Underneath my yellow skin

Dark Souls can still surprise me

I love the Souls games. I’m sure I’ve said that a time or a hundred, but it bears repeating. One thing I love about the games is that no matter how many times I’ve played them, they are still capable of surprising me. For example, I’m shadowing Ian in Dark Souls (my character is doing what his character is doing in case he needs a summon). I just killed the hydra for reasons before realizing that means he can’t summon me for the hydra. Whoops! That’s not what surprised me, though. That was just me playing on autopilot doing what I needed to do before heading down to Blighttown. Ian is sat at the bottom bonfire ready to take on Quelaag. I have the master key and can go in the backway, which I shall. It means I won’t get the best pyromancy in the game (Power Within), but I can get it later.

What did I need to do? Get my pyro flame up to +10 so I can trigger the secret pyro trainer in Blighttown. That meant grinding for 12,000 souls to go from +9 to +10. I also want to do the Hidden Body/Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring combo, which meant killing the hydra to spawn the golden golem, killing it in order to spawn Dusk, then buying Hidden Body from her. What I’m saying is that it’s a lot. I did it, though, and then realized to my horror that I had killed a boss before Ian did.

Anyway, none of that is what surprised me. One, I talked about before. Summoning Lautrec for the Bell Gargs made him disappear from Firelink Shrine. That annoyed me because I hate invading him for Anastacia’s soul (don’t ask) and wanted the Ring of Favor and Protection as soon as possible. Imagine my surprise when I went to FLS after killing the Gaping Dragon and finding Lautrec sitting across from Anastacia again! I summoned him for the Gaping Dragon along with Solaire (same as the Bell Gargs), so is the game saying he chills at the FLS until it’s time for him to murder Anastacia? That would make sense. Some people speculate that he romances the Fire Keepers, then kills them for their souls. For the goddess he serves. Fina, the goddess of fatal beauty. That’s why he’s found locked up in the Undead Parish where there’s the soul of a dead Fire Keeper on the altar. It’s an interesting theory and one I can get behind.

At any rate, I’m pleased I was able to murder Lautrec in FLS and not have to wait until Anor Londo to invade him. I mistimed my kick and had to actually fight him, but that was no thing. Three or four swipes of my Zwei+10 and he was gold dust! I was tempted to do a quick run into New Londo to get the Very Large Ember so I could upgrade my Zwei ever further, but I’m not trying to get TOO large in this run. I don’t think levels matter if you play with a friend with a password, but still. It’s tempting, though. If it were closer to the beginning of New Londo, I’d do it. But it’s a fair bit of a way in so I’m going to wait.

Anyway! What was the cool thing I saw watching Ian play in the worst area of the game TM? That would be Blighttown, by the way, which I  don’t consider that bad on the PC with dsfix or the remaster. I’ll get to that in a second. Let’s talk about things I’ve found in the other games after playing a dozen or so times.

In Dark Solus II, there is fight between two of the NPCs that if you follow both of their questlines, you can influence one way or the other. I usually take Creighton’s side, but I’ll choose Pate once in a while. Anyway, once after that fight, I found…another room? What? What is this? It was a corridor that went to another room which went to another room! I had never seen that before because I get in such a rhythm when I play, I don’t even consider there might be something new.

As for the third game, there is an NPC named Irina of Carim. She is a wannabe Fire Keeper with a minder, Eygon, who threatens you if you harm her. After  doing her questline several times, I read that there was a dark path for her. Wait, what? Huh? I watched a video and of course had to try it. You have  to buy Dark Miracles from Irina, which makes Eygon whisk her away and challenge you to a duel. After you duel him (if you kill him) you get his stuff and Irina goes back to Firelink Shrine. If you talk to her with Eygon’s gauntlets on, she’ll beg you to kill her as you promised to do. Then, you kill her. Which actually made me tear up.

Back to the first game. Ian was running around in the swamps of Blighttown, exploring. He went towards the slugs and one of them exploded , sent out what looked like white rays of magic, and Ian instantly died. He went back to that spot and there was the thing again that did the same thing and insta-killed him again. Then, he ran away.

I lost my mind because I had never seen that before. I urged him to go back, but he, understandably, did not want to do that. I had a vague idea what it was and Googled furiously. It took me a hot second, but I found out it was, indeed, the thing I was thinking of. Which is called a vagrant. It’s a very rare occurrence in that when a player loses a bunch of stuff (like humanity) and does not make it back to their bloodstain to pick it up again. The vagrant can be good or evil and travels to another player’s world. Good vagrant just has stuff in it upon being killed. Bad vagrant attacks the player on sight and can be white or red. Both have ranged attacks that are brutal. White vagrant drops humanity if killed; red vagrant drops twit humanities. If the vagrant is not killed, it goes to another player’s world. That’s how I understand it and I think I at least got the basic gist right.

I’ve seen the good ones before (twice), but not the evil ones. To see it out in the wild was great (sorry, Ian). I really wanted Ian to go back, but when he did, it was gone. It was weird because it was there twice. He said it was white the first time and red the second. I don’t know if that’s possible, but why not? At any rate, my guess is that it stayed in Ian’s world because there were no other people playing. That’s weird, though, because there are always other people playing. I was making my way down to the Blighttown bonfire and got the extra Estus (which means another player had kindled that bonfire). I talked to Quelana, the secret pyro trainer, and I want to do all the things with her. But, maxing out the Pyromancy Flame takes 340,500 souls, which is more than 200 levels. People in the community like to say Pyromancer is easy mode, which, yeah, but it takes a lot to fully max out everything you need to be an amazing pyro.

Anyway. There is still probably dialogue I haven’t gotten in the games. I exhaust the NPCs’ dialogue every time I talk to them, of course, but they have different dialogue at different stages of the game I don’t visit certain NPCs any more than I have to so I might have missed some dialogue.

One thing about Elden Ring that freaks me out is that I probably won’t get to see everything in it. Even if I play it for the rest of my life, I’m not going to be able to see everything. One cool thing about the original Dark Souls, especially, is that there is so much optional content you can easily miss. The lads from RKG were doing a secrets episode in which Daniel was taking Rory and Gav to several hidden bits. They were doing the tree to get to Ash Lake when Rory said something like, “Imagine this is your first game with all these secrets. It would destroy you for all other games.” Which in essence Dark Souls did. They discussed how you could do the whole game and never even see Ash Lake because it’s hidden behind TWO illusory walls. Imagine being the designers who worked an that area!

It’s one thing I love about the games–the sense of exploration and discovery. Most of the time, I need the Wikis for this stuff, but when I manage to find a secret for myself, it’s such a rush! Except the time I unknowingly cut off Yuria’s questline in the third game, but we don’t talk about that. I’m hoping that I don’t feel overwhelmed in Elden Ring as I’m sure I’ll be spoiled for choices. I have a hunch that I’m going to have to find a way to temper my desire to see everything at once. Still ,there is nothing like a new FromSoft game and the feeling that anything can happen.


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