Monday, September 3, 2012

Episode 4: Adventure, Labor, and Chivalry

Episode 4:  Adventure, Labor, and Chivalry

The Landing

I woke to a beautiful morning, with Spirit Templars mingling about me watching for trouble and making my sleep all the more sweet.  A thought came to me to check the map to see if there were any grand deeds nearby that I could visit while I was in the area.  Kyara was the obvious choice.  It was also an easy walk given that there had been signs placed nearby.

My trip there was easy and relaxing.  I found a few dead animals, including a bison!  I decided to take the 50's quality hide back with me to Deliverance.  There are no Bison there.  I also made 5-6 healing covers from the body parts of several butchered animals.  I also collected some nice high-quality meat.  I could use some food.  I had not eaten since leaving, but I wanted to use the meat in a meal rather than eating it raw.  Eating raw meat will fill the belly but it drains nutrition something fierce.

Kyara was nothing like I expected.  It was breathtaking!  I had never seen such a well fortified deed.  The walls were tall and there was no visible entrance on any side.  Obviously, there was some secret mine entrance that led to the inner parts of this massive deed.  It was easy to measure.  There were guard towers at each corner of the deed.  This meant the four walls had to be at least 50 tiles wide.  It was so amazing, I decided to snapshot them so I could show Eyesgood and Theophilus.  Here are the photos I took.

Kyara on Chaos
Another view of Kyara

I spent about 20 minutes just looking around and absorbing the view of this mammoth deed.  As evening approached, I headed back to the Landing.  My stomach was aching as I realized I was approaching day three with no food.  I decided the Landing was an ideal spot to get some vital tools and equipment made for my journey.

I found a cave with a forge and iron nearby.  It was slightly off the Landing deed but close enough to yell for the guards if I needed them.  I went to the boat, pulled some tools, kindling and scrap wood and returned.    The pick axe and steel and flint I had acquired was just so appreciated as I popped some iron and placed it inside the forge.  I lit the fire and went outside to fell a tree so I could have logs to keep it lit.  First, I needed a large anvil.  Without it I could not make a frying pan to make meals.  I had to make a frying pan.  I couldn't find any clay.  My first attempt at the large anvil produced an unfinished one.  Great!  I thought.  I had no means to finish it. I had no file, no pelt, no bucket for water to temper.  I was blessed with some great tools, but not the ones I needed at the moment.  The tools could be made - I was certain of that.  But what about the pelt?  Then a thought came to me.  I took a log and from it crafted a spindle.  It was only 3 quality, but I guessed that it would do just nicely for my plan.

Leaving the cave, I headed down to the center of the Landing.  Near a large portal was a small building.  Situated on the opposite side of a window was a trader.  Hoping against all hope, I opened the trade window and scanned the left column for a pelt.  It didn't have to be high quality.  In fact, I hoped it wouldn't be.  Making my way down the list, I spotted two!  Expanding the list, 1 of them was 20 quality.  The cost:  11 iron.  Dropping the spindle, I only hoped it was enough to barter with.  It was!  In fact, the trader gave me the pelt and about 30 iron to spare!  Imagine that!  I came to Chaos with nothing but a compass and now I am jingling change in my pocket.  It was just amazing!

I returned to the cave and the iron that had converted to lumps by then.  Combining them, I made several important tools, including a hammer, a file, and a lantern!  I was really excited about the lantern because I had been mining in total darkness.  I only needed tar to fill it.  I also made a frying pan and a bucket, which allowed me to have water so that I could fashion a longsword.  The sword wasn't really needed, but in the wilderness, it makes you feel better to have a weapon, even if your skill is meager at best.  I took my lone onion and several meat and placed it in the pan.  As soon as the meal was created, I took it out of the forge so I could eat it immediately.  You never really appreciate food until you have gone a few days without it.  Wow, it tasted so good.  I filled my bucket with water and my belly as well.

I spent most of the night making tools, eating, resting, and eating more.  The sun was setting when I peered out of the cave the last time.  I returned, loaded up myself with as much as I could take and made my way down to the boat.  my stay at the landing was completely refreshing.  I had acquired just about everything I needed.

Raising my anchor, I turned the boat westward and started on my way.  A few tiles away was a rowboat I had not noticed the day before.  By habit, I examined it and what I saw almost made me flip out of my boat. I anchored quickly and studied this temptation before me.

The boat was locked and moored.  However, there was an option in the examine menu that had thrown me for a loop.  It read, Manage Settings.  Woah!  I clicked on it and I immediately had the option to allow everyone to command, everyone to board, everyone to look inside.  Once I changed the settings, I had access to the cargo hold.  I opened to a treasure trove of supplies.  Swords, veggies, iron ore, tools, armor, and even tar!  Oh, my.  I sat and stared at the list.  Some items were high quality, but others low.  Most were in low stages of decay.  However, the lock on the boat was of very good quality.  What was I to make of a boat locked with a good lock but with Manage Settings set to everyone.  It was ludicrous!   Was this a new player that didn't know any better?  Was it a skillful trap?  Was it someone who intentionally left it that way and quit?

The dilemma lasted for only a few seconds.  Greed gave way to reason and dignity.  I changed the settings once again, only this time checking friend or village on every setting.  I then closed the window and my decision was complete.  I couldn't take anything from it.  I remembered how I felt in my adventure when I "borrowed" an anchor that I coudn't return.  I wasn't about to repeat that mistake.  I reasoned it was the misfortune of an unskilled player which had left that setting so. It felt good to correct the innocent mistake.  My moral decisions at the rowboat burned what daylight I had left.  I decided to sleep once again in my rowboat next to the other one.  It had been a day of adventure, labor, and chivalry.  I slept comfortably until dawn.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Episode 3: On to the Landing

Episode 3:  On to the Landing

The crossing to Chaos was fairly uneventful.  One moment I was looking behind me, watching the coastline of Deliverance get smaller and smaller, until suddenly, it was gone.  Turning around, I gazed upon the wilderness coastline of Chaos.  It was beautiful, wild, and ominous.  I decided to head north along the coast.  I had no real agenda for this adventure except for a single goal.  I wanted to circumnavigate the entire continent.  My travels might lead me inland, I thought, but only momentarily.

I had only a compass in my inventory.  I knew I needed tools and food.  My plan was to visit every deserted settlement along the coast that felt safe to investigate.  I constantly scanned the coast line for hostile creatures both in and out of the water.  I kept my rowboat several tiles off the shore to make sure a brown bear, alligator, or other swimming creature would not be alerted to my presence.

My first stop was a cave close to the water.  Caves can be extremely dangerous, and so I faced the rowboat  northward before I set the anchor so I can quickly raise anchor and leave without having to navigate the bow of the boat.  I then disembarked and waded the three tiles to shore.  I approached the cave entrance carefully, checking my surroundings and scanning the interior hall of the cave, I peeked in.  Inside, I found two boats, a large cart, a small cart, two dead horses, and the carcass of a bison!  I smiled and thought, "And Theo tried to get me to go to Celebration to see a bison!"  I found two body parts on the bison and secured them for the chance of making healing covers later.  I exited the cave and continued northward.

I next docked near a kingdom tower.  I loved stopping at guard towers.  First, I didn't have to fear any creatures, since I could shout in local, "help" and they would immediately attack whatever tried to attack me. Second, non-aggro creatures could also be killed by targeting them and summoning the guards.  However, I would need a knife to butcher the carcass.  There was a another cave near this tower and as it happened, someone had left a rock shard at the entrance.  It was 90 percent damaged, but it would do.  All I needed to make crude tools was a rummaged iron rock.  That, along with the shard would allow me to make a crude knife.

I foraged some while watching two huge spiders who were perched many tiles above me on the hill.  My first two foraging efforts yielded branches!  This was just excellent because once I had the knife, I could make a shaft and a shovel blade for a shovel.

Leaving this second spot, I continued northward.  Suddenly, a name appeared in my local.  I had already determined in my mind that I would ask as friendly as possible in hopes that no one would find me worthy of death.  Fortunately, the person waved at me first, and so I returned the wave and continued on my way.  Further along, I came upon yet another tower, only this one was situated on a flat piece of ground that jetted out into the water.  There was an oven and large barrel nearby and a three lane road that proceeded west into the continent.  It was safe, flat, and perfect for foraging.  I found several rock facings where I was able to rummage iron rock.   I placed it in the boat and walked the westward road inland for a few dozen tiles.  I felt no real fear of doing this because of the tower guards and the flat area around the tower.

As I poked around the remains of what used to be a village, I found a small anvil in the grass.  I was excited to find one, even though it was utterly useless to me at that point in time.  I turned towards the boat and suddenly noticed three names in local.  I froze.  I then turned 360 degrees to see if I could locate them.  Peering through the trees, I caught glimpse of a white sail as it scrolled past the tower.  Three locals in a single sailboat were making their way south past my rowboat and the tower.  I waited behind a tree until they were gone.  They could have been friendly or deadly - I couldn't take a chance of them seeing me.

Once I returned to my boat, I worked with the iron rock, rock shard, and branches, eventually fashioning myself 3 crude knives and two shovels.  Also, foraging the area produced some herbs, berries, an onion, and  other necessities.  I was beginning to feel very well supplied.  But I lacked food and a means to cook.  Further investigation into a mine close by provided me with wood scraps and a single piece of kindling.  All I needed was clay!  I entered my rowboat and proceeded northward still.

it wasn't very long before I reached a landmark in Chaos, The Landing!  It was a grand place, the starter deed for Jen Kellon.  I moored my boat and looked around.  There were fifty spirit guards mingling about along with several tower guards!  What a sight it was to behold Chota statues and creatures that surrounded a huge portal in the middle of the deed.  I had never seen them before.  After much time spent walking around, I noticed on a hill a pile of items.  My decision to check that pile cannot be understated.  Reaching the pile, I looked inside and found to my amazement, a shovel, a rake, a hatchet, a saw, a pickaxe, a carving knife, and a steel and flint!  I leaped with joy at my find!  No longer did I need those crude tools!  On my way back to the boat I found a pristine wooden shield.  Equipping the shield on my left arm and the hatchet in my right hand made me feel stronger.  I decided to stay the night within the comfort and safety of the Landing.  With practically everything handed to me within a few short hours of being in this dangerous land, I felt that it was certainly the start of a wonderful journey!  As I lay in my boat that night, I could only imagine what the land would open to me on the morrow.  Truly it was an ancient and enchanted land with untold treasures awaiting anyone willing to search them out.  I wanted to be counted among that number!

Episode 2: Prelude to Chaos

Episode 2:  Prelude to Chaos

It was 3AM when Eyesgood sat up in his bed.  As usual, he couldn't sleep.  The cares of tending to Shadow Hollows coupled with the thought of SM heading out to Chaos sent his mind into seven directions.  He quietly exited the bunkhouse, trying not to wake his brothers who were sound asleep.  He heard nothing above his footsteps as he walked towards the workshop.  The night air was cold and a few snowflakes found there way to the ground midst the fog that enveloped everything.  He fired up the forge and walked over to a bulk bin to pull some iron lumps.  Placing the iron lumps into the forge, he sat down next to it and began working on a willow fishing pole.

The sun rose just as the fog began to clear.  Theophilus sat up and wiped his eyes.  Looking around, he noticed Eyesgood and Surviverman had already met the morning.  He could hear the sounds of Eyesgood smithing next door and was anxious to help pack for his brother's trip.  Stepping over to the workshop, he greeted Eyesgood and paused at the silver alter nearby.

"Good morning, Eyes."

"Good morning, lazy-bones."

"How long have you been at it?  Couldn't sleep, eh?"

"No, I couldn't.  I figured SM would want to take off early, so I improved his lantern a bit more.  The fishing rod is ready too.  Why don't you go wake him up and we can help him load up the rowboat."

"Wake him up?  He wasn't in bed."

Eyesgood turned to face Theo and said, "Really?  He was in bed when I got up at three."

"SM!  Where are you?" shouted Eyesgood.  Theo walked over to the workshop door and swung it open.  Stepping into the walkway between the workshop and the kitchen, he looked over to the village square and then right to the wheat field.

"Hey, Surviverman?  Where are you bro?"  Silence answered Theo's call.  "I wonder where he is?"

Eyesgood laid the fishing pole against the wall next to the forge.  "He's probably down at the boat.  Is the pack gone?"

Theo turned around and walked over to one of the bulk bins.  "No, he hasn't left yet.  The pack is right here. In fact, that steel and flint is sitting right here on top of it.

Eyesgood walked over to Theo.  They both stared at the pack.  Then, turning to stare at each other, they twirled around and shouted in unison, "Surviverman!"

I was glad the fog was lifting.  I anchored the rowboat and waited for my compass to settle.  It was pretty difficult to navigate in the fog.  I tried to stay as close to the shore as possible, but I lost sight of the shore and was nervous that I had rowed too far west for my northward turn up the west coast of Deliverance.  I could now see the shoreline, but the fog had temporarily confused me.

I felt really bad about sneaking off on my brothers like I did.  But I just had to.  Eyesgood would have never let me leave without my gear.  Theo would have argued me to the ground if I tried to leave with less than a month's worth of supplies.  But I had my reputation to think of.  I mean, what kind of adventure would it be if I carried all that gear Theo laid out for me?  I would be no different than... than...  Bear Grylls. I just couldn't.  Thankfully, Eyesgood working at the forge had jarred me from sleep and allowed me to hatch this plan of mine. I slipped out of bed, past Theo who is known to be a heavy sleeper, and quietly exited the bunk house.  I ducked past the window next to the forge and slowly opened the far end door to the workshop.  Sneaking through the shadows over to the pack Theo had left for me, I slipped my hand into the pack and felt around for the compass.  I then backed away slowly and closed the door.  I pointed myself towards the west gate of Shadow Hollows, and turning left, I followed the road southward as it disappeared into the night.  Reaching the shore, I waded out to the rowboat and climbed inside.  I then raised the anchor, turned the bow westward and started rowing.  It wasn't long before I lost my sense of direction.  The fog was so dense, I could only see two tiles in front of me.  Once the fog lifted, I was able to get my bearings.  I then proceeded north until I felt I was at the right spot for the crossing.  Soon, I would cross over into Chaos, the land of ancient ruins and mighty heroes.

"From what I can tell, he only took the compass.  Isn't that just like him?"

"He's an idiot!" said Eyesgood, responding without thought to Theo's investigation.  Eyesgood then noticed Theo reaching for his Vynora statue and pointing himself westward.  Motions of his hands revealed his intentions.

"How far away is he?" said Eyesgood as he turned back towards the forge.

"Just a second....  Ok, he is rather a long distance away in front of me.  I don't see any mention of his corpse."

"Wait till I get my hands on him and then you can cast Locate Soul again.  I bet you find a corpse then!" said Eyesgood.  He continued, "You know, we should have guessed he would pull something like this.  Let me calm down.  I think he will be OK.  Actually, sometimes I think we baby him a bit too much."

Theo responded, "You know how worried mother would get?  I can't help it.  Sometimes I think his sense of adventure outweighs common sense.  He's heading over to a land that is known to be hostile.  And with what?  Nothing but a compass!  it's foolish, I say, foolish!"

"I am sure he will be fine.  He did manage to save us from Elevation.  In the mean time, can you please put those veggies back into the bin and put away those medic supplies.  He's not coming back for them, to be sure.  As for me, I'm not going to waste time worrying about him."

With those words, Eyesgood returned to his work.  Theo picked up the backpack and stroked the front of it slowly.  He looked out the window and thought, "Be careful my brother.  Be careful."

Adventure 3: A Chaotic Expedition

Episode 1:  Preparations

"All I am saying is I am a little bored, that's all."

Eyesgood chimed in, "Well SM, you can always head down to the mine and pop some more shards.  Or, there's a ton of trees on the south lot that need to be turned into planks.  You know we are going to need lots of them when we start adding another floor onto the workshop.  I can't do everything around here." 

Eyesgood headed back over to the forge and stoked the fire as Theophilus walked into the workshop from the fields.  "What's going on, brothers?  Are you still talking about that addition, Eyesgood?  I know you are excited about..."

"SM is getting anxious for another adventure!"  His voice echoed from the hollow opening of the forge as he grabbed a lump of iron and started shaping it with his hammer.  "Mother sure did name him right.  He has always been the adventurer in the family."

"Hey, I can't help it," I said.  "Besides, after that last mission, I can't imagine either of you ever complaining about me not pulling my own weight.  If I hadn't plucked you guys from Elevation..."

"OK, OK,"  interrupted Theophilus.  "Look guys, we get into this little spat all too often."  Theo motioned with his right hand and I felt  the warmth of nourishment come over me from the Refresh as he continued his sermon.  "We may be triplets, but it's obvious to anyone that we all have our own personalities and goals.  Eyesgood is our blacksmith, carpenter, builder, miner, and otherwise strong-man.  I have chosen the Vynora path and enjoy my farming, animal husbandry, cooking, and spells.  SM, you enjoy taking on nature and going at it alone, surviving by your keen knowledge of the lands of Wurm and exploring to bring back word of new trade opportunities and more.  Let's just appreciate one another and work together for the good of our existence here."

"Yes, exactly!" I said as I picked up an arrow and twirled it around in my fingers.  I started to pace.  "How many times have I wanted to broaden my knowledge of the lands of Wurm only to be distracted by the duties of every day life here at Shadow Hollows?  Now, don't get me wrong, I love our home here on Deliverance.  I don't mind the work and I love being with you guys, my brothers!  But I don't know...  It's been months since I rescued you.  I just have this overwhelming desire to head out and visit some of the other lands of Wurm.  But I have no idea where I should go."

"Well," said Theo as he pressed some olives for the oil barrel Eyesgood had built in a closet near the forge, "there's the other islands:  Exodus, Celebration..."

"Chaos!"  I yelled, flinging the arrow like a throwing knife towards a bulk bin.  Eyesgood turned to glance at the arrow stuck in the bin, then huffed and returned to his work.

"No, seriously guys!  We know almost nothing about that ancient land.  Do you realize the potential of exploring that place?  It's the oldest land in Wurm.  And I hear the inhabitants are not as vicious as they once were."

There was a short pause in the conversation.  Eyesgood tempered the lantern he was making while Theo poured a bucket of olive oil into the barrel as if they half heard me.  Just then, our spirit templar walked in and excused herself as she fetched some oil from the barrel to fill the lamps located off the deed.

As she shut the door, I said, "Well?  What do you guys think of an expedition to Chaos?"

"Believe it or not, I agree," said Eyesgood, as he turned towards me from the forge with a half grin on his face.  "We need to know about those lands and what kind of trade opportunities are available to us."

He paused and looked towards the fires of the forge and recounted, "You know, I traveled there once..."

"You did not!" I said as if he had stolen my glory.  Eyesgood shook his head as he added more iron to the lantern and protested, "I did too."

Theo recounted, "Yes, I remember that.  It was a short trip, a kind of survey, wasn't it Eyes?"

Eyesgood nodded, "Yeah, I didn't spend any amount of time there.  I just wanted to head over and take a peek at the landscape.  It was a profitable trip, actually.  I managed to bring back some good supplies I had found in abandoned villages."

"Sounds amazing!  I can't wait to get started," I said as I slapped my hands together in a cowboyish sort of way.

"Wait a minute, let's get you fitted properly.  Over here, I have some armor, a great set I picked up from..."

I waved my hands in a stop motion to Eyesgood's generosity.  "Wait a second.  Now let's think about this for a moment.  Chaos is a land of warriors.  The natives are supremely gifted in that regard.  If I go over there sporting an 80q, aosp enchanted plate set, I'll just be asking for someone to kill me and steal it off my lifeless corpse."

Eyesgood stopped in his tracks, looked at me and then looked at his armor.  With a quick twirl, he turned and handed it back to Butler, one of the merchants that worked at our workshop.

"Forget that then.   We don't need to lose valuable armor!"

"I agree, Eyes.  I really think I should pack light for the trip.  In fact, I won't carry any armor at all, nor a weapon or shield!"

Theo then protested, "Ok, now, let's not be that ridiculous..."

"I'm serious, Theo.  It makes no sense to take armor and weapons.  I can outrun just about anything on foot except maybe a hell hound and a croc.  Nah, I think I can outrun them too!  My point is, I can't defend against the natives.  I can't even half defend myself against a p..."  

I stopped my sentence abruptly.  "Against what?" said Eyesgood as he stared at me for an answer.  

"Against a predator," I said hoping they did not catch the shift in my sentence.  Eyesgood went back to work at the forge as Theo dumped another bucket of olive oil into the barrel.  I let out an exhale.  I had almost revealed that awful episode on Serenity when I fought that pig.  I could never tell them about that!

"Anyway, I figure I should just pack light and use the rowboat for the trip."

"Yes, the rowboat.  I agree.  The cog is too valuable to risk being stolen and the sailboat came from chaos way back in the old days when Jen Kellon was still in existence," recounted Theo.

"You guys never told me the sailboat came from Chaos," I rebutted.

Eyesgood spoke up, his head still turned to his work, "It was called wild back then.  Our friend Kole - you remember him - he went over and brought it back just before Independence was discovered.  Now that guy is a brave adventurer!"

I remembered him.  "Yes he is!  I sure miss his visits.  It's been ages since I saw him last.  We need to get in touch with him again."

"He lives on Celebration.  Maybe you should head down that way.  I hear there are buffalo there."

"No, Theo.  My mind is made up.  I want to explore Chaos.  What do you think?  What kind of supplies should I pack?"

I started plundering through the items our two merchants carried.  Eyesgood buffed the lantern he was working on and turned towards me.

"Well, you are going to need a good lantern!"

It still glowed as he held it up and I could clearly see through the soot on his face that he was smiling.

"Thanks, bro!  I shall use it to light my way into the lands of Chaos!"  We all laughed heartily.

Theo then said, "There's no sense in rushing out.  Let's see, what are you going to need on an exploration of Chaos?"

I interrupted him with a confident boast, "I don't need anything.  But if you ask me what I would like to have, I think I would like a good fishing pole.  Since I won't be hunting animals, fish can provide me with all the nourishment I need.  Also, a few veggies from your food bin, Theo, would be very pleasant."

"Yes, I just added some 81q veggies to the food bin in the kitchen.  Let me fetch some for you."

"No wait", I said.  "Let's just think about what I will need and then we can all work to gather everything."  

"You guys gather.  I am going to finish this lantern for you," said Eyes as the steam rose from the bucket he dipped it in.

I sat on one of the bulk bins and pondered what I would need as Theo scratched down a list for me.  

Surviverman's Adventure Kit:

1 willow fishing pole
1 small barrel
1 waterskin
1 butchering knife
1 steel and flint
1 backpack 
1 compass
5kg rags
10kg cotton
30 healing covers
5kg farmers salve
1 hatchet
1 satchel of vegetables containing 75 onions and 25 garlic.
1 frying pan
1 lantern
1 long sword
1 shield

Theo handed me the list even as I was contemplating.  I took the paper and scanned over it.  

"Oh no, I can't take all of this, Theo.  First off, I don't need a waterskin, I can drink from the ocean and lakes.  I don't need a butchering knife, nor do I need a long sword or a shield..."  

Eyesgood reached in to a chest and pulled out an axe.  He grabbed the head end and pointed the handle at me.  "Here.  Take this.  You can use the axe for felling trees, chopping kindling, defending yourself from rats, pigs, and any other easy critters, and you can butcher with it.  It's lighter than the hatchet, but bigger than the small axe.  It's a great alternative."

I nodded in agreement.  "Yes, this will do nicely, brother.  Thanks!"

I continued my critique of Theo's motherly list.  "Now where was I?  Ok, I don't need the waterskin, butchering knife, long sword, shield, hatchet...   Oh, I don't need the small barrel either.  I can do with a bucket though."

Theo and I worked over the list for a while and I settled on this revised "Surviverman" version.

1 willow fishing pole
1 bucket
1 backpack 
1 compass
5kg rags
10kg cotton
30 healing covers
5kg farmers salve
1 axe
1 satchel of vegetables containing 75 onions and 25 garlic.
1 frying pan
1 lantern

Theo huffed and shoved a steel and flint in my hand.  "You need this!" he insisted.  

"No I don't.  I have learned how to make a camp fire from woodscrap and kindling."  

"And how do you suppose that you are going to get woodscrap with no knife?" Theo confidently asked.

I laughed at his lack of knowledge in wilderness survival.  "Why, my wise brother, I can use the axe to chop down two young fruit trees.  Combinding the woodscrap from those will create enough scrap to use with the kindling to make a campfire.  If I fail, the resulting scrap can be reused on more kindling."

"Well," said Theo, "the thing doesn't weigh anything!  Save yourself some trouble and just take it, why don't you!"

"Theo is right, SM.  Besides, you never know if you might need to work an oven or forge.  You will never light them without that steel and flint.  Stop being so Suriverman and just take it.  We care about you, brother.  You may be Surviverman, but you have no idea what you will face in those wild lands."

I looked down at the brand new 50q steel and flint and smiled.  "Ok, I'll take it..."  But i thought to myself, I don't have to use it!

"The hour is late.  Why don't we get some sleep and you can start packing for your trip in the morning, eh?"

"Ok, Eyes," I said as I watched Theo head over to the kitchen.  Eyesgood left as well and headed for the bunk house.  I glanced over at the forge that had just a bed of coals left in it and smiling, I exited the workshop.  Theo met me at the entrance to the bunkhouse and we entered and all jumped in our beds.  I laid there thinking what great brothers I had and what great adventure awaited me in the land of Chaos.  My last thought before drifting to sleep was the curiosity of the effects a sharp axe would have on the smooth back of a pink fat pig.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Episode 8: On Foreign Shores

Episode 8:  On Foreign Shores

I awoke to the sounds of waves crashing against the side of my houseboat.  The water on the sea side of the bridge was not as calm as the lake.  I heard the guards from the two towers arguing about wages or some such nonsense with the well-equipped and beautifully arrayed Spirit Templars from the village between them.  One of them said the king did not supply enough provisions for guards in towers along the wilderness expanse, but I cared for none of that.  The most important leg of my mission to rescue Eyesgood and Theophilus from foreign shores was about to begin.

I wasted no time.  I shoved off and pointed the boat northwest as the gale force winds aided my rowing efforts.  I rowed past the village and around a small island.  Another tiny island beyond the first came into view shortly and I noticed much debris and a small row boat sitting at the edge of it.  There was no token on the island, which was more like a dozen tiles of dirt shooting out of the water.  There were no trees and it appeared that someone wanted to use the mound of dirt as a strategic location for another tower for kingdom defense.  It was unfinished.  Also, there were unfinished walls outlining the island and a few containers.  Since it was not deeded and apparently abandoned, I stopped to see if there was anything on the island that I might find useful.  A locked small chest was half buried in the sand.  The row boat was not locked and contained inexpensive items in various stages of decay.  However, it was moored!  I stopped to ponder the moral decisions placed in front of me.

First, the land was not deeded and thus was considered public.  Second, anything found on public property that was unlocked was basically fair game in Epic - as I had been made painfully aware of back at the cave.  Third, it appeared that the boat had very likely been picked open by invaders or thieves.  I reasoned that if a person built a boat with a mooring anchor they must have also put a lock on it for that was easier to make than the anchor.  Thus, the boat sat on an uninhabited island, unlocked, and filled with decaying items - which meant time had passed since the owner had used the boat.  Fourth, there were no valuable items in the boat, leading me to believe that it had been picked through already.  All of these reasons gave me the liberty to "borrow" the mooring anchor for my mission.  After all, the next person to pass by might just steal the boat itself!  I left a quick note which read, "Hello.  I found your boat abandoned, unlocked, but moored.  I was in desperate need of a mooring anchor for a trip and took the liberty to borrow it.  I will return shortly.  Please contact Surviverman if you find this note before I get back."

Feeling completely justified, I jumped back in my boat and continued on.  It took a long while before I reached the point along the coast where I felt the crossing should take place.  Pointing my boat perpendicular to the shore, I sailed for the horizon.  There was still a gale blowing which kept me at a comfortable 12 kmh.  As I began thinking that the crossing was taking an unusual amount of time to reach, all of a sudden a dreadful message appeared that read something like, "A huge shark spots you from below."  I can't quite remember the exact text because it made me instantly lose focus and scan the water.  I received this message every several seconds and in a panic I tried to adjust the direction of the boat to gain any kind of advantage against the wind. And then it happened!  The shark struck the boat from underneath and threw me several feet from the boat into the cold waters of the open sea.  My body sank for a moment beneath the waves and I gasped for air when I swam back to the surface.  My stamina was completely gone - the result of not catching my stamina during the perpendicular approach to the distance shore.  I instantly started drowning!

A million thoughts raced through my mind as I struggled with all my might to reach the boat before dying.  If I failed to make it, I would die and spawn all the way back at the starter deed.  It would take days to get back to the boat.  The shark was doubtless waiting to consume my lifeless body and with that I would likely meet it again the second time out.  What if I died and someone coming over from Elevation saw my boat and picked the lock!  I would lose everything I had acquired for the mission.  Almost committed to the water and waves, I made one last effort to reach the boat and managed to grab a hold of the side with one hand.  Taking hold with the other, I slowly pulled myself up and collapsed inside.

The coughing up of water was the only thing that kept me from passing out.  I was wounded, weak, and wet - soaked to the bone from the icy water.  Again I received those messages about the shark and by then I realized something supernatural was working against me.  With all I could muster, I turned the boat around and rowed back to shore.  I beached the boat and collapsed on the ground, thankful to be back on dry land.  But I was on the wrong island!  What happened!  I asked in kingdom chat and was told that I had not paid the king for my citizenship and thus I was not allowed passage to Elevation.  I guessed the king had shark monitors along the edge to enforce the passing laws.

I knew what I had to do.  I needed to contact my sponsor to make the necessary legal arrangements to pay my citizenship fees to obtain access to the distant shore.  However, I gave strict instructions not to reveal the nature of my trip.  I received word by carrier pigeon that my access was granted and was told that I was  even granted some money and a referral for my troubles.  They were little comfort at that particular moment.  However, the interim did give my body time to heal from the drowning - something I could not help along with any medical supplies.  I entered the boat once more and set my course again.   The crossing was uneventful except for the passing of a sailor from my kingdom returning home.  We exchanged salutes just before I entered the waters of Elevation.

It was a strange land.  Both a black beam of evil light and a white beam of brilliance shot up from the island at opposite ends of it.  I glanced at my map and pointed myself at the foreign shore.  It was getting dark and I was glad, for a night infiltration was preferred.  When I could make out a shore line, I signaled a single wave of my lantern and shortly received a quick two waves in response.  I had found them!

Approaching the shore, I noticed a kingdom tower, thankfully my own kingdom, situated as it appeared, almost in the middle of the inlet.  Reducing my distance ever cautiously, I also realized that the tower was supported by a land bridge that ran the length of the inlet.  I moored to consider my options.  I would have to drag the boat across the land bridge to reach the inner shore of the harbor.  This would place all three of us in particular danger as it takes time to push a boat.  Furthermore, a brown bear was splashing around near the land bridge on my side.  He would have to be led away before I could safely anchor by the tower.  I did not want to call the guards and raise an alarm.  By that time I saw a few signals from my friends.  They wanted to know what was keeping me.  I signaled back to stay low and wait about 10 minutes, then, the one carrying the least amount of supplies should make his way to the land bridge.  I would meet him there.

I took up anchor and rowed with the wind just right to lead the bear away from the land bridge.  He followed me for a while and then lost interest further down the shore.  I returned to the land bridge just in time to see the silhouette of  Theophilus headed for me against the night sky.  He was approaching swiftly but cautiously.

"It's about time you got here, SM."

"Sorry, I had a few minor delays," I said as he stared at my soaked frame.

"Dilly-dallying in the water, eh?"

"Yeah, I was almost shark meat, Theo."

"Well, glad you made it and thanks for coming to our rescue!  This is indeed a dangerous place."

I signaled Eyesgood to make his way to the land bridge.  But then shortly, he signaled back.  There was another brown bear that had caught wind of Theophilus' scent and was sniffing along the shoreline between his position and the land bridge.  He couldn't get to us and was hunkered down beneath an olive tree.  Theo and I agreed that we had to drag the boat across the land bridge to the inlet and over to Eyesgood.  However, Theo was a Vynora priest in training and very weak.  I had to do it myself.  I jumped out and dragged the boat.  I'm not sure if it was adrenaline, strength, or both, but I actually managed to drag the boat over the edge of the land bridge without having to push.  Only two corners of the bridge were above the water, but I could not tell from the side I was on.  As soon as I cleared the bridge, I jumped back in and rowed towards Eyesgood's position.  When I neared the shore, he took off towards me, wading out to the boat in a panicked series of splashes.  He jumped in and I turned the boat around to head back.

"It's about time you got here, SM."

"Sorry, I had a few minor delays," I said as he stared at my soaked frame.


"I'll tell you later," I interrupted as it was apparent being identical triplets made us brothers think the same in a lot of ways.   Eyesgood grabbed an oar.  "Let's get out of here!" he said.

When we cleared the land bridge, we pointed the boat back towards Serenity and had some time to catch up.  I told them (almost) everything that had befallen me in my preparations and subsequent journey.  They admired the row boat and congratulated me on a successful clandestine operation.

"We were for the most part fairly safe while we waited for your arrival.  The starter deed Templars were very nice and treated us as dignitaries," Eyesgood explained.  "However, the bar tender was rude and refused to give us anything to eat."

"There's some casseroles in the boat.  Help yourselves," I said as we rowed on.

We crossed over.  As Eyesgood is technically the oldest of the brothers, he instinctively started to give instructions on which way he felt we should go to find a place to settle.

"Sorry, brother.  But I have one more thing to tidy up before we are free to explore," I said.  I explained how I had acquired the anchor and we argued as brothers sometimes do.

"Well, you simply should not have taken it," preached Theo.

"I agree with Theo," said Eyegood.

"Well, I didn't steal it.  I just borrowed it for a bit, that's all.  Besides, I am heading back there right now to return it!"

I kind of expected a thrashing anyway, so I was not too much annoyed at their reprimands.  We arrived at the small island to find the row boat gone!  I had pushed it up on the shore so it would not slip away in the water, so I was sure it had not drifted off.  I sent a tell to the owner but she was nowhere to be found.  I felt horrible!  I had only been gone a few hours.  Did someone steal her boat or did she come to claim it?  I asked in kingdom chat if anyone knew her.  No response.  By this time, Eyesgood was getting anxious to let it go and move on.

"No! I want to know what happened to that boat!  If you guys want to take my boat and go scouting, have at it, but I am going to try to find that boat so I can return this anchor," I said with a firmness that made even Eyesgood take notice.

"Ok, Ok, I understand," Eyesgood said as he placed a hand on my shoulder.  "You are right.  Let's row along the shoreline on each side of the inlet and see if you can spot the boat."

We rowed up and down the inlet for over an hour searching for the boat, the owner or both.  The sun was coming up and all three of us were fairly exhausted by then from the trip.  Just then, Theo spotted a piece of parchment in the water.  he scooped it up and read it to us.  It was my note I had left in the boat!

"Well, that settles it, SM.  Either the boat was stolen or the owner has discarded your note as if to say, Don't worry about it."

I hated to admit it, but Theo was right.  We might be looking for hours, days even!  I decided to take a stone chisel and carve her name in the anchor so I would not forget her.  If ever I found her, I would return the anchor that I had borrowed.  It was the only thing I could do.

Rubbing his hands along the side of the boat, Eyesgood said, "Well SM, you did good!  We could not have ever swam the distance and made it here alive.  Now, with our tools and your supplies and boat, we have everything we need to find a place to settle on this serene map.  Surely we will become great!"

"Maybe," I said.  "But promise me one thing!"

"What's that," said Theo.

"Promise we will never become pig farmers!"

They both stared at me with awkward, confusing looks as I grabbed my left shoulder and exercised my arm.  

"But I thought you loved ham..."  were the last words anyone in local could hear as we rowed off into another Wurm adventure.

The End.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Episode 7: The Real Mission Begins

Episode 7:  The Read Mission Begins

It was obvious when I awoke that I had not built the boat for comfort.  My neck hurt from resting against one of the four seats.  Being in somewhat of a fetal position all night long required a good stretch to make me mobile again.  "I've spent better nights in better boats," I thought.  I looked around and there were no critters to be found that were alive.  The guards were milling about the tower as if they were completely bored.  It was simply a great morning to get things done.  In fact, I awoke resolved to simply forget about the anchor.  It was too good a day to spoil it with frustrations.  Besides, I was getting anxious to get the real mission underway.

I tended the crops and was able to harvest some onions and garlic.   I wanted to stock the boat with food and supplies, not knowing how ample or ill-prepared my friends would be.  I had removed everything from the cave that needed to be taken on the trip and figured I would stop along the way and cook if needed.  Everything felt right as I gathered my things and filled my small barrel with water.  The great thing about row boats, and sailboats for that matter, is that you could access the cargo holds without having to get out of the boat.  I intended to have the barrel as my water source during the trip.

I pushed the boat the few feet needed to get it into the water.  I then attempted to board as the commander but was met with a message which stated that the boat was in too poor shape to ride in.  Oh man!  I needed to improve the boat to at least a quality of 10.  I quickly made my way to the edge of the forest where I had been logging, and acquired a log that was at least 10 quality.  I then returned to the boat and started improving it.  The first improve worked great.  It was the second improve action that made me throw down the log and kick the side of the boat.  I had to polish with a pelt!  "Gah," I shouted about the space of 10 seconds.  If I had known how incredibly important that measly pelt was, I would have kept it in my inventory and never surrendered it to the chest!  I knew I couldn't kill anything, so I just had to resolve myself to go treasure hunting to find another pelt, to improve the boat, to be able to command it, to start the mission, to bring my friends to safety before it was too late!

I turned in a random direction and just started walking.  There were dead things all over the place.  Maybe, just maybe, I would find a carcass with a pelt still attached.  Keeping watch against hidden beasts, I walked, looked, scanned, and walked some more.  There were oleander bushes everywhere and also thorn bushes so I had to contend with loss of view and dangerous plants all along the way.  I stopped to wipe my brow when all of a sudden I spotted a dead dog up ahead of me in the grass.  "Had he been butchered?" I wondered as I approached.  Yes!  He still had his pelt!  I was so thankful I had made the butchering knife because I just knew an axe would not be yielding me something useful.  I carefully cut the pelt from the cold carcass and also carved off three pieces of meat.  A paw came off with the pelt, but I left it.  Finally!  I had another pelt - only this one was 27 quality!

I traced my steps back to the shore and worked on improving the boat.  I jumped the moment the boat reached 10 because it popped to the surface like a submerged balloon.  I decided to take it a little higher than just 10 quality and stopped when it had reached 15.  Entering the boat yet again, I turned to watch it start to drift with the current.  I started rowing and was somewhat pleased to see my speed steady around 9 kmh.  However, I knew the dangers of the open sea at that speed.  It would be a risky crossing at such a slow pace, especially if I ran into sharks.  But it was a danger I would have to bear.

Eyesgood had warned me of a possible delay when I reached the other end of the lake.  There was a stretch of land that enclosed the lake and separated it from the inlet to the sea by a span of about 20 tiles.  I would have to drag the boat that distance in order to reach the inlet, and I was mentally prepared for the task.  But to my wonder and surprise, when I approached the spot I noticed someone had dug a single tile lane in the ground sufficient to navigate a small boat through!  I didn't even need to get my feet wet rowing through it.  Oh, it was such a relief not to have to drag the boat!  I rowed on and admired the mountains on either side of me, littered with a myriad of lesser and greater beasts.  I expected another small waterway at the mouth of the inlet and after that would be open sea.

Before reaching it, I noticed on a certain part of the shoreline to my right that someone had left a small cart, a pile of things, and a large anvil on the beach.  I hadn't eaten yet so I decided to stop and make a campfire.  I also wanted to get the anvil as I had left the large one in the cave.  It now belonged to Green Legs.  As I stepped out of the boat, I noticed red slabs of meat about 25 feet away.  I picked them up and was pleased to see they were recently dropped dear meat that were still fresh.  I took my clay bowls out and placed the meat and onions inside them to create two 7kg casseroles.  Cooking them and consuming the better part of one, I returned to the boat with a full belly and a merry heart.  I rowed for the small waterway.

There was a huge settlement ahead and when I arrived I noticed there was no waterway!  The villagers had closed it off!  Again, I felt as if I had to deal with another needless setback.  I rowed further down to see if I could find another exit from this lake that was supposed to lead to the sea.  I found nothing but shoreline that circled back to my campfire still smoldering near the water's edge.

I sat for a moment drifting and wondered what I was going to do.  I mean, there was simply no way I was going to attempt another boat on the sea shore, and I wasn't prepared to spend days dragging a boat through the woods.  I decided to head back to where the settlement was and where the inlet used to be.

Arriving to the village void of everyone except a healthy complement of Spirit Templar guards, I walked around to see what I could see.  The village was really huge and quite well built.  It was set right on the water between the lake and the sea.  It was an ideal location for defense, but it was in my way.  It took me a few minutes to finally locate a spot where the distance between the two bodies of water was not obstructed by walls.  It was only 4 tiles wide - not too bad.

I ran to board my boat and rammed it as close as I could to that spot.  It took a while but I managed to cross the land bridge and slid my boat down into the water on the sea side of the bridge.  Another hurdle had been crossed and so I stopped to catch my breath.  "Hum," I thought as I stared at the sun setting midst two guard towers and a Templar guarded deed.  "This would make an excellent place to stay for the night," I mused.  The guards would attack anyone trying to pick the lock on my boat and I could yell for help if I was attacked.  My tired body and drained mind decided to agree that this was my home for the night.  I laid down in the boat and calmed myself for a good night's rest. Tomorrow would be new challenges on the open sea and hopefully a crossing to the island where my friends awaited their rescue.  "Hold on, guys!  I'm coming," I murmured.  Those were the last words I remember from that night.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Episode 6: Moor Work and the Boat

Episode 6:  Moor Work and the Boat

Rising early from the cave, I set about to tend the crops I had planted days earlier.  I had been doing this all along and it appeared they were nearing the ripe stage.  I also foraged some, but since I had left two casseroles in the forge, I had food for most of the day.

Returning to the boat and examining it, I checked what was needed to complete it and headed for the forest edge to gather more logs.  My path to the forest was a route traced back towards the cave entrance.  Glancing up at it on the hill side as I walked by, I was shocked to see a giant greenish spider sunning himself directly above the entrance!  "Wow, I had just left that cave not 5 minutes ago," I said out loud to myself.  He must have either been sleeping and didn't notice me or had just arrived at that sunning spot.  In Wurm, you just never know when and from where critters will show up.  I had lots of work to do on the boat and I had my meals and tools with me, so there was no need to deal with the spider directly.  I continued on to the forest edge and felled another tree.

Hull planks are particularly large.  One can only expect to get 3 out of a 24kg log, and maybe six or so logs from the felled tree.  I had 18 hull planks to make.  However, as I am prone to do, while working the tree to make logs, I scanned my horizon, and through the trees noticed a few hull planks left by someone with less tenacity than myself.  They were made of cedar!  I grabbed a few to cut down on my woodcutting chores and held one back.  It would be the last wood item I would add to the boat so that the boat would become a cedarwood row boat rather than pine, thus decreasing the amount of decay it would suffer between repairs.

As I hauled logs rather slowly, I reached an embankment and froze to gaze upon a Wurmian that had slipped into my local unawares.  He was mounted on an unnamed, white horse and wore Soldier on his name.  He didn't move as I posted a nervous hello to local.  He just sat there, wounded from recent battles staring at me as if I had violated his sacred hunting grounds.  I didn't ask if he needed medical attention at the risk that I might need medical attention if I disturbed him, so I slowly turned and moved on while he watched me depart.

I returned to the shore and spend most of the day crafting hull planks and tenons and attaching them to the boat.  I had the boat lock in my backpack, so as soon as I was finished, I promptly locked the boat!  "Now the timer is ticking," I thought.  I needed to start my rescue trip as soon as possible.  Though not technically required, I really needed a mooring anchor so that I could anchor the boat in the water once I reached my destination.  Mooring the boat would let me signal and sit and wait for a response. Also, a moored boat cannot be pushed by anyone.  I turned my attention to the task of making an anchor.

I was relieved to see that the spider had left the area of the cave entrance and so I descended into the cave to light another forge near two lead deposits.  I also went back to "my" forge and lit that one as well.  They were both around 50 quality which meant that they would remain fueled for about an hour give or take.  I wasn't sure if it was my mining skill (around 10) or the lead deposits, but I was getting 1.0 quality ore at a ration of about 7 to 1.  This was not good!  I need the ore quality to be as good as I could get as the quality of the lump determined the initial quality of the anchor.

I anticipated failures galore, so I popped about 50 ore from the lead deposits.  Once they were smelted down to lumps, I switched to my forge and heated them to glowing to combine 20 of them into a single 20kg lump for my first attempt.  Then, activating the lump, I right clicked on the large anvil sitting on the floor next to me.  What!  Where was the option to create the anchor?  The sub-menu wasn't even in my list.  I looked at my lump again to make sure it was lead.  I looked at the weight to make sure it was at least 20kg.  I looked at myself to make sure I was Surviverman.  Was this Wurm Online?  What was going on?!?

I hurriedly injected my problem into the kingdom chat and after receiving the usual "did you do this and that," along with a few reasonable explanations from others,  I came to the conclusion that my skill wasn't high enough to have a six percent change of success and thus no option to create.  Someone had reasoned that was the problem.

I stood there holding the 20kg of lead and wondering what I was going to do.  Another suggestion came over the kingdom chat that I should try making a large anvil if I haven't ever made one before.  It made sense in a Wurm-logic kind of way, so I took the time to mine some iron and amazingly created an unfinished large anvil from my smaller one on my first attempt.  It just needed to be polished, so I opened my chest to remove a ridiculously low (I mean .75) quality dog pelt.  What now?  It's gone!  "Don't tell me they took my miserable dog pelt!  Who in the world would want a .75q pelt!" I said as I shoved the lump back into the burning forge.

My efforts were getting more and more difficult by the minute.  No pelt meant no large anvil, unless I was willing to make them over and over until one came out finished.  No pelt meant that I had to arm myself with that unsharpened pencil called a short sword as I would likely not be able to make a long sword for the same reasons as the anvil.  No pelt basically meant no smithing!

Well, there was one thing I could do.  I decided to use the iron to grind blacksmithing skill by making needles, finished and otherwise, to see if adding skill would add the option to make the anchor.  After laboring for who knows how long, I tried one last time to make the anchor but with no change in my options.  I couldn't wait any longer.  I wasn't going to beg for an anchor, not because I was too manly to do so, but because toting it back would have really exposed me to possible attack.  By that time I was getting a headache from all of the logistical hurdles in front of me and decided to just sleep on it.  However, I wanted to secure some of my supplies in the boat before turning in for the night.  The boat lock was much higher in quality than the storage containers of the cave and I reasoned that they would be more secure, even in an unmoored boat.

I made a few trips hauling supplies and on my last trip, I thought I heard something way back in the cave.  I scanned the dark corridors and moused over a huge greenish spider!  He must have rolled over on the rock and fell in the cave!  All this time fiddling with that lead and not 50 feet away lurked a death sentence!  The thought helped me cope with the day's failures.  I felt really blessed.  I resolved to leave him in the cave as I was preparing to depart anyway and I was not about to share the cave with Green Legs. "Tonight, I sleep in the boat," I shouted to him as I left the cave.

Laying myself down inside the boat, I admired my handiwork until the thought came to me that I was about to spend the night outside, unprotected, in a boat along a shore littered with the corpses of giant spiders, greenish bears, wolves, and the graves of a few brave soldiers - not the safest place in Wurm to be sure.  I could not squeeze into the cargo hold so I just resolved myself to lay there listening to the frogs, the sounds of the rippling waves, and my conscience trying to figure out what to do about that anchor.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Episode 5: Humility Yields a Rope

Episode 5:  Humility Yields a Rope

The next morning I rehearsed in my mind what I had left to do.  Everything needed for the boat was readily available.  I had all the wood I needed.  I also had several lead veins nearby from which to make the mooring anchor.  Everything I needed, except one...  a mooring rope!  I had picked up wemp seeds from a recent foraging effort, but with my almost non-existent farming skill, there was no way I was going to be able to grow my own wemp in sufficient quantity and quality to make one for the boat the boat.  Besides, I could hear Eyesgood asking, "What's taking you so long?"  What would he think of me if I replied, "Oh, nothing, I'm just waiting for this here wemp to grow so I can make a mooring rope to finish the boat."  Needless to say, he would never ask me to rescue him again, to be sure!

No, I had to acquire a mooring rope in a more timely fashion.  And nothing is more timely than breaking down and just begging for one in kingdom chat.  And so I did, literally begging that someone would please, please help me finish my boat by making a mooring rope for a poor destitute (well, more poor than destitute) "surviver."  The plea went out with an echo as kingdom chat fell silent...  Oh boy, there goes my reputation, I thought.  I felt so cheap begging for help, but hey, lives were at stake and sometimes you have to do what you don't like doing.  "What man likes to beg?" I thought.

Not long after, a personal tell came to me from a kind-hearted philanthropist willing to make me the rope.  All I had to do was get there to pick it up.  Receiving general directions I checked my map and realized the kind giver was not too far from the spawn deed.  The decision was an obvious one - I needed to /suicide in order to gain the rope!  Now suicide in Wurm is nothing like real life.  It allows you to respawn back at the starter deed (or your home) in the event you are lost, dying, trying to lead Surviverman to your deed, or other noble causes.  The only consequence is you lose some skill - and in my case it was a .25 point loss in fighting skills.  I guess you probably know how much that hurt me.

I stripped myself of everything and hid the keys to my poorly locked storage containers.  I then typed that  dreadful /command.  Instantly, I was dead with the option to return to *******.  I chose my destination and upon landing back at the starter deed, I asked for more particular directions.  Heading east, I made my way to a wonderful Wurmian who provided me not only with a rope, but one in sufficient quantity to add it to the boat AND make my mooring anchor!  I bowed humbly and accepted the priceless gift.  It was the single most important item I had on the island.  No matter what, I could not lose that rope!  All I had to do was make it back alive!

I chose my path wisely, walking slowly and maintaining constant guard for any dangers from the wild.  I was as light and fast as possible.  I hoped that speed could overcome my pathetic frame.  Only the rope draped around my neck weighed me down.  The warm breezes and quaint sounds of fishing docks makes one's mind wander.  I had thought as I made my way back, how utterly ridiculous I would have looked if the changes to character models had been implemented already.  How much clothing would I have had given that I literally had nothing on but the rope.  Surely the art team would grant me some skivvy's at least!  Carrying that rope would have made me look like a naked thief plotting a climb over some poor souls house or walls!  How would I explain that to the neighbors?

Returning to my story, I had to climb a mountain to get back home and it took me the better part of an hour to do so.  Eventually, I scaled down from above the village and proceeded to the water to add the rope to my boat.  What was left would be for the anchor.  I knew that adding the rope would immediately place my boat in danger of being stolen.  No, I wasn't worried about someone picking it up for it was far too heavy by then.  I was rather concerned about someone finishing my efforts and gaining control of it that way.  Since the rope was the hardest piece to acquire for most, adding it made completing the boat rather easy.

I set about to add more items to the  boat, but I did not complete it.  I still needed to create the mooring anchor and attach a lock as well as add a dozen or so hull planks and tenons.  Fortunately for me, the lock was already taken care of.  I found a very good quality lock on the same day that I arrived at the village.  That was the third most important item to me on the island.  The boat was now first, the remaining rope second, and then the lock.

Leaving the unfinished boat on the shore was a painful decision, but I needed rest and just had to surrender my boat to the will of every passer-by.  I returned to the cave I called home and dreamed of becoming a sailor.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Episode 4: Thieves and Raiders

Episode 4:  Thieves and Raiders

I woke up feeling sore from the never-to-be-mentioned-again pig fight.  I slept like a felled tree and longer than I had planned.  Sitting up, I was not hungry but decided to start off with some foraging along with whatever work I could give to the guards to obtain meat.  My casseroles of 1 or 2 meat with a piece of herb were doing well for me and provided me with around 40-45% nutrition.  If I were really concerned about skill grinding I would make meals, always eat them hot, and grind hot food cooking until the meals I made pushed my nutrition level passed 60.  But I had no time for the finer things in life.  I needed quick nourishment so I could complete the boat and my mission.  For all I knew, poor Eyesgood and Theophilus were hiding behind some tree in the soaking rain with no food for days!

I broke from the cave entrance to a partly cloudy day that was about half spent already.  I needed to hurry if I was going to get in any boat work before dark.  I headed over to the grassy meadow I had foraged several times before and began working the tiles as I had trained myself to do.  I then spotted some movement off to the right and knew it to be a greenish lava spider.  I thought if I could lead it to the guards, I might get some meat from their labors.  I approached it carefully, ready at any moment to change course towards the guards.  The moment I saw a leg lift from the grass, I twirled around and took off running.  I ran a ways and turned to see my foe keeping pace with me, when suddenly, another one came up the bank beside me!  "It was a trap," I thought as I totally forgot about the first spider and ran from the one nearest me.

Sliding down an embankment, I took a few wounds, but it was enough to slow me down at a time when walking slow was not part of the plan.  Like a little child running to his mother, I focused on the guards, turned on auto run, switched to local, and bellowed out a girly HELP!  The guards turned to see me and my green menace coming towards them and laughed as they drew their swords.  As I passed them, one of the guards smacked me on the back side with his sword and said, "Let the men handle this one, sonny."  I didn't care a snit about the chide - "have at it," I thought.

As I watched the four guards from the tower parry with their opponent, one of them, the one that had chided me, dropped to his knees and left Wurm.  I was so sad that I had been the cause of his passing, but he knew the risks of his position when he volunteered.  I comforted myself with that thought.  Once the beast lay dead, I honorably buried the old soldier and butchered the spider with my carving knife.  Again, only one piece of meat.  "That's it", I thought.  I decided to make a proper butchering tool by day's end.

I repeated my first trek down the gully with the second spider.  This time, only the spider died.  I had not gathered many herbs but I had enough for two casseroles and besides, I had lots of herbs in my large chest near the forge.  It was time to return, eat, and get back to work.

Upon arriving at the forge, I opened the large chest to remove the herbs I had collected.  What's this?  Where are my herbs?  Did I misplace them?  I checked the coffin, then the other chest, then the cart.  Then it came to me in a moment...  Thieves!!!  I hurriedly checked the bulk bin - no mixed grass!  Someone had picked though my stuff in the night and took what they wanted.  I threw the meat down on the floor and grabbed kindling.  It was time to lock up my things!  I popped some ore and created several locks for the containers I had in the cave.  "Why didn't I do this before," I thought.  While I was at it, I also fashioned a butchering knife.  As I polished the knife I thought, "I hope mixed grass eats up their gardens and destroy's their crops!"  I was so mad that someone dared to disturb my camp. Removing the completed and polished butchering knife from the forge helped me to calm down.  Hey, maybe the person was hungry, or distressed, or something other than a thief.  At least my cart, anvils, and tools were not stolen!  I actually had a lot to be thankful for.  Repentant of my own thoughts, I made a few meals and walked back down to the water for work.

As I labored on the boat, various murmurings and warnings were noticed in the kingdom chat window.  Raiders were spotted off the coast of the island and were heading for the map spawn village!  I raced to the cave to get my map.  Where was I in relation to the spawn?  How far were they away?  Watching closely to every word coming from chat, I went through a mental checklist of what I would do if the raiders entered my local area.  First, I would grab everything that I could carry, the most important stuff first, and leave until it was safe to return.  Second, I would log in quickly to catch updates and then log back off.  That was the plan and so I stood in the cave for what seemed like hours waiting for news of the invader's departure.

They finally did leave after pillaging some poor soul's mine and damaging his deed.  They also killed someone, which was broadcast throughout the land undoubtedly to strike fear in the living.  When their ship was spotted leaving the harbor, I felt secure enough to return to work, making the stern of the boat and adding more items to it.  My skill was increasing but it seemed that my success rate was not.  Re-positioning myself at new angles and grabbing another piece to add seemed to help - at least it seemed to me.  I worked through the night and finally went to bed beside my locked containers.  The only thing I forgot to do was make a long sword.  But without armor, what could I hope to defend against?  Clutching my butchering knife, I drifted to sleep.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Episode 3: Four Men and a Fat Pig

Episode 3: Four Men and a Fat Pig

I woke with renewed vigor and determination to get as much accomplished on the boat as I could.  I knew that I needed pegs and I could craft those from shafts which would come from a single log.  I removed a log from the bulk storage bin and proceeded down to the water to begin constructing.  I took note of my food bar and thought that after 30 or 40 pegs had been attached I could do some more foraging for herbs, vegetables, and meat to make more casseroles.

Standing by the shore with the sounds of ducks, the wind, and the water ripples hitting the beach was very relaxing.  I whittled away on the log producing a shaft and then worked the shaft to produce the 10 pegs it would yield.  It was almost as if I had forgotten my mission and even myself midst the serenity of the morning.  While gazing contently on the lake and taking in all this beauty, my eyes instantly became aware of something on the horizon.  It was just a faint white spec at first, but then became larger until my eyes widened at the knowledge that a sailboat was headed right for me!

Instantly my survival skills kicked in and I watched 1...2...3...then 4 names popped up in local.  Just about the same time, a second boat  appeared to the left of the first.  I hurriedly sent personal tell messages to each person so that I could determine if they were friend or foe.  I knew that simply being able to communicate with them meant they were in my kingdom and therefore not raiders.

To my relief I was able to contact all of them and soon learned they were from a local village and had come to "my" village to dig clay.  Though the serenity of my morning had been disturbed, I was pleased to see others from ******* and welcomed them to shore.  After brief introductions, I returned to my efforts while they began digging the clay nearby.  I smiled as I watched them work, appreciating the friendships they obviously shared.  It was then that I happened to glance over my left shoulder to see a champion black wolf stepping down the mountain as if it were a small hill.  He was a good distance off, and with others around I had no fear of the beast, at least none I was willing to share with the others.  I reasoned he would keep his distance as long as I stood still and worked on my boat - which I did.

When the two boats had been filled with clay, the four men boarded them and proceeded back from whence they came.  I waved and sent them on their way.  It was about that time that I noticed my food bar getting pretty low.  I did not want to fast again because my nutrition was improving from the casseroles I had been eating and I wanted to build my fat layers for the trip that would soon be upon me.  I decided to stop at 40 pegs and, dropping the log from my inventory, I headed towards an open field to begin foraging again.  As I worked the grass, collecting vegetables and herbs I noticed a rather frumpy and old pig standing several tiles ahead of me.  My mouth instantly watered.  I had not had some good ham in ages, I thought.  I stared at my crude sword and shield, both starter items, and thought poor pig didn't stand a chance.  I sneaked up behind him slowly, thinking about the spit I was going to make when I obtained his carcass.  I raised my blade and cast it down upon his back.  He grunted and turned to face me.  I wondered if my sword was even sharp!

I started swinging, poking, and slicing with all my might.  We exchanged blows for what seemed like a ridiculous amount of time!  Every pig squeal was immediately followed by a very unmanly ugh from me.  I was actually quite embarrassed by my performance.  Surely this pig is not going to kill me, I thought!  Well, I refused to let it.  I backed away and am ashamed to say I ran from him.  He did not give chase and I like to think it was because I bloodied him too much for him to do so.  But in reality, he wasn't bleeding nearly as much as I was.  I reached in my backpack and pulled some salve that I had made and began treating my bruises.  This is utterly ridiculous, I thought!  I was shaking so bad from the fight that the salve was getting smeared on as much good flesh as bad.  But eventually, I tended my wounds sufficiently to feel confidence again.  I gripped my sword, gave out a ferocious yell and ran to finish my foe.  It was about this time that he bit down on my right side and gave me a medium wound which stunned me.  On and on the battle went until finally he fell with a final resounding squeal.  I dropped to my knees and propped myself with my blade.

I was a bloody mess!  Down to 25 percent health and suffering from a medium wound, I asked myself how did all this happen?  My goals for the day did not including getting my backside torn off by a stupid, grumpy old, fat pig!  I glanced around to make sure nobody saw this ridiculous spectacle and was thankful that I was alone.  How embarrassing it would have been for the 4 men to have seen this fight!  I pulled my hatchet and began working on my dead foe.  All my effort produced only a single piece of meat - hardly worth it, I thought.

I needed to get back to foraging while my wounds healed, and it was at that moment I remembered the medium wound!  I checked my backpack for a healing cover I had remembered making several days earlier.  It was there, but I only had one!  Staring at a pathetic first aid skill and an equally pathetic attempt at a healing cover, I wondered if it would stick at all.  I applied it and hoped it would stop the blood running out of my side.  To my great wonder, it did!  All I could do was take it easy, stay out of trouble, and forage until my wounds healed.

Night came sooner than I had expected.  I returned to the cave and threw my sword down on the cave floor.  I wasn't sure I had the time or skill to craft a longsword, but I sure wasn't going to take that pop-sickle stick to battle again.  From now on, I thought, I would leave the killing to the guards.  I also made up my mind that Eyesgood and Theophilus really did not need to know about the pig fight.  After making and eating a few casseroles, I laid down for much needed rest.  Perhaps tomorrow would be a more profitable day!  I slept and dreamed of champion pigs.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Episode 2: Row Boat in the Works

I sat down to analyze my situation and gather my thoughts.  I needed to make a boat and it was obvious that the smallest and easiest would be more than sufficient.  A row boat can carry three passengers and there were but three of us that needed it.  Making a boat, any boat, is no small task in Wurm.  The row boat needs the following items:

3 keel sections, 2 oars, 1 mooring rope, 50 pegs, 50 tenons, 1 stern (11 hull planks, 20 pegs, and 10 tenon), 50 hull planks, 10 tar, and 4 seats.  Additionally, it would need a lock and a mooring anchor.

Considering the items needed, I knew I needed to work on carpentry, ship building, blacksmithing, woodcutting, and digging.  In addition, I needed to keep myself fed and protected during the process.  The surrounding forest would yield all the wood I would need.  And fortunately, there was a tar pit nearby from which I could acquire tar for the boat and for the lanterns scattered about the dead village.

I reasoned a plan that went something like this.  I would spend an hour foraging for herbs and vegetables.  I would also butcher several bear and spiders that had been slain by the tower guards nearby.  Then, I would light the forge and make casseroles out of the meat and herbs.  Between trips to and from the cave, I would leave another casserole baking while I was out and eat every time I returned.

I did gather for over an hour and acquired many precious veggies and herbs.  I decided to plant several crop fields so they could grow and hopefully be ready for harvest when Theophilus our farmer arrived.  One item in particular was valuable to me - cotton!  I remembered how utterly difficult it had been in my first adventure to obtain it.  In fact, I never did!  But I had one this time and I wanted to plant it, which I did in a safe place.

Gathering meat from the slain around the equally dead village was not too difficult.  As I did not have a butchering knife, I resorted to using my hatchet which worked very well at providing meat and teeth.  The teeth could be combined with certain herbs to create healing covers, which I made and placed in my backpack.

Returning to the cave (what is it with me and caves?); I proceeded to gather a few necessities.  I made a small barrel to tote water from a village fountain to the large barrel beside the forge deep in the cave.  I also deposited much of my items into a bulk bin, coffin, and large chest near the forge.  It was an ideal camp.  I lit the forge, made a casserole, ate it, then made another and left that one in the forge. Taking the small cart with me, I ventured from the cave and the camp towards a row of pines mingled with olive trees.  The olive trees were utterly useless for my task.  I needed the long pines for my row boat.

Dropping the trees both provided me with skill and substance.  In order to create the body of the row boat, I needed to combine two keel sections.  With only 5 shipbuilding skill, 7 woodcutting, and 20 body strength, the odds were stacked against me.  But after many, many attempts at fashioning a keel from felled trees, I eventually created two.  One was unfinished and fit in the small cart.  The other was finished and could be improved more.

I wasn't strong enough to carry the keel and drag the cart - well, I could but it would have taken forever to make it back.  I wanted to work on improving the keels inside the cave where I would be safe.  So, leaving the finished keel on the ground at the edge of the forest, I dragged the cart back to the cave and unloaded it's precious cargo on the cave floor in front of the forge.  I then decided to take the cart back and load up some logs for creating the other wood items I needed for the boat.

Breaking forth from the entrance of the cave, I felt the hot breath of something above me, whose shadow cast a blanket of shade over my head.  In an instant my defenses went up and I knew I was about to be attacked.  It mattered not what was behind me.  I could have died at the hands of an angry deer, I was so weak!  Discretion is definitely the better part of valor! Turning, I wished it had been a deer.  As I turned, I also instinctively released my grip on the cart and faced an ominous slow brown bear!  He was definitely not the village welcoming committee, he was mad that I had invaded his home and was salivating at the thought of dinner - ME!

Backing up and turning, I ran as fast as I could towards the guard tower.  Though he was somewhat slow, his sheer size and red silhouette sent shivers down my spine.  Running backwards towards the guard tower I targeted the beast and yelled help in local chat.  My first yell yielded no response from the guards.  I think it was because I was so scared my shout came out as a whisper.  Swallowing, I bellowed out the second HELP and the guards came running to my rescue as I almost backed into a nasty thorn bush.  They made short order of that distraction and I even jumped in to take a few swings myself.  It was extremely wise to camp so near kingdom guards.  They deserve more respect that they get!  Butchering the carcass with my hatchet, I collected the meat and a tooth and thanked the guards and returned to my work.

I grabbed the cart and made my way back to my deforesting effort, gathering the highest quality logs I could find.  I picked up the finished keel and walked it back to the cave before returning for the cartload of wood. Once I had returned with that, I set about to improve the two keels so that I could combine them and make the row boat shell.  With only a 13 percent change of success, it took me many tries before I finally gazed upon the shell of my objective - an unfinished pinewood rowing boat!

It was dawn when I finally created the unfinished boat.  I knew that I had an important task to accomplish before bedding down.  I needed to get the boat down to the water and attach enough items to it to make it impossible to pick up.  To this end, I added the 4 seats, the last keel section, 13 hull planks, 10 tar, 2 oars, and about 15 tenons.  I figured this would be sufficient to make it too heavy to pick up.

Utterly exhausted, I returned to the cave and laid down beside the warmth of the lit forge.  Soon, I thought, my companions would be rescued!

Adventure 2: Infiltrate and Recover

Episode 1:  My Transformation

I was notified of my friend's plight via special courier in a note which read,

"Stranded on the Elevation island, Epic cluster.  Use this map to familiarize yourself with the archipelago and journey to the home island of  ******* and construct a small boat.  At your own discretion, infiltrate Elevation from the *****.  Light a lantern when you get close to the ***** shore.  We will await your signal and make our way to the shore at coordinates **,**.  There, you can pick us up and return us to the ******* island.  There, we three can work our skills and fortify a deed.  Please make haste.  We do not know how long we can remain undetected.  If we are slain, all of the gear we have obtained may be stolen.  There are enemies everywhere.  And be careful! - Eyesgood and Theophilus."

What was I to make of this?!  I mean, I remember Eyesgood talking about his journey to the Epic cluster.  He said it was a real thrill to start over with no skills in an untamed land fraught with battles between rival kingdoms.  So exciting it was that Theophilus, our noble Vynora priest, followed him to those lands.  But something must have gone horribly wrong!  I haven't heard from them until now, so I can only guess that the dangers were too great for them to safely train their skills against the dangers of the central island in the Epic cluster.  Surely they joined a village?  I mean, I am used to living by myself, but perhaps even Surviverman would be challenged to survive there with enemies lurking over every hill and behind every tree.

There was no question about my decision.  I would go and rescue my friends; of that I was certain!  But what would it be like to have to deal with enemies as well as the environment?  I would soon find out.  I made my way to the Freedom Market on Independence and found the portal that would transport me to Epic.  All of my past labors would avail me nothing once I passed through.  I could take no tools with me.  I wondered what would happen to my current set of tools I so lovingly created during  my first journey.  But then I remembered that everything would return as it was if I ever came back to this place.  however, I knew I would arrive in the Epic cluster more naked that when I had arrived at Independence when at first I completed the tutorial.  This is because all my skills would be reset!  In some respects, this would be a great challenge.  In others, a dangerous journey!

Choosing the ******* map forced me to choose my allegiance to an Epic kingdom.  I knew it had to be the same kingdom that Eyesgood and Theophilus had chosen, or else my very nature would have turned hostile towards my friends.  But then, I remember hearing that some intentionally do that and become spies for enemy kingdoms!  I had to be careful to choose my allies wisely.  Surely, everyone is suspected of being a spy when entering the Epic lands for the first time.

I was transformed and arrived at the starter village on *******.  I checked my skills.  Yep, all reset!  But I was happy to see that I received a complete compliment of starter tools.  This was at least more than I had in my first journey, but I reasoned that I would definitely need them in this hostile land.  Looking around I took in the scenery and gained my bearing from the token sundial.

I decided to immediately broadcast my arrival in hopes that perhaps my reputation had preceded me.  To my wonder and delight, a citizen recognized me and was elated to greet me.  Blushing, I accepted his offer to welcome me into his village while I trained for my mission.  But I was somewhat humbled that he took his own life to spawn back at the starter deed to lead me to his home.

We walked for what seemed like forever.  Tried as I could, I failed to maintain my bearings and felt completely lost when we arrived at the home of my new friend.  I asked him where we were and he was not familiar enough with the island to give me my bearings.  Perhaps I even knew more than he because Eyesgood had told me of his early visits to this island in vivid details which I would draw from on my journey.  I knew that I had to find the ****** shore so that I could sail with straight course to the island where my friends were hiding.  But this would come in time.  I needed to skill up on some core competencies and obtain the additional tools I would need to construct a small boat.  This would take me many days to accomplish, but my mind was hastened by the plight of my friends.

Two days I labored in that place, foraging for food and digging and mining to build my strength.  I also managed to make a small cart to carry my supplies.  I felt safe from invaders because the kingdom chat would flutter with activity should any enemies be spotted lurking about.  My immediate dangers were starvation and the huge bears and spiders that lurked about.  The neighbors were very friendly and I was able to train my fighting skills by leading the bears and spiders to the local guards where I would jump into the fray with them to gain some small experience in fighting.  Every day I remembered my friends and my mission.  I had to get that boat constructed as quickly as possible.

On the third day I awoke to find no one in my local area.  I decided it was time to gain my bearings.  I studied the map given to me and the surrounding mountains and lake.  Carefully, I followed the shoreline of the lake to something that caught my attention on the far end of the shore.  It was an old abandoned village with a standing guard tower and a few guards milling around and standing watch over the ruins.  There were items and structures scattered about in various stages of decay.  I found an opening in the tall stone walls that surrounded the central courtyard and cautiously stepped through.

The village had long been abandoned.  I wondered at the sheer volume of work that must have went in to creating such a place and why it had been abandoned.  It was actually well fortified and strategically placed. Along the side of the mountain I found a cave and upon entering, I had the strange feeling that I recognized it.  And then I remembered a fire-side chat I had with Eyesgood one night and how he talked of his acceptance into a village on this island.  I instinctively looked to my right.  There it was, a Vynora altar.  Further on there was a stone forge with a coffin situated on the wall beside it.  Moving inward I counted the halls of tunnels running every three tiles horizontally along the cave.  I rounded a corner of the second hall and sure enough, there were two forges, a large barrel, a stone coffin, and a colored large chest.  I had found it!  I had found the village Eyesgood had been a member of so long ago.  A part of me was thrilled because from his tales I had gained my bearings.  I knew exactly where I was and how to get to the shore where I would cross over to pluck my friends from danger.  But another part of me was sad that the once great ******** village had died.  Not even the token remained.

The feelings of sadness left me as I realized I would be able to tell Eyesgood and Theophilus that I had found his old village and used it as a temporary home while I constructed the life boat.  I knew he would probably say that he knew I would find it because I was Surviverman!  But I knew who to thank, that young Surviverman fan who had unwittingly settled near the place I really needed to be.