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I Read It So You Don't Have To: Growing Up Duggar (by Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger Duggar)
On the book's cover, the four eldest Duggar daughters smile placidly at the reader, bedecked in a dignified assortment of denim and denim-adjacent garments. Yet even within these constraints, our feisty fashionistas still find ways to express their own unique aesthetic sensibilities. Jinger, for example, sports an early iteration of her now-iconic blazer, opting to emphasize her youthful spirit through whimsical cap sleeves and a precious baby-doll waistline. Next to her, Jessa stares soullessly into the camera, and -- almost against my will -- I find my eyes drawn to her hypnotic gaze. But thankfully, before I am sucked too deeply into that most barren abyss, I am distracted by the smattering of small pearlescent buttons adorning what might otherwise be mistaken for a extra-small mechanic's shirt, and I seize the chance to move along to the next Duggar offspring at hand.
Jill's silhouette is by far the most avant-garde of the foursome, perhaps foreshadowing her oft-hypothesized rebellious inclinations. A tunic-length dress is cinched cheekily above her waist with a thick, woven belt, while a long denim underskirt fully obscures her sheepish shins. In the back right corner, Jana jazzes up a simple tee with a bold statement necklace ostensibly purchased from the clearance section of Earthbound Trading Co., the perfect compliment to an exotically hemmed skirt that I can only assume has been sewn together from the tatters of Duggar rags past.
Eager to learn what invaluable wisdom these pages hold, I impatiently open to the book's introduction -- welcomingly titled, "Greetings: From Our Hearts to Yours." As I begin to read, I am heartened to learn that there is hope for each and every one of us, "whoever you are -- whether you're the girl we met who goes to a Christian school and attends church three times a week but is still struggling inside, or the girl with five tattoos and multiple piercings." Yes, whatever sins you may have committed in your ungodly ignorance -- provided, of course, that you have not yet blighted your body with that accursed sixth tattoo -- the Duggar girls hold a special place for you in their hearts:
Even though we have never met most of you reading this book, we want you to know we love you and care about your future. We want to share our stories with you, knowing you have a story, too, and hoping something we say here might empower you to use your story, your life, to help others.The Introduction continues with a brief summary of the Duggar Family timeline, in which we are informed that "Mom and Dad look at life as a race against time." This seems to me a bit incongruous with the whole 'eternal life' thing, but perhaps Jim Bob and Michelle were affected by the hit 2002 film Clockstoppers just as strongly as I was. I am also excited to learn that I will soon get the chance to hear more about the authors' "passion for being involved in the political realm," as well as their "commitment and desire to reach out to people in faraway countries." With a few concluding remarks emphasizing the importance of relationships, the introduction comes to an end, and we begin the book proper with Chapter One: "Your Relationship with Yourself: Getting to know and love the girl in the mirror."
We are informed that "Jana and I (Jill) sleep in double beds with our youngest sisters, Jordyn and Josie, and the other girls sleep in twin- or youth-sized beds," which seems as good a time as any to clarify that our authors ranged in age from twenty to twenty-four years old at the time of this book's publication. But if you find yourself pitying the cramped conditions of the Duggar daughters, think again! Not only is it a delight to spend so much time surrounded by siblings, but the elder girls are often led towards profound truths by the innocent remarks of babes. To illustrate this point, Jill recounts a scene in which a young Johannah asked to wear her sister's retainer. Wise beyond her years, Jill gently denied the request, explaining that the retainer had been made to fit her mouth and couldn't be worn by the small girl (a small blessing, as I can absolutely imagine the Duggar family passing down a single retainer from child to child for a decade or more). But what sagacious insights should we glean from this touching tale?
Thinking about that conversation later reminded me that we can't conform ourselves to other people's molds. But we try sometimes, don't we?It's so comforting to remind myself that I was molded for Jesus's mouth only -- why would I try to adapt to the crooked canines of this fallen world? We are next provided with a list of "ten aspects of life" that God wants us to accept. These range from the blatantly problematic -- "whether we're a girl or boy" -- to the bafflingly sinister -- "the date we will die." When it comes to the more physical aspects of your aesthetic presentation, however, a lack of effort is unbecoming. Or, as the Duggar Girls reminisce:
We heard a pastor say one time, "Any ol' barn looks better with some paint on it!"The girls also explain their convictions regarding modest attire -- "we want to be respectful of those around us." Personally, I've always attempted to show respect to others by presuming that they have the emotional and cognitive wherewithal to avoid turning into some kind of raving hormonal beast at a bit of tasteful sideboob. But that's why I'm not the one writing an advice book!! Thankfully, in this day and age, a number of options exist for those who want to be both chic and chaste. For example:
Several of our friends have purchased stunning dresses from designers such as www.beautifullymodest.com or www.totallymodest.com.I'm rather partial to inordinatelymodest.com myself, although the sales at bewilderinglymodest.com just can't be beat! But our gracious authors bring us back down to earth, reminding us that there are far more important things in life than the frivolous fads of fashion -- namely (as we begin Chapter 2), "Your Relationship with Your Parents: Love, respect, and communication."
In order to facilitate these crucial lines of open and honest communication across such an innumerable brood, we learn that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have made the radical decision to carve out dedicated time for one-on-one conversations with each child -- "usually on one Saturday a month." These precious monthly check-ins with one (or, on a particularly special occasion, both!) parents provide an opportunity for otherwise scant face-to-face contact, and also allow the Duggar parents to exercise some of their more cutting-edge parenting techniques. For example, our authors let us in on one particularly hard-earned pearl of wisdom practiced by their beloved parents -- "often to help get the conversation going, they'll ask us questions."
With such a lofty standard being proffered, I understand how intimidating it may be to even attempt to incorporate such advanced strategies into your own parenting repertoire. But rest assured -- in case you have yet to acquire the child-reading confidence necessary to formulate such thoughtful queries on your own, I've taken the liberty of transcribing a few of the book's most incisive inquiries to help you parent like a pro.
How's your thought life going?
What things about your past would you like to change?
What things in our family discourage you?"Discouraging" is exactly the word I would use to describe Michelle Duggar's bedragged coiffure, although something tells me that's not exactly the kind of confession that line of questioning is designed to draw out. A subsequent passage emphasizes the importance of obedience, which we learn should be "instant," "cheerful," "thorough," and "unconditional." Such instruction is necessary, as the Duggar Girls explain, because "we are all born with a sin nature." Similar to the appendix, the "sin nature" is a vestigial organ that humans retain as a remnant of our distant evolutionary past -- at least, according to the heathens who indulge in that sort of paleobiological storytelling. And if such instructions still seem overly domineering to your unenlightened mind, this adage from
Obedience is the freedom to be creative under God-given authority.We transition from this doubleplusgood quote into the next chapter: "Your Relationship with Your Siblings: Becoming best friends," in which the authors waste no time in assuring us that the Duggar siblings "range from outdoorsy types to computer geeks, animal lovers to bookworms." Plus, I can only assume, a brain, an athlete, a basket-case, a princess, and a criminal. We go on to learn that the clan represents "a diverse assortment of personalities, interests, strengths, and weaknesses." Which sounds suspiciously like the noncommittal vagueness of someone who has never before possessed a character trait more forceful than, perhaps, a vague appreciation for wainscoting. Inevitably, however, these differences in temperament lead to vicious conflict. For example, as Jessa tremulously recounts:
An incident many years ago served as a lesson to us all. A younger sibling asked, "What kind of ice cream are you getting?" and the frustrated older sibling replied, "You don't have to always copy everything I do! Why don't you just pick out your own flavor?"I find it truly inspirational to know that even this -- the most unimaginably devastating of sibling brawls -- could be delivered from the brink of schism and restored to genuine affection. Yet it is not just sibling relationships that must be navigated with this sort of grace and levelheadedness. No, as we learn in the next chapter -- "Your Relationship with Friends: 'Show me your friends, and I'll show you your future'" -- it is important to shrewdly evaluate our friendships to assess their effects in our lives. To illustrate this point, the Duggar Girls encourage us to be mindful of the influence we exert over our loved ones.
Mom immediately took that older sibling aside and shared how much hurt and devastation a remark like that causes. […] Apologies were made, and the younger sibling readily forgave. The older sibling resolved to never speak demeaning words like that again but rather to embrace and uplift this sibling, and today, these two continue to be the best of friends.
Think about your last conversation with your friend. Did it lovingly challenge him or her spiritually?I think back to a time when a dear friend lovingly challenged me to take edibles and re-watch the first season of Double Divas -- surely this is the kind of spiritual development that a true confidante should inspire! The authors also relay a parable that their parents shared with them as children to demonstrate the importance of standing up for your convictions. In the apocryphal tale, a young girl begs her father to allow her to attend a friend's slumber party. He agrees -- provided she promises to uphold her Christian morals -- and sends her off after a parting moment of prayer. But what began as a carefree romp soon turns sinister, as the chilling saga continues:
The party was lots of fun, and the girl had a great time playing with her friends. And of course, what is a birthday party without a big piece of cake and a scoop of vanilla ice cream? But late that night, before bed, the mom suggested they have a "pretend séance" using a Ouija board.And that mother's name? Albert Einstein. But truly -- I can only hope to one day have even one fraction of the courage shown by this young girl, in this absolutely true story that definitely without-a-doubt one-hundred-percent happened. A more believable anecdote quickly follows, however, this time starring a young Jim Bob Duggar in the role of "huge nerd".
When the girl heard what this involved, she said respectfully and quietly to the group, "I'm not going to be able to do this."
When the mom asked why not, the girl replied, "I've given my life to Jesus, and I'm not able to do things like this."
The mother was stunned by the little girl's words -- and by her quiet courage in speaking up for her beliefs. She packed up the Ouija board and suggested the girls play something else before bed.
Dad became a Christian when he was only seven, and one day when he and some other little grade school classmates were out on the playground, one of the boys started using God's name as a curse word. Dad quietly told the boy he wished he wouldn't misuse God's name. "After all," Dad told his little friend, "He's the One who made us and loves us."Following in her father's smarmy footsteps, Jessa encourages the reader to eschew those friends who are only concerned with "watching all the newest movies, listening to the latest pop music, and judging others whom they deemed 'not cool.'" We are also treated to the compelling account of an accident at one of the family's rental properties, in which several cases of energy drinks exploded within a warehouse. By the time this tragic mishap was discovered weeks later, "the energy drinks had actually eroded away a layer of the concrete -- in some places, a half-inch deep!" The moral of this story, as we are solemnly advised, is that "the same thing happens to us when we spend lots of time with 'friends' who may seem sweet and appealing but who are exerting a harmful influence on our hearts." I would have thought a more telling moral would have been "Probably don't drink energy drinks" (or perhaps, "Check on your rental properties more frequently"), but I digress.
Our rollicking ride continues with another of Jim Bob's classic legends: "the story of a nice, likeable young man who grew up in a Christian home but eventually became a drug addict." Eyes wide with horror at the very thought, I read on. After making the grave error of surrounding himself with people whose "sole purpose in life was to 'have a good time,'" this unnamed man soon finds himself ensnared in a perilous trap. Then, on one fateful night, he attends a party and is handed a beer by a passing stranger.
At first he just stood there holding the beer in his hand, smiling and contemplating what he would do. He had never had a desire to drink, but he did not want to feel like an outsider, so when no one was looking he poured half the beer into a nearby potted plant. A little later his friend came by and said, "You didn’t drink any, did you?" Then, grabbing the bottle out of his hand, he noticed that it was half empty. "Hey, guys, he's one of us!" the friend announced to everyone.I can only assume the rest of that pivotal party went more or less like this. A bone-chilling illustration of just how slippery a slope can be!
Shorty after that the young man started drinking; later he got introduced to drugs. How sad that one, seemingly small decision started him on a path of self-destruction.
We move along to a more cheerful topic in Chapter Five, which switches gears to focus on "Your Relationship with Guys: Saving yourself for the one God has for you." Here, too, we are greeted by the eternal words of our communal patriarch-in-spirit, JBD:
About the time we entered our teenage years, Dad told us a story about a girl he went to school with in elementary and junior high school who was boy-crazy. […] He said he wondered at that early age if eventually this girl would find Mr. Right or if her habit of throwing herself into relationship after relationship would prove to be preparation for a future unstable marriage.Prior to today, I would have found it hard to believe that anyone else could be quite as smugly infuriating as Jim Bob Duggar. But -- if even half of the stories I've read in this book so far are to be believed -- he's gotten only more mellow with age. It's a level of condescending smarm I wouldn't tolerate from a distant great-aunt desperate for an heir to her vast fortune, let alone from the insufferable schoolboy herein described. Nevertheless, my thoughts and prayers go out to this pitiable Jane Doe -- our nation's epidemic of Boy-Craziness has wreaked havoc on so many communities, no doubt the devastating consequence of 5G, vaccines, and/or the 19th amendment.
Sadly enough, when this girl finally got married, it didn't last long, and that same pattern of discontent, insecurity, and self-centeredness that had affected her dating also affected her marriage.
In order to avoid such dangerous impulses, a responsible woman should take care to abstain from romance novels -- "they paint a picture of an unrealistic, unobtainable relationship." I'm not exactly sure what part of Her Country Star Billionaire Groom seems so "unrealistic" to these narrow-minded nincompoops, but I'll table that conversation for another time. We have more important things to attend to at the moment. Namely, the continuing explanation that, for women, romance novels do "the same thing pornography does to men." I'm grateful for this analogy -- as the most delicate of damsels, I'm not even really sure what pornography is, let alone what about it those mysterious menfolk could possibly find so stimulating! But I do know that warm tingly feeling I get when I cuddle up late at night with a thick, beefy Harlequin Romance!
Alas, it is this very indulgence may prove to be my undoing! As we soon learn:
When a girl reads romance novels, she's doing something very similar [to watching pornography], drawing perfectionistic, romantic pictures into her mind of what she thinks marriage is.This is a sentiment that, prior to the publication of the book I hold before me, had been most recently proffered by the famed Scottish wordsmith Charlotte Lennox in her 1752 novel, The Female Quixote, and I appreciate our authors for bringing light to such an underrecognized talent. The Duggar Girls continue our intellectual escapades with a reminder that "God put that deep need to be loved and accepted in our hearts so that He could be the one to fulfill it." As an astute pupil of the cultural arts, I immediately recognize this approach as step three of the D.E.N.N.I.S. System (Nurture Dependence).
For this vast array of reasons -- as eager as we may be to
We like to think of [these thoughts] as a live hand grenade coming our direction, and before it explodes we quickly pick it up and throw it right back at the devil.I can only assume that this what Bruno Mars was trying to convey with his hit song, "Grenade" -- the intertextuality never ceases to amaze me! The Duggar Girls go on to demonstrate their dexterous command of the metaphor -- "We give God the position as 'boss' and 'ruler' of our lives, and we release the 'steering wheel' to His control." -- before highlighting ways to serve God regardless of your marital status. For example, "visiting places like Honduras and sharing the gospel with villagers is a ministry opportunity our family greatly treasures." And by "places like Honduras," I'm sure they mean, "places with countless centuries of rich cultural heritage ravaged by colonial conquest and its lingering effects," and not "places where brown people live." Pretty sure, at least.
But even once you've managed to attract the attentions of your future beloved, you must take care to guard yourself from falling too quickly. To ensure that you don't award your affections to an unworthy suitor (thus irrevocably tainting your eternal purity), the Duggars suggest asking the following questions:
Is his passion in life for earthy money or for eternal riches and rewards?
Does he have a vision for his life of doing great things for God?
Is he a man of character, showing initiative, creativity, diligence, enthusiasm, and wisdom?I'm 99% sure that "initiative, creativity, diligence, enthusiasm, and wisdom" are the primary attributes from a knockoff version of Dungeons & Dragons -- who knew the Duggar girls were so into RPGs? (I guess they did warn us earlier that some of the family members are "computer geeks").
In the next several passages, the authors explain the "very real and very purposeful differences" between dating (bad!) and courtship (good!). First, they highlight a number of treacherous threats that pervade modern romantic culture.
A danger of modern dating is that it is typically two young people, alone, enjoying an activity. Usually a guy invites a girl out to a nice restaurant or some fun place or event. They enjoy a carefree time without the responsibility of the normal tasks and pressures of life.I'm almost too overcome with terror at the thought of such a wretched situation! But somehow, (mostly by channeling the immeasurable determination of someone only allowed to show affection through three-second side hugs) I find the strength to read on. But to my despair, even more tragedies await me! As we are instructed to imagine:
What could be worse than having to tell your potential future husband that not only did you not wait but that you also have a severely painful STD that he will likely get if he marries you?Not a SEVERELY painful STD?! But idk, lots of things could be worse than that, probably? Maybe it's just my overactive imagination, but it seems like you could knock out that whole conversation in one night over a bottle of wine, particularly given ongoing advances in modern medicine. But it seems I still have more to learn -- as I soon read:
Physical intimacy in marriage is pure, wholesome, and beautiful. Outside of marriage, it spreads disease, death, and destruction.I've never really thought of myself as a "sower of destruction" before, but…I don't hate it. I'm kind of looking forward to seeing what kind of casualties ensue the next time I have sex with my live-in boyfriend. As they say, nothing spices up the sex life like ascending to your thrones as eternal agents of pestilence and devastation!
Our next tip for identifying an ideal mate encourages "meaningful conversations about history, politics, theology, and such" -- I can only assume that the extensive footage of this intellectual discourse is edited out from the family's show at the demands of tyrannical production companies. But while those easily titillated minds might prefer to focus on worldly concerns, our authors are courteous enough to remind us of what truly matters. While he doesn't have to be "the best-looking hunk of human flesh ever created," it is vital that any potential partner practice "the fine old art of gentlemanly chivalry." As the Duggar Girls explain,
A gentleman's courtesy is not about women being weak or strong: it's about men needing to be men.Jim Bob, as one would expect, exemplifies these virtues. We are regaled with recollections of his many demonstrations of decorum throughout his storied marriage:
Years ago, he was working on honoring Mom in several specific ways, including remembering to open the car door for her.As soon as I finish reading this book, I'm going to get right to work on a list of specific ways that my boyfriend can work on honoring me -- I'm sure he'll be very appreciative for the guidance!
However, before I can get to that, I must tackle my next lesson: "Understanding What Christian Guys Look For in a Future Wife." Based on an admittedly "small and totally unscientific survey" of their male acquaintances, the Duggar Girls are able to share with us a few explosive secrets. For example, the ideal wife "has a hunger and thirst after righteousness" and promises to "faithfully help [her husband] grow deeper spiritually." What's more, she should also be "involved in some sort of ministry -- preferably music ministry." The chapter concludes with a convenient list of commitments for the reader, including pledges to "choose wholesome activities" and avoid "bad Internet sites."
In Chapter Six, the Duggar Girls lead the reader to examine "Your Relationship with Culture: Making choices that will keep you pure." Almost immediately, we are cautioned that
With just a few clicks of a keyboard, the Internet gives us the ability to research any subject. But it also has the potential to destroy the souls of those who get entangled in its dark side.And lest you think this is hyperbole, our authors reiterate that "it is not a matter of if but when Satan will try to tempt us." As a thought exercise, the reader is encouraged to reflect: "would your Internet choices be the same when you were all alone as they would be when someone were sitting beside you?" In particular, the girls draw attention to the seedy underbelly of harmful gossip sites, breezily brushing off these piteous busybodies with the following bit of clever wordplay:
We've heard that some discussion boards or chat rooms might be better named bitter rooms because those drawn to them often seem rather bitter.As our quipsters continue, "unfortunately, some people seem to derive much pleasure from nit-picking other people's lives." Thankfully, I derive my pleasure from nitpicking other people's books, so I'm totally in the clear on this one! Our authors encourage us to reform these renegade impulses by explaining that when we stop wasting time on mindless pursuits, we'll find ourselves becoming more productive, enterprising individuals. As a result of this ideology, we learn that "by age ten, John was working on and operating heavy equipment." I'm unimpressed -- call me when you've got a three-year-old on woodchipper duty. Regardless, it is clearly far safer than its petrifying alternative -- exposure to the horrors of television.
And what, pray tell, might these horrors be? Magic -- "which often shows up in children's movies" -- is revealed to be "part of a demonic realm that God wants us to stay away from." As the authors solemnly intone, "as harmless as it may seem, it's not a joke in God's eyes." Graciously, the Duggars have deigned to provide several reliably pure entertainment options:
many of the old classics that promote honesty, respect of parents, and reverence for God
educational documentaries that teach about science and history from a biblical perspective
many carefully selected episodes of The Andy Griffith Show as long as they are not centered around a lot of romance or deceptiveness, as some of them areWith regard to making appropriate music choices, "much prayerful consideration" is required, lest we "bring a blot to the name and character of the God we represent." However, in order to guide our future reflections, the Duggar Girls go on to provide a helpful technique for assessing acoustic chastity.
Soon after Mom became a Christian at the age of fifteen, a friend encouraged her to write out the lyrics of questionable songs and then compare them to the truths found in the Bible. For instance, if a song's lyrics are saying, "Follow your heart. Do what feels good," we compare it to the Bible and find that […] we're not supposed to follow our hearts, as that will only get us in trouble.I suppose that means I'll have to rethink my upcoming single, "Follow Your Heart (Do What Feels Good)," but that will have to wait until I've fully absorbed all the insights this book has to offer. For example, as I read on, I learn that I should be particularly suspicious of "rock 'n' roll and its variations such as hard rock and heavy metal." As the authors expound:
Since its beginnings in the 1950s, this music's main goal and purpose have been to promote every one of the issues we want to avoid. A heavy backbeat and words being sung in a breathy and sensual voice -- and even the style of rock 'n' roll music itself -- give off an attitude of rebellion, resistance toward authority, and a rejection of morality. None of these things come without consequences.Lest you think that our authors are merely being alarmist, they go on to explain that when they "examined the lives of many of these artists," they were dismayed to conclude that "the life expectancy for rock artists and musicians is around forty; many of them die at a young age for reasons related to AIDS, drug or alcohol abuse, or suicides. It's a tragic reality." Far less perilous to enjoy "classical music and traditional hymns," as they are known to "follow a pattern and maintain a very distinct and definite order."
With this final injunction, we move on to the volume's penultimate chapter, "Your Relationship with Your Country: Making a difference in the political arena." My attention is instantly captured by the opening sentence, which informs the reader that "God used a series of supernatural events to clearly lead our family into making a difference in the world of politics." The "supernatural event" in question turns out to be the undeniably divine miracle of Jim Bob Duggar…finding out about a rally against "partial-birth abortion" and then…attending it. I can only imagine how much more wondrous the world must seem if such a banal and explainable episode is sufficient to incite veritable fits of exaltation.
But this portent is just the beginning of Papa Duggar's political career, and I read on to learn even more about "the values Dad stood for." Although this lineup presumably does not include any sort of commitment to avoiding sentence-ending prepositions, it does include a promise to vote "the right way on life-and-death issues."
Before long, Jim Bob "felt God urging him to run for the US Senate," and although he loses the election, publicity from the campaign eventually brings about the family's first taste of national media attention. After much prayer and "wise, godly counsel," the family agrees to be filmed for a reality show -- "we agreed to do it based upon our hope that it would enable our family to share encouraging Bible principles with many other people." And indeed, the family now receives "hundred of letters and e-mails" per week from viewers who have been "spiritually challenged" by watching the series.
But rest assured -- "Dad's loss in that Senate campaign did not end our involvement in politics." If you, too, would like to follow our authors' example and become more civically engaged, you could "find a conservative Christian who is running for office and then call and ask them where he or she stands on the issues." I suppose I should give them a modicum of credit for the inclusive phrasing, "he or she," but the fact that I don't have the slightest doubt as to the intended meaning of "the issues," prevents me from even a half-hearted endorsement of this sentiment.
Blessedly, however, we've reached our story's denouement -- a final chapter entitled, "Your Relationship with the World: Developing a servant's heart." Jill tearfully recounts a ministry trip to El Salvador, taking care to highlight the contrast between the "iron-barred windows" of government orphanages and the "love-filled" Christian facility the group goes on to visit. What accounts for this stark discrepancy? "They've fed these children not only with food for their tummies but also food for their spiritual lives." As Jessa quips, "It is so neat to see how God works." Of course, as you might have suspected, the Duggar Girls quickly realized that, "as with every trip, it was clear that we were the ones who'd gotten the biggest blessings." Truly -- the engagement you get from an Instagram post featuring a bona fide orphan is worth more than any financial reward one could ever hope to gain on this mortal plane!
We next learn about Jill and Jana's experiences with the local volunteer fire department. Mercifully, this endeavor doesn’t necessitate as many Rugged Man Skills as you might assume, and the two are able to respond to such dainty predicaments as "a little old lady's cat stuck in a tree" and "a kid with his lip stuck in a sippie cup" without jeopardizing their feminine delicacy. Jill next shares more about her journey with midwifery. As she reassures us, it's not just "Christian, homeschooling moms" who opt for home deliveries, but "single moms" as well!
Jana, in contrast, tells us that she "[feels] called to focus on childbirth coaching and prenatal preparation instead of 'running the show,' as Jill does so competently when she serves as midwife." And Jinger has been called to minister at "the juvenile detention center in our area," which she fashionably abbreviates as "juvy" to highlight her comfort with urban vernacular.
As I read on, I learn more about the Duggar family's love of music, which is far more diverse and expansive than one might initially assume. For example, did you know that the Duggars "enjoy traditional music as well as classical," or that a young Joy-Anna was encouraged to undertake the daring pursuit of "[learning] to play the violin 'fiddle-style'"?
As these examples illustrate, God's gifts can take a myriad of forms! For this reason, we go on to learn about the importance of "learning how to give an enthusiastic, friendly greeting to others." This technique is a surefire way to spark a deep and meaningful conversation with anyone you may encounter. And, in the most dire of emergencies, "we know we can shoot up a little flare-prayer and God is always able to give us the words to say." However, one should always take appropriate caution "not to be too overly friendly with people of the opposite gender, as that can send the wrong kind of message!"
As luck would have it, we have only to look to the Duggar parents to find examples of more decorous ways to approach intimate dialogues. As we learn:
Many times our parents have guests over and then ask if it would be okay if we watch one of Jim Sammons's Financial Freedom Seminar messages together from embassyinstitute.org and then discuss it afterward. Once they watch one message, most people want to go through the whole series.With a few final nuggets of wisdom, the volume comes to a close. The authors graciously offer an obligatory apology for daring to burden the reader with their inane female ramblings -- "Thank you for sticking with us through this super-long chapter!" As they continue:
We know we've shared a lot of concepts about relationships, but it is our prayer that God will direct and encourage you as you begin to make them part of your own lives.As you go off and begin your own personal journey towards relationship rapture, you may find encouragement in the idea that -- despite their celebrated name -- the Duggar Girls are not just some faceless paragons of virtue. As the author biographies on the back inside cover remind us, these are regular people, with their own unique interests and capacities. While Jessa might be found "memorizing scripture" or "discipling friends," Jill would rather spend her time "counseling girls via phone, text, in person, or email." Jana "stays busy managing the family mailroom," and Jinger? She's "always full of energy, that is, when she has a cup of coffee in her hand!"
And with that cheeky witticism, I close the book and begin my quest towards docile, denim Duggarhood -- I wish you nothing but blessings as you enter this season of life!
Morrowind No-Skillup Run - How Fargoth the Mighty conquered Morrowind without ever improving himself
IntroductionMeet Fargoth the Mighty. He did embark on a perilous journey that would become his greatest adventure, and develop his appreciation for alcoholic beverages on top of it.
To his accomplishments we can attribute:
- The defeat of Dagoth Ur, Almalexia and Hircine's Aspect of Guile, along with anyone who stood in his way
- Ascending to Archmagister of Great House Telvanni, Arch-Mage of the Mages Guild and Factor of the East Empire Company
- Acquiring all obtainable(*) artifacts in all of Morrowind, as well as all daedric or otherwise noteworthy items with the exception of those held by whom he considers his friends
- Achieving a reputation of 90
(*) Teeth of the Urshilaku, Thong of Zainab, The Seizing of the Erabenimsun and Moon-and-Star are unobtainable without leveling up.
Here are some of the highlights: Assassin not so tough after being bullied by a level one You need cave equipment to cave dive Marara brings on touch to an on target fight Who needs a Nerevarine when you can have a Fargoth Gaenor's luck has ran out Gedna Relvel eats her own spells One shot, one kill The bigger they are... Alcohol solves all problems I am the East Empire Company now The hunt is over
The No-Skillup RunAbout a decade I stumbled across a german website (which I can't find anymore, despite all my efforts) on which a guy was documenting his so-called "Artifact Run". His aim was to collect as many Artifacts or endgame items while leveling as little as possible, and he managed to get around thirty of them before reaching level three. I found the idea intriguing, and together with the shitposting that appeared on /v/ in more recent years about how you can't hit or do anything as low-level in Morrowind I had all the inspiration I needed to start my own challenge runs.
Of course leveling up would make it way too easy, so I started with a level one run right away. But having played Morrowind for so long, and knowing so much about the game, it was still too easy. A potential of nine majominor skill increases, a bunch of misc. skill increases, most notably Alchemy, just allowed for too much freedom. I made it to around halfway through Tribunal before losing motivation and never really got around to finish the run. The seasoned Morrowind player just knows too much about the skills, the items, the AI and everything. So further restrictions had to be put in place...
Here comes my "No-Skillup Run". Complete everything possible within the game without leveling up a single skill. No majominor, no miscellaneous, no nothing. Taking a fresh character through the entire game and doing so without allowing any skill to level up. The harshest restrictions should make for the ultimate challenge run.
Admittedly, with the exception of a few key encounters, the run is only really challenging and interesting during the setup phase. Once you have all your equipment ready and enchanted, the rest is mostly just wrapping things up like going down a checklist. Thankfully, both expansions, especially Tribunal, house a number of exceptionally tricky encounters that require you to use everything at your disposal to overcome them.
Overall, I feel accomplished after completing this challenge, but have mixed feelings about abusing certain tactics (permanent summons in particular) so often. But when you limit yourself to such a degree, there's only so much you can do, and certain tactics are just more effective than others. I've tried to use unorthodox methods whenever possible to change things up and keep it interesting, even if those approaches were strictly inferior compared to the proven ones.
I also learned some new things about Morrowind, such as what vendors have what items in the lists they randomly pick items from. What this or that enemy has as resistances/weaknesses. Or that multiple sources of Reflect do, in fact, not stack, unlike what everyone else on the internet seems to believe.
Fargoth the MightyAs you probably guessed from his name, Fargoth the Mighty is a Bosmer. In his previous lives he was chosen for similar challenges because of his proficiency in ranged weapons and his ability to remove items from pockets without being detected. For this particular run, race doesn't matter too much, any race should be able to do it. But I decided to just stick with Fargoth the Mighty. His bonus to Marksman is still strong.
Major Skills: Marksman (for Bow and Darts) Mysticism (required to reach the rank of Master Wizard in the Mages Guild, and to cast Telekinesis) Sneak (for Pickpocket) Conjuration (to cast Bound Longbow) Long Blade (required to reach the rank of Swordsman in the Fighters Guild)
Minor Skills: Mercantile (for slightly less terrible prices) Restoration (for early Resist Magicka) Alteration, Destruction and Illusion are filler skills and won't be used. May or may not be required for some promotions.
Skills that have to be used, such as Athletics and Enchant, are deliberately put into misc. skills to increase the experience they need for a level up. Though I haven't actually done any math or testing whether the bonus to experience gain for minor skills outweights the increased requirements for having a higher skill or not.
Specialization: Stealth for +5 to Marksman and Sneak
Favored Attributes: Strength for +50 max encumbrance and +5 max Health, Endurance for +5 max Health
Sign: The Lover for +25 Agility
The JourneyStarting out
The restrictions of the run are felt immediately after creating your class with Socucius Ergalla. You cannot run, only walk. Because running advances Athletics, and there will be parts later in the game where you are forced to swim, which forces unavoidable experience upon you. Getting hit advances armor skills, so that's out of the question as well. As is hitting things yourself more than a couple of times, or cast more than a handful of spells of the same school.
That's quite something, so how do you go from this to this? The road ahead is a long and arduous one, no doubt.
The run starts with a classic: The Limewire Platter. No challenge run would be complete without it. After that it's the Warehouse key, which has to be replaced through the menu to get its ownership tag removed, as Sellus Gravius is within talking range and will immediately take it back otherwise. And lastly, everything of value in the previous room, which would have been taken by Sellus Gravius had it been grabbed before the key.
After my release was complete, I returned our brother's ring before heading off to my first heist: the Warehouse. Arille happily bought all the useless junk and sold a cheap Resist Magicka spell effect that will be needed later to make an actually useful spell. Vodunius Nuccius' quest lost me some money, but I did it anyway just for the sake of it.
Not much else to do in Seyda Neen at this time. Upstairs in the lighthouse is a skill book free for the taking, through the inventory without reading it. An axe and a dagger hidden in tree stumps, the belongings of a wannabe wizard and a couple mushrooms on the way to him. Then it's off to Balmora per Silt Strider.
Gave the sealed package to Caius and joined the local guilds. Joining all factions is great because it will set the disposition of their members to a minimum that bypasses the penalties of ranking up in opposing factions. Emptied Fighters' and Mages' Guild chests and sold unneeded items back to ther vendors for some easy starting money.
I proceeded by turning in the mushrooms I collected earlier, did the follow-up quest, stole Galbedir's Soulgems and for good measure the Limewire Platter too. Claimed my promotion and sold the Moon Sugar to Ajira, after which I bought a spell for Bound Longbow and made one for Resist Magicka (100% for 2s).
Heard rumors about a guy who was recently murdered, so I moved in and claimed his house as my own. His clothes fetched a good price at the local clothier, too. He'll be getting new stuff to wear soon enough, because apparently his body can hold an unlimited amount of weight, unlike any regular container.
Teleported to Caldera to pick up two free skill books and some orcish armor, which I sold to Creeper. The owners called me out for stealing, but didn't actually do anything. The Mages Guild donated a Master's Alchemy Set which I redeemed for money at Nalcarya in Balmora.
The hunt for items begins
Walking everywhere started to take its toll on my patience, so something needed to be done about that. I left the safety of towns for the first time by heading north outside Caldera. On my way, Hlormar gave me lesson in how to punch for a free +2 strength. He didn't even need my help, but was happy to get his axe back nonetheless. Continuing my journey, I escorted Pemenie to Gnaar Mook, avoided a confrontation with a rat by going over the hills and received the completely broken boots, which could be worn after a successful cast of my Resist Magicka spell. Took a few failed casts, as my Restoration skill was terrible, but there was no more room in my major skills, so I had to deal with it.
After selling the contents of the guild chests in all the other towns, buying a broken Glass dagger from a pawnbroker in Suran and selling the repaired thing to Creeper satisfied my financial needs for the forseeable future. I headed over the mountains next to Molag Mar for the Redas Ancestral Tomb. Two Scamps stood in my way, so I used Beast Tongue to command one to distract the other. Nearly useless, because mine ended up getting killed almost instantly by the other. Still kind of cool, and it bought me enough time to grab my stylish new robe before intervening the hell out of there. I was really tired, so I needed a rest...
I awoke to the sound of some shady guy breaking into my house, despite leaving the door downstairs unlocked, so I got up to defend my new home. He didn't stand a chance against my new scrolls of Elemental Burst: Frost. Some say his armor is overpowered, and it is indeed very strong, but I sold it to the next vendor, because they are too blind to see the real price: I could now move to Mournhold, which gave me access to the extremely powerful Fortify Skill spell effect via Laurina Maria, and an unlimited amount of Grand Soulgems from Elbert Nermarc.
Visiting the shrine near the Temple in Vivec and donating a Rising Force potion granted me a long and powerful Levitate buff, which I used to do some chores for my fellow Telvanni wizards. While I was at it, I visited the shrine of Azura and bought some summoning spells in Tel Branora, then continued towards Ald Daedroth. This place is home to two of the six Golden Saints in Vvardenfell (and one more in Tribunal) that are fixed spawns. Any more can only be encountered through leveled lists, and will only spawn for players that are at least level 14. So these seven are the only possible source for a Daedric Tower Shield. Thankfully, they're easy kills for a level one, if you're drunk enough - with ten Sujamma, all it takes is one arrow. This time I was exceptionally lucky and the Golden Saints gifted me with two of the elusive shields right away, on top of their souls. Didn't even need to utilize my special powers to go back in time and try again. These shields are really not needed, the run can easily be done without them, but we don't want to do things half-assedly, so we might as well go all the way.
With a certain Mudcrab paying premium prices for all my accumulated loot, I was now wealthy enough to solve the souls problem for my enchanting needs and make another invaluable piece. Flying is just so much faster than walking, not to mention safer too.
Getting Firsts of Randagulf was disappointing. Every spawn in the entire dungeon (except for the boss which isn't there without the quest) is leveled and the resistance you face there at very low levels is laughable.
Telvanni chores sent me to Baladas, so while I was there I also joined the Imperial Legion and picked up Denstagmer's Ring just outside Gnisis. Daedra in the tomb are leveled, and sometimes there won't even be one on the way to the ring.
An impressive stash was waiting to be emptied in Solstheim. With Levitation you don't even need any Invisibility scrolls to reach it safely. On the subject of Invisibility, some Tribunal and Bloodmoon enemies are special in a way that you can use it to move past them undetected if they never saw you, but once they have seen you they'll ignore Invisibility and continue to pursue and attack you through it.
Back to more chores for my wizard brethren. A few scrolls made a slave rebellion catch a cold, which rewarded me with a particularly interesting item. Also picked up Mentor's Ring before getting it would become even easier.
The Ring of Toxic Cloud made short work of Staada, and with that Azura's Star was secured. Now was also a good time to get a great new helm. All enemies in the shrine are easily avoided with Levitation. Of course I wanted to enchant my new helm right away, so I paid my sponsors over at the Redoran Vaults a visit with telekinesis and Deceit (the glove from the tree stump that grants +20 to Sneak). I put a constant effect Summon Dremora on the Helm of Tohan and it made killing things without getting experience already a whole lot easier, like this guy holding the Ring of the Wind could confirm.
Since enchanting is so expensive, I needed to ask Hlaalu to help out as well. The containers can safely be looted after opening the door because that stupid Ordinator can't see through it.
I dedided to pick off two more Golden Saints, and collect whatever they were guarding. One in Bal Ur and the other in Ibar-Dad, together with Eleidon's Ward and some daedric items. The resistance there was strong, but the number of my summons prevailed.
Made my way to Ebonheart to collect Lord's Mail. I usually do this early because it's such a good armor and so easy to get (if you know how to), but this time I wanted to do something more interesting, so I had to rank up in House Telvanni first. Using Aryon's Dominator, I commanded the wearer to follow me underwater, though he didn't have potions of Underwater Breathing like I did. Terribly slow and inefficient, there are many better ways to kill him, but none of them are as creative. Since he carries a potion of Levitation, which he'll use in combat, it would theoretically be possible to command him outside, get him to follow you high in the air and have him die from fall damage when it wears off. I'll have to try this some time...
One of the most powerful items in the game found its way into my pockets when two women tried to ambush me and failed miserably. Here you see me using my newest creation for the first time: a Daedric Tower Shield enchanted with constant effect Summon Daedroth. He is extremely strong due to frontloading his damage output with powerful poison and lightning spells, though the AoE often makes him dangerous to use. He drastically reduces the time it takes to wear down tough opponents, and kills weak ones almost instantly. Those women had absolutely no idea. I wonder what went through their heads in their last moments.
Also took Chrysamere off the hands of an unworthy witch. My summons were clearly superior to hers.
There was one vault left, the Telvanni Vault. Of course there was nobody more worthy of the items inside it than I, so it was inevitable that I had to get to it eventually. As expected of my fellow Telvanni wizards, this one was actually reasonably well secured, but no challenge is too great for Fargoth the Mighty. The Storm Atronachs put up a good fight, but eventually succumbed to my minions as I drank potions to stay alive. They also provided the souls required for the construction of my stronghold, so I didn't need to waste any Golden Saint souls. Lured one of the Ordinators in the treasure room outside with a Scroll of Supreme Domination, then picked up my reward with Telekinesis, out of line of sight of the other Ordinator standing in the corridor.
A Guild Master shrouded in darkness
My advancement in both the Mages Guild and Great House Telvanni eventually came to a halt. They told me I didn't meet their requirements. Seriously?! After all I have done? I'll teach those guys what powers Fargoth the Mighty can wield...
So I traveled, all the way to Ashmelech, home of the Vampire wizards, to acquire their powers. After a long sleep, I awoke with my new gift that granted me, amongst other things, +20 Willpower and +30 Mysticism, Illusion and Destruction. On top of that, as a member of the Aundae Clan, I gained an additional +20 to Willpower, Mysticism and Destruction. This boosted my Mysticism from 30 to 80, exactly enough to have those imperial bookworms grant me the rank of Master Wizard, and next in line for Arch-Mage. The Telvanni seem to have much lower standards, a skill of 60 for Spellwright is enough, after that following Aryon's quests will lead to Archmagister without anyone else questioning your abilities. Incidentally, the Mages Guild and Great House Telvanni are the only factions that will talk to Vampires. It's obvious they are impressed by my way of surpassing my limits to overcome my weaknesses.
Aryon promoted me to Spellwright right away, before I went around doing Vampire stuff, such as putting Marara out of her misery or executing a Vampire Hunter while the sun burned my skin. I've also met an imprisoned guy and set him free. He could have enjoyed the rest of his life in freedom, but he thought it a good idea to attack me instead, and his plan backfired.
Edwinna liked to talk tough, but she seemed to have a soft heart for me after all, and promoted me to Master Wizard as expected. Of particular significance is that those who are of rank Conjurer (which I couldn't reach before my transformation) or above have unlocked Folms Mirel in Caldera as a vendor. Amongst other interesting things, he sells an unlimited amount of Ekash's Lock Splitter and Summon Golden Saint scrolls.
After picking up Eltonbrand, there was no more reason to stay in this cursed form. The powers were just for show, and the drawbacks were massive. So I went back to Bal Ur and had Molag Bal restore me to my former glory, which he did after I gave his daughter and her mate a good spanking.
Tying up loose ends
It was time to do the rest of what we could before the main quest. The Pilgrimage of the Four Corners can be done without being on the quest, so the best armor in the game was now in my hands too. And an extremely good Command spell that never fails and doesn't advance a skill because it doesn't belong to a spell school.
I finished all quests for the factions that my ranks would allow me to do, which was mostly uneventful busywork, though I came across some problems and found solutions (an enchanted ring with constant effect Invisibility).
Delivering a letter to Trebonius granted me another two points of reputation when he finally promoted me to Arch-Mage. Unfortunately, he lost his life to a mysterious accident shortly thereafter. According to local Ordinators, the Necromancer's Amulet was missing from his body. Residents of the Mages Guild in Vivec reported hearing the sound of flying spells and summoned creatures, though nobody had seen anything or had any idea of what happened. Vivec's Halls of Justice had put the investigation on hold due to the lack of leads.
A truly legendary battle took place on a certain bridge in the vicinity of Balmora. Notorious newbie-crusher Snowy Granius was testing his skills against a seemingly weak Bosmer, but it looked like he was overestimating himself.
In the far north, a Skeleton War-Wizard was unable to keep a Bosmer War-Wizard from getting his hands on the Bittercup. I had to join the East Empire Company before using it, due to their requirements, which I only found out later, so I had to go back and redo some stuff. Some of the following screenshots were made before correcting that mistake and are therefore a bit outdated, though it doesn't really matter. Nothing notable changed.
In the mountains surrounding Suran, I met a particularly capable warrior and granted him his wish to die in battle. The resistance he put up was fierce, but ultimately futile. Not even the Cliffracer that came to his aid could turn the tide of the battle.
Malacath was so pleased to see me getting rid of a false hero hat he rewarded me with the Helm of Oreyn Bearclaw. Sheogorath, on the other hand, didn't even notice that all I had to do for his silly errand was to equip the fork during the death animation of the giant Netch.
The Main... Quest?
Unfortunately, doing the main quest is not possible at level one. The "Vivec Informants" quest has a hard requirement of level three. Caius refuses to give this quest to any character below that level, and there is no way around it. If a speedrunner (or anybody else with a good understanding of glitches) is reading this and knows of a sequence break to bypass this, I'd be happy to hear it. I've tried some things, but have not found any way past this.
In my previous run, I've used my CHIM powers to trick Caius into believing I was stronger than I actually was, so he'd just give me that damn quest and I completed the main quest like any other character could. This time, I didn't want to resort to such out-of-universe tricks, because the run would not be genuine if I did that.
Fortunately, doing the main quest is not really required to defeat Dagoth Ur. Not doing it means I lost out on the real Wraithguard, four other artifacts, and a huge amount of reputation (a bit more than 30). I could just collect Kagrenac's tools and head to the Red Mountain, with sufficient preparation of course. Since I was collecting all obtainable artifacts anyway, I paid Vivec a visit to acquire this broken piece of scrap. Yagrum Bagarn offered to turn it into a slightly less broken piece for my collection, so while I was out fetching books for him I also picked up Sunder. Upon my return, Yagrum refused to activate the broken Wraithguard, because he correctly assumed that equipping it would kill me. So I had to once again haul my ass back to civilization to buy a stack of Fortify Health potions. When I drank all the potions in front of Yagrum he finally stopped being stubborn and activated Wraithguard. But it was a forbidden item. Equipping it meant certain death, even with Fortify Health effects you'd die the moment they ran out. Since I was already in the area, I took the time to collect some daedric armor from Divayth. Caius was super pissed when I told him about it, something about my only hope to cure Corprus. I wouldn't be needing Caius or Divayth anyway, so whatever. What's this Corprus, anyway?
Alright, time to visit this Dagoth Ur guy. On the way I also picked up Keening. Dagoth Ur told me I came unprepared, and he'd let me go, but if I caused trouble he'd fuck me up. Didn't like the way he was talking down on me, so I took him out instead. Now the hard part. Using Kagrenac's tools without Wraithguard is tricky. To do it at level one however, is a whole other story. Many Fargoths in alternate universes had to die for this moment. In the end, I achieved success by drinking about twenty exclusive Fortify Health potions, waiting around a second between drinking each. Since a potion grants 20 HP, and my maximum HP was 40, it would mean instant death if even two potions would run out at the same time. During the entire time of wielding the tools and waiting for the Fortify Health to fade, I was under the effect of multiple exclusive Restore Health potions. After my triumph over Dagoth Ur, people started calling me Nerevarine for some reason, even though I've never been named Nerevarine and never visited the Caverns of the Incarnate.
Wrapping things up
I needed Gothren dead to become Archmagister of Great House Telvanni. I originally planned to do this during the Hortator quest to maximize my reputation, but since I didn't get to do that I could just continue where I left off. His summons were clearly inferior to mine.
For the last few reputation points, I needed to escort a slave away from Dren Plantation. The best way to do this is to use a Command spell to move him out of the guard's range before talking to him and formally initiating the escort. The guards will not attack him this way. But those Cammona Tong are a nasty bunch. Heard them talking shit behind my back. So I decided to send a message instead. Argonian's poison immunity sure is a useful ability.
When I visited him in his manor, Bolvyn Venim said that he, although hard to believe, acknowledged me as Nerevarine. Now I've seen it all. I almost felt bad challenging him for his sword. He didn't stand a chance against me and my boys (actually, just my boys).
Levitation is disabled everywhere except in the sewers and ruins, so it was back to walking again.
Smoking out the Dark Brotherhood was a bit anticlimatic, as all regular assassins are leveled, and the ones you get at very low levels are relatively weak. Only their boss put up a fight, but he found out that taking this job was a mistake.
The Goblins were exactly the opposite. They have a good amount of health and hit very hard. Cleaning up everything in the sewers took ages in my previous run, so I decided to fight smart instead of hard this time and just use my Invisibility ring. The Warlords put up a good fight, but my Golden Saint scrolls proved worth their money. It had been a while since I fought Altmer, so I watched gleefully as my Daedroth fried them with his lightning.
In front of the Temple I came across a particularly greedy Bosmer. He even returned to attack me after I had refused to part with my hard-earned wealth. It was a tough fight, but his luck ran out when he decided to mess with the wrong Fargoth.
Got a free set of High Ordinator armor during the Thief quest. While I was pursuing Golena Sadri, I had to move past a few nasty traps. Probably the worst part in the entire game, and it took dozens of attempts. You can supposedly bypass the traps without triggering them by sneaking. Except not really. Well, sort of. While they did not trigger every time, they still went off just as often as they didn't, it seemed to be completely random and not related to detection. I eventually managed to catch up to Golena and confronted her. Definitely won't be doing this again before getting the Royal Signet Ring.
While doing errands for the Temple, I ran into a Lich called Gedna Relvel. There are a number of ways to deal with her. For a change of pace I decided to go with Reflect, as she is not completely immune to all the damage she dishes out. And it is her who taught me that the wiki is wrong and multiple sources of Reflect do indeed not stack, at least not additively. Even with up to 160% Reflect, Fargoth the Mighty would get killed just a few casts in. So in order to deal with the damage that went past Reflect, the Ring of Equity was required for its 100% Absorb (and only Absorb, because its Reflect doesn't work) which grants complete magic immunity for the duration. And so I was able to make Gedna eat her own spells without getting killed myself.
Compared to what I just went through, Barilzar was little more than your average tough guy.
While trying to avenge his brother, who lost his life challenging another level one, the local bad guy summoner found out that he was no longer the best summoner in town.
The king was such a fool that he couldn't even see my powers, and wanted me to display them while fighting his champion. The duel left Karrod so exhausted that he couldn't even move anymore - forever. He was doomed to stand on this very spot for the rest of his life. Sorry Karrod, you were a good guy and didn't deserve this fate, but I couldn't let you stand in the way of my conquest.
Meanwhile, Almalexia had asked me to deal with a former member of her Hands, Salas Valor. The Hands are amongst the strongest fighters in all of Morrowind. Their abilities make them practically immune to all forms of magic, while their physical prowess is just as impressive. Their Fortify Attack gives them a minimum of 50% chance to hit that ignores any evade chance their target has, no matter how high. How do you deal with such an overwhelming foe? This was a good opportunity to show what happens when you stack overpowered things in your favor. I equipped my Ring of Raven Eye to boost my Marksman skill and drank a bottle of Sujamma. Sneaking with the 80% Chameleon effect from the Amulet of Shadows will significantly increase the chance to land a critical strike, and if you combine that with a naturally powerful weapon, such as a Spring Dart taken from the Black Dart Gang that drowned earier in the sewers, all it takes it one shot for a kill. Almalexia rewarded me with a blessing that increased my health from 40 to 50, surprisingly my actual maximum health and not just current like Fortify effects usually do.
During my quest to restore Trueflame, a painfully mediocre weapon, Khash-Ti Dhrur and his Crew had to be convinced to part with their bottle of Pyroil Tar.
Off to Clockwork City. The inhabitants were sturdy enough to make me want to fall asleep while killing them, so Invisibility proved to be a great time saver once again. A bit of trickery was required for this trap. Even running with the Boots of Blinding Speed would not be enough. A solution was to drink a Sujamma to increase your speed by lowering your relative encumbrance, though I decided to be a bit more flashy and used a Scroll of Icarian Flight here to jump next to the door on the top level. Also needed a Sujamma for a stuck lever that required at least 80 strength.
The Imperfect was a resourceful opponent. Its lightning spell covered nearly the entire room and was therefore practically unavoidable. It was possible to pot through the damage with two exclusive Restore Health potions used before or at the time of impact. And then I found out that the Imperfect was one of the few, maybe even the only, high level enemy with no resistance to Magicka, Reflect or Absorb, which made it a prime target for an Ebony Arrow of Slaying.
Onwards to the finale, where it was proven once again that alcohol can solve any problem. After throwing a total of twenty Sujamma down my throat, Almalexia took only three Dwarven Shock Darts. While I was at it, I also captured her soul.
Now the only thing left in Mournhold was to pay back my debt to the king. And because he attacked me first, his guards wouldn't lift a finger to help him. Unfortunately, Tienius Delitian accidentally got caught by a stray dart, but I'm confident he will rest in peace knowing that Gravekeeper is in good hands. Looks like Morrowind has a new king now.
Compared to Tribunal, Bloodmoon doesn't have many challenges. They are few, though some of them are extremely hard. The good thing is, being a Werewolf will not advance any skills. The bad thing is, you cannot use any of your equipment. And you can only transform safely in dungeons, because apparently being within a kilometer of any living thing, civilized or not, will mark you as a known Werewolf and turn any NPC in the world hostile, forever.
The Lightkeeper Grahl was the first challenge worth mentioning, though nothing the standard tactics couldn't handle. Another tough enemy was a man-eating monkey with an unpronounceable name, resistant to magic so I had to call upon the Golden Saints.
My first test of sanity in Bloodmoon was waiting in the Tomb of Skaalara. My claws were dull, and the enemies' swords sharp. It was a long and frustrating night. Fully charging an attack, releasing it just inside melee range and instantly backing off to repeat was the best I could do. With some practice, and learning the range of the attacks down to just a few pixels, it worked to some extent. Still, the enemies were so overpowering that any time they failed to stagger, you didn't even need to bother trying to salvage the situation and could reload right away. The enemies were just that much stronger. And two nights later the same situation came back to haunt me a second time in the form of Skaal Trackers during their bear hunt.
Slightly easier, but still annoying was the Siege of Castle Karstaag. The Grahl have about twice the melee range of your Werewolf form, so taking at least one hit from every enemy is guaranteed. They don't oneshot you right away, so I could at least recover between them.
Meanwhile I was also building my colony at Raven Rock, without much trouble. Only Carnius put up a real fight near the end. I thought this guy was a bureaucrat, but he turned out to be serious business.
The next night, Hircine invited me to take part in his game. I was to make my way through a labyrinth full of Werewolves on steroids, killing my poor fledgling Werewolf with a single scratch. Using the hit and run tactic made it possible to defeat them as long as the AI dedided to play nice and not do weird things like bump them into me. Still, saving after each kill without taking a hit, and needing multiple attempts for almost every enemy due to their erratic movement was really tedious, so I just waited until I turned back to my human form and got through with Invisibility.
Karstaag was a formidable foe, and he had an equally powerful ally in the form of pathing issues that prevented my minions from moving properly. But after a long, long battle, I eventually prevailed.
And then the big boss. I chose Hircine's Aspect of Guile for his spear. Hitting my summons drained the charges of his enchanted spear, and he was eventually rendered immobile by my good old Greater Bonewalker. I could have just used ranged weapons like against the tougher enemies in Tribunal, but I wanted to do this properly. I barely had to wait before it was night again, and with it, time to finish him.
One last enemy
Before the journey came to an end there was only one thing left to do. I had to travel to Seyda Neen and deal with the true endboss. He would never bully poor little Bosmers again. And with that, it was time for Fargoth the Mighty to retire and enjoy his hard earned rest.
The EndThis turned out to be much longer than I planned. Almost hit the character limit, too. If anyone made it this far, thanks for reading.
Here is the last screenshot with most of the treasure I collected during the run.
All the custom equipment I used can be seen here. On top of that I was wearing Ebony Mail, Fists of Randagulf, Boots of Blinding Speed, Redas Robe of Deeds, Ring of the Wind and Royal Signet Ring. An unenchanted Telvanni Cephalopod Helm and Chitin Shield were used to switch between them and the items using constant effect summons, because they are lightweight and the game likes to crash when equipping enchanted items. The Ebony Scimitar has to be used over an Ebony Staff because switching shields will unequip two-handed weapons.