make things less cluttered. My pockets started getting a little full after the fortieth set of crappy armor I stuffed in there.

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Even Captain Mopey here is impressed with me. Doesn’t stop him from complaining about our new guest, though.

I did mention that there were two new things at Firelink Shrine, right? The first was Frampt. The second, well…

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The bonfire’s out, and I can’t light it. This concerns me.

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I investigate. The Firekeeper has been slain. Our bonfire, the main factor that made Firelink so welcoming and safe, has been lost. The mute woman has left behind nothing but her clothes, and a Black Eye Orb. This orb allows me to invade the world of the murderer of a Firekeeper and reclaim their soul. Something tells me she left this there knowingly, hoping someone would be able to save her. Conveniently enough, the eye constantly watches towards Anor Londo, our future destination.

In not unrelated news, the knight Lautrec of Carim has gone missing. Methinks I have a suspect.

But, before I can reach Anor Londo to track down the firekeeper’s killer and regain the Lordvessel, first I’m going to need to traverse Sen’s Fortress, and insidious den of traps that random giant opened up when I rang the two bells. Now, there are quite a few places I have yet to explore, and most of my gaming instincts are telling me to take care of the side areas before bothering with the route the game wants me to take, but I’ve read up on what this Lordvessel does, and I’m thinking I want to get my hands on that before I go exploring. So, it’s the plot path for us!

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A Dark Souls Intermission

Last time, on Pain, Suffering, and Sewer Levels, we slew an absolutely grody dragon and waded in human excrement for a few hours. This time… well, this time’s going to be a little different. Occasionally, I spend a bit of time just dicking around in Lordran in between entries, leveling up, upgrading my gear, and generally doing things that don’t really advance me in the game so much. Normally, nothing worth writing about happens in those times, so I don’t make posts about them. This is one of those times, ‘cept some things happened that are probably going to come into play in the future, so I can’t get by keeping it behind the black. I’d just append it to a bigger update, but frankly, Blighttown sucks and I hate it, and that’s probably going to be a pretty sizable post already. So here. Here’s a little orphan post, shoved into the world all on its lonesome.

If you’ll recall from last update, Domhnall of Zena was kind enough to let us know that we had some resurrecting undead ahead of us, and we’d need divine weapons to properly end them. Now, if you were going to describe me in one word, you’d probably use “gorgeous”. But if you asked a blind person to describe me in one word, they’d call me “prepared”. There’s no way that I’m going to dive into Blighttown without getting myself ready. At least, not while I’m publishing all my misadventures to the world, most of whom are probably already mocking me for my failure. And as it so happens, the freakin’ sewer level holds the slimes, who I can grind for the material I need to make my weapons divine.

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That’s right. You want to hold the power of Geezer Zeus in your sword? You’ve got to wade around in foul and dig through some living muck. My guess is that they’re trying to instill some humility, before granting their favor.

Green Titanite collected, I make my way back to Andre, the blacksmith. Now, I just have to pick which weapon to make divine. None of the unique weapons work, meaning I can’t use my beloved Black Knight Sword, my Drake Sword, or any of my most powerful gear. In fact, it seems my best choice may be that scimitar I started the game with.

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Apparently that blade is just raging with godly might now.

Of course, any new weapon needs a good test before being put to action. And I think I’ve got the perfect patsy in mind. You may remember way back in our first entry, there’s a small coven of skeletons just outside of Firelink Shrine. I took them on when I first entered the area, but had no way of countering the regenerative abilities. Well, I may not be able to get vengeance on the stupid bridge wyvern, but these guys should be well within my grasp.

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On the way back I bump into Laurentius of the Great Swamp, who we had previously saved from a dire fate as barrel chow. He made it back to the shrine safely, thus furthering my mission to populate the area with people who aren’t total dicks.

Laurentius is a pyromancer, practitioner of one of this world’s three types of mystic power. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? You remember Griggs? A magic user we rescued from the clutches of the vile barrel, who relocated back to Firelink and taught me how to use his art? Can you predict what happens next?

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Oh yes. In fact, this is much more significant gain than when I was taught the past two schools of magic. I am My character is not very intelligent, meaning his sorcery is weak. Nor is he faithful, limiting the miracles he can use. The spells of the Great Swamp are considered “unsavory” by most proper magic users, largely because absolutely anyone can be an effective pyromancer. These spells don’t scale with intelligence, like sorcery. They don’t scale with faith, like miracles. Instead, they scale with the amount of souls I give Laurentius to upgrade my flame.

And Exodus here may be neither smart nor pious, but he’s pretty damn good at killing monsters.

I’ve finally got some magic my physically-focused character can effectively use. On the flip-side, I don’t get as many uses out of pyromancy as I would the other schools, but that’s what Geezer Zeus invented giant honking swords for.

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So we’ve got two new tools for dealing death. What say we test them out?

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My fireball works well. Really well. Deals really solid damage to the skeleton, and has the added effect of preventing them from regenerating. This could be exactly what I’ve been needing.

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My new sword doesn’t work nearly so well. Lets talk a bit about weapon scaling. Most weapons have one or two stats that boost the amount of damage they deal. For example, with my beloved Black Knight blade, my attack power is boosted significantly by my strength, and less so by my dexterity. Divine weapons, as it turns out, are primarily boosted by faith. And as had been previously mentioned, my faith leaves something to be desired. As a result, while I could slay these guys in a single blow with my Black Knight Sword, albeit leaving them open to revival, it takes several swings even double-handed with this stubby little divine blade.

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And unfortunately, they have more skeletons than I have fireballs.

With the drastically reduced damage I deal, I go through quit a few failures in this graveyard, most of which are absolutely unremarkable and we won’t be talking about them. Nope. We will not. I’m able to retrieve my power each time, so I don’t take any permanent losses at least.

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Through perseverance, I eventually make it to the end, where this giant skeleton awaits. Through some clever dodging, I’m able to take care of his smaller attendants before turning my attention solely to Goliath here.

Drawing him out towards the entrance to the graveyard gives me a lot more room to work with. Convenient since I’m out of fireballs and this sword isn’t going to be taking him down in any sort of hurry. Defense becomes my most important asset here, and I play this slow, dodging his attacks and slowly whittling away his shins.

This is actually a picture of him dying, not spiking a sword through my head.

This is actually a picture of him dying, not spiking a sword through my head.

Eventually, Goliath has had enough, and gives up the ghost. I get a bit of treasure out of my conquest, most of which is unremarkable save for a pair of binoculars. More important than that, though, is the message I’ve sent. It’s taken me eleven updates worth of play, but I’ve finally taken my revenge for their brutal treatment of me back when I was bright-eyed a bushy-tailed. These skeletons will now send the message to the bridge wyvern and everyone else, that nobody’s gonna be able to kill me and live. Except they’re dead now. So they’ll just have to give the bridge wyvern the message in hell. After I kill her.

In any case, pyromancy’s great. It gets my whole-hearted recommendation, if you’re looking to slay some enemies but don’t get good grades and never went to Sunday school. The sword, not so much. Either I’m going to have to read up on my Geezer Zeus bible or I’ll have to upgrade it some more before it’s even worth considering using in all but the strictest circumstances. I’ll figure something out. Or will I? Tune in next time to find out!

Next: We get to the place.  That place.  You know the one.