Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Location, Location, Location

So many notable things happen in Valheim, and so often, it's becoming quite impossible to get them all written down. Every session offers up enough material for two or three posts. The pace, the scope and the intensity all create problems in journaling my adventures beyond the most obvious one - not wanting to take time out to write up what's happened because I'd really rather just keep playing.

Even when I do force myself to stop playing and start posting, remembering the exact details or the precise sequence of events later can be problematic. I like to be as accurate as possible here and normally I rely heavily on virtual photography as a form of note-keeping but in Valheim often I'm either so engrossed I forget to take screenshots or it's just too dangerous to risk it. 

Without a visual record my recollections tend to become somewhat impressionistic. I regularly find myself describing events as they ought to have happened rather than as they did, giving a logical framework and a coherent narrative to what was much more a series of unfortunate events.

With that in mind, here's an impression of what I've been up to these last few days. 

I wanted to mine some more scrap iron. I'd been reading about the third boss, Bonemass, and I didn't like what I was hearing so I thought I'd better try to get everything as fully upgraded as it could be. I took  a trip to the further end of the large island where I'd found some sunken crypts before and this time I hit paydirt.

The famed lost valley of the crypts!
A whole line of crypts stretched southwards through the swamplands. I could frequently see the next target from the doorway of the last. I soon had clearing them out down to a fine art. Pop up a workbench in the entrance, barricade the front and put in a door and you're safe to take as long as you like. I even put a stockade outside the first crypt and installed a portal so I could nip back home whenever I needed repairs or supplies.

That worked splendidly. The crypts weren't as rich in iron as the ones I'd found further north but the sheer quantity of them made up for it. It didn't feel dangerous at all. In iron armor and weighted down with poison resist potions nothing really seemed like much of a threat. Not only that but the part of the swamp I was working seemed remarkably quiet. At times, when it stopped raining, it was almost pleasant.

I kept going until I had about two hundred pieces of iron ore then I stopped to figure out how I was going to get them home.

Ah, yes. Home. Where was that, exactly? At this point I had two well-established homes complete with foundries, one on each of the large islands I'd explored. I also had a treehouse, a beachhouse, a boathouse, a tower house, a cliffside house, my original house close to the place you hang the boss-heads... and those were just the ones with portals. If you counted all the places I'd secured and made liveable it probably came to a couple of dozen.

It was obvious I couldn't keep adding properties to my portfolio like a nineteen-sixties slumlord. I sat and thought about it for quite a while and came to no conclusion. There's a surprise. 

To avoid making a real decision I decided to get the ore back to the stilt house since it was nominally the nearest. It's called the Stilt House because it's a house on stilts, or it was when I found it. Now it's a sprawling mess but it has a tier five forge. Might even be tier six. If there is a tier six. I know I gave it a lot of upgrades. 

The only problem was the location.

It looked so different in daylight...

Most of my houses are in places that look good. That usually means a sea view, which should be excellent for bringing ore in by ship. Unfortunately I chose to put both my foundries deep inland. 

I stupidly built them near where the iron was (or where I thought it would be) without considering that I'd have to get it back through a swamp. It was okay when the crypts were in walking distance but now they were down the other end of the island or on a different island altogether I was starting to wish I'd thought it through.

I looked at the possibility of getting the iron most of the wayback by ship. It seemed feasible. There was a blank patch of map I hadn't opened that looked as if it could be an ocean inlet not too far from the Stilt House.

It would be a longish haul up the coast and round but it would cut the walking to a minimum. Only first I'd have to get it out of the swamp and over to where I'd left my longship. Which is when I had the bright idea of building a cart.

Everyone else built carts as soon as they could but I never saw the point. When I read Aywren's post on carting, though, it gave me some ideas. I get all my best ideas from other bloggers. It was Asmiroth who clued me into drying out the swamp by flattening it with the hoe, in the post where he credited me for pointing him in the right direction, ironically.

Watch yer back, porky. Comin' through!


To cut what could be a very long story indeed down to a manageable bitesize morsel, it turns out you don't really need to flatten the land ahead of a cart, even in the swamp. It does help but it takes a while and I'm not convinced there's a net gain. The cart will roll through swampwater.

In keeping with most aspects of Valheim's really quite impressive quasi-physics, the cart handles extraordinarily convincingly. It goes slower and gets stuck more when you overload it. If it bogs down you can take stuff off to manouevre the cart more easily around obstacles, then reload it. You can even get behind and push!

I learned a lot, hauling two hundred chunks of scrap iron through a swamp, a forest and down a hillside to the sea. One thing I learned was that it's a bad idea to try and dig a path for a cart with a pick axe. I got mine stuck in a hole that way. I got it out again the same way. Eventually. That was fun.

Also, if you get behind a cart and push at the top of a hill it will indeed freewheel down to the bottom. Into the river. Where you won't get it out again. Mine's still there.

Ya think?


But carts are cheap and the river was in sight of my boat. Of course, getting the ore onto the ship was an adventure in itself. There's a reason people use docks and jetties. I should have taken time to build one. 

Never mind. I got it all stowed and didn't drown myself. All plain sailing from then on, right? Yeah, not really. 

The thing about unexplored bits of the map is that sometimes when they look like sea they turn out to be swamp. The inlet above my stilt house I was imagining turned out not to exist. I kept going long after I should have stopped, night fell, there was fog... 

I was very, very lucky not to sink the ship. That would have been very bad. Although not as bad as I thought it would be. 

I thought that if the ship sank, all my iron would go to the bottom of the sea, where it would be lost forever. I know now that doesn't happen (Ironic foreshadowing!). I had good reason to think it would. I've killed far too many deer by picking them off with the bow as they try to swim away. They make easy targets in the water but I've taken to letting them go because when they explode (the way everything in Valheim explodes when it dies) their hides sink like stones.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time"


In Valheim you can swim on the surface and see through the clear water to the bottom but you can't dive. If something's on the sea bed it stays there. That's where the nails from my longship are right now. (More ironic foreshadowing! Laboring the point a little, in fact).

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I survived the failed voyage through the swamp, just barely. After yet another cold, miserable night at sea I opened the map and re-assessed the situation. 

I could land somewhere safe and try to get the iron to the stilt house overland, maybe by cart, but the terrain looked difficult and it was a long way, wherever I'd make landfall. I could sail back south, further than I'd already come, and dock at the boathouse but that would mean another, even longer overland trek. I could sail up and round to my first house, which I'd actually built next to water. That had a kiln and a smelter but no forge.

Or I could stop and start over. As far north as I'd yet been I'd found a medium-sized island that was all meadows and black forest with just a small mountain in the middle. No plains. No swamp. It would make an excellent permanent base. I already had a portal there and I'd marked the map with a scarcely-ruined-at all-tower I'd spotted in a great position on the coast.

Dude, where's my longship?


It was an easy sail and there was a good, sandy beach in front of the tower. I needed to head north soon in search of the other Bonemass altar anyway. I had access to stonecutter technology so I could fix up that tower. It would mean making a new foundry (my third... or fourth if you count the one with no forge...) but even that would be orders of magnitude faster than getting all this iron to the ridiculously inconvenient places I'd put the others.

So that's what I did. Sailed up the coast, beached the ship near the tower, ran in and threw up a few wooden barricades for safety then unloaded all the iron. Then I made a stonecutter and set to building my castle.

Things got a little out of hand, the way they tend to when I start building. Rather than just refurbish the tower I had to extend and remodel it. It took me a good few hours but by the time I was done I was more than happy with the result. 

I spent the last hour or so fetching wood and running the smelter to convert the scrap iron into bars then I went up to my terrace room to take in the view of my longship, gently rocking on the swell as the sun slowly dropped below the horizon. And so to bed.

I woke to find my longship gone, vanished in the night. Nothing left but a few crates bobbing by the shore. And then a troll came and knocked my tower down. 

But that's a story for another day.


  1. The beauty of these sort of shared experiences is that I'm reading and thinking "uh huh, yup, ooh thats not going to work, neat, wow, yeah a troll would do that"

    And worst of all, now you got me thinking about building a tower. Like I don't have enough goals on the go already!

    1. The stonecutter is great once you get your head around the fact you have to keep destroying it and remaking it to work in large areas. It's the same principle as the workbench but somehow because it involves a couple of iron bars it seems different...

  2. Very enjoyable tale! The word that comes to mind though is Sisyphus. Dang that troll.

    1. He kind of did me a favor, although I wasn't thanking him at the time. The rebuild is better than the original.

  3. Oof. I feel your pain.

    I hopped in just today at lunch to work on a new pier at our main base for an as-yet to be launched longboat and found myself dealing with two successive troll invasions. I spent most of my lunch repairing what they had destroyed... so much for forward progress. Anyone need some troll hides?

    1. I just read your post as I had breakfast. You'd think building in stone would keep the blighters off but no...


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