• Dreams of the Dreamer’s Dreams

    I donned my dream suit and lay in my bed and was deep within my dream. In the dream I was in a world of shafts and corridors, doors and windows. As I climbed and walked and slid between them I passed others. They smiled and nodded as I passed but I did not stop them on their journies nor did they stop me in mine. Soon I came to the door I was seeking. The guard outside hesitated then smiled and stepped aside, proceeding on his way. I entered to find my bed wtih myself lying in it. But the bed was wide so I lay beside myself. I slept into another world, this one of warm inviting waters and islands covered with cool, dim forests. There were others here too, but I did not ignore them nor did they ignore me. We talked and laughed and traveled together, lying on the warm sand or swimming in the cool oceans. But inevitably after the long days I became tired again. One of my companions and I slipped into the forest where we found the small, guarded hut. Its guardian smiled in recognition of me and stepped aside, allowing us to enter the room with the wide bed. There were suits there for both of us and we donned them then lay together in the bed. We slept into a world of magnificent mountains and abysmal valleys. For days we explored this world together, climbing to the peaks of the

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  • Steam Sale – Winter 2011

    As regular as the changing of the seasons the Steam winter sale has started. As usual, there are a lot of games from independent producers marked down to ridiculously low prices as well as a handful of AAA titles to keep things interesting. The gimmick this time seems to be coupons. There are Steam Achievements associated with many of the games and completing them gives you either a coupon or a lump of “coal”. You can trade in coal for… more coupons. The coupons really aren’t that big of a draw. I have a couple so far but the “deals” on the coupons are worse than the sale prices on the same games right now, so they are kind of useless. Still, some of the deals are really good. I’ve cut way back on my video game spending (I only bought two full-price games this year (Dragon Age and Skyrim) so being able to pick up enough games to keep me occupied for the next few months is worth it. I’ll probably look at some of these in more detail later, but here’s the haul so far. Portal 2 – Yes, I’m probably the only one who hasn’t played it yet, but at $7.50 it finally fell into impulse buy range. Orcs Must Die! – Been lots of good buzz about this one. It seems to be a combination of tower defense and FPS. Psychonauts and Costume Quest – A pair of games from Double Fine. I started playing Psychonauts

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  • Skyrim – The Dark Brotherhood

    The first thing I encountered upon entering Windhelm was a pair of Nords harassing a Dunmer woman. It turns out that the native Nords of Skyrim don’t just want freedom from the Empire, they don’t like anyone who isn’t a Nord either. Earlier an innkeeper had told me that a child in Windhelm was attempting the Dark Sacrament, the means of contacting the Dark Brotherhood (the guild of assassins last seen in Oblivion). I decided to check this out. Innocence Lost The child in question is Aventus Aretino who is (naturally) in the Aretino residence. The door is locked but I picked it and went inside. Aventus was performing the sacrament (which consisted of stabbing a skeleton, apparently) and mistook me for a Dark Brotherhood assassin. (There is no way to correct him of this assumption.) He asked me to go kill Grelod the Kind, the headmistress of the orphanage he had escaped from. The orphanage is in Riften. I went to Riften and checked out the orphanage. Grelod the “Kind” was there, berating the children as to how worthless they were and how they would never have a family. After hearing her rant (and seeing the child-sized shackles in the closet off the main room) I decided that maybe Aventus had a point. I killed Grelod (to the cheers of the children) and returned to Aventus, who paid me with a family heirloom. As I left to go about my business, a courier ran up to me with a

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  • Skyrim – Blades of the Dragon

    After finishing the Companions quests and being named Harbinger I decided to go back to the main quest line for a while. By this point I had collected enough money and loot that I was able to buy Breezehome, the house in Whiterun. It is convinently located beside Warmaidens, the forge near the entrance to the city, so fast-traveling to Whiterun practically drops you next to it. I bought the house and a few upgrades (it’s really shabby looking inside without the upgrades) and dropped off the items I didn’t want to sell then got Lydia to start following me again and headed east from Whiterun. The Way of the Voice I was headed for High Hrothgar, the home of the Greybeards, which was located on the Throat of the World, the highest mountain in Skyrim. The nearest town to it was Ivarstead so I set my waypoint there and headed for it. Along the river east of Whiterun there is a circle of stones containing the Ritual Stone which grants the ability to raise the dead to fight for you once per day. (There was a necromancer there too, but he died of an extreme case of sword wounds.) I had the Thief Stone at this point (+20% experience for shadow skills) so stayed with it. Further past the Ritual Stone are the Valtheim Towers, a bridge between two towers over the river. There was a group of bandits holed up there who demanded a “toll” from me to

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  • Skyrim – More of the Companions

    The Silver Hand I’m abandoning my prose walkthrough for the moment because of time constraints. These will be quick rundowns for a while. I’ll come back and do a proper story walkthorugh at some point. So just a quick summary here. After becoming a full member of the Companions you can do additional quests for them. Eventually you will be told to talk to Skjor who will say that it is time for you to be inducted into the inner circle. He will ask you to meet him in a chamber under the Skyforge after dark. The secret chamber is fairly easy to find; the entrance is obvious but you can’t open it without Skjor. Skjor will lead you inside where you will find Aela the Huntress waiting… in werewolf form. You will be told that in order to become part of the inner circle you must become a werewolf. Aela will cut herself and fill a basin with blood. Drink from it to become a werewolf. You will immediately turn into wolf form and return to the outside. As a suggestion, don’t leave the area of Jorrvaskr; the Whiterun city guards (and a number of civilians) will attack you on sight and you don’t want to kill anyone you don’t have to. Just wait a bit and you will eventually pass out. When you come to you will be well outside the city with Aela watching over you (she has your equipment). She will tell you that you are

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  • Review – The Breach

    The Breach by Patrick Lee Ex-corrupt cop/ex-con Travis Chase, recently released from prison, is hiking through the Alaska wilderness and trying to figure out how to get his life back together when he stumbles across the crash of an unmarked 747. Inside the crash he discovers that everyone on board has been executed, including the First Lady of the United States. A note in her hand sends him in search of the two survivors of the crash, who are being brutally tortured to force them to reveal the location of an object that could lead to the destruction of everyone and everything on Earth. And thus begins Breach, the first novel in a new thriller series by Patrick Lee. While many thiller novels by such writers as James Rollins, Jeremy Robinson or Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child skirt the edges of science fiction in their novels, Patrick Lee embraces it wholeheartedly. While it is marketed as and starts out as standard thriller fare, make no mistake; this is a science-fiction thriller. Travis soon rescues Paige Campbell, the last survivor of the crash, and learns what is happening. (Warning: Minor spoiler for the first of the novel.) Paige works for an international government organization known as Tangent. Thirty years ago, an experiment beneath Wyoming opened the “Breach” of the title; an opening to… somewhere. Various artifacts (which they call “entities”) have been coming through the Breach at regular intervals since then. Some of these entities are benign, some are very dangerous

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