Saturday, March 27, 2021

Sure To End In Tears

Let's begin at the beginning, just this once. Or what passes for the beginning, at least. 

It had been the longest journey. Moder's altar lay somewhere in the high mountains ahead. It must. There was nowhere else left for it to be. 

I'd sailed my longship almost all the way around an island whose center was one towering peak and whose shores showed nothing but plains, down to the rolling sea. Fulings in their ricketty towers cackled and waved their spears whenever I drew close to land. Deathsquitos skimmed across the waves to try their luck. 

It took me two full days to find a cove where black forest came down the mountain slopes to the ocean. It was on the northern shoreline, as far away from where I'd started as it could be. From the deck I could see a half-ruined stone tower just beyond the littoral. The wind was fair for once. I edged the longship gently in.

For a miracle, nothing came to greet me. Not even a greydwarf. I took the tower for my forward base, fortified it quickly. It was small, scarcely large enough to hold a portal, but it was secure.

With my return assured I set off to explore. Through the forest and onto the mountain. The trees stretched away in every direction. No plain or swamp in sight. It had been a long, eventful journey but I'd found what I needed, at last.

The mountain was overwhelming. Higher and steeper by far than any I'd climbed. Every few moments I had to stop and rest. Moder's marker on my map showed to the east. Not the highest but high enough. I found it, finally, on a small plateau barely wide enough to hold the low stone circle. There wasn't going to be much room to maneuver, that was clear.

I had one last preparation to make. I was going to dig out a cave in the rock below the plateau, fit it with a fire and a bed, make it my final base camp for the assault. So close that, should I die, I could be back in the fight in seconds. 

There was another ruined stone tower at the foot of the crag. I could have tried to fortify it but drakes shred wood like paper and even stone walls crumble fast when a golem strikes. Only hollowed rock holds fast. Or so I thought. 

My tunneling soon attracted the attention of a golem. As it raged and crashed outside my half-dug cave night began to fall. Wolves were howling somewhere in the darkness. It all seemed suddenly too much. Would I want to wake to this, naked and defeated? 

Better to wake up safe in my bed far away and return through the portal with time to plan. I abandoned my cave-making, dodged the golem's clumsy swipes and headed back down the mountain.

I ported back to rest and resupply. Five hundred arrows - poison, obsidian, frost -and just twenty made from the sharp needles I cut from the few deathsquitos I'd killed along the way. Cooked lox meat from the two giant beasts I'd taken down from a great distance as they battled with something I couldn't make out. An opportunity taken. Meads to restore my health and stamina. And, in case the fight should go badly wrong, frost resist potions to store in a chest nearby so I could recover what I'd lost.

No putting it off any longer. Time to wake the dragon. On my first trip to the altar I'd planted two eggs in the hollows made to take them and left a third lying by the side. I'd worried putting the last in place would trigger the mother drake to come before I was ready. In Valheim nothing ever moves from where it falls. I was sure the egg would be there when I returned.

It wasn't. I had to trek through the snows looking for another. By the time I'd found one it was later than I'd planned. I wasn't feeling as well-rested as I had been. It was a risk but I took it. I placed the egg. Nothing happened. 

I focused my will on the altar. Then, the sky turned red. Moder had come.

After all that it wasn't much of a battle. Moder was big and she made a lot of noise but her attacks were easy enough to avoid even in the tight space. When she came down to earth she seemed disoriented. She turned around and around like a cat trying to settle. She stayed for a long time, each time. 

I stood well back and fired arrow after arrow into her thick hide. She weakened. I became confident. Too confident.

When Moder was all but dead she managed to put herself in a place my arrows couldn't reach. I ran around to gain a vantage point and she spat blue fire at me. I was standing on the edge of the plateau just above the cave I'd dug. Moder's fire ripped through the rock beneath my feet and sent me tumbling into air.

Falling damage in Valheim is brutal. I died, falling into my own cave. 

After that it was a living nightmare. Back at base I grabbed a frost potion, drank it and ran back naked. By then night had fallen. Miraculously no wolves found me as I struggled up the endless slopes, stopping to struggle for breath again and again. 

As I neared my corpse the sky turned red and Moder swooped down. She was was gaining back her health, I saw, just before I died the second time.

Coming back through the portal to try again, I felt the ground shake. You have got to be kidding me. Trolls were attacking my base camp. Two of them. I ducked back through the portal and waited. Came back. They were still rumbling outside the frail walls. 

The attack went on all night. I slept and came back and they were still there. Finally they left. By then there was no point hurrying.

I put on my my iron armor and made it all the way to my first corpse, Moder harrying me all the way. My marker was caught on a jagged shard of rock, halfway between the flat ground and the plateau rim. Dodging Moder, I got stuck in another hole I didn't see. Moder pounced and I died again. One cairn piled next to another.

Now I was back at base with no more frost potions. I had to stop and think. Moder was recovering. My best armor and my reserves were lost. No more headlong rushes to disaster. I needed to start over.

So that's what I did. I set some more frost potions brewing but then I remembered I had stacks of wolf pelts stashed away so I made a new cloak. I dressed in yet more spare armor, ate food, rested, went back.

Moder was gone. The skies were blue. I could see my grave markers. I managed to make my way to them and recover all my things. It took two trips.

Now I needed more arrows. And food. And three more eggs. I was beginning over again.

It was when I was looking for eggs that the sky turned red again. Moder hadn't left at all. She'd been away, flying her domain. 

Once again I'd been caught out. It was past mid-day. The terrain was treacherous. Moder hadn't spotted me, yet. I could retreat, set up again, start anew tomorrow. 

Or I could take another chance. Who knew where Moder would be, next time? And now I knew her patterns and her powers. As she flew over I put an arrow into her and so it began again.

It's all a blur, what happened next. The fight went on and on. Moder swooped and shrieked and kept landing in places I couldn't reach. I had to move and move and move, trying to find places I could see her and still find secure footing.

As we danced, the darkness came down around us. Wolves darted in. I drew my silver sword and struck them down. Drakes rallied to their mother's defense. I downed them as they flew. Once a golem came by and I had to clamber over rocks in the dark to get away. I fell. I very, very nearly died. 

But I didn't die. I crouched and waited and drank a healing potion. And I came back.

We fought on, Moder and I. We'd been at it so long my Draugr Fang broke. I pulled out my Huntsman's bow and carried on. 

Moder was weakening. If it had been just her and me, in a wide open space, it wouldn't have been a battle. It would have been an execution. But my fight was never with her. It was always with the mountain and with the weather and with the world.

When Moder died it was full, black night. Her tears lay like blue diamonds on dark snow. I would have grieved for her if I'd had any strength left. I had none. I was spent. 

I gathered up her tears, took my trophy and set off, back down the mountain. Her great head hangs in the grove beside the others, now. Next to Eikthyr, The Elder and Bonemass. I'll have her breath in my sails if I go to search for my final challenge, the fuling lordling, Yagloth.

The plains call. I don't know, yet, whether I will answer.


  1. Ive read a lot of posts on Moder. I have never read one that went this way. You've got the absolute strangest luck when it comes to bosses. Still it makes for an entertaining read!

    I would get you not heading to the plains. Theres very little there except for death. The best building stuff is all unlocked for you now.

    1. The screenshot in Syl's post shows a large, flat area in front of the altar. It's harder to see in the one from your post but it looks as though there was plenty of flat land to stand on there, too. I think that was the key difference. My Moder altar is on a dome-shaped hill barely larger than the stone circle and the dome itself is on a plateau very little larger with a steep drop on all sides. It was difficult to stay out of melee range and not fall off and the incline made getting an angle to hit Moder difficult when she landed to one side of the center.

      Without all that I'm certain it would have been almost as easy as Bonemass from a tower. And there lies a huge problem with the procedural generation of the world. If Iron Gate make bosses harder (or anything, really) because overall players are finding it too easy, there will be cases where it becomes a lot harder than intended because of the variables in procedural generation.

      It also applies to being able to find the bosses in the first place. I wonder if there shouldn't be some more fixed process for the actual boss fights - a set arena that always appears in a certain place and always has specific characteristics. It's fine for the world as a whole to be unique but the bosses probably should show more consistency.

  2. That's an Epic tale of Perseverance and overcoming despite the odds of the environment. If it was easy then you would feel it was a let down for the challenge. But it was a challenge and you conquered it regardless the odds. That's the journey and it's a tale you will remember for a hard battle won.

    1. There's a whole post to be written on difficulty, challenge and satisfaction. I've been pondering it for a while. The real problem for me is that, yes, when I succeed I do get all the benefits you suggest, but the possibility that I'll fail makes it very hard to enjoy the prospect and the relief that it's over doesn't always compensate. In this case it did, but imagine if I'd failed a second time, and a third...

  3. An epic fight against... well... everything including Moder! Reminds me a bit of our fight with The Elder, which included a cast of many extras, but not as many as you faced. And the mountain is an effort in and of itself.

    1. Yes, I was thinking of that comparison as I wrote the piece. I remeber reading of all the adds you had in that fight, whereas I had none at all. Mind you, that was partly because the Elder himself had knocked down every tree in a half-mile radius when he was chasing me around after the first time he killed me...

  4. Oh god, that was a painful read. I am proud of you for fighting it out haha, considering how much you dislike content like this! You were unlucky with the boss location too. We had plenty of space around the altar.

    Ive not played much since the kill, will take it slow on the last boss.

  5. The only thing more epic than your adventure is the tale it took to tell it. I've been so busy with work and some IRL tasks that I haven't been able to give Valheim its due and my server mates are itching to go after Moder...

    I'll never get that main base rebuild done now...


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