The Let's Play Archive


by Bobbin Threadbare

Part 36: Vrenelle’s Fabulous Fitness Plan

Nivelos 15-21

You have a pair of what you hope will prove to be capable teachers, you have a group of willing and eager students, so now you just need a curriculum for your impromptu dueling class. You aren’t so headstrong as to believe you can march a room full of students into a room full of ghosts and expect things to progress in an orderly fashion, after all, and so you find yourself in a position rare among students: you desperately need a professor to implement some order in your life.

But only in a very limited fashion. And without asking too many questions. Not that it should be too hard, really.

However, the faculty of the Academagia is notoriously busy, and you’re not entirely sure how you’re going to be able to gain the assistance of someone knowledgeable enough in the art of dueling and understanding enough to willingly assist a student in an unknown (and potentially dangerous) venture.

In the end, you decide that the dialectics teacher, Professor Sido, is the best choice. As a noted world traveler, he must have learned some exotic methods of education and lenient notions of personal safety. But first you’ll need to convince him.

Fortunately, Iliana’s 14 Research happens to match precisely the roll needed for this stage.

It takes you a bit of time to gather all the materials you need, but eventually you’re sure you have enough prepped to ensure a victory against Professor Sido. You knock on his door and hear him ask you to enter.

You’ve been in his office before. Most students have, especially ones who take his class. It’s a bit of a sight to see: there are all manner of artifacts in his office from all over the world. Rumor has it that he has a dragon tooth hidden somewhere in his office, but you can’t imagine where, since those same rumors claim it is several feet in length.

Having been in the office before, you also know what you are up against. The many fascinating objects are magnets for the professor’s wandering attention and each one holds a story Sido is only too happy to share with his visitors. You wouldn’t normally mind being regaled for an hour or two with stories of exotic locales and strange locals, but you have business to discuss and all those items will only make things take longer. That’s why you made sure to bring items of your own.

Ah, Iliana. What can I help you with?

Without responding, you shuffle over to the professor’s desk and heft two hulking bags onto it. One of the bags tilts and out roll a series of scrolls, revealing piles of books underneath. The professor’s eyes go wide. You explain about your quest to learn more about dueling (leaving out, of course, any mention of your two deceased and currently unwitting partners) and describe how you’ve been collecting and reading study materials already, but you’re just finding it tricky to collate all the information properly. When you announce that you’ll show him an example action you’re unsure of and assume a dueling stance, he stops you.

You’re going to do this whether I help you or not, aren’t you?

You give him an unassuming smile and nod.

Well then, I had better make sure you do it right, hadn’t I?

Got him.

Now admittedly you were thinking mostly about the things you and Professor Sido went over earlier while you were etching phemes onto your palette, but you’re pretty sure that it wasn’t your spell that just blasted a hole in the wall, directly into the next practice room.

You look into the other practice room through the hole, but no one is inside—which is odd, since this was the only room not taken when you signed in.

The sound of running feet distracts you from your quandary. You can guess how it would look if a teacher entered the room now—think fast!

Plenty of good, valid options here. Let’s start with a little investigation.

You are fairly sure that it wasn’t you who broke the wall, and you can tell from the pattern of the fallen stone that it much more likely came from the room adjacent. Surely the culprit must be in there, but your previous glance didn’t show much…

Aha, you got it! Searching through your pockets you grab a tiny mirror; useful for touchups, but equally useful for spying around corners! You put it into the hole and lo and behold, the culprit is indeed hiding against the near wall to avoid being spotted. That’s why you didn’t see him! Hang on, isn’t that—


And that unlocks a Bully option. Not really Iliana’s style, plus she still kind of likes him from the Dance of Fools incident. Out of the rest, Revision seems to be the most permanent solution, so why not help out?

A quick glance through the spellbook locates what you need. You quickly scribe a new border and fill it with the required phemes, then release the spell. Horror of horrors, the spell starts tearing down the rest of the wall! Is it supposed to do that?

The footsteps come closer, ever closer, and you can’t help glancing at the door, fully expecting a teacher to burst through shouting loudly and throwing spells in wild abandon. Then the sound of the steps ceases for a moment, and you turn back to what used to be a wall. Fortunately, the spell has already begun building it up again. Neat! In fact, you think the practice room you’re in will be a little bit bigger at the cost of the next one over.

Just as the wall finishes constructing itself, the door is torn open by Professor di Lucca Alazzo. He stares into the room, eyes scanning for any discrepancy.

Did you hear something?
Yes. I think it came from the next room over.

It’s not like it’s even a lie. The professor nods and closes the door. You hear the next door open, some muffled berating, and then—quiet.

Durand might get in some trouble from all this, but it’s not like he doesn’t deserve it. As it is, you may have done him a bit of a favor, covering up his mess like that. But at the end of the day, what matters is that you are off the hook.

To a degree, I was trying to see how far I could get in the game without unlocking this bit of savescumming exploitation. The three “Run a Route” options are great for scummers like myself, since they have a visible chance of permanently improving Fitness depending on how much stress you’re willing to pick up in the process, plus they’re unlocked at Running 1, something you’re almost guaranteed to get at some point. As it is, I got over halfway through the game before training the cat in Running (it’s for the next Familiar adventure stage) forced my hand.

Even so, I might have held off on doing this if it weren’t for two things: first, you guys want Iliana to pile on the Gates magic, and getting Fitness will shorten the time taken to do it. Second, Vrenelle is currently one of Iliana’s best friends, and while Iliana might not be fond of sweat, Vrenelle…

Ah, gods! Cramp! Ow! Ow, ow, ow…
Come on, slowpoke, are ya gonna let a little cramp stop you?
I’m…tired…out of breath…give me…break…
Oh, fine, another two minutes! Honestly, it’s a good thing I got you out here today, you must be the slowest person in all of Aranaz!
Don’t know why…told you…next two days…be free from…from new lessons…
Because even you knew you needed a good workout! Now what would happen if you had to run from the bad guys and you weren’t fast enough to get away?

You consider replying that you could either magic something up to stop them or, better yet, convince them to stop chasing you in the first place, but you really don’t have the breath to argue right now. Instead, you speed back up into a jog and resign yourself to the fact that Vrenelle is going to make you run all across the Academagia grounds over the next two days whether you like it or not.

It took you until well after sunset, but you finally convinced Vrenelle that you can’t run safely in the dark, so now you are sitting (really more lying than sitting) in the comfiest chair you could find in the Aranaz common room, giving your poor tired legs a break from working.

You are in the middle of completely zoning out when you get distracted by some highly noisy whispering coming a nearby corner. You do your best to ignore it, but it eventually gets so loud you can’t help but overhear.

Her reputation will be absolutely ruined when this prints in the next edition. I can’t wait to see the expression on her face! You don’t think we should spend more time confirming it, do you?

Your curiosity get the better of you and you turn around, eyeing the two gossipers huddled together on the corner sofa. They immediately realize that you have been eavesdropping on their conversation.

Are you spying on us?
You’ll keep your mouth shut if you know what’s good for you.

Rikildis stands up and assumes a menacing posture. She and Grainne are obviously concerned that you might spread their rumor around campus before they can do so themselves. While you might have been tempted, had you actually heard their prized rumor, this time you were so out of it you missed the whole thing. You see a long, difficult conversation ahead of you, and you don’t relish the thought of trying to convince these two rumor-mongers that you don’t know anything about anything.

That’s an oddly difficult investigation check for just a 10% Chance of Success boost. Not that Iliana needs one in either case; let’s just pick the nicer option.

You yawn and fake a blank look.

Sorry, I just woke up from a pretty long nap. Is there something I should have been listening to?

The pair put on laughably fake looks of contempt to conceal the real relief flashing across their faces.

You wouldn’t understand it anyway.

As they stalk out of the room, you hear Grainne whisper:

That was a close one.

Here’s another little exploit for you: Stress and Vitality are only checked at the end of each day, so if you exceed your limits thanks to actions taken but rest as the third action, you won’t get the forced rest day which otherwise occurs. For example, the three Run a Route actions I picked for Tuesday provide a grand total of 8 stress (4+2+2), which was Iliana’s maximum before getting a point of Fitness boosted it by 2 more. The two I picked for today will add another 8, so even under the best circumstances her limit of 14 will be under the stress load of 16. And while this would normally make her sick and change the next day to “rest only,” by resting as her last action, Iliana will reset her Stress to 0 and Vitality to her new total (now 10) without becoming sick at all.

Note that holidays and random events are always checked last, so any gains/losses from those won’t be reset by Resting on the same day. On the plus side, it’ll only apply to your reset numbers, so at least it won’t force you into sickness territory.

Expect to see Improved Familiar Handling pop up over useless class periods for a while. To complete the Familiar adventure I’ll need to boost 5 more of Cpt. Felix’s skills, and to get them high enough I’ll need to boost his Bond level to at least 7. Doing it during class periods will at least ensure that Iliana will have enough time for her regular pursuits as well.

Having proven the ability of the Five-Handed Tree to Carmine, you decide to track him down and demand a partnership once again. Unfortunately, while looking for the elusive student, you are waylaid by a masked student who indicates he wants you to follow him. Figuring it must be related to Carmine, you follow.

The student leads you to the dark cellar of an old deserted cottage in the fields outside the campus. In the middle of the cellar floor is a small square with a latch. The student pulls on the latch and reveals a ladder into an immensely dark and cold underground tunnel.

The masked student then explains that you and your team must sneak through the underground maze and snag a medallion planted at its exit. He cautions you to be quiet to insure that you make it past the gargoyles, goblins, wolves, and the other assorted beasts or else be slain.

Oh, doesn’t that sound like fun. After giving his speech, the student scurries off, apparently unwilling to watch the carnage. For your part, you waste no time in summoning the rest of the Tree.

A good confident blue, but there sure is something fishy about this maze…

What all did he say would be in the tunnel? Gargoyles, goblins, and wolves?
Well now we gotta partner up with this guy. I have to find out exactly who his contacts are so I can use them myself.
But how can he put them into a hidden cave like this to threaten would-be crewmembers? He’d have to be a master Gates wizard to get something like goblins to obey him.
What if it was here already, and he just uses it for testing?
This close to the Academagia? No, something about this smells off to me.
Me, too. I say we take a quick look first to see what’s really down here.

You hunker down with Tacito and silently sneak forward to take a look in the first room, which hold some sleeping gargoyles. Looking closely, it appears they’re moving on a loop, a sure sign of an illusion. Illusions can still be dangerous, but they can also be dispelled…

Sadly, it would appear that Iliana’s Willpower isn’t quite equal to her Confidence.

Tacito’s right. The whole cave is one big illusion.
It’s still pretty impressive, actually. Carmine might not have a master of Gates working for him, but he obviously knows a very good Glamourist.
We can dispel it, though, can’t we?
I don’t think so. I’m the only one here in Negation, and I don’t think I could pull down a Glamour spell this big and complex.
So then we do this the hard way. But just remember that nothing down there can kill us, so let’s have some fun!

You lead the Five-Handed Tree down into the illusory cave, determined to make a grand show of things. You start by blasting your way through the gargoyles’ home, then challenge the goblins to a card game (easily won using Rui’s Cheater’s Deck). Tacito blinds the wolves as you hurry past their den, and then Vrenelle challenges the shades in the Lair-Beast’s Pub to a drinking contest to proceed through the back door.

Finally, you come upon the end of the tunnel. There you take the token hanging above the tunnel’s exit and head out, ready to present proof of your abilities to Carmine the next time you see him.

As classes begin today, you begin sending secret messages to all your would-be duel students to let them know the time has come for their first official lesson. The message also warns them to be prepared to meet some…unconventional…instructors. The big danger you worry about is anyone leaking the information to a professor. You may have gotten Professor Sido’s assistance on the curriculum, but even he would likely disapprove a mass instruction in dangerous magical arts delivered by a pair of highly unpredictable spirits.

When the time comes for the first class, you are pleased to see a large gathering of students, with not a professor in sight. You wave your hands to get everyone’s attention and ask them to wait a moment while you see if the instructors are ready. You swiftly pop into the Cold Room, and you hear a few gasps from the crowd as they watch you brave the space with nonchalance.

Inside, as ever, Paolo and Vincenzo are dueling, but they stop swiftly as they see you enter.

Hello again, Masters. Do you remember how you told me how much you miss the time you spent teaching aspiring duelists? Well, I’ve got a surprise for you…

With that, you pull the door wide open, wave the students inside and brace for impact.

Luckily, Coordination is already high from an earlier adventure. Especially lucky since each choice boosts a different attribute, and Coordination happens to increase Charm.

Paolo and Vincenzo are immediately delighted. You can see from their translucent expressions that they understand you have, after all these years, brought them a brand-new crowd of students and admirers. They finally have the audience they’ve always desired.

The students are less overjoyed. The looks you see vary from terrified to highly skeptical, but before anyone can do something foolish, you slice through the tension with some cheery introductions. Then, without pausing, you grab Els from the crowd and drag her forward to meet the instructors personally. When the first attempt at a handshake results in both the teacher and the pupil waving their hands trying to make contact between ethereal and corporeal, the students break into giggles and you know it’s safe to begin. After all, it’s hard to be terrified of something after it does something so silly.

Without further complications, the class is off and running. You take on the role of taskmaster easily enough; it was your idea that got everyone this far, wasn’t it? You quickly split the class into two groups, one for each ghost, and then you spend the rest of the time bouncing back and forth between each, answering questions and making adjustments. Soon it comes time to break into pairs for practice, which you personally assign based on relative skill levels and relationships.

Everything goes wonderfully. You guide the group like a conductor and there isn’t a single hitch. Paolo and Vincenzo are an absolute waterfall of information. They have been refining and practicing their knowledge of the art of dueling for an incomprehensibly long time but have never had a chance to share that information with anyone until now.

After the class ends, you receive a stirring round of applause. Everyone knows that this great experience is all thanks to you. Great lessons and new friends; can you think of a more fitting school experience?

Gains of the Week

Ethics increased by 1.
--Truth Be Told spell learned.
Patience increased by 1.
--Beseech pheme learned.
Archaeology increased by 1.
Successful adventure!
--Relationship with Tarvixio Sido increased to 3.
--Persuasion cannot be increased.
Successful event!
--Phemes increased by 1 step.
--Diction increased by 1 step.
----Learned about the Broken Window.
--Flawless Timing increased by 1 step.
----Plot increased by 1.
------The Influencers’ Ball, Merchant available.

Ran a Potentially Crippling Training Route.
--Stress increased by 4.
--Running increased by 3 steps.
----Re-learned about the Academagia Groundskeeper’s Office.
--Fitness increased by 1.
Ran a Moderately Ambitious Training Route.
--Stress increased by 2.
--Running increased by 2 steps.
Ran a Moderately Ambitious Training Route.
--Stress increased by 2.
--Running increased by 2 steps.
High Stress! You now feel Anxiety: -1 to Concentration and Composure.
Successful event!
--Persuasion cannot be increased.

Ran a Potentially Crippling Training Route.
--Stress increased by 4.
--Running increased by 3 steps.
----Long Strides ability learned.
Ran a Potentially Crippling Training Route.
--Stress increased by 4.
--Running increased by 3 steps.
----Unleash pheme learned.
--Fitness increased by 1.
Stress and Vitality reset.

Theory of Glamour increased by 1.
--Theory of Glamour skill maxed!
--Sunshot spell learned.
Handled Familiar.
--Bond of Iron increased by 1 step.
--Bond of Silver increased by 2 separate steps.
--Bond of Stars increased by 1 step.
Successful adventure!
--Navigation increased by 1 step.

Famous Speeches increased by 1.
--“And so invite the wyrms of ruin…” spell learned.
--Rhetoric increased by 1.
----Glamour pheme learned.
Successful adventure!
--Command increased by 1 step.
----Follow pheme learned.
--Charm increased by 1.

New Abilities

Truth Be Told (Spell): Insight/Glamour v8; -5 to target’s Lie, -1 to Ethics, and +1% Chance of Discovery for 7 days.
Speaking into the Broken Window: +1 step to Diction, Voice, and 1 random subskill.
Long Strides (Permanent): +1 to Running.
Sunshot (Spell): Intelligence/Glamour v13; -2 Vitality and -5 Perception and Observation on target for 3 days.
“And so invite the wyrms of ruin…” (Spell): Insight/Famous Speeches v13; -2 Vitality and +1 Stress on target Rival.