Diary

An Illusionist in Skyrim, part 2: Seeking Solitude

Tom Francis at

I’m playing Skyrim with a rule: illusion magic only. No direct violence, just pure deception. I’ve just reached Riverwood and exploited the locals into killing some bandits for me, then gone to sleep in the Hadvar family’s bed.

Because I am bad at basic arithmetic, I wake up at 4am. The entire family is standing around the bed, watching me, waiting for me to leave. It’s not yet light, so I sheepishly get out of their way and move over to one of the single beds in the corner for two more hours.


Dishonored hands-on: a masquerade becomes a bloodbath

Tom Francis at

He's wearing a whale the size of a dog on his head. Her mask is a fly, with plate-sized compound eyes. They both stare at me for a moment, then the fly woman says:

"I don't know how you can wear that mask. Disgusting."

I'm at the only place a masked criminal can walk around in plain sight: a masquerade party, thrown by Lady Boyle in her lavish mansion. The ceilings hang with silver silk, confetti periodically pops from the chandeliers, and music floods the house. I'm here to kill her.


An Illusionist in Skyrim: Part 1

Tom Francis at

In Skyrim, a mage is an unstoppable storm of destruction. In real life, a mage is just an illusionist: they can't do much except trick you. If one of them turned out to be the world's only hope of salvation, hijinks would inevitably ensue. Hijinks and sudden death.

Since these are my two favourite things, I've decided to try playing this way. Skyrim does have a school of magic comprised entirely of illusions, and I'd tried it out on an ill-fated adventure in Now Playing a few months back. This time, though, I want to be even more strict: I can't wear any armour, hold any weapons, cast any non-Illusion spells, or ever attack anyone directly - not even with a punch. Yes. This is an excellent idea.


Dwarf Fortress diary: How seven drunks opened a portal to Hell

Steve Hogarty at

[This feature originally ran in Issue 228 PC Gamer UK, and the wonderful illustrations are by the Tim Denee.]

In the Dwarven Year 250, the stubby reach of dwarfkind had touched every procedurally generated rock in Ruspsmata, from The Problematic Steppe to The Dune of Hermits, from The Prairie of Pregnancy to the Jungle of Conflagration. Not an inch of stone had not known dwarven steel, yet one dark depth had so far eluded colonisation. “Leave the skies to the birds,” sang the Dwarven King, probably, I’m making this bit up, “the Underworld shall be ours to keep.”

So it was that only the expedition leader Tim Edwards was told of the true reason behind the construction of the fortress of Oakfire. He had chosen the site – it was soft, quiet and dry – and he was the first to strike the earth, to form the encampment and two-bit industry required to fuel a downward dig as rapid as it was perilous In a little over two years Tim Edwards would lie helplessly in a hospital bed as the foulest and most harrowing creatures of the beneath roasted him alive. He would feel every crackling blister as his skin boiled and dripped to the soot-covered floor. He’d regret the swing of the pick.

Tim Edwards was digging a hole to hell.