SotSB: Another End Boss Down

I defeated the end boss of Secret of the Silver Blades on my second try. The winning technique hasn’t really changed since Pool of Radiance, but at least it provided a little variation after the fact: since the Dreadlord is a lich, killing his body isn’t enough. I had to find and destroy the item containing his soul, which was guarded by a second contingent of monsters. This secondary final battle wasn’t as tough as the first, lacking spellcasters as it did, which is fortunate, because I hadn’t bothered to rest up and re-buff after the first.

In the end, my entire party survived, including Vala, the NPC who I picked up about halfway through the game. Vala, who spent the last few centuries trapped in a magical box, is the last surviving member of the warrior order called the Silver Blades — or at least, she was until the rest of the party got inducted into it shortly after finding her. Despite the fact that my characters now constitute the majority of the Silver Blades, I’m still not clear on what their secret is. Perhaps it’s more that the order itself is a secret, as one might say “the crime of murder” or “the hour of noon”, or indeed “Curse of the Azure Bonds”. At any rate, Vala is the NPC whose death I described earlier, and I’m glad I went to the trouble of going back to before she died, because she occasionally made useful comments as I explored — not often enough to become annoying, either, the way a lot of hint-providing sidekicks do — and also because she was handy to have in the final battles. I really wasn’t expecting her to stick around that long; as I mentioned before, most NPCs in this series leave the party as soon as you leave the dungeon where you find them.

But then, this entire game is, in a sense, one big dungeon. As I surmised, there is no overland map of any kind — just a phenomenally expansive bunch of tunnels. Consequently, I have no idea where it all takes place relative to the lands around the Moonsea that form the setting for the first two games in the series. And it would have been good to have some geographical connection to the other games, because there’s very little to connect it to them otherwise. The only real links we’ve got are a couple of strikingly pointless reprised minor NPCs — the council clerk from Pool of Radiance (who I could have sworn was male back then), the Red Plume mercenary captain from Curse of the Azure Bonds (now serving as town mayor in a completely different place — just how much time passed between games, anyway?). Both are so marginal that you never learn their names. I had been expecting more because of the ending to CotAB: when you finally destroy the Pool of Radiance, Tyranthraxus gloats with his dying breath that you have, in so doing, unleashed an even greater evil, or something like that. I assume that the authors meant this as a general-purpose sequel hook that could be retconned into referring to anything, but it’s hard to see how my actions there could have had any impact on the Black Circle’s already-ongoing project to free the Dreadlord.

In fact, the strongest connection to the previous games comes in the red herrings. Remember that these games have text passages (and sometimes maps) in the manual, which the player is expected to read when referenced within the game, and not before. As a punishment for the impatient, this “Journal” contains a smattering of fake entries. I read all of SotSB‘s unused Journal entries after completing the game, and it has this whole false storyline about how Tyranthraxus managed to possess the body of a mouse just before his apparent death. There’s a tavern rumor about someone seeing a glowing mouse, a wounded adventurer who saw a glowing mouse delivering orders to a bunch of monsters (in a squeaky voice), even a revelatory villain monologue by the mouse itself. I don’t recall the previous games having fakery anywhere near as cohesive as this, although maybe the imagery just stands out more here.

Overall, this is definitely the most linear game in the series so far. Apart from a couple of quick sidequests, it’s all a single journey from point A to point B, with occasional teleporters back to point A along the way. I think the designers were trying to create a certain amount of nonlinearity by putting long gaps between the places where you find crucial items and the places where you use them — for example, the whole quest for the pieces of the Staff of Oswulf in the mines doesn’t really need to be completed until you get to the gates of the castle, which lies on the other side of the glacier crevasses and an Ice Giant settlement. It might even be more satisfying to rush forward unprepared, and only go back to pick up quest tokens when they become indispensible. (At the very least, you’d know your motivations.) But personally, my long habit in CRPGs is to proceed level by level, or place by place, being as thorough as I can in exploring one thing before going on to the next. Not only does this net you all the best treasure, it smooths the way to XP without explicit grinding. I can’t imagine I’m the only one to take this approach — pretty much everyone who’s ever ascended in Nethack does something similar — but perhaps the designers of this game had a different player in mind.

Next time, 1991. I could wrap up the entire “Epic” by moving on to Pools of Darkness. But unless the readers demand it, I think I’ll do us all a favor and move onto something else for the time being. A couple of weeks ago I thought I might be eager to see how the story ends, but SotSB has kind of ruined my faith that any kind of unified story exists.

SotSB: Seeking Guidance

Hunting for these staff pieces is getting tedious. There’s not a lot of variety in the mines, or a lot of challenge either. Pretty much the only thing that can stop me now is a series of cheap KO’s from monsters with save-or-die abilities, like basilisks or wyverns. Actually, that that’s not quite right: neither of those monsters technically kills you if you fail your saving throw. The wyvern’s sting misleadingly produces the message “[character] has died”, which caused me to quit without saving when I first encountered it back in Pool of Radiance, but it’s really an effect that my cleric can cure with the Neutralize Poison spell. And while I don’t yet have the Stone to Flesh spell to undo the basilisk’s gaze, the temple back in town does.

It’s inconvenient to run back to town with a partially-petrified party, though, so basilisks are best dealt with before they can get a stare off, either by blasting them with magic or by having everyone temporarily equip mirrors in place of their shields. Only once have I failed to do this — it was a mixed encounter, basilisks and something else, and I failed to scroll the viewport far enough to notice that the basilisks were there. I won the fight, but with 2/3 of the party down. The fact that the survivors were presumably each lugging two statues wherever they went didn’t seem to slow them down, but I still wanted to end the situation as quickly as possible. So rather than go all the way back to town, I decided at first to check out the abandoned temple in the mines, where the dwarf who sent me after the staff pieces in the first place hangs out. I figured that there was an outside chance that a guy who spends his time in a temple would turn out to be a cleric, and that he might possibly be able to cast Stone to Flesh. If he wanted the staff badly enough, he might even cast it for free!

(I should note that this last point was misguided, as the temple in town also cures the party for free. This didn’t happen in the previous two games, but that’s fitting, given their plots. In Pool of Radiance, as I said before, the player characters are no one special, just a bunch of adventurers seeking their fortune, and the temples in Phlan had set up shop to share in that fortune. In Curse of the Azure Bonds, the PCs’ motives were basically selfish. But here in Secret of the Silver Blades, the heroes were summoned specifically to save the city. When you’re in town, randomly-occurring color messages continually remind you that the populace is pulling for you. Helping you along by waiving fees is part of that, unusual though it may be for a CRPG.)

When I made it back to my dwarvish taskmaster, I was dismayed to find that all he did was complain that I had only found four of the staff pieces, and then send me on my way. His failure to cure my party wasn’t even the dismaying part; I pretty much expected that. The dismaying part was that I thought I had found five pieces. I had stopped in the middle of exploring mine level six. As anticipated, I had lost track of where I had found things, and now faced the prospect of re-exploring every level I had already been through. Except it would be worse this time, because on four of those levels the staff piece was already removed, and the only way to establish this would be to search every inch.

Not liking this, I cast about for better ways, and finally did what I should have done long before: I consulted the Well of Wisdom. It did not disappoint. It didn’t tell me the exact coordinates of the remaining pieces, but it said just about everything possible short of that: what level each piece was on, what direction to take from the central shaft to find them. It turns out my missing piece is on level 3.

Advice and guidance figure big in this game, mainly because the maps are too large for the player to reasonably be expected to explore them thoroughly. And that’s not a bad thing: it makes the player replace exhaustive searches with a more deliberate, purposeful style of play. I do think it could stand to be more consistent about it, though. As far as I can tell, there’s no guidance towards finding the entrance to the mines in the first place. It’s located close enough to the Well of Wisdom that you’re expected to just run into it on your own. It certainly worked that way for me. But once that happened, it got me to stop looking for guidance, and that was bad.

SotSB: Pieces

The area around the Well of Wisdom forms the hub of Secret of the Silver Blades. There are sixteen two-way teleport gates there, leading to significant places throughout the game, but they need to be activated from the opposite side before they can be used. It’s a reasonable way to make the player earn progress in the story, but only have to earn each bit of progress once. (I recall Ultima Underworld 2 did something similar with doors that could only be unlocked from one side.) I currently have five of the teleporters activated, which I suppose means I’m somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of the way through the game.

My current mission is similarly subdivided: I’m scouring the various levels of the mines for the eight pieces (one piece per mine level) of an important artifact, a staff once owned by the big bad’s little brother. 1Actually, I don’t know which of the brothers is older; I phrase it the way I do because it sounds good. And this reminds me once again of Ultima Underworld 2, which also had a backstory involving two brothers, with no indication of which was older — which, I hear, resulted some consternation, and an emergency post-release story meeting, when the game was translated into Japanese. A character talking at length about his brother in Japanese without saying whether he’s an older or younger brother is about as natural and easy as a character talking about his sibling in English without mentioning the sibling’s gender. The mines are large: the point where you enter has coordinates (50, 50), and the tunnels spread in all directions from there, for an implied 100×100 potential size, although the upper reaches, at least, don’t reach nearly that far. But so far, I haven’t found it necessary to map them. Following the right-hand wall has sufficed to produce the first three staff fragments. This technique is not guaranteed to always work — there could be loops in the tunnels — but I can worry about mapping once I’ve seen it fail. Or once I start actually encountering monsters that pose a threat to me again, and decide I need to know the shortest route back to the exit.

Understand that the staff doesn’t show up in your inventory, or indeed anywhere else in the entire user interface. It’s a notional staff, a staff that exists only at the plot level. This is consistent with the approach taken throughout the series so far, starting with the books you recover from the Phlan library in Pool of Radiance. Curse of the Azure Bonds makes a major point of three artifacts (a helm, an amulet, and something I can’t remember) that you need to defeat the end boss, but you only see them in cutscenes. But that’s all quite easy to keep track of: the CotAB midgame has three villains, and each is linked in some way to one of the three items. Whereas these staff pieces have next to no context: they’re all found in undistinguished crannies in indistinguishable tunnels. If I were to set the game aside for a few months, as I have done with many other CRPGs, I doubt I’d be able to remember which tunnels had already yielded staff and which still need scouring. And the game wouldn’t help me. I’d have to keep notes manually or something.

1 Actually, I don’t know which of the brothers is older; I phrase it the way I do because it sounds good. And this reminds me once again of Ultima Underworld 2, which also had a backstory involving two brothers, with no indication of which was older — which, I hear, resulted some consternation, and an emergency post-release story meeting, when the game was translated into Japanese. A character talking at length about his brother in Japanese without saying whether he’s an older or younger brother is about as natural and easy as a character talking about his sibling in English without mentioning the sibling’s gender.

SotSB: I don’t want to fight

Just a brief note today, corresponding to a brief play session. My time has mostly been spoken for the last few days. This will end soon, but I can’t help but feel like I’m dragging my heels again, like when I was just starting Pool of Radiance — perhaps because I’m no longer rushing to access sequels on schedule. (There is one more game left in the series, Pools of Darkness, but I don’t feel like I have to start that next week, because I have other games from 1991 I can do instead.)

But also, I may be getting tired of the gameplay. I’ve made a lot of comments about the subtle differences between the Gold Box games, and how the user interface incrementally improves, but the fact is, the bulk of my time spent playing the game is still a matter of maneuvering guys around on a battlefield, casting the same few spells, and then going through the ritual of resting up, re-memorizing spells, and identifying any enchanted loot I found. Bosses break this up a little, but they’re a minority of the play time. The one thing that really changes as I advance is that my higher-level characters have more spells and more hit points, and therefore can have more battles between rests.

I vaguely recall a passage in the first edition Dungeon Master’s Guide about how the players should regard monsters as obstacles, not goals. (Presumably this is the rationale for providing XP for treasure.) A lot of CRPGs break this idea, to the point where players spend time wandering around explicitly looking for random encounters. Here, though, I’m really feeling like random encounters are just getting in the way of me doing what I want to do, which is advancing in the plot in a timely fashion. In the previous two games, there were ways to avoid a lot of the random encounters, usually by means of the “Parlay” option. (One dungeon in Curse of the Azure Bonds had random encounters with giant slugs, which could be avoided by simply stepping out of their way.) But that hasn’t even been an option here.

CotAB: Final Battle

The final area of Curse of the Azure Bonds does something singularly cruel: it locks you into a final 16×16 map sector until you either die or win the game, sending unlimited numbers of random encounters at you as you explore, while not letting you rest at all — the power of the sole remaining bond compels you to keep on moving. Since your supply of both spells and hit points is limited, it behooves you to find your way to the final chamber, where you confront the demon Tyranthraxus, as efficiently as possible. In other words, the solution is to explore thoroughly, mapping all the while, until you stagger half-dead into the final encounter, and then restore an earlier save and do it right this time. And while you’re at it, take a moment to trek back across the country to that one city that has a magic store and pick up some healing and speed potions for everybody. Speed potions are the key to killing powerful creatures quickly in this game, letting your warrior-types get in extra blows. Sure, the Haste spell does the same thing, and doesn’t cost you money, but money flows like water at this point (it got so I wasn’t even picking up platinum pieces any more), and it’s better to save your precious, unrenewable spell slots for something more directly deadly.

Really, though, the limited amount of spellcasting you can do in the endgame doesn’t matter as much as you might think, because by this point in the game you’ve doubtless picked up a bunch of wands and other spellcasting items, some (all?) of which can even be used by warrior-types. And if you’re at all like me, you’ve hoarded them without using them, so they’re all at full charge. Tyranthraxus has an army defending him, but what with one guy using a Wand of Fireballs, and another guy using a Necklace of Missiles (the missiles being fireballs), and another guy just plain casting Fireball, the defenders don’t last long. The fireballs don’t affect Tyranthraxus, though. He’s basically a fire god, but I don’t think that’s why; I think he just has a high magic resistance. D&D didn’t really do much with intrinsic elemental resistances at this stage in its history. Even the Efreets 1I suppose I should pluralize it as Efreeti, but I want the plurality to be unambiguous — unlike the AD&D Monster Manual, which left a lot of players thinking that Efreeti was the singular. Curse of the Azure Bonds itself uses the term “Efreetis”. that I encountered earlier could be hurt by my fireballs, and they’re from the Elemental Plane of Fire, for crying out loud.

I don’t think I mentioned the name Tyranthraxus in my writeup of Pool of Radiance, but he’s the end boss there as well, albeit possessing a different body. And he retains some of the same habits, like letting strangers wander his territory unmolested by patrols as long as they mention his name when questioned. It’s different here, though, because until you get rid of the final bond, saying that Tyranthraxus is your master is actually the truth. Also, there’s good reason for those patrols to leave you alone: Tyranthraxus actually wants you to come to his lair, where his master plan would come to fruition, were it not for a last-second NPC-thrown monkey wrench. He turns out to be something of a puppet master in this game, manipulating you into ridding yourself of the first four bonds so that he can have exclusive control over you. That mysterious cloaked figure who I thought was probably Elminster? Not Elminster. Elminster doesn’t show up at all. Perhaps he was only mentioned in the manual to fool the player as I was fooled.

Anyway, that’s another Gold Box game down. By now I’ve pretty much gotten used to the user interface, including the peculiar key combinations required for diagonal movement on my laptop. (I did try an external keypad, but found it even more awkward than the combinations.) But also, the user interface is improved over Pool of Radiance in a number of ways that weren’t obvious at first. Remember how I said that what the game really needs in combat is something more like a rogue-like interface, where you can just move the current character without hitting a key to go into movement mode? CotAB supports something very close to that: there’s still a separate movement mode, but you automatically switch into it from the main action mode when you press a direction key. So, yay incremental improvements! Let’s hope they keep coming.

1 I suppose I should pluralize it as Efreeti, but I want the plurality to be unambiguous — unlike the AD&D Monster Manual, which left a lot of players thinking that Efreeti was the singular. Curse of the Azure Bonds itself uses the term “Efreetis”.

CotAB: Cover Girl

One bond left. That means I’m into the endgame. There are five villains, but you defeat one in the intro chapter and one is saved for the very end, so the midgame has three. The last one I beat, the cult of Moander, was such a cakewalk that I suspect I’ve been doing the three middle sub-quests in the wrong order (if indeed there is an ordering; possibly they’re all designed to be accessible to new characters, and just became easier as my characters leveled up).

curse_of_the_azure_bonds_coverartIn Moander’s pit, I teamed up with Alias, the protagonist of the novel. I honestly didn’t think she was going to show up in the game, seeing how her function in the novel is taken by the player characters, but I suppose the leaving her out would have made a lie of the box art. Taken directly from the novel, and repeated within the game as its splash screen, it shows the heroine with her 80’s hair and ridiculous peekaboo armor. That armor seems to be her chief defining visual trait: the makers of the game even went so far as to make a special combat-mode sprite for her, with a visible diamond-shaped flash of skin on the chest.

The reasons behind this character design are as obvious as the target demographic it’s intended to appeal to. Selling games through sex appeal is hardly new, and hardly rare. At least the cover art here shows something that’s actually found in the game, which makes it more honest than a lot of games of the same era. But still not especially honest: anyone who bought it with the intention of ogling Alias during gameplay would probably be disappointed in her EGA representation, and also in how little time she sticks around. The idea of making good on the promises of the cover art — of making a young woman in revealing clothing into a constant feature of gameplay — really didn’t take off until Tomb Raider, which was still years away at this point.

The bait-and-switch approach is still alive and well, though, and has reached its pinnacle with Evony, the mediocre web-based kingdom-building game whose infamously irrelevant ads, showing pictures of lingerie models, have far passed the point of being distinguishable from satire. I’ve blocked Evony ads on this site, because I frankly find them embarrassing, but if there’s one good thing they’ve done, it’s exposing the sleaziness of game advertising in general through a kind of reductio ad absurdum. It’s easy to get inured to exploitative imagery, but now, when I look at Alias, I can’t help but see her as a step on the road to Evony.

CotAB: Knowledge

I said in a previous post that Curse of the Azure Bonds is a sequel to a novel, but was told in reply that it’s more like a re-imagining. And I can easily believe this. But if so, it’s one those peculiar sequel/remake hybrids, like Desperado or Evil Dead 2. I keep running into characters from the original who mention that something similar happened to a friend of theirs a while back.

In fact, the game is full of continuity nods, to the extent that I spend most of my involvement with the plot wondering what the significance of various things is. At one point a war broke out, and I overheard some people looking for “red plumes”, as if I were expected to know what that meant. And, well, okay: red plumes are in fact mentioned at one point in the manual. They’re a mercenary force from the city of Hillsfar. Perhaps I would be familiar with them if I had played Hillsfar, another SSI game in the same campaign setting, released around the same time as Pool of Radiance (but with a different engine). But are they good guys or bad guys? There isn’t much to indicate this in your early encounters with them, and it’s something important to know in a combat-based RPG. At one point, a Red Plume shouted for help stopping some escaping prisoners, and I had to make a snap decision about which side to help. The one thing that helped me there is that the prisoners were said to be “Zhentil spies”, and the Zhentrim are one thing I am familiar with, from their appearance in Pool of Radiance.

In fact, Zhentil Keep and even Phlan are visitable in this game. Phlan is just another city not directly related to the story, but it’s definitely the same Phlan: the dungeon-type area attached to it is an as-yet-untamed district of the city. (What, I missed one?) I suppose that the more of these Forgotten Realms games I play, the more experiences I’ll have to relate to the made-up names. And I suppose this is the appeal of these shared settings.

And it makes me think once again about the potential of games for education. If I’m going to be absorbing facts about a setting, why not make it real-world knowledge that might possibly have practical application? Well, for one thing, no one has exclusive ownership of facts about the world; once you’re a Forgotten Realms fan, you’re locked into buying official Forgotten Realms products, which is a plus for the developers. Also, it’s probably easier: basing a game on facts would require research, whereas using a fictional setting just requires making things up. I mean, okay, there’s some research: breaking continuity with other works in the same setting is, while inevitable, frowned upon and avoided, so there is a certain amount of established material that Forgotten Realms authors would have to learn. But the key words there are “certain amount”. It’s finite, definite, and completely knowable. This is probably part of the appeal of fantasy worlds for the audience as well: it’s not messy and uncertain like our knowledge of reality.

CotAB: Inside Out

It’s been said that D&D is about fighting evil in its own lair. The stereotypical dungeon has a boss in its deepest depths who’s in charge of some sort of trouble, and who needs killing. You spend your time working your way through the guards and the traps and so forth with the goal of penetrating the inner sanctum. And that’s pretty much how most dungeon-crawl RPGs work, too, not to mention a large portion of videogames in general.

Curse of the Azure Bonds doesn’t work like that. It seems like most of the major confrontations have some kind of shortcut to where the quest boss is — say, a friendly NPC from the novel guides you in or something. Only after the confrontation do things get dangerous. The bulk of your time isn’t spent penetrating the inner sanctum, but trying to get out.

It’s a bit like those scenes I spoke of in Wizardry where you walk through a teleporter or a one-way door and have to hunt for a way back to the stairs, hoping you can make it before everybody dies. Except not quite: in CotAB, it’s possible to rest and heal in the dungeon. I’ve been doing that quite a lot. Monsters often find me as I sleep, but not often enough to make it a net loss. It does frequently violate the fiction, though, when the story at that point involves a chase or a brawl or some other time-limited activity that’s somehow still going on after I’ve had a good night’s rest.

Note that even with the ability to rest and even save the game mid-dungeon, getting out is still an urgent concern. There are a lot of things you can only do in town, such as identifying items, leveling up, and curing some of the nastier status effects, such as being turned to stone. (Mere death I can cure on my own by now.)

CotAB: Guidance

Not all of the content in Curse of the Azure Bonds is related to the main quest. Pretty much every town on the map has a dungeon of some sort attached to it, as if the presence of ancient ruins or natural cave systems is some kind of prerequisite for settlement. These little dungeons are like a regularized form of optional side-quest. And it’s kind of strange how that feels.

I am of course comparing it in my mind to Pool of Radiance. PoR was composed mainly of optional quests, but there wasn’t a great distinction drawn between side-quests and the main quest line — if indeed you can even claim that there was a main quest line beyond the general effort to gain enough experience levels to stand a chance of beating the end boss. The whole thing was an undifferentiated soup of missions, and the assignment of those missions was more like suggestions than orders; you could generally collect the reward for doing obviously beneficial things for the colonists, even if they hadn’t been requested yet.

In contrast, CotAB, with its five separate sub-quests, makes it clear when you’re making progress in the plot. Which means that I’m acutely aware that I’m not making progress when I explore a cave just because it’s there. It has to make the distinction clear, because it doesn’t provide a lot of external guidance about where to go or what to do. The closest thing it has to the PoR‘s council clerk is a mysterious cloaked figure who you meet by a historically-important standing stone. He’s probably Elminster. I have only a vague notion of who Elminster is, but he’s mentioned a few times in the docs, so he must show up in some capacity, and this is the closest thing a Gandalf-like adviser I’ve seen so far. But he doesn’t advise very much; he basically just tells you “Seek your next adversary in the northwest” or whatever.

Without Probably-Elminster’s vague advice, there would be no obvious reason to pursue one major sub-quest over another. It seems likely that he puts you through things in optimal order — that is, from lowest-level to highest, matching your characters’ advancement — but I’m not entirely sure that’s the case. For one thing, he’s kind of out-of-the-way. Nothing guides you to him from your starting location, and if I had chosen to go around the north edge of the world map first instead of the south, I wouldn’t have met him until after I had been through the second or third of his advised route, and you’d think the designers would have planned for that. Also, the first place he told me to go seemed a lot harder than the second. But perhaps that’s just because I hadn’t yet got a lot of extra experience points from optional side-quests.

CotAB: Travel

One major change from Pool of Radiance I should mention: the wilderness. Where PoR had an Ultima-style third-person grid outside the cities and dungeons, Curse of the Azure Bonds has a network of set paths, navigated using the same sort of menus that are presented at other major decision points in the game. At each node, you typically have a choice of two or three other places to go to, as well as options to make camp and (where relevant) enter the city or dungeon you’re currently at.

You lose a lot of freedom this way, but possibly just enough — as I said in a previous post, PoR‘s total lack of restrictions on travel made exploration of the wilderness uninteresting. CotAB doesn’t even have exploration of the wilderness in the same sense. It does use the word “wilderness”, but in a different way: when you choose a destination, the travel menu often gives you a choice of moving through the wilderness or following the trail (or, sometimes, going by boat). Your choice here can trigger different special events, but usually seems to just affect how much cover from trees and the like there is in any random encounter along the way. Regardless, there’s no hunting around the map for unknown points of interest; you have to already know where you’re going before you can even try to go there.

It has to be said that the CotAB approach is a lot more like how the world outside of dungeons and other planned set-pieces is handled in live D&D. There, as Starmaker said, the usual philosophy is that “nothing important happens in the wilderness”: you tell the DM where you want to go, and the DM rolls for random encounters, and that’s it.

Older Posts »