Letters From Tamriel

An epistolary gaming blog

Welcome to Letters from Tamriel

As players of The Elder Scrolls games well know, no situation in Tamriel is so dire that one cannot take a moment to jot down a few notes in a journal or letter to a loved one, perhaps including three-fifths of a puzzle solution for those who might come along later.

In this spirit, Letters from Tamriel will feature the epistolary fiction of my characters from Elder Scrolls Online, writing home with tales of their adventure and intrigue.  Those letters will be interspersed with my discussions of game mechanics, TES history and backstories, and other ESO-related topics.  Start with the Category “About This Site”, or pick a character and click their Category to read through their letters sequentially.

Pull up a chair, grab a sweetroll, and enjoy!

@Zells

Excuses, Midyear Mayhem, and a Screencap

@Zells - sepia stone - smallIt’s very nearly August; I have no idea how that happened.  Time is a concept I don’t fully understand.

Excuses
Lately the time I usually spend on posts has been soaked up by a couple of things:

1) I am still obsessively doing research to fine-tune Zellfire’s build and have learned a ton about meta building along the way.  I might do a post on meta builds, because even though I’m far from an expert, and there’s a lot of information already out there, most of it is that “give a man a fish” type of advice – “here’s a build, do it this way”.  And that’s a good place to start, but when I hear people discussing how they can’t get past this or that threshold, it’s because they don’t understand how the meta information fits together and/or are doing something they were told to do that doesn’t work for them.

2) My other distraction is that I have an IRL friend who will hopefully be joining ESO soon, and I’ve been emailing them “Beginner’s Guide to ESO” information.  I may do a series of linked posts with those write-ups.  There were so many things I learned eventually but would have loved to have known sooner: stable training, crafting research, how zone sets drop….  I’d like to provide a source of basic starter information for someone who doesn’t yet know how to ask Google for specific things.

Midyear Mayhem is underway!
Midyear Mayhem is the latest holiday event, and it’s PvP themed.  I kind of have a love/hate relationship with PvP.  I do enjoy it once I’m in Cyro – even when I’m dying – but most of the time when I think of going it sounds… stressful.  I’ve also heard complaints about the purely code-driven aspects of the event – achievements not recording, servers crashing, queues in the hundreds, various other things.  I’ve experienced most of that myself.  I have started doing the event achievements, but for the first time I don’t know that I’ll finish them all, even on one character.

Having said all that, I think it’s a well-designed event, for the most part.  Part of the devs job is to get people to try content they’re avoiding, and I like that they’re giving incentives to give PvP a try.  And I really do want that laurel crown.  So I guess this weekend I’ll take a deep breath and give Battlegrounds a try even though I find the idea super intimidating and have been putting it off.  Way to go, devs, ya got me.

If you see me in Cyrodil or in a Battleground this weekend, wave hi before you kill me.  🙂

(Just being friendly!  Not at all an opportunity for me to get another couple of seconds to run!)

Screencaps
This week I sorted through a bunch of my screencaps and added new ones to my computer’s slideshow.  Here’s one of my favorites.  Happy Friday!

Screenshot_20170708_202243

DPS Build Tweaking

@Zells - sepia stone - smallFor the last few months I’ve been working on getting my dps game up to the next level.  Or, to be honest, any level at all.  I originally made all my skill choices for RP reasons – Zellfire has been a fire mage for twenty years; she’s part fire atronach, she uses fire.  I was a little disappointed that the mage skill lines include a shock-based line (Storm Calling) but no fire-based skills.

In the solo games, the choice of element was purely aesthetic, but what I’ve found in ESO is that Zellfire just isn’t effective using only fire-based Inferno Staff skills – the Storm Calling line has serious advantages, and not using it really hamstrung me in terms of end-game performance.  The first time I tested my dps numbers against a training dummy, I was under 6K.  Which did get me through solo/PvE content, but in end-game… sucks.  I couldn’t pull my weight in group-play, and that was not acceptable.

It took me quite a while to fix the build, because in addition to farming gear, I also had to put Storm Calling on my bar and raise it first – when I started this merry up-my-game adventure, my Storm Calling skill was 3, even though ‘Fire was at the CP cap.  I had literally never used it and couldn’t even buy most of the spells.  I had to raise the skill line, level the spells themselves, learn how to use them, respec her skill points, her CP, and completely change her gear…

Finally got the build to a point where I felt like I might be approaching “competent”.  So I installed the combat metrix add-on and went out to farm dolmens and see where my numbers were.  Most of my dolmen-boss fights ended up in the 17-28K range, which actually is mostly-sort-of-competent, go me.

But also – this happened, and I’m still giggling about it:

DPS 60K 2

60K DPS!  This is what statisticians call an “outlier”.

Screenshot or it didn’t happen, right?  Totally a freak moment, but for a little over a second there, I was a serious badass. 🙂

In real terms, I’m still not quite where I could be / want to be, but after studying the numbers, I’m pretty sure I know what needs to be adjusted.  I need to farm Burning SpellWeave gear (because I’m not letting go of fire damage without a fight, dammit), so I’ve spent some time this week watching YouTube vids of City of Ash runs.  There were several “solo run” vids, and those players were running various kinds of combat-stats add-ons, so I could see their numbers.  Their dps was better than mine, but not by a huge margin.  I decided to try it myself and see how it went.
First solo
This is ‘Fire, standing over the body of the final boss in City of Ash.  I totally did it, my first solo run through a group dungeon.  I burned through about 20 soul gems on the Warden mini-boss, but Razor Master Erthas went down the first attempt.  Don’t know if you can see the HP, but I was down to 5.6% when he fell.  I was also on fire and was so excited I didn’t realize it.  All the mobs were down, so it didn’t really matter, but by the time I figured out I was still taking damage and jumped into the water, I was at .2%.

I can still say I cleared the end boss without dying, though. 🙂

I need a full set of BSW gear.  I need practice in the dungeons with groups so I know where to stand and when to run and where to run and which enemy to attack and how to better coordinate with the tanks and healers.  But I’m getting there.

Before I wrap this up, I have to say: I ❤ my Grothdarr set.  The first time it proc’d and the lava pool erupted around ‘Fire’s feet, I was so happy and caught up in how cool it was I quit paying attention to the fight and got ‘Fire killed.  Poor Zellfire, she tries so hard, but her player has the attention span of a squir – oh, look, something shiny!

 

Happy Friday, everyone, and happy hunting!

ESO Community Spotlight: Naryu cosplay

@Zells - sepia stone - smallThe Elder Scrolls Online website is going to be doing a series called “Community Spotlight” where they highlight fan art.  The first in the series focuses on a Naryu Virian cosplay that is amazing.  Really stunning craftsmanship.  If you haven’t seen the article, I highly recommend you go take a look:
ESO Community Spotlight – Valara Atran’s Naryu Cosplay  

In other news, this is the point where I say “wow, I haven’t posted in a while, how does ‘time’ work again?”.  <puts ‘Letters post’ on to-do list>

my toy arrived

In every character house I’ve mod’d, there has always been a miniature Centurion sitting on a shelf or display somewhere, about a one-foot scale, if it’s sitting on a bookshelf.

Now there’s a one-foot scale Centurion sitting on MY real-life bookshelf.  I am way too old to be this deeply happy about a toy, but here we are. 🙂

Morrowind unboxing pic

There are many Centurions like it, but this one is mine.

Lore: Lorkhan’s Tears

In ESO’s Alchemy system, plants you harvest can be mixed with waters (“solvents”) to create potions. The kind of water determines the level of the potion: “Natural Water” makes lvl 3 pots, and the highest level of water for CP pots is called “Lorkhan’s Tears”.

A while back someone in guild chat asked: “Who is this Lorkhan dude, and why is he crying?” My first response was “The answer to that question is the plot of Morrowind” because for me all roads lead back to Morrowind. But there’s a longer, better answer, deeply rooted in Elder Scrolls mythology, and I’ve had requests for lore posts, so we’ll start here. Turns out Zellur’ra is a bit of a bard, and she’s going to tell us a story of Lorkhan.

Caveat: “A” story of Lorkhan, because each of the races has their own mythology and interpretation of cosmic events, and there is much contradiction in the lore. Lorkhan’s myths are particularly confusing to follow through in-game books, b/c depending on the race’s perspective, some see him as a savior/creator deity, yet some see him as an evil figure, the cause of mortality itself, and therefore, the instigator of all mortal suffering. To deepen the confusion, each race calls him by a different name – to the Khajiit he is Lorkhaj, (as in “the Maw of”), but the Nords call him Shor.  Zellur’ra is Khajiit, but this is not the Khajiit myth; this version most closely follows the Imperial tale, though the Imperials call him Shezzar.

And now that I’ve thoroughly confused everyone, Zellur’ra can take over… Read more…

Early-release Morrowind is live

@Zells - sepia stone - smallI walked around Vivec City last night, literally crying the whole time. It’s so beautiful, and it is crazy how much it feels like home. I said something in zone chat about my eyes leaking, and immediately chat was filled with people saying they were crying, too.  I wanted to collectively hug everyone, including (especially) the devs.

I have nothing coherent to say, sorry. By the time the patch finished DLing it was pretty late, and I spent very little time on Vvardenfell. I wrapped up a couple of things with the character I want to take to Morrowind, started the starter quest, but then teleported to Vivec City instead of Sayda Neen because I wanted to see it more than I wanted to do the quest.  Promptly began crying, and wandered around the city just looking at things way past the time I should have gone to bed.  Never did even finish the starter quest.

It’s true. It’s real. It’s Morrowind. I can’t even.

I used to always get turned around and lost in the cantons because the layouts are identical.  I got lost last night and had to pull up the map to figure out how to get out, and even that made me happy in a perverse way.  “Aww, I’m lost in the cantons! It’s just like old times! I really am in Vivec City!” Absolutely. Ridiculous. This post could have been “omg omg omg <sniffle>” 200 times. So… I guess this is the “restrained” version.  You’re welcome?

Actual Content next time – I’m going to start doing posts about TES lore, and I have one almost ready about Lorkhan, which was super fun to put together. In the meantime, may all your lootz be legendary. 🙂

Hunding’s Oasis: Pt 5, Back Patio

Zells note – This will be the last post of the house tour for Hunding’s Oasis. This is an especially challenging area to screencap because I deliberately placed the pieces so not everything can be seen at the same time – I wanted to give the sense that there was always something cool right around the corner to pull people along.  Also, I wanted to make good use of the huge space, so many the pieces are large, and often require a long shot to be seen properly.  Really, the best way to see the area is to port in – if you’ve read this far, consider yourself invited, it’s my primary residence. 🙂

Previous posts in the tour can be found via these links:
Part 0: Prologue
Part 1: Entryway
Part 2: Courtyard
Part 3: Interior Downstairs
Part 4: Interior Upstairs

Thanks for everyone who has read and commented on this indulgent series of posts!  (In game, I mean, but fyi, you are allowed to comment on the posts themselves. 🙂 )  I will now turn things over to your tour guide, Zellur’ra, except for the picture captions. Read more…

Hunding’s Oasis: pt 4, Interior Upstairs

Zells note: The house tour begins with Part 0: Prologue, and continues in Part 1: Entryway, Part 2: Courtyard, Part 3: Interior Downstairs, and Part 5: Back Patio. I will now turn things over to your tour guide, Zellur’ra, except for the picture captions.

Although guests are never allowed upstairs without an escort, you are most fortunate to have come at a time when our lady Nyx is away from the Oasis, and that means this one is able to show you the master suite. Follow me upstairs and we’ll explore. Read more…

Hunding’s Oasis: pt 3, Interior Downstairs

Zells note: The house tour begins with Part 0: Prologue and continues in Part 1: Entryway, and Part 2: Courtyard. It continues in Part 4: Interior Upstairs and Part 5: Back Patio. I will now turn things over to Zellur’ra, your tour guide, except for the captions on the pictures.

You must be sun-dazzled and road-weary from your journey to Hunding’s Oasis.  Come! Let us step into the cool shade of the house and enjoy its delights. Read more…

Event Catch-Up: Wild Hunt, Jester’s Fest, Happy Birthday, ESO!

@Zells - sepia stone - smallI’ve been having so much fun playing with my dollhouse I haven’t done much of anything else.  (Downstairs is done now, hopefully will have the next post up tomorrow or next week.)  But for now…

Wild Hunt Crown Crates – RNG is a bizarre mistress.  Bipolar, gives mixed signals, yet here we all are, courting her.  Back in December I had some Christmas money, and decided to buy a big pack of the storm crates. Didn’t have much luck, as I described – 15 crates, no mount, very few big items, ended up converting all I could to gems and buying the belly dancer veil that way.  Wasn’t impressed. Of the available treats in the Wild Hunt crates, I wanted two: the methrot multicolored hair, and the ancestor moths pet.  I had gems left over from before, so I got 4 more crates, and could convert enough trash into gems to get the methrot hair, but not enough for the moths.  However, I did much, much better in terms of getting the high-end prizes: an apex mount (the wolf), two pets, the leaf aura, and the Hircine banner.  Nice, but I wouldn’t have bought any of those outright, and I’d absolutely trade in both pets for the ancestor moths.  In other words, whether I do well or not, I’m still ambivalent about Crown Crates. Grade: C+

Jester’s Festival – Hm.  On the plus side, like with the New Life fest, I love how it was integrated into the world lore; it felt like something that was really happening in Tamriel.  On the other hand, I got super tired of doing those 3 quests, and quit after only 1 character had the full achievement, compared to the 5-7 each for the Halloween and New Life fests.  And partly I bailed because distribution on the drops was so off – I have ~20 of those Jester banners now, and I wasn’t excited about the other prizes.  Jester’s wasn’t my favorite so far, but it was a fun little diversion, and not every holiday event has to be huge.  Grade: B-

2nd Anniversary Party! (for ESO’s 3rd birthday, lol) – This was great.  No caveats, no “buts”.  Fantastic set-up.  Hooking the rewards to dailies meant every player could play/celebrate the way we each wanted, but there was still a group element, because players were grouping for dungeons and WBs.  And there was incentive to participate, because the rewards in the boxes were real rewards – pre-existing, highly-sought items people already wanted, and not simply event-related gimmicks.  Even the “trash” in the boxes were still useful (mats can be sold, if not needed), and seemed skewed towards housing mats (yay). In addition to sacraments/heists, guild, and WB dailies, I did a hella lot of writs because those were the fastest dailies, and as a crafter I had 9 alts already certified in all 6 crafts.  (9×6=56/day, which I did several times, and yeah, it took hours.) Normally I don’t do writs on the alts with lower-level skills, but for the low price of maple or iron, I got another present box with a chance of a great motif page.  Picked up a lot of Akiviri, Celestial, Glass, and alliance motif pages, in addition to the more common ones.  Happy birthday, indeed! Grade: A

As a general rule, I like the events, and I like having incentive to do particular things to help break me out of ruts.  I have to admit, however, that after New Life, the Jester’s Fest, and the birthday party, I am looking forward to just playing the game for a while. And by “a while” I mean: less than 5 weeks ’til Morrowind!

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