Saturday, February 27, 2021

Swamp Fever


On Wednesday evening I killed The Elder, Valheim's second boss, keeper of the keys to the gates of iron. Literally. He drops a key. It opens a gate. Behind the gate there's iron. Piles of it.

Killing him came as something of a surprise. I thought that was going to be the hard part. With the big fight out of the way I imagined my forge turning out iron weapons and armor the very next day. It certainly never occurred to me it would take me three days to find the blasted gate!

The gatein question is attached to the front of a sunken crypt. Not a specific sunken crypt. Any old sunken crypt. It's just a regular crypt that's sunken. In a swamp.

Swamp is the third of the five biomes in Valheim's Early Access. Two more to come. Actually there are six already, if you count Ocean. Only no-one seems to. 

In order of difficulty they go Meadows, Black Forest, Swamp, Mountain, Plains. I thought the last two were the other way round but in his comment on Wilhelm's  "looking for swamp" post  SynCaine says not and he's way ahead of me so I'll take his word for it.

Because every Valheim world is procedurally generated from seed there's nowhere you can go to look up where to find a swamp nor yet a sunken crypt. You just have to go find it for yourself. 

Except I already had found some swamp. Two dirty great patches, close together, right next to where I'd built my log cabin. I figured there'd be plenty of sunken crypts there. 


There weren't. There weren't any. Not one. I even googled what the damn things looked like so I could be certain I wasn't running past them without noticing.

Not likely. They're very distinctive. They look like Victorian mausoleums with green torches either side of the entrance. You can see them for miles in the gloom of the swamp.

Or you could if there were any. Which there weren't. 

Needless to say I looked again. Then again. I killed a lot of draugr. I killed a lot of blobs. I got quite comfortable in the muck and mire. Too comfortable. I got cocky, went roaming through the swamp in the night-time and it came on to rain and visibility went all to hell and I ran into a bunch of draugr and thought I'd plow through them and one was an elite and I died in the water, under a fallen tree.

Took about two hours and half a dozen deaths to get that corpse back. It had all my best stuff on so I had to do it. If it hadn't been for the stuff I'd bought from the merchant (I finally found him!) which cost all the gold I'd found in two weeks of graverobbing, I might have left it there. I was starting to wonder if it wouldn't actually be quicker to make an entire new set of gear than go get the old stuff back.

That about convinced me I wasn't going to find any crypts in the swamps I knew. I'd have to find some new swamps. That was my Friday, looking for swamps. I mapped all the areas of the large starting island except for the deep south, where it turns to plains. 

There was the start of a swamp down there but it was too dangerous to cross the plains to get to it. A major feature, intended or otherwise, of Valheim is the way the mobs from one biome roam into all the others. I might have a post about that some day but for now I'll just say it's like the old EverQuest days when you had to keep your eye out for griffins and spectres going on a rampage. Plains mobs encroaching on swamp environments is the stuff of nightmare.


After a few hours I was sure there were no more swamps I could reach by foot. It was going to take a sea voyage and some blind luck. 

For once I exhibited some sense. Instead of rushing headlong into it I did lots of prep. I worked out a likely destination and a route. Rather than waste an hour sailing my karve (It's a mini-longship. I guess that makes it a shortship) halfway round the island, I portalled over to the house near where I needed to start and made a new one there.

I took off all my good gear and stashed it in chests. I packed some food, some wood and rocks to make a shelter when I landed and all the mats I needed to make a portal so I didn't have to do the whole thing twice. Then I set sail, fully expecting a disaster.

It all went perfectly. The wind was in the right direction all the way. I made landing in a good spot. I got a shelter up and built the portal. There were a few greydwarves coming in but I dealt with them. Once I had my beachhead set up I headed off to explore. 

It turned out to be just a smallish island. Not tiny. About big enough to take one game day to go round on foot. And it didn't have a swamp to be seen. 

Bugger. Back to the chart table. This time I decided to go the way I'd tried right back at the start, when I'd sailed my raft into a storm and been eaten by a sea serpent. I'd seen land ahead just before I drowned. I'd try that.


And it worked! It was a much longer journey. I saw a sea serpent but it didn't see me. I landed on a small island at the head of a chain of them leading in to a wooded shore. There were a lot of greys but this time I'd equipped myself a little better, having learned from last time, when I had to spend the first few minutes making a stone axe because I'd travelled too light.

With a second base camp in place I once again installed a portal. Just because the last one was a waste of time, no reason to skimp. And just as well I did because this time I found what I was looking for. And a lot I wasn't.

But that didn't come until this morning. Last night was all huzzahs. I found some swamp! Even better, I got back in one piece, didn't wreck the boat (it was close!), got the portals paired and didn't die once. I went to bed feeling very pleased with myself. 

Today soon put a stop to that. I won't go through the painful details. Suffice it to say at one point not only was I trying to find a corpse with all the good stuff on yet again, this time with no grave marker to tell me where to look because of how many more times I'd died trying to find it, I was also trying to find another corpse I'd left somewhere not really all that close. It was wearing my second-best gear.

My judgment was becoming impaired from the endless carnage. At one point I built a supposedly unassailable shelter on a rock in the sea only to fall off the rock and drown as I missed the door trying to get in. There was a blob chasing me. I panicked. Lucky gravestones float. Not that I was carrying anything worth salvaging by that point.


And yet, in the end, I prevailed. I managed to find and grab my best gear and when I was leaping and bounding over rocks with blobs in squelching pursuit I spotted my second-best corpse on a tiny island. Once I was dressed I mades some chests, stashed most of my stuff, kept the armor and weapons, went back, cleared the general area and got my reserve kit.

It was glorious. Well, apart from the skill loss. I really wish they'd change that to a skill penalty against future gain. I must have dinged 35 in axe ten times now.

And the best part? On one of my desperate, hopping, swimming, stumbling runs through the brackish water and over rotten tree-stumps I spotted a sunken crypt. It was as hard to miss as everyone says they are. 

Amazingly, after that everything went smoothly. Well, I only died once more. I was careful. I made yet another house, right in the swamp, near the crypt, this time by fortifying the trunk of a giant tree. I even managed to get a bed, a workbench and a fire in there. And two chests. 

You can put a workbench on top of a fire and still use both. Did you know that? I knew you could put a workbench on top of a bed and still sleep in the bed but a bed's not on fire, is it? I'm guessing they'll change all that, eventually. Beta is better.


I got to the crypt without incident. An ooze was camping the entrance but I just sprinted past it. Inside there were two blobs in the first room. I killed the first and survived the poison with about ten hit point left. Then I killed the second and died on the final tick. So close. If I'd had the patience to wait for the fermenter to finish making my first batch of poison resistance potion I'd have survived. Nah, who am I kidding? I'd have used it long before on one of the corpse runs.

But that was the last death. It was a thirty second run back to get dressed and then three more round-trips to get the pick-axe repaired. I wore it out mining scrap iron in the crypt. Those two blobs turned out to be the only creatures down there but there was a ton of iron and I got it all. Now I never have to come back, not to that particular crypt anyway. Nothing respawns inside crypts as far as I know.

I stashed my iron in a chest in my fortified treetrunk, jogged back to the portal at the beginning of the island and ported home. Now I just have to figure out how to get my ore back to the smelter. It means a boat trip at the bare minimum and possibly a long overland run after that, unless I upgrade my original smelter and forge, which are much closer.

Or I could just break the whole lot down and move the entire operation to the new island. All decisions for tomorrow. Now I'm off to sleep.

After all that lot I'm flippin' exhausted!


  1. Every session seems to be an adventure with this game. Even the mundane turns epic. I can't get enough.

    I've had the same not-so-fun experience of trying to locate a corpse after multiple deaths... now my SOP is to mark my corpse immediately just in case.

    For getting the iron back to your smelter, have you consider a cart on a boat...? ;)

    1. I've taken to marking the corpse location if I die somewhere unfamiliar for just that reason. Of course the better solution would be to die less...

      I still haven't made a cart. The strength belt the merchant sells upped my carrying capacity to 450 which seems to be about right, solo. What I really need are more inventory slots.


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