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Gretchen S.
Sleepy sloth
Sleepy sloth

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Bioware Binge: Jade Empire

I realized that I didn't want to dig into the Mass Effect series without playing Jade Empire first, on the theory that it's hard to go back to older games and engines when I've played the later ones.

I've already played Neverwinter Nights (which I was quite meh on because of the redundant dialog trees and my disappointment over the limited and convoluted ability to build levels) and two runs of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, as well as most of a Dragon Age: Origins run that ended ignominiously when my power supply ate my motherboard which corrupted my disk (I had backups, but by the time I got that system fixed, I had lost track of where I was in the campaign) so I'm familiar with the morality systems that Bioware builds, and while a lot of their characters are rather trope-y I do enjoy that they often seem to have their own conflicting agendas and of course what I live for, snarky dialog.

I'm only into chapter two of Jade Empire, but I'm sort of musing on how it would feel to do one of these games not as the Special One, but as the Special One's friend who is quite good at martial arts. Perhaps this is because I'm liking Dawn Star a lot (I'm doing a goody-good run and since everyone told me we've been BFFs I'm playing that way, and she's a sweetie if you play as friends) and think it would be nice to have her be the Special One, what with her magical senses, and me along for the ride. Perhaps this is Chosen One fatigue? But I'm wondering how the game would change if my character weren't fated or destined, but just happened to be good friends with someone who was, and then worked very hard on martial arts to be able to help out.

The martial arts system in the game is interesting, but I find the controls a bit awkward and frustrating, and the fighting feels a little floaty and disconnected. Perhaps I'll get used to it as I progress. I've been taking Dawn Star as my party member whenever possible (we ARE BFFs after all) and setting her mostly on support, as it's easier to manage healing if she's feeding my character chi.

It's tropetastic but at least in a Hong Kong movie trope way, so it's nice to see different tropes in my fantasy game. I also like the divergence in tech, with cool dragonfly-like flyers. It's also holding up pretty well visually; it's by no means state of the art graphics, but the visual design makes the most of the available graphics, and there are a lot of striking scenes.

The morality system is the usual thing where you can't really go for nuance; you are mechanically aided by either being super nice or by being a total jerk. This is a bit of a shame; I'd like to see a more nuanced morality system that doesn't punish shades of gray characters. But it's always interesting to see how the same game can fit for such different approaches. (If it can? I felt kind of dragged into some choices on my Dark Side run of KOTOR.) I'm not sure if I'm going to do a jerk run of this game or not; I'll decide when I've finished my nice run. I have a lot of jerk fatigue right now so signs point to nope, but we'll see.
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The Game That Punishes You For Not Logging In Daily

I've been really out of it for a few days and now I'm actually afraid to log in and see the shambles that the accelerated entropy/decay that is Wurm has left of whatever it was I was doing last time I was on.

I'm... not sure this is sustainable for me; all of the entropy seems to just depress me, and I spend most of each play session just reacting to or fixing or anticipating decay, which ties me up so I don't feel like I get to do much "new" stuff that I would like to do, like exploration; it's mostly just daily maintenance plus frantically trying to finish a project that will make the entropy slightly less hard to deal with before I have to sleep, and the daily grind was a big part of why I quit WoW (the other reason was griefers.) I may need to go back to building games where things don't rot instantly if you miss a few days, because... that is just a Wurm thing, even on-deed. I looked around and there are no mods to soften decay.

The parts I like, I like very much, but it just takes TOO LONG to do everything, or even to set things up so that entropy is a little less devastating, and any day missed compounds that. Plus I spend an UNCONSCIONABLE amount of time juggling inventory. I cannot even imagine how people could stand this game at 1x/1x, given how slow progress seems even sped up at Wulflandia's level. Most of what I've been doing in the last few sessions has been trying to deal with entropy, and yeah, I can't get ahead of it, not even when I'm able to play every day, and hence my complete lack of desire to log in now that I can.

The thing I want to do the most (breeding for speed horses) is basically defeated by lack of infrastructure; I pushed into a relapse by trying to frantically build up enough infrastructure to get that feasible. A game that makes me behave like that is not actually a game I should be playing long term, no matter if I enjoy it in the moment; it will entice me into bad patterns of behavior and make me sick over and over again.

I'm happy to make Flora available as an alt (there's an importer so you can grab all of her current settings and put them on another character, or you might be able to edit the database so she uses someone else's Steam ID instead of mine; there are ways to switch characters over.) So if you want someone on tap with enough AH to see bad traits, I recommend that, as it's a fair amount of work to get that much AH, and otherwise you'll have bad traits creep into your next generation even if all you are going for is colors and maybe some lucky bonus traits. I recommend NOT trying to breed for speed horses with the current server population; it would take at least one dedicated breeder and a backup for when they're not available, to care for them. But you can breed for colors just fine, and there's already half the colors available in the pasture assuming that the colored foals didn't all die off in the last few days. (A Wurm likelihood, gah; the last time I was on I had to quarantine four animals; this is a lot of why I am dreading logging in and quite honestly contemplating simply uninstalling the game entirely.) Flora is at 23 Faith so not terribly far from being a priest of Fo, though not terribly close either given diminishing returns. But it's probably the easiest way to get a priest of Fo in the village.

If you go down to a simple dairy/sheep flock (say 2-4 cows and 2-4 ewes), don't breed those, and just use wild caught stock to replace that (or care for them when they hit venerable), you'll stay in cheese and milk and wool without having the cows take up so much room, and can use the remaining space for breeding colored horses. You will need 2 sets of parents (assuming they're all 2nd gen) for each color you want to prevent inbreeding, if you want them to breed at all true; otherwise you're getting a lot of random grays in the mix, since 2nd gens aren't supposed to breed very true so won't reliably produce foals of the same color. Speed horses adds two sets of parents for the speed traits (and extras for speed traits that aren't combined into parent stock yet, which can be as many as five if there aren't any lucky groupings of speed traits), and also extra parents for each of the beneficial but not-speed traits that need to be conserved for later, which is why speed horses are so space intensive and why I don't recommend it with the current setup; there's just not enough space to keep enough founders to do it right.)

You can probably afford to keep a breeding pair of pigs to keep you in bacon, if you don't want to rely on wild-caught bacon for recipes. Traits don't really matter, so just keep breeding them at venerable, or replace them with new wild caughts as they become available. If you want a guaranteed source of hides, do something similar with the cattle, where you add one bull and simply slaughter the new cattle once they hit full growth for their hides.

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Concept Sketches For Wulfpark Square

Looking for already pretty flat areas big enough to build in, here's what I ended up with:


A 1-story or 2-story smithy/carpentry/pottery/workshop across the square from the Common House, which I've shown in Rendered Stone, but which could look equally handsome in Plain Stone or Pottery Brick. I've shown pictures of both the 1-story and the 2-story version. In this one I've done a more airy "rustic" open feeling bottom floor, with archways closed up with iron fences on both ends of the enclosed/lockable area; there's a detail shot of that in the pictures. This can go back to walls if preferred, of course.

As before, imagine that the forge has been pulled out to overlap the pillar of the T-wall so it looks like it's built right into the building, and that the large storage units are BSB and crate racks as they are more likely to be. (Though we might want to put an LSU in there, too, as it can take large things that won't fit into other storage. I'm not a fan of coffin storage unless it's out of sight, roomy as coffins may be.)

The smelter is left next to the mine, or in the mine next to a vein, so that we're only hauling lumps up the hill, not ore. It keeps the small crate next to it for storing fuel. We could also expand this area a bit and have it be the charcoal pile area. That turns the area we were thinking of for the smithy, which is quite hilly so not suitable for a 2x3, into a suitable location for a 1x2 shack, and I'd like to plant it as an orchard if we don't have anything better to do with it. (I propose apples, but since it's in a very visible part of town, everyone's favorite looking fruit or nut tree should go in here; chestnuts might be better and will also screen the smelter and mine from view a bit.)

The oak is planted intentionally in order to keep some of the hillside clear betwen the workshop and smithy. I've done minimal grading to make the slope climbable to take a shortcut when not dragging a cart.


This features convenient grazing for plenty of horses (with the hitching post on the corner nearest the Common House, and maybe a second if need be at the other corner fronting the square), with accommodation for hitched teams as well as saddle horses. I'm showing it with enchanted grass because that's my eventual goal, but it'll start off with regular, of course. It holds six riding horses in stalls, and has housing for two people upstairs (or more if they want to share rooms.) Separating the riding/carting from the dairy/breeding will make it less likely that someone grabs a breeding horse for use and gets it eaten, and it eases up grazing pressure on the pasture.

I guessed on the well location but the square's inlaid pattern can be modified to work the off-center well in nicely, I think. I really like the look of pottery brick in there.
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+Lance Allen kindly surveyed the land and told me the elevation drop between the common house and the barn, so I've played around with the elevation tool in deed planner and worked out some terraces that I don't think will be too onerous to get around in.

In order to balance the look of the barn against the larger stable, I've added a tile to each end of the L shape to give it a little more size and mass. The entire square that the L defines will be leveled to barn elevation so it can house a critter or two, as well as some saddle horses. All of the dairy animals can live in or next to the barn, but the horse breeding project is going to take a lot of pairs to keep from inbreeding into three generations, so I've put a lot of pens in along the back two walls of the pasture relative to the Common House.

The terraced pens can be used for temporary storage of a few animals, or one inhabitant max, haying, and some trees, because the AI keeps jamming animals down at the bottom of slopes -- we can't house even two animals in a sloped pen permanently, I think, though they're fine for birthing/temp housing of young with their mom. It will have a large open area in the middle to try to keep some of the pastured feel, while still having enough pens to run a proper breeding program. If I run tight of pens for keeping all of the trait lines going (it can happen because we're juggling both color and useful traits) then I'll start housing breeding stallions elsewhere; it's really only crucial to have the mothers handy and on-deed (it vastly reduces maternal death and miscarriage.)

There's plenty of room for putting saddle horses, too, though I might put some more grassy squares in convenient to places we're using like the workshop, around the hitching post, etc. We should likely have a spot for a hitched cart or two down by the dock, so we can haul down to the dock, then leave the cart to use a boat without having the team starve while we're out. A 2x2 square of grass or grass/flowers, adjacent to a road, should suffice.

I haven't yet refactored the sketched out town square design for the actual location of the water source. Do we want a fountain or a well there, in the long term? We're going to have to knock the well down in order to level the square with the common house, and rebuild it, so if we want to change to a fountain at that time, we'll be able to.
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Concept Sketches for Smithy

+Lance Allen was talking about a two story combo smithy and workshop that looked open around the furnaces, so I thought I'd sketch something out. This has an open forge, kiln, smelter, and storage racks, and then a door leading into a small warehouse area in back, plus a ladder to second story storage up top.

There aren't models for crate racks or BSB racks in DeedPlanner yet, so I used Large Storage Units as stand-ins for a crate rack and BSB rack. Pretend those are one of each. (Starting out with the crate rack and two BSBs until we can build the rack for BSBs.)

I can't precisely place objects in DP, either, so imagine that the forge is pulled out just enough that it overlaps the column from the T, so it looks like the forge is built right into the building, with the chimney coming up through the middle of the front arch. I think that could look pretty nice. The kiln would also be fiddled around a bit so it looks better than it does on the sketch. The racks might need to be turned in an L to fit in right, but we can probably fit two racks against the back wall and still have them be accessible from the forge.

Turning the forge around also lets you see who is coming and going in town while working at the forge, so it's more communal.

I'm including a version done in Plain Stone, which is what it looks like before it's rendered by adding clay to the walls, and to see if people prefer it to look more unified in color to the forge rather than the kiln/smelter.

This can also be a simple one story overhang without the warehouse addition or second story, and we can easily start with that and add a warehouse in later if we need it.
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Tales from the Herd

I just got my Animal Husbandry up to 33, so I'm going around and updating the young'uns, looking for negative traits. (Most of what you get in the 30s is the ability to examine for these.)

So far I've found one calf with a wasting disease, who will have to be culled (I'll wait until it's full sized so we get a full hide), and Mooble is "very angry" and bit me hard! That is not a keeper trait, for sure. Mooble will also become beef when he's a little older.

One of our second generation foals with a speed trait is also stubborn and refuses to be led occasionally, which is especially undesirable in horses, but I may keep it in the pool anyhow and hope to get just the speed trait and not the stubborn -- traits are pretty random in the second generation, still, so there are good odds that only one will be passed down.

Choosing Designated Horses

Since horses are actually easier to manage under saddle (because they don't go roam off into the corners with the rest of the herd) I'm trying to set up some of the older males as horses intended for specific riders. Allyria has chosen the new venerable male (I'll get the tag carved for that soon, or she can do it herself since it's a decent way to skill carpentry) and is caring for him.

This gives Squdge his choice of the venerable Noms and an Old male who is our next oldest stud; he's as yet unnamed which might be appealing, because then he'll get to name his own horse. I've bred him once and would like to breed him once more before sending him out into the field, so we get his genes into the herd, but then he's up for grabs. Noms is also fine for the taking, but I'll take him for Flora if Squdge prefers the unnamed Old.

We also have unnamed Mature and Aged males, who won't be free for the dangerous parts of the field for a while, but if Vyneon or Pseudo would like to claim them ahead of time then they should let me know what to name them! I think it's nicer if you get to name your own riding horse. Some of our older named founder stock (Ebb and Fog, who are gray mares) have also hit Old, so will be available for riding soon if you like those names. I might risk future breedings from Paint in venerable if we have trouble establishing a pinto line, so I don't want to release him into the field until we have gotten a third generation pinto, but he will make a striking looking mount once we are into third generation pintos. (Little Warflea is our current only pinto second gen, but I'm hoping for a second pinto foal before Paint ages out of the program.)

Designated horses should be saddled so they don't roam and are easy to distinguish from the breeding stock; once saddled they may be left anywhere that is convenient as long as it's a grass tile, including outside of the pasture; they can then feed themselves off the grass. If left in the pasture all I ask is that they not be left on a tile with another saddled horse, in a pen (since they're getting a lot of use), or in a corner, to help with the dreaded CornerDrift(tm). Note that they cannot eat lawn, so don't park them on lawn! They can also feed themselves while hitched to a large cart as long as they are standing on a grass tile. (It's best to stop a hitched pair with a tile border between them, so each is on its own tile.)

Any venerable horses without bad traits and who aren't claimed/cared for by someone will be set free on the island north of Wulfpark to live out their natural lives, but animals age fast enough that eventually everyone will be able to have their own pair for riding/carting if they would like.

A Snowball's Chance

The larder is up and running! Based on the complaints in the forums, maintaining it is a bit persnickety, and we're unlikely to get it to keep snowballs until next winter (unless they fixed it since last Wurm Online winter), but with its five beautiful big shelves I think even without snowballs it's an improvement over our barrel system.

If you get in the habit of looking for snow around the Common House right before you come in, check the icebox shelf and replace any melting snowballs with higher QL fresh ones, which will keep longer; if we keep doing that eventually we'll have it fully stocked with 99QL. They start melting within minutes in your inventory, though, so it has to be near the house. Any unused snowballs keep better on the ground, bizarrely. (A pile of snowballs left next to the oven was here in the morning), so if you don't have a use for them at the moment (though Taming is a good use), just drop them. I'll be making sorbet and ice cream from extra snow as fruit becomes available. It isn't nutritious, but it's fun.

As a bonus, snowballs make excellent taming food because of their high quality! Pick whichever dog isn't currently tamed by me, unequip your weapon (so you don't accidentally kill it), and spam tame it with elderly snowballs, for incredibly easy taming bumps if you're interested. If more than one person would like to use this easy taming method, I'll get in the habit of releasing my pet dog before I leave the building, so let me know. If the dog aggros on you, simply keep taming it until you get it back; dogs just can't do very much damage and are no threat.

Animal bits! Not just for healing covers!

Tails make oxtail soup. Since this is just tail and water, this recipe is very QL dependent. Low to middling QL tails can make good taming food or just plain chow for dogs and pigs and bears, though. I wouldn't bother to bring home any tails that aren't at least 25QL, I think; the low end ones will make animal chow and the high end ones can make people chow. And of course they're power 2 for healing covers.

Eyes, glands, and hearts make stock, which is used in quite a few recipes. Add fat and other ingredients and it makes haggis in a sausage skin. I'd like to have some of each around for refreshing the stock, and I can process as many as you have extra of into enriched stock (you can add as many of these as the cauldron will hold.)

Bladders make sausage skins, and fat is needed for sausages as well as healing salves.

Hooves, horns, and tooths make gelatine (whose most interesting use currently is pork pie, once we find more salt, but it's also used for cheesecake once we can bake, nom om om.) Tooths also make a soup that I want to try out. Of these, while I do want to try out the tooth soup, teeth are fabulous healing cover ingredients so we probably want to mostly do alchemy with those and make gelatine with the lower powered and heavier hooves and horns.

All of these will either go into the FSB or BSB for easy storage; the higher quality the better when cooking with them, so please take care not to degrade whatever is in there. If you have something of solid QL that's less than the bin that you don't want to make into covers (I do like to make covers from eyes and teeth, because they make some of the lightest covers), drop it into the ingredient barrel and I'll try to get to it fast so it doesn't spoil.

If you need any stock for something, I've started a barrel and sealed it. Pegs for resealing it are in the bsb. (And you can always make new pegs if we run out.)


I just discovered that you can put Chopped vegetables into the FSB. Not mashed, just chopped. This is excellent as it makes a no-spoil holding pen for low quality herbs and veggies.

It will also take Diced meats!! But NOT Minced.

So my standard practice for LQ ingredients will now be to process them in this way (chopping, filleting, dicing) and then if they exceed the quality of whatever is in the bin, stuff them in (optionally taking whatever is in there out first so it doesn't degrade the better QL processed foods; I'd like to keep everything in the bin at as high quality as possible.) If they would degrade the quality, I'll leave them in the barrel or cook them.

Obviously, since it's processed, you don't need to leave three of anything for seed; nor does any need to be "saved for a rainy day" or a special recipe, like base vegetables-- cook it until it's gone.

Since sushi spoils quickly, I'll try to just keep a stock of cooked rice ready for making it. Grab a nori from the bin, grab a chopped veggie or diced filet of fish, grab a cooked rice from the barrel (I'll try to always cook a few every time I do some cooking, to keep it around, and it's a great recipe to skill cooking on for new players, too), plop it in a bowl, activate your hand, roll the sushi and munch away or carry it off on your journey.

If you're looking to use things up, poke through the ingredients barrels as that will spoil first. But if you just want to cook up a thing and go, look for Chopped, Diced, and Fillet in the bin, for even more convenience.
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