Underneath my yellow skin

Author Archives: Minna Hong

Elden Ring, NPC questlines, part five

Apparently, this is my current obsession. NPC questlines in Elden Ring, I mean. It’s in part because I’m rewatching the first series of the boys playing Elden Ring and all the accempanying Roundtable Holds. They talk quite a bit about the NPCs in the game, and Rory and Gav are quite invested in the stories.It helps to have a Krupa painstakingly explaining things and piecing things together for them. Here was the last post, which was part four.

I have never had the same favorites in any of the From games whom everyone else loves. In the OG Dark Souls, it was Solaire and the Onion Knight (Siegmeyer). I will never say this in any From forum, but Soliare is not in my top five in the game, let alone the series. In an episode of Krupa’s plat (for the original I think?), he asked me which NPC was my favorite because I said something casually about my favorite, and why was it Solaire?

It’s not. It’s Laurentius of the Great Swamp, and it’s because he’s my pyro teacher. I do really like Siegmeyer (Onion Knight), but I like his daughter, Sieglinde, even better. I would put Quelana before Solaire as well. Also a pyro teacher.

And, of course, Patches. He is always in my top five in every game he’s in. Weirdly, his replacement in two, Pate, is not on my list. I always side with Creighton in that battle.

Since we’re on the sceond game, let me rattle off a few of my faves in that game. Lucatiel, of course. She’s the best–the absolute best. Um. Ah. I had to Google. It’s been some time since I played this game. But also, the NPCs aren’t as interesting for the most part. I like Straid of Olaphis quite a bit–and, yes, he’s another pyro teacher. Not just pyros, though. Also hexes and boss soul items. Ornifex is pretty cool, too. She does more important boss soul items. Manscorpion Tark and the Head of Vengarl are pretty cool, too, but not to the level of ‘they’re the best!’. I like the second game better than most people do, but I will admit that the NPC questlines are lacking.

Dark Souls III. My favorite game before Elden Ring. Now tied. My recent returrn to Lothric was incredible and reminded me of how much I loved the game. I found ways to cheese that I had not known before. Dorhy’s Gnawing is so damn good. It’s like Swarm of Flies from Elden Ring.

In the third game, Yuria is BAE. Then there’s Sirris and Karla. Karla can teach pyros, just to keep that consistent. The fact that I love pyro teachers, I mean. Anri is the best as well, and his/her questline and Yuria’s are entwined.

It’s funny because there are a few NPCs who turn into bosses in this game. And there are a few in Elden Ring as well. Oh. I forgot Bloodborne–my secnd-least favorite From game.

Eileen the Crow. The end. She is by far the best NPC of the game. Like, can I even think of any other? And, yes, you can fight her as an enemy/boss at some point if you go down a certain path. Her armor is awesome and her weapon is great if you’re a dex character. She is the hunter of hunters, and she’s just the best. She is a black British woman in real life, which I appreciate as well. Look. Diversity matters, even if you can’t see the person. And her voice is just lovely.


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Elden Ring NPC questlines, part four

Well, I stil have more to say about Elden Ring NPC questlines, apparently. Here was part three and this is, by logical deduction, part four. It’s mind-blowing to think of how many NPCs and characters are in this game. It’s also fun to watch Gav and Rory of RKG react to the people they meet/hear of. Gav is Welsh, so he is happy as a clam that there are so many Welsh voice actors in this game. They have an official Welsh counter, too.

Gav was so excited when they hit the bit with Ranni and her three advisors. They called it becoming a part of the Welsh Avengers. Gav was trying so hard to find a way to make Seluvis acceptable (when they first met), but even he had to admit that Seluvis was a dickhead when Seluvis’s underground chamber was revealed. To be clear, Seluvis is a Grade A jerk. There is no redeeming quality to him, and I’m interested to see if Krupa can glean a rationale for Ranni having him as an advisor.

Have they met all the NPCs yet? No. There are several I can think of that they have yet to meet. They have talked in RTH about how many NPCs they’ve met so far. Krupa has pointed out that within ten or so episodes, they had probably met more NPCs than in any other game.

Gav said that he liked it because it gave them something focused to do for a litlle bit. It’s funny who they get attached to. Rory really liked Edgar and thought he was going to be a big part of the game. His quest is very short and self-contained.

Then there’s Kenneth Haight. Most of his questline is done within a few scenes, but there is a late-game addendum to his questline–as long as you do Nepheli Loux’s questline as well. I totally missed it on my first playthrough because I messed up a step of Nepheli Loux’s questline. I’m sure Krupa will guide them through it so they will get the triumphant ending for Nepheli Loux. I will admit I was surprised that they didn’t even think twice before doing what Seluvis wants you to do–which is give Nepheli Loux a potion.

It’s one of a very few things I have refused to do in the game because it’s so against my principles. I know she’s not real, but I just cannot. I did give it to Dung Eater twice, but even then, it made me feel not great.

And, yes, I know that he is not real, either, but it is simply not something I feel comfortable with. At all. I have a hard enough time buying the puppets that Seluvis puts on offer.


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Elden Ring questlines, part three

I’m going to write more about the NPC questlines in Elden Ring because I can. Here is part two. One thing I have to say is that I’m rewatching Retry Elden Ring and am on Ep. 19 (out of 30. That’s how long series one is). The lads do an accompanying show called Roundtable Hold in which they shoot the shit about the last two episodes. It’s a half hour to an hour, and a lot of it is dissecting what has happened, but there is plenty of Gav and Rory speculating about what will happen as well. I mentioned in the last post about how they hit the nail on the head often, and one case is Jarburg. Or as Rory keeps calling it, “JARBUG.” Never change, Rory.

Background info: I Jars are characters in this game. Or rather, pots. Jars, too, but that’s something different. Anyway, there’s a pot, Iron Fist Alexander, who is a notable NPC. Rory and Gav immediately fell for him (as most players do), and Rory was so worried that he would have to fight “Alex” as they call him in the Festival of Champions. He thought it was like running the gauntlet before getting to Radahn.

It’s not. It’s all the champions fighting Radahn at the same time. Except Patches, because he peaces out and returns to his world. Which is fucking hilarious. And so on brand for him. Well, kinda. What I mean is that he will continuously fuck you over. It’s one constant in all the games*

I love his questline in Elden Ring so much. At least until the very end where they bring him back to life. I mean, I know you have to because he can’t permanently die, but it robs his death of some poignancy. But still. You find out more about Patches than you’ve ever known before. In this game, he loves and shows his tender side. Which makes him more endearing to me. But I’ve always been #TeamLetPatchesLiveHisBestLife, and I will defend him to the death.

I do wonder why he doesn’t like clerics, and I hope that gets explored more in the future. Honestly. i would play a whole game on Patches’ origins. In one episode after being fooled by Patches (can’t remember which series), Rory shouts out in exasperation, “What happened to you Patches that made you this way?!” which is what I want to know, but sincerely.

It’s hilarious to watch Rory get pissed off at Patches and how quickly he realizes it’s Patches who screwed him over. It’s so ingrained in him that when he gets locked into a room in Stormveil Castle, he automatically assumes it’s Patches (it’s not).

When he first met Patches in Elden Ring, Patches is a boss in a cave. Rory was intent on killing him, which, of course, you can do. FromSoft will let you kill almost anyone in their games. Except in areas that are combat-free like the Roundtable Hold. I think thats’ the only place that is like that, actually. I can’t think of another off the top of my head.


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Elden Ring questlines; part deux

Yesterday, I was talking about the NPCs in Elden Ring and how I thought Gav and Rory were going to react to the end of different NPC questlines. There are so many NPCs in this game, it’s wild. Some ore little, self-contained stories such as Irina and Edgar. This is a weird one that I still can’t wrap my brain around.

You meet Irina fairly early on as you make your way through the Weeping Peninsula. That is, you can go through the Weeping Peninsula really early in the game. Irina is on the side of the road and distressed because the castle she was from was under siege. The castle? Castle Morne. Her father was the castellan there.

This pricked my interest because there is an Irina in Dark Souls III. She is a blind Fire Keeper wannabe. She has a minder, Eygon. They are both from Carim. His armor is the Morne’s Set, so you can see why I was so excited by this whole situation in Elden Ring. She asks you to bring a letter to her father in the castle. When you get to Castle Morne and find her father, his name is Edgar. Which is close to Eygon! You give him the letter and then go about your merry business.

Once you clear up Castle Morne and go back to Stormveil, you can ride by Irina again. And she will be dead. A big cleaver to the head. Edgar will be there, mourning her (Morne-ning her?) and lamenting that he had stuck to his duty rather than return to her. He vows to get his revenge.

Later, two things happen. One, you run into Hyetta, who has the exact same character model as Irina. And she (Hyetta) has her eyes covered, much like Irina in the first game–well, she was blind. Why does Hyetta have the same character model? No idea.

The second thing that happens is that you’ll stumble across the Revenger’s Shack in Liurnia. Edgar invades you, and you have to kill him. Well, you don’t have to, but if you do, you get a sweet halberd as a reward.

It has to be a nod to Dark Souls III. There was no way it was just coincidental. In DS III, Irina’s questline is more elaborate. And if you give her a naughtyBraille tome, Eygon will drag her away. Then, if you go to a certain place, he wants to fight you. I believe if you defeat him, Irina goes back to the Firelink Shrine. It’s been a while since I’ve done her questline that way because I like to summon Eygon for Dragonslayer Armour (boss fight).


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Elden Ring–unhappily ever after

Elden Ring (FromSoft) is a massive game. RKG just finished their first series (they are doing three and this one was 30 episodes over six months. I’ve included the last episode below), and I was thinking about how Rory has been worried about having to kill Alexander at some point and how the questlines of other NPCs will end.

He and Gav have been speculating wildly about the NPCs, and they have hit the nail on the head in alarming ways. Then again, they are speculating all over the place, so it’s not surprising they will get it right now and again. Especially since they’ve played all the other games and know how these things go.

I was running over the different NPC questlines in my mind and thinking about which ones end well (spoiler, almost none of them). I’ve decided to ruminate over the NPCs they’ve already met and what happens to them. I’m also going to speculate how they are going to react to the conclusion of the different questlines. I’m going to try to do it in order that the boys met them. Well, rough order.

First up is Kale. Nothing bad happens to the merchants (except you can kill them if you want. I’ve never done it). Then there’s Renna (Ranni). Nothing bad happens to her, but all three of her advisors die. We’ll talk about them next. Seluvis dies at some point, and I never knew why, though I read about when it happened. It was when you got the thing Ranni wanted you to get (that ended the first part of her quest). I only just realized it’s probably because you can betray her before this point at Seluvis’s instruction. So my guess is that she kills him. Which, good for her.

Side note: I love his hat. I love his whole outfit. But I can’t wear his armor because he’s such a jerk! I’m mad they made the big hat in this game belong to such an asshole.

Anyway, I’m not sad when he dies. In fact, I’m viciously gleeful. Then there’s Blaidd. Oh, Blaidd. Forever BAE. After the end of Ranni’s questline, if you go back to her first tower, there’s Blaidd turned hostile. I will say that I don’t watch lore videos for the most part because I like to make up my own reasons for why things are the way they are.

My belief is that once Ranni was done with this world, Blaidd lost his purpose. That’s the case with the Dark Souls game. People went hollow once they lost their purpose or fulfilled their ambition. Having to kill Blaidd was agony, but his weapon is sweet. It’s what I used for my second playthrough (and third in NG+). But having to kill him was heartbreaking.


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Snow!!!

It snow yesterday. That’s all.

It’s not all, obviously, but it really lifted my spirits today. And yesterday. It’s been gray and drab for most of the winter, and winter and snow are my favorites. I was skeptical with the winter advisory because we have not gotten much snow all winter. So 1-5 inches in my head meant a dusting. Then it started snowing. And snowing. And snowing some more. Big, fluffy, white flakes that wnafted gently down. I was getting more and more excited as it continued to fall down.

In the end, we got maybe three inches? Well, probably closer to four or five city-wide, but I got three or so. And I’m delirious with happiness. It’s been a miserable winter, so this really does it for me. It’s funny because there’s a post at Ask A Manager today about snow, and I related to it so hard. I answered a commenter who turned out to be living in a neighboring city. There’s a bunch of Minnesotans in the comments! In fact, the person who wrote the question might also be a Minnesotan.

Anyway, when I used to be on social media, I would be so excited about snow on my own wall and get snarky responses about how it was because I didn’t have to shovel it. I also heard from someone that their husband (whom I was also friends with) that he was tired of me talking about how much I love snow. Again, on my own wall. I did not go to other people’s walls and rave about how much I liked snow. I get being empathetic to other people (and I am), but I should not have to qualify my love for snow.

Look. Everything is problematic to a certain degree. As Alison pointed out in her response, there are issues with the heat as well. And yet, it’s assumed more widely that heat and sun are loved by everyone. I like the sun, but I hate the heat. So much. I hate summer and spring in a large part because of the heat. But when I’m talking to other people, mostly those who like summer and spring, I just smile and nod when they talk about how great the weather is.

Let me reiterate. I hate the heat so much. All the hate. Anything over 60 degree is going to make me grumpy. The hoter it gets, the angrier I get. But, again, I just smile and nod when people effuse about how great the weather is. So, yeah, they can suck it up when I talk about my love for snow. About a decade ago, one of my things was to go on Twitter and talk about dancing naked at midnight in the snow. Which I actually did. No pics, obviously, but it was thrilling to go outside in just flip-flops (in the privacy and darkness) and dance.

I am so happy with the snow. It makes me smile and it truly lightened my heart. Just watching the snow fall made me giddy. As I said, for the whole season, we haven’t gotten much snow at all. Most of the time we get the winter warning and I am bitterly disappointed by the lack of snow. This time, it just kept falling for several hours.

It’s going to melt. It is already. It’s not going to stay for a long time, but I’m just enjoying the hell out of it now. And I don’t need anyone to harsh that high. I understand that people have to drive in it and shovel it, and I want to be sensitive to that. But at the same time, I am allowed to love the snow. As I said earlier, anything can be problematic. Go on a trip to Europe? Think of all the people who can’t afford it. Or buying a new car. Or even buying enough groceries for the week. Or DoorDashing an order. Also, anyone who is an American is automatically more privileged in several ways than people in several other countries.

I am someone who tries to empathize with other people. Actually, I don’t even need to try because I’ve been doing it for so long. at a certain point, though, it just becomes virtue signaling, especially if the person doing the scolding isn’t actually doing anything to help the people they are championing. It’s a way to make them feel better about themselves without acutally having to do anything other than scold and chastise.

Alison said that ‘seeing red’ might be an overreaction by the letter writer, but I get it. Being in the minority means that you got to hear over and over again how your opinion is wrong. It may not be that bold, but it’s done in so many ways. As I said, just even the “I’m so glad it’s finally spring” attitudes can add up. To constantly be pelted with the notion that what you like is bad, wrong, or just inferior can wear you down. Then, in this case, the letter writer’s colleague told them that they were insensitive for not realising that unhoused people fair badly in the cold/snow. The colleague also said that adults realized snow was not a good thing.

That would make me see red, too. Calling me childish for enjoying something is deeply insulting. And, the LW themselves noted that heat is also dangerous for unhoused people(and rain and other weather), and that others in their office get excited for those. They were careful to point out that their colleague was not their supervisor, but was above them in their company hierarchy.

It’s just bullshit. It’s the same thing people have said about video games, Halloween, and stuffed animals. All things that I enjoy. That they’re for kids, I mean, and that grown-ups should put them away and be adults! Then again, I am not someone who cares too much about categories as I have said over and over again. I like what I like, so fuck anyone who puts that down. That’s my bottom line.

 

Love in all its various forms

Today is Valentine’s Day. I used to hate this day, even when I was in a relationship. It’s a manufactured holiday and one that has morphed into (in the het-norm) ‘Buy an expensive gift for your ladyfriend, otherwise you don’t love her’. There are just too mayn expectations for it to ever hold up.

Side note: That’s my issues with traditions more generally. They just cannot live up to the expectations. Weddings, for example. So many people put in so much time, money, and effort into planning their perfect wedding and then it never goes how they want it to go. Also, so many people say they don’t remmeber anything from their wedding. It always puzzled me because it’s just one day whereas a marriage, presumably, will be for the rest of one’s life. (In theory, anyway.)

Side note to the side note: I read an article many moons ago about how everyone these days is entitled to a starter marriage, as it were. Meaning one marriage that ended in divorce. They made a convincing case for it, including the fact that people live so much longer these days. (Which, not exactly true, but let’s go with it.)

To which I say, “Why restrict yourself to one person?” I am someone who does better when I am not in a monogamous relationship. I think it’s because I don’t feel pressured to be the one and only (read, doing all the emotional support). I get way too focused on the other person in a monogamous relationship.

Anyway. back to Valentine’s Day. When I was working at the county, my boss came in on V-Day in a terrible mood. She showed me a new leather briefcase she had, and it was really nice. Soft, supple, and obviously top quality. It turned out that her husband had given it to her for V-Day. I thought it was a lovely present! Her old briefcase had been in tatters.

She was furious because she wanted a tennis bracelet. She had left out magazines opened to tennis bracelet advertisements around the house, hoping he would get the hint.

I didn’t say this to her (because she was my boss), but I thought she was being ridiculous. First of all, she was a grown woman who could buy her own tennis bracelet. Secondly, if that’s what she really wanted from him, she should have just told him. Yes, I know it’s not as romantic, but depending on him to take in context clues was risky on her part. Thirdly, his actual gift was thoughtful. He had noticed that her old briefcase was falling apart and got her a really nice new one.

I get that some people don’t want something practical, so I can’t totally blame her for that. But again, if she really wanted the tennis bracelet, she should have simply told him.


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Just say no

In yesterday’s post, I was talking about where to draw the line when it came to problematic creators. It always amuses/frustrates me when people try to lecture me about not giving my money to someone I personally abhor. Even if they were objectively true that I should not use my purchasing power in that way–

Which, by the way. Let’s unpack and dissect that a bit. Capitalism is based on buying what you want/need. And the basic tenet is ‘let the market decide’. In tangent, we are told that people ‘vote with their wallets’. To me, this means that me deciding NOT to give money to JKR, for example, is exactly how capitalism/politics are supposed to work. And yet, I’m told that somehow I’m doing her wrong by not buying her shit?

I want to emphasize again that no one is owed my money. I’m not talking about bills, of course, but about creators who are trying to entice me to part with my dollars. While I support the arts in general, I am not obligated to support any one artist. It’s fascinating to me that the political right, who are big proponents of capitalism (so they say) are the ones who throw a hissy fit when they perceive ‘cancel culture’ is happening.

Look. You can’t really have it both ways. You can’t say let the market decide unless it goes against my point of view. I mean, you can say that, but it’s not being internally logical. Which, I know. It may not surprise you to know that I don’t think much of the right and their ability to maintain an internal logic.

More to the point, though, is that they are really good at staying on message. It’s one thing I envy about the Republicans. Less so since that guy took over the party, but still. They will line up dutifully behind their party and repeat the talking points ad nauseam.

I wish the Democrats were as on message, but for better and worse, we are the big tent party. I have been a Dem since I was eighteen. Before that, really, but maybe not vocally.


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Where to draw the line

Yesterday, I talked about being at the crossroad in my personal life. Today, I want to muse about where I draw the line when it comes to problematic creators of art. Yes, I know that no one is perfect and that it’s easier to know someone’s ugliness these days than a hundred years ago. I’ve heard that argument more times than I care to count. Along with ‘cancel culture’ and that tired trope.

News flash: Cancel culture is not a thing! I wish to god it were. Can you imagine if minorities actually had that power? To get companies that we disapprove of to disband or abolished? Hell to the yes! I would be all over that.

In the RKG Discord, there was a passionate debate about the Hogwarts game. I would like to note that British people are terrible about trans issues. Not to say Americans are good, we aren’t, but British people like to claim the high ground when it comes to isms (they often say with a straight face that there is no racism, which is utter bullshit), so it’s notable that they are particularly terrible about trans issues.

There was a guy who declared that poor JKR was just misunderstood and really trying to defend women. He was the one who brought up ‘cancel culture’. I said it wasn’t a thing, but if it were, then it would actually be in line with capitalism. I mean, capitalists always liked to say, “Let the markets decide.” If the markets decided that JKR was reprehensible and no one wanted to buy her books because of it, then that’s capitalsm.

Here’s the depressing thing, though. JKR is a billionaire. She’s not hurting at all or in any way. Cancelled? I think not. Also, she is not defending women because trans women are women. If she can’t accept that, then she needs to GTFO.

Also, ever if she were being cancelled, she is not owed my money. I am nnot obliged to buy anything from her, nor is anyone else. Again, that is capitalism! I spend my money where I want. And it’s definitely not on anything associated with JKR.

In addition, I can’t unknow what I know. Like, Woody Allen sexually abused his wife’s adopted daughter, brainwashed her, and then married her. I’m supposed to pretend this isn’t the case? Or that Roman Polanski didn’t rape a thirteen-year old? Nope. That’s not going to happen. I know this about them, and it’s reprehensible. Again, I don’t have to give money to anyone I don’t want to. In the case of these two men, whatever art they’ve done (and I don’t like what I’ve seen of Woody Allen’s movies. I’ve never seen one of Roman Polanski’s) has been tainted by what they have done as men.

I don’t like Woody Allen’s movies, by the way. Even before the aforementioned issue. I think of them as a man whining and negging the women around him. But for some reason, he’s seen as inexplicably attractive. So not my thing at all.

More to the point, there are millions of books, moovies, music, etc. I will not be able to see/hear 1/100th of all the pop media available. Why would I want to spend my money on someone I loathed?


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Feeling some kind of way

Yesterday, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Probably because I had to get up early for the demo of my teacher’s teacher. The demo was at 11:30 a.m. and that’s when I usually get up or am feeding my cat while doing my morning routine.

Side note: My cat has gotten very picky about food since he was sick in November of 2022. I tihnk his sense of smell has been blunted because when he actually starts eating, he’ll eat plenty. Or rather, he will eat about a fourth of a small can and then suddenly stop. Unless he really likes the food (and this differs every day), then he’ll eat half. Once in a great while, he’ll eat close to the whole thing. That’s very rare, though. By the end of the meal (which can be up to forty-five minutes later), we may have gone through as many as 6 cans of food (not necessarily new ones).

I can almost consistently get him to eat some of some kind of Fancy Feast, which makes sense. It’s the McDonald’s of cat food and perfectly calibrated to make cats want to eat it. What I’m saying is that it’s not the most nutritious, but at this point, whatever he’ll eat is good. I’ve given him some of the higher-quality food, and he does not care for that.

Anyway, watching the demo for my teacher’s teacher’s school has left me feeling some kind of way. Why? Because there were weapon forms being done that I want to learn. A two-person sword form was one as was another sword form. Both of them were done by my teacher’s colleague, who I really admire. She (the colleauge/classmate) is a weapons admirer as well, and it’s clear that she has such joy when she does them. In addition, it was seeing her do the Double Sable Form at the demo in 2020 that made me want to learn it myself.

Here’s the thing. My teacher does not care for the weapons. She does them because that’s what her teacher wants her to do, but she does not keep up with them. Nor does she learn the more advanced ones. She focuses on the solo stuff plus Bagua. She did the Swimming Dragon Form for the demo and it was amazing.

Unfortunately, I feel if I want to continue with my weapon forms, I am going to have to find another teacher. My teacher’s teacher is amazing with weapons. His forms are beyond compare. He truly is a master when it comes to the forms. The thing is, though, I don’t feel comfortable with him as a person.


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