Thursday, March 20, 2014

The survivor, pt. 2

The north end of Southbridge

Note: This is part 2 of my current play of Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead. Part 1 is here. For more information about this free rogue-like zombie survival game, including instructions for installing it and beginners' tips, check out my earlier posts here.

By morning, I was still worried about that portal, but I'd settled down a little. It looked to be a bright and sunny day for a change, so I thought I'd explore to the northeast a bit. I didn't find much - just lots of trees.

But just before I turned back, I came across a science lab, at the end of a road. The ID I'd taken from that zombie scientist got me inside, but it turned out to be disappointing. There were only a few rooms on the surface - apparently used for dissection! - and the stairs down looked dark and forbidding.

As a safe house, it had a couple of problems, including only one entrance (I wouldn't want to get trapped inside) and no nearby source of water, as far as I could tell. There was a giant spider spinning webs in the forest nearby, but no other threats (again, as far as I could tell). The road led off to the north through more forest.

With all the acid rain lately, I was worried about getting too far from shelter. The forest looked to be a lot safer than the city, but only while the weather stayed clear. And with the National Weather Service permanently out of business, I had no idea how long that would be.

So I turned back 'home.' I could always use the science lab as a temporary emergency shelter, so I might want to explore further down that road. But not right yet.

The next day - still nice, though it started to cloud up a bit later in the day - I headed southwest. There was a lot of forest that way, too, though I skirted the edge as I headed more towards the south. I was trying to find more buildings to loot, and I did find a house off by itself, at the edge of a crater.

I don't know what had happened there - it was all rubble now - but this house had been spared the fate of its neighbors. There wasn't anything useful inside, though. To the south, on the other side of the highway, was a big open field, and I could swear I saw a giant worm out there. Maybe not. Maybe it was just my imagination - especially since it didn't seem to be moving. But I wasn't interested in getting any closer!

And when I tried to skirt the crater to the north, I spotted some weird-looking zombies in that direction. I've learned that 'weird' means dangerous, so I didn't go in that direction, either. Well, this was just a scouting trip, anyway, so I headed west.

It was open in that direction, too, but I encountered more of those giant ants. Again, there wasn't just one or two, but swarms of them - and some were even bigger and more dangerous-looking than those I'd seen earlier. So I skirted them on the north, still trying to go west, and I came across a FEMA camp.

There were bodies all around it, and a couple of them stood up as I got closer - more of those 'scientist zombies.' I killed them - I had lots of rocks to throw, and a couple of bear traps to keep them from getting too close. Then I cut the head off every corpse I could find.

As I was doing that, I got close enough to see a bunch of zombies in armor - soldier zombies - inside the camp. They didn't see me, and I made sure to keep it that way. I wouldn't have worried about just one, since I'd have no problem killing it before it got close. I'd done it before. With enough rocks, even armor wears down, eventually.

But that was a slow process, and there's a limit to how many rocks I can carry. I needed something a lot better than rocks - and a lot better than the sharp piece of steel tied to a broom handle, which was my current melee weapon - to take out a bunch of soldier zombies all at once. So I turned around and tried to skirt the camp on the north, instead.

And I came across a mass grave. Well, calling it a grave is doing it too much justice, because it was just a huge open pit filled with bodies. And those bodies were starting to move.

If they'd been soldiers, they'd had their armor removed. That was one thing, at least. One at a time, I wouldn't even have broken a sweat (assuming there weren't any surprises - note that I was seeing all this from a distance). But I couldn't even begin to estimate how many bodies there were in that pit. I could see about a dozen of them starting to stand up, but that was just a tiny fraction of the whole.

So I left. Maybe I could make a few Molotov cocktails and set the whole pit on fire? But what would be the point? I'd still have the soldier zombies to deal with. And I couldn't see inside most of the buildings in the camp, so I had no idea what horrors I might find in them.

So I returned to the evac shelter. I was really feeling discouraged, because the southwest had turned out to be such a complete bust. My options were narrowing. I had plenty of food, and I was doing OK on toilet water for the moment (boiled before I drank any, of course), but I needed better weapons. And I needed the skill to use those weapons. I was getting pretty good at throwing rocks, but rocks would only take me so far.

Temporary lodging in a fine home with a fireplace and garden pool

The next day, I tried to skirt that portal on the east and southeast, but I ran into more giant ants in a forest clearing there, so I turned back. That night, I went back to town - maybe I was getting too nonchalant, but I still hadn't seen any dangers from that portal - and looted an electronics store and a garage.

The first didn't have much that I could use, but the garage held a portable welder (along with an assortment of random auto parts), so I took that back to the shelter and used it to make a steel spear. OK, it was little more than a sharp steel pole, I guess, but it was better than what I'd had.

And the following night, I went back into town (note that I was trying to avoid the playground as much as the portal, since I couldn't bear to see what had happened to all those kids) and entered the underground subway. The downside was that I couldn't get my shopping cart down the broken escalators, and it was pitch black down there, so I had to use my flashlight - and its precious batteries - the whole time.

But the upside was that it was completely free of dangerous creatures - indeed, any creatures at all. There was a lot of rubble, here and there, but most of it was clear - just a long tunnel east, then south. I walked for a long, long time without encountering anything at all. But finally - though the tunnel continued south - there was another subway exit to the surface.

It was raining, and very, very dark, so I couldn't see much (and I was seriously worried about getting lost). There was a street directly in front of the subway station, of course, and there seemed to be a radio station just to the west.

On the east was a house, where I found some food before... something started breaking through the windows in front. So I ran back to the subway station. By then, it was about 2 AM, and I was really tired. Unfortunately, I'd found no safe place to rest, so I ran all the way back through the tunnel again.

Naturally, I encountered a bear just before I arrived at the evac shelter (at nearly 5 AM), so I had the fight of my life when I was completely exhausted. But I got home at last and crashed on a pile of unused clothing, sleeping till early afternoon. Clearly, I needed a different plan.

So the next day, I loaded up my shopping cart with what I thought I'd need in a temporary base and headed back southwest to that isolated house on the edge of the crater full of rubble. It was just an ordinary house, but there weren't any others particularly close, so I hoped I'd be safe enough there while I explored the area nearby.

My sleeping pattern was still screwed up, so I cleared out some homes northeast of the crater that night (piling anything which looked like it might be useful in my temporary base), then slept rather late in the morning. But when I went outside, there was a weird kind of... goth zombie, I guess, trailed by a huge plume of smoke, heading right for me.

I grabbed my gas mask out of the shopping cart and attacked. I have no idea what that first zombie was, but it certainly looked dangerous, so I put it down first. Behind that, the smoke turned out to be coming from another zombie, one which exploded when I killed it (though without causing any damage).

I'm guessing that these weird kinds of zombies are the varying results of decomposition. Something must be keeping those dead bodies from decomposing, but it didn't seem to work all the time. I suspect that 'boomers,' for example, and those strange zombies which spit acid, were both decomposing, but in different ways.

Likewise, this 'smoker' zombie was probably decomposing much like a pile of overly-rich mulch, giving off heat and smoke, but no flame. Like boomers, it was filled with the gasses of decomposition, so it exploded when pierced. Unlike them - and unlike the 'spitter' zombies - it was dessicated and dry, so it didn't spray the place with noxious liquids afterwards. That's my theory, at least.

Anyway, I continued to look around, and I didn't see any more zombies nearby, but there was a big pool of black oil - or maybe tar - to the southeast, and what looked like animated blobs of oil were emerging from it. I didn't get close, but I didn't like the looks of it, especially that close to my temporary base.

'Blobs' swarming a wrecked vehicle

So I explored some more to the north and northeast, clearing out a few more houses (and killing a few zombies on the way). At one point, I had a zombie dog break through the window when I was exploring a house, and after killing it, I saw this giant wasp across the street next to a house covered in paper, like a giant wasp nest (reasonably enough, huh?).

This wasp was easily the size of the zombie dog I'd just killed, and it was clearly hostile. But like the giant ants I'd seen, it didn't come after me. (Given the size of the stinger on it, I was very glad about that!) I only saw one of them, but I was pretty sure I'd be swarmed by wasps if I got any closer. So I didn't.

That night, I moved my shopping cart - both of them, since I'd just found another at a nearby grocery store - to a house a bit further north. I left some stuff in that first house, but I was just uncomfortable sleeping so close to that oil pit (and rightly so, as it turned out).

The next day, I continued to explore - cautiously - to the east (staying south of that wasp nest). But I was clearing out a house when I accidentally stepped in front of a window to discover a mass of both zombies and those strange black 'blobs' immediately to the south.

At first, I thought they might be attacking each other, but apparently not. (If the zombies really had been a military project, that would make sense, I guess. It's harder to imagine that human beings had created those animated blobs, but... well, I just don't know. Either way, they seemed to be ignoring each other.)

No, I'm guessing that they'd all been attracted to that spot by the noise of a zombie which had accidentally gotten stuck in a car and was just mindlessly smashing its way out again. Certainly, they all turned to attack me when I stepped in front of that window.

Maybe I was just tired of running, but I thought I'd just wait and see if I could hold them off. There were only two windows there, side by side, and although there were a lot of zombies, they were all just the ordinary kind, which really didn't scare me much anymore. The blobs were a complete unknown, but I figured I could run back through the house, closing doors behind me, anytime I wanted.

Oddly enough, the zombies were faster than the blobs, so they got to the windows first. (Admittedly, they were also a bit closer.) Certainly, I had plenty of time to prepare, and as the zombies broke through the windows and awkwardly tried to climb inside, I had an easy time killing them, one after the other. Again, they were just the ordinary variety of zombie.

The blobs were... weird. As I say, they were even slower than the zombies. But when they took enough damage, instead of dying, they just split into two smaller blobs - both just as hostile as the original. Those smaller blobs weren't a big problem, except that they would spit again when damaged. Eventually, the pieces would be so small that they ceased to be mobile or even very threatening, though they still wiggled.

But the scary thing was that I couldn't keep them at the window. When I'd split a blob into two pieces, those pieces would fly all over the place - including inside the house with me. So I kept getting surrounded by blobs. I tried to kill those inside the house first, so I'd keep a clear escape lane, but that wasn't always possible. It was rather frightening.

Still, the blobs themselves, though numerous, didn't seem to be very dangerous. Eventually, I killed them all - and without taking a scratch, myself. But something about them was just... unsettling. Frankly, they made my skin crawl. Wherever the hell they came from, they didn't belong on my planet! And I wasn't too eager to stick around anywhere in their vicinity.

So I decided I needed to move on. Again, I loaded up one shopping cart with just what I thought I'd need in a temporary base and left everything else behind. (This time, I left my army jacket behind, too, along with other useful stuff, because it was getting into late spring/early summer, and much too hot to wear that much. But I was definitely going to need to return for it, sometime.)

Early the next morning, while it was still dark, I headed southeast, trying to skirt the pool of blobs to the south. Yes, I know what you're going to say. What about that giant worm I'd seen? Well, I'd seen no sign of anything like that on this trip, so I was thinking it had probably just been my imagination. (Do you blame me for having an overactive imagination, after what I've seen?)

Certainly, I didn't encounter anything dangerous, except for one lone blob, which I destroyed. I made it to a very nice house, with an apple tree in the front yard and a fireplace - and three external doors in different directions - which I figured would make a fine hideout. Since it was still dark, I went north and cleared out a house in that direction, dumping the stuff near the fireplace.

But then it got light, and I peered outside to discover another massive group of zombies and blobs to the east! In the light of day, I could see isolated blobs to the north and west, too, so I grabbed my shopping cart and headed south.

There was another nice house - almost a mansion - down there, complete with a fireplace and a garden pool. And it was right on the edge of town, too, with open plain and then forest behind it. Unfortunately, most of it had been built of glass blocks, with no curtains on the windows. It would do for a temporary base, but only if there was nothing dangerous nearby.

So I set about trying to clear the area nearby. I did OK, although there was a pack of zombie dogs which might have been a problem if I hadn't had bear traps in my shopping cart. But when I went back to the mansion, I discovered that I'd been followed by blobs - another huge mass of them coming down from the north (no zombies this time, though).

I fought them in the street, since I knew they were slow. When they looked like they might surround me, I moved away and let them follow. Through such tactics, I whittled them down. Maybe after that, I'd be safe down there.

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Note: Pt. 3 is here, and the rest of my computer game posts are here.

10 comments:

  1. I have finally managed to get in a vehicle and drive it. Very, very badly – I worked out how the cruise control worked and I didn’t go above 16km an hour. Took me ages to crawl along the roads, constantly smashing into things because I was still rubbish about steering. I still feel a sense of achievement though :-)

    Now I’ve got the truck back at my base I can start fixing it up. I’ll run through lots of batteries but I’m able to make some with my crafting supplies and I’ll work towards crafting a self charging welding rig. Not that I currently have one, I only have a single makeshift welder so that will rip through the batteries at an even faster clip.

    I’ve done a bit more exploring around my area. I raided the Triffid Grove and I think I’ve burnt it out. I took 3 trips as I figured out what I needed to bring (next time nomex firefighting gear) and learnt how much fun molotovs are. There are still a few Triffids around so I’ll probably check in a few more days and see if it’s regenerating or something. I noticed once I’d thrown a couple of molotovs that the thumping in the walls had stopped and the vines had also stopped growing. So, a win for me I think.

    I also travelled up to the Fungal Spire but as the fungaloids don’t seem at all aggressive I decided that there just isn’t much point in trying to wipe it out. I did eat a marloss berry which had a rather odd effect – everytime I eat one my morale skyrockets and fungus sprouts everywhere. I learnt after the first time to do it outside. I have a new trait called ‘Marloss Carrier’ which I think is some sort of mutation. It doesn’t seem to be harming me though so I’m happy to let it stay.

    I found a farm a little way up from the Fungal Spire and also a military bunker even further north at the end of the road. I didn’t have any bolt cutters on me so I will head back at some point when I do. I also don’t have any military id’s. I have 3 lab tech id’s but I don’t’ think they’ll be of much use.

    So, along with fixing and modding a vehicle or two I am considering whether or not to move my base either to the Farm or to the military bunker if I manage to get inside. Considering their distance from everything I’m probably not going to. But I guess I could make the farm a temporary base while I harvest the food. I’ve been growing some berries and hemp outside my evac shelter but this place has some proper stuff. I can make bread!

    Oh, I also picked up my bionics from a Shocker Zombie and a couple of Science Zombies and I’m reading up First Aid and probably electronics as well as I want to try installing them. I know you should also raise your intelligence and I’m working out ways to do that. There is always drugs but that’s a little bit dangerous for an Addictive Personality type. I have also noticed that smoking a cigarette and sucking down on an oxygen tank also has a bit of an effect. I’ll try a combination of everything before I set to work. I’ll probably bleed to death or something horrific if I mess it up. So far I’ve just got the 3 but I do have a book which I’ve yet to read which might have crafting recipes to make some of my own. Not sure about that – homemade electronics – what could possibly go wrong…

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    1. You're having quite an adventure, M1nks! I'm glad to hear everything is going so well. Please keep me updated in these comments.

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  2. Well I made a very stupid error – I decided to go explore the Military Bunker and took my new wheelbarrow as I left my shopping cart up at the farm. Unfortunately my wheelbarrow doesn’t have all of the emergency supplies which I’d left in my cart as a matter of course and I stupidly forgot to put them in. So, I made myself an electro hack and some bolt cutters and set off. I got into the bunker after a few attempts using my electro hack and came face to face with these turrets. For some reason the first few didn’t fire at me, perhaps they didn’t have a good line of sight?, but the last two did including one nearly terminal shot to the head which was protected by a Fur Hat and a Rain Hood. Not commonly useful in deflecting bullets. I’m currently showing a single red : which I’m guessing is the last stage before going terminal. Oh and the noise attracted all these ants which are now hostile. Fortunately I picked the gate rather than used my bolt cutters so I quickly shut it and kept them on the outside. Still my situation is pretty grim – I didn’t come with any first aid packs or extra water (although food is no issue thanks to my marloss berry mutation). I think I plan is to go and get all the weaponry I can (I’m not that great at electronics and I’ve already short circuited one of the doors) and try shooting my way home; I haven’t used guns before but I absolutely cannot take any more hits to my head so I think it will be a very slow, cautious trip battling my pain and god knows what else along the way.

    On the bright side I did pick up some cocaine off some corpses so that should make the trip more enjoyable.

    I’m not sure what my chances are tbh…

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    1. Ouch! Yes, it's always a problem not having what you need on a scouting trip. (On the other hand, if you carry everything, you won't have any room for the new stuff you find.)

      Re. the turrets, think about how you're detected in the game - by sight, sound, and smell. Turrets don't have a sense of smell, and I don't think they'll fire at sounds. (Admittedly, my character has the Light Step trait, so I can't guarantee that, I suppose.)

      So they have to see you, and you have to be in range of their weapons. I don't know what their range is, but either of those could be the reason those first turrets didn't shoot at you.

      As it turns out, turrets are very easy to destroy. All you have to do is attack them at night (or underground, if you turn off your flashlight). They're lit up themselves, so you can see them from a distance, but in the darkness, they can't see you. So just throw rocks at them - outside their light radius - until they explode.

      Underground, I'd just turn off my flashlight before opening a door. If a turret wasn't immediately in view, I'd turn the flashlight on again. If I did see one, I'd just leave the light off and throw rocks at it in perfect safety.

      Of course, there were other dangers, some much worse than turrets. But I could usually hear something moving in those rooms. At any rate, this might help you explore more of that military base, where you could possibly find medical supplies and water, I don't know.

      Another option is using drugs. Note that cocaine is a powerful stimulant, and stimulants will make you run faster. Of course, pain will slow you down, and you're probably in a lot of pain. But the cocaine should help with that, too, right?

      Also, if you've got a can of cola, or any other source of caffeine, or cigarettes - all sorts of things are stimulants - take them, too. If you can increase your speed enough, even if it's just temporary, you might be able to outrun the ants and make it back to your base.

      I still haven't fought any ants, and I don't know how fast they are. But they don't seem to want to leave the area of their nest, so they might not follow you very far. And they're just melee creatures, after all.

      So if you can use drugs to get a burst of speed, you might be able to get away. Of course, as damaged as you are, your speed is probably pretty low right now. But those are a couple of options, at least.

      Good luck! Let me know how it all works out for you.

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  3. All safe. I slowly picked off the ants (and zombie dog) which were clustered around the fence. It was pretty cold (it’s my first winter, although my seasons are long at 30 days) and got I cold feet so I made myself a wooden needle and tore up some spare clothes I’d picked up and made myself some socks (I’m really pleased that I worked out how to disassemble rags into thread). With everything else that was going on I decided that I didn’t want to add frostbitten toes to the list!

    Then I led some more ants into a trap field I had seen to the north west and picked up a couple of crossbows and bear traps and the like. I also picked up some shot guns but there wasn’t any ammo in what I’d picked up from the bunker. In fact I’d not really picked up anything worthwhile in the bunker. I got a fair amount of ammo but the one door I short circuited shut was the one that had all of the actual guns behind it. Sods law. I’ll come back with explosives sometime if I ever manage to find them or I work out how to make it.

    Anyway, after leading all these ants around I noticed that they only came after me when I got quite close which made it easy to avoid them if I wanted to. (Afterwards I checked the wiki because I was curious and it seems that they only have a sense of smell, not sight). I raided some apple trees and crushed them up with rocks to make cider which solved the liquid problem, made myself some wooden crossbow bolts with some sticks and headed off.

    I made it to the farm which is about halfway between the bunker and my evac shelter and spent the night there to give my head a chance to heal up. The farm was swarming with fungaloids which I think is because of my eating a couple of marloss berrys last time I was there, before I really knew what I was doing. The ground fungus was everywhere which seemed a bit odd considering I’ve eaten a ton of berries back at my main base and it hadn’t spread like this lot had. I go to approximately the same spot to try to contain it somewhat and it spawns lots of berry bushes and spore clouds but no fungaloids so far.

    The spores are friendly towards me and follow me around – if I leave the door to the shelter open about 10 pour in and float around. They also attack anything that is hostile to me – it doesn’t do much good but the thought is nice. I’ve also noticed a drastic reduction in Zombears and dogs since these things started to appear. Perhaps it’s a limitation on how many critters are allowed in the area at one time. Maybe it’s just coincidence.

    After resting up at the farm I headed back to my main base. It was a little bit painful as I stepped on a couple of landmines. The sun was out and I have the Light Sensitive trait so my perception dropped a point that that is apparently enough to not notice land mines… I’m not sure if I started with Light Sensitive or if that is a trait that came along with me turning into a bit of a plant or something not quite 100% human anyway. I think I may have picked it. Regardless I thanked my stars that I’d rested before standing on those otherwise it would have been an ignominious end. But I survived it and learned another valuable lesson. It’s nice to know that I’m actually surviving these lessons now rather than being killed learning them.

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    1. "It was a little bit painful as I stepped on a couple of landmines."

      Heh, heh. Yeah, I'll bet! I'm glad to hear that you survived, M1nks - not just the landmines, but the whole experience.

      Re. that locked door, you might check a hardware store. I found a jackhammer in one of them (haven't used it on anything, though).

      And it's odd that ants only have a sense of smell, because the game indicates that they've spotted me no matter how far away they are. And I've got the Weak Scent trait, too!

      But maybe that's a bug? If they haven't actually noticed me, that's probably why I haven't been able to lure one of them away from the rest.

      Well, I'm trying to role-play my character, and he wouldn't mess with anything unless he has to. So far, when he's seen giant ants (or wasps), he's just avoided them. And he hasn't encountered any fungal creatures or triffids yet, either one.

      You must be playing a lot, if you're already in winter - and with 30 day seasons! (I debated changing that, but ended up leaving it at default. And yet it's still just early autumn in my game.)

      I'm glad to hear you're surviving those lessons, too, M1nks. Nice job!

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  4. Well I spent nearly all of Autumn reading books. I fairly much would read until Dead Tired by which time I was also Famished and Dehydrated. So I'd head topside to drink out of my funnelled water/jug. Hopefully that wasn't acidic or contaminated so would give me food poisoning. If it was ok I'd drink till I was slaked, fill up any spare plastic bottles which I used when I wasn't able to rely on that water source. I know I could have boiled it but I didn't want to waste the time.

    Then I would head out of shelter to my designated fungal patch and eat a marloss berry which filled me up (and made my morale skyrocket).

    After that was done I headed back downstairs to sleep until I woke up then picked up a book and started again.

    It's amazing how quickly the days went!

    I also caught the flu when I was silly enough to stop wearing my filter mask. Bah - that was a week of frustration! Trying to sleep while throwing up every 5 minutes drove me nuts!

    Now though I've read all of the skill books I've got that I have the skill to understand as I've been stockpiling them. So even though it is the middle of winter I'm heading out looking for some trouble to get in. There is another town over to the west which looks to be much larger judging from the slight amount of recon I've done (I picked up some binoculars at the farm) so now that I've nearly cleared out the other town I think I'll be heading over there.

    But I'll try installing some of the bionics I've picked up first. And then maybe I'll head back to the military bunker because I think I have a jackhammer amongst my possessions. I'll check my tool pile when I get back tonight.

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    1. I spent a lot of time reading in my previous game, M1nks, but it's been harder in this one - mostly because it rains all the time. It's been so dark that I can't even read during the daytime without a light, and even on those days it's light enough to read, it gets dark very early - long before my character is tired enough to sleep.

      In the earlier game, I had that nuclear-powered nightlight, so I could read any time I wanted. If I was still in the evac shelter, I could read by the computer, but I'm not.

      Glowsticks don't last very long - or they last too long and I waste them, since you can't turn them off. I've been using an oil lamp lately, and that's better, since I can make oil from tallow (and make tallow from fat).

      So I really should be spending these rainy days reading. Instead, I've been trying to gather together my scattered belongings, hauling the stuff I've got stored all over the place to my hotel room to the south.

      Given that I probably won't stay there either, for long, that's probably dumb. And it hasn't been much fun. So maybe I'll stop and read for awhile. I've got books, though not what I especially want to find. But that's part of the fun of the game, the randomness of it.

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    2. Take a computer to bits and make a lightstick They are easy to craft and last for ages. You have to be standing directly on it to read or craft but that's not a problem.

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    3. Thanks for the tip! I've been collecting all this electronic stuff to disassemble... sometime, but I never get around to it. And I've never gotten around to it in any previous games, either! But I still collect the stuff :)

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