Friday, July 25, 2014

Another tip for the planes of Oblivion

If you don't want to wear a chameleon suit into an Oblivion Plane, then one way to reduce the damage from the fire traps (you know, those towers that shoot fire at you and ignore fire protection) is to enchant pieces with spell absorb. I read that the fire traps are considered spells, so if you can get hold of three or four Transcendent sigil stones then you can enchant pieces of jewelry with spell absorb. Of course, you can find pieces in Oblivion that have spell absorb, so if you can find some of them, and then get the stone, then you can concoct 100% spell absorb. This will work for your character if you choose to be born under the Atronach too. This birthsign grants 150 to your magicka, but you cannot regenerate it. Therefore, you either need to visit wayshrines or Ayleid wells to restore your magicka. You will already have a 50% chance to absorb any spells cast at you, so adding a piece or two to boost this will certainly help. You can also carry a few welkynd stones (though they do weigh 1 each, so be careful how many you carry) as they restore all of your magicka, but then disappear when you use them. I'd use them if you're in a dungeon, are low on magicka and need it right then. The Lucky Old Lady statue in Bravil is also a good place to restore your magicka. Interact with the statue and you have a 50-50 chance to absorb the spell if you're not wearing any enchanted thing to boost those odds. And you can do this as many times as you like, which is better than using a well and then having to wait for it to recharge before you can use it again. And the only way you can reuse wayshrines is if you have the Knights of the Nine plugin installed.

Now, how can you get the sigil stone that you want? Make a custom save just before you snatch the stone (after you've killed all the monsters and are standing there ready to grab it is best). Name it Sigil so you know which one it is. Then save there just before you grab the stone. Pause the game when you get the stone, and then check to see what it is. If you don't want it, then reload that save and try again. The stone given is always random, so you can keep trying until you get something you can use. And you'd only need one of them, because you can then multiply them using the scroll trick.

What's the scroll trick? First you need at least two identical spell scrolls (doesn't matter what they're for, just as long as they're a spell scroll) and one of any other spell scroll. Then click on the two identical scrolls, immediately drop the one scroll and you'll have two scrolls on the ground. Pick up one of the dropped scrolls and repeat. I like to get about ten identical scrolls this way and then use that stack to multiply things.

Now things that won't multiply are damaged/repaired weapons and armor, nirnroot and some other things. But most undamaged weapons and armor, and most rings, clothing and alchemical ingredients/food will multiply. Oh, and those born under the Atronach can use this trick to multiply welkynd or varla stones (which recharge all of your enchanted weapons you have in your inventory)

Okay, why would you want to do this? Well, it's handy if you're low on arrows or you find a few enchanted ones in loot that you want to keep using. Just make some more. Need cash really fast? Enchant cheap clothes and then multiply them and sell them. Multiply any enchanted jewelry you have and sell the extras. Enchant plain jewelry, multiply it and sell it. Keep one of each in a special spot and repeat any time you need money.

The only way you can multiply the zero weight armor though is to use the (if you're on a pc) console to put each piece in your inventory, that way it's undamaged. Remember, you have to either damage/repair it to drop it, or cast/repair if your armorer skill is expert and lets you repair beyond 100%. Either way, you've repaired it, so you can't multiply it. I did this once, to get pieces to put different spells on for different occasions and still be able to carry it all. Cheating? Yes. Do I much care? No. It's my game, I'll play it how I like. I mostly play regular anyway, and just cheat when I need to carry a crapload of loot to the stores to sell, or when I'm carrying a crapload of daedric stuff out of Oblivion planes. Yes, I want all that daedric stuff, it goes for a ton of gold at the stores. I even go through the motions of getting the zero weight stuff by either using spells or the magical stones that give them when you activate them. It's just much easier to get your armorer up to 75 and repair rather than try to find something to damage it for you before you can repair it.

Dilithium Event

The Dilithium Event at STO is  in full swing now. You can go mining on Vlugta asteroid or your fleet mine and get double the dil.

This means if you have any mining claims for the Rich mining, use them now. I am.

As Seen on TV

Yes, we've all seen these things. They range from things to make hairdos easier to do, to things to spray in cracks to make things waterproof, to copper-infused joint wraps.

As far as I can tell, none of the "As seen on TV" stuff is any better than things you can already get in the store and not pay astronomical shipping prices . Copper on the outside of the body does nothing. You have to ingest it to get it's benefits.

And the knives, pots, pans, cooking utensils, juicers, etc...meh, it's all selective.

Bottom line? Stay away from 'as seen on tv' stuff unless you can find it in your local Wal-Mart. Then you can get it at a fraction of what they want in price+shipping charges.

As Seen on TV is nothing but a rip-off.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Sir Loin of Beef!

Or as most people call them, boneless sirloin steak. Ricky went out to work on someone's car and came back with two he found in the store's discount pile, you know, the stuff they mark down to try to sell before its sell-by date. The person apparently gave him the wrong address and he can't get hold of them, so he's going o make steak instead. No complaints from me.

So, on to other topics. I've been putting up little hints about a few games I like. Lately I've been playing a lot of STO, and am just getting back into Oblivion as well. My friend wants me to play Fallout 3 as well, but I never could get into that one. I only got it because it was sold in a set with Oblivion. Well, everyone has their games that they like and maybe one day I'll give it another try.

Dragon Age: Inquisition is supposed to be coming out in a couple of months. I'll have to wait till the price comes down before I can even think about buying it. That's the way it is around here, I get the game long after everyone else has already played it. I don't mind, I'm not one who has to have a game the minute it comes out. I'll have fun with the other DA games I have. Plus Oblivion, plus STO.

I like Oblivion for one reason only. I don't *have* to go through the main story, and even when I do, I can still play after my character 'saves the day'. It's an entire virtual life that's much more adventurous than the ordinary one I have and I can even play totally different species, such as anthropomorphic lizards and lions. Honestly, I'm human every day of the week, so why not play a humanoid lizard or cat in a virtual world? Same with STO. I have a Klingon, a Caitian, a Ferasan, a Romulan, an alien. Of course I also have a token human character too. I'm also thinking of another alien, one that a friend and I made up in one of our fanfics we're always writing. It will take some fiddling with the character creation, but we can get decent-looking ones out of it since we've been practicing with making alien BOFFs. Green skin, humanoid-looking, pointed ears, blue stripes (though only on the face, haven't figured out if I can get body stripes yet.

Ayway, that one is a ways down the line.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Happy Days

My son in law finally got the time to build me a desktop computer that plays STO and my other games. He gave me a widescreen Dell monitor for it that is just fabulous! The thing is still worth $250 used, so it's quite good.

Being not new, it does have a few small issues, but overall, I'm satisfied with it. STO and all my other games look so much better now that it's like night and day. I'm so grateful to him to get me something like this.

Now, if someone could just loan me $199 for the STO lifer subscription while they're on sale, I'd appreciate that too. No takers? Ah well, I'll just keep saving a bit to my paypal till I get what I need and wait for the next time the price goes on sale this winter.

I'll never have the top gaming systems that serious gamers have, but this does what I want it to do, so I'm happy.


So, what is STO? Star Trek Online. It's a fairly popular MMORPG, based on, you guessed it, Star Trek. It's quite fun. You take a Starfleet, Klingon or Romulan  character and you play them starting at graduation day at Starfleet academy, as a third officer of a Klingon ship or as a Romulan farmer. Through various instances you'll find yourself captain of a starship and you'll go out fighting the enemies of your faction.

Yeah, that's it in a nutshell, there's so much more that goes on as well. Special events in summer and winter are fun things to do in between fighting. There are PVP/PVE missions to run for Reputation or Fleet marks or you can do other reputation missions. This is all in addition to the storylines that you play. And the best part is that it's free to play. They do have a lifer subscription, but it isn't necessary, that only gets you lots of free stuff and perks to your account.

But I have to say that some players need lessons on proportions. During the Summer Event on Risa, I've seen so many male avatars with broad, bulky shoulders chests and arms and small hips and legs. They look like they're going to topple over any second now, they're so top-heavy. The big-busted females don't bother me that much, but having them stand around with their hips thrust out so far that it looks out of joint does. But if a player wants their female to look slutty and their males to look like upside-down pyramids, that's their choice. I prefer to proportion my avatars accordingly. And it's easy, just put the sliders mostly in the same spot and fine tune it. I have some beautiful females and handsome males doing that. And I choose a nice neutral stance for the females that makes them look feminine, but not slutty. After all, I don't want a female Kirk, or a male one, for that matter.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Woes and more woes

My laptop hard drive got inexplicably wiped, so my son installed W8.1. Being used to W7, there was a learning curve, but it wasn't too bad.

Then my hard drive inexplicably crashed again, so my son now put in a hard drive and reinstalled W8.1. However, he warned me that this drive isn't reliable.

Thankfully I'll be able to order one in a few days as soon as my Paypal transfer goes through. No, I'm not going to some computer store and paying an arm and a leg for something I can get online for a fraction of the price. Yes, it's new-other, which means a drive that was removed from a new, unused machine during an upgrade to a bigger drive. This one has a capacity of 320GB, plenty big enough for what I want it to do. The company is just selling it at a huge discount to get rid of it and make a little money. It will be shipped in an antistatic bag and bubble envelope. I discussed it with my son and he said as long as they deliver it like that it should be fine. So if the seller is still selling them in five days, I'm ordering. If not, I've transferred enough that I know I can get another one if it costs a bit more than the one I'm watching.

No, I'm not telling you which one I'm watching or where, you'll have to guess, can't make it easier for someone else to buy it out from under me.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Something weird about DA

DA is Dragon Age. I've played Origins and 2. Recently (like, less than a week ago) my laptop hard drive got wiped out. Don't ask me why or how, I don't know.

Anyway, once everything got settled with a new (W8.1) OS, I installed my games, updated my video card and when I tried to play DA Origins, I got the error message that some components were missing which were related to my graphics card. Now those components were in the graphics card folder, but when I compared the dlls from DA2 to DAO, those components were missing from DAO. Now, what was I to do? I'm no computer expert, but since those particular dlls had to do with graphics and weren't game-specific, I got the brilliant idea to copy them over from one to the other. Now, not move them over, copy them over. This means that I had to right-click the dll I wanted, select copy from the popup menu and then right click in the other folder and choose paste. Of course I had to give admin permission for something like this since it's in the Program files, but that's just an extra click. Once I copied all the missing files over, DAO then launched as intended. Yay me.

Also, if you play Dragon Age on the computer, and you want to enable the console, please go into your settings (which are in the DA folder in Documents, not Program) and change the hotkey for the console to F6 instead of `(tilde). The reason for this is it is very easy to accidentally click that tilde key when using your quickbar 1 button. You simply need to go to your Bioware folder in Documents, find Dragon Age, then Settings, then the Keybindings,. Once it opens in Notepad, scroll down to OpenConsole: Button_GRAVE, delete GRAVE and replace it with F6 (or whatever you prefer) and then close the window, clicking Yes when it asks you if you want to save.

It's as easy as that.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Another helpful tip for Oblivion

Do not, under any circumstances, allow your horse to be 'blessed' by a wayshrine. It's only possible to do if you get your horse on top of it and then make sure it is between you and the shrine when you activate it. However (and I read this on an Oblivion wikia) doing so not only cures your horse of any diseases it may pick up on the road (from attacking animals and such, same ones your character can pick up), it also gives your horse an insane boost in speed.

I know this because I just put Prior Maborel's Paint on one to see what happened. I thought the warning was maybe a tad overstated, but it's not. In run mode, the horse is so insanely fast that it literally runs off cliffs before I can turn it. In walk it's probably as fast, or faster, than the black horse.

So, if a wayshrine can make the paint (the slowest horse in the game) so insanely fast that it can't be controlled, just imagine what it can do to the black (the fastest horse in the game). Oh, and the effect is permanent, not like the blessing if it hits you.

Therefore, if you want to be sure of keeping your horse free of diseases, my suggestion is to get to a spellmaking altar (either the Arcane University or Frostcrag Spire) and make a custom cure disease spell that works on touch instead of on self. Naturally, you'll need to go to a chapel somewhere and buy it from the spell vendor, and then get your restoration to at least 50, but then you can just cast it on your horse from time to time to keep it healthy and disease-free. The reason I'm saying this is that you can't tell when your horse has been afflicted with a disease, unless you notice it isn't healing as quickly as it should. Therefore just hit it with a cure disease once in awhile.

While I'm on the subject of your horse, you should also make yourself a custom restore health spell for your horse as well (just make sure it's on touch and not on target or self). If you get your restoration up to 75, you can make one that restores 100 points of health for 1 second. Yeah, it costs a lot of magicka to cast, but it will be worth it after you find your horse to be down to very little health after it's attacked by a minotaur or an ogre.

So, happy hunting in Obilivion.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Saving Oblivion on the PC

Sure, you can hit the esc button and then Save and let the computer give it a number, but then if you want to change characters (if you have more than one), then you'd have to either remember which number the character was saved under or mouseover the saves till you found the one you wanted.

Another way is to bring up your console and type savegame <name>, where <name> is the name you want to save it under. You won't need to use the <>, just name it. I generally use the name of my character as the name of the save. If they have a first and last name, I'll make one save with their first name, such as Tevyn, and then make another save labeled TevynS, as his last name is Syndelias. Then to save progress, just hit your esc button, choose Save and then I'll generally use the bottom save to make a new save. In other words, I'll overwrite one of the two saves.

For special quests, such as Through a Nightmare Darkly, I made a special save called Dreamworld. I always save my progress in TaND there for each character.

So, there's my tip on saving games when you have multiple characters so you can find them easily.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Training Sneak

I covered this a bit in an earlier post, but I've found a good way to train it. When you go to Bravil, you'll hear rumors about a ghost called the Forlorn Watchman. Asking about it triggers the quest The Forlorn Watchman. When you go out to Bawnwatch camp to wait for him, sneak behind him when he walks away from the camp. He won't see you, and you'll only have a few critters to whack on the way to his next destination. He'll go just past Fort Irony and stand to look out over the bay. Speak to him to trigger the next part of the quest. There's a tree nearby him with a rock next to it that makes a nice place to sneak in place, just back into it so you can see when he disappears, and then sneak until he does. Then sneak over to Fort Irony. If there's an enemy down there, sneak onto the ledge above them and then just continue to sneak to your heart's content. You'll level it in no time, especially if it's a major skill. Just be sure to walk-sneak and not run-sneak, since the enemy might hear you and seek you out.

Another good place to train it up at is on the Bloated Float during An Unexpected Voyage. Once you kill Lynch (the first bandit you encounter), you find out that Graman-gro-Marad (the Orc bouncer) is locked in the closet at the other end of the deck you're on. Lynch has the key so just loot him and then go over close to the closet and start auto-sneaking (whichever key makes them auto-move) into a corner. You can do this as long as you like and level it up. I like to get to at least 50 as quickly as possible since that will let me sneak in any boots without penalty. Before lvl 50, the weight of your boots had an effect on being discovered. If you're really patient, take it up to lvl 75, where you can run-sneak without penalty. I like to do An Unexpected Voyage early on because it gets me a full set of leather armor (minus shield/helmet, but I'll already have a leather shield) with a Blackwater cuirass, which is better than a normal leather cuirass. And since I rarely have a character use heavy armor it's perfect to use for females if I want to skip the chainmail stage of the game (chainmail for females leaves her arms exposed and I just don't like that from a RPing perspective.).

So why would I even pay for a night on the Bloated Float when I can use the abandoned shack nearby, or just take over the Marie Elena? Well, from a RPing perspective, and if I'm playing female, she wouldn't want to share a shack with two males (two males live in the shack). And, say, it's the first and cheapest place she runs across to get a night's sleep at since she also wouldn't want to sleep in the open on one of the beggar's bedrolls on the docks either. For a male, well, he just feels like having a drink and then decides to spend the night when he has a few too many ;). Yeah, he'd have enough gold by then from selling the stuff he got from escaping the sewers. And you know guys, they'd want to celebrate their freedom.

I even took off my fortify sneak boots I made and put on another pair so I could see when it was getting to Expert. (Yeah, I was already at around 65 sneak when the ghost disappeared).

You can probably do stuff like this during dungeon-crawling if you're patient. Sneak around enemies for awhile, then kill them and move on.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Miscellaneous Useful Enchantments

You can enchant resistance to disease, damage or magic as well. These would be good enchantments to also put on armor pieces. Any creature in the game can give you a disease and the only way to get rid of it is to use a cure disease potion or chew an alchemical ingredient with cure disease as its first effect (such as Mandrake Root), or else get your Restoration up to 50 and buy the Cure Disease spell. This is especially important if you're going to be hunting vampires regularly, as you can contract Porphyric Hemophilia from them, which is the vampire disease ingame. If you find you've gotten it, get rid of it quickly with Cure Disease or at any Temple Altar. (If you don't have any bounties or much infamy, that is)

Having some resist disease/poison enchantments give you some protection, so if you run across any, use them. Also, anything that reflects damage is fantastic. You can equip it and then watch lower-class enemies such as rats and mud crabs kill themselves when they attack you because the damage reflects back on them. Unfortunately you cannot enchant things with reflect damage or spells, but you can find things in dungeons sometimes, or get them as rewards for quests, so be on the lookout.

Seriously. I once had about 66% reflect damage (total, of three enchanted things), and when rats would jump on me, they would die within three jumps. Same for mud crabs. Goblins would take a little longer, but if I kept my health up while they attacked, it would be fun to watch them eventually kill themselves. Or bandits or highwaymen. The list goes on.

More Useful Enchantments

A lot of the time you'll find pieces of jewelry already enchanted with useful enchantments, either on dead bodies or in chests while you're exploring dungeons. But if you find that you need something now (such as something to help you breathe underwater or see in dark places, for example), then you can enchant pieces of jewelry or clothing with appropriate spells. You just need to have the spell in your inventory and have the necessary skill level to use the spell, and of course, access to an enchanting altar.

So, what am I talking about? For all of the things below, you only need a filled petty soul gem as the effects are constant.

Breathing underwater: Enchant any ring, necklace, piece of clothing or armor with an underwater breathing spell.

Walking on water: If you want to skip across the water, enchant anything with a water-walking spell (I find shoes are good for this)

Seeing in the dark: Well, a light spell enchantment would work, but if you're a sneaky type, there's a big chance that you'll be spotted, so I suggest using the Night Eye enchantment instead. The downside to this is that everything has a bluish cast, so it's hard to tell where the dark corners are to hide in.

Now, for spells that might need a more powerful soul gem.

Feather: You can make feather clothes by using soul gems and the Feather enchantment. Or....

Use Grand soul gems and enchant  some jewelry with Fortify Strength, which will also allow you to carry more, and also gives you more oomph when fighting. Maybe enchant a whole suit of Bound Armor with that for a nice boost to carrying power.

So, you see what I mean about useful enchantments. And I haven't even listed half of what's out there, just the ones I use most. I'm sure you can use your imagination and come up with other things yourself.

Useful Enchantments

So, you want to enchant your armor. What are some useful enchantments? Well, Frost Shield, Fire Shield and Shock Shield are good ones. In addition to providing up to ten points of elemental resistance, it also provides ten points of shield per enchantment used. If you use all three, you get the double bonus of elemental resistance along with extra shielding.

For thief/assassin characters, if you have a Fortify Skill spell (available from almost any Birthsign stone), then you can fortify your sneak, marksman, security or agility skills.

For Knight characters, you could fortify your blade, block, agility, or strength.

So, what is a Birthsign stone? It's a tall, reddish stone set into a circle of smaller stones. the stone has red runes on it that glow after dark. If you find one (and I'm not sure where they all are), you can activate it (but only after dark) and it will ask you if you want to use the power. If the sign you chose to be born under already has a fortify skill in its base abilities, then you don't need to go the extra mile to find a Birthsign stone. Getting access to one fortify skill spell gives you access to all of them.

Other useful enchantments:

Chameleon Suit: If you have five grand soul gems filled with grand souls then you can enchant two rings, a necklace, a pair of pants and a shirt (or any five different things). Once this is done, you will have 100% chameleon whenever you wear all five pieces at the same time. No one will see you when you're walking around, and it would be a great way to train sneak in broad daylight. Simply put the suit on, then sneak around people.

What else can you use a chameleon suit for? Stealing in broad daylight. You can walk into a store and steal right out from under people's noses and you'll never get a bounty. You still may not always be able to pickpocket people, as that is governed by how good your agility is, but you won't incur a bounty for trying because they can't see who did it. It's also a great way to reverse-pickpocket the zero weight armor or weapons onto NPCs who are followers to give them better stuff to help them not get killed.

Another thing to use the chameleon suit for is getting into places if you don't want to  be seen to finish quests where you make a bonus for completing it exactly as given to you (such as many Dark Brotherhood quests, if you're playing an assassin), or for completing some Thieve's Guild quests where you aren't to be seen.

There are so many ways you can use the chameleon suit that I probably can't list them all, but the best use for it is when you're closing Oblivion gates. Wear it and none of the Daedra will see you and you can explore the plane of Oblivion all you want (except for the timed one). I'd also suggest going in with God Mode toggled (if you're playing the computer version) since you'll still spring the traps and no amount of fire protection will protect you from the fire traps or the lava water. Also, God Mode (tgm) will allow you to kill everything in your path and then carry the looted stuff back out. Frankly, I know this is blatant cheating, but darn it, those planes are dangerous, and I want my gold's worth out of them when I have to close them. I confess that I don't use God Mode when fighting in dungeons, but after I kill everything I will toggle it to carry out all the loot rather than rely on potions and spells to feather myself. I'll then fast travel to the nearest town, fix all the damaged stuff and sell it, then toggle it back off. Hey, I have my scruples and one of them is that for normal enemies outside the Planes of Oblivion I will fight them as an equal. But inside Oblivion, where the fire traps ignore fire protection, I will even the odds.

I will be back with other useful enchantments/spells later.

Tip: Acquiring Zero-Weight Armor and Weapons in Oblivion

These tips can work whether you're on a computer version or console version. You can call them cheats if you like, because they probably are.

Zero weight armor and weapons:

I'm sure you know all about it if you've played the game. There are spells you can buy where you can summon temporary armor or weapons which are zero weight. Conversely, there are also runestones where you can also summon a bound weapon and armor piece for a set amount of time. The runestones also help you train your conjuration skill. Why would you want to go to the trouble of doing this if you can get armor just by looting corpses? Because they have better protection than most of that armor, despite the fact that they're zero weight.

Usually, these armor pieces and weapons will disappear when the time runs out. But there is an exploit where you can damage the piece, fix it with a repair hammer and drop it before the timer runs out. Then you simply wait for the timer to expire, or cast Dispel if you have it. You can then pick the item up. However, they don't stack in your inventory (or else I haven't found out how to make them stack). This really isn't much of a problem if you can use an enchanting altar. Enchant the piece and then you can summon another.

Anyway, there are several ways to damage them: Combat or casting corrode weapon or armor on yourself I recommend corrosion as it's faster than finding something to fight. You can buy the corrosion spells in the Skingrad Mage guild from a couple of the mages there, but the spells are touch, so you'd have to get to a spellmaking altar and make a cheap, on self spell. Then you can summon a piece, cast corrosion, fix and drop. It's as easy as that, you just need your Destruction skill at 50 to use both corrosion spells. You also have to have your conjuration skill up to about 50 or 75 to be able to summon all of the pieces you need. However, due to a glitch, the cuirass and greaves are both classed as heavy armor and the rest of the pieces are classed as light armor. But if you don't care, then that isn't a problem, all the pieces are zero weight. All weapons are zero weight too, so if you're a blade person, you can get the dagger and two-handed sword (sorry, no longsword). For blunt there's the war axe and for ranged fighters there's the bow. Once you have everything you can then enchant them if you like, depending on what you want out of them. Also, you can summon more to have different enchantments for different occasions as it's all zero weight, so it won't weigh you down. For mages, it will still lower your spell effectiveness as if you were wearing normal armor, so it won't work to give you 100% spell effectiveness. However, the Bound Dagger could be quite useful, as it has a nice attack, and it can be enchanted to be even more effective.

There is one other way that you can get the bound armor and weapons after casting the spell. If your armorer skill is at 75 (Expert) then you can simply use a repair hammer to 'fix' it above 100% and then drop it.

I'm sure you can think of endless ways to take advantage of this exploit, but don't be looking to sell any of it, since it's still not worth a single gold piece, even enchanted, so just make sure you enchant with enchantments that you can use.

Mercantile Skill

I think the Mercantile skill is a skill worth talking about. It's the skill of bartering with merchants to get better prices for the stuff you want to sell. How is this done? Well, you first have to get the merchant to like you better, which means you'll have to train up your speechcraft on them. How is this done?

Well, when you enter dialogue with a merchant, you have several choices to click at the bottom of the subject lines. The first choice looks like a face and that's what you want to click. You'll then get a circle divided into four wedges. Beginning from the top and going clockwise you have Admire, Joke, Coerce and Boast. When you place the arrow over one of those you'll see the person's face change in reaction to it. They will like and love two of them and dislike and hate the other two. Once you have that set, and with a little practice, you'll figure out how to raise their disposition to the maximum. This is done by selecting fuller wedges for liked/loved subjects and less full wedges for disliked/hated subjects. Believe me, with a little practice you will be able to train up your speechcraft pretty well. Oh, and the wheel always spins clockwise one wedge after you select one, so take that into consideration so that you don't inadvertently stick yourself with a full wedge on a hated subject. And once you get your speechcraft to Apprentice, you'll have a chance to spin the wheel once during your chat with them, just in case you get a wedge you don't like.

So, once you get the merchant to like you by maxing their disposition (I like to get it as near to 70 as I can, even if I have to bribe them a little), then you can haggle with them. Click the next icon over to bring up the trading menu and then click 'Haggle'. You'll get a slider showing you what the merchant is currently buying/selling at, along with their disposition. Most shopkeepers will start with a buying ratio of around 34, which is deplorable. If you're haggling with an expert haggler, try starting them at about 45. If they accept that, then sell off your stuff to them. If you have stuff stacked (like arrows), and you have three or more, you'll get a slider asking you how many you want to sell. Sell things one at a time, if you're patient. If you sell the whole bundle as one transaction, that is all your get credit for, one transaction, so sell things one at a time. Arrow bundles are fantastic for doing this. However, if you have hundreds of arrows in a stack, you may want to sell them in bundles of five or ten until you lower the number to where you're comfortable selling them one at a time. Believe me, if you've been through a goblin dungeon, then you're going to have lots of iron arrows.

The next time you visit that same merchant, you may try haggling again, if you sold them a lot of stuff the previous trip. When you click 'Haggle' you'll see that their disposition may have raised since your last visit, and if they're an expert, try going up no more than two more points. Eventually, if you keep selling them a lot of stuff (one at a time), you can get that slider around 70.

If you're haggling with a Novice, Apprentice or Journeyman, you can probably start out at around 50 with your first haggle and bump it 2-4 notches each subsequent  haggle. Eventually you'll get them to around 70 or more.

Most general merchandise dealers will be Apprentices or Journeyman hagglers, and they'll have between 600 and 800 gold to barter with. Most Expert hagglers are the Smiths who deal in weapons and armor, and they have around 1000-1200 gold to barter with. There are a very few general merchants who have 1000 gold to barter with, which means that they're a better haggler than the ones with less gold to trade with.

Finally, most mages who sell spells are very poor hagglers, so you can raise their dispositions if you aren't a member of the Guild and then haggle them down to 60-70 on the first try.

Believe me, if you want to raise gold quickly, without using the console to give it to yourself, become a haggler.

Skill Trainers

I mentioned trainers in the previous post when I talked about training mage skills. You can find trainers for any skill in the game. The UESP site has a page listing the trainers. You can only train five skill levels each time you level up. Whether it's leveling five different skills once or one skill five times, you only get five slots. And Trainers cost gold. The higher your skill, the more it costs per training session. The site does list ways around the cost, but hey, I'm an honest person so I'll pay good gold whenever I want to fast-train a few levels.

Really, I don't use trainers for every skill. My favorite skill to fast train is Armorer because I want to get it up to Journeyman (lvl 50) as quickly as possible so I can fix my own enchanted armor and weapons. Until then, if I have an enchanted weapon or piece of armor I'm using, I have to pay a bit of gold to a Smith to fix it. And if you don't fix your armor and weapons, they will eventually break and be totally useless to you. After Journeyman, I just fix my own armor/weapons after a dungeon crawl. If I've been training up my armor and weapon skills in the dungeon then I'll fix them after each altercation.

It's always a good idea to fix weapons and armor that you plan to sell, because until your Mercantile skill reaches Apprentice, the price you get for any goods not fixed to 100% is reduced. Once you reach Apprentice, the condition of armor/weapons is not taken into consideration (but I would still fix things before selling them, just to continue training your Armorer skill.). A Journeyman skill will allow you to sell anything to anyone. This means that you can sell clothing to armorers, where before all you could sell them was armor/weapons/soul gems/gems/animal pelts. General merchandise stores will already buy anything from you and alchemists will only buy apparatus/potions/ingredients/books/scrolls/pelts/gems Once your skill reaches Expert, you can invest in a store, and once your skill reaches Master you can buy/sell at a 100/100 ratio, plus the store will have 500 more gold (in addition to any gold you invested) to trade with. This is another skill that would be worth paying a trainer for to fast-track.

Once any skill you have reaches Expert, the only way you can get a Master Trainer is to ask about one. When you find a Journeyman Trainer in the field you want to train up, the Training dialogue will pop up and if you ask about it, they'll tell you where the Master Trainer is. To get the Master to train you, you will first have to pass a quest that they give you. Once that is done, you may use them to continue training you, at a price, of course.

So, that's how you can fast-train your skills.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Oblivion: Training Magic Abilities

Now you want to be a mage. You'll need to train up your magic schools. There is only one way to do this (outside of trainers, which you pay for), and that is spamming spells from each school.

The schools of magic in Oblivion are: Alteration, Conjuration, Destruction, Illusion, Mysticism and Restoration. Your most useful schools will be (obviously) Destruction and Restoration. The other schools will also have useful spells for other things, so training them all up to at least 25 (apprentice) is highly recommended.

To train up each school, you'll need a cheap (magicka-wise), on self spell. The best way to do that is different for each school, for you do not want to injure yourself with on self destruction spells. The best way to do this if you don't want to join the Mage Guild and work your way to be able to access the Universities spellmaking/enchanting altars is to get the Wizard's Tower plugin, which is Frostcrag Spire. Essentially, Frostcrag Spire is a personal mage University with a spellmaking and enchanting altars. All you'll need to do after 'finding' it is to get the magetallow candles from Aurelinwae at the Mystic Emporium in the Imperial City Marketplace. Be warned though, there is a bug if you also have the Fighter's Stronghold plugin, where the Emporium is permanently locked. There is a workaround, and if you don't want to incur a bounty by picking the lock yourself, the console is your friend again. Bring up the console, click on the door and then type 'unlock'. Then when you go inside, go upstairs and do the same to the bedroom door. No bounty and the Emporium will be open for business. Another quirk is, after you do this, you can pick up anything on the shelves and not be stealing. So pick up whatever you want and sell it back to them for more gold if you like.

Now, the best way to get the best price on the candles is to chat with Aurelinwae and make her like you more. Once her disposition is maxed (hopefully around 70 or so) you can then click to trade with her and haggle first. Since she has a low mercantile skill, you can haggle her down some on the candles and get them for just under 3k gold each.

Now, take the candles to Frostcrag Spire and put them on the altars. Now you can make cheap training spells. To do this, you must first have a spell that you can use. You can purchase spells from almost any mage in any guild hall or from alchemists. Restoration spells can be bought from a healer in any temple in any city.

For Alteration, all you need is the Open Very Easy Lock spell, purchasable from Calendil in the Mystic Emporium. Then all you need to do is go to the locked barrel on the Waterfront (it's the only locked barrel out there, sitting next to Methredil's house) Then just spam the spell on the barrel. Spam it until you run out of magicka and then drink a Restore Magicka potion or use a Welkynd stone (found in any Ayleid ruin, but they do not respawn, so use them carefully) or simply wait for your magicka to regenerate itself (Unless you chose to be born under the Atronach, in which case either potions or Welkynd stones will need to be used). You want your Alteration at least 50 to be able to use Feather spells. Feather spells will lighten your encumbrance to allow you to carry more. See the UESP site I linked to in the first post on this, and any other subject having to do with the game.

For Conjuration, get the Bound Dagger spell from Alberic Litte in Chorrol Mage Guild. Then go to your spellmaking altar and make a training spell with a duration of one second (the smallest you can make). Then just spam this spell until your Conjuration is as high as you want. This is good if you want a set of Bound Armor, for there is a glitch where you can drop the bound armor before the timer runs out and it disappears. More on this later. But if you want a set of zero weight armor/weapons, then you want your Conjuration to be at least 50-75. One note. Runestones (the tall stones with green glowing runes on them) will also level your conjuration.

For Destruction, if you did not choose it as a major skill, you will need the Minor Enervation spell from Druja in the Skingrad Mage Guild. This spell only drains fatigue (which will then regenerate). Go to your spellmaking altar and make the cheapest one. Make sure you set it to be on self since the default will be on touch. Then spam this spell until your Destruction is as high as you want it.

For Illusion, you can buy Starlight from Calendil (or Edgar Vautrine of Edgar's Discount Spells) and make a short duration spell with it to spam endlessly until your Illusion is as high as you want it.

For Mysticism you need Minor Detect Life. You can get this from Calendil or Edgar Vautrine. You may also use Minor Dispel (just make sure you  make this one on self). Again, spam, spam, spam until you're satisfied.

For Restoration, get Fortify Fatigue from Edgar Vautrine and make an on self, short duration training spell. Restoration is the hardest school to level because it takes a lot of casts to level. So I suggest making Restoration a major skill so that it levels faster. In fact, I suggest making Restoration and Destruction major skills since both are very useful. I'd get your Restoration to at least 50 so that you can use Cure Disease on yourself. In Oblivion you can catch diseased from most creatures and you can catch Porphyric Hemophilia from vampires (which will turn you into a vampire if you don't cure it and you sleep for three occasions.) Having Cure Disease as a spell means that you don't have to lug around Cure Disease potions or mandrake roots to chew if you catch something.

Anyway, this is how you would want to train up your schools of magic really fast.

More Oblivion

Okay, in the previous post I explained briefly what Oblivion was. Now a few tips.


You want to level your skills as quickly as possible.

Armor: Whether you're a light armor or heavy armor wearer, you need to level it up. You only do this by fighting and taking damage to it. So, to more quickly level up your armor expertise, go into a dungeon and just let the hostiles beat up on you. Yes, you read that right. Let yourself be beaten up. Just watch your health level (the red bar). Keep it up by either ingesting health potions or using a healing spell (all characters come with a basic healing spell.). I find it's best not to let your health drop to half, so just spam the health spell when it drops and when you think you've taken enough damage, kill your attacker(s). One note: I wouldn't let more than one or two bandits attack you. Preferably just one at a time. Kill all but one and then just let them whale away. Also, you'll need to repair your armor after some time of doing this, so keep a few repair hammers handy. On the PC it's very easy to get them, just type into your console 'player.additem c #' where # is the number of hammers. Since hammers weigh 1 each, I wouldn't carry more than three or four at a time.

Letting yourself get whaled on has two big benefits. It raises your armor expertise and your armorer expertise. The higher your armorer skill, the more stuff you can fix. When your skill reaches 50 (journeyman) you'll be able to repair enchanted weapons and armor. When your skill reaches 100 (master) you will only need one repair hammer. You can also raise your block skill by holding block with a weapon or shield drawn while you're being beaten on, and your blade/blunt skill by finally killing your opponent(s).

If you like to sneak around, you can only skill it up by sneaking around people who can't see you. So, you can go to the waterfront at the Imperial city and see if anyone is sleeping in the outside bedrolls. If so, you can sneak around them while they sleep. You can also sneak around behind the guards while they're patrolling, or find a dark corner and sneak in place around people if they can't see you (you must be moving for the sneaking to count). As long as the 'eye' icon in front of you looks transparent, no one can see you. A little ingenuity and you'll find ways to level up sneak to 100 in very little time.

To level up Security, you have to pick locks. The best way to do this is locked chests in dungeons. If  you join the Mage Guild you can pick most of the display cases and not get into trouble. Each time you successfully lock a pin you gain experience. The more experience you gain, the fewer pins will fall back down if you break a pick. If you run out of picks and don't want to buy any more, the console is your friend again. Type player.additem a # where # is the number of picks you want. Picks are zero weight, so you can have as many as you want and  they won't weigh you down (unlike repair hammers).

Next post will have to do with skilling up magic abilities.


No, I don't mean the state of being oblivious. I'm talking about the game Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. It's a game for the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. Specifically, I'm talking about the PC version.

I got into it when my friend talked me into it. I didn't even think I'd like it very much, but she was very persuasive. And since I don't have any game consoles I had to get it for the PC. I found a good deal on Oblivion and Fallout3. Now, I don't really care for Fallout 3 as much as I do Oblivion, but I may play it occasionally just for something different.

Anyway, this is about Oblivion. Oblivion is the fourth installment of the Elder Scrolls series (and the only one I've played), and is a fairly old game by now, but it is a whole lot of fun. What exactly is it? It's an open-ended role playing game. What does that mean? It means that once you finish the main quest you can still play the game for as long as you like. Role playing means that your character is an extension of yourself and you play them as you want to. Whether this means you have a white knight, a gray rogue/thief, a black assassin or a white/black mage or any combination thereof.

Every character in Oblivion has some magical talent, but some are more adept at it than others, some are better at sneaking, some are better at being a knight, so choose accordingly. The lore on each character race may also be a deciding factor in whether you want to play them, so you may want to study up on it at the unofficial wikia page that I use a lot. It's got information on all of the Elder Scrolls games, as well.

So, once you've created a character with whatever major skills you think they'll need, and you've played through the tutorial, you'll know what the main quest is. Namely, a Daedra Lord, Mehrunes Dagon, wants to open a gate from his world of Oblivion into Tamriel and the Emperor entrusts you to find his last surviving (illegitimate) son and stop Dagon.

Now, this is where the open-ended part comes in. You do not have to actually follow the main quest right away. Certainly you can take the Amulet to Weynon Priory and give it to Jauffre if you don't want it lingering around in your inventorty (it's zero weight, so that isn't a problem). But if you don't want to trigger the main quest any further, DO NOT EVER GO TO KVATCH!

Sorry about the yelling, but that is really important. If you go to Kvatch to find Martin, then all hell will break loose and you'll be obligated to follow up on the main quest. And it's very easy to avoid Kvatch and not even travel past it due to the convenient fast-traveling option. Since this isn't exactly a walkthrough, I'm not going to go into a lot of detail explaining things, I'm just giving you a few tips and tricks to help you earn gold and level up your skills.

So, now, about leveling. When you've leveled enough of your major skills, you'll get a message suggesting that you rest and think about it. This is a clue that you'll need to sleep. Find a safe place with a bed or a bedroll (any inn or campsite will do) and then sleep. You can choose how long you want to sleep, but one hour is sufficient, then you can choose which three attributes to raise. This is all dependent on what type of character you're building, I can't suggest anything, except maybe raise your strength as much as possible. Why? Because strength determines how much you can carry, and when you're dungeon-diving you'll see what I mean.

Now, getting gold. On the PC version you COULD use the console and type in player.additem f #, where # is the amount of gold you want, which means you could be a millionaire in a few keystrokes, if you wanted. However, this method is really unnecessary, as it's insanely easy to build up a gold supply ingame. It also takes most of the fun out of the game, for if you just give yourself a million Septims you won't feel the need to explore Cyrodiil and it's many caves, forts and ruins. However, I will discuss other things you can do with the console that will come in handy as you play the game.

So, onto dungeon-diving. There are an abundance of caves, Ayleid ruins, mines and abandoned forts all over Cyrodiil just waiting to be plundered. All of them will have either bandits, marauders or creatures/undead living in them that must be disposed of before you can plunder the treasure. And once disposed of, you can loot corpses and containers to your heart's content, up to your encumbrance limit, which is the amount you can carry at any one time. You can only carry up to one pound less than your total encumbrance. So, say you have an encumbrance of 200. That means that you can only carry 199, any more and you will not be able to move. So, my suggestion is to first kill every living thing in the area(s) first, without looting anything. But, be careful of wandering Adventurers. If you kill one of them, it's murder (and we'll get into that in another post.). They're non-hostile, so you can leave them alone. After all hostiles are dead, bring up your console (tapping the tilde [`] key) and type in tgm. Those three letters stand for 'Toggle God Mode'. Yes, you could leave this on all the time and never have to worry about dying or anything else, but where's the fun in that? Toggling this mode will allow you to pick up everything in the dungeon, so loot all the dead bodies and containers and take what you want, go to the nearest town and sell anything you don't want to keep.

Okay, I'll move on to another post to keep from giving you too much to read at one time.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I don't post as much in this one as I should. I don't post on FB as much as I used to. But I just tried something I've been meaning to try and never got around to.

Cornmeal mush. Sounds appetizing, doesn't it? If I called it Polenta would you want to try it then? I found a basic recipe here:

Polenta by Giada

The only adjustments I made were to add a quarter cup of dry milk powder to the water and combine everything before putting the pot over medium heat. Yes, you do not have to bring the liquid to a boil first. For this, for grits or for oatmeal, just combine everything, then bring to a simmer over medium heat. After it comes to a simmer, stir often to prevent sticking or scorching.

After it thickened into a Cream of Wheat-like texture, I put a couple scoops in a bowl that I had already chopped some peaches into, along with adding a couple teaspoons of brown sugar and a dash of vanilla.

Let me tell you, it took me back to when I used to eat Cream of Wheat as a kid, only I'd never put fruit or anything in it, just milk and cinnamon and butter. But the consistency....Cream of Wheat. The taste? A bit corny, of course, but delicious.

I've poured the rest of it in a Bundt loaf pan and refrigerated so it will thicken enough to slice, and then I'll try it in some different ways. I bet it'll go great with beans.