Saturday, March 6, 2021

No Solid Ground

At the end of my first month in Valheim I find myself at something of an impasse. I've mined about as much iron as I need for the moment. I've made plenty of poison resist and healing potions. I've bought everything Haldor the Dwarf has to sell and there's plenty of gold left over. 

I'm not short of things to do: upgrades to work on; huge swathes of the map to explore; construction projects  that could fill my time from now until well after Easter. I haven't run out of ideas. It's just that I know there's something I ought to be doing at this point: killing the third boss. 

I don't have to do it. Valheim is totally forgiving of anyone who doesn't want to follow the plot. But I do want to. Not because I'm looking forward to the fight. I'd sooner the boss fights didn't exist or, better, weren't tied to progression.

No, I want to kill Bonemass because I'm guessing it will open up the next craft tier. Whatever that is.

I'm assuming it won't be black iron, even though I already have a few scraps of that and they're flagged "No Teleport", just like all the other metallic ores. They drop from Fulings, the goblins who live on the plains. Fulings are a real handful. I can only handle them with any confidence one at a time but we've had a few run-ins and I've come off best, more times than not.

Picking up the black iron scraps they drop hasn't opened any new recipes and my forge doesn't show anything for black iron either. It won't even go in the smelter. It's hardly surprising. Plains isn't the next biome on the difficulty curve. That's mountain. Presumably there's a progressive step I'm missing.

If I want to carry on up the crafting ladder I'm going to have to take on the next boss in the hope it drops an item that unlocks the next stage of technological development, the way the last two did. Only first I have to find the damn creature. 

It shouldn't be too difficult. It's marked on my map, after all. Twice. The first marker appeared when I examined a Vegesir in a sunken crypt. 

The location it pointed to is way, way off to the North, far beyond anything I've explored so far. I was happy when, a little while later, I looked at a different Vegesir in another crypt and got a second marker much closer to areas I'd already visited down in the South-East.

That looked a better prospect even though it was clearly going to take a sea voyage to reach. The spot lay due East of the coast, just across the spur where I'd built my treehouse. Last night I ported down there and trotted through the black forest to take a look. 

I took with me all the materials I needed to build a longship. I figured I could try that out at the same time.

I found a nice flat rock jutting into the sea and started building a boathouse. Greydwarves kept streaming in to stop me but they're no more than annoying these days. I swatted them with the axe as they came and picked up the planks they all drop. Good of them to bring me a steady supply of wood.

Before I'd finished building my dock the ground started to shake. Troll attack! I was out of arrows so I let him vent his anger on my lean-to shack while I watched two more trolls a few hundred yards down the coast. They were fighting something I couldn't see. And they lost.

That was disturbing but I thought I could guess what was happening. As I explore my world I'm finding a lot of places where biomes intersect. So many, in fact, that I'm beginning to think it's the rule rather than the exception. 

Sometimes several come together at a kind of nexus of chaos. I was at a spot yesterday where meadows, black forest, plains and swamp all joined up. It was a very scary place to be. I didn't hang around.

The problem with biomes butting up against each other is the excellent AI afforded to their inhabitants. All the aggressive creatures like to hunt. They don't just kill things they happen to bump into, either. They really do go hunting, moving from one kill to the next with what looks disturbingly like intelligent thought or well-honed instinct.

Once deathsquitos or fuling hunting parties finds easy prey in black forest or meadows biomes they go on a killing spree. As they chase their prey it can lead them far inside the boundaries of the supposedly less-dangerous area. It makes for a very nasty surprise when you meet them as you're looking to spend a safe and comfortable night.

Fighting fulings and deathsquitos in deep swamp water with impeded movement and terrible visibility is no fun at all, I can tell you. There are good pickings to be had from going over the battelefield afterwards, though. I've picked up more deer skins that way than I've killed deer.

Seeing the two surviving fulings from the troll massacre heading up the shoreline towards me I decided to postpone building and get on the boat. It was raining hard and I'd wanted to wait for clear weather but better the open sea in a storm than two fulings in a tight corner.

The storm wasn't too bad and the wind was with me. It didn't take long to come in sight of land. The longship goes fast with a fair wind. Unfortunately the land in question was mostly plains and I was going fast. By the time I'd pulled the ship parallel to the coast a deathsquito had spotted me and made a beeline (ironically) straight for me. 

Fighting a deathsquito onboard a longship is an experience I wouldn't want to repeat. Which is a shame because no sooner had I killed that one than another turned up. I managed to catch him a good blow with my axe but my nerves were shot by then. Night was coming on and I realized, belatedly, that I'd come sailing into strange, dangerous waters wearing all my best gear.

If this is meadows, how come I can see bison?

I abandoned the mission, turned the boat around and headed back. I spent the rest of the night finishing the boathouse and digging out a deep moat all around it in the hope of discouraging any wandering goblins. Then I went to bed, in game and in real life.

This morning I jogged back to my treehouse, took the portal to my log cabin, changed into my bronze armor, stashed anything of value in chests and packed the mats to make a couple of portals. Then I headed back to the coast for another try. It didn't go much better than the first, although at least I neither died nor sank the ship, which was something.

The weather was fine but the wind stayed stubbornly against me for most of the hour I spent looking for a safe place to land. I thought I'd found one when I saw green grass and the map told me I'd reached meadows but when I jumped off the deck onto a rock I could see deathsquitos flitting through the trees and the huge, shaggy silhouettes of bison just beyond.

Navigating along the coast confirmed what I suspected but didn't want to admit. The new landmass I'd found was mostly plains with a few small pockets of black forest or meadows close to the water. Nowhere was there a section large enough that fulings and deathsquitos wern't using it as a hunting ground.

I'd been planing on establishing a base, setting up a stockade and putting up a portal, then sailing back to install a link in the network at one of my houses. Only then was I going to come back, properly dressed and equipped to go searching for Bonemass's altar on foot.

Looks like swamp but the minimap knows better.

That never happened. Since I couldn't find anywhere remotely safe enough to settle I decided to see how close I could sail to the marker on the map. All the way, as it turned out. Which was not a good thing at all.

To be strictly accurate, I never got close enough to see the altar or summoning site or whatever it is. I kept sailing, the wind mostly against me. It was slow going. As I neared the marker on the map all I could see ahead were dead trees jutting out of the water. Technically it was swampland only there wasn't any land. It was swampwater.

The longship got nearer and nearer to the marker. The water got shallower and shallower. I could see draugs watching from among the trees. There had to be something solid for them to stand on but I couldn't see what it was. 

With the icon for my ship all but on top of the marker on my map I hit a sandbar. Ahead of me there was still nothing that looked like solid ground. Or was there? Looking closer I realized all the stark, black trees were rooted in golden sand. The swamp was growing out of the plain.

The ship wasn't going to go much farther. It didn't have the draft. I was fearful of getting it stuck for good. The sun was going down. I considered the prospect of fighting a boss in water with adds coming in from both plain and swamp at once.

Nope. I don't think so.

Turn, blast you!


With a great deal of effort I got the longship turned around and headed for open water. I tried several times to find somewhere to land but there was nowhere. The wind was dead against me most of the time. For a terrifying few minutes I found myself becalmed just a few feet offshore, plains stetching away into the darkness on both sides.

Luckily nothing spotted me. The wind finally shifted and blew me back out to sea, where I spent a cold, dark night, alert for sea serpents that thankfully never came.

As soon as the sun came up I tacked into the wind and zig-zagged my way back to where I'd started. I pulled the longship into a cove, leaped out and sprinted for the closest portal. 

Cross that off the list. Looks like I'm in for a long trip north.


  1. There is very little that scares me more than when three zones intersect. Doesnt matter which three.... its like a permanent war zone. Gives a good feeling that the world is alive and you're just there for the ride.

    1. It's really very convincing, the way the different creatures interact. I hope they develop it further as the game grows.

  2. This is my favorite post of yours, ever. What an amazing adventure, and it is written as if it were a thrilling novel. I haven't been interested in this "builder" game, but what you describe is what I live for when I find a new game--an immersive experience where I feel like I'm living some other incredible life.

    1. Thanks! It feels like going full circle in some ways. If I'd been blogging about EverQuest twenty years ago, it would have sounded a lot like this.

  3. Hahaha....we only just uncovered Bonemass' location and we decided to take it slow. We're still in Bronze and slowly gathering iron, while discovering all the horrors of the swamp biome. This weekend we met surtlings dancing around the fire for the very first time before being ambushed by oozes and worse. As I was running for my life with 5hp left, the better half suddenly saw a ghost or a banshee or whatever the heck...and I am so annoyed I missed it! We also managed to lose our first surtling trophy, so that was a bummer on the side. Much to return to in the swamps for us! :D

    Apparently Bonesmass is also really horrible, so I dont think we'll take our boat up to him soon. I really wonder now if it's also as badly located with Plains around it....I sure hope not!


Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide