The Horizon Zero Dawn Blanket: Banuk Sickness Eater, Werak Runner, and Song’s Edge

The HZD Blanket


Super fun update before we start – the twenty-dollar yarn winder I bought broke after about eight months of consistent use. Instead of getting neat little yarn cakes I’m getting crooked fat yarn blobs.

I found good advice on what went wrong and how to fix it but I couldn’t make it work. I’ve always heard when starting a new hobby you should buy the cheap version of a tool and if you use it until it breaks it means you’re actually using it and it’s time to buy the expensive version. So, done and done, but it’s going to take a few weeks for the new winder to get here so for the rest of August I’m going to have to work with a bunch of fluffy fuckheads barely holding it together. But, hey, I’m a fluffy fuckhead barely holding it together, so I’ve got some practice. Anyway, let’s talk about some…

Bodacious Banuk

Brin

Me, too, Aloy. Me, too.

While most of the Banuk live north of Nora territory on the east side of the map, you find Brin living all on his lonesome in the middle of the desert in Carja territory. And that’s because the rest of the Banuk don’t really agree with the way he expresses his spirituality: he fucking drinks motor oil.

Brin once heard that there was some tribe out west drinking machine oil for visions, and instead of getting so close to puking his mouth started watering and wondering what the fuck is wrong with some people, Brin decided that was a really neat thing to try and went for it. Which makes me think a lot of Brin’s quirks were there before he started chugging antifreeze or whatever. Brin has his own quest line where he requests oil from different machines so he can drink it and have new visions. Sort of like peyote, I guess, except I super doubt peyote can corrode your esophagus and stomach from the inside.

The weirdest part, of course, is that Brin does actually seem to be having real visions from the machine oil. The last one is so disturbing he doesn’t even want to talk about it, except to mention that he saw a ‘future storm’ and he’s leaving to go to the Forbidden West and, hey! That’s the title of the sequel! Hopefully that means we get to see this delightfully brain-rotted character again.

Ourea and Aratak

Met as main characters of The Frozen Wilds DLC, this duo acts as shaman and chieftan to the main werak living in The Cut, the southernmost part of the Banuk territory that spans Wyoming and Montana. Getting into their details means potentially getting into main plot spoilers territory, which I’ve tried to avoid throughout this series, so just know that on the Banuk spectrum previously discussed, Ourea is on the ‘What if God Was One of Us’ end and Aratak is on the ‘Stab it in the FACE’ end and thus they never really see eye to eye on how to lead their people.

Ikrie

Also found in the DLC, you meet Ikrie as she and her friend Mailen are auditioning to join a werak. Instead of interviews and skills demonstrations, auditioning for a werak involves trekking out into the deepest, coldest part of the Cut and trying not to die for a few days. Shockingly, things have gone horribly wrong and Mailen needs help but she doesn’t want it because if she accepts help she’ll fail the audition and get rejected by the werak, the only thing in life she’s ever wanted. The problem is that Ikrie doesn’t give a shit about the werak, the only thing in life she’s ever wanted is Mailen. This is, story-wise, one of my favorite side quests in the entire game. It’s short compared to others, but it is hugely emotional.

The Outfits and The Squares

Sickness Eater

As I mentioned before at some point, I’m sure of it (am I?), about twenty years before the game begins, the Derangement started, where normally docile machines started to go completely aggro. Beyond that, you will find machines that have been ‘corrupted,’ or taken over by the ultimate baddy of the game. These machines glow red, are hyper-aggressive, have greater health, do more damage, and are just generally an absolute pain in the ass to deal with. They also ooze corruption, an acidic substance that essentially does poison damage if you get too close.

The glowing red bits are the trails of ‘corruption.’

Of course you can’t just avoid them. One of the side quests consists of defeating machines in eleven different Corrupted Zones, including one with two corrupted Rockbreakers, fucking mechanical graboids that burrow under the ground and pop up underneath you to send you flying and break a rib and I don’t even like dealing with these assholes when they’re not evil and glowing red so for all the times I’ve replayed this game I don’t think I’ve ever bothered to clear that space out after the first time took me twenty-five Got-danged minutes.

sounds of muffled screaming

As you can see, the outfit involves a lot of long scraps or furs, so I decided to try and represent those with a series of spike stitches. This is in The Big Book of Granny Squares in a pattern called ‘Icicles,’ so I thought that also fit the Banuk’s whole ‘Gotta Die of Something, Might as Well be Hypothermia’ vibe. I really like this square. Because it’s a series of descending spike stitches, it’s super easy to work up but makes for a striking pattern, and the way the yarn loops around itself in the spike stitches makes for a super soft, super squishy feel. For colors I used Tranquil (the light blue), Sapphire Heather, Dove Heather, and Cranberry.

Werak Runner

This outfit is found in The Frozen Wilds DLC and I was going to write that it offers no real bonuses or protections until you get the Werak Chieftain version of it, but I looked it up I’m wrong: it offers a very slow health regeneration. So slow I didn’t even fucking notice.

Some games have a player’s health automatically refill at various rates as you play. This game is not one of them. Aloy typically needs to use a variety of healing plants to get back up to max health.

So having an outfit that will refill your health can be a huge boon. The Werak Chieftain (which you only get after you finish the main quests in TFW) refills your health fast, and can make some maneuvers in fights less chancy. Apparently the Werak Runner will also refill your health, but it’s so slow I never noticed before I had Aloy house a bunch of healing.

For this square I went a little more abstract than some others. I tried to represent the colors of the outfit and the Banuk’s love for off-kilter angles. This square is worked up from the bottom right, starting with a very small square and then going outward on the top and left sides. The stripes in the middle are supposed to represent the stripes in the belt of the outfit:

I am also in love with this square, mostly because I live in Colorado and this seems like a very ski-bunny pattern to me. I can 100% see these colors in this pattern on a ski suit, or skis, or sunglasses, or hats, or anything that a local would strap on before barreling down a steep mountain and the speed of sound. REI could slap this pattern on just about anything and it would be sold out by Sunday.

Colors used are Brass Heather, Dove Heather, Tranquil, Sapphire Heather, Red, and Green Tea Heather.

Song’s Edge

Song’s Edge is the southernmost Banuk settlement, just north of where Nora lands end and the Cut begins. Of course as soon as you walk in there’s Some Drama going down, drawing you into Song’s Edge and the lands north of it. Otherwise, why even bother visiting? If I go to a new city and am not enmeshed in some local drama involving the mayor and a secretive clan living just outside of town by nightfall, I check out of that shitty little ass-itch and hop the first flight to Branson. I have literally never been to Branson and not been involved in some sort of black-tie affair espionage, or a high-stakes, multi-opponent fist-fight, or a mad scientist’s half-baked cloning scheme by the end of the third day.

It also features what is potentially a representation of the real Morning Glory Pool in Yellowstone National Park, a rainbow bacteria pool that the Banuk use to dye those bright colors into their clothes:

Because of this pool I wanted to make sure I put bright yellow into the square. This type of yellow shows up a lot in Banuk art, but not so much in their outfits, so I was glad I could put it in this square.

This is a center-out type squares where you start with a magic circle, which also sounds like something from a video game. Basically, you wrap the yarn around your fingers just so, say a few words in ancient Sumerian, complete chapter 7 of your sophomore geometry text book, break a couple of laws of physics, break a single federal law, and boom! Magic circle!

In all seriousness, I have successfully made magic circles but I have to find instructions on the internet every single time. I thought they were called magic circles because you can change the size of it as you go, but maybe they’re called that because no one understands what the fuck is going on.

I went with this pattern because despite being made in rounds it still manages to have a geometric look, and as you may have noticed by now, the Banuk area all about sharp edges. The yellow is Caution, light blue Tranquil, dark blue Sapphire, red Cranberry, and gray is Dove Heather.

The next update is probably going to take a little bit longer than these last few. We are done with the Banuk squares and are moving on to the Carja. They have the biggest area of the map, closely edging out the Nora, and that’s not even counting Shadow Carja territory. Honestly, when we got confirmation that we weren’t getting Horizon Forbidden West until 2022, my first reaction was ‘more time for blanket.’ I plan on taking a full week off for that game, wrapping myself in my blanket and surrounding myself with snacks, and only getting off the couch for emergencies.


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