Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

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    skarekrow13
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    Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by skarekrow13 on Mon Jul 08, 2013 9:16 pm

    I've been done with Dark Souls for a long time. Most of you know that. Of course it's not because I don't want to play. I could use something fresh for awhile is all. I did a brief stint catching up on my plus backlog. But, you know....Souls man! 

     Apart from rocking a cool towel and wrecking a few people, I never did anything with the Demon's Souls community. Emergence made a thread asking about a fun playthrough. I thought to myself, "I haven't played in over three years. I can't even think about challenge runs." Seriously, what equipment would be a challenge? I haven't a clue. I remember Northern Regalia. That was fun. And cheesing a False King with a white bow with my sl 250 because it sounded funny.

    After being encouraged in E's thread (people should know better by now) I found the perfect idea to engage the community (a few years late). 

     With some further ado...

     My return to Boletaria!

    Chapter One:
    First Knight Back:

    After a very abrupt character creation (I want to jump back in) I'm asked if I want to take my newborn knight into the tutorial stage.  It's been three years since I traversed Boletaria and I've got a bone to pick with a certain demon at the end of this.  Yes...bring on the tutorial.  

    Into the darkness I begin and I'm soon to recall the glory of the fat roll.  May my shield protect me.  My agility will not.  I decide that after 600 hours of Souls games I "should" know how to parry.  Wait, I did it.  First try.  Seems easier than I remember.  Maybe I got lucky.  Nope.  Demon's seems easier than Dark.  I'm parrying the heck outta these fools.  I also wonder at the sadism inherent in placing blue eye knights in the tutorial.  Seriously?  That's just mean.  Even if they aren't as strong on the inside.  The first tries to shield fake me (the AI is better than Dark).  I don't fall for it and......PARRY!  Ha ha ha!

    Finally I'm at Mr. DemonGonnaKillYa.  I prepare my half moon grass.  I know he's gonna hit hard.  Even fat rolling I'm avoiding most of his attacks.  Confidence!  I have a quarter of his life down already.  I got this.  I roll back instead of to the side.  

    Welcome to the Nexus!  

    Ahhh.....my depressing blue aura friend.  I'll talk to you later.  

    I'm finding my memory is still good.  A thief ring, cling ring, broadsword and crossbow later confirm that I recall almost everything.  It's a little sad actually.  Despite some wacky AI and pacing, I save Ostrava's rear end.  On to the Phalanx.  Firebombs and turpentine.  That was fast.  

    On to the Tower Knight.  But not before I mistime my "sprint" to avoid the first round of Dragon fire.  

    On to the Tower Knight Round 2:  The archer group with the Blue Eye Knight backup.  You're just sick From.  You know that?  Just...plain...sick.  

    The archers in the tower knight battle.  I pity da fools. The knight.  I'm doing ok.  I need to heal a couple times.  I come back to ankle chopping.  I get hit hard by the shield.  I realize crescent moon grass isn't gonna cut it.  I toggle to the half moon.  I hit the square button.  

    I'm looking at the Tower Knight through a nifty piece of glass housed in brass that Ostrava thought would come in handy for me.  It does.  I get a great view of my impending death.

    interlude:

    Oh glorious coating, we sing of your might;
    But why must you be, both sticky and white?
    My sword doth shine, sparkle and glisten;
    But too many'a joke, have I had to listen.
    A monster's tough hide, you have helped me poke;
    Oh that's just great, even I made a joke.

    The chapter called "next" will feature your glory;
    You helped cease demon life, with end that's quite gory.
    So despite your allusions to a synonym of "sailors"
    We'll still whip you out, on weapons we tailor....

    To your excellence.

    Sticky White Stuff forever ya'll!

    Word.  Now read that again like I was rapping. Because I was.

    Here's the beat:
    boom, boom boom
    Bah buh bah boom
    boom, bah boom
    Bah bah buh boom

    Chapter Two:
    How Armored Can A Spider Get?

    After being killed by a mistaken item swap I decide I'm currently too lazy to go past all those bridges again to gain vengeance on the Tower Knight.  

    Clearly, it's time for Stonefang Tunnel.  A jaunty ascent up the stairs and I'm greeted by a faint blue glow to the left.  I summon all my courage and BRAVELY attack a small lizard with my long sword.  Two handed R2 of course.  It slashes downward better.  You just gotta be prepared for dangerous creatures like this.  

    I talk to the merchant and decide that I'm not interested.  "Not interested" is code for: "Remember I didn't feel like going back and getting vengeance on the Tower Knight so therefore didn't get my souls back or anything."  

    On to the rock throwers.  Ha ha ha......fools. I have a bow from earlier.  Remember?  I shoot the guy on the left and only have to deal with ONE boulder at a time.  Genius.  Let's get that elevator rocking.  True fact: The first time I played this game it took me forever to find the switch.  Like, an embarrassingly long time.  As in, "how the hell did I not notice that there's a lever RIGHT BY THE DOOR for several weeks embarrassing."  Well, this time I'm good at least.  The Minister at the top necessitates some hiding behind the door frame but I get him.  Ha ha ha!

    Back down we go.  I don't recall all these guys being so darn passive. Only the pickax guys attack me?  I thought they all did.  Maybe I pissed them off the last time I played or something.  I see faint glow.  It's a message on the floor making me aware that there's a trap ahead.  Waaaaaay ahead of you buddy.  It's a group of dogs. Thanks for the message but I think I know what I'm doing.  I'm so pro, they only kill me twice.  

    I take my revenge on the minister (how was he the easy part of all this?).  None of the lurking miners pose much challenge.  I kill the next minister with my trusty bow from afar.  It's the guy across the wooden bridge.  I see treasure. I'm about to go get it.  Then I recall that this will fall on me.  I ponder "sprinting" across.  I estimate the distance.  My expert calculations put it at precisely "no chance of being able to sprint across."  Then I recall that knights are always expert gymnasts. I walk on the side of the bridge and when it falls I do my best Wallenda impersonation across the support.  Yay memory!

    Sadly, most of the rest of the level poses little challenge. I get to the blacksmith uneventfully.  The salamanders pose less problems than I recall.  My newly upgraded longsword makes short work of the miners.  The next minister makes me use some grass but nothing too major.  Feeling like a champ....I assume it's time to:
    Stop!  Spider Time!

    I have turpentine and sticky white stuff.  I'm pretty confident I remember lava spewing in this mix somewhere.  I go with the sticky white stuff (that ballad makes more sense now huh?).  I confidently enter the fog gate.  I fat roll through some fire like a boss.  I get hit with a spider web. Crap.  I get hit with fire.  I use some grass.  I get hit with a spider web.  I get hit with fire.  I use some grass.  

    All in all, I think things are going pretty well.  

    I finally manage to get out of the web/fire combo and fat roll my way to the spider.  Now we're cooking.  Well.  I am.  The spider seems a little less pressured.  I go after it with the sticky white longsword.  

    I get stepped on a few times.  

    I need some grass but all ends well. Me 1: Spider 0

    There's always next time Spider

    Interlude:

    Somewhere between the Phalanx and the Spider, I decided I needed a quick stop at the summer destination for Shadowmen, the Shrine of Storms.  Why is that do you ask?  Well be quiet, I was just about to explain.  

    One of the great things about the Souls games is their willingness to buck convention.  For instance, in Dark Souls I was met with a choice of three directions.  I went to the Burg. I killed some hollows.  I decided to turn around and try the other directions.  I went to New Londo.  I got killed by a ghost.  That makes sense.  I can't hurt ghosts.  I need to come back when I have a better grasp of the situation.  Logical.  I went to the graveyard.

    Silly bones.  You're not fooling anyone.  I'm about to get attacked by skeletons. I destroyed those soldiers.  Prepare to feel my......screams of agony?  Wait, what?  Skeletons are, tough?  Nope.  I refuse to believe it.  I'll show them.  I got you, first two skeletons.  My....now that's a big skeleton!  

    Time to explore the Burg better.  

    Back to Demon's Souls.  The Shrine of Storms will always hold a special place in my heart.  You see, I held the same stereotype back then.  Except THESE skeletons were even more bad*** than the Dark Souls ones. The area leading to the first archway in Demon's Souls became my proving grounds.  I went back.  Repeatedly.  To test my gear. To test my strength.  And most of all....

    To test my skill.  By the time I could take them down with ease?  I knew I was ready.  

    It wasn't some unimaginable monster that embodied the struggle of this game.  It wasn't a gigantic demon that could destroy most brave knights with a single blow.  It was the normally lowly skeleton.  The horror of the game, while masterfully done during boss battles, is not exclusive to these fights.  Every step of the way requires patience and skill.  

    Souls: Because Skeletons

    chapter 3:

    Bro, Do You Even Trick?

    I just squashed a spider and now find myself at a crossroads.  Do I return to seek vengeance on the Tower Knight?  Or do I dig deeper into Stonefang?  

    I decide on Stonefang. I strut my stuff down the corridor after the spider.  

    I veer right.  A few miners get stabbed.  Nothing major.  I peer into the abyss, knowing: "Thar there be Flamelurkers."  

    Left it is!  I deftly "sprint" past a few mine carts with what look like items glowing on top.  The explosion behind me provides not only the satisfaction of a deep rumble throughout the living room, but also that my memory declares victory again.  I'm greeted with a Fat Official who is unaware that the small wooden support I keep ducking behind isn't flammable.  Chump.  

    I walk past the elevator and into a small tunnel. I almost get killed by the miner I know is waiting for me.  It turns out that there's a piece of fossilized whatchamajigger blocking my entire view of the fight.  I'm much better at backpedaling than I used to be.  I seem to recall this leading to my death a few times in a past life.  With that out of the way I find myself staring at a little blue lizard.  Throwing caution to the wind I chase it.  With a tremendous burst of speed and intelligence I cut it off before the path ends and we all die.  With a tremendous burst of "F you" the lizard rolls off the ledge as it dies.  

    I walk back.  A little slower, head hanging slightly. I grab some lootz by the ledge to be "surprised" by a small version of the sand worms from Beetlejuice.  If I recall correctly, they don't like being shot in the mouth with an arrow.  This memory turns out to be as accurate as point blank projectile usage.  

    Confidence built up again I explore this little area.  I find some treasure and see some ledges below me.  I know there's treasure down there.  I take some time finding the drop point. I can see it clearly.  I line it up beautifully and take a single step forward.  And far too many "steps" vertically.  

    This time the Fat Official realizes my trick and manages to land a fireball after moving around the pillar.  I still get him though. Chump (says the guy who just plummeted to his death).

    Second time's the charm and I nail the jump.  I work my way down and find myself boxed in by a small army of pill bugs that are covered in lava.  And really big for pill bugs.  They also don't take a lot of damage from anything I've got equipped.  Sigh......
    Hit.  Evade. Hit. Evade.  Hit Evade Hit evade hit evade hit evade hitevadehitevadehitevadehitevadehitevadehitevadehitevade.... You get the idea.  

    I work my way around and see a rather dapper gentleman with a spear and shield waving to me.  Hi there!  I have some treasure I'd like to collect first.  I kill the sand worm, collect the shiny and find myself to the side of a really large trapped pill bug.  Keh heh heh....I remember this.  Hit evade hit hit hit hit hit hithithithithithithit!

    RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN!!!!!

    That's it!  Game over.  Time to stop playing.  There is nothing.  NOTHING!  That is more satisfying than turning to watch the explosion and seeing Patches go flying on his face.  

    After I stop laughing I go check on my new "buddy."  He asks how I did that. I laugh a little more.  

    I'm onto you buddy:


    I find some more treasure and, wait, what?  I can't carry it?  Crap.  Bye bye thief ring. Hello bigger item burden.  This serves as a warning though.  I can't pack rat so much these days.  Visions of struggling with a Tower Shield come back to me.  

    I decide to press further on.  There's one shiny in particular I'm after.  I do the dance with a large number of flying pill bugs.  They take more damage than their ground counterparts but like to group up more efficiently.  Time. That's all it takes to kill them.  

    Fog.  Tunnel.  Even bigger pill bug.  Ain't noone got time for this!  I use the side tunnel to run by.  I'm a little sad that I make my way to the dragon long sword with no difficulty whatsoever.  With shiny in hand I make my way back.  I have too many souls to lose them now. The comfort of the Nexus is calling. 

    It's a mostly uneventful trip back to the Nexus to level up and drop things off.  

    Do I call it a night, or should I at least treat myself to more shinies?  

    Shinies.  

    Back to Stonefang.  But this time I brave the drop to the Flamelurker. I get killed by miners once.  Turns out they tend to surround you even if you only "accidentally" sliced a peaceful one apart while fighting an aggressive one.  

    I miss a jump and die.  I get my treasures the next time.  I'm at the bottom safely.  I get more treasures.  I approach the really big fog door.  I put on my new ring of fire resistance. I make my way to the left in case I need to buy time (I can always get him stuck on that ribcage).  We tango!

    After gallantly deciding that the Flamelurker can wait, I want to end my night on a high note. Hello Tower of Latria Archstone.  It's time to kill me a mindflayer!  You wanna ring a bell?  In my house?!?  Ain't happening!  

    I puff up my chest, stroll in and proceed to backstab the first mindflayer like a coward.  That'll show him!  At long last, I find a new set of armor.  I try it on (except I keep the fluted helmet).  It looks nice.  I can actually run now.  It's official: NEW THREADS!  I try to fight a mindflayer without the whole cowardice thing going on.  I win!  

    Looks like chapter 4 will again be a crossroads:  Will I finally defeat the Tower Knight?  Or shall I try to make my way past an ungodly number of mechanized crossbows, temporarily invisible enemies, and show how big of a man I am by taking on a small woman?  

    Chapter 4:

    Bromancing the (Arch)Stone

    I've had an offer to do some cooperative play. There's no good abbreviation for that word by the way.  "Co-op" inaccurately portrays the root word by adding an "-."  However, maintaining true to it's roots and using "coop" makes me think of a place you'd house chickens.  

    Anyway, nitpicky tangents aside, I never really got the chance to do much online with Demon's Souls.  So yeah, let's roll.  I'm pretty close to the level range of the person who extended the offer but I want to get slightly closer first.  

    Let's gauge if I've actually gotten better at these games. I'm going to earn some souls in The Shrine of Storms quick.  Old habits die hard.  I'm still using my bow to lure enemies out but, hey....this is good news, I'm handling single enemies a lot easier.  What do you know, practice does make perfect.  By "perfect," I mean "no longer crap."  I get to the top of the stairs and use my bow to have a shootout with the two archers looking down at me (literally, but also possibly figuratively).  Sorry guys, but I'm pretty comfortable correcting for shots drifting right.  I walk into the archway. Turning left I'm left with a small sinking feeling.  I know that tile is a trap.  But which way does it shoot from.  I guess the logical answer and it pays off.  Thanks again shield. I make a mental note (after I've stepped on it) to see if the tiles can be activated with an arrow. They can in Dark Souls and it's fun to lure enemies in line with them and do this. I get my key then proceed back to see if I've really got it.  There's a red eye skellie isn't there?  

    I approach with some hesitation.  Shield up of course.  I remember all sorts of things in this game.  Half a health bar gone and my entire stamina meter with it remind me that things like a jump attack show just how hard it is to memorize every trick this game has.   I do the panic dance.  Backpedaling while your finger twitches above the "block" button trying to anticipate an attack. An attack you're unsure you can stop anyway.  I find an opportunity to grass.  I make some improvements in the "don't let him hit you" category.  I get the win.  

    Let's get the hell out of here before I lose all these souls.  I level up and send the message that I'm ready to rock.  

    We take some time to decide where. A convincing message from befowler (Yup, Forum member tour!) to "bring a bow if we want to shoot ol screechy down" leads us to head toward the Tower Knight.  

    A little more history from when I played the first time.  "Builds?"  This current diary is about my second character.  Ever.  So the only time I ever fought Ol' Screechy via the path to the Tower Knight was with either a barely upgraded bow the first time, or with drastically increased health forever after.  I go buy more arrows.  Gotta get over 200. I mean, I've got a compound bow +1.  I'm glad befowler suggested this because I wouldn't ever ask a phantom to brave the mind numbing tedium of this fight.  

    I have no idea what he was using but it only took a couple minutes.  This might have foreshadowed some later events.  

    We make our way down the bridge.  Befowler really like using soul remains.  It's certainly faster than my methodical approach.  Group 'em and slash 'em. You can't ask for a better phantom.  He even makes sure that the crystal lizard doesn't get away.  I've only ever fought the Tower Knight solo.  We enter the fog and I run up to the first archer.  As I'm quickly dispatching him I notice a HUUUUUUUUUGE chunk of health leave the boss.  Some credit to me, I realize I'm at a significant risk of missing the fight completely while dealing with archers.  I turn around to see one ankle of our foe spraying the magic equivalent of steam.  I forget if it's called "meam" or "stemgic."  Befowler deftly leaps and stabs and I see that the second ankle is also soon to an afterthough.  Meanwhile, I'm still at the top of the stairs.  I sprint to the bottom just in time to be flattened by the Knight falling.  It's ok, I can shake it off.  Luckily befowler also got knocked down.  Why is that lucky?  I don't think I would have landed the one hit I did on the knight if that hadn't made him pause a couple seconds.  Not even Ostrava's brass telescoping farseeing device could have killed me that time.  

    Next stop: Latria!

    If only my PS3 would cooperate from here on out.  A little trouble getting connected the first try but after he gets summoned by someone else and then the monk treatment we're

    ready to roll:


    Befowler and I have one thing in common that makes us a great team: We hate furniture.  A lot.  We trashed that joint on our way through like a couple rock stars in a hotel.  We've worked a decent way in without much effort.  There's a spot without a rail.  I chuckle as I go by.  My right foot has at least three toes hanging in the wind.  That was a close one.  Befowler has stabbing prisoners through their cell doors.  Mercy killings are fine by me.  I see the message "The Phantom befowler has been slain."  Turns out that his beloved mailbreaker and one slight mistake in footing led to a backstep off the ledge I narrowly avoided.  I have to say the risk of accidental plummeting is justified. The mailbreaker was also the thing that Achilles'd the hell out of the Tower Knight.  I go add some ninja fresh gear to my mage/knight ensemble and head back down to summon again.  

    After some agonizing failed summons we change venue.  Let's go to the Shrine.  To tell you how bad my internet connection can be I've been standing around in human form for probably near an hour now and we have yet to be invaded. This continues in 4-1.  A restarted PS3 finally does the trick. We roll through 4-1 like a storm.  The double backstab trick people talk about in Dark Souls:  We do that to the red eye skellie.  It's hard not to laugh.  Befolwer shows that he's interested in doing the rolling trick over the wall on the archway.  You know that switch I missed for weeks in Stonefang?  I discovered the rolling trick my first time ever in the Shrine.  Figures.  

    We're ready for the Adjudicator.  Maybe a little too ready.  I think I got hit once. Right after jumping in.  He tried to give us the bird but we just stabbed it to death.  

    A short delay before we start the next section. I go and clear the Grim Reaper guy (who has the only weapon in the game that I'm jealous I can't get, Dark Souls fixed this for me).  I work down for treasure.  I "find" the secret tunnel again. There are probably still blood stains in that tunnel from me losing to that red eye skellie.  Tonight, I lure him to the larger arena where the reaper was.  This works in my favor and I now get to grab the white bow.  I can't use it yet, but just owning one of my favorite weapons from before is comforting.  More so than the pendant.  

    The timing is perfect.  Befowler is ready and all I have to do is jump down and summon him.  And fail.  Crap.  He reminds me that restarting my PS3 worked once before and; what do you know?  It does this time too.  We meet Patches again.  Don't kid yourself Mr. "The Hyena."  We weren't tricked.  We were willing participants in your charade.  We spare his life and move on.  Befowler does some skellie melee why I do riot control with my compound bow.  We're in the heart of darkness.  His memory of the ghosts is superior to mine.  He rushes to the side of one and attacks.  He seems clear of any aggression.  The ghost emits a blue beam of death right at me.  This is a reminder of why I used to hate this section.  At least befowler should be alright.  Except HE gets hit somehow, not me.  And dies.  I go a little further, and finish the invisible ghost after it appears behind me.  It has hurt me though.  And there are still Blue Lasers afoot (we need the Cheat Commandos).  I head back up and call it a night.  

    chapter 5:

    Back for Lootz

    I had an abbreviated session last night.  I started my free time by trying to give someone some rings.  The interwebz didn't play nice so the end result was a shortened night.  It happens. Especially in cow country.  

    Rather than delve into a new area I decided to double back to 4-1 since befowler and I had skipped most of the level.  I recall having a LOT of trouble with this area before.  Between the hard hitting skellies and the flying mantas shooting spike at my face I approach this area with more than a little anxiety.  Or at least I used to.  I used my souls to level up after the cooperative online play night.  I'm at SL31 now.  This will be important later.  Maybe.  

    I get up the stairs with ease.  Again I show the archers at the top how it's done.  It's time to face ol' GrayBottom.  I'm pretty sure getting hit a lot is out of the question so I dart in and out to see his attacks.  I do get hit once.  But I'm more than fast enough to grass away from him.  I get him half dead and realize that I don't need my shield since I'm not actually even attempting to block.  For one of the first times ever I two hand my weapon.  Man that's a lot faster.  Shoulda thought of that before.  As I'm picking up his soul I get nailed by one of the manta spikes. Without hesitation I switch to my bow, manually track him and shoot him down with one shot.

    POP QUIZ: Which Demon's Souls player likely used bows WAAAAAAY too much the first time he played?

    Trick question: You can't use bows too much.  

    I wonder if I should go up to the skellie archer arch (say that last part out loud, it's funny) or go down below. I double back to the archway.  Side note, I used to live in a town with an Archway factory.  They make cookies.  The whole town used to smell like cookies.  I wish skeletons smelled like cookies.

    This area used to skare me.  The skellies always found a way to hurt me and hurt me bad.  SL 31 and I'm a bad*** somehow.  It's a yawn fest getting my long bow (HURRAY!) and other fun things like unlocking Mary J. "Graverobber" Blige and giving a bird an augite for some arrows I'll be too worried about "wasting" to use (unless I feel like being a prick to the False King).  I don't know what level I was when I did this before but I don't recall the Shrine going this way at all.  

    I leave the side area and head back to the main.  More archers learn what it means to be a marksman and it's anxiety time again.  A red skellie.  We trade nothings for a minute.  I then decide on the brilliant strategy I've never done before of baiting his jump attack and rolling at him for a backstab.  I might as well get out of my comfort zone a little.

    JEBUS THAT WAS EASY!  How come I never did that before?!?!?!? Stupid skellies.  

    I go up to the lookout tower and make some manta kebobs with my bow then circle around.  The skellies have big swords.  What do I do?  I used to hate the ledge fights.  

    In Dark Souls I used to advocate what I called the "Kiln Challenge" to learn weapon spacing.  
    The rules are:
    -No blocking
    -No rolling/cartwheels/handsrpings
    -No backstab circling

    Essentially, you have to learn to draw the attack of the Black Knights (who use common PvP weapons and have a long attack range) and casually step away leaving you with a full stamina bar to exploit their miss.  

    This translates well to the skellies here.  Again....I wish I had something more interesting to share.  I don't. This was easy.  

    I get to the last red eye skellie and go for the befowler special just to mix things up.  I throw some soul remains down and proceed to backstab thAT ****ING SKELLIE SO HARD HE'LL LIKELY DIE AGAIN THE NEXT TIME I LOAD THE GAME!!!!!  

    Sorry, there wasn't much excitement here but I have an interlude coming up you might like. Same Bat Channel!  

    interlude:

    As I mentioned (I think I did anyway) I was hoping to give a few rings away before adventuring into Chapter 5.  I won't bore you with the crappiness that is a cow-tastic internet infrastructure so let's just say we'll try the rings another time.  

    But while I was attempting I had a couple musings I thought I might share, both inspired by where we first attempted to connect. The Valley of Defilement. 5-1

    I've been wondering a lot with this new playthrough.  Specifically, nothing seems to hit as hard as I remember.  The skellies at the shrine decimate health bars don't they?  The mindflayers are a terror that can take you out at any second right?

    I know I've improved......but these guys are almost a joke now.  What gives?  

    My impression of the game gets reinforced with my SL250 trying to drop rings for someone.  I venture up the planks and come across the first enemy in 5-1.  Having spent a few nights recently having little trouble with the former banes of my existence, I approach the fight quite casually.  

    I'm stunned when he hits me for half my life bar.  Vitality, as my second highest stat at 50 means I shouldn't have any shortage of life.  The Dark Silver armor is also far from being hit while nekkid.  Seriously, what the hell?  

    It finally hits me.  Almost all of my impressions of this game are actually from the second run through or higher.  Until I started this diary of sorts, I'd only ever been through a true "new" game once.  And then I was too busy peeking around corners to compare hit data.  I don't know what playthrough my 250 is on but I know I have four baby nails, seven penetrating swords, a couple norther regalias (and two soulbradnts to boot) and four sets of dull gold armor that I'll never get to use.  No wonder why I thought everything hits like a truck.  

    Especially since this character isn't optimized.  My 50 vitality is complemented by a 65 Endurance (I like to wear heavy armor).  At 250 it's assumed I'm good at everything.  My 24 faith, 34 strength and 30 dex say otherwise.  So where did all my points go?  

    Story time:
    When it was time to go for platinum for me it was when my daughter was just a few months old.  One great thing about having a child is you can take a lot of time off of work without any real penalty.  I had a lot of sick and vacation time I could use and therefore took a month off.  Babies love to sleep. I had LOTS of time to get my platinum.  Only one thing stood in my way.  The mother****ing Pure Bladestone.  I spent two weeks trying to get that stupid thing.  Most of it was using Soul Sucker to insta kill me a skellie.  I almost didn't believe it when it did drop.  So in my madness I raised my Luck level to 46.  

    So the current revelation for me is that my 250 has been operating under far worse conditions than my low level guy.  Things do hit like a truck....just the second time around.  The first time is more like a small car hitting you.  


    My second musing at the expense of 5-1 is this; it is arguably the WORST level design in the history of video games.  Instead of "point A to point B with an optional point C" style I imagine the discussion to design this level went something like this....

    Hey, we need a level for this archstone.  We've done a lot of stone, carved tunnels, etc.  Maybe we should one where they use lumber.  I know!  Let's just simulate a lumberyard after a tornado and call it a level.  No one will ever know the difference.  

    I mean come on.  Barely existent "paths," areas that look like a logical next step but can actually get you stuck and you need to suicide, treacherous fights on precarious ledges, scenery which blends into other scenery which of course the "paths" and architecture also blend into, small protrusions which can trip you up in the middle of a lethal battle.  It's difficult to see, predict and react.  Awful! Bold prediction time.  If this were the first level.....very few people would ever get past it.  

    5-1....WE HATE YOU!


    Except we don't.  This is another reason the game sticks out.  There is a level tucked inside there somewhere.  I haven't tried in over three years but I bet I still know "the way."  But that's just it. It's not really "the" way.  It's just "a" way.  And likely the safest one. I took a way different route the first time though.  In 5-1 you're stuck on top of a pile of shoddy lumber and are basically told, "you figure it out."  Along the way we found genuine anxiety.  The feeling of being lost was palpable for me.  The idea of not having a map. Or markers. Or a "path." Or "a clue" led to an emotive difference in the game.  

    Souls: Because anxiety

    Interlude 2- The Interludiest!:

    I was debating when I should stop adding chapters to this post and move on to the next.  While I was typing the interlude just above this interlude, I was finally able to connect and give those rings that were a problem and led to a short chapter 5.  After doing this I played for a very brief time and made an executive decision that will change the rest of the story.  For the better I hope.  

    When I started this there was something I forgot to mention that applies even now.  I don't know if my motivation will carry me through an entire playthrough.  Is my newfound ease with the game enough to make me want to see if the False King will be a punk now.  I beat him legit the first time.  Not first time "ever."  He killed me a bunch.  He took a few levels away.  But I didn't white bow and white arrow his sorry *** until a few times around the block when I just didn't care anymore.  

    So I've asked myself many times while doing this: Will I care enough?  

    I don't know.  What I do know is this; Chapter 5 isn't very good  I think the interlude after it is stronger and much more interesting.  Most of you are good at this game.  Many are likely better than me.  There's only so much I can make out of "I'm having an easier time than I remember having the first time."  Additionally, my memory is better than I would have expected.  Almost down to every enemy placement.  Because of these factors I'm finding that I'm failing less.  I'm being surprised less.  I fear I'll just start going through the motions.  And we both deserve better than that.  

    Chapter 4 was nice. I liked playing it.  I liked writing it. I had a lot of energy.  It's because my first time through I didn't have much cooperative or even competitive online play. Apart from a couple of Dark Souls bosses, I haven't added to that body of experience yet.  Old game, new way to play it.  As a result, the chapter is different.  I want more of that.  

    So back to the beginning of this interlude.  I said I made a decision that should affect the rest of the story.  I farmed a little.  Yawn.  I know who cares.  You certainly shouldn't.  

    But it will be important later.  Because I realized that I could continue a path I started but didn't feel was significant enough to mention.  I had bought a miracle at some point.  I checked and sure enough....I could also buy sorceries now!

    I've never been big on magic in RPGs.  Anytime you tell me something is limited, I hoard it.  In Final Fantasy for instance, I let my mages get beat on until it's necessary to break out the magic.  Why "waste" it?  But perhaps the greatest waste of all is that I've never fully explored it.  

    I went farming. Maybe ten minutes. The Grim Reaper wannabe after the adjudicator gives plenty of currency and is very easy to perform a walk by shooting to.

    So I purchased some spells.  

    I intend to use them.

    I expect to have some stumbling along the way.

    It's gonna be great!


    Last edited by skarekrow13 on Thu Jul 18, 2013 4:16 pm; edited 20 times in total

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    skarekrow13
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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by skarekrow13 on Mon Jul 08, 2013 9:16 pm

    Chapter 7:

    Magic: The Slathering

    I was off!  Ready to begin my new adventures as a spell swordish kinda guy.  

    Where to? I had unfinished business in Latria after befowler's mail breaker did him in.  With an hour and a half to play, surely I would be able to get past the Fool's Idol with relative ease.  My former nemesis, the Mindflayer had not been troubling me much most of the pitfalls were clearly mine for the taking.  

    Demon's Prank at the ready, I entered the Tower.  You know that mindflayer on the balcony area?  I though to myself, I wonder if I demon's prank through the door if he'll check that out and I can land a comical backstab.  Guess what?  Nope.  After I get hit with a ball of lightning I'm reminded of why these guys are such huge %!&*#! *&♪$!@♥% that make me want to rip off their head and ♫%@# down their throats!

    I of course get my face pretty badly tentacled and thrown to the stone floor.  I get up and get blasted by that soundwave attack they do.  Dead.  Great way to start the night.  I try it again but I'm pretty sure he sees me making my deceptive audio tricks pretty useless.  I get paralyzed again. Out come the tentacles.  Out comes the soundwave. This time I roll away. Success!  And get blasted by more lightning.  These guys just don't quit do they?  

    Lesson learned I just wait for him in the doorway from now on and come out slashing. The one after him is also not falling for it but I can sneak up and get in a backstab.  I notice something that I'm still laughing about today.  As a result, I will from now on ONLY try to backstab mindflayers.  After you, ever so gently horrifically and violently, stab their spine and their face smashes into the floor (bet you wish you hadn't done that to me earlier now PUNK!) they do a little....wait for it...hahaha

    ....I still can't believe this....HA HA HAHA.....they do a little....ha ha ha.....front flip and come to rest.  I don't know how hard you need to kick someone off of your dragon longsword +2 to make them do a flip after smashing their face but if anyone deserves that treatment it's these guys.  Even if they were pushovers they'd deserve it for that damn bell they keep ringing.  We get it!  Ambience already!  

    I continue on and realize a few things about how impressive the audio is in this place.  In addition to the bells, the slamming of the prison door from Lord Rydell High, the singing, etc. etc.  It's enough to be called masterful.  And what's up with those weird pot/cauldron things with the green vapors?  Smashing them, while fun, doesn't provide any clues as to what that vapor is.  

    Getting back to the noise.  I make my way to the royal.  I can't decide which is more oppressive, her relentless dissonant singing....or the weight of the silence when you enter her room finally.  I buy a rapier to make her feel like her existence is meaningful (hint: it's not) and move on.  

    I meet a wonderful guy named Sage Freke-azoid but don't have the means to get him out yet.  I meet the ghost of Rydell High and again have to just keep moving.  I wish he'd stop with the yelling and slamming already.  Give it a rest buddy.  I'll get to you in due time.  

    Pop Quiz: Is it more sad that I know for sure exactly where the set of fluted armor is, or that I still pick it up despite the fact that it's the armor I started with?

    I get to the ball of dudes and decide I'll try to fight them head on.  

    I return to the ball of dudes and recall just how awesome archery is.  

    I take on an entire group of guys like a boss, justifying a small measure of chest puffing. These weren't ordinary enemies either.  These guys had large ceramic pots for armor that makes them super dangerous.  

    Some loot from a crystal lizard reminds me again how awesome archery is (I know there's a ledge somewhere so why bother running toward it?).  

    Pop Quiz round two: Is the above thing I asked about even as remotely sad as the fact that I insist on opening EVERY cell on this floor despite knowing that they're ALL teeny tiny and that if I can't see loot, there is no loot?

    I have little difficulty finding all the treasures to be had.  I get to the crossbow tower.  I've read recently on this forum that you can roll through the arrows and approach it from the front which sounds waaaaaay more bad*** than sneaking around and pulling the lever in the back.  Since this is a fantasy game let's pretend that I didn't face a horrible death and I was able to do that successfully.  

    Hypothetically speaking, since I clearly did NOT have this happen nor did I sneak around the back and use the lever, but if one were to try to block the arrows as a test it's interesting to note that it diminishes all your stamina and breaks your guard.  The next volley kills a person.  Not me though.  I rolled through them like a champ.  Yup.  That's what happened.  

    Which is why it's weird that I would go around the back way at all.  Or that I would use this particular point in time to go back to the Nexus to drop off treasure and adjust my spell. I'd tried Demon's Prank a few more times and I discovered it's not fooling anyone.  Several near death experiences and I had decided to use the spell that should make me hard to be seen.  I'll skip to the end on that one too.  That one is also not fooling anyone.  Perhaps my helmet is too shiny to be missed.  Oh well, appearance does matter.  

    So I go the back way and run up the first tower.  I think to myself, you could have an interesting competition on these spiral stairs.  In order to have maximum speed you need to be able to use both joysticks effectively.  So yes....I'm suggesting we have Demon's Souls Spiral Staircase time trials.  Fastest time wins!!!!  The silver catalyst is no problem to acquire.  I work my way back down and think, do I go after the phantom in hiding or the other staircase first?  I decide that I'll kill the phantom so I can deftly jump down for treasure after the fight and not be bothered.  

    She appears right around where I expect.  I can counter the crossbow.  I close in and see the curved knife.  I try to get fancy and parry.  I get cut up a little bit.  I misjudge a swing and get cut some more.  Great.  I've got the plague.  And I'm hurt bad to boot.  I step back to try to heal and misjudge my hiding spot.  The crossbow finishes me.  

    On my way back I try to do the mindflayer pair near the steps (going the back way still) quickly.  The first is no problem but as I sprint for the second I see him getting that lightning ball ready for me.  I roll and am astonished at how fast the sword strike is from it.  Now I really do have some chest puffing to do.  

    This time I land the parry on Ms. Red. I still get the plague but I win.  I make my way up to the key and the lying jerk above the idol.  I kill him of course.  I'm still plagued and using my crescent grass to stay alive.  Right before the jump point for the treasure I use my one and only Plague Be Gone Flower.  I figure I'll land the jump, kill the Fool's Idol and be done for the night.  I gracefully watch the ledge fly by my right hand side.  At the very least I can release Freke on my way back.  

    By this time I've learned my lesson that magic isn't hiding me very well so I switch to firespray.  I land the jump this time (hurray, my Plague Be Gone Flower has been replaced).  I enter the giant doors to the church and remember I should take out the little guys before aggroing their Idol.  I use firespray and decide that low level fireballs are indeed overpowered.  I rush the Idol and do some heavy damage to her.  She disappears.  I run around some pillars and figure out which one is the real one.  A couple well placed arrows shows her she's not fooling anyone.  She's back to one identity again and I rush out.  Right into a Rune Trap.  She takes this time to very importantly do nothing.  I must have missed one of her parishioners and he comes running out, also pretty much doing nothing.  I turn to kill him for his insolence and eat a barrage of magic.  

    I return to the Church with a different spell.  I use some archery skills to take out ALL of the gentleman in their Sunday's best.  I slather my sword with magic.  Two hand that son of a gun and CHAAAAAAAAAARGE!  

    I do a whole heck of a lot of damage this time.  She splits.  Literally.  I track down the real one with some arrows.  She goes back to being a single lady.  I barely reach her but manage a couple hits.  She down, but not quite out.  I hide near the altar.  I spot the real one immediately.  One well placed arrow later (always aim for center mass) and I have my victory.  The gargoyles take me kicking and screaming.  

    I know there's treasure down there still dammit!

    Chapter 6:

    Because Numerical Order is for People Who Pay Attention!

    I started the night with a bone to pick.  But a Flamelurker stood between me and it.  

    I decided to take the shortcut.  I get to the pit easily.  The path is pretty well remembered at this point.  I take a slight misstep anyway.  I fall further than I'd like but breathe a sigh of relief when I hit a ledge and start to stand up.  

    The 1.342 centimeters your character steps back as he stands must have been the exact amount of boot I had gripping that particular plank.  I plunge to an unfortunate demise.

    On my way back I decide to get cute and parry the miners.  I've been playing Zero Escape for the last couple weeks (got a platinum on an amazing game so that was well worth the time) and I'm as rusty as the spike that pierces my chest.  Second time isn't the charm.  Hello again archstone.  

    I make it to the bottom this time and I'm ready for this.  Ring of Flame Resistance? Check.  Water Veil? Check.  Memory of his particular moveset?  Um.....crap.  

    Let's try this again.  I remember why I didn't bother with Water Veil a whole lot before.  It doesn't seem to do me much good.  I sneak out a win that involves only a little ribcage circling.  I try not to go cheap and let him get hung up but my personal style of fighting does use obstacles to my advantage when I can.  So I sneak a few arrows into his heart like Cupid when he's busy pondering "left or right" around the spare ribs. I don't think it instills any love though.  I'm not a very good Cherub.  

    I take his soul to make me feel better about it.

    Onward to that bone I needed to pick. Well, after a Nexus suicide trip.  I also got the ledge treasures while I was jumping off things in there.  

    I enter the fog and can't believe how much awesomeness this part of the game has. How did I ever lose my sense of the coolness of that long descending walk.  I hear a sound and pause.  The Dragon God sounds a little bit pissed.  Even the audio is amazing.  Everything screams epic so far.  It's been a looooooooong time since I've been face to face with this.  Now that I am, I find that I intuitively hide behind the little outcroppings of the wall.  I don't think about it. I just do it.  The depth of field is excellent.  You know you're still nowhere near him and yet he still consumes the screen.  The music is eerily calm.  Yet sinister.  

    I sprint in and hide.  It's at this point that I feel like I should interrupt the details of the story for a minute.  Everyone talks trash about this "fight."  I've recently defended it and after this weekend I'm more prepared to do so.  

    This fight isn't about fast twitch muscle response and technique (Artorias).  It isn't about making your fingers exhausted from constant and prolonged use (Kalameet).  It's about the emotion.  It's about the story. And it's amazing.  

    I got hit twice in this fight.  I survived each time, barely, and healed up behind a pillar.  But the effect of seeing the fist just leads me to my main point about this boss.  It's about showing you that no matter what:

    THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SOMETHING BIGGER THAN YOURSELF

    Most bosses are physically bigger than you.  But that's not what this is.  You can beat them.  Straight up.  No gimmicks.  Just one on one.  For gameplay that's necessary.  But this boss you can't.  He shows you that the world can always crush you.  You're caught in the forces of this land.  You cannot rise above them.  You cannot alter them.  You can be reborn.  But you are always at the whims of something far bigger than yourself.  

    That's what this fight is about.  And it does it spectacularly.  

    Back to the story but I'm not done with this point just yet.  

    After hiding I sprint left.  I'm hoping I've swung the forces of this world in my favor for that bone I keep mentioning.  I did.  It's now mine.  The Dragon Bone Smasher. I think I might start using this weapon some.  It's definitely out of my comfort zone and I'm learning that I still think magic kinda sucks.  I'll use it some more, but some new gear is wise too.  

    For speed's sake I still stick with my longsword for now.  I run back across and see if arrows can break the pillars.  I don't think so since I remember aiming with a bow then using soul arrows before.  I'm right and I don't have soul arrows on me.  I dash in and attack.  Before I can make it back to safety I get punched.  By a wall.  Not literally, it's just that his fist is gigantic.  The fist alone could be a boss.  

    Now think of the visual impact of this fight.  Here I am....in this enormous cavern whose ceiling and back wall stretch so far as to make mere human vision insufficient to adequately judge it's size.  I'm on a walkway that's plenty big for me but tiny in comparison to the arena.  I can see my foe clearly.  Because it's most of my screen.  I view him out of smallish portals as I go from behind one hiding spot to another.  He easily loses sight of me if I do something fast and hide.  When I draw his wrath through a mistake, his fist comes crashing in and shows me the full scope of his size up close and personal.  If he flattened me and stretched me out like taffy, I might be tall enough at that point to make a bracelet for that arm.  

    Have you ever chased a mouse?  They run and hide.  If they do something quick you can easily lose track of them.  If they draw your wrath and fist, you might flatten them.  If you take away the tail, they're not tall enough to make a bracelet for most of us unless we could stretch them like taffy.  If you were to hit them, they might survive.  But it's not something the mouse would gamble on I think.  

    Those aren't spaces between pillars you see the Dragon God through.  They're mouse holes.  Run little mouse run.  You might be able to get close enough to bite him.  You might even make it bleed a little.  But making that thing angry doesn't seem like a good idea.  

    Which brings me to my next reason why I love this fight.  You don't kill the Dragon God.  Those that came before you do.  Because someone decided that the mouse should be handed a couple WMDs.  Can a mouse kill a human?  Normally no.  But if something else were to make that human 99% dead already?  Sure.

    After getting punched a couple times this mouse made it to the first magic spear of doom.  You know most of the rest of the story.  I repeat this process and then the battle is mine.  But along the way, nothing shook the feeling of being in a mouse hole.  Nothing completely alleviated the fear of being exposed.  That last dash up the stairs to break the last bit of rubble?  I didn't get hit.  But I was waiting for the shoe to drop every step.  It made the second or two of dashing feel like 10 or 20.  

    And that's why this is such a great fight.  Because it's not a fight in the first place.  It's about a mouse that gets lucky.  If you could skip the spears and stand before him in all his glory.  Well, I think he'd kill you so bad the Nexus would lose you.  

    After you press the switches on the spear you should take a look at the spot where the magic trigger was. It's pretty cool the level of detail that went into these mouse WMDs.  

    I gloated a bit (see below) and smacked him in the face with the Bone Smasher.  Victory: Mouse

    postcards:




    After beating the Dragon God I decide to storm the castle a little further.  I didn't get too far (the red eye knight on the walkway after the fog killed me when I thought I could parry him) but it was eventful nonetheless.  

    I forget how many dogs are feasting on the fountain corpses and approach cautiously.  Turns out they're not much of a hassle anyway this time.  The ones trapped in the wagons make for some chilling atmosphere though.  I take a look at the pile of bodies.  It's amazing how much unique equipment these guys have on.  Rather than just throw a few repetitive corpses around they make just about every one of these an unspoken character.  The souls you pick up in this pile remind you that every one of these corpses had a story to tell you if they hadn't met their end here.  

    Up the stairs.  Avoid the trap.  Shoot the minister in the face with an arrow.  Kill some goons then a lizard.  Kill a couple more goons on the way.  Show an assassin why cartwheels aren't good for your health in narrow hallways (these guys don't "ninja flip" either).  Onward and upward.  I use my well practiced bow skills to take out the archers across the gap.  I remember the red eye knight and the second guy hiding in the doorway to the merchant.  I walk in forgetting about the third guy.  I beat him but he hit me pretty hard first.  The merchant has nothing I want but the greatsword on the balcony is intriguing.  I'm almost strong enough to start using it.  My switch to strength weapons might be very close.  

    I go through the fog and almost kill the knight. Since I didn't and it's late, I call it a Knight (in his honor, but seriously it's time for sleep).  

    chapter 8:

    Boletaria's Heroes Fall

    I had some unfinished business with a Blue Eyed Jerk on a bridge.  Back to the castle.  I try to get cute with the assassins on the stairs. The Tower Knight Archstone is a fine place to visit a couple extra times.  

    One of my several times back through I show the first archer how to do it in style.  My first arrow pierces his temple and angles a little bit to exit out the back of his head (his right side).  He turns to face his assailant and takes aim at me. Just in time for the second arrow to skewer his right eye.  As his corpse allows gravity to take one final dreadful grasp on it, I see that my arrows make a perfect "X" in his skull.  

    I feel a small pang of guilt taking pleasure in that fact.  Hint: "small pang of guilt" is code for "tremendous amount of pride."  

    Fun fact, sometimes the assassins' corpses will vanish like the assassins do for their "invisibility buff."  

    I'm back to the Knight on the bridge.  Instead of thinking I can parry him I revert to my Kiln challenge technique I used to get better at Dark Souls PvP.  Essentially, for those of you who haven't seen me explain this yet, what I did was fight the Kiln Black Knights without blocking or dodging. You bait their attack, casually step out of range and then strike.  

    This turns out to be amazingly effective on this knight.  Turns out he's kind of a punk.  The assassin that jumps down after you cross doesn't surprise me and dies quickly.  I collect my loot from the Minister I turned into a pin cushion earlier and clear the area leading up to the stairs. 

    I love turning the tables on the guys with traps.  I take aim through the flames at the top of the stairs. Rather than have him launch the flaming ball thing at me when he's anticipating, he does it when the arrow hits him in the face. 

    I die again to the next blue eye knight.  Guess who tried to get cute again?  I make my way back easily enough and have little trouble when I'm focusing on each fight.  I decide I really want the shortcut open and jump down to do that.  I'm sneaking up on the Minister guarding the gate when I hear a familiar voice.  

    When I played before, the best I can figure is that I beat the game through four cycles with my character (I have two northern regalias and two soulbrandts).  I think I did Ostrava's storyline once but if I did it was only once. I'm actually surprised to see my buddy in trouble.  I'm also reminded at how much progress I've made. The first time I played I recall it being very difficult to protect him. This time around I've kept him safe with relative ease.  

    I can't take my time, that Minister needs to go.  Stress can bring out the best in us.  I filet the Minister quickly.  Before he can attack actually.  I flip the lever as the sinister three converge on Ostrava. Two have glowing red eyes.  I run through the door despite doubts that either one of us will be getting out of this alive.  I use sweeping attacks to take control of the fight and drop the weakest member.  Ostrava, in his most regal manner......walks up the stairs casually, away from the fight.  Fantastic.  At least I know HE'S safe.  I backpedal and fight and come out on top.  Pretty sweet!

    I go chat with Ostrava who thanks me again and gives me the pure stone.  That's my second of that type.  Then he walks away again.  

    At this point I'm set on what I need to do.  If I want to see who is tougher.....I need to go free Biorr prior to the Penetrator fight. This turns out to be no problem whatsoever.  The sole obstacle gets sliced up pretty quick.  

    I make my way back up to clear the area before the Penetrator and find another quick instance of surprise.  I forgot just how many soldiers were up there.  Archery is again my friend.  As I'm taking them out I imagine this conversation occurring: 

    Soldier 1: Ouch
    Soldier 2: What happened? You just said ouch
    Soldier 3: Did that guy just say ouch?
    S1: I think I got shot with an arrow
    Soldier 4: Yeah, that definitely looks like an arrow
    Soldier 5: Hey, did that guy just get hit with two arrows?
    S2: Two arrows?
    S1: Yeah, I think I just got shot again.  Man, what a way to start your morning huh...
    S3: Hey...dude, did you just get hit with a third arrow?
    S1: aaaaaaaggggghhhhhhhh *falls dead*
    S5: Whoa guys, I think someone just shot him to death
    S3: Yup, that's definitely what happened
    S2: Ouch
    S4: Ouch?

    And so on. For a group of guys standing that close together they're not really great at comparing notes and problem solving. I probably literally had a group of five or six at one point all investigating what was getting shot.  Never once realizing that there's likely a person holding a bow somewhere nearby to explain the mystery arrows.  

    So the Penetrator fight awaits.  I say let's do it as planned.  

    Biorr vs. The Penetrator

    If you didn't feel like watching garbage cell recording of my TV, the recap goes like this: Biorr starts off strong but Penetrator shows how he earned that name and is about to get the kill. Not on my watch, Biorr seems like a cool guy.  I bail him out knowing that he actually lost the fight.  However, it's amazing to me how close the fight is.  If I let it play out, there's a change Biorr lands another hit or two.  With a little luck, that's a victory. Penetrator seemed to have the advantage by position but it's a close match.   It seems to reaffirm how much time From takes to balance things to make them just right.  Everything about letting them go at it seems fitting.  
    My primary battle won I decide to finish some of Boletaria's celebrities. 

    Penetrator was enough to get White World Tendency.   I go for Miralda.  The Black Knight Ax has made me more than prepared for the executioner.  She falls with little difficulty. While collecting treasure on a beam shortly after, I fall with little difficulty.  Whoops. On he second trip I notice that, as you enter the door to where she's waiting for you, the angled floor is bloodstained.   Crazy detail.  Did Miralda lie in wait, then kill potential adversaries in a location where she can easily dispose of corpses?  Seems like.  Awesome.  

    I finish the night by taking out the phantom trio after the Penetrator.  I've never fought all three one on one on their terms before.  Surprised I pull it off but I beat the swordsmen in a straight up fight.  I have a stand off with the archer but it comes across as Robin Hood comparing to, uh.....not Robin Hood.  Someone help me out, any mythology where someone is crappy with a bow?  

    The last guy gives me a problem.  Not that I can't hurt him but because he broke some of my armor.  


    All in all, a good night!

    Interlude:

    I forgot to mention last chapter that I freed a witch. It might lead to more magic use. Maybe. I also fell in love with the Penetrating Sword. Stabbing someone into the ground just feels so right. I can also use the Bone Smasher now but it makes me look fat (rolling). I'll probably still give it a whirl though

    chapter 9:

    In Better Times Perhaps....

    If there's one thing I like.....it's closure.  Having just bested some of Boletaria's finest and most elegant members via brutal murder I decide to push on.  

    I kill a lizard and keep going.  I see lizard number two and hesitate on whether I should pursue all willy nilly.  It costs me some loot.  I recall a knight lying in wait and am unsure if the lizard will lead to a backstab.  I peek into the doorway, shield raised.  No knight.  I walk in slowly.  No knight. I get shot at by the archer I recall being exactly where he is.  No knight.  I use my white bow to do some skeet shooting. And by skeet I mean "crotch."  That'll show that silly archer.  

    Heeeeere's the knight.  I backpedal and switch to my new love the Penetrating sword.  My dragon longsword has become much less effective and the Penetrating sword is almost the same damage as my semi-upgraded regular longsword.  I actually win the fight pretty easily.  

    I come back in and go for the second archer who I recall waiting for me.  I of course get jumped by the assassin just as the game has planned for me.  Jumping off the ledge makes it a one on one fight again.  I make the archer pay for tricking me.  I approach the knight on the stairs.  I start off strong but he lands a hit.  I try to heal and misjudge the distance I need.  He combos my face pretty hard and it's a one way ticket to the archstone.  

    On my way back I make sure I get both lizards.  I won't talk much about these guys anymore but by the time I finish the area I have two pure hardstones and a smattering of chunks of a couple varieties.  Thanks little dudes!  

    This time the knight hears me (must be the lizard stabbing) and comes out to greet me.  No problem I think.  I miss my timing on a parry and he one shots me.  Crap.  

    Back I go.  Skip to the assassin and a new find (for me).  I bait him and jump down.  He follows.  I hit him in the air.  I didn't know there was an animation for this but.....

    He does a faceplant.  Well, more like a belly flop.  Onto stone.  Whaaaaaaaaaat?!?  I almost forget to stab him to death I'm so amazed by this.  Pure greatness that this is a thing.  

    I show the knight on the stairs who da boss is.  Meaning of course that I point up toward the False King and stab him while he's looking away from me....

    That would have been interesting but I just actually bait attacks, step back, stab.....

    Of note is this:

    In better times perhaps....:

    I wouldn't need to murder so many to see the king.  In better times, perhaps I would have given this guy a high five on my way up the stairs.  In these times however, I'm tasked with propping his corpse up on my way.  

    On a side note, apparently the first thing to go in Boletaria was the sanitation department.  There's some pretty epic corpse piles in here that no one has seen fit to pick up.  

    There he is....Ol' Blue.  I step out enough to get him to throw his bad breath at me.  Naturally, I shoot the Minister to draw him into the flames.  The smell of burning flesh is likely something my character does not enjoy.  I however, am willing to make him suffer with it as it seems a fitting (aka "funny") end to the Minister.  Quickly I go to work.  If anyone is going to harass a dragon by repeatedly launching small sharp sticks at his feet it's gonna be me.  He flies off into the not so distance.  I'm left with only 12 arrows.  Fire arrows. I can't beat the dragon just yet (sorry Biorr) but I can make a flaming Minister pincushion!

    Prior to warping back to the Nexus, I collect all the loot I can to drop off.  I return and make my way back mostly uneventfully.  I have purchased an obscene amount of arrows from Mr. Graverobber.  Fast forward to the dragon.  I needle his toes until he flies away disgusted with my annoying ways.  Because it was funny the first time, I turn the second minister into a fiery pincushion again.  

    I make my way to the stairs and take a moment to absorb the atmosphere.  This is another great moment in gaming.  A grand stair stands before you.  Surely you are near the King's chambers.  Pillars and statues of formidable knights give the place a hallowed atmosphere.  A giant dragon breathes fire and death.  As your eyes moves away from the grandeur to inspect the flames, the corpses of brave warriors begin to haunt your vision.  The fall of Boletaria.  This ascent impresses the corruption of the land like no other location.  

    Biorr is fighting in the flames. He tells me to go on.  He can handle this.

    Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight......

    I take a shot at the dragon from the base and confirm what I already knew.  Even with the white bow it will take an excruciatingly long time to win this fight.  I doubt I have enough arrows.  I'm gonna have to run for it.  

    I have memories flood back.  Of dying in the flames.  Of going to the Adjudicator archstone to kill the reaper for souls to buy more arrows.  Memories of doing that a couple times just to make sure I had enough to go through the tedious process of shooting the dragon's feet again.  

    I try to calculate my odds of getting through clean the first try.  I'm already thinking that I might end the night right here and now.  I see the opening and RUN!!

    First time!  

    I carefully select my spot and somehow kill a dragon by repeatedly hurting what's probably less than 1% of his mass.  Also, due to the particular structure (membranous wing tissue) I doubt he would have bled to death regardless of the number of arrows.  Perhaps the collective weight of the arrows was a problem?  Maybe he's so aggravated he has a heart attack?  Was I so annoying he committed suicide?  We may never know.  

    I walk in and the horrors of the last section are immediately contrasted by the pristine condition of these stairs.  Since the fall of Boletaria none have traversed this passage.  Until now.  Wait a second.....Ostrava got in somehow.  He must be a good sprinter too.  

    I approach to converse with this melancholy fellow:

    In better times, perhaps....:

    we'd see this same scene.  Except instead of asking me to kill his father and committing suicide, Ostrava would have his royal jam box kicking out some tunes.  My Penetrating sword would be a beer and we'd crack wise at all the Dukes and Duchesses and Viscounts, etc. Biorr and Vallarfax would walk by shaking their heads, muttering about the "youth of Boletaria " and maybe something about how "all the kids" are wearing their tunics these days.  We'd say something like "Why don't you take a nap old man?"  Allant would scold us from time to time and talk about "royal bearing" with Ostrava but he'd also occasionally let us fool around in the royal armory.  We'd never say it out loud but we'd be thinking what a cool dad Ostrava has.  


    These aren't better times though.  Ostrava is distraught.  He calls for the death of his father.  He takes his own life.  Before I finish for the night, I feel I should close the loop.  I ascend the stairs in preparation of the quit/reload I think I'll have to do to trigger the Phantom Ostrava.  Turns out he's much quicker than I expected.  There he is.  I don't know if it's a change in body language or the ominous red aura but it's pretty clear that this isn't the Ostrava I would have had a beer with.  Not that I didn't know that already of course.  

    I decide that I will abandon the "Two Bs" method of killing Ostrava.  "Two Bs" of course being "bow" and "Biorr."  Human foes were always the bane of my Demon's Souls existence.  The aggression and speed, along with a wider variety of attacks often led to a one sided fight.  With them being the victor.  Dark Souls changed that somehow.  Whether it was the PvP (I've been to Forest Hunter level 3 a couple times now) or just the additional practice with a similar system, I'm a different person going into this fight.  

    I beat Ostrava easily.  I think he hit me once.  In the end it didn't matter though. His misery is ended.  I will soon use his shield in his honor.  For now, the False King lies before me.  But his time will end soon too.....


    chapter 10:

    The Contemplation of Copying This Into a Word Document to See How Long It Is

    I have a short window to play.  I try to choose an area I think I can finish.  It's more story like if I can break things into segments with definable "acts."  After besting Boletaria's heroes, I decide it's time to go for a more venerable one.  Without a shard of archstone, I walk back from my fight with Ostrava toward the Nexus.  I make sure to kick the red eye greatsword knight's body off the stairs on my way down.  Gravity + rag doll corpse = always funny.

    I venture from the Nexus to my destination.  Shooting the Reaper from the ledge like always he kindly drops a stone like usual.  I'm back in the thick of bones where Befowler and I parted company.  I take out the little guys with little effort.  I lure one of the bigger skellies in.  I finish him with an attack, dodge, attack that interrupts him mid movement and makes it look like I know what I'm doing.  I experiment on his buddy with the soul remains that he drops and in comes some divine retribution.  The second big skellie flips out on the soul remains and uses his surprisingly wide hit radius to kill me.  He never even looked at me.  

    Second time's the charm.  It's "funny" how often getting cute leads to getting killed for me.  

    On to the spirits of the damned.   *Insert Cheat Commandos joke here* as I go up against the blue lasers they emit.  It hurts.  But I'm alive. I can work with alive.  I make a grand discovery.  They really don't like being stabbed.  So of course I stab them to death.  

    I'm pretty sure I know where the Reaper is but the last time I was here I correctly recalled the invisible smaller one.  The voice suggests these are supposed to be the female ghosts.  The dagger nearby and the assassination attempt this ghost tries make for a very nice little side story to this area.  

    I dart in and back out so she can't get behind me.  She like getting stabbed even less than the larger ones.  I glance at the Reaper.  He still thinks he's hiding.  I hit him once.  As he tries to hit back he swings himself right off the ledge. I walk down and know that the little side area is a trap.  I spring it anyway and take a backstab for my trouble.  I manage to beat both assassin ghosts and net two whole crescent grasses for my trouble.  I think I'll skip it next time.  

    Heading down I see a message warning me of an attack from the rear.  This prompts my recall of where the next Reaper is.  I bravely shoot his ghosts from a distance and run in.  I quick turn and we both attack.  I win and the rag doll physics from me smacking him into next Tuesday has him wiggle right through the floor. I don't get the loot I saw that he had.  Heading down into the slug room I decide caution is the best practice.  I take my shots carefully and kill the slugs.  I activate the wisps on my terms to trigger the explosions safely.  I feel like the captain of the Boletaria Bomb Squad!

    I have just a couple wisps to go before I can fully run around and collect all my treasure.  While taking aim at a slug I get blindsided by an explosion.  Whoops.

    Since it's the next time, I skip the assassin duo.  

    THIS TIME I just get rid of all the wisps first.  They do me the favor of taking out a few slugs.  Several sticky white stuffs later and a few other trinkets I'm ready for the "boss."  

    I enter the fog pretty calmly.  I think I recall how to do this fight.  I know that IF (and it's a big if) I get in trouble I can just hide behind the altar and shoot him.  As long as you don't go crazy on him he'll never have a clue where I am.  

    I won't bore you with any details of the "fight" but I will mention that this boss is really easy to taunt and take pictures of said taunts.  

    for example:


    I feel a little disrespectful but all in all I'd say the picture was a good idea.

    Guess how many times it took me to beat him. Come on guess.  You'll never get it.  Unless of course you said "one."  Surprise surprise, I beat him in one try.  

    I suicide in the Nexus to avoid screwing up my world tendency and return to fight the Storm King.  This fight is an incredibly cool concept and overall is done pretty well.  I shoot a good number of his crew out of the sky and decide that I'll try something different for this boss.  I sprint down to the Storm Ruler.  I've never killed him with the sword designed to do so (bows are really easy to kill him with so seriously, why bother?).  I get reminded how easy his minions fall to the sword.  It seems to have a really wide hit box despite what it looks like.  It also one shots the little guys.  

    I face the King and take a few hits from his cruise missiles when he swoops ever so gently at me.  I get two shots in with the sword.  They do more damage than an arrow (I tested that later) but the recovery is much slower than the white bow.  Archery is just bad***

    He comes around again and my Kite Shield +2 is no match for thirty or forty of those things he throws out.  I'll come back to the King soon (with a bigger shield) but for now it's on to other business since I have a short night to play.

    Satsuki was one of my biggest nightmares.  I recall him being fast, hitting crazy hard and rolling.  Always rolling.  In the end, I think I needed to change a ton of gear so I could specifically have an "anti-Satsuki" build.  

    I start off by trying to intimidate him.  I draw the skellie nearby in with an arrow.  As he rolls toward me I adjust and shoot him right before he reaches me.  See that Satsuki?  That could be you!  I think he saw it.  I go and talk with him and he asks for the sword.  Screw you buddy.  I don't trust you for a second!

    My "intuition" about his character is correct and he attacks.  I'm disappointed in how easily I take him out. Then I remember, it's not this version that was the problem.  To combat my disappointment in killing him so easily, I'm gonna have to challenge the black phantom version.  At least I felt like a champ for a few seconds.  

    I recall I have a key from Ostrava.  Time to see how Doran matches up with the new and improved Skarekrow.  He seems like a nice guy.  He wants to see if I'm any good.  He basically lets me stab him a large number of times.  He takes a frustratingly small amount of damage per hit.  It's still not a challenge it just takes a while.  I get the sword he's guarding.  Good for me!  

    I figure to get his armor too.  I think you get that if you kill him.  I hit him constantly for what feels like an hour.  He finally decides it wasn't accidental and attacks back.  Now THIS is Doran.  Faster, aggressive, combos.  The works.  My Kite Shield fails me again.  I believe it's time for bed.  I'll come back when I have something that isn't so frustratingly ineffective against him.  I know I'm unlikely to ever one shot him but at 22 per hit I just don't feel like dealing with the fight.  For the first time, the game feels a little cheap.  I can dodge and weave and fight him head on.  The only real difficulty it seems is his absurd defense.  For an otherwise almost flawless game though this isn't a major factor.  Any other game and Doran is awesome.  With a Souls game though he feels like a throwback to other games.  Basically, he's tough because of stats, not because of who or what he is.  He's still a good fight.  Not great though.  


    interlude:

    The Dragon God is still an awesome fight.  Here's why everyone should just face it and agree with me:

    Pros- Amazing creature design, seamless animations despite the scale of the monster, tons of little details in architecture (did you go take a look at the spear launchers like I told you to yet?), tremendous atmosphere, great lore concept, getting to feel like a mouse

    Cons- It's easy to beat once you know the method, it doesn't feel like a fight

    Let's compare him to other bosses shall we.  Ones I've fought so far in this playtrhrough:
    -Phalanx-.  Easy to win if you've discovered fire.  Slow moving small army.  Good concept, easy after your first time
    -Tower Knight- Archers add artificial difficulty and at most extra time to the battle.  Once you know his attack patterns he becomes easy.  
    -Penetrator- Hard to judge, Biorr does most of the work.  His entrance is pretty awesome though isn't it?

    -Armor Spider- This boss can actually be a huge pain.  The web ability is a really cool addition and adds a lot of stress.  Tanking or hiding behind a rock with a bow are both effective but I've personally never fought this one and not have it feel like a boss fight.  Great job From!
    -Flamelurker- Another boss that feels like a boss.  Knowing his attack patterns will help but his aggression and area of effect attacks make that rib cage pretty appealing most times.
    -Dragon God- We already know how I feel about this one.  Seriously, go look at those spear launchers.  They're neat!

    -Fool's Idol- Great concept.  The rune traps are a good element.  The setting is top notch.  However, a bow will make short work of her.  Her use of duplicates is kind of a one trick pony and there's enough cover to make this a breeze for most builds.  

    -The Adjudicator- Cramped quarters can make this interesting.  Unless you've done this fight before.  Can you stand on a ledge and shoot a small bird?  You can win this fight. Or the more boring approach.  Can you walk in a circle?  You're good.  
    -Storm King- I have a bow.  I can win.  Those things that killed me last night?  I'm pretty sure that if I go all the way back up near the door there's a spot they can't hit me at....

    And now we come to my real point.  An often idolized figure in Souls lore.  A figure who is loved by many and placed on a pedestal of awesome for some reason.

    The Old Hero.
    What can I say about this fight?  Do you like being a bully?  Were you the type of person who picked on the kids in the Special Education programs at school? Because that's what this fight feels like.  You walk into a room with a person with a severe disability and you're tasked with the goal of "fighting" him.  I think I lost this fight once.  The first time ever.  I quickly realized he couldn't see me.  Step 1 of any fight is recon in a Souls game.  Most likely you will make a mistake and lose.  So keep your eyes open for the next time.  You should always be learning.  After about 5-10 seconds of him obviously having no clue where I was, combined with the wrappings over his eyes, I came to the correct conclusion he was blind.  Shooting him with the bow (his sword looked pretty dangerous) confirmed he wasn't able to see me.  I died because I got greedy.  If you piss him off enough he can get just enough presence of mind to assault you.  

    So last night I went into the fight knowing I'd win.  That's rare in Souls games.  I mean I just admitted that a skeleton got me when he wasn't even paying attention to me. A wisp got me even though I knew it was there. One mistake is all it takes to send you back to an archstone.  One mistake.

    Sadly, it's hard to make one mistake in this fight.  It's not like I'm going to accidentally hit R1 four or five times in a row.  He's not that fast.  He can't turn around and get me by accident.  He hit me once with a sweeping attack.  But he didn't kill me.  Without a one shot it's not like I can't heal with plenty of time before his next "assault."  One mistake is hard to come by here.  

    I took the taunting picture in the last chapter as part of this point.  For most of this fight I was able to casually walk (and run) behind him with no repercussion.  I stabbed his lower leg whenever I felt like stabbing his lower leg.  No pressure.  Why should there be?  I'm picking on a poor disabled guy.  He may not know where he is, let alone where I am.  

    Here's another picture that looks like I'm yawning:
    Spoiler:


    Do you know how much time it took to set up pictures of me taunting and yawning during this fight?  Sadly, not much.  I can do it at my leisure.  It's not like he's a threat.  If the gesture menu came up quicker you'd see that I actually set up the photographs when I was standing right behind him.  

    It sounds like I'm pretty down on this boss.  I'm actually not.  It's just a great example of how the Souls games are set up.  The bosses are hard.  They can kill you.  But for the most part I'd say Souls bosses are actually easier than most games.  Easier I say?  Yes I do.  The Old Hero is the most flagrant example but let's think about it.  

    How many people here have done a SL1 challenge?  I haven't but there's scores that have.  It's to the point now where SL1 threads are pretty empty.  Few people respond because it's old news.  

    Try taking on the the FFVII Weapons at the lowest level possible with base materia.  Good luck with that.  

    Low level runs in Souls games are possible because skill is the mandatory requirement not stats. Even at a crazy high level for an area, you still need to know about the boss.  Take me for example.  I'm an explorer.  I will comb through an area until I'm satisfied I have all the treasure I can reasonably get.  This generally results in higher levels than areas need.  This is true for all games for me.  I think, to date, there is only one Souls boss I beat the first time I encountered them. Sorry Quelaag, that Dishonor goes to you.  How many Final Fantasy or Elder Scrolls or inFamous or Soul Sacrifice or etc. etc. bosses did I beat the first time?  Plenty.  

    Which brings me back to the Old Hero and Souls bosses in general.  Once you know how to win, all you have to do is: do it.  With only a few exceptions (Flamelurker and Allant come to mind) the bosses aren't much of a challenge once you know what you're doing.  

    The Old Hero is still a great experience.  The character design and behavior is unique.  The story behind it is great.  The setting couldn't be better.  But why is he on a pedestal and the Dragon God reviled?  Is it because of the spears?  Because there's two hits in the confrontation that don't come from your weapon?  Is it because the only time you get to hurt the Dragon God with your own two hands is after he's pinned down, unable to move?  Because that's a silly reason for the hate in my opinion.  The Old Hero fight is less of a challenge.  Assuming an archer or magic build there is zero risk in either fight.  There's no need to get your hands dirty.  So in that case, there's no fight at all.  Just repetition.  They're on equal footing.  Take away the range idea and the Dragon God is far closer to a fight than the Old Hero.  I literally walked into the Old Hero's legs a few times and he never knew.  I smacked him with a sword and he never turned to face me.  Not once did he pose a real threat.  Taking the Dragon God on with a sword is a different affair.  Take a second too long breaking a pillar and you're gonna get a face full of dragon fist. Even after you pin him the sword is dangerous.  Those little plumes coming out of him?  Yeah, those can kill you.  There's actually a small chance the Dragon God will hurt you, even after he's down.  

    The Old Hero just gets bullied.  

    Let's all take a step back and give a nice long slow clap like an 80s teen movie for From for the great boss designs overall, and make sure we give an extra clap or two to make up for the Dragon God hate.



    Last edited by skarekrow13 on Tue Aug 13, 2013 3:02 pm; edited 10 times in total

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    skarekrow13
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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by skarekrow13 on Mon Jul 08, 2013 9:17 pm

    Chapter "These go to 11" :


    Muck You

    I'm rapidly running out of areas.  Basically, the list consists of finishing Latria, heading to the valley, Killing the Storm King (should be easy, probably just try the Tower Shield) and of course the Black World Tendency in most areas to test my skill against the Black Phantoms of the land.  I expect that last one in particular to not go so well.  

    For tonight, it shall be the rest of Latria.  While the Valley is the bigger pain from an environment standpoint, the last boss (before the False King) that should be a major factor is Hall and Oates.

    The first time around they killed me so many times that I had killing the Black Phantom Mindflayer on the steps down to a science.  I stand at this pillar and I can shoot it to death.  I stand by this other pillar and wait for it to turn and I can backstab it.  Etc. Etc. I owned that guy by the time I was done.  

    So off to Latria!

    I head in and am again impressed with the little details.  The haziness of the area.  The little patches of dark clouds.  The erratic lighting.  Later I will notice that they bothered to put chains and decorations on the way down the elevator cages.  

    I know there's a gargoyle waiting for me.  I just can't remember what to look for to find them.  Then it hits me (since I can see one waaaaay off in the distance).  Like so many other enemies, it's in their eyes.  I find the first one before he finds me.  I say "hello" with an arrow to the face.  I don't think he understands I meant it in the nicest way possible.  He flies at me.  I try to shoot him out of the air.  For the first time in the game I'm not impressed with the hit detection.  This pattern repeats with these guys.  As the arrow does nothing to him despite LOOKING like it hit he's coming right at me.  He's closing in fast.  He's almost near me....

    He turns around.  He does some rather confusing flight patterns.  I assume he's drunk.  He never gets a chance to sober up.  The fact that the corpses of these enemies obscures the majority of your sight lines when close must be the reason I enjoyed walking/rolling over them so much to throw their bodies off the ledge.  Who am I kidding?  It's fun regardless of the utility.  Rag doll physics never looked so good!

    I continue into the primary tower after killing his friend and decide to head right.  Intuitively I know I'll be coming back here and that it makes more sense efficiency wise to skip it for now.  Treasure wise I know there's a few things down there I can get RIGHT NOW.  The little part of my brain that makes me a good (video game only) candidate for the show "Hoarders" compels me to go right anyway.   I see a warning about a trap and get paranoid a touch.  The one gargoyle guarding the treasure at the end of the walk doesn't surprise me and I have to just assume that's what the person meant with their message.  A few smashed jars later and I'm headed down a little further.  I grab the treasure and of course get stopped by the disgustingly glistening mass of who knows what blocking the door.  Up I go. I race up the stairs, thinking to myself "I don't recall any enemies up here."  That turns out to be correct.  

    Here's where the hoarding mentality comes in again.  I know where the Rune Sword and Shield are.  I already have one of each.  I know it's a tricky jump to land.  I try it anyway.  I just gotta have that useless equipment!  But also, there's one of two options.  I nail it first time and get to brag that I stuck the landing and won the Olympic Gold or I fall to my death and get a good story out of it.  

    On the way back from the Archstone my character, despite spawning full health, is still likely favoring the ankle of the foot that almost landed safely on the ledge.  If this was real world physics it would have been a badly injured leg with little time to contemplate the pain.  I imagine that it would have also caused me to spin and flip a  little on my way to the muddy grave below.  

    This time I'm smart about it.  Here's a trick I should have just done the first time and might help a reader or two.  I go a good distance from the ledge.  My back is turned to the gravity hazard.  I press circle.  As my character jumps back I make sure to measure precisely where I was standing when I pushed the button.  Having not fallen off the ledge I then repeat but a little closer.  I still haven't fallen off but I'm close to it.  A couple more tries and I get exactly what I wanted. A precise plummet onto a precarious precipice.  Just what I needed!  More Rune equipment.  

    I make my way back up and prepare to face gargoyles.  It's easy to lure them in but I do get a surprise when one of them shoots back.  I forgot about that.  One archery contest later and I'm still on the move.  I pick up my Flamberge.  Because I have to have it!

    Moving along I easily remember that there's treasures along the ledges of the secondary towers.  Heading up the elevator I assume there's a gargoyle waiting for me.  There is.  I lock on and get the shield ready.  He gets close and I stab him.  Almost falling off.  Probably should be more careful.  He seems to get stuck in his hovering animation.  I watch a few seconds before ending his misery with an arrow.  Heading up I'm up against the Barbershop quartet.  They appear to not have a problem being butchered.  I backstab the first two.  Then slice up the second pair.  A quick cinematic reveals that I'm making progress.  On the way down the stairs I idly swing at two statues.  They shatter.  I don't know if I knew that before. I know it now and it's a pretty awesome thing.  I see some prism stones augites of guidance ahead.  It's Yurt!  The Silent Chief.  He seems to be chatty enough.  I wonder why they call him "silent."  Maybe I'll have a chance to find out later...

    Heading into the muck below I prepare to be here awhile.  I seem to recall taking a long time to explore this place.  It turns out it's not as big as I remember.  It's a lot easier with practice.  Even if it's several years old practice.  

    The biggest challenge is the pile of corpses spitting blue wads of magic at me.  A pillar and a bow means that I get easy Mercury stones.  A close second in challenge is stopping myself from running up the tentacles that spiral around the pillars.  If memory serves correctly, I had more than my share of deaths from some fall detection bugs on those.  

    I head onto the Boardwalk.  If I had Park Place I could make some nice hotels here.  Since I don't, the current landlord gets away with not making some needed renovations.  I notice something very interesting along the way though.  The corpses on the wheels that spin gently in the breeze.  Could these have been the precursor to the delightful Bonewheels skeletons?  I tried to take a picture but it's too dark to get a good one.  

    A few treasures later and many dead face worms and I'm back on land.  I head up and bravely face the Black Phantom Mindflayer via the pincushion method.  As I'll illustrate later, this can actually be one of the worst techniques on these guys.  

    At the summit of the stairs I take out a couple face worms.  The blue glow ahead shows me I have a lizard to kill.  But how many worms are in the way?  Crap.  I'm gonna be Robin Hood again.  Bows work exceedingly well on these guys assuming you can track them down for the second hit.  I miss the second hit.  It runs away and I start ahead again.  Except I see I gained 10 souls.  Down the stairs I go, hoping the corpse is somewhere I can find it.  It is.  Good thing too.  Another pure stone for my collection.  

    The second tower goes much as the first one.  The gargoyles aren't presenting much of a challenge and I know how to find treasures.  The biggest difference is that I wanna mix it up with the Barbershop quartet holding the chain up.  So I shoot one in the crotch from point blank range.  I'm disappointed in how fast the arrows disappear.  That would have been a good postcard from Latria.  Another cinematic shows a lot of face worms and even more progress.  I decide it's time to return to the base of the pit in the tower to grab treasures.

    I sprint for glory knowing I've killed everything already.  I almost run right into the first face worm.  Almost. It actually does run right into my penetrating sword.  I have little difficulty taking my treasures.  But now comes the fun part.  I used to have this Mindflayer down to a science.  No longer.  I miscalculate the pillar to hide behind.  Right before he sees me I charge knowing it's all or nothing at this point.  I get a great stab in.  I start swinging trying to finish him.  He blasts me with the ripple attack and I get slammed onto the stairs.  Lucky for me I had also hit him, killing him.  I won't repeat that mistake again.

    I grab just a couple more treasures and brace myself for Hall and Oates.  

    I enter the fog and in comes Hall.  I've enchanted my weapon and it's doing decent damage (it's only +1 at the moment).  His charge attacks are beating me up pretty good though.  I almost get tossed off the ledge.  I predict this will end my night.  I heal up as he's flying around.  The White Bow has more than enough range to tag him and get the fight rolling again.  It actually hits him almost as hard as the sword.  I'm feeling decent about the fight now, getting into a rhythm.  Oates comes into the fight earlier than expected.  I have Hall down maybe 40%.  I was also wearing the Thief's ring and steadfastly refusing to move from the door in the hope that Oates wouldn't see me right away.  Wishful thinking.  I'm almost dead pretty quickly.  I make a break for the fire in the distance.  The only obstacle that can help me.  I heal up and prepare for two.  It's Oates that comes first, meaning I'm no closer to getting it back to one on one.  I keep circling the fire and they keep taking turns attacking me.  I'm able to get some shots with the bow in to speed the fight up.  Hall comes into the fray for a prolonged period.  Oates seems to be stuck a little and I've had time to enchant my weapon again.  In a dazzling display of master swordsmanship (done to perfection by pressing R1 several times in a row) Hall is down!  I remind Oates that there's a fight going on by shooting him.  I almost roll off the ledge at one point but that's the scariest moment.  I've done it!  Hall and Oates, one try.  This is the definition of feeling like a boss.

    I go back to the Nexus, preparing to suicide.  I head up the stairs to find a new corpse.  That's right.  Yurt is around.  I don't like Yurt.  I do however, like his armor.  He's not as fast as I remember.  He mentions Mephistopheles shortly before he becomes the Absolutely Silent Chief.  I commit suicide and decide that it's time to play around in the tower.  If it wasn't for the extra weight, I'd have more new fashion than the pointy boots.  It was a tough call between those and the gauntlets.

    I try to get summoned to be the Old Monk. I used to enjoy that pretty good.  It doesn't work.  I give up and try to invade someone for kicks.  That does "work."  I chase my potential victim all the way from the base of the stairs just out of the muck, all the way back to the beginning of the level.  I get to see the cut scene of the second chain coming down again.  My quarry ascends that little ledge near the beginning and waits for me.  Not an honorable thing to do so I bow...then take out my bow.  I don't think my Penetrating Sword +1 was much of a match for the Blueblood sword anyway, but the fact that I rolled off the edge didn't make me look particularly impressive.  I decide to try to kill the Old Monk.  I get up the stairs.  Not even midway up I know I'm going to be facing a human controlled monk.  

    Here's something that's different from three years ago.  Last time, I fought the Monk four times I believe (well four playthroughs, I probably died a few times meaning I fought the monk more than four).  Not once do I recall anyone using this as a griefing tool.  

    I get a little frustrated.  I am clearly the superior fighter.  My hit timing is better.  My use of stunlock and all things stamina is better.  His use of magic has practically zero chance of hitting me.  But with a barely upgraded weapon, that life bar seems enormous.  That's fine.  It's a boss fight.  The repeated grass use seems wholly unbalanced.  I don't remember this being a problem before.  Maybe it was and I just got lucky but man this stinks.  It's one thing to be beat because I need to learn more.  Or try a new tactic.  It's just mind numbing to know that, against this person, the only reasonable way for me to win is to also have 99 of every grass type and outlast this idiot.  This is Demon's Souls, not a marathon.  Some of us don't like 12 hour fights.  I eventually lose because I don't want to use all of my grass since I actually do want to play the game.  

    I try one more time to see if the next fight won't be against the same jack***.  The scene is triggered even earlier this time.  Again, I know it's a human opponent I'm facing.  

    Except I won't.  I misjudge the arch around the tower stairs while shooting a Mindflayer.  He lands a shot with his magic.  Just one.  

    Told you I'd illustrate how dangerous archery can be to fight these guys.  Since it's late and I have to work; I make this death my last.  

    chapter 12:

    Wrap it up!

    I've come to the conclusion that the Tower Shield is pretty much useless.  Not only did it not stop the Storm King's attacks, my inability to get out of the way of the second volley meant death.  Back to the Kite Shield.  

    And back to the rocks.  I figured From put them there for a reason....might as well use 'em.  I use the Storm Ruler for a little bit.  The slow recovery time is more than aggravating.  Especially when the Storm King is so big it's hard to accurately judge distance.  Most times I was able to hit him twice a pass.  Sometimes only once.  

    Time to get the bow out.  As soon as that little beady eye shows itself I open fire.  This allows much more than two hits for sure.  Even with his cruise missiles he's no match for a rock and a bow.  The missiles make a pretty splash when they hit the rocks though.  So he's got that going for him (anyone getting that reference gets a +1).  

    Fun Fact: "hitting" the Storm King from a crazy distance for 0 damage still makes him yell at you.  He's pretty whiny for such a big dude.

    I get the pure stone from his death and another pure from the lizard below.  Are pure stones really as easy to get as they have been?  I don't recall that at all.  It's not like I'll use most of them either.  

    With that jerk done for it's time to harass everyone's favorite crow.  She calls me scary.  It's a little weird that, apart from a misspelling (should be "skary"), the game knows who I am. Get it?  The Krow is Skared of me?  Ha ha ha ha!

    I get some white arrows and another colorless soul.  Time to up my penetrating sword a level.  Also, for the record, there is absolutely, positively no way at all that I visited a couple NPCs in the Nexus first to make more of these.  So get that idea out of your head already......

    In unrelated news I managed to upgrade a Rune Sword and Shield all the way somehow (not using either) and I have to ask the question to From: Why is there even an option to upgrade the Rune Shield? Whose sick idea was that anyway?  Miyazaki talks about masochistic tendencies in game creation but that's pure sadism buddy.  Ain't fooling nobody.  Double negative for the win!

    With a slightly better weapon it's time to take on the Old Monk again.  It's the quest for the non jerk human player.  Will I ever find one?  Eventually...

    It actually only took three tries but the first two make me question humanity.  The game already gives you some pretty heavy advantages for this fight if you're the Monk.  I mean the yellow orbs, the gigantic and intimidating life bar at the bottom of the victim's screen, etc. etc.  Do you really need to invade people questing with max gear and more grass than...a...um...field.  Of grass.  

    The first guy looks mostly like a repeat of last time.  Falchion, shield.  This time, instead of hiding at the entrance and changing things up with some casting, this guy is using something to be "invisible" (not sure if it's a spell or a ring because I don't remember casting).  Either way, it's not like the small glowing cloud is THAT hard to see.  I actually almost get a win from sprinting in and mashing R1.  Sadly, he dips into the field and is full health again.  I've only brought 4 full moon and 8 late moon grass in.  I refuse to have a marathon fight with the victor being the one with the biggest field.  

    Side note: My "field" is way bigger.

    After he shows the level of restraint of a certain blue monster around a jar of cookies with his grass I stop healing which essentially concedes the fight.  I don't have quite enough stamina to finish him.  It's always a hit or two away.  

    Pro tip: Even though I've only done this four times since being back total, I still know to IMMEDIATELY roll as soon as you step into the fog.  

    The second opponent shows the same level of general a$$hattery as the first.  I'm again in a position in which I run out of stamina before I can land the killing blow.  The grass addict isn't going down anytime soon.  Let's try it one more time before going offline.  

    I ascend the steps with a little more hesitation.  I'm better at shooting Mindflayers in the neck and chest and the face worms aren't a challenge but the realization I might need to not win this against a human opponent is a little sad.  

    Apart from attacking me the second I walk into the fog, this guy seems different. Executioner ax.  No shield in sight. At least he's being creative.  

    He's also with one of the worst possible loadouts to fight me.  

    Big, slow weapon whose distance I am familiar with?  Check

    No viable means of consistent defense except dodging?  Check

    Slightly slower movement speed than me?  Check

    Remember me describing my "Kiln Challenge" earlier?  Learning to space yourself to make your opponent miss and then close in for the kill.  I did it with these guys in mind (well actually the Black Knight Great Ax/Sword users that used to be everywhere but same idea).  

    So here's the play by play:

    Old Monk swings at Skarekrow as Skarekrow enters the fog.  Skarekrow is already rolling and the hit misses.

    Skarekrow locks onto Old Monk and steps back a few paces.  

    Old Monk closes the distance and takes a swing.  Skarekrow takes two steps back and the swing completely misses.  

    Skarekrow goes R1 happy on Old Monk, missing no hits and leaving the Old Monk with about 5% health remaining.  

    Old Monk immediately spawns five yellow orbs and backpedals in a panic.  

    Skarekrow sprints in, rolls under activated homing magic and hits R1.

    Fight over.  

    flawless victory:



    I don't know if he was a grasser actually.  I don't think so.  If he was, he missed the second he had to use it.  Either way....another area clear.  More importantly, Pure White World Tendency!

    I suicide in the Nexus to be on the safe side.  The I return to Latria.  I get a twinge of frustration thinking that I'll have to go aaaaaaaalllllll the way back up near the first Barbershop Quartet.  But honestly, I'm there very fast.  It only takes forever the first time.  AKA the "adrenaline" time.

    I have the key to Rydell so I use "evacuate" and then head back to the prison.  He thanks me with a ring I'll never use.  Thanks Champ!

    I walk around the ledge to the area that used to be blocked by rubble.  I get some new threads.  All in all.....not a bad night.  

    the Cheat's New Boots:
    A cute girl and an astronaut gave them to me


    chapter 13:

    Skarekrow vs. The Leechmonger: Battle of the Ages

    I have to tell anyone who has faithfully followed my adventures this far:

    This will likely be the most boring chapter. Consider yourself warned.  



    I enter the Valley and walk up some pretty poorly constructed walkways.  I imagine that the citizens who fashioned this had a lot of trouble working a hammer with their tongue being in the way all the time.  A lollipop doesn't stand a chance against these guys.  

    I take on the first enemy and one shot him. He hit me once too but the damage is negligible.  Same with the second.  I shoot the first guy up top trying to ambush me.  The arrow also one shots him.  It's at this point I make two observations:

    1. There's no chance these guys pose a threat.  As a result, I don't feel bad about using archery for most of this section.  Assume from here on that if I didn't mention it specifically, I probably shot the enemy with a fire arrow.  

    2. After doing the entirety of all the other areas (with the exception of the False King) and being level 60 something or other, I'm pretty damn overpowered for this section.  I'd have to do something pretty boneheaded or fall to die here.


    As a result of these two observations I have a key storytelling problem here.  Do I try to make some jokes and have this area be interesting or do I skip the less important details?  

    I think I'll mostly fast forward this section.  

    I head down, shooting Spy vs. Spy clones along the way.  The ones that like to hide in the grass get slashed.  With the penetrating sword this is substantially less effective but it's plenty right now.  

    I run into one normal looking person.  The game describes her as "filthy."  She doesn't look noticeably more dirt and grime covered than a number of other NPCs in the game who aren't described as "filthy."  I assume that means she has a dirty mind.  At some point she tells the player she used to be hot stuff in the Valley until Astraea came along.  I think my definition could be accurate so I buy a few poisonous arrows and take my Penetrating Sword and get the heck out of there.

    Shortly after this a pile of rats makes some nice kebobs.  Lucky for my guests the arrows I'm using cook them while skewering.  Say what you will about this land, barbecues are convenient.  

    Also major kudos to From on the rats.  If I'm not mistaken this is the only location you find them in the game.  To think, they programmed these in for just one spot to mess with you and give you the plague. I didn't risk it this time but if I recall correctly they're a pain in the rear to hit with a melee weapon.  

    I head down a little more.  Then I head back up to find any treasure I missed.  I find a good amount and also take a shortcut that resembles walking the plank.  Instead of sharks, the Spy vs. Spy guys think they're fooling me.  I get all stabby on them and that's the end of that.  

    Continuing on to where I was already at with the rats I get to face my first big Spy.  I used to have some big problems with these jerks.  I think it might have something to do with the fact that shields aren't always good at shielding.  Once again, my Dark Souls Kiln Challenge work pays off.  

    A short skedaddle later and it's time for the Leechmonger.  

    I enter the fog and I'm instantly not intimidated in the least.  Casually walking down the planks I get a leech splash nearby but I'm like "whatever."  

    For old time's sake I'm tempted to kill him the way I did the first time.

    like this:



    Instead I continue calmly walking down the planks.  To be fair, I did shoot it a few times but I gave it plenty of time to heal back up.  I get to the bottom and brace myself for what will surely be a battle of epic proportions.  

    I grit my teeth and steel my will and lots of other cliches that show off how brave I am in the face of adversity.  

    The Leechmonger dies before I learn what attacks it might actually try on me.  I'm getting the feeling that maybe Astraea isn't the weakest boss in the game.

    I head back to the Nexus to suicide.  I want to make sure I can get White and Black Tendency in as many places as possible since I don't think this story will be interesting going into NG+.  I also drop some weight.  I know I found a good amount of treasure.  I have no idea what most of it is since it's nothing I'll use. But I needed it anyhow.  

    Another warning potentially.  Usually each chapter has been one night of playing.  However, the next chapter is from the same night.  I didn't get any extra playing time.  I just ripped through it quickly.  I split the chapters into sections of the area rather than have one really long chapter but just remember, if I went through this fast, I likely didn't run into much trouble.  Consider yourself further warned.  


    chapter 14:

    Muck You Two

    Before setting out into the Valley of Defilement again I swapped some gear.  While I love my Fluted Helmet and Sage gear I figured a little extra poison protection wouldn't hurt.  So on goes the Black Leather.  Rob Halford would be proud.  I add the Ring of Poison Resistance.  When it's all said and done, I've quadrupled my poison resistance.  Not bad.

    I head in and get to test myself against the slightly tougher version of the Spy vs. Spy characters.  The slash on my sword takes a few hits.  The stab is pretty effective though.  Arrows are also pretty great.  Good thing I stocked up on ammo too.

    I charge into the swamp.  Going island to island I make sure to shoot the jelly lellies all around.  I entered the area with only 16 lotuses and I don't want to fall short.  I venture out a little at a time to test the water.  And by "water" I mean "mosquito riddled toxic sludge."  I get a little braver shortly before the big island with the Spies on it.  It's sad I remembered that.  I head back to the beginning of the muck and find out that it takes a really long time to be poisoned with over 500 resistance.  Also, I have an absurd lotus collection going on.  I think I'll be fine in regards to the poison.  

    I head back and arrow the little spies.  I draw the big one in and realize I don't have enough time to get back to the big island to allow for free movement.  I can avoid one hit at most I estimate.  I avoid this hit and decide to be aggressive.  

    I'm never aggressive.  How many times have I used the word "bow" or "arrow" so far?  The Kiln Challenge skills?  Yeah, all defensive minded.  

    It's at this point I discover something wondrous!  The R2 combo of the Penetrating Sword.  Due to my defensive style I rarely use combos.  With the heavy strikes it's even more rare.  I need to ensure I have stamina to burn for a block or a dodge.  With the R2 combo this guy doesn't last long.  

    At some point I'll have to compare the stabbing output percentage wise of this sword compared to it's counterparts.  

    Looping back the other way in the muck I think I see a shadow moving.  I can't find it and move on.  Pausing for treasure, suddenly there's a red outline to my right.  I completely forget this phantom patrols.  Well done From!  I have a decent size patch of land so I invite trouble with fire arrow. I'm doing ok at avoiding the attacks.  We're both half done.  I get stuck in the mud and it's all over.  

    Spoiler alert (even though I'm not putting another spoiler in): This is the only time I die in this chapter.  It's one more than the last chapter but this is far from death defying stuff.  

    Time for round two.  I notice the jelly lellies haven't returned.  I go to the left this time to initiate the fight sooner.  Remember how good that R2 combo was?  Interesting I had forgotten it only a couple minutes after discovery.  I again take the aggressive approach.  It pays off again.  Since we're in the Valley of Defilement and everything supposed to be dirty I'll put it this way:

    I Penetrated that phantom repeatedly.


    Technically the second move in the combo isn't a stab though.  

    Pressing on I again have success with the large Spy.  This is a trend that will continue.  

    Moving through the fog I walk up the planks.  I kill a lot of the spies.  I assume the bugs have some way of hurting me.  I can't remember what it is and I don't find out again tonight.  I forgot about the purple guy.  Not that this means much.  I just forgot about him.  He dies pretty quickly via arrow.  

    To the left and I find myself backtracking a little bit.  The slugs increase their presence.  I decrease it for them.  I find a large pile hanging (just like I knew I would).  Chopping at this thing to get it to fall is one of the few times I felt like something bad might happen.  Why won't my character keep his feet still while swinging?  Is he trying to fall?  

    I take the shortcut down and just open fire on the pile.  I'm thinking an open fire would be the best idea.  Sadly I'm not proficient enough in magic to make an open fire like I want.  I get a Moonlight sword.  All we need now is a game where I could use a weapon like this but with giant robots. Maybe some day (I will take Armored Core out and play it again).  

    Looping back to the right this time I come across the group of large spies. I kill a rogue slug who has apparently been trying to wear the gold armor.  

    "Pro" tip with bows in the Valley: Enemies can be hard to see from a long range and make sighting them difficult. It's a little chilly in the Valley though. You can see the breath of many creatures.  Aim at that.  

    I continue my loop and run into Selen.  It doesn't take me long to realize that the armor looks better on her than the slug.  She seems nice.  She wants to know where her brother is.  A couple thoughts on this:

    If my character could speak I could tell her right where he is.

    If she actually got up and moves she could probably find him herself.  

    Another fog door and I run into the Filthy Woman again.  I buy more arrows, she recites a few naughty limericks.  I move on.  

    None of the spies get a significant drop on me.  I progress through the plank maze pretty easily.  Heading around and opening the shortcut is a breeze too.  

    It's time for another epic battle.  I seem to recall strafing and throwing fireballs at this guy. I don't have fireballs so I assume that he can die a different way.  I also probably didn't have fire the first time either.

    I had gotten some black turpentine recently. I figure I might as well use some.  I do get coated with the fly swarm once.  Apart from that and getting hit once...

    And I'm thinking Astraea might be the toughest boss in the Valley.  

    A quick Nexus suicide to preserve the integrity of my pure white goal and I'm off to find the lady fair.

    Apparently Selen's younger brother isn't happy to see me.  Astraea assumes I'm there for her soul and to pillage.  She couldn't be closer to further from the truth.

    It's time to fight Garl.  In a pattern that seems to be coming up frequently here, the Kiln Challenge techniques make Garl look pretty foolish.  I got greedy and he hit me once.  But that's about the extent of it.  

    Funny side story.  He healed once too. I had him near dead before he landed his one hit.  I get up and he's casting.  I use magic so much that I'm completely confused as to what he's casting.  I stand and stare.  And he's back to full health.  

    I walk down and sprint the last stretch to avoid the creepy babies.  Talking to Astraea she seems a little upset.  She shoves a soul into her face which apparently kills you.  Maybe that's why we crush them in our hands.  Like the M&Ms slogan: "Melts your face, not in your hands"

    I call it a night and head back to the Nexus.  The treasure can be wait.  I'll be back shortly for Black Phantom Fest 2013!

    interlude:

    *Sung to the tune of The Final Countdown by Europe


    You're reading together
    But it's near farewell
    And maybe I'll come back
    To Demon's, who can tell?
    I guess there is no one to blame
    We're leaving Souls
    Will things ever be the same again?

    It's the final beatdown
    The final beatdown

    Ohh
    I'm heading for Phantoms and still I stand tall
    'Cause maybe they've seen me and won't kill us all, yeah
    With so little phantoms to go and things to be found
    (To be found)
    I'm sure that we'll all miss Demon's so

    It's the final beatdown
    The final beatdown
    The final beatdown
    (The final beatdown)
    Ohh ho ohh

    The final beatdown, oh ho
    It's the final beatdown
    The final beatdown
    The final beatdown
    (The final beatdown)

    Ohh
    It's the final beatdown
    You're reading together
    The final beatdown
    We'll all miss Demon's so
    It's the final beatdown
    (The final beatdown)
    Ohh, it's the final beatdown
    Yeah!


    Now with that nonsense out of the way:

    There's not much left to do.  Next session will likely start with a few loose ends with white tendency worlds (but I think I've done most already). Then on to face Black Phantom Garl Vinland.  

    I'll most likely take on the world's Black Phantoms in the order of increasing "pain in my butt" factor.  Garl was the easiest for me the first time around I think.  Next will probably be Miralda.  Heavy weapons.  Open area (after I lead her along the walk).  Sounds like a Kiln challenge fight to me.  

    Satsuki will actually be next.  I know a lot of people think of him as the hardest but I've actually beat him in a stand up fight.  

    Rydell and Scirvir will be tough to choose who goes first.  Scirvir was the recipient of the "shoot him in the face from the rafters technique" most notably and Rydell fell to poison.  

    I will also try my hand with Doran again but if it comes down to a battle in which the only factor is that his defense is crazy high I'm not sure I'll put a lot of stock in this fight.

    I'll probably kill him just for pride.  

    After all that, it will only one False King left.....

    I'd estimate that's just another chapter or two. We really are closing in on the Final Beatdown.

    The gauntlet:

    First off, I need to prepare for end game kinda thingies.  Time to upgrade some stuff.  First order of business, I have a +2 Penetrating Sword.  Let's go to +5.  You may recall I've done White Tendency pretty much everywhere except The Valley.  I didn't get to impress Scirvir with my Dragon Bone Smasher but oh well.  Anyway, long story much much shorter....I blackened some worlds and WHAMMY.....+5 Penetrating sword.  My Kite Shield +2 is replaced by the Dark Silver Shield.  For looks.  I have plenty of upgrade materials.  What should I make?  

    In the end.....I'm doing this for fun.  I'm a swordsman.  Pure and simple.  Dark Souls gets a pass thanks to the awesome Great Scythe but I'm a swordsman.  

    +10 Longsword?  You betcha

    +5 Quality Bastard Sword?  Looking forward to you buddy

    I decide to spend some boss souls.  The only weapon I make is the Blueblood Sword.  I don't have the stats for the magic damage but I make it anyway.  

    Spells I purchase include: Soul ray, poison cloud, acid cloud, light weapon, firestorm, second chance and one or two more maybe.

    So let's get on with it already!

    Round 1:
    Garl Vinland:
    Number of tries: 0
    Equipment: Don't worry about it
    Magic used: Evacuate
    General strategy: Facepalm

    Play by play: With the world in the Valley pure white I decide I might as well face the giant clubbers with that weird spear thing.  They used to give me headaches.  I think there's a group of them up top.  All of that is true now still except for the headache part.  I slaughter them pretty mercilessly and take my latest weapon I have no intention of using.  Fantastic!

    Then I head back to find Black Phantom Garl Vinland.  He's missing.  I quit/reload.  Nothing.  I go back to the Nexus.  Nothing.  I check my world tendency and it looks like it slipped somehow.  I did go back to the Nexus after getting Istarelle and I assume that the server slapped me down a peg.  Crap.  The only good news is that I already punked out regular Garl Vinland and apart from damage and health, there's really nothing new about the fight.  It's a safe bet I would have won, the unanswered question is now how long it would have taken.  Oh well.  I have your awesome armor dude....rock on BP Garl!


    Round 2:
    Selen Vinland
    Number of tries: 3
    Equipment used: Penetrating sword, black leather (Halford armor), Dark Silver Shield, White Bow, wooden catalyst
    Equipment changes: Longsword tags in for penetrating sword
    Magic Used: Light Weapon
    General Strategy: The mud is not your friend, it is her's.....aggression is necessary

    Having been thwarted in my attempts to kill Garl Vinland (again) I go for the consolation prize of killing his sister.  And I'm the good guy somehow.  

    First attempt- I head into the swamp with my Halford armor and poison resistance ring on.  I see her.  She doesn't see me.  On goes Light Weapon.  Since we're still in the Valley of Defilement and this one's too easy as far as innuendo goes.....nah....I think you can figure it out.  Penetrating sword.  Attack from behind.  Do your own darn innuendo!  She gets up and is none too happy.  I forget somehow that my shield is useless and try to use it anyway.  After she has me almost dead I swing wildly to say "Back off lady!"  It works.  Even an R1 stuns her. Interesting.  She rolls away.  I heal.  After a few exchanges I figure out that the best approach is to hit first. I have some success.  I get her down pretty well and she runs off.  And heals.  Crap.  I get her down again and she runs off.  I try to use the bow to interrupt her and she's very good at evading.  Eventually she moves far enough away (I'm still hiding on her island) where she has enough time to heal without interruption.  I try to get aggressive but the R1 combos of the penetrating sword aren't very good at damaging things.  They keep her off balance but it's not a big hurt.  The R2 combos are better but as I fall to the ground dead it's obvious that the stamina cost is an issue and they don't keep her locked away.  She can power through the heavy combo thanks to small gaps between hits.  

    Second attempt- My shield is useless.  I will therefore two hand my sword.  This is not much more effective with this weapon sadly and the R1 combo isn't as good as one handed.  Especially not at stunning.  I go back to one handing it and the battle plays out similarly.  Except at the end I get the bright idea that if I chase after her in the swamp she won't roll side to side so much and I can interrupt her casting.  This turns out to be smart.  However, it turns into a damage exchange and I can't compete with the penetrating sword.  The biggest lesson I took from this try is that, as she's running at you, and she will, it's wise to hit her as she comes in.  So my lesson was timing this to avoid getting hit with her first slash.  

    Third attempt- I have exchanged my Penetrating Sword for a Longsword (which is shorter than the Penetrating Sword, just for reference purposes).  My hope is that this weapon (already at a higher base damage than the Penetrating sword) will be effective two handed.  Also, the beauty of the penetrating sword is stabbing and the R2 combo.  Neither of which seem to have helped a ton here.  I again get the drop on her. I cast Light Weapon. I two hand my longsword.  I enter they fray.  After my initial flurry of strikes she runs off to try to heal.  Lesson learned from past defeats I chase her and catch her with an R1.  She's dead moments later.  

    Round 3-
    Executioner Miralda
    Number of tries: 1
    Equipment used: Bastard Sword, Dark Silver helm/gauntlets/armor/shield, Black leather boots, wooden catalyst
    Magic used: Light Weapon

    Play by play: This one played out pretty much as expected.  She swings that weapon kinda fast but it's too similar to the Black Knight Great Ax.  I could have easily avoided and hit her at my convenience.  I do try to get cute and parry a few times.  I couldn't get that timed right but it's telling that I had plenty of time to heal.  She's just not that imposing I'm supposing.  

    Skarl Krowland

    Round 4-
    Old King Doran
    Number of attempts: 2
    Equipment: same as Miralda, Penetrating Sword tagged in briefly
    Magic Used: Light Weapon, Poison Cloud, Acid Cloud
    General Strategy: Try not to beat my head on a wall as it seems about as interesting at this point

    First attempt- I go in without the cloud spells and see how much damage I can do with the broadsword and Light Weapon.  It's pretty sad actually.  I fast swap to Penetrating and go for the R2 since it has the buffed stab.  Also sad.  I do decent but a combo hits me and I'm done.

    Second attempt- I'm really frustrated by the lack of damage he takes.  I walk in and poison him.  Get a head start.  While that one is burning off I repeatedly cast Acid Cloud on him. I figure if I can break his armor I can hurt him a lot more and I won't feel like the fight is a marathon (which I don't like).  That doesn't work at all.  Ugh.  I go high risk and try to parry the fool.  I get six or seven parries and awesome stabs in.  Combined with the poison damage from earlier I'm in good shape.  Then he heals.  Seriously?  No wonder poison cloud is so popular with this jerk.  I'm pretty dispirited and get careless and he wins again.  

    I'm at the moment equating this fight to learning someone else's song on guitar.  I have the habit of starting strong then putting it down and never returning to the song.  It's simple really.  Some things are real life magic.  Music is one of them.  Hearing someone else play a song anyway.  Once I start learning it, the magic disappears.  Especially if I know I can play it.  Once I face the knowledge that "I can do this" the magic vanishes.  It's not a good feeling and I've mostly stopped trying to learn anything someone else wrote.  This fight seems like that.  I know what he drops.  I know I can parry him relatively well.  I can probably interrupt him from healing.  We'll see if I feel like actually doing it at a later time though.  


    The Grudge:

    Last night I got my chance.  Settle the score with the rest of the Black Phantoms.  Formerly the stuff of nightmares, Selen Vinland had me feeling a little better about things.  Maybe I could pull off three phantoms in one night.

    Why you be faster than me?
    Satsuki
    Number of attempts: 3
    Equipment variations: None.  Bastard sword, mostly Dark Silver armor, wooden catalyst
    Magic: Light Weapon

    My first attempt went about as I expected.  Recon primarily.  I actually didn't do too badly.  I got caught with a combo and hadn't managed my stamina properly.  He used to be much faster than I remember.  I was probably fat rolling to be honest.  I know I fought him head to head and won before and these results aren't too bad.  Definitely feeling good here.  On a side note, when I was suiciding to get Pure Black World Tendency I nailed the falling into the water glitch from the Adjudicator stone the first time.  I tried to replicate it a few times to get recorded but failed every other time.  

    Second attempt, what can I say?  I think I had him but didn't realize that his recovery after that reaaaaaally long thrusting animation isn't the same as it is if I did it.  So essentially he broke my guard with the big time stab and somehow got a second in before I could recover.  Jerk.  

    Third time's the charm.  Knowing I shouldn't eat the stab and managing my stamina better....

    And this fight wasn't all that bad honestly.  My Bastard Sword hits plenty hard (though not as hard as his sword does).  I'm fast enough to avoid his telegraphed attacks.  My shield will block the faster ones.  He only has one option of not getting hit and stunned which is dodging.  I would have felt bad for the guy once he started panic dodging but I just kinda hate him.  So instead of guilt, I smile a little seeing the little orb that indicates his last know whereabouts.  

    Mwah ha ha haa:



    Fireballs in a small room? Come on!
    Scirvir
    Number of attempts: 3 (4 if you count the one time I fell to my death)
    Equipment changes: I swapped in fluted gloves for the Dark Silver for the 1 fire defense.  Dark Silver Shield was removed to make room for the Purple Flame Shield.  
    Magic used: Light Weapon

    First attempt...does Scirvir do ANYTHING that doesn't hit like a tank?  Holy Crap.  How does that little spike he calls a weapon hit like that?  Anyway, I'm doing pretty good.  The big fireball is telegraphed well.  I did take one on the shield which hurt but survivable.  The little fireballs are only a threat if you're not blocking and even then you'll live.  His physical attacks are crazy hard.  This dude is good at everything. Except blocking.  Despite eating a hit here and there I'm doing a good job whittling him down.  Then he hits me with a burst of melee range flame.  And I'm dead.  Just like that. Done.  

    Second attempt is the "maybe I'm really good at dodging that now" attempt.  Similar results to the first attempt.  I'm doing well and an errant use of a Zippo lighter in his hand sends me packing.  

    Third attempt becomes the "let's stop the fire and worry about everything else later" attempt.  I swap out my gloves and my shield and head back down.  This time I'm managing my stamina well again.  I can land combos while leaving enough for a quick skedaddle if necessary.  Before I know it he's trying to heal.  I was in skedaddle mode anticipating the next burst of flame but I still manage to run in and ruin any chance he might have thought he had.  So then, did the Purple Flame Shield actually help me?  Who knows.  I never got to block a fire attack with it besides the little one and that's hard to judge if it was different.  

    Confession time...I don't think I ever beat Black Phantom Scirvir straight up before.  He's so easy to kill with a bow I just go in the habit of that.  It feels good to have done it this time.  

    First time up close and personal:



    You were always better than me
    Rydell
    Number of attempts: 2
    Equipment changes: Back into my Dark Silver getup.  Penetrating Sword makes one hell of a triumphant return here
    Magic: Light weapon

    First attempt- I went into this fight feeling defeated.  While I can't recall having beat Scirvir head to head before I at least know I had tried and didn't feel completely helpless.  Rydell just offers dread.  I tried to fight him before.  I really did.  I even lured him very far toward the level's beginning.  Basically I spent the entire time backpedaling and trying not to die.  He just outclassed me every time.  And he doesn't allow healing generally.  You have to get lucky or back yourself into a cell to buy a few seconds. A few seconds to heal but which will ultimately get you trapped.  So yeah, I knew Rydell was gonna be last.  I felt that, if anything were to make me write a "give up" chapter it would be this fight.  Instead, it's Doran because I simply don't care.

    With all this dread I have to admit I was looking forward to the fight too.  I used to use the Shrine skellies to prove my mettle.  Now they're a joke and Rydell is my test.  

    We met near the corner of the walkway. I sprinted in some to allow for a lot of backpedaling.  Immediately he's aggressive.  His attacks are teelgraphed but they're nonstop.  I question his defensive ability but he's honestly pretty decent AI. So while with some Phantoms (Selen, Scirvir) I felt comfortable with combos to stun them, I'm not so sure it's wise with Rydell.  I start blocking.  I admit I forgot the stats and characteristics on his weapon. I was hoping it was something my shield could handle.  Clearly...it is.  Even better, he does recoil quickly after hitting the shield.  I start to win the fight.  I'm stunning him more and more.  He does a spin attack that I was not able to interrupt with my bastard sword.  It hurts.  Bad.  He's not letting me heal.  I try to get him to back off and he lands the hit instead.  Round 1 is over.  

    I noticed something though and want to make an adjustment.  I go back to the Penetrating Sword.  I noticed that I often hit a wall with the Bastard Sword's wide swings and missed some attacks.  Not wanting to leave any damage on the table to feel bad about I seek to rely on the glorious stab.  

    Second attempt- Turns out my observation was correct.  I missed exactly zero times with the Penetrating Sword.  The walls weren't a factor.  For me.  Still though, he wants to fight.  He hits me with light attacks a couple times. At this point we're near the door leading back to the stairs.  I lure him into the semi open and then roll past him to get back to the walkway.  He dodges into a cell inexplicably and I take the time to heal.  The fight continues and I'm winning and doing my best no to feel too excited.  He takes a swing and HIS weapon hits the wall.  I lunge in and Rydell is no more.  

    awesome feeling:



    I check the stats on his weapon and breathe a sigh of relief that I brought the right shield.  

    My goal is clear.  The end is in sight.  I might make a pit stop along the way but the only thing between me and eternal glory (even though I've done this before) is The False King.   Get ready Allant...I'm coming for you.  

    chapter 15 kingPvE :

    The King is Dead by Megadeth

    The False King awaits me.  My last challenge.  The end of the road for all intents and purposes.  I have some souls.  Enough for a few levels.  I end up with enough slots for Firestorm and enough magic to use it once.  Adding some fragrant Old Spice to my on queue collection I head out for the finale.  

    I'm torn between excitement and sadness.  

    At the Penetrator Archstone...perhaps for the last time...I make quick work of three archers.  The Red Eye Knight is next to fall.  Two more archers.  An assassin.  One more Red Eye.  Lastly, two ministers.  They look like they're chuckling with some great secret.  It must be great in order to laugh through the pain of that many arrows.  

    I take a last look at the carnage a Blue Dragon once caused.  

    An invasion message, something unheard of in this playthrough, appears.  For a second I think I'll accept the challenge.  Two things stop me.  I'd rather not go head to head with a guy with 99 of every grass and some weapon combo that's far more effective than I'm willing to put forth the effort to figure out.  But mostly, this is my time.  Not theirs.  Mine.  And glory is just ahead.  

    I can almost see Ostrava's lingering shadow on the steps.  I can still envision him, wreathed in red bearing down on me on the narrow walkway.  

    I'm at the elevator and peace of mind.  I have no clue where the spawn points are for invaders here.  I'm confident that the elevator and King's chamber aren't it though.  

    One button.  A single "X" is the only barrier left.  I enter the fog with this solitary small movement.  

    For those of you who have been here before, you know how this fight goes.  I momentarily thought I'd list the pertinent facts like I did with the Black Phantom duels.  But all of us know that there's no justice in simple facts, no beauty.  

    The False King is no ordinary battle.  It deserves better.  

    The battle starts with surprising quickness. Should you survive this initial assault, you are greeted with something unique.  Coldness.  Calculating and methodical, this boss is like no other in this game.  Sure, there are "slow" bosses.  But the King is not slow.  When he wants to be, he is right on you.  There are other bosses that react to you.  But not like the King.  The slow walk.  The stare.  Every bit of his posture and being is intimidating.  

    He isn't big enough to make you feel like a mouse.  But somehow, he makes you feel smaller than that.  

    What can I say about the fight itself?  That he managed to take three levels away from me?  That Firestorm in the hands of a beginning mage is generally less effective than the blade?  That I'm not sure if my kunai can poison him because I can't use them fast enough to feel confident he's immune?  

    That all happened.  It's part of the battle.  But this boss transcends the individual movements that the fight actually "is."  It rises above the clash of steel.  

    So what can I say about the fight itself?  

    Two beings collided in a world far above Boletaria.  Destiny is such that only one was meant to leave alive.  Though the fight weakened me, I emerged victorious.  

    and let the sun bathe over me:


    I took the time to adjust the camera.  Happy now Pendant?

    I returned to the Nexus and was greeted by a thunderous crash. The Maiden in Black reached out to me as if an offer of an embrace.  Instead, I was dragged into the void below.  

    How many of us pictured the Old One a thousand times before this moment?  I know I did.  Did any of us get it right?  I did not.  The beauty is awe inspiring.  Can this truly be a demon?  I am welcomed inside and meet the real King.  The one to pity.  

    I've been in a position in which hearing video games has been difficult for several years.  I am taken aback when I hear the real King.  The clarity is something I had not experienced the first several times I was here.  This, coupled with his feeble attempts to wield such a mighty weapon make it hard to win this battle.  But mercy and compassion lend itself to the same conclusion as greed and hatred. He should die.  

    I am asked to leave.  So the Old One can go back to sleep.  I am inclined to allow this.  Surely the majestic beast cannot be truly evil.  I am too enamored of it's existence for this to be.  

    I am given a few last words, and am told that the Nexus shall trap me no longer...

    Spoiler:

    As I turn my back on her, I forgive the lie.



    Last edited by skarekrow13 on Tue Sep 03, 2013 12:59 pm; edited 14 times in total

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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by skarekrow13 on Mon Jul 08, 2013 11:32 pm

    Updated with Chapter Two and another interlude

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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by Sentiel on Tue Jul 09, 2013 4:13 am

    I'm literally crying with laughter in here. lol!
    +1. cheers

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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by Reaperfan on Tue Jul 09, 2013 5:42 am

    I love your writing style, man.  You're hilarious most of the time, and deep other times.  Because Skeletons indeed happy


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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by befowler on Tue Jul 09, 2013 11:20 am

    Haha, glorious.  I have little to add, but here it is:

    1)  Yes, the unarmed miners can try to punch you if you harrass them enough.  If you then parry them, they look like they are striking disco poses.

    2)  On my own new playthrough, in 4-1 I noticed for the first time that the rolling/archer skeletons' eyes light up when you approach, and then the light disappears when you kill them.  In other words, they are just animated by someone else (scythe dude in 4-2?) and otherwise are just inanimate bodies like everything else in the wreckage.  So don't feel too bad about not noticing the stonefang switch for a while, heh.


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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by skarekrow13 on Tue Jul 09, 2013 11:52 am

    It's funny because I recalled (incorrectly obviously) all of the miners being aggressive.  It was probably my tendency to kill the ones holding the bags thinking they dropped good loot or something.  Now that I'm older and wiser I can see how that might make a difference.  

    You have no idea (ok, yeah you probably do) HOW BADLY I wanted to find that switch.  It seemed pretty obvious that the elevator was the way to get the shiny near the boulder throwers.  And of course you can see the elevator.  It taunted me.  After not finding it initially I did the entire area thinking I would come to that area from the top and the elevator would be a shortcut to the beginning.  It wasn't until a million tries later and my augite of guidance (aka, left hip) was just so that I found it.  Biggest facepalm ever for me.

    EDIT: And thanks for the comments everyone. I'm not sure I'll get to play tonight (I might be bringing work home with me) but if I do, I think I'll head deeper into Stonefang.

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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by skarekrow13 on Wed Jul 10, 2013 12:41 pm

    Chapter 3 is up!

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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by WhatDoesThePendantDo? on Wed Jul 10, 2013 1:12 pm

    Sexy travels.happy 

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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by Hugh_G_Johnson on Wed Jul 10, 2013 5:01 pm

    WhatDoesThePendantDo? wrote:Sexy travels.happy 

    confused  I didn't see anything about Yuria yet...


    Good work, Skare!  I'm enjoying Popcorn reading about your adventures. PvE  And don't feel bad about the elevator -- I think I missed the switch, wrote it off for later and then totally forgot about it for a couple of playthroughs. blushing 


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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by skarekrow13 on Wed Jul 10, 2013 7:02 pm

    Lol. That sounds familiar Hugh. It's a bring work home night so unless I type really fast, I might not have more tales tonight

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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by skarekrow13 on Fri Jul 12, 2013 5:02 pm

    Alright, I've had to bring work home the last couple nights (and this weekend) but I will try to play tonight. Still unsure as to which location but it's on tonight!

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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by befowler on Fri Jul 12, 2013 5:15 pm

    Sweet, feel free to grab me for coopery as needed if I'm on (and sl compatible).  Also, have you stayed human for any of these zones?  I was getting a surprisingly high level of invasions.


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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by skarekrow13 on Fri Jul 12, 2013 5:59 pm

    I've been human after each boss until I met a natural death. No invasions yet. I might be able to do some coop. I'm in the 20s. At the very least make a postcard with you

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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by twigsterxd on Sat Jul 13, 2013 10:17 am

    LOL you couldn't find the switch? And I thought MY tv was crap. Just curious, did you find Ed and his switch happy

    So far so funny.


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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by skarekrow13 on Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:17 pm

    It sadly wasn't even a TV problem. I just never angled my camera correctly apparently

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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by skarekrow13 on Sat Jul 13, 2013 3:55 pm

    Chapter 4 is up

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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by Sentiel on Sat Jul 13, 2013 6:42 pm

    Simply epic. big grin

    Hey, can I join as well?
    Pwetty pwease with sugar on top?

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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by skarekrow13 on Sun Jul 14, 2013 1:04 am

    I was thinking of a little more cooperative online play for variation but it might be after some more leveling. At 28 currently but I'll likely be adding some soon.

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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by Sentiel on Sun Jul 14, 2013 3:39 am

    I got a SL 30 noob invader build that I can use. silly
    I won't use no OP weapons, I promise.

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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by densetsushun on Sun Jul 14, 2013 6:21 am

    Sentiel wrote:I got a SL 30 noob invader build that I can use. silly
    I won't use no OP weapons, I promise.
    Traitor! You're supposed to tour Boletaria with Fin and I sad


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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by Sentiel on Sun Jul 14, 2013 6:36 am

    densetsushun wrote:
    Sentiel wrote:I got a SL 30 noob invader build that I can use. silly
    I won't use no OP weapons, I promise.
    Traitor! You're supposed to tour Boletaria with Fin and I sad
    confused 



    I made a new toon to play with Fin and you. I just can't get online with you two at the same time. I still have my SL 30 I made to invade lowbies, which I'd like to use to make myself famous in Scare's epic story. 'Tis all.

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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by skarekrow13 on Sun Jul 14, 2013 9:11 am

    We'll see what level I end up at. I'll likely do a couple sections solo first and then I'll let you know

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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

    Post by densetsushun on Sun Jul 14, 2013 10:25 am

    Oh, I completely forgot Senty, unless you have a US version you won't be able to play with him anyway silly


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    Re: Back to Boletaria: The Tale of a Born Again n00b

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