We met Bushface, or “Bushy” as we affectionately call him, when he was just a little thief sneaking around the streets of Riften and pickpocketing any unsuspecting passer-bys. Very few people knew what Bushy actually looks like as he usually kept his face hooded, and fewer still knew why he was called Bushface. But now, we have a first hand account from Bushface himself about how he got his name, and some of his adventures.
Bushy can usually be found in someone else’s house with his pet bantam guar, called George the Chicken. However, George is not always with Bushy, for he (George) likes to run off to ogle some of Tamriel’s prettiest women.
The assassin known as Bushface, whose real name hasn’t yet been discovered, was the child of a slavemaster family. They lived in a mansion far away from any city. Their mansion was located far south of Windhelm.
They lived with three argonian slaves. One was called “Sleeps-in-Bushes” as this argonian was a good fighter who liked hiding in bushes before ambushing his enemies. The other two were only known as his henchmen, but all three hated being enslaved as they were born fighters.
One day Bush’s family woke up to the sound of argonians shouting; Sleeps-in-Bushes had somehow broken his chains and found a mace, and he was freeing his henchmen. The henchmen attacked Bush’s mother and father but were bested by their dagger-wielding skills. After the henchmen got killed, Bush’s father attacked Sleeps-in-Bushes and stabbed him in the knee but Sleeps didn’t even flinch and crushed Bush’s father with his mace. Bush’s mother told Bush to stay under the bed as she attacked Sleeps, but was grabbed by the neck and thrown out through the nearby window. Sleeps ignored Bush and went outside, grabbed a torch and started burning down the house. In anger, Bush took a kitchen knife and charged after Sleeps after jumping out of the burning house. Sleeps grabbed the hand of the kid before he could do anything and twisted his wrist and hit him on the head with the hilt of his mace knocking Bush out. Bush woke up a bit far away from his burnt down house and promised to himself that keeping him alive was the last mistake that filthy argonian ever made.
Bush grew up as a thief trying to adapt to Sleeps-in-Bushes strategy of hiding in bushes, but he wasn’t very successful until he was in his 20s when he thought that he should only hide his face in bushes and that should be enough. This gave him the nickname “Bushface” among thieves. It was made to humiliate him but he liked it and kept it.
After he got past his childhood and hit 20 he met a nord war veteran. He never knew the name of this man, but this man taught him how to fight in exchange for gold, as this nord needed money supposedly to save his family from a disease. Bush never believed him, but Bush knew this man saved all the money in a small chest until he gathered enough and was able to sail away. Bush gave him money for months and months to come but bested this man only once. And that day was the last day they trained.
On the night of the day Bush bested the nord, Bush killed him in his sleep and took all the gold he and others had given to this man. But there was something else in this chest, some kind of medallion glowing with magic. As Bush held the medallion in his hand, he felt a small change in the air and a bit of a shockwave as a portal opened up in front of him. A Xivkyn stepped out of the portal wearing the armor of an assassin and attacked Bush. Bush didn’t understand what this creature was but he could only avoid a few attacks. He got struck vertically on his chest and passed out.
When he woke up he was much older, he thought he was around his 30s. He was tied to something like a table and he felt a lot of pain and saw a lot of wounds on his body. He almost passed out again, but someone in prisoners’ rags came in the room and freed Bush. This man gave Bush a weapon and ran outside again. When Bush got up and went outside, he saw the Xivkyn dead on the floor and his weapons next to him. This Xivkyn used two swords just like the nord who had taught him how to fight. Bush took the armor and the weapons of the Xivkyn and went outside of the cave he was held in. He saw a bunch of people cheering in prisoners’ rags. He learned that this Xivkyn trapped people through the help of a nord war veteran and tortured and experimented on people after the nord sucked as much money as he could out of these people. This was a slave uprising which reminded Bush of a certain argonian, so he agreed to share the nord’s money with all the prisoners in exchange for any information about a mace-wielding argonian called “Sleeps-in-Bushes”.
Bush killed a lot of argonians thinking they are Sleeps-in-Bushes according to the information he was given, only to later find out they are not him. When all hope was lost for Bush, he heard of an old argonian defeating everyone in a small underground tournament held in Riften. Sleeps was a worthy opponent, he thought, but he had trained well and learned a lot through his assassinations and fights. He was ready. He arrived in the tournament and saw Sleeps fighting. He was old but he was wearing heavy armor and was still using a mace. He saw Sleeps defeat a dark elf and Bush demanded a match with him. Sleeps instantly understood who he was and asked to talk to him. Sleeps tried to bribe Bush for the match and Bush accepted. Sleeps gave him the money and ran back to the arena and Bush understood there that this was going to be fun. Bush stepped in and Sleeps instantly took a swing at him. Sleeps was old and slow and it felt so easy to evade his attacks. Bush dodged every attacked and laughed at Sleeps’ face. When Bush got bored he parried Sleeps throwing his weapon aside and started rapidly stabbing him. When Bush had had enough, the entire spectator crowd was walking towards him with weapons, but the Xivkyn armor and experiments gave him magical properties as well. Bush turned invisible and walked away from the arena thinking he had gotten his revenge and Sleeps was dead.
One thing Bush didn’t know was that Sleeps was cured by a priest lady who he had bribed as well as a safety plan. Sleeps started living a quiet life as he didn’t want Bush coming back for him and isolated himself from the world. Bush started living in Riften, pickpocketing and assassinating whoever he liked for money, and made friends with a dancer guild as he lives as happy as he can be.
Or to be more accurate, one-and-a-half lady dungeons…
So Elder Scrolls Online has several 4-player dungeons of varying difficulty levels, which typically require a team consisting of one tank, one healer, and two damage dealers (DDs). These dungeons usually have similar layouts: 3-6 hard bosses with a high number of hit points, which are interspersed with small armies of their minions (or “mobs”). To complete these dungeons, most DDs need to have a few particular kinds of skills equipped: area-of-effect (AoE) skills for mobs, ranged damage skills for enemies that are hard to approach, and a spammable high-damage skill for bosses are typically a must. Healers of course need to keep everyone alive, and tanks need to divert and absorb a lot of damage onto themselves to protect the fragile DDs in the group.
Most of these dungeons can be a breeze to complete if everyone in the group has appropriate gear and knows what they’re doing, or they can be positively traumatizing if you have the misfortune of grouping up with at least one heavy armour-wearing, persistently heavy-attacking “DD” who rushes in to hug Horvuntad the Fire Maw, who of course is everyone’s darling little daedroth.
The challenging thing about a lot of these dungeons is that they don’t necessarily require exactly one tank, one healer and two DDs; a lot of them can be completed without a tank or healer at all, or sometimes even with three people. A few talented people with a much better understanding of combat mechanics have taken it even further; the official forums are full of people linking how they two-manned or even soloed (!) these group dungeons, something most people wouldn’t even bother to attempt. But a few months ago, Lyniss (AKA Llenis AKA gender-confused sorc) and I decided to throw caution to the wind and take on as many dungeons as we could as a two-(wo)man team, just to see how doable they are. And this is the tale of what ensued …
Veteran Banished Cells:
This is what we decided to do for our very first dungeon, and we went in without really knowing what to expect. I brought along my healer to keep Llenis from dying, since he will fall over if anyone even tries to whisper sweet-somethings into his ear. Veteran Banished Cells has a few big and mini-bosses, and we weren’t really expecting to get past Maw of the Infernal‘s infernal maw, who likes to breathe fire on anything and everything. It was a bit challenging at first, but … with a lot of cursing, heal-spamming, dying, shield-spamming, rezzing, swearing, dying, cursing, shield-spamming, and Overload-ing, we brought the fiery daedroth down (don’t feel too sorry for him, he wasn’t the type of daedroth to appreciate pretty flowers).
After having defeated the game’s second most lovable daedroth, most of the rest of the dungeon wasn’t that bad. We were totally getting the hang of this two-player dungeon stuff, Lyniss would spam shields and spew damage, and I would spam-heal Lyniss and do some additional (albeit minor) damage. We were feeling pretty optimistic about the dungeon … that is, until we came face to face with High Kinlord Rilis, and more fire-breathing daedroths, who decided to gang up and stomp on us with their big scaly feet. This was the point we decided that it’s impossible to complete the dungeon without better communication, and we joined TeamSpeak to discuss tactics scream insults at each other upon dying over and over again. It was a good idea; voice chat did help in making our successive attempts to kill Rilis last longer, despite all the cursing and swearing, and several times we managed to almost kill him. And in one of those frustrating attempts we felt would be our last, just as we were almost about to end Rilis who only had a few smidgeons of health points left, both of us were suddenly distracted by some strange, sad violin music that suddenly started playing in our TS channel …
And the next things to be heard on the TS were: “F***, f***, perkele, f***, what the f***, NOOOOOOOOO!”
Turned out that, unbeknownst to us, Jason (AKA Perkele) and Dal (AKA Sexyyy Ange) had slipped into our channel and had been listening to all of our angry little mutterings, and Jason had been waiting for just the right moment to play this terribly sad violin piece. As always both of them were bored, and Dal even begged us if he could come “watch” from the balcony. For obvious reasons he was not granted this privilege, and eventually Lyniss and I did manage to kill Rilis (with perhaps twenty daedroths stomping around).
Veteran Darkshade Caverns:
Confident from our first conquest, Lyniss and I decided to brave the dangers of another dungeon on our own. The next one we decided to enter was veteran Darkshade Caverns, which has a lot of hissing and spitting mechanical dwarven constructs, who seem to enjoy not only battering intruders with their virtually unbreakable limbs of dwemer steel, but also scalding them with steam and stunning them with lightning bolts.
For this dungeon, we joined TeamSpeak in advance to be prepared, and somehow both Jason and Dal got wind of this and joined us immediately as well. So for most of this run, we ended up being inundated not only by sad violin music, but also by another even more annoying song that has been assaulting our trial runs (inspired by Gaius) for the past few months. Sigh.
But Darkshade Caverns wasn’t really so hard for the two of us … until we got to the daunting dwarven army guarding the entrance to the Engine Guardian. This proved to be a rather difficult fight as getting through these large hordes of dwemer spiders, spheres, and centurion requires a high damage and healing output even in a four-player group, not to mention the fact that we had “Bird is the word” screeching in our ears half the time. For the most part, we weren’t even swearing as we normally do, having to concentrate on this fight, and having Dal comment upon this unexpected silence only blasted all of us with more “birds”.
This is what our approximate trajectory looked like for the final time that we killed all the dwemer:
Compared to this, the Engine Guardian was a piece of cake. We were getting pretty good at this.
Blackheart Haven (normal mode) is considered to be one of the hardest dungeons to complete with fewer players. The reason behind this is that Captain Blackheart, the final boss in this dungeon, randomly turns one player into a skeleton during the fight, and that player is unable to do damage, heal, or otherwise do anything except run around being devoured by other skeletons. So we went into Blackheart Haven upon being challenged by Jason (because he secretly is an evil genius). And it turned out to be just as he had predicted; if one of us got turned into a skeleton, the other one couldn’t heal or stay alive long enough for the curse to be lifted … and, oh, did I mention that all this time there are hundreds of skeletons swarming out of the waters onto the beach and running towards you? In the end, Llenis decided that he would rather strip and be pierced by Nilvasa’s “spears” rather than kill the undead pirates.
Veteran Crypt of Hearts:
So instead of my healer, I decided to take my sorceror along for this dungeon along with Lyniss’ sorceror. This was an every-man-for-himself situation, and since both of us had strong shields and high damage output, we felt pretty confident about it. And it turned out to be incredibly easy, we zoomed through it and killed everything without any effort at all and did a victory dance in the end! Eh, we died trying to kill Ruzozuzalpamaz (that name is a mouthful), a big whopping spider daedra who cocoons one player which deals poison damage, and we ended up getting two other players who showed up completely baffled to find two naked elves dancing on a table next to Ruzozuzalpamaz. We still did a victory dance in the end, but Llenis is a bit intimidated by my sorc, and kept trying to prove he was taller than him …
That one has a bit of a crush on someone, I suspect.
And now you can form your own opinions about which one of us is actually half a lady.
Last month I received a message from the lovely Kljindra Star-Sworn inviting me to contribute to her website, Scrolls Abound!, which is a delightful collection of first-person accounts of actual in-game events. I’ve never considered myself to be much of a fiction writer but I thought I’d give it a shot anyway. So I sent Kljindra a draft based on some past guild events and somewhat apprehensively awaited her response, for we do tend to get up to some very strange things in our guild at times. Thankfully she liked it, and it now occupies a little corner of her website, along with many other fascinating tales. Check out the rest of the website if you’re interested, or feel free to submit your own story if it tickles your fancy.
As a preview, here’s the first of the two letters that can be found there:
My dearest Voghnar,
I’m sure you must have been wondering why your shipment of sujamma berries and kwama eggs is so late this month. My fool of a dunmer assistant has returned to the plantation early (and empty-handed, no less) with yet another tall tale. I do not believe that there is any truth to it, and I know not what I am going to do with him. Perhaps I’ll put him to work in the farm, or better yet, send him down into the mines to collect eggs (a few bites would do him good, don’t you think?)
I hope your business isn’t doing too badly for lack of the goods; I know how much your dunmeri patrons love Liliah’s sujamma. This batch should reach you quickly enough; Asgar seems to be a promising young lad, strong as a shalk, and his quick wit makes for a nice change in this dreary place. Remember to ask him about the time he caught and rode a dreugh all the way to Narsis, he’ll have your inn rolling about in tears.
Lledras insists on sending you his account of the “incident”, make what you want of it. Convey my love to Liliah (along with a little gift for her).
Sanctum Ophidia. The lair of the Serpent. A treacherous place where nirncrux-imbued trolls and deadly mantikora serve to keep out all those fighters who try to thwart the plans of the celestial Serpent. These beasts are quite happy to kill anyone who crosses their paths, unfortunately there are some (us) who can’t get enough of poking them with long (fishy) sticks.
Our happy little troops have so far entered Sanctum Ophidia precisely three times. The first time was mostly spent near the entrance of the ruin, for most people thought it to be a better idea to jump off the bridge that leads to the mantikora instead of facing the mantikora itself. The second time, we did manage to get close enough to the mantikora to poke it with things, but it did not react favourably to our gentle caressing. The third time was the charm, not only did we succeed in placating it, some of our group members also got to do certain unspeakable things to it after we lulled the creature to sleep.
In all fairness, the Possessed Mantikora was a tough boss to beat. To start with, our raid leader, Bold, explained positioning around the boss and the strategies required to kill the manticore in great detail, which naturally everyone immediately forgot. This annoyed him to no end, and he made everyone “play train” to practice stacking on the group leader, all the while chuffing as the impatient engine. Next, positions having been sorted out, the fight against the mantikora actually went pretty smoothly …
… until dark portals appeared underneath our feet and sucked in all those people who had been standing in the wrong places (and very advertently hiding that from Bold).
And while all the people who were standing in the right places were valiantly trying to kill the mantikora, there was a different kind of party going on through the portal (the Serpent’s Image was not included in this party).
Anyhow, once the people who were AWOL were pulled back through the portals by some very angry healers, the mantikora was put to rest very smoothly (probably not painlessly though). After everyone was done desecrating its remains, we effortlessly moved through the rest of the ruins, killing all the Scaled Court fanatics who stood in our way.
Bold was impatient as usual, and didn’t let anyone pause to look around for heavy sacks. While he was AFK, me and a couple other people quietly slipped away to explore the rest of the ruins and find all the heavy sacks we missed. And THERE WERE NONE. Not a single sack. Zero. Zip. Nada. (If anyone ever finds a sack in there, let me know and I will send you a flower and a cookie.) Casting aside all of our disappointment, we miserably traipsed back to the rest of the group impatiently awaiting us at the Serpent.
There’s probably another thing I must mention before I end this post, which has (against my will) developed into a tradition of sorts. The very first time we entered Sanctum Ophidia, Gaius decided it would be a good idea to /hammerlow me from behind whenever I wasn’t looking, an activity that turned out to be very popular within the guild. From that moment on, I have often found myself being hammered even on a recently tender bottom. You get used to these things, I guess. Anyway, Gaius “demanded” of me that if we were to complete the trial during this particular instance, he gets to hammer me in our final victory screenshot. So, long story short, we killed the celestial Serpent (it wasn’t that interesting a fight anyway), and as promised, here’s the screenshot.
Sigh. I have no choice but to get used to it.
So that’s the third one down. We still need to finish Sanctum Ophidia on hard mode as well as the upcoming veteran mode, before we can even think of going in for veteran Maw of Lorkhaj, but we’ll get there. We always get there in the end.
Hel Ra Citadel is one of the most stunning locations currently accessible in ESO‘s Tamriel. A fortress built atop a sheer cliff amidst the dangerous mountains of northern Craglorn, it is an archetype of ancient Yokudan architecture, untouched for centuries until a brave army of mages and fighters entered the fortress to remove the threats of the corrupted Warrior. One of the aforementioned mages has always been intrigued by the beauty of this stronghold, but whenever she has paused to admire the views, she gets yelled at on TeamSpeak to get her arse back in the fight and attack the hordes of oncoming Anka-Ra.
HRC is a very pretty dungeon, yes, and it was the first trial we ever entered as a guild (only because our raid leader, Bold, loves doing Hel Ra for some inscrutable reason). The first time was … interesting; everyone in our guild was doing it for the first time, no one knew what to expect out of 12-man raids, and there was a lot of chaos. It was a still a lot of fun, and we did manage to complete it and kill the celestial warrior the next time we entered HRC (many many months later). We’ve done Hel Ra time and time again since then, and it’s always a popular destination.
Last week, we completed HRC on hard mode, which involves a lot of fine positioning of the group around the end boss, and total cooperation from everyone. It took us close to three hours, but everyone was very patient and cooperative (another reason guilds are important). Not all of that time was spent on the last boss though, we generally have a lot of things going on as we progress through the map.
The end boss on hard mode has an interesting mechanic which can cause immense grief to the group yet be hilariously amusing at the same time. In the middle of the fight, the Warrior can “stone” random players periodically. The persons who are stoned are unable to do anything for the duration this effect is active, although they do have an option to “break free” to resume fighting. The downside of breaking free is that it insta-kills anyone within a certain radius of that person (did I mention that everyone but the tank needs to stack very tightly?) To add insult to injury, the death recap tells you exactly who caused the death, which lets everyone pinpoint and shame the person who broke free (fun, eh?). It requires a great deal of control to not (even accidentally) hit that one button to vex the group.
The only dissapointing thing I found about Hel Ra is that it is nowhere near teeming with heavy sacks as compared to Aetherian Archive. Although I have yet to get an official count on the number of sacks in AA, I can tell you that Hel Ra has far fewer sacks. Not to mention that Bold keeps tut-tutting in Hel Ra whenever someone pauses to collect some beets from a sack (he doesn’t care if they have a nutritional value, you see, turning the Warrior purple isn’t going to do anything …).
But, all in all, we’ve had plenty of good runs. And we’ll probably keep doing them again in the future.
Trials in ESO are essentially 12-player dungeons that require a hell of a lot of cooperation and teamwork to complete. As of now, there are four trials in the game: three in Craglorn (Aetherian Archive, Hel Ra Citadel, and Sanctum Ophidia), and one in the Thieves Guild DLC zone Hew’s Bane (Maw of Lorkhaj). Usually it’s not an easy task to find full groups for trials, for it requires finding 12 players with the appropriate roles and rapidly coordinate them through some of the hardest content in the game. For these reasons, most trials are usually organized within guilds, and more often than not they mandate the use of a voice chat server for the leaders to dole out instructions.
Because I needed them trial achievements, I’ve been organizing trial groups in our guild for the last few months, and they’ve proved to be pretty popular amongst everyone. Let me start out by saying that our guild doesn’t have the most experienced of players; most of us are fairly casual players who are trying to get better in our own goofy ways. In contrast, trials require highly-coordinated 12-man teams who understand boss mechanics and their own roles at each stage, and need to be able to provide a minimum damage output to take down bosses or mobs quickly and efficiently. So, when we first started doing the easiest trial in the game, Aetherian Archive, let’s just say for the first few tries, we died, and died, and died. A lot.
Our guild is a persistent lot. We completed Aetherian Archive on normal mode quickly enough (in our first couple of tries), but we’ve been struggling to complete it on hard mode for the last two months. It’s involved testing out a lot of different setups, dying, yelling instructions to people standing in red circles, dying, hissing into our TeamSpeak channel because there are no words left, dying, falling over cliff edges, and then dying.
I think the thing I enjoy the most about completing (eh, almost) these trials with my guild is that everyone joins us on TeamSpeak not just to listen to instructions, but to boo and hiss and insult anything and everything. Our group composition includes all kinds of people; most of them are polite “adults”, but we also occasionally get some very noisy 16-year-olds (and one noisy 40-year-old as well). It’s been a lot of fun getting to know the various members of my regular trial groups, there’s always a lot of entertainment to be had even when we’re not fighting or discussing tactics.
Another strange practice that has emerged during our trial runs is people running off to look for heavy sacks. Aetherian Archive truly delights us in this aspect, for it is teeming with heavy sacks. Every two minutes, there will be one person screaming “Heavy sack!” into our TeamSpeak channel, and half the group will run after them (and often bring a bunch of mobs there as well). I believe we’ve found every single heavy sack that is hidden in Aetherian Archive, I’d be surprised if we find any new ones.
I love my guild, there’s just so much fun!
But, we finally completed Aetherian Archive on hard mode, so there’s another achievement done.