Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cast of the Night Forest

Last night's tweets;

Gather spell components after its dark.
Rats are too fast for you to pick flowers.
Wolves stand in the road through the western park.
Making one good bouquet could take hours.

It'd been eating me since I was last at Tim's that I was having such a hard time playing Oblivion at the hardest level of difficulty, so when I went to his house last night I made a new character designed to be as deadly as possible. Some might go the big sword and big armour route, but actually Oblivion has a fantastic system for making poisons--a high Alchemy skill combined with high numbers in Sneak, Marksman, and Illusion means you can not only kill but even humiliate the hardest monsters without taking a single hit yourself. I once defeated the main plot's boss by dropping my invisibility spell behind him to fire an arrow bearing a poison that permanently damages strength, completely immobilising him. And of course there are poisons that damage any attribute, including poisons that simply suck out health at a rapid rate.

But playing at the hardest level of difficulty makes the game a lot more exciting, as sneaking through the woods at night to gather nightshade, flax seeds, and a variety of other ingredients to level up in Alchemy, there's always a danger of a wolf or giant rat springing out from the brush.

I'd been trying to switch to a schedule that saw me sleeping from 4am to noon, but last night I lay awake until 6am and woke up at 3pm. My damned topsy-turvy circadian rhythm.

I got up at one point and read more of War and Peace--Rostov, the naive young soldier still at home and finding himself losing big money gambling and having to ask his father for the money. Tolstoy's rendering of character through reactions to situations continues to be wonderful--Rostov being more frightened of facing his father than he was of facing enemy troops, feeling a sudden, bitter outsider's perspective on the happiness of his family around him. The book's never bound to any single character's point of view, roaming in one segment around the room to check several characters' reactions to Rostov's poorly concealed discomfort--Sonya picking up immediately on it, and Natasha picking up on it and subconsciously convincing herself she wasn't picking up on it because she'd rather not have the good evening spoiled. If she'd been thinking on a more conscious level, one senses Natasha's too sweet a person to ignore her brother's plight, but her observation remains just below the surface of thought. The roaming POV never manages to feel awkward, and though it does call attention somewhat to the third person narrator, it has the charm of indicating a vague, incidental character a lot of 19th century novels seem to have.

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