Underneath my yellow skin

The dark side of Dark Souls, part five

I am writing about the dark side of the Dark Souls series (very slowly as I get sidetracked by everything I love about the games) and this is part…five? Here’s part four and many of my issues with the DLCs of the third game. Having said that, I have finished NG, including the DLC. I got summons on the Champion Gravetender & Gravetender Greatwolf, Darkeater Midir, and Slave Knight Gael. One for CG & GG, two for DE, and one for SKG. On a Monday afternoon! It’s heartwarming that people are still playing the game. Ian showed me how to check how many people are concurrently playing and it’s roughly 14,000 at a time. I didn’t think that was THAT many people, but Ian assured me that many MMOs would kill for those numbers.

On the downside, that means that there are people still invading as well. I play the game offline until I reach a boss because I’m usually embered up (human form). I have gone on record several times that I hate being invaded, though I’ve accepted it’s part of the game. I’ve had people try to change my mind about it to no avail. One person in the RKG group got pretty earnest about it. We were talking about platting the game and I said that the pain of grinding for the covenant items made me not play the game for some time. He said that it was because I did it the wrong way–I needed to invade for the items and that would make it less grindy.

Now. Is he right? Yes. Invading for the items would have made it easier. How many items? Let’s chat. 30 Proofs of a Concord Kept for the Blade of the Darkmoon Covenant. 30 Pale Tongues for the Rosaria’s Fingers Covenant. 30 Vertebra Shackles for the Mound-Makers Covenant. 30 Wolf’s Blood Swordgrass for the Watchdogs of Farron Covenant. 30 Human Dregs for the Aldritch Faithful Covenant. 30 Sunlight Medals for the Warrior of Sunlight Covenant. Oh my god. As I was writing this list, it all came flooding back. I had repressed much of it and forgotten two of the six covenants I had to grind items for. There are a few of each item found strewn around the world, but not more than five of each.

I didn’t forget the Sunbro Covenant, but I didn’t have to grind for those items, either. Why? Because that’s my covenant and I actually allowed myself to get summoned for the Twin Princes because it’s the one boss fight I can do well and it takes very little time. The reason I actually want to get the 30 Sunlight Medals is because the miracle you get for that is the Great Lightning Spear, which is fucking amazing. It’s what I use to beat the Storm King (first part of the Nameless King fight) and it takes four or five spears plus viscerals to kill the Storm King. Oh, that’s the reason you have to get 30 of any of the covenant items–it gives you items you need for the plat. Two miracles, a pyromancy, and a ring. Actually, you don’t need 30 Pale Tongues for the plat so I’m pretty sure I didn’t do that.

The Wolf’s Blood Swordgrass was surprisingly easy to do. There is a loop you can make in Farron Keep, but there’s another loop in, um, a different area of Farron Keep where you can get both Pale Tongues and Wolf’s Blood Swordgrass (from different enemies). You DO need 10 of the Pale Tongues for a ring so I did the latter loop first and then migrated to the former loop when I just needed the Wolf’s Blood Swordgrass to get another ring. The Proof of a Concord Kept items broke me. The way to get those to drop is to kill Silver Knights. There are two near the bonfire in Anor Londo. For all the covenant bullshit, I used all the discovery items I had. The drop rate is 1 in 30 knights with 350 discovery. I think I had more discovery than that. I got roughly 3 or 4 drops an hour. Do the math. It took me roughly seven hours to get the items I needed. I got a shit-ton of Souls at the same time and over-leveled myself to hell. That was fun to juice up my stats, but not so fun when I reached the Nameless King on NG++ and could not get a summon. We’ll get to that in a second.

I should have taken a break before tackling the Vertebra Shackles, but it was the last item I needed and I was desperate to get it done and over with. The way to get the Vertebra Shackles is by killing an enemy in the Catacombs of Carthus, an enemy I find particularly bothersome for whatever reason. Let me just say, Hidden Body/Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring combo which I now do in the original game as well is a game-changer. In the first game, it’s limited because there are only 3 casts of Hidden Body and not enough slots to have the Lingering Dragoncrest Ring as well, the one that extends the length of the spells. I don’t know for sure, but I think they nerfed Hidden Body. It seems to last not as long even with the Lingering Dragoncrest Ring.

So, there’s a loop from a bonfire in the Catacombs of Carthus that includes two Carthus Swordsmen. By the way I read a few posts from when I was doing the not-plat, and this was not my last thing needed for the not-plat. It’s funny which details I get wrong. Anyway, the drop for the Vertebra Shackles was even lower than it had been for the Proofs of a Concord Kept. I got 2 or 3 per hour and I started with 2, I think. Oh, by the other way, the Human Dregs were obtained from killing the Devout of the Deep. This one also wasn’t that difficult to do. Tedious, yes, but not that bad. Back to the Vertebra Shackles. I farmed for a few hours, but I got fed up. It’s funny that I could do all of the rest of the covenant items and not crack, and I couldn’t even make it to half before I was DONE.

I seriously considered giving up, but I was so close. I DM’ed Ian and asked if he’d be willing to let me invade him and kill him for the 18 Vertebra Shackles I needed. Yes, I remember the number; it’s seared in my brain forever. He very generously said he’d do it and we got that done. Honestly, I think I  would have quit had I had to grind out those 18 Vertebra Shackles. The dude in the RKG group who was pushing me to play the ‘right’ way said that if I had done it by invading, it wouldn’t have taken as long. Wrong! Or rather,  that depends. If you’re good at it, yes, it would take less time. If you’re shit at it like I am, no, it wouldn’t. He tried to argue by saying that since I had been able to put in the time to learn PvE, I could do the same for PvP. I didn’t bother arguing with him because he wasn’t able to see any other point of view, but it’s not the same thing at all. There are ways to get around my slow reflexes and shit reactions in PvE. It’s not the same in PvP. In addition, the people who are still doing it five years later (!) are phenomenal at it because it’s all they do. They’ve built the perfect character for every area and they’ll ruthlessly take you down. The guy I was talking to described all the traps he laid for people when he invaded their worlds and I though, “Why would I want any of that?” When I told him that I just jumped off the nearest cliff, he chided me and said I could do so much to get back at the invader and that casting is actually really useful in PvP. This is not true. Because of lag issues, most people can roll past my casts with ease.

In addition, what he couldn’t get through his head was that I did not want to learn to PvP. I don’t LIKE PvP and the amount of time I would need in order to be able to be good at it is not an amount of time I want to put in learning the skill. Putting aside how shitty my reflexes and reactions are, I have no interest in PvP. That’s enough for me to not learn it. I don’t need an excuse because that’s perfectly valid. This kind of gatekeeping is tiring and boring to me. The idea that you have to play the game in a proscribed and prescriptive way is offensive to me especially as I have played them my way. I can say I’ve made it through every FromSoft game without parrying and it’s something I use as an example of making the games bend to me. I will be a caster first and foremost even when it’s not a good idea (glaring at Bloodborne). I will not give up my shield unless I absolutely have to (glaring at BB and Sekiro).

GTFO with all the mandates of how I *have* to play the games. I say no! That extends to PvP. I will continue to jump off cliffs to not give an invader the satisfaction of killing me. I *will* play the games my way because that’s why I love them so much. I want to play Dark Souls II, but I’m afraid I’ll fall into not-platting it because I know how I am. If I do that, then I have to drag out the old laptop once again because Dark Souls II also doesn’t have cloud sync. I’m in NG+ in DS III at the moment and romping my way through the Undead Settlement. I’m so glad I can enjoy the games once again and I’m looking forward to griping about Elden Ring in the near future.

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