Diary

Dishonored: No Trace, episode 3: Sokolov & I

Chris Thursten at

It's No Trace time again! In case you were wondering, 'No Trace Time' is now defined as 'once a week, pretty much.' Thank you for your continued understanding. In this week's episode, I tackle Kaldwin's Bridge in pursuit of the Royal Physician, Anton Sokolov - all the while attempting to leave no evidence of Corvo's involvement whatsoever.


An Illusionist in Skyrim, part 13: the dragon

Tom Francis at

This is the diary of me attempting to play Skyrim using only Illusion magic: I'm not allowed any weapons, armour, or magical items, and I can't attack anyone directly. The first entry is here, or you can see all entries to date here.

I park Sarah on a hill at a safe distance, and head on to the watchtower. I stop before I get there, and scan the horizon. I've just had an idea. I find what I'm looking for, then carry on to the tower.


An Illusionist in Skyrim, part 12: Bleak Falls Barrow

Tom Francis at

This is the diary of me attempting to play Skyrim using only Illusion magic: I'm not allowed any weapons, armour, or magical items, and I can't attack anyone directly. The first entry is here, or you can see all entries to date here.

I remember this! It actually shouldn't take long. I mount Sarah the Implausible Horse and canter up into the mountains.

I find it easily and trot up to the gate, alerting a few bandits. As I dismount, one of them runs in my direction yelling, confusingly, "You've beaten me! I yield!" Belrand emerges from behind a stone column and hacks him down. Ah. Hi Belrand!


Dishonored: No Trace, episode 2: The Spirit of the Stairway

Chris Thursten at

As I discovered in the previous episode of No Trace, making Corvo's assassinations look like accidents isn't exactly a noble endeavor. I've fed innocent people to rats in order to cover my tracks, and in this week's episode I'll put innocent people - and fish - to the blade if it'll help me build a more convincing lie. I am not especially proud of myself. Nor am I especially good at staging a staircase slip-up. I'll let you figure that out for yourself.


An Illusionist in Skyrim, part 11: first horse to Whiterun

Tom Francis at

This is the diary of me attempting to play Skyrim using only Illusion magic: I'm not allowed any weapons, armour, or magical items, and I can't attack anyone directly. The first entry is here, or you can see all entries to date here.

I deliver the hard-won Jagged Crown to General Tullius back at Imperial Legion headquarters in Solitude, and receive my next assignment. It's to deliver a message to the Jarl (mayor/king) of Whiterun, telling him he's about to be attacked by the rebel Stormcloaks, and urging him to side with us Imperials. I'm not letting myself use fast travel, but this is pretty much going back the way I came, so I wouldn't mind cutting down my journey time. I wonder how much horses cost.


Dishonored: No Trace, episode 1: Applied Rat Science for Beginners

Chris Thursten at

Taking on Dishonored's High Overseer without leaving a trace is actually fairly straightforward. The mission directly supports it, and you can see how that approach plays out in the original 'Three Extreme Approaches' video that led to this diary series. So, in the name of finding a better way I've decided to forgo the road most traveled and find a creative new way of toppling Dunwall's most senior religious authority. Using man-eating rats.


An Illusionist in Skyrim, part 10: a close shave

Tom Francis at

This is the diary of me attempting to play Skyrim using only Illusion magic: I'm not allowed any weapons, armour, or magical items, and I can't attack anyone directly. The first entry is here, or you can see all entries to date here.

The others catch up and praise me as a genius for figuring out that the fox, moth and dragon symbols on the claw correlated to the fox, moth and dragon symbols above the claw-shaped hole. Please, friends, this is what I do.


Dishonored: No Trace, prologue: A Conspiracy of Doors

Chris Thursten at

Yesterday we asked you which of my three daft approaches to Dishonored you wanted to see blown out into a full video diary series. Each take on the game had its supporters, but the clear winner in both the comments thread and the Facebook poll was 'oh dear, what a terrible accident'.

The idea is to complete every mission in the game without leaving a trace of Corvo's involvement - hence the name of this series. That doesn't mean that there can't be evidence, but that evidence needs to point to other people: essentially, there needs to be an explanation for events that's simpler and more believable than "a teleporting, man-possessing, rat-summoning magic ninja did it."


An Illusionist in Skyrim, part 9: Real Warriors

Tom Francis at

This is the diary of me attempting to play Skyrim using only Illusion magic: I'm not allowed any weapons, armour, or magical items, and I can't attack anyone directly. The first entry is here, or you can see all entries to date here.

Back on the road, we're still a long walk from *clears throat* Korvanjund. But the coast is clear, and we arrive in one piece by nightfall. There's a group of Imperial soldiers gathered outside the ruin, so I run up to them. Legate Rikke is addressing the men, and Hadvar, the man who saved me from Helgen while I hid behind furniture, is among them.

"I'm glad you're here," he says. "I'll feel a lot better going into that place with your at my side." I've done absolutely nothing to earn his bizarre confidence in me, but actually he's right: he will feel better, because I now have Courage, a spell that brainwashes people into feeling good about risking their lives for me.


An Illusionist in Skyrim, part 8: the Pale Lady

Tom Francis at

I'm playing Skyrim with a rule: illusion magic only. No direct violence, just pure deception. I'm seriously low on health, completely out of mana, and trapped in an awkward corner with a lightning mage bearing down on me.

And at that point, the ghost of an angry wolf leaps at her. What the hell is happening? While she deals with it, Belrand runs up and crushes her with a dramatic swing of his axe.


An Illusionist in Skyrim, part 7: the Pale Blade

Tom Francis at

I'm in: I passed my initiation, got my official armour, sold my official armour, and am now an enlisted soldier of the Imperial Legion. In a dress.

More importantly, I still haven't broken my rule: no direct violence, only illusion spells. Hiring a lackey has solved the one problem I couldn't work around: killing quest-critical targets when there's no-one left to turn against them.


An Illusionist in Skyrim, part 6: the solution

Tom Francis at

I'm playing Skyrim with a rule: illusion magic only. No direct violence, just pure deception - which makes my current task tricky. Before I can join the Imperial Guard, I have to clear out a fort full of bandits. I've finally lured the toughest of them to his death at the hands of a passing archer on the road to Solitude, but there are lots more left alive.

Back at the fort, I have the same problem. I barge into the keep, use my Fury spell to trick the guy with the battleaxe into killing all his friends, then hit a brick wall. He won't follow me out, and no-one will follow me in, so I'm left with one very angry man I can't kill.


Skyrim: Week of Madness, Day 5: The Life And Deaths Of Compass Meridian

Richard Cobbett at

Every day this week, we’ll be visiting a version of Skyrim unlike any you’ve ever seen before – a world thrown into anarchy and chaos by Sheogorath, God of Madness, and the assistance of over 200 blindly-installed mods. In our final part... civil war, huh? What is it good for? Social change!

Catch up on the adventure:Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4

Skyrim: Week of Madness, Day 4: Yet There Is Method In It, And Also Cheese

Richard Cobbett at

Every day this week, we’ll be visiting a version of Skyrim unlike any you’ve ever seen before – a world thrown into anarchy and chaos by Sheogorath, God of Madness, and the assistance of over 200 blindly-installed mods. In our fourth part, it's time to put aside the altered and search for the new. What unseen wonders does Skyrim now hide for our brave heroes adventurers to discover?

Catch up on the adventure:Day 1, Day 2, Day 3

An Illusionist in Skyrim, part 5: the chase

Tom Francis at

I'm playing Skyrim with a rule: illusion magic only. No direct violence, just pure deception - which makes my current task tricky. I'm trying to clear out a fort full of bandits purely by making them fight each other. One of them's just fallen off the castle battlements, leaving me alone with an angry swordsman, so I've thrown myself off too.

I land on the rocky ledge, and find the archer there. All I've actually done is separate my enemies from my only means of dealing with them: each other. The archer's stranded on an outcrop, unsure of how to get back, so I duck into sneak mode and hug the castle walls until I reach the entrance.

I sneak all the way up to the main door undetected, wondering where sword guy has got to. At the door, I realise sword guy is at the door, leaning against the wall in his usual spot, camouflaged with the stone in the grey moonlight. He sees me.


Skyrim: Week of Madness, Day 3: The Dovahkiin Riften Deserves, Not The Hero It Needs

Richard Cobbett at

Every day this week, we'll be visiting a version of Skyrim unlike any you've ever seen before - a world thrown into anarchy and chaos by Sheogorath, God of Madness, and the assistance of over 200 blindly-installed mods. In our third part, Skyrim's nastiest town has no idea what kind of carnage is about to be unleashed, and Compass finds inspiration in insanity from a most unusual source.

Catch up on the adventure:Day 1, Day 2

Skyrim: Week of Madness, Day 2: Quest For Dignity - The Housecarl Chronicles

Richard Cobbett at

Every day this week, we'll be visiting a version of Skyrim unlike any you've ever seen before - a world thrown into anarchy and chaos by Sheogorath, God of Madness, and the assistance of over 200 blindly-installed mods. In our second part, we use magic portals to go clothes shopping in a world with a one-track mind, take a scenic trip through the woods, and Lydia... well, she's not happy.

Catch up on the adventure:Day 1

Skyrim: Week of Madness, Day 1: The World According To Sheogorath

Richard Cobbett at

Every day this week, we'll be visiting a version of Skyrim unlike any you've ever seen before - a world thrown into anarchy and chaos by Sheogorath, God of Madness, and the assistance of over 200 blindly-installed mods. In our first part, get ready for epic dinosaur battles, Whiterun's new theme park, fandom striking in the strangest places, and an awkward meeting with an old friend.

An Illusionist in Skyrim, part 4: Fury

Tom Francis at

I'm playing Skyrim with a rule: illusion magic only. No direct violence, just pure deception. So naturally, I've enlisted myself in the emperor's army: the Imperial Legion.

For my initiation, Legate Rikke wants me to get to Fort Hraggstead and kill all of the bandits, which I'm sure will be easy with no way of actually attacking them.

"I've got a good feeling about you," she says, "and I don't often get good feelings about anything."

After this, you will have even fewer good feelings.

The fort is a little way West of Solitude: an easy stroll down the city road eventually branches into a rockier path up into the mountains. I try to infuriate a passing rabbit and miss six times. This bodes well.


An Illusionist in Skyrim, part 3: run and bear it

Tom Francis at

I’m playing Skyrim with a rule: Illusion magic only. No direct violence, just pure deception. So naturally I'm planning to join the Emperor's army: the Imperial Legion. Last week, I was on my way to their headquarters in Solitude. I'm nearly there.

There's just one more mountain range between me and Solitude now. I skid down its far side, cross a river, and see someone running towards me from the distance. I should run away, but I wait - I don't see a weapon, and it's unusual for an enemy to head right for you before you even get close.