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The Worst Ninja, Chapter 2: Shoes

Continuing my abortive attempts to understand Ultima Online: Kingdom Reborn, the remake of the venerable MMORPG.

Today I killed a llama. No-one seemed to mind. I also killed a goat and a horse, but a frog beat the hell out of me. The fact it was called ‘Bogling’ rather than ‘Frog’ is, in retrospect, a reasonable clue. Later, when it got dark, I killed a cougar that I was convinced was trying to steal babies from cots or something. I’ve yet to see any other cougars, so now I’m a bit worried I’ve killed the only big cat in New Haven. I’m not supposed to be killing endangered species – I’m supposed to be a ninja, noblest of all the warriors. Except I’m a ninja that still can’t hide.

Full-on ninja-versus-llama action: the stuff they couldn’t show in cinemas!

After the jump: the murderous healer and the great shoe drought.

I’ve learned I’m capable of killing skeletons, but the third in a row will usually have me. I’ve also learned that the small icon that denotes whether I’m in chat (yellow) or attack (red) mode is basically my rear-view mirror – I should check it often, or a terrible accident might occur. For instance, like double-clicking on a man called ‘wandering healer’, hoping he’d be able to sort out the damage caused by that horse getting a couple of nasty kicks in. He says something about reporting me, and I start to worry maybe that llama belonged to someone. I double-click again, hoping I can explain myself or pay a fine or something. More or less as I do so, I spysomething bad out of the corner of my eye. ICON IS RED. Whoops. I forgot to turn off attack mode after all that animal brutality. Still, he’s a dweeb in a robe, into herbs and stuff, isn’t he? This can’t go too badly for me. Turns out, this guy calling himself a wandering healer is a bit of a red herring. ‘Wandering foul-tempered, insta-kill thug” is closer to the truth.

Still, it has a happy ending. Upon dying and spectrally respawning at Healer HQ, World of Warcraft instinct takes over and I run ghost-me (I even get a special death robe to wear) back to my corpse. Which is enormously stupid, because only a healer can bring me back to life, then I have to run to my corpse and collect my possessions within 15 minutes, or they’re lost forever.

Before I turn and resignedly head back to town again to be restored to life, I notice the deadly Wandering Healer is still lurking around. Initial instinct: anger. The bastard NPC’s camping my corpse, hoping for another pop at me! Then he happens to wander near my ghost while I’m thinking about what to do next, and a message pops up. “Would you like to be resurrected?” Of course. He’s a healer – that’s what he does. It’s like a bully just offered to buy me a pint after boxing my ears. Except this guy has, being an NPC, entirely forgotten that he was merrily punching me in the kidney mere seconds ago. Frankly, I’m a bit embarrassed by the whole incident. Still, saved me a trip to town and back, eh? I am going to have a look and see whether there’s a mod that sounds a constant, deafening klaxon whenever That Icon is toggled to Attack, however.

Later, I had a go at a zombie, but it swiftly became clear that all the confusing numbers about becoming 0.1% better at focus, anatomy or tactics or God knows what that spool across the screen whenever I’m in a fight haven’t made the slightest bit of difference to my spectacular ineptitude. This time, I run. I make it back to town, and a message announces I’m now under the guards’ protection. Phew. The zombie keeps coming. Er… Pop! A guard appears out of nowhere, and instantly slays the hapless undead. Again, phew.

I’m enormously grateful, and hope I can say so. Checking my Talk or Punch icon very carefully first, I double-click on him. He has nothing to say – instead an image of him accompanied by precise descriptions of what he’s wearing pops up. This is a bit weird, as I don’t poke around at people’s clothes when I talk to them. Then I notice something much weirder. He isn’t wearing any shoes. Full town guard armour otherwise, clearly quite handy in a fight and all that. But no shoes. I have shoes on, and I don’t even have a job! What if someone stabs him in the foot? All that armour’s a bit useless then, isn’t it? Perplexed, I go and peer at some other NPCs’ clothes. No-one is wearing shoes.

Where are his shoes?

Needless to say, I was enormously relieved. Finally, I must be getting a handle on things. Quite clearly, some bad monster has stolen everyone’s shoes, and I have to go and rescue them. I have a purpose! Hmm.

Next on The Worst Ninja: logging.

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Alec Meer

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