The Let's Play Archive


by Bobbin Threadbare

Part 14: Sowing the Field

Pramidi 15-21

So I’ve got a bit of a problem. See, Emilia’s next quest phase requires me to have some points in Plot, which is a parent skill, but I’ve only found two out of the four Plot subskills. As I mentioned before, the parent skill level is equal to the third highest subskill. Most skills in this game don’t come pre-revealed, and so if you haven’t found at least three subskills when you need to raise their parent, you’re simply out of luck.

Fortunately, there are various ways to raise certain subskills without relying on something random, like visiting the Library of Longshade or using Joie de Vivre. In this case, cashing in some Favor from Sixt von Rupprecht provides a random boost to a Calligraphy, Plot, or Compete subskill (among another couple of possibilities). Thanks to Merry Magpie for letting me know about this, by the way.

I already had 2 Favor with Rupprecht, one for being Aranaz and one for studying Calligraphy, so let’s go ahead and cash that in.

After the day’s lessons end, you decide to pay a visit to your regent, Professor Von Rupprecht. While he responds almost immediately to your knock on his office door, you note a sizeable scowl on his face. However, noticing who’s come to visit, the scowl immediately melts into a not-so-convincing smile.

Ah, Iliana! I always have time for an Aranaz student. Come in, have a seat.

You move into von Rupprecht’s office, which you note is unsurprisingly jammed full of rune-covered papers and textbooks. You sit down in the slightly uncomfortable chair von Rupprecht has for guests while the professor takes a seat in his deceptively large and well-padded desk chair.

Alright. So, what seems to be the trouble?

Even while speaking, Sixt begins poring over several papers already scattered across his desk, scribbling at a mad pace. Evidently he was in the middle of a transcription or translation when you interrupted him, and even now he seems to be daring you to prove that your business could possibly be more important than his.

A dare you are more than willing to accept.

Professor von Rupprecht, I’m sure you’re aware of the…disturbance in the girls’ dorm a few weeks ago.
Of course. A tremendous fuss that was. I’ve had to arrange for the guards to keep track of the lot of you just so nothing like that happens again.
But Professor, you don’t really think that Aranaz—Aranaz girls!—would have ruined our own dormitory like that?
Nothing was found to say otherwise, was there? Who else could have gotten in to make such a mess without getting caught, anyway?
…What if I told you Durand was behind it?

At the mention of the name, von Rupprecht pauses and spares you a short glance.

I wouldn’t be surprised, given our colleges’ historical rivalry. If you have any solid evidence, give it here; I’ll be glad to bring it up during the Council of Regents.
It’s not undeniable, unfortunately…but what if one or more of us took justice into our own hands?

This earns you a longer pause. The professor almost blots his page.

A prank for a prank, eh? I wouldn’t be opposed in principle, since the target is Durand, but of course as an instructor in these halls I would have to come down hard on any such mischief if I were to find it. And with all the guards watching you, I suppose that would be inevitable.
Oh, the guards aren’t watching me. As it turns out, I had an alibi that day. Professor Briardi caught me in the wrong hallway—I was just lost, of course—
–Of course—
—And I have some…contacts outside the college. Contacts who would be glad to help someone perform a little mischief.

You decide not to mention Emilia right now. No sense getting her implicated if things go sour, after all. By now, Professor von Rupprecht has set down his quill and is giving you his full attention.

This brings me to why I came to see you today, Professor. I thought you could maybe give me a few pointers on how to organize and lead a small group. I’m sure this will help me out with any group project I may be part of during classes.

The teacher gives you a wide grin, and this time not an inch of it is feigned.

Of course, of course! Now, something to keep in mind when directing a group, whether large or small, is coordination: making sure that each part of the project is done at just the right time, even when handed to different group members to complete. There are some ways to help motivate timeliness…

Using the professor’s lecture as a starting point, you leap straight into the texts of Longshade and start reading everything you can find about organizing a team and getting them to pull off time-sensitive objectives.

A remarkable number of these books seem to have been written by thieves organizing heists. Not that you mind terribly, given the overlap.

Finally considering the time right, you, Emilia, and Rui de Casga gather after classes to consider the problem of Durand.

You know, I was thinking about what you said before in the library, and you’re right. The instructors probably wouldn’t take me for the type to get revenge. I heard von Rupprecht saying how I don’t really belong in Aranaz, and I feel like proving him wrong. Rui de Casga, how do you feel about causing some trouble with us? I heard what you did with Basia, so I know you’ve got a bone for mischief.

Seeing the way he grins when Emilia names his earlier exploit, you’d rather stay ignorant of that one, frankly.

I’ve got nothing against Durand, personally, but since you’re my Clique mates now, your revenge is my revenge. Iliana?

What’s with all these backing out options? I suppose this adventure line was written with the idea in mind that the player-character isn’t necessarily a female Aranaz student, but unfortunately for that idea we happened to pick the one combination for whom this stuff is personal. Plot it is.

First thing’s first: we’ll need a way into the Durand dorm area.
You’ll need someone on the inside, then.
We’ll never get an accomplice. I want them all to suffer.
We could still use someone to get inside, map the place out.
Oh, good idea! I could make like I’d befriend one of the little goons. That shouldn’t be too hard; they all seem like gullible turnips to me.
We can’t let it look suspicious. Maybe if something happened and you stood up for one of them…

You no longer have any doubts as to whether Emilia belongs in Aranaz or not—she’s clearly as manipulative as they come. You all agree to meet again after you find a candidate to “befriend.”

You’re in the Venalicium Library, copying out some homework, when out of nowhere a small worm appears and begins eating your papers! Your professor will never believe a worm ate your homework…

I have no doubt that the worm will turn out to be “a bookworm,” but setting that aside, there is a black option available.

Tulia Faspalla is walking past with her familiar, Anguselus the tortoise. Motioning to your homework frantically, you call them over. You know that people don’t always like others feeding their familiars—some having special diets—so you run your offer by her first. With a smile, you have an agreement, and within a few seconds the worm has been completely devoured, leaving your homework mostly fine (although slightly moist).

Tulia looks additionally pleased at your consideration for Anguselus, who looks quite happy after the unexpected meal.

Later, your homework finished, you move back into the Library of Longshade. This time you focus your studies on the planning aspect of heists. You learn that there are often random events that change the layout of the problem, and that the best planners are those who can change their plans to make the most of good luck and the least of bad luck.

You’ve found a rather fascinating book today: it’s all about flowers. Well, that’s not completely true; it’s really more about one slightly mad sage’s long and winding quest to create a green-petaled carnation. While the author admits that Revision or Glamour could have made the flower green in an instant, he is nevertheless dedicated to the idea of growing one naturally, and so begins a decade-long quest to understand the nature of flowers and the colors they bloom into.

While the book might have simply been a log of failures, the sage puts so much of his heart into his prose that you can’t help but be caught up in every hopeful attempt and frustrated by every cyan or yellow blossom. You even bring the book back to your dorm and read it under the sheets into the wee hours of the night, hoping with each new test that this time the green flower will spring up. When it finally happens at the end of the book, you almost wake your dorm mates with your cry of triumph.

Even so, it’s not until the next morning that you realize the true point the author was making: that every failure, every misstep, and every accident helped contribute to his final success. Every time he did the wrong thing, he learned from it, until he eventually reached his true goal.

You have truly been transformed by this book.

While you spent time researching schemes, Emilia has been busy scouting potential dupes, and on Saturday, she wastes no time in coming to you with a pretty good candidate. Sheary Warrington seems to be well liked, and Emilia seems to think befriending him would get her in good with Durand. You gather up Rui de Casga and then spring into action. Well, the planning part of the action, anyway. What is the best way to go about doing this?

I’m not sure if the green option is accurately colored, since it’s apparently a contested roll, but it certainly isn’t the sort of thing Iliana would do (or at least, not what she would do in public). Planning option it is.

The three of you throw around ideas for a while before settling on a winner: Rui de Casga will sneak in a Minor Hell Hound from the animal pens while you teach Emilia a few phemes that should scare it off. Rui de Casga will release the hound at just the right moment for it to appear just as you and Emilia “happen” to cross Sheary’s path.

Everything goes perfectly. Sheary is completely startled when the Hell Hound appears, and while you throw a spell, you deliberately miss, while Emilia hits the beast dead on with a powerful blast. The creature shrinks back, and you make a grab to keep it from biting you and begin to move it back to where Rui de Casga hides around the corner. In the meantime, Emilia helps Sheary up. Mission accomplished! Best of all, you’re pretty sure you just made Emilia and yourself look very, very good.

Afternoon finds you huffing and puffing up the long Chauranglaith Path, which switchbacks up the Chordia Peak, the mountain that stands as one border to the Academagia grounds. Professor Sido had once mentioned the path in class, in particular that it was named after the very possibly best philosopher of all time, and for once your curiosity got the better of your reservations at the steep incline, which is why you are now leaning against a solitary pine tree as you try and regain your stamina.

Feeling better after some rest, you decide to take a better look at your surroundings. Aside from the stunning view of the Academagia grounds beneath you, the only real landmark is the pine tree you rested against. Someone else must have understood this fact some time ago, because you finally notice a small stone tablet set against the tree. The inscription on it reads, “Acceptance without Questioning is not knowledge; only those who ponder may consider themselves sufficiently assured of understanding.”

Huh. Well, you can at least say you managed to reach the first waypoint on the Chauranglaith Path. Maybe tomorrow you could reach the second point, but you are certainly not feeling up to it right now.

Instead, you spend the evening in the Venalicium Library studying for history class. Or you would have, at least, if Grainne Inneith hadn’t spent the whole time bringing you up to date on the latest gossip. You can hardly believe half of her rumors, of course, but given that you are in a school for wizards, you find you have to at least consider most of it.

Today begins the next phase of the plan, which will require one of the Five-Handed Tree to sneak into the Durand campus. While Rui de Casga knows a few things about smuggling items to where they don’t belong, he’s not too good at smuggling himself, and since Emilia will be busy with her friendship angle, you take it upon yourself to learn all you can about infiltration. Longshade proves instructional as always, and you move to some real-world applications by attempting to sneak into the Great Hall unnoticed. Of course, all your efforts give you are suspicious looks from the guards and other students, but thankfully you’re not carrying contraband on a dry run like this. However, by concentrating on when exactly each person notices you, you believe you’ve made some real progress.

How long is this Path, anyway?
I don’t know. Really long. And quit complaining; it’s your own fault you’re up here.
I said you could just send up a spark or something once you reached the end? How come I had to come, too?
Because misery loves company, and there was no way I was gonna go up here two days in a row without someone coming with me. You dared me to do it, so you get to come and see it done.
I really have to stop daring you to do things.
Yes, you do.

The Lone Pine has since disappeared around the edge of the mountain as you and Carmine attempt to drag yourselves to the top of the Chauranglaith Path. While the path to the first waypoint is the longest leg of the journey, it certainly feels shorter now that your legs have turned to lead.

At last, you see the Stone Bench, the second waypoint on the Path. Well, “Bench” may be a bit overstating it; it’s really more of a wide stone slab set on a pair of irregular boulders. You and Carmine hobble gratefully over to rest on the Bench, although you both discover that it’s a good deal less comfortable than it looks, since the Stone Bench isn’t level, but slants a bit to the side. You are therefore forced to lean heavily on one leg just to sit on the thing, although you still consider it a fair ways better than standing or walking at this point.

At least you can get a nice view from up here. Look, there’s the Academagia, there’s Aranaz behind it, and you can see most of Mineta over there. And look, you can even see part of the Imperial Reserve from here.
I think I can see the docks if I squint hard.
I wonder what that Chaur guy must have thought, living up here, sitting at this bench every day. What did this place look like back then?
Was Academagia even founded when he was around?

You start to realize that the slant of the bench has caused Carmine to slide uncomfortably close to you while you were talking, to the point where you’re almost leaning against each other.

Well, maybe it’s not that uncomfortable.

So, ready for the next leg of the trip?
I have a better idea. Let’s not, and tell everyone we did.


Standing up and stretching your poor, abused legs, you happen to glance at the stone bench, and notice another inscription. This one says, “If what you see is not true, is it there? If what you feel is false, can it exist? If we cannot trust our senses, can we trust our minds?”

Trying to make sense of that occupies your mind throughout the entire trip down.

Gains of the Week

Revision Phemes increased by 1.
--Anatomy pheme learned.
--Healing pheme learned.
--Organism pheme learned.
--Revision increased by 1.
----Friendship pheme learned.
----Location pheme learned.
Famous Dilemmas increased by 1.
Used Favor on Sixt von Rupprecht.
--Relationship with Sixt von Rupprecht reset to 0.
--Coordination increased by 2 steps.
----Amicita pheme learned.

Orthography increased by 1.
--Fix pheme learned.
Glamour Phemes increased by 1.
--Perception pheme learned.
----Glamour increased by 1.
------Fine Tune Instrument ability learned.
Theory of Glamour increased by 1.
--Charm pheme learned.
Studied at Longshade.
--Flawless Timing increased by 1 step.
----Time pheme learned.
----Hostis pheme learned.
--Infiltration increased by 1 step.
--Concentration increased by 1 step.
Tabin used Compete; Aranaz merit now at 102.

Library Knowledge increased by 1.
--Structure pheme learned.
Famous Dilemmas increased by 1.
Successful Adventure!
--Reason increased by 1 step.
----Reason pheme learned.

Theory of Glamour increased by 1.
--Beauty pheme learned.
Studied at Longshade.
--Planning increased by 1 step.
----Hindsight pheme learned.
----Trash Talk action learned.
--Pure Luck increased by 1 step.
----Luck pheme learned.
--Concentration increased by 1 step.
Successful Event!
--Relationship with Tulia Faspalla increased to 1.

Revision Spells increased by 1.
--Wand Amplification spell learned.
Ink Compounds increased by 1.
--Calligraphy increased by 1.
----Flourish Homework ability learned.
Logic increased by 1.
--Suspect Everything ability learned.
Studied at Longshade.
--Planning increased by 1 step.
----Learns from Mistakes ability learned.
--Flowers increased by 1 step.
----Charm pheme learned.
--Concentration increased by 1 step.

Successful Adventure!
--Mammals (Zoology) skill increased by 2 steps.
----Animal pheme learned.
Traveled the Chauranglaith Path: The Lone Pine.
--Sleuthing increased by 1 step.
----Deduction pheme learned.
--Endurance increased by 1 step.
----In the Zone ability learned.
--Learned about Chauranglaith Path: The Stone Bench.
Studied at the Venalicium.
--History study level at 2.
----Relationship with Grainne Inneith increased to 2.
--Cryptology increased by 1 step.
----Sequential pheme learned.
----Research increased by 1.
------Put to Paper ability learned.
Tabin used Compete; Aranaz merit now at 105.

Studied at Longshade.
--Infiltration increased by 1 step.
--Curiosity increased by 1 step.
--Concentration increased by 1 step.
----Wakefulness ability learned.
Infiltration increased by 1 step.
--Comfort pheme learned.
Traveled the Chauranglaith Path: The Stone Bench.
--First Principles increased by 2 steps.
----Question Surroundings action learned.
--Theory of Enchantment increased by 1 step.
----Earth pheme learned.
--Learned about Chauranglaith Path: The Lone Pine and Natural Spring.
Carmine Sturzo used Hang Out Inside the College on you.
--Relationship with Carmine Sturzo increased to 3.
Vernin college wins again.

New Abilities

Fine Tune Instrument: Insight/Listen v6; +2 to music performance actions and abilities.
Trash Talk: Charm/Tease v6, Insight/Insult v10 and 23; decrease target college’s merit by 1, 1, and 3 respectively.
Wand Amplification (Spell): no roll; +4 to all spells for 5 days.
Flourish Homework: Finesse/Calligraphy v8; +1 extra credit; one use per month.
Suspect Everything (Permanent): +1 to all Question _____ actions and abilities.
Learn from Mistakes (Permanent): +1 to Insight and Intelligence.
In the Zone: +1 to Fitness and Flawless Timing and -1 to Awareness for rest of day.
Chauranglaith Path: The Stone Bench: +2 steps to random Dialectic and +1 step to Enchantment Theory; learn about the Lone Pine and the Natural Spring.
Put to Paper: +1 step to random known skill, +1 to Insight for 6 days.
Wakefulness (Permanent): +1 to Concentration and Danger Sense.
Chauranglaith Path: Natural Spring: +1 step to 2 random Dialectic skills and 1 random Glamour skill; learn about The Stone Bench and The Cave.
Question Surroundings: Intelligence/Sleuthing v6; +1 step to 2 random skills.

Hang on there a second, what?! Yes, that’s right, if you can find the skill Planning and bring it up to 2, 2, you can get yourself the same grade of bonus that Iliana got from spending a ton of time doing the whole tutorial mission and passing a dozen skill checks. Not that I’m complaining—after all, now I’ve got +2 to both—but holy crap is that an easy way into two attribute points. Technically I could have gotten this at any point after failing the one random event that lowered Iliana’s Planning skill, since that revealed the skill in the process, but I’m trying to follow a more or less natural progression here (just one that’s statistically improbable). For those of you playing at home, though, I cannot stress this enough: get Planning, raise it to 2, reap the rewards.