Sunday, July 6, 2014

Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall #2 - Wilhelm Scream

After spinning my wheels for about an hour trying to figure out how to level up, and unable to find any enemies to fight, I eventually went full Renegade. Next thing we know, Gazpacho the WILD MAN went on a rampage in a town, killing everyone in his path before being apprehended by guards. Will Gazpacho do time in D-Block, being passed around by Julio "Sugar Bear" Martinez? NO! I THOUGHT I WAS PAST THOSE DAYS!

....nope. He's found not guilty, somehow, even though I quite literally killed a bunch of townspeople and took their wallets. Hopefully I got a skill-up to some of my combat skills out of the deal. Gazpacho is NO ONE'S HERO!

Back in the countryside... GIANT SPIDERS! JESUS CHRIST! Is it too late to go to prison instead?

I continue to roam aimlessly, looking for enemies to fight. I went to a lot of graveyards, where a lot of nothing was happening.

At this point I visit the Mage's Guild in the city of Daggerfall. At first it seems oddly quiet, but then I find this dude in a closet. Not sure what he was doing in there. Playing some pocket pool, I bet.

Wow. Rude. If this weren't the hallowed halls of the Mage's Guild, Gazpacho would brawl with this dude right here.

 He then... recruits our hero? Huh. Gaz is now a card-carrying member of the Mage's Guild. It's a super-important part of the game, and you can do quests for the higher-ups in the guild to raise your rank overall and gain access to some pretty great perks. One of the higher rank abilities in the guild lets you summon Daedric Princes who give artifact quests. I'd definitely like to get access to that. Unlike the first game, you can have more than one artifact in this game.

"Hodor" says the smith. This guy forges items enchanted with spell-casts. Since I'm a war-mage of sorts - who can use any spell - in this game rather than a Knight, I don't really need to worry about item-casting the way I did in the first game.

Significantly more fetching than Hodor is this lass. She's the spell-maker for the guild, and lets you design your own spells. She also has long, flowing hair.

What the fuck, man! Put your stuff back on!

I apologize for that, folks. He gets a mind of his own around pretty ladies. In any case, the spell maker is one of THE COOLEST THINGS EVER, no joke. You can create your own spells from scratch with a variety of effects. Pretty much everything about them is customizable and under your control, from the elemental type of attack spells, to the range of spells, to whether they're area-effect or not, to their durations, to their power levels.

There's a fairly big variety of spell effects, with pretty much everything you can think of. Only things missing from this game, as far as I know, are Haste and Slow type spells to change attack speed. Then again, spells that raise and lower Speed might have that effect, just as spells that lower Agility (Hit rate) are effectively "Blind" type spells. Figuring this stuff out reminds me of creating spells in RPG Maker, except in this I can actually transcribe spells I create into my grimoire and use them.

This is probably the best thing about Daggerfall thusfar. This kind of customization and control is the kind of thing I like about this series. Create your own stuff, go out and do your own thing. It's awesome, and makes most RPGs look so limited in comparison.

I didn't go all the way with creating this spell because combinations tend to be a bit expensive in mana cost at this juncture, but here's an example of something you can create. This spell damages an enemy at point-blank range (save versus Magic), has a chance to insta-kill them outright, and also lowers their strength (while temporarily boosting yours). A good fight-opener. Actually, changing the damage component to a DoT would be better in that regard, but hey, that's the rad-ness of this.

At this early stage, I create a relatively weak poison spell that does continuous damage over the course of a fight at a low mana cost. Once I have some money I'm going to go nuts with spell creation.

After fighting many enemies and practicing spells quite a bit, I finally reach Level 2. Took quite a while, and I'm rethinking that 3x leveling penalty that I took at the beginning of the game so that I could buff this guy to the teeth. It really does slow things way down, and given that the main storyline quests don't start unless you're past a certain level (3 for the first, 5 for the second, etc) I can see this possibly being a problem.

A bunch of townspeople can usually be found roaming around outside the city walls aimlessly. Why? I have no idea. It's worth noting that putting your weapon away while in towns causes people to stop and talk to you rather than just walking on by, making it a lot easier to open a dialogue with them. Wonder if that was also the case in Arena, because I sure did have a lot of trouble talking to people in that game. They'd speed all over the place like they were in fast-forward. At least NPC movement is normalized in this game.

Our hero arrives at the Iron Bank of Bravos the bank of Kambria. I picked out a couple of districts in High Rock that I likely won't need to set foot in again... for a bit of bank-swindling.

Bankers in this game are quite unpleasant. Then again, it's possible he's just reacting to Gazpacho's face.

As it turns out, you can take out loans in this game. Huge loans. Up to 50,000 G times your level. I've been struggling just to get my funds into the high three digits, so this is quite a mega-boost. Here's the trick: The banks throughout this game aren't actually linked. They're linked in all towns within a district on the world map, but not from district to district. So your bank account in Kambria is completely separate from your bank account in the main districts of Daggerfall/Wayrest/Sentinel.

It's a baffling design choice, because it means you have to continually return to one district to access your bank unless you want to have your money all over the place. It's realistic, at least. I decide to make Daggerfall district my home base and primary bank account, then proceed to open accounts at the banks in Kambria and two other districts... and take out the biggest loans possible at each of them.

Of course, I'm not going to pay these loans back. Since Daggerfall district has my bank and it's unconnected, I can put my ill-gotten loan money into that account and not worry about it being repossessed by the three banks I borrowed from. Just means I can't really go to those places anymore, lest I be arrested.

Only downside is that you can only carry about 40,000 G at a time, so Gazpacho spent a LOT of time running back and forth between his bank and these other two banks, hauling back his 150,000 G loans in pieces.

 BUG ALERT: For whatever reason, I had a bunch of unequipped stuff in my inventory that I couldn't sell, despite that the stuff in question was perfectly sellable and otherwise useless to me. It got to the point where my inventory kept reaching the limit because unsellable goods were taking up 80% of my storage space. It made no sense at all because those goods SHOULD have been sellable... they simply didn't show up in the window when I talked to a merchant. I ended up dropping all of this stuff - which basically amounted to the majority of my loot from the first couple hours of the game - in the street for a lucky child to find.

I use the nimble Climbing skill to get over one of the city walls in Daggerfall City and run around up here. Pretty awesome. Can fly off with Levitate, too.

Not only is Gazpacho a murderer and bank robber... he's also a very well-rounded character. Physical powerhouse with heals and rogue/thief type skills. Thusfar his only weakness seems to be that his offensive magic isn't too effective for whatever reason, but I expect that to change as he levels up.

A dark time follows, as a muddy, homeless Gazpacho must fight a grizzly bear in the pouring rain.

He does some unspeakable things for money. The less said, the better.

At this point I butt heads with the game quite a bit. I hadn't yet learned the hours of operation for various establishments like merchants, banks, and the Mage's Guild. As a result I found myself continuously missing the closing time for places (like my own bank) and being locked out. It got very annoying very fast. It's just more of the game's realism at the cost of fun, something that happens quite a bit. That said, once you get the hang of things, the hours of operation actually don't cause as many issues as you'd think. You quickly learn to do your shopping in the mornings, fight in the late afternoon, and rest up at night. real life.

Here's a sampling of the pre-made, existing spells in the game. I generally avoid these, but they do provide some useful templates for creating your own spells. I'll take all the factors in one of these spells and change it to fit my own vision (usually making it more powerful, but sometimes bringing down the mana cost is even better).

BUG ALERT: This blank window popped up over my spellbook for a while, preventing me from actually seeing it. I could still cast spells, but it was a pain. Couldn't get rid of this blank window, either. Eventually it went away on its own.

I somehow didn't encounter any real bugs in Arena, but this game has a lot of them.

Here we go. I've got a RAD spell list here consisting of spells I made myself for the most part. Bio is a poison DoT, the three Training spells are specifically for raising skill levels, Ice Comet is what it sounds like... and so forth.

GAZPACHO~! is now level 3 and sporting a Roman soldier helmet. He fluffs the plumage on it to attract females.

GAME-ENDING BUG ALERT: Well, at some point in the course of this afternoon fun-fest, the game decided it wouldn't let me fast travel anymore without freezing up. Not sure what caused this. Didn't have any active quests at the time. I've read that certain quests can do this when active, but...nada here.

I didn't make backup saves (like an idiot) so I have no choice but to end my Daggerfall journey here.

Just kidding, I'm starting over. Have a good idea of what to do now so I can probably catch up to where I was very fast. And now that I've spent two posts figuring out how to play, I think I've got the hang of it and can get going on the actual main story of the game.

In my new file, I do a lot of the same things as before, plus I join the Fighter's Guild (seen here). A sassy black woman trains you in weapon skills, which is extremely useful for Gaz to raise Long Blade and Critical Strike.

I also reworked my skills and traits quite a bit. I no longer regen as quickly as I did in the previous game, but I have better spell resistance. And this is the biggest part: I'm at 1x EXP required for skill growth rather than 3x like I was before, so I should actually level with something resembling speed now. I could have even dropped it to 0.3x, but that'd require lowering my max HP gain per level from 30 to 20 and I didn't want to go that far. Turns out I made the right call, because 1x is totally fine for leveling speed.

Case in point. Remember those three Training spells I made? They have to do with an amazing level-up tactic that I found. Cancel-casting spells counts as a use, so you can stand in place and spam cancelled spells over and over again for lots of skill-ups and fast leveling. It's a lot of fun in a grindy sort of way, and it's surprising how fast you advance while doing this. No need to struggle with leveling up; just use this method to level as needed.

For whatever reason, Mysticism isn't raising for me during self-spell-spamming despite using just as many spells from that field as the others. However, it DOES go up when I spam Mysticism spells on enemies. So I can only conclude that while the other five fields can be raised on your own, you need enemies to raise Mysticism. Makes no sense, probably another bug.

I also get a horse for a mere 1400 G, which is probably the best money I've spent so far. With this horse I can zip around the towns, though it can be difficult to see around his massive horse head.

 I get an idea for a spell...and go create it. This game is awesome sometimes. RAISE SHIELDS! is a 200 mana emergency spell that puts up a protective barrier to physical attacks while regenerating my health. It's short-duration, designed to save me from death. Also has a spell reflection component to bounce spells back. Though with the rarity of enemies using spells...I could probably drop the Spell Reflection component to bring the mana cost down to 130 or so. 200 is a steep cost for something I'd be using in critical emergencies; I might not have enough mana to cast it by then. Eh, I'll leave it for now and just keep my mana above 200 in potential trouble spots.

In the span of an evening I catch up to where I was before and surge way past it, getting to level 10 and decked out in some good equipment thanks to my subprime mortgage bank loans. Much like white collar criminals in the real world, I'll face no penalty whatsoever for my malfeasance.

NEXT TIME: I start playing the actual main quest of the game, finally. While making lots of extra saves in case the game decides to crash again.


  1. Gaz with no clothes CANNOT BE UNSEEN.

  2. the spell creation system seems both really cool and really complicated.

    The bugs seem annoying though. I would probably have given up rather than start over honestly. I think it is really funny you can take out loans in this game. Is there any penalty for not paying them back?

    Also, the first person horse riding is really weird-looking haha

  3. Too bad you had to restart, but it looks like you are even better off now, keep the posts coming! Loved your Arena playthrough btw. :)

  4. My God, Gazpacho is Littlefinger. Your money troubles are over!

  5. It's natural there would be so many bugs because of how customizable everything is. That said it's really fun to have that feeling you can do anything you want. A whole universe of possibilities is opening up.
    Having NPCs ignore you unless you sheath your weapon is THE MOST OBVIOUS THING EVER and every game should do it.

    1. I know, isn't it a good idea? Secret of Mana didn't let you bring weapons into towns which was sound logic in and of itself, but Daggerfall puts the choice into your hands entirely. You don't HAVE to sheathe your weapon, but if you do, people are much more open and much more willing to stop and talk. I'm guessing this was also the case in Arena, but I never bothered sheathing my weapon in that game. Didn't think it mattered. I was underestimating the series.

      Daggerfall may have a lot of problems and be debatably the weak link in the series, but it still looks really good for 1996, is compelling and fun, and I'd like to finish the thing if possible.