The beauty of our weapons

This dagger is radiant with beauty – at least when seen by the one wielding it!

I was playing Daggerfall as a Linguist, probably the most underpowered character class possible to make without hacking the game files. A life on the brink of extinction, running away a lot, progressing slowly.  And then I got my hand on one of the most overpowered items in the whole game, the Dagger of Life Stealing. (Mages Guild, Grayidge, Tulune.)

The surge of elation and confidence was on behalf of my imaginary character, but I still felt it in my physical body. I also noticed just how pretty the thing looked, which was why I took the screenshot. But as the “voice in my heart” pointed out: It probably doesn’t look that good from the other side, that is, for the person it is pointed at. Isn’t that the truth for all weapons?


There are also abstract weapons. For instance, here in Norway we talk about the “strike weapon”, when workers go on strike against employers or against some perceived injustice in society. I am sure my friends on the political left see the beauty in this weapon, but it is clear that most people who get stuck at an airport or find their supermarket without milk or their doctor appointment canceled, don’t see the beauty of the weapon so clearly.

Conversely, the members of “Occupy Wall Street” and similar organizations probably fail to see the beauty of a well-ordered troop of policemen coming their way with shields, batons and pepper spray – a beauty that is plain to see for my conservative friends.

So that is the lesson I was told by the Voice in my heart. It would probably have been better if I spent more time with that teacher than with my old flame Daggerfall, but what can I say. This is what happened. Sometimes we forget the obvious: That the beauty of a weapon depends on whether you are behind it or in front of it. Even words can have the power to wound, and I remember the satisfaction of giving a particularly sharp-edged reply. There is a lesson in this for almost everyone, I think.

Big butts, smart babies?

Free “are you a scientist” test. (Screenshot Daggerfall – evidently the people of the Alik’r Desert don’t eat much seafood either!)

Scientists are curious people. Evidently they cannot even look at a big butt without thinking. (I know a lot of guys who can look at butts without thinking, but then they never became scientists either.) What they have been thinking is: Why does our species, of all possible species, have this feature?

In most species, sexual selection is a one-way street. Peacocks have those crazy big, colorful tails; the hens are drab and naturally camouflaged for their environment. Male elks have huge antlers, females not. Thus, it seems unlikely that women have big butts because these are sexy. Rather, they are sexy because they are female. Men have adapted to the butts, hips and thighs rather than the other way around. Then why did this feature arise in the first place?

A discovery from back in 2007 may throw some light on this. It seems that the fatty tissues of the lower body contain more of the essential fatty acids, such as omega-3, used to build the baby’s brain. While the fat around the waist and under the skin all around the body contains more omega-6 and others that are mostly used for fuel. When a woman loses weight, she usually lets go of the waist fat first, although there are large genetic differences between ethnic groups and even family lines. Generally speaking, as mother, as daughter. But overall, lower-body fat is quite persistent. During the later parts of pregnancy and during lactation (suckling), the omega-3 fat is dissolved and transferred to the baby. (Of course, in modern societies it is possible to eat enough fat that you can have twins and not lose an ounce. But in the wild, this is harder to achieve.)

I’ll briefly point out that in Japan, where people all over the country eat a diet rich in omega-3 and have done so for a very long time, the vast majority of women have slender hips, almost childlike by western standards. They still have smart babies. Meanwhile the natives of the Kalahari desert, where seafood is about as common as hen’s teeth, are famous for their enormous behinds. Long-standing agricultural societies tend to fall in between these extremes.

Somehow this vaguely interesting discovery caused a brouhaha again this year, after Psychology Today printed an inaccurate and very popularized article about it. Their focus was that men are hardwired to prefer women with a particular waist-to-hip ratio. Evidently this came across as “men know women’s bodies better than women do”, which caused the habitual rage in the hardcore feminist crowd.

And of course socialists generally dislike evolutionary psychology, since it implies that humans are not blank slates on which we can write the gospel of Marx and Lenin and usher in Utopia in our lifetime. Meanwhile, conservatives dislike evolutionary psychology since it implies that humans are some kind of animals and not created in God’s image. Me, I dislike evolutionary psychology because it is usually a thinly veiled attempt to prove that people everywhere and at all times were meant to do whatever is popular in America this decade. But this seems to be an exception, unless Americans have suddenly taken a liking to large hips without telling their supermodels.

Whatever the case may be, there is no reason to despair if you’re pregnant and worried that your thighs are not fat enough. Norway exports affordable cod liver oil to all corners of the world. Order your bottle today! Think of the children! Hubby is encouraged to buy some too, lest the baby absconds with what’s left of wife’s butts. Cod liver oil – rich in essential fatty acids – good for the whole family! ^_^

(Sources? Google “women’s hips contain omega 3”. ^_^)

Return to Daggerfall

Little known fact: If you save your game in Daggerfall and reload it, the trees will have moved. So will the people, and they will have new names. Both the forest and the villagers are randomly created anew each time you arrive. One thing is constant though: The women all have big butts.

In the last days of MS-DOS, just before Windows 95 changed everything, some of the greatest games ever were made. Developers used to floppy disks saw the rapid spread of hard disks and CD-ROM and suddenly found they had unlimited space to make the ultimate game. At the same time, the video cards of the time allowed easily recognizable pictures, but not the lifelike detail that soon came to fill our CD-ROMs and hard disks to the brim. And so, this era saw games of a scope never seen before or since, a scope so epic that it would take lifetimes to fully explore them.

Daggerfall is one such game. A single-player role playing game with an interface similar to the massive multiplayer RPGs which were just emerging, it contains terrain larger than Great Britain, although luckily you can also use the map to travel directly to any known location. The land is dotted with literally thousands of locations, from farms to cities, from small crypts to enormous dungeons which may take a full workday to explore. (Not that I recommend using your workday so!) Towns and cities have a range of shops from the traditional blacksmiths to clothes shops and even banks, where you can stash your heavy gold coins or borrow money and buy a local house or a ship.

Magic is an important force in Daggerfall, and the Mages Guild not only sell spells, members can also buy magical items or even make their own spells and magical items once they gain some rank in the guild. They may even get a specialist to teleport them to another part of the country in an instance, or summon a powerful demon which may know about ancient artifacts with unique powers. As an alternative to making your own magical gear, you may try visiting different guild chapters, as they have their own specialties. I am not sure how many there are of them, but probably in the hundreds.

Temples offer various services, such as healing and selling potions, and eventually making your own potions. (One of them specializes in magic items instead, for those who for some reason don’t join the mages guild.) In some provinces you may also join a knightly guild which will let its champions sleep for free in any inn or tavern in the province, or even give high-ranking members a local house for free. (You can, as mentioned, buy your own house, but they are rather pricey.) The Fighters’ guild has no such grand reward, but they let you sleep in the guild house and repair your gear for you.

Daggerfall was ahead of its time. Like other massive games from this time, such as the strategy game Master of Magic, it is partly remembered for its massive bugs, although most of these were patched later. A few features were put in the game but never activated (or perhaps they were deactivated), such as furniture shops and prostitutes. You never see the ships actually sail, either. The dozen or so different languages have very little effect in the game. Still, one must admire the ambition of such an epic undertaking. Even though the later Elder Scrolls games were also known to be incredibly massive, they pale compared to the scope of Daggerfall.

And almost 20 years later, it is still a truckload of fun to play. The graphics look horrible for a few minutes until the imagination kicks in, the blocky sprites smooth out, and you start to see the land the way the developers imagined it, an immense world filled with wonder and danger, where you are left alone to create your own fate. Good, bad, you’re the one with the sword … or the magic … or the ability to speak with centaurs and nymphs. An endless adventure has just begun.

Writing: Supernatural teacher reboot

What is the meaning of surrounding yourself with girls!

Thou shalt have no other girls before me!

I may try to reboot “The Teacher Will Appear” for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, formerly known as “November”) this year. Possibly before, if the urge grows too strong – it is still over a month left, and a month is enough to write 50 000 words, as I have shown occasionally. What I consider is to merge it with my dream a couple years ago about working for the Norse gods.

In my original (and stalled) attempt, there is a decidedly oriental flavor, ranging from Japanese names to Chinese Qi-Gong and Daoist immortals. Which is also OK, I guess, but as a Norwegian I have a competitive advantage writing about the Norse pantheon or derivatives thereof. I can draw on a great body of lore, quite a bit of it in my head. I know the locations and the images associated with it. And I just think they have a greater potential for wacko fun than the more refined Eastern traditions. (This is quite likely because I don’t know the Eastern traditions well enough, though!)


Blurb-style plot introduction, updated with pantheon changes etc:

MC is a Norwegian high school boy, showing up to the first day of his senior year. He finds that he has gained a new classmate and a new teacher. The teacher is young, beautiful, strong, intelligent, ignorant about contemporary subculture, and seems to hate him with a passion from the first time she lays eyes on him. This all turns out to stem from the fact that she is a second-generation Norse goddess, and Odin, the Allfather of the Norse pantheon has decided that MC is her fated husband-to-be, and it is her job to teach him the ropes of immortality.

The young goddess is not too pleased. And neither is MC, once he realized that the privilege entails a couple decades of celibacy until he has qualified for immortality or died trying. To ensure his compliance in this matter, the goddess’ younger sister has enrolled as his classmate and proceeds to defend his chastity with excessive measures, both in school and on his supposed free time. Over time his weekends are increasingly filled up with cosmic Viking raids to Utgard, Svartalfheim, Niflheim etc: alternate dimensions that seem like badly designed role playing games filled with monsters and loot, in the company of wacky Norse gods and immortal (or at least resurrectable) warriors, valkyries, and superpowered animals of varying intelligence and generally unpleasant temperament.

At least his mother is happy that he has finally found some friends, although she is a little worried about his overly attached girlfriend…

Go or no Go?

“Only the body is shed; the mind is forever in the maze of 19 lines.” 

I saw this illustration near the end of the Hikaru no Go manga. It creeped me out, and I think I had reason for that.

I have written occasionally about the relevance of lower worlds – the worlds which we humans create – to the human soul. Back in the 1990es, one of my fellow ardent Daggerfall players pondered whether we might go to Daggerfall when we die. That was both a creepy and alluring prospect in a certain sense: Daggerfall was a truly life-size game, the like of which has perhaps never been seen (although the graphics are less than amazing by today’s standards). As experienced from 1st person perspective, the size of the terrain was around the size of Great Britain – more than enough to live countless lifetimes and yet not stumble across everything. It was a world rich in magic and with varied weaponry, but also ordinary clothes, houses, bookstores, even banks. It seemed reasonable, entirely too reasonable, that a game such as that could trap a human spirit.

I have mentioned the Orthodox philosopher Philip Sherrard and his conviction that the human soul, upon death, brings with it its internal representation of the world. Indeed, it is this internal image of the world which the soul lives in even while alive, although while we live it may be updated frequently through our senses. Once we die, this connection is broken, but the vast internal model of the world remains with us and the soul continues to inhabit it. As such, it seems reasonable to assume that the dead may not even know they are dead, even if they remain conscious in some non-physical medium.

Ryuho Okawa, founder of the Japanese new religion Happy Science, likewise think that dead humans without spiritual experience will quickly forget that they are dead. The Astral Realm, where such souls live, is similar to the physical world. I don’t think Okawa and Sherrard knew of each other – they don’t have much more in common – so I assume this is some tradition that has been around for a while.

It is in light of this that I see the words of today’s picture and imagine the hapless soul trapped in the Go board, unaware that its life on Earth has come to an end, endlessly searching for the Hand of God in the maze of 19×19 lines. I wonder if even Daggerfall, with its night terrors, would not be preferable to such a maze. And yet it is not really a very confined space: The number of different games that can be played on a grown-up’s goban (Go board) far exceeds the number of stars in the observable universe.

Using my imagination, I traveled to an alternate timeline in which I had started studying Go seriously in early 2010, some two and a half year ago. Spending hours each day learning the game, very little would happen at first. For months, I would just routinely lose to the artificial intelligences, being too incompetent to dare challenge a human player. I would however continue to study the newbie advice available on the Net, and eventually beginner books, while trying various tactics against the computer. Gradually I would get drawn into it, until – as has happened with various other activities – I started seeing the game movements with a kind of “third eye” superimposed on the world around me, kind of like you may imagine having glasses that project an image on top of reality. This is the point at which my learning a skill increases dramatically.

Seeing myself today in that alternate timeline, I can’t say I like what I saw. Go is certainly preferable in many ways to the games I tend to play. It disciplines the mind and strengthens the brain, it encourages clear thinking and a deep understanding of cause and effect deployed deep into future time. It is an extremely chaste game, well it is really beyond that concept whatsoever. It is a great way to meet people with a tendency to think. Yes, there is much good to say about it, but nothing good to say about being obsessed with it. For the more you immerse yourself in it, as in any game or sport or even job, the greater is the risk that your mind is trapped forever in a limited corner of existence.

So the answer to my question on top there? Go or no Go? “Neither of the above.” There is no lower world that should be allowed to trap our soul, not even one as pure as the world of Go.

Not quite so happy anymore

“I didn’t change at all” says Tsubaki, the guy driving the bike. Hikaru, in the back, learned something from every win and every loss. That was the difference between them.

I have been … boasting, or something close to it, about my super happiness for a long time, haven’t I? Recently, I have gradually come to notice that I am not so happy anymore. The intense pangs of joy that seemed inexplicable, they have pretty much stopped. And I don’t feel so upbeat in my day to day life either. Not the constant euphoria.

That is not to say that I am unhappy, or sad, or lonely, or depressed. Far from it. I just feel more… human. I am not sure I can achieve anything more. I am not sure I can make progress. When I look at my recent history, it seems like I am standing still, at best. Or going forward and then back again. I am pacing back and forth in a nice spot, I guess, but it was not quite this I hoped for.

I wanted to get better at my job. Actually, I wanted to get really good at my job. Not to get more pay or a finer title or any of that, but simply to be able to solve more problems for people. I am happy to say that I got an opportunity early this month, when I got to assist the other team for some days when they were swamped because of an external problem. That was nice. But overall, looking back over the last couple years, there is very little progress. I have not really become much better at solving problems in my work. A little, I would say, but it is at a snail’s pace at best. It was not this I hoped for, or intended.

When I look at my personal life, it is much the same. I had hoped to be a better person by now. A purer, less selfish person. Someone able to bless other people rather than thinking about my own wants and wishes. Someone taking up less and giving more. I had hoped to be someone who had the wisdom to help others. But very little has happened. I am not really active in goodness.

I’d like to think it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m no longer living in a small house in the countryside but in an apartment right under asylum seekers or some such which shout and play weird music, sometimes till 2AM on weekday nights. According to my understanding of how the world works, such things should not influence one’s happiness at all. It all depends on the way one reacts. What is a challenge to the worldly person should be an opportunity to refine the soul for those who seek the things above. I just don’t have quite the heart for soul refinery that I thought I had before it was put to the test, I guess!

I mean, a gospel that brings happiness to the rich and those who have good neighbors is not much to write about, is it? The apostles of Jesus Christ sang praises from prison. Socrates and the Buddha used their last minutes to comfort their friends. I just don’t see myself in their place.

That said, to repeat myself, I am not depressed here. Just not ecstatically joyful, see? When I look at the writings of my online friends, or talk with people at work, I realize that I am blessed indeed. I wish I could reduce their unnecessary suffering and turn it to joy. But this is exactly what I cannot do. And so I become like stagnant water, I think. Surely there must be ways to bless others without sharing heavenly secrets that are above my pray grade. Well, I suppose my plan for that was to increase my pray grade, but it is easier said than done… Then again, it was always very easily said, wasn’t it?

Too late for Omega-3

Double duty picture from City of Heroes! According to science, identifying with superheroes can make you stronger. But unfortunately discoveries like these tend to disappear over time, as if Real Life too was a game that gets patched…

I recently bought another box of Omega-3, the super healthy fat. Unfortunately, I was too late. Before I even got started, science had discovered that Omega-3 does not prevent cardiovascular disease after all. I read it on (In Norwegian.)

For some years, it has been known that Omega-3 fatty acids have various beneficial effects on blood vessels, and the way it worked was reasonably well understood. Or so we thought. But there is another effect which is poorly understood, a general law that says that a scientific discovery is likely to disappear gradually over time (the Decline Effect).

This is not true for the basics such as gravity or electricity, but more recent (and more complex) discoveries seem to fall under this surprising law. The first independent attempts to replicate the discovery agree that there really is such an effect, and it is surprisingly strong. Theorist then come up with various ways in which the effect can be explained, and new tests are run to pinpoint these. But meanwhile, the effect becomes gradually smaller, and after some years it disappears. This has now happened to the effects of Omega-3 on heart and blood vessels. While we now finally understand how it works, it no longer works, and we don’t understand why. When we didn’t understand how it worked, it worked well enough.

Around the same time, I read that reduced calorie intake did not prolong the lives of rhesus monkeys. Scientists have tested reduced calorie intake (less than 75% of normal) for a wide range of organisms, from nematodes to mice. They stayed youthful longer and exceeded the maximal life expectancy of their species. The monkeys also stayed youthful longer, but died at the normal time anyway. This is bound to be a slap in the face for the people who have gone on a starvation diet to live to see the Singularity. Well, you may want to be youthful longer anyway, but it bears mention in passing that one of the first effects of long-time calorie restriction is that your sex drive goes off and doesn’t get back until you get your fat back. So I guess prayer and fasting really is a good combination for those who want to stay super chaste. But immortality is not so easily achieved.

The most amusing explanation for the fading scientific discoveries is that Real Life is actually a MMRPG (massively multiplayer role playing game) and that the developers patch any unintentional exploits incrementally after they are published. Hey, the developers over on City of Heroes did this with their Mission Architect system. They would patch one exploit, then someone would discover a less powerful exploit, and it was patched too, and so on until the exploits were so mediocre that most people did not really care one way or another. So perhaps the developers of real life are doing the same.

Or perhaps we are just too eager to jump on anything that seems like a loophole in the laws of nature.

Pearls before swine, lots of pearls

“The poison of jealousy turns even an angel into a devil.” When we go too high above our pray grade, we unleash a universal Constraining Force, which has the power to enrage the swine around us, or even the swine within. This is a fearful thing to unleash.

Recently I have immersed myself in winter and spring of 2010, rereading my first months in Riverview. I sure wrote a lot of worthwhile spiritual and generally good and useful stuff. I received a lot of revelations, and of course I had some from before, so I just kept writing it down. I am not really sure it has been of help to anyone, but perhaps one day it will be. Who knows?

I read a bit in Mouravieff’s Gnosis again. He mentions that those who are trying to break out of the general law – the inertia of the world – should keep silent about spiritual things. It is natural, he says, to want to talk to everyone about the wonderful things you have found. But it will cause the constraining elements of the world to become aware of you and react in various ways, externally and internally. (Resistance from other people, and temptations.) So while you may not need to literally go through your days silent, you should be silent about the spiritual sights you have just seen. He refers then to Christ’s words about not casting pearls before swine or giving to the dogs what is holy. They will just attack you.

That may be so, but if no one ever mentioned the spiritual things, then it would die with them, is that not so?

Well, that is so, but by and large it should be left to those who have achieved lift-off, I guess. Those who have so little to lose, the constraining forces can do little about them except revile them and kill them, which is not enough at that stage. Christ said at the end of his life that the prince of this world was coming “and he has nothing in me”. That is not the case for us newbies. Whether we think so or not, there is actually a lot in us that can be activated by the constraining force of the ordinary world.

But I keep having this notion that if I throw enough pearls before the swine, sooner or later they will lose their footing and fall flat. Since there seems to be an endless supply of pearls – for when you have been given an internal companion from Heaven, no matter how undeserved, there is no end to what could be said – it seemed reasonable to me that I must say all the words that should be spoken, before they are lost forever.

On the internet, nobody can see if you are a dog. Or a swine. I like to think that there are a few out there who are neither. But if I were to think of myself, and what is best for me, then I should probably keep a lower profile. The more we speak up, the more the constraining force will focus upon us, what the ancients called demons and Satan, which attacks both within through temptations and wild emotions, and without through slander and hostility. In one story written down in the gospel, Jesus Christ drove out unclean spirits from a man, and at once they went into a flock of swine. This is unfortunately so even spiritually speaking, that the swine are always receptive to the negative spiritual influences. The more pearls you throw at them, the angrier they get, unaware that what they are being pelted with is supposed to be valuable. We are not talking cuddly piglets here, a crowd of enraged swine is a fearsome thing indeed.

For a beginner such as I – and this is tragic in itself, to be a beginner after all these years and with all this insight – for a beginner, the constraining force may well completely extinguish the spiritual life if I go too high. This is a fact deeply enshrined in all serious spiritual traditions, and also mentioned in Christianity of course: “and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.” The Devil is the personification of the constraining force, according to Mouravieff. I don’t think it matters here whether you think of the Devil as a person as such, regardless the point stands that it is not something we should mess with just for the hell of it. If we go too far above our pray grade, we become “inflated” as some translations put it, and the constraining force will cause us to fall into damnable actions.

This is not unlike what I experience when I play Go, actually.  See, at the start of a match, it is customary to place stones at strategic spots on the board, with the unspoken intention of declaring the surrounding are one’s own, or to occupy it if you will. But if I start out reaching far into the other side of the board early on, the opponent will react by invading my home territory and cut it apart, and I end up with nothing. Since I am a beginner and don’t have the skill to follow up on bold moves, the best I can do at my present level is to secure a smaller part of the board and wall it off from enemy incursion.

While I believe that my Invisible Friend could easily reveal to me innumerable books of Heavenly wisdom, it is unlikely that I would fail to make a fuss about it, and subsequently be cut to pieces by the constraining force, “an anti-dromedary” as I call it. (Enantiodromia.) When someone who has made a sustained and earnest beginning in spiritual work is gutted like that, the result is usually terrifying. An utter ruin, a destruction on a far more massive scale than the setbacks that anyone can experience in life. I have lived a charmed life so far. Long may it last – but that means not playing Buddha on the Internet.

A lesson from Go

Evidently the Japanese are not entirely unfamiliar with the Dunning-Kruger effect (“How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments” in the words of the original study).

To get back to something less disturbing, I am still trying to learn Go. I can feel that I have come further than I ever have before. (I try to learn Go every time I have watched the anime series Hikaru no Go. So at least three times now, probably four.) This time, I feel like I have achieved lift-off, in a sense: I can actually watch other people play Go and understand some of what happens. When watching 17-kyu and beginner games, sometime their intentions are pretty transparent: They are trying to cut off the opponent, or capture stones, or avoid getting stones captured. So I watch and think: “He is not going to fall for that. He is going to connect at A, and you will have to play B to save your own group.” And sometimes the other player does fall for it, and I have this unfamiliar feeling of having actually seen something another Go player did not see (even if it was another beginner like me.)

And then I go back to the 13×13 training board against my Galaxy Tab, and it crushes me mercilessly. I don’t see the traps when they are for me, and once it takes the initiative, I never get it back. I am chased and either cut to pieces or besieged in a small territory while the computer reigns most of the board supreme. I guess Go is a lot like real life: It is easier to see what other people should do, but hard to see the same when it comes to myself!

An online friend (or nearly so) has just taken up playing Go as well, and described his first meeting with a Go robot as a lesson in humility. I guess that is one way to put it. Did you know that this ancient board game only has 5 rules, all of the quite simple? You can learn it in a couple minutes. And yet professional Go players have usually practiced for hours a day for a decade or so. Over the course of about 3000 years, no one has been able to master it, to find the sequence of moves that cannot be surpassed, the theory that can win every game.

That is the challenge of one of the world’s simplest games. And yet there are people who think that their amazing powers of logic lets them understand life, the universe and everything. If not in detail, then pretty well. Good luck with that.

Skyrim revisited

Greetings from Norway… er, Skyrim! Almost the same thing. Here featuring Cerviden the supposed healer.

New computer, new modifications, bad habits.

I had barely touched Skyrim since last year, but three days ago I got the urge to try it on the laptop. I did not expect it to run very well there, it being a laptop and all. (Although I have hooked up a 24″ monitor, USB keyboard and trackball to it in my home office.) But it runs smooth as butter in high resolution. This computer really is something. (Asus N56V.)

I was trying out a couple new mods. Well, one of them was also around last time, in a certain sense: Calientes female body mod, Big Bottom Edition arrived almost as soon as the game did, rendering female bodies looking actually female rather than male bodies with oranges on the chest. But at the time it had the side effect of leaving all females naked if taking off their armor. Now they have underwear (if you insist during installation), and not particularly sexy underwear either, so that is good I guess. I routinely press the “take all” button after defeating enemies. (I use the word “defeat” rather than “kill”, because they certainly don’t seem to be dead in the earthly sense. There are no wounds or burns, and they don’t get rigor mortis. Even if you leave them around for a couple days, they don’t discolor or bloat, and after a couple days, they just disappear while you are not watching. So it seems more similar to City of Heroes where you get fixed up at the hospital at a modest cost if you are defeated. Or that’s what I tell myself.)

A mod I have not seen before is Cerviden – SMART Healer – which is a follower who can be instructed in how to fight, or not. Well, that is the theory. I tell her to stay back, not attack unless attacked, and not use aggressive magic, just cast healing and protecting spells on me as needed. She is all OK with that, but once the battle begins, she forgets and starts attacking the enemies from a distance. This keeps me from trapping their life energies in my crystals, not to mention gaining experience in weapon and armor use. Oh well. She is an amusing companion though, with a lot of voice acted more or less context-sensitive chatter. Probably the funniest companion I have had since the sentient sword in Morrowind. That was a hoot.

I also have downloaded the fairly large Immersive Armors mod, which adds a lot of new armor types to the world. Since many of them are context or level dependent, I have not seen most of them yet.

A quality world map with roads drawn on it makes travel easier. It is a small thing but makes a noticeable difference to “quality of life” in the game.

Finally there is the Guard Dialogue Overhaul, which is meant to make the guards less dumb and more respectful. They now recognize my fame, such as it is, and treat me accordingly. So that is something.

There sure are some amazingly high quality game modifications available for free. As I have said before, the freeconomy is already upon us. (Although some artists accept donations.) As for me, I hope I am not going to use their creations much. I am not particularly proud of having played Skyrim again. The voice in my heart is not impressed either. Stabbing people repeatedly with daggers is a bad habit. And you wouldn’t want to have people in underwear strewn around when angels come to visit, either. Besides, it takes time that I had intended to use for other things.

Still, it is amazing to live in the future. To think that one can visit such a detailed, lifelike imaginary world in one’s own living room! I remember the time when a screen resolution of 320×240 caused my computer to almost overheat. If it gets better than this, I better not enter in the first place, or I might never come back. That would be a great loss, at least to me!