The Let's Play Archive


by TheGreatEvilKing, Xander77

Part 48: Pacifist Walkthrough - spooky scary cultist-tons

Pacifist Walkthrough - spooky scary cultist-tons

: Apologies for taking this long to get back to this (the Happy Merchant shit really made me lose my interest). Still, might as well do 2-3 updates to wrap up stuff of interest.

This update will deal with supernatural stuff hidden away in sidequests and rarely encountered NPCs, barely tangential to the main plot.

But before we start delving into the paranatural, let’s go add Galina Bathory to our party. As she’s a Goth Harley Quinn cosplayer, you won’t be surprised to learn that there’s a mod that allows you to recruit her without turning everyone in the game hostile.

Link to the relevant update in case you forgot who the hell Galina and the gang even are.

Igor Death is actually based on a character from Chernobyl, which is thematically appropriate. No, not that Chernobyl. You wouldn’t know it, it goes to a different school channel.

: The Death Gang is relatively interesting, as despite being a bunch of dramatic poseurs, they’re actually fairly lethal (in narrative. In-game,only Dima’s gang is a real threat to a combat optimized character \ party).Which is a bit more true to life than the narrative convention about true badasses not being huge drama queens and arrogant blowhards not being truly dangerous.

Also, both Fallouts and the Metro series go “of course you’ll have an inexplicably endless supply of raiders to fight, that’s what the post-apocalypse is all about”, while the DG brats get an explanation for their turn to banditry (abused, starving homes, wooden toys nailed to the floor [exactly the sort of timely and appropriate reference Atom RPG would be proud of]) and for their poetic turn.

You can’t actually actually convince Lena to let you join the gang if you're a male, so being a pacifist, I send her off to murder and pillage anywhere else. Not our problem anymore.

My mistake – I thought TGEK joined Igor’s group rather than Dima’s. Not much of a difference - you just impress Igor with your sensitivity, rather than your endurance. Anyway, if you notice that Arthur is now Sparkie in dialog – that’s why.

: Appropriating the tl;dr summary from the OP:


: We're goth nihilist cosplayer raiders. Die, normie!

: I think you guys are totally cool and this place is hella lame, so you should fuck off somewhere else.

: Cool.

: I'm also really tough, and want to join your gang.

: Cool. Go meet Galina and her daddy issues.

: Galina sends us off to kill the Death Gang’s founder. But wait, I hear you ask – however will I do that in a pacifist playthrough? Does the quest allow you to fake his death? Will I be abusing a glitch or exploit, a-la Fallout’s super-steampack assassination method?

: Don’t overestimate this game – we kill him in dialog, so it doesn’t even count as far as our stats are concerned. We’ll see if this counts for the pacifist achievement once I complete the playthrough.

: Be careful around her, she's a very dangerous woman, and if allowed I believe she would try to corrupt us. Just don't listen to her dark preachings and we will be fine.

: As I noted above, the mod allows us to keep playing unless we specifically talk to Galina and ask to activate the “Agent of Chaos” perk, so I don’t think that’s actually a thing. Anyway, we head over to the outskirts of KRZ

: As long as you have a rope, you can go down right into the caverns, without paying off the gate guard. Unfortunately, the gate remains locked, and picking it aggros everyone. The bribe (or cigarette overdose) will save you a long track through the caverns every time you go in or out of the city.

While in the caverns, let’s have a brief look at the rat king’s abode:

: Besides being genuinely creepy, it kinda works in terms of making all those pesky mutant rats everywhere an actual (post) apocalyptic threat that could enslave humanity.

But on to the actual point of visiting the caverns with a possessed character – the cultists that don’t do anything you can’t do anything with otherwise.

: I don't think we ever met them in the normal playthrough?

: [Possessed] Tell me, what name do you use to call upon my dark lord, the father of lies and madness, knave! Pio!

: Hmm. I was wrong about you. With this manner of speech you will fit right into my community. Walk right in. You can even try to change their minds about the Hesperus Star while you're there.

: “That goat” etc is Alexander. Minor script break.

That made me think. The Hesperus Star is a new thing, a cool shiny object in the sky, and everyone knows it exist, which cannot be said about the Dark Goat who's (sic) unholy spirit only dwells in sewers and dank woods.
So, basically, I decided to retcon the Hesperus Star into the Dark Goat religion. I even made up a theory, that the star is actually our Dark Goat's space daughter, birthed by the unholy spirit. How cool is that?! ...Don't answer.
But when I introduced these changes to the guys, they started smirking and rebelling against my dark will! Quit conforming to the newest occult fads, they said. This is a silly idea, they said. The Hesperus Star is a natural phenomena, not a religious one, they said. Baseless hatred of new things, is what it is. Maybe you could talk some sense into them?

: Sure. Let’s go convince the cult members to “retcon” their beliefs.

: Don't die on me now, I wanna ask you about your feud with the leader of this community.

: Ah... You know... When I was younger, I even had fan theories about the origins of our leader, Anton Loshden. I thought he was the descendant of the old kings of Lemuria. But nowadays I don't find him cool anymore. He disappointed me, just like Victor Gaedov did with his last album.

: What's wrong with his last album? My helpers, Kostya and Nastasya really enjoyed it!

: They are probably simps and conformists, as well as members of the proletariat.

: What? Huh?

: How many cool tattoos do they have?

: None, thank god. Why would they? They never been to prison.

: Because Robert laSardo is covered with tattoos, get it. GET IT?!

: What is this whining I hear? Think about the community!

: I'm not whining, I'm protesting. Do you even know that he is trying to change our religion? We were worshipping the Dark Goat and killing cats. Life was good. But now he dreamed up that the Hesperus Star is actually our dark master's daughter and also needs sacrifices. How weird is that?
I told him loud and clear that I found it silly, and that I would never bother with the new rituals he made up. It's one thing to believe in an unholy forest spirit, the Dark Goat. He even has a cool statue made from a nice, hard granite-type stone. But stargazing is moronic, and beyond stupidity. But why do you ask? You want to change my mind, or something?

: If that's not the only time tinkering can be used in dialog, it's one of the scant few. And the game managed to avoid an obvious homophobic joke, so kudos on that one. On to the next dupe.

: [Before you, stands a young woman. She looks very different from other cultists you've seen in this dank place. She wears clean clothes, she seems energetic, her eyes almost glow with playful excitement and youth. When she spots you, she greets you with a lovely smile]

: Cult members?

: They are interesting people, I tell you what! Vlad and Alucard are always planning new cattle heists, for sacrificial needs. They already caught all the cats and dogs in the city, so there's no other way now. Arina is always kinda lethargic, though. I don't know what goes on with her. But the best one of all is Anton Loshden! A true modern day genius. A brooding, misunderstood prophet of high ideals and free love. Oh, I can't even imagine what he got in plan for us all.

: Life in the cult?

: I remember one time we had a girl here, her name was Dana. Here we were, sitting around the fire, drinking home made wine, when she started screaming at us, telling that we don't know shit about the Dark Goat worship! She even told Alucard to go "f" himself in the "a" and that people like him should be sacrificed. So yeah, sometimes we get real weirdoes around here. But you can't call this type of life boring!

: Rumors?

: I try not to go to that part of the caves where the rats live, but one time I did, and I noticed a throne, decorated with skulls! And the walls around it were covered in drawings... The rats here are like... weird. Strange that they don't bother us. As if they have no interest in us at all. But that's a good thing.

: You don't look like the others around here. Why is that?

: I know I don't look like the rest! We're a very diverse bunch, actually. It's all because the Dark Goat teaches us that the main virtues of men are absolute individualism and an inability to conform to norms and boundaries created by the society.
[The woman pouts as if she's thinking about something really hard]
Well, that's how our leader Anton Loshden describes the Goat's teachings anyway. The actual ancient texts about the Dark Goat are old and obscure, and you can only find them in ancient scrolls and stuff.

:How does your individualism cope with the fact you're all wearing similar robes?

: Ummm... Well, like our leader once said, wolves need to look different from the sheep. We're the wolves, by the way!
[The woman smiles happily]

: I missed a screencap, but she’s already into the Hesperus star because that’s what Anton preaches.

: Staying in the hotel was too much for me, 50 rubles for a night is no joke after all, but when I almost gave up, I met Anton Loshden. You know, the cult leader. He told me about his commune and told me that he lets those who believe in the Dark Goat stay for a pittance.
Long ago, my granny used to tell me stories about some dark forest god, so I easily made Anton think I'm one of his kind. So, now I live here. Stuck in this hole. The pay for stay is truly low, but it costs me all I earn by washing clothes and sewing stuff for people. And you know what's the scariest part? I don't even think I want to leave anymore. I kinda have all I want in here.
[As the woman finishes her monologue, her eyes lock on something beyond the dank walls of the dungeon. She shrugs and smiles weakly. Her next words come out as shy:]
No, this is really a part-time thing for me. When I get enough money, I will leave. I will. Who in their right mind would want to spend eternity in a stupid cave

: How did you get into this cult?

: I‘ve told you before, haven't I? l live here like in a hotel, or like in a communal flat or something. Its (sic) just for some time, though. Once I have enough money, I will leave this place. Who in their right mind would actually want to live in a stinky dungeon?

: What can you tell me about this place?

: This is something along the lines of a hotel for cultists. It was created by our leader, Anton Loshden. When people who believe in the Dark Goat or read about it in ancient grimoires, travel through Krasnoznamenny, they spend a night or two down here, to rest and worship.

: I'm here to talk about the problem you have in your ranks.

: Oh, you wanna talk about the Hesperus Star being the Dark Goat's kid or some bullshit like that?

: What, you wanna argue with that theory?

: Argue? I don't care either way.
[The woman shrugs her shoulders and yawns]
You can tell him I'm totally fine with accepting this new idea. God Bless the Hesperus Star, or something.

: Cool.

: [When he notices you, this thin young man carefully smells the air, and hisses like a cat, bearing his filed down, yellow teeth. He then straightens out his back, takes his hands out of his pockets, and starts talking in a completely normal, sane voice]
In case you're wondering, I reacted like that to the goodness that still lingers in your heart My beastly senses can't stand goodness. It pisses me off.

: Sniff me again, for my soul is as dark as the hands of a coal miner!

: [The man's eyes fill with rage!]
Hey! I didn't lick badger fat off an altar in the woods to later hear some scrub calling my beastly senses into question! Oh, how low Loshden hath fallen... First he became a heretic, then he invited some sort of a cultureless skeptic into the community... Tell me what you want to know, or leave me be!

: What do you do for a living?

: The man smirks, showing off his teeth, filed down quite painfully to look like sharp fangs]
In strange aeons even death may die…

: Motherfucker, this reference isn't just out of place, it doesn't even make sense. We'll see a far better one later in the update.

: Quit being poetic, you nerd! The only thing really dead in you is your hope of losing virginity!

: Um! That which is already lost: cannot be lost, got it?!

: I'm sure you will... But first, you'll have to become a believer. Praise Hesperus! Kill a cat for Hesperus! Do it!

: Hey! I'm doing it! I'm doing it! Ave, ave Hesperus Star! Fuck the stupid Dark Goat! I believe in you, oh Hesperus Star!

: IThe girl turns back to you with a grin]
You owe me a bottle of good wine, buddy. And not some dry stuff. Red wine! Red, like blood!

: Mildly amusing.

: Solved your problem.

: Yeah, yeah, I noticed. My flock finally switched to the new way of thinking. You have a silver tongue it seems, oh noble one. I even got scared you'll steal my flock from me! He—he. But seriously now, here's your reward. You earned it.

: We get some condoms, reefers, and sweet milk (endurance booster). Neat.


: Help me convince my cult to worship the Hesperus star instead of \ in addition to the Dark Goat.

: Sure.

: I'm a rich-girl dupe who worships the cult leader, and I don't have to be convinced!

: Cool.

: I'm a Dark Goat agnostic and don't really give a shit either way.

: Cool.

: I'm a hipster trying to undermine the cult leader.

: Well don't.

: I'm a total edgelord.

: Worshipping the Hesperus star is the hottest thing for edgelords to do.

: A g-g-giiirl talked to me! I'm into the Hesperus now.

: Cool.

: This game has three different cults, but has very little to say about them beyond "they sure are exploitative, and only morons actually believe in anything in them". Cutting edge social critique, to be sure. More to the point, this extremely superficial insight into the motivations of a cult 99% of all players will never interact with more deeply than "the sewer mafia told you to fuck off", is more than we get for the ordinary members and higher-ups of the main antagonistic force, even though we ostensibly work for them for most of the game. Excellent priorities. (Yet another bit where outright copying Fallout would have been a better idea)

Anyway... some other stuff than a possessed character can get up to:

: As well as other worshippers of the Dark Goat just hanging around:

: Finally, a quest TGEK couldn't figure out what to do with:

: Ah, young man, dark times are upon us! My neighbor, Rudolf, isn't feeling that great. He's just laying in bed all day, every day... Sleeping. I am feeding him melted condensed milk, and linden honey. He is swallowing as if he were awake, but his eyes won't open...

: Talking to the old woman doesn't actually do anything. You need to recover the sleeper's dream journal.

: So we head over to Foglevka (our PC audibly remarks that this is where we should go, just in case we missed the clue in the journal and \ or didn’t bother to read the quest details).

: Or we would, if I didn’t decide to pick up the quest at the exact wrong time. It’s now morning, so all the NPCs in the apartment building woke up, walked out into the hall, and decided to engage in ambient dialog with each other, blocking my path for a few minutes. Neat.

: We meet this NPC at the entrance to Foglevka. We’ll get back to her later.

: [Sitting in front of you is a beefy, middle-aged man with a mustache. He's smiling vacantly into space and slowly sipping beer from a sweating bottle. As he turns to you and dreamily gestures you closer, you notice his arms are ringed with intricately patterened (sic) bracelets]

: What is it that you sell to your clients, and can I become one?

: [For a couple of seconds the man's expression becomes stern]
Hey, I better not hear you call me a drug dealer. It's true I sell certain substances, but not to create a buzz or other pleasures of the flesh, and my stuff isn't addictive. I sell substances that open the mind to other worlds, lucid dreams. There are many people in this world who are dissatisfied with our current reality. They need an escape.
I concoct these potions from various mushrooms and herbs to give them some fun in their grey lives. However, since I myself am not a gardener, I buy my ingredients from someone else. And at this moment I'm out of stock. But what do you need hallucinogenics for? You look like you're doing quite all right for yourself.

: Know any good local rumors?

: There are people in the Wastes who devote themselves to creatures so ghastly that, even though I'm not religious at all, I hesitate to speak their name aloud. And yet, these nightmarish cults didn't all just appear overnight. They were always here, hiding in the shadows since the times when people had to share this Earth with the unimaginable abominations that descended from the Icy Stars...

: Listen, bro, the thing is... I'd rather not remind her of my existence right now. I owe her some dough and while we're being honest with each other, I'm not on the best of terms with my other colleagues either. To put it simply, I'm totally powerless in this situation. You are that comatose slob's only hope.


: I'm not really a shaman, even though I imply knowledge of the Shoggoth and brew potions that my or may not allow people to visit other worlds. Oh no, one of my customers overdosed on potions and won't wake up? Guess you better go visit the local healer, so she...

: Can brew an antidote?

: That would be far too easy. She can direct you to yet another person, halfway across the map, who can hopefully give you an antidote.

: Motherfucker.

: Before we head over to Peregon, let’s wait until night time to meet the resident witch (as opposed to the resident shaman, resident healer, and resident prophetic dreams sage)

: Fine. Fine. Fine. Let’s wait until she ambles over to the bar.

: [Personality] [A dark haired woman in a hat watches your every move with a sneer. When you come closer, she gives a barely perceptible nod and says:]
Another traveller in these lands? Come closer, let's you and I have a little talk. This place is quite dull for anyone of superior intellect.

: What is your name?

: It's not for you to know. Telling your true name to every Tom, Dick and Ivan who stumbles by is a stupid habit and I'm not going to start now. If you need to address me, use my cover name.
[She pulls a shabby pre-war passport out of her pocket and slowly reads out:]
Dana Evgenyevna Shustrova.

: Rumors?

: In the centre of Krasnoznamenny lives a follower of my -ahem!— religion. Third generation at least. Her grandmother was a follower too and it may even go farther back than that, but she's an atheist.
She only remembers participating in our rituals once, as a child. She thinks it mere superstition, or doesn't understand that it... happened. Some people are offered the truth from birth, yet still they turn away. Human beings are idiots.

: You don’t look like a local.

: Aren't you clever! You're right, I'm not from around here. I'm here -ahem!- on business. I'm checking to see how closely the locals adhere to the natural way of doing things. Literally. And I'm not saying a word more.

: [Speechcraft]: 79 The only thing I understand is that I didn't understand a thing you just said! Tell me more, please.

: [Success] [She rolls her eyes at this, but goes on anyway]
Well, aren't you a curious little fellow? Okay, I'm not going to tell you more than you need to know in any case. It may seem counterintuitive, considering the scale of the ecological disaster, but nature has in fact benefitted from the war. There are fewer people now, fewer pollutants, and all industry has been destroyed. At last, the forests have a chance to return to territories devastated by people and technological progress. I travel the regions and monitor nature's process, and also look for settlements that have developed to a degree where another genocide of trees might begin.

: Why are trees so important to you?

: [The woman shrugs mysteriously] To me they are not important at all. But my god loves dense, unkempt forest, land covered in centuries old oaks so tightly intertwined that the canopy blocks out the sky. Unbridled wilderness is the Black Goat's temple. The more such places there are in the world, the stronger he is.

tl;dr posted:

: After the apocalypse, the old forest gods returned, and are now snatching up people for blood sacrifices and to stop the spread of civilization.

: Do you remember this little tidbit in the RLM dungeon?

: Or Dan's meanest guards? There's a whole bunch of that stuff, moderately well thought out, and kinda-sorta connected to neo-paganism, which had a modest revival in the 90's (to the extent that anything in the game is an actual reflection of the 1990's). It's not bad, though I can't help but think all that attention to detail could have gone into the main plot instead.
Anyway, let's head to Peregon.

: Is it hard being a professional comedian nowadays?

: My man! In the heyday of my career, I had a show in the same building as the Krasnoznamenny Chamber of Commerce. Whilst walking down a long, poorly lit corridor before the performance, I heard the shrieking of a pig coming from beneath a massive steel hatch, along with a senile voice reading "Das Kapital"... Nikita Konev: See where I'm going with this? Nowadays the comedy writes itself, no talent or hard work required! Life itself has turned into a joke... and I think that's the only thing about all this that isn't very funny.

: I know a guy who fell into a coma after taking some psychedelics... [Tell the story about Rudolf]

: Jeez, that's some heavy shit. Just imagine getting stuck in a nightmare! Well destiny is a sneaky bitch, no doubt about it. I was angry at the person who told you about my love affair with chemistry, but now I see it was the right thing to do.
Here you go. I was saving this for myself, in case my brain ever needed a quick detox after getting shitfaced, but it sounds like your buddy needs it more than I do. This is a real pick-me-up, made with amphetamines.
[The man hands you a bottle filled with an opaque liquid]

: Back to KRZ. So glad I don't have a car that would allow me to speed across the map.

: Here, I have some condensed milk... I remember, through a fog, that a kind old woman, my neighbor, was feeding me while I was sleeping. I think she used her own stash, because mine is still here. And here I have some beetroot left... Uh... It's a pity there's no money. Hmm... However there is something in my pocket...

: [Silently wait while the man is checking his pockets]

: [With caution and sincere surprise Rudolf pulls something completely unexpected from his pocket. It is a figurine carved from a single piece of jade. It's depicting a weird creature, that looks like a mix between human and amphibian. The creature is posed as a thinker, sitting, resting its head on its scaly fist]
I have no idea what the hell is that... And how did it end up in my pocket... However this thing looks as if it's capable of making any antiquities salesman cough up a pretty penny for it. Take it, my friend. I won't take no for an answer!
The time flows differently in the other world, my friend. My wanderings in the land of dreams led me to the chambers of a mad demiurge revered by some cultists. This monstrous, perpetually undulating mass of proboscis and pseudopodia crawling in the darkness, consoled only by the of (sic) wailing of the diabolical violins, got a hold of me...
And it held me so tightly my sleeping body almost died of all the pressure! We fought, and for all the time that we fought, I was unable to return to my earthly body, because that would've meant me being distracted and possibly missing a deadly blow!
There it took us several exhausting hours. Here - many, many days.

: What are you planning to do after everything that has happened?

: Nothing. At least for now. In that place, where my poisoned mind has taken me, I was hoping that I will get a chance to go home and re-start my human life from a clean slate..!
Now that it became possible, I am not gonna dream of other worlds anymore. I'd rather write a book. Or go on a hike. Or I'll find a job as a caravaner. I will live my life to the fullest.
And even if this joy I feel now wears off, even if this desperate reality pushes me to relapse, then I will start using again but in smaller quantities and take longer breaks between doses...


: Thanks for saving me from a halluciongenic dream. I definitely wasn't actually travelling to other worlds... whoops, what's with this eerie statuette in my inventory?
In any case, I'm definitely no longer into using drugs for escapism. Or maybe I am, and all trekking you've done back and forth across the map was totally pointless.

: The statuette will actually be somewhat important later on. Meanwhile, this update is done, so let's briefly note the weird part about all the magical \ spiritual quests:

The game kinda \ sorta has shit to say about cults and neo-paganism, but absolutely nothing about the Russian Orthodox Church, even though it was undergoing a massive revival in the late 80's \ early 90's, and really should be right there, supporting the regime and ordering the persecution of mutants.

But unlike abstract corrupt politicians and generic cultists, "offending the feelings of believers" carries the penalty of a prison sentence (if within Russia) and \ or the remote possibility that the game won't be sold in the FSU. So the threat of real consequences stops all truth-telling edgelord takes on the spot.