Part 31: All You Have Belongs To DanAll You Have Belongs To Dan
Welcome back! Last time Ariadna convinced us that we should go wander the wilderness for a month looking for lost Mushroom Cult troops who were fucking with something extremely dangerous, while hinting she knew who Bear was and that we were all being played for idiots. Today we're going to continue to be played for a moron, but it's going to be for Dan the Bandit Man instead. Look, at least the man pays good rubles.
While Dan basically tells you to wander the wilderness for forty days and nights and maybe you'll find "something", the correct answer is to go to the Krasnoznamenny Crime Shack to find the mafia. This is not to be confused with the Sewer Mafia from earlier. Krasnoznamenny has an impressive ratio of one gangster for every five citizens.
: Maybe you heard of someone named Shishak?
: Shishak? Huh... A familiar name to be sure. Yeah, you know what? Come in, and talk to Bloody Valera about this. He's there with his mates, you can't miss him.
: I'm gonna go do just that. Thanks for letting me through.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: You can't come in here, man! You're not a cool enough criminal!
: I'm here about Shishak.
: Oh, yea, that guy...look, deal with my boss, I want no part of this.
: [Streetwise] I'm one of the grey folk. Life to thieves, death to cops.
: [The man claps his hands loudly and quacks merrily, which earns him angry looks from his partners in crime]
: Look, do you know a man called Shishak?
: [The man casts a quick look at his friends, who cover their mouths with their hands and shake their heads]
I'm not subjecting you to the questions, but we have to do this "quest" to proceed with the epic conclusion to Dan's bandits.
: What did you want to discuss with me?
: [The man casts a quick look at the sturdy guy at the top of the table. He gives a barely perceptible nod and your companion moves closer to you. You can sense a smell of alcohol coming from him]
While "sense a smell" is technically correct it's still clunky as hell. Now, I get that some narration was probably needed here, but the ATOM devs never use a word where a sentence will do.
: So, look, I got fed up with lying low in cheap huts after assaulting a caravan. So by the end of my career I've turned into a money man. Got me? Well, I lend money to people, at interest. Everything's nice and honest.
: My policy goes like this: if you return the money on time, we have no problem with you, go in peace, man. If not, my guys and I make sure you disappear. Otherwise it's bad for our reputation, for our business.
: One of these days the guys and I, we sat well into midnight thinking this thing over. What if we find a mediator, a negotiator, to talk to my debtors before I let my guys loose on them? Then we won't have to kill that often, and this might even make me look better among freiers.
: Why kill them and not try to beat the money out of them first?
I'm pretty certain I picked the middle option here. Whatever!
Yea, I don't think the dialog changes.
: The second one is Katerina Mosrova, a business lady who constantly besieges the Chamber of Commerce to receive yet another certificate. She has to pay seven grand.
: The third one is an idiot, Simeon Lapushkin, who slaves away at the local power plant. He has a wife and a child in some godforsaken village to feed, so he's come here for work. I helped him out while he was getting his bearings, but he's not too eager to return the money... Three thousand.
The trolley problem is whether to take the money and not deliver it so these people get killed...but money is once again worthless in this game and all we have to do is Speechcraft at people.
: Okay, I'll pay a visit to these people and let you know about the results. See you later.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Yo who the hell are you?
: I am a fellow crime man! I love doing crimes! Yee-haw!
: That's great! What's up?
: Do you know a Shishak?
: Hmm... I dunno... sounds like you can do a sidequest for me. See, I need my debtors to pay me back before I kill them, and we need someone with a high Speechcraft to click the right menu option or I'm going to kill them and be out thousands of rubles.
: Why not just beat the money out of them?
: Great! Here are the three people!
Whatever. I could dump even more ATOM dialog on you, but I'll keep it simple.
We click the Speechcraft button on Bryntslov to convince him he will not win the money and if he doesn't give it to us the mafia will kill him.
Katerina has a long bureaucracy joke.
We speechcraft at her and she gives us the money.
Lastly we speechcraft at Simeon and he gives us the money. Fucking riveting.
Back to our newest Crime Contact.
We throw all the money at him and we get a whopping 10 percent.
We get directed to talk with the gangster next to him.
We level up in the meantime. There really aren't a lot of good perks for us - Sambo (a Soviet marshal art, not a racist thing for once) looks cool but most of the time people just fucking die when we hit them with the sword or chainsaw. There's a perk to ignore armor when attacking but you can do that just by using an aimed strike at the eyes. There's another perk to give +2 AP when under half health, but all that really does is reduce the cost of using drugs by 2 AP. It's not bad, but not great either.
A lot of people swear by this perk as you get stacking damage resist buffs. If we could actually grab it on a reasonable time frame I might consider it, but we are unlikely to see it because the perk system is incoherent trash.
I end up grabbing this thing because it gates off a perk that gives us 10 health (meh) and 1 AP (score!). It will probably be the last perk we ever get honestly, because the perk scaling cost thing was a dumb idea inspired by the application of blunt objects to the brain case.
Anyway we gotta talk to this naked guy before we can finish the quest.
He recognizes Shishak and kicks it up the chain, then when we tell him that we did the mandatory quest he unlocks the door to his boss who can finally deal with this. Why is there an entirely new NPC we need to talk to to open a fucking door in the same building? Hell if I know!
A mustached man in a hat? You don't fucking say!
Unfortunately we don't have the option to make him taste Cossack Steel.
: My name is Bear Bearovitch. I represent Dan and his men.
: That mustached idiot? Heh, I meant to say "old" idiot. Well, what does he want? I'm not going to cooperate with him, if that's what he's after. Period.
Dan's gonna kill his ass.
: Nah, it's not about that. We had a little conflict of interest at the old Factory. Your people told me they know one of the fire starters from that fight we had.
: [The gang leader calms down, licking his lips]
: [Nod silently and continue listening]
: [The bandit briefly rubs his pistol with a dirty napkin with his initials on it, and conceals it again]
: Syoma Voronok? I might have heard that name.
: Right. That guy managed to do a lot in his life. Maybe you heard that he owns a diamond mine? Meaning he has tons of diamonds? One guy from the edge of the Wastes decided he wanted a piece for himself, so he crawled into Syoma's tower and snatched his best rocks.
: I myself would applaud such opportunism, but Syoma wasn't so grateful. He started digging, and discovered the thief had something to do with Dand and his Factory crew. And... well... Who knew the old man would be so unforgiving? He sent one of his men over to make an ultimatum. Either we help him destroy Dan and his crew, just for being associated with the diamond thief, or he sends us to hell.
In other words, either Dan or Syoma is gonna wipe out Pimp Hat Guy and his crew here.
: How did you help those idiots from up North? What did they make you do?
So we have an explanation for all the mysterious men Shishak showed up with.
Earlier in the game posted:
They were from this Northern warlord guy who never appears in the game.
: Who's the thief who started all this?
That would be Grishka, the man who met his demise at the hands of Bear and his then only friend, Owie the Brick.
: Uh... Do you even like working with Syoma and his henchmen?
So you pissed off the guy allied with the local government that has more and better armed men stationed outside then you have in your whole loser shack. Good job.
: And where is this oh so terrible henchman of Syoma Voronok hiding right now? Maybe I can talk him out of doing what he does.
: I doubt it. They don't call me the Sweet Talker for nothing. I'm awesome at negotiating, yet I couldn't talk sense into these guys. Try it yourself if you want. Just don't forget to say goodbye to your loved ones beforehand. Voronok's people are constantly traveling, but a little bird told me they can be found right now at a place called the Container Yard.
: It's worth a try. Bye.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Who the fuck are you?
: I'm with Dan, the Bandit Man!
: Ha ha he fucking sucks, what do you want?
: Remember that fight we had at the Factory? Guess what, we traced the instigator here.
: Ah, crap. Well, we had to help Shishak, because we got approached by Syoma Voronok, an evil tyrant warlord guy who owns a diamond mine. Turns out that some guy stole one of this diamonds, and Voronok heard that the Factory was responsible, so he asked us to help him destroy them.
: What exactly did you do?
: Oh, we recruited Shishak and then recruited a bunch of guys to help Shishak. It, uh, went to shit.
: Who stole the diamond?
: I heard it was some idiot in Otradnoye who got killed by a man with a brick.
: That guy sounds cool. Do you even like those Syoma guys?
: No, but they exploded an entire train car of dynamite to make a point.
: I'll go negotiate with them.
: Lol good luck.
The container yard is mercifully close to Krasnoznamenny, allowing me to waste less time watching the extremely slow walk animation.
We keep encountering these guys and they don't have dog armor. What a waste.
Why does Fidel never have anything useful to say?
: Oh... Oh my sweet child! These young men... are not part of some helpful youth organization. I sense they are out for blood! Our sacred blood! Watch them closely...
I am loath to admit it, but the whole pretentious Soviet intellectual thing could work if it was someone not Prokhanov.
Of course, here he just echoes Fidel yelling at us to be careful, because these two idiots almost never contribute anything of value.
: [A large man with crazed eyes comes forward. Seems like he is the leader of this pack]
: [Give everyone a quick once-over]
: [The northerners all look really angry. They really want to see blood today. Their leader stops you from looking at them any longer with a shout]
I love how the narration takes a pack of bloodthirsty criminals and reduces them to "all look really angry".
Of course, the game decides we're intimidated even though we've faced as many men with automatic rifles before and triumphed by pumping ourselves full of drugs and swording people in the eyes.
: Stop, guys. I'm not here to fight you.
Now for some fucking reason we can bring up ATOM. We've actually gotten this option before, you can try to bluff the Pizzagaters that an ATOM strike force is on its way and they're going to bring the storm or whatever stupid shit the facebook conspiracy idiots are ranting about these days. You can never bring up ATOM when it would be useful to offer a powerful individual something.
: I represent Dan.
: [The leader looks at his gang and then turns back to you]
: [Dexterity] [Take the initiative]
: When you start a war with me, don't forget to bring a lot of body bags! [Attack]
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: These bandits are very scary and point guns at you!
: I have a bad feeling about this, and I am vaguely Hispanic, amigo!
: My son! These gun pointing men are not part of the helpful Soviet youth organizations! They want to kill us!
: You think the bandits want to kill you!
: We're gonna shoot you, spy!
: Wait! I'm from Dan and want to talk!
: Ventilate his ass!
: Uh...geez do I have to say it...damn it devs. Fine. "When you start a war with me, don't forget to bring a lot of body bags!"
This fight is legitimately difficult. I haven't discussed the luck options, but they're both a sign a fight is going to be a real bitch and they offer you a chance to skip fights if your luck is high enough. We have deliberately dumped luck to master the Cossack sword, so no hope here.
It actually takes me a few attempts to get through this fight. Dzhulbars suffers from the fact that he sucks. He's a melee character who doesn't get access to the magical critical explosion perk that we do, so he wanders out, gets shot a lot, and does absolutely no damage.
He dies a lot.
Attempt Number 2. I order all the companions to just run away, because Bear is perfectly capable of killing all these idiots on his own.
Unfortunately ATOM's love of high RNG variance strikes again and we don't actually kill the guy. Gee, thanks game.
It doesn't set us back too badly, honestly.
We're also saved by these guns being extremely jam-prone. What I forgot to do last turn is heal and it's about to bite me in the ass.
Our armor is fairly good but we can still get chipped to death, and there are 10 of these guys with guns and explosives.
Attempt 3. Fidel and Hexogen form Fire Team Failure.
The game immediately fucks us over with damage variance.
The dog attempts to make me take back my mean words by contributing to the fight. I order him to disengage and wander into the wilderness anyway.
I crap on Fidel and Hexogen a lot but between them they take out like 2 guys with their guns? It's not really that noticeable when Bear is exploding people for triple digit damage with a friggin sword, but I will take what I can get.
If these guys had non rusty guns we would be extremely boned.
Fire Team Failure continues to pretend they are contributing.
You'd think our party members would have custom "I'm hurt" barks, but they don't.
I really feel compelled to note that for 4 AP you can force all the companions to chug stimulants and leave them with all their AP on their own turn. This is actually pretty great, because you were going to spend the AP anyway to heal yourself when the AI inevitably unloads tons of AK-47 fire on you.
At this point we've killed enough bandits that they don't have enough damage output to actually put Bear down in a single turn. Look at all those bodies, all but maybe two are the result of Cossack Steel.
Fidel and Hexogen really would like to pretend they're useful.
The last guy eats a sword blow and dies.
They have a LOT of loot. Apparently you can turn the dynamite sticks into timed explosives with a lantern battery, alarm clock, and wire - I will need to actually save those so I can craft a bunch of these to cheese the final battle.
I trade most of the loot for this M-16 because I am immature and think it would be funny to make Hexogen use a capitalist weapon.
It's time for the last chat with Dan.
: I found out that a Syoma Voronok was behind Shishak's attack. I dealt with his men.
: Well, he had a reason. One of your men stole some of his diamonds.
Fun fact, if you lie to Dan during this exchange he lets you go and then orders his bodyguard to attack you. He does this a few more times, like if you lie about your name.
Dude that idiot went around asking people if they liked bandits. We...shit, we helped Dan again, didn't we?
: That's right. It's a good thing I found where Syoma Voronak's men were camped out.
: [Dan takes out his notebook and starts violently turning pages, as if looking for instructions that would apply to such a situation. But at last he shakes his head and puts his notebook away again]
: It's what I was told by the Krasnoznamenny mafia. Syoma Voronok's people forced them to comply with his plan.
: [Dan listens carefully, pinching his upper lip beneath his mustache and looking at the floor. Then he looks up at you again]
: I'm not surprised. Those rats would serve the Devil himself if it meant saving their own hides and earning some cash. They will be the first to die when it's time to clean up that city.
We know he means it, because we saw him kill off all the farmers.
: Yeah, they were at a place called the Container Yard. But they're not there anymore. They're not anywhere in the Wastes. It's over...
: [Dan scribbles something in his journal, then suddenly looks very serious. A few seconds pass as he things something over, then sighs]
Hell yeah, snacks! He did say never to ask for a raise again, but...
: [Speechcraft] Uhhh, Denis Denisovich, that's not enough I'm afraid. Could you perhaps spare a little more?
He really is in a good mood! Every other time he gets pissy about it, but he just threw in more cash like it's nothing.
: Thank you. Now gimme the stuff!
Stay classy, ATOM protagonist!
: [Dan nods and writes something down]
: I'm glad it went so well. For the moment, I know that Syoma will never back down. There will be new attacks from him and his friends, but we will be ready. Don't doubt it.
: Meh, Syoma Voronok is small fry. There are much more dangerous powers in the Wastes.
: That's true.
: Hey. So what's the plan?
Do you maybe have more quests you will pay us fat stacks of cash to do?
: [Dan sighs and closes his eyes]
Dan knew the entire time we were a secret Kovalev double agent, and we got manipulated into defeating Kovalev and making Dan the bandit king of the Wastes with a real shot at taking over Krasnoznamenny.
It's not even new to this questline! Many of the major questlines involve the player character being manipulated by the Conspiracy to further its goals. The main quest has the player manipulated by the Mushroom Cult while Ariadna all but screams she's figured you out. The infamous Pizzagate quest has the player manipulated by the evil postman conspiracy to defeat a competitor. It's a recurring theme in this game that the player character is an idiot motivated by loot and experience points to do stupid and vile shit.
Now, there's another game that explores this theme as well, The Age of Decadence, but with the crucial difference that savvy and intelligent characters can actually pick up on it and turn it against the other characters. That game has a theme that if all you can do is violence, you will be a tool in the hands of others. ATOM on the other hand applies this to every single player character. Bear Bearovich actually has a decent intellect score and the silver tongue of Mercury, and despite all of this is run over by Dan, Ariadna, and the evil postman. The choices are either "fight the entire bandit camp" or "do the quests", so... here we are!
: [Nod silently]
: I wanted to ask you some questions.
Remember General Morozov? Dan is a super powerful and influential man who we're actually on pretty good terms with. We could either let him in on some ATOM stuff or just tell him it's for adventuring related reasons as he knows we're an adventurer. We have basically handed the keys to this ruthless ex-KGB agent and gained nothing except rubles. Oh, and snacks, i guess.
: How are things around the Factory?
Well, shit! Does that mean Dan and the Factory gang are going to cut down on the random encounter rate? That would be pretty great and I'd do some more free quests!
: Right. Well, I'm leaving. Bye.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: What's up?
: I found out that Syoma Voronok set up Shishak's bullshit, so I put his men to the actual, literal sword.
: The diamond mine guy? What'd we ever do to him?
: One of your men stole some of his diamonds.
: Oh dammit, it was Grishka, wasn't it?
: Alright, and don't lie to me: who gave you the info?
: The Krasnoznamenny mafia, they said they were forced into the plan.
: I will remember this when I have the first of many mass executions in Krasnoznamenny. You dealt with the men?
: If by "dealt with" you mean "violently executed with a sword" than yes.
: Hell yeah! Here's a huge stack of cash and some tasty snacks!
: Can I have some... more?
: Sure my man! Best news I've had all day. Those guys will be back but we'll be ready!
: Pssh, a bunch of guys with machine guns and a diamond mine? Junior varsity losers!
: That's true.
: Look at this ruthless man, who has killed so many like the iceberg that sank the titanic!
: Even that can't dent my good mood and my appreciation of my swordmaster henchman.
: So, now what's the plan?
: Oh, you know, consolidate power, kill criminals, build my own state. By the way, you've been VERY helpful, even though I've known this entire time you were originally a double agent working for Kovalev. What? It's not like the devs were going to give you any real choice.
: Uh... shit, how are things at the factory?
: Pretty good!
We'll stop the update here. We have several options for what to do next.
Decisions Lie Before Us!
Are we going to do Kovalev's Wild Ride, Wander the Wilderness Looking For Stupid Shit, the Mountain Pass of Woes, or The Dead City?