Part 6: DrinnoPart 006: Drinno
Oh, so the real Arjano is under the hut. That suddenly makes a whole lot more sense.
We're here to pick up some magic druidic Viagra so we don't get stuck on your island forever.
...I'll just go consult with Bero. Please be patient.
I wish we could see what's down there, even if it's all out-dated superstitious writings, it would be fascinating from a historical perspective.
The druids are supposed to be powerful mages and sages, Rainer, I wouldn't discount their wisdom.
If they're so smart, why do they live in a basement while everyone else lives aboveground?
Here comes the man in the white gown again.
Strangers, our chief, Nemos, is ready to see you.
Ugh, I can already sense us getting dragged into some stupid druid quest. This had better be worth our time.
Sorry for my curiosity, Nemos, but is this place really 2000 years old?
Indeed, the records go back to when the great Canto lead us here from the land of our forefathers, when the Crusaders drove them out.
I'm sorry your highness or whatever we're supposed to call you, but if you indulge Rainer, we'll be here another 2000 years. We're here from Tharnos, to get some magic Viagra so he won't be an embarrassment to his family and his warriors. Supposedly this Bero guy can help, but we got sent to see you instead.
That presents a problem, you see, no one can speak to Bero, currently, not even I.
Oh, has her perhaps taken a vow of silence, all the better to meditate upon the deep matters of the univ-
Oh no, he's dead.
Wow! Is it perhaps a closed-room murder mystery which will require all our intell-
No, no, I'll explain. You see, there's a dungeon under this place, called Drinno. It used to be laboratories, workspaces and libraries until a sect of druids, the Kenget Kamulos, or worshippers of Fire, rebelled against our order. They filled it with traps and monsters, and even though we drove them out, many of these dangers remain. Bero decided to climb down there to look for magic artifacts, so while I say he's dead, I merely mean that he's probably dead and would appreciate it if you'd climb down there and risk your lives to save him.
Well... Rainer, do you think we could build our own boat and sail to Maini without the locals' help?
I'll loan you another wizard if you help us out.
You drive a hard bargain, Nemos, we're in.
You can count on me, Tom.
I doubt anything Drinno could present could terrify me more than travelling with you.
I'm not going to indulge in any bone-headed heroics, but I'll help as well.
Now about that wizard you were going to loan us, Nemos...
Yes, he's Bero's foster son, Mellthas. Deaf and dumb but very intelligent.
We had to keep him from going down into Drinno to look for Bero himself.
Bloodthirsty, a man after my own heart. I'm sure we'll get along famously.
So, Mellthas. He's... more useful than Rainer? About as fragile as Sira, as slow as Tom, has decent carrying capacity and can cast spells. He has a simple attack spell called Small Fireball that allows him to provide cheap, consistent damage that always hits(except against magic-resistant enemies), a series of panic-causing spells that suck because enemies that run away are enemies we can't loot and a series of spells that banish demon-type enemies. A single-target, a line-target and an all-target. Unfortunately they all bounce repeatedly off enemies until sufficiently trained to get through their MR, and some enemies are just too beefy to banish. He also starts about five levels too low to learn even the single-target Banish spell, but since I already murdered all the bandits even though I planned to leave some for Mellthas, it would be a huge pain in the ass to level him outside to the point where he can sling around anti-demon magic in Drinno, supremely helpful as it might be.
Alright, let's have a look around before we go anywhere. Someone might have left something valuable lying around.
You should go along with it, somehow he hasn't gotten us killed.
You forgot the "yet."
As is your stock of medicine.
What was that?
Sadly Makaio doesn't actually sell any healing or mana potions, but if we're un-busted enough to haul ourselves out of Drinno, he can always patch us up.
Unlike in Jirinaar, these losers won't even teach Mellthas more magic for free, and as mentioned we don't actually want most of his spells anyway. He already starts with Small Fireball, Healing and Boasting, and I'm not going to go outside and murder the wildlife for long enough to get him to level 10, there's a limit to my willingness to suffer when it isn't necessary.
We should make sure to talk to this guy.
You realize he'll have the same dialogue prompts as the rest of them, right?
At least let me hope.
Torko is important, though, because he can actually ID items for us. This reveals curses, what spells they can cast and any hidden stat-modifiers they might have. Unless you have a FAQ handy, you absolutely want to have someone ID every shady item you find in a dungeon since some of the curse effects are crippling, for instance some of them prevent mages from casting spells.
It also helps to be able to see how many charges these items have left.
Many, if not most, cursed items also have on-use abilities that you can employ without actually equipping the stupid thing and fucking yourself over. Usually not worth it, but since anyone can use on-use effects, you could pile them all on Rainer and make him suck a bit less. Usually I always end up forgetting about them and hoarding them because it's less complicated to just amass a vast stock of mana potions and use your mages as artillery to clear all problems.
Generally the best magic items are ones that boost combat skills while doing decent damage, boost speed or boost strength.
I appreciate the druids' enlightened view of personal property, i.e. it should all be mine.
...I think they just haven't noticed you going through all their stuff and picking up anything that isn't nailed down.
Okay, I understand the healing potions and torches, but why the buckets?
Perhaps this is another "pre-crime" that Tom has successfully predicted!
Close but no cigar, Drirr. Obviously these buckets wouldn't be interactible if we weren't meant to interact with them.
Using the amazing skill of "having played the game before" I snag up a trio of buckets on the way down, since we will absolutely want to have some of these along to avoid having to loop back or make do with less-than-optimal number of buckets.
I also fill them at a nearby basin, because an empty bucket won't be of much use to us, and it's a pleasant bit of attention to detail that the designers actually made a filled bucket weigh more than an empty one.
Are we ready to enter Drinno now, Tom? Mellthas is beside himself with worry and I can't stand to watch it.
No, we're going to take a nap first, all this stealing has plum tuckered me out.
Okay, okay, I wanted to get something over with now rather than in the dungeon, happy?
Well, that's unexpected. Isn't he pretty much touching her exposed brain?
That would about describe it, Rainer.
Gross. Wonder how long it's gonna be until they wake up?
Impossible! No human can read the Trii! But... I can... Tell me what you hear!
It sounds good, like sympathy. No, more like affection. Something that I've never heard from any human. My foster father Bero loves me too, but this is different, disquieting, I don't understand it yet.
This is absolutely going to be weird then they snap out of it, isn't it?
I'm giving it two to one odds that they're in a coma and we have to lug them through Drinno like that.
Perhaps it's an empathic connection, and they're now deeply in love.
That's an implausible and unfounded leap of "logic," Drirr.
So far you don't have a good record on being right about "logical" things.
A bad image?
Not bad, but it is as though you're writing a poem. Our thoughts, let them flow together.
Then we are a river?
Aside from Tom's basically-never-mentioned girlfriend Christine(I wonder if the gold ring was a hint that he was about to propose to her), this is really the only romance the game has, slightly weird and awkward as it is. Lets hope the Iskai and Celts of Albion are accepting of interspecies romance.
Well, good thing I filled those buckets of water, otherwise we'd never have gotten any rest. Time to kick Drinno's ass and get off this island that seems to be all about dealing with horny people's problems.
Off-screen I also spent some time trying to level Mellthas slightly until I realized how damn long it was going to take, and brought Mellthas some spell scrolls for each of the Demon-vaporizing spell levels. Spell scrolls can be used for single casts(though I have no idea what level of training they go off at) or for learning spells while in the field if sufficient level is attained. I grab them for the latter purpose since it'll be a while before we get back to someone who can teach Mellthas druid spells again.
So. Drinno. If nothing else was a roadblock so far, this is probably where a lot of people had to give up. If you didn't bring a bunch of medicine and mana potions from Jirinaar, you'll be making regular and demoralizing trips back to Makaio for free healing, and if you didn't have Sira loaded up with Frost Avalanche before leaving Jirinaar, there are some encounters you'll absolutely just have to run away from.
It has a small intro level where you learn about pouring water on flames to put them out so you can get past.
Did Nemos ever explain why they didn't just send a squad of heavily armed warriors in here to bring Bero out?
Apparently the place has been taboo ever since they drove the Followers of Fire out. All the locals are too afraid to brave it.
Score, then everything down here is going to be mint condition.
As well as pressure plates. Generally unless you're 12 years old like I was the first time I tried playing this, and you've played videogames before, it should all more or less make perfect sense.
The main enemy on all levels of Drinno is Warniaks(at this point every battle will include at least one Warniak 2 or 3, sometimes to the exclusion of Warniak 1's entirely), which can also fuck you real good if you have neither a maxed-out Sira or a bunch of condition-curing items with you. As mentioned, Warniak 3's can inflict everything from Insanity that makes your characters attack random targets(including allies) through Illness that causes permanent stat loss if not treated quickly enough.
Since I'm well-prepared, however, nothing very interesting happens until I hit the "proper" dungeon levels of Drinno.
This is the first room that will hurt you. You've got 9 pressure plates you have to run over to open a door on the side, while a bunch of flames move around randomly, and you're trapped with something like a 45-degree FoV and no easy strafing. You'll almost certainly get burnt at least once, I sure did.
A couple of unlucky hits can burn the party to a crisp. For extra mockery, all the pressure plates open is a dead-end room with a chest containing nothing of real value.
We almost got incinerated for THIS?
For comparison with the previous dungeons, Drinno has about five levels of this complexity, including bunches of optional rooms and battles you don't have to get involved in, though often the obvious route onwards is obfuscated enough that even if you're not trying to be completionist, you'll likely bungle into most of them.
Not being idiots, the party won't jam their hands into flames to pull levers, so you have to extinguish these with buckets of water. The game is at least nice enough that while there are no buckets in Drinno past the very first level, there are plenty of fountains. So unless you're dumb enough to toss your buckets away, you won't be screwed, and many of the flame-related puzzles can be bypassed in some way or another if you're willing to suffer sufficiently by jamming someone's face into a trap, for instance.
On level 2, our very first room is this room and anyone watching the video will get to see me outright panicking here. Let me explain the "puzzle."
You've got this wall of green cubes with a space to the left, and an exit behind the cubes on the right. Every time you step on this pressure plate, it shifts the space one cube to the right. But also every time you step on the pressure plate, it releases another random-walk flame until there are a total of four in a small room with you, leaving you at the mercy of the RNG that guides their movement.
FOR GOD'S SAKE, RUN.
I refuse to believe that even magic druid viagra could be worth this trip.
The next room has two locked(unpickable) doors and a hole in the floor. You can just choose to drop down the hole, but if like me, you had Tom swipe some rope out of the very first room in the game, you can just lower yourself safely down and escape unharmed. Score.
This isn't level 3 proper, though, this is just a short trip down to find a key. The key is on our left, behind an unbreachable green barrier, the lever to lower the barrier is on the right behind three grates full of Warniaks. Also behind the green barrier, however...
...that's definitely not an animal. A machine of some sort? A hallucination? Are we going insane?
Oh no, Rainer, that's a demon, a creature of magic, fear embodied.
Three battles full of mulched bugs later, we get a chance to get a closer look at it.
I love the design of the Fear demons, personally. They're also not to be sneezed at in combat, they're generally fast, hard-hitting and...
They can cast the same Fear spells that Mellthas can. If not fully deflected, the affected party member starts running for the back line, giving you at most two turns until they're off the battlefield(unless hemmed in by other party members) during which you also can't give them any orders, so it's about the closest thing to an instakill ability that any enemy will drop on us. It's fitting that Rainer is the one who runs away.
Nope, no, nuh-uh, fuck this.
As a neat aside, while normal enemies will leave corpses behind on death, all demons go up in flame when killed, giving you an easy indicator of which enemies are demonic and which are mortal, so you know who not to waste Banish spells on.
The reward for that is the key to the two doors upstairs, one of them is just the way to some stairs that don't require a rope, in case you fell your way down, while the others lead onwards to another fun new thing we're going to be dealing with in Drinno.
Every so often there will be launchers that fire fireballs at regular intervals, but unlike the "walking" flames, they at least travel in a straight line. The main challenge is when they're positioned in such a way that the "safe" spot is between two launchers' paths, since it can be hard to be entirely sure of which square you're on.
Coincidentally exactly what this level offers us in the shooting gallery below the party's present position in the screenshot.
Another transparent section gives us a preview of our next type of demon, the Animal. Unlike the Fear, all the Animal does is brutally hard and fast attacks. Even the tier 1 incarnation can strip away half of Tom's health with a single whack.
All in all, though, level 2 isn't too dangerous or interesting besides the two new introduced types of enemies.
But then we get to level 3. See, we've had both transparent green and red walls so far, but now the game wants us to learn what they mean. Matched pressure plates, colour-wise, will drop them, and red walls generally hide pain while green walls generally hide progress or loot. Sometimes the red walls also have loot in them, but it's often trash or cursed items. Obviously from this point onwards I drop pretty much every wall I find since the red walls tend to hide enemies that can be stabbed for XP.
This room is an exception, though, I probably could have taken the monsters in here, but they're not guarding any loot and it would have really taken out a big chunk of my medical/mana supplies.
A slightly better view. The idea is that you have to step on all of the green plates without stepping on any of the red plates. As long as you take it slowly and carefully and realize that you can angle your view up and down, it'll make things a lot easier. If you don't realize the latter, you might be slightly screwed, however.
And then we reach a new colour of plate! Let's have a closer look.
How about we don't. It's in the middle of the room, we can just go around it. It's clearly intended to sucker in the curious.
For once, I'm with Rainer, there aren't any blue-coloured glass walls for it to pull down, so it probably does something unrelated to opening things.
Perhaps it opens the floor! Or the ceiling! Let's find out!
Surprisingly, the game actually doesn't hand you out any damage for that drop, but it does put you on level 4 with no immediate way back up. There is one relatively close by, but it's easy to miss, as it's a tiny button on the wall obscured by a gushing flame coming out of the floor. If you don't have any filled buckets you may also have to explore for a fountain to put out said flame before you can make use of that path, which you'll want to make use of, since the alternative is making Drirr mash his face into multiple trap barriers to disable them as punishment for fucking up.
These particular forcefields can be disabled later if you find the right items for it or, as mentioned, by mashing the party into them for considerable amounts of agony.
If you didn't find the secret path, you'd need to make a huge loop around to go back up one level, this time not letting Drirr's stupid ass step on the blue pressure plate, and then down one level again so you can get to the "real" part of level 4 that actually takes us onwards.
Said "real" part of level 4 greets us with this gallery where we have to dodge from safe niche to safe niche as fireballs sail down the middle. It's relatively easy, but I still manage to get winged by one about halfway through.
One use of the Luck stat is that sometimes party members may randomly not get affected by traps thanks to it. It's minor, but helpful at times if you're short on resources.
To progress, we have a locked door and three levers. Each lever opens a small niche that reveals an Animal 3 if opened. I believe the INTENDED solution is to yank all three levers as quick as possible and then move south. Instead I just open each of them in turn and kill the superpowered creature inside thanks to Sira freezing them to popsicles, harvesting fat loads of XP for my troubles.
They move faster than any party member, and hit hard enough to blow out Drirr or Tom with a single successful hit, and they have multiple attacks per turn. So if one starts its turn in attack range without being frozen, you're more or less guaranteed that someone is going down. Frost Avalanche is the only way to counter it, since otherwise they'd move out of blast radius of Frost Splinter or Frost Crystal before it hit. Either that or casting Demon Exodus on turn 1, but even after four levels of dungeon, Mellthas only reaches the necessary level to cast single-target anti-demon spells after killing two of these three super-demons.
Of course, just having learned it, it doesn't do much against the high-level demons, and the level 1's we already have well in hand.
An anti-demon ion cannon? That's fucking awesome. Good luck hitting the next one, Mellthas.
The necessary room to deal with on this level is in the lower left, it hides the items we need to disable the shock barriers.
But it's pretty suspicious. Red barriers left and right, hiding tons of enemies, and a green barrier right ahead, hiding the box full of items we need.
The chosen party leader is supposed to say the first part and then Drirr is supposed to comment, but nothing in the logic seems to check whether Drirr is already the party leader. He has a point, though, this really feels like a trap.
Because of course it is.
As soon as you step on the green plate, it spawns a line of red plates behind you. So you have plenty of time to grab the stuff out of the chest, but then the instant you turn to leave... the monsters can get out! Thankfully the party can move faster than they can.
And you can shut the door behind you, but...
...we left loot behind in there.
Tom, please, it's guarded by demons. Guys, please talk him out of it.
Tom, maybe there are things we don't need to collect.
Maybe there are things we don't need to fight.
I'm sorry, what was that? While you were all talking I opened the door.
The room contains multiple stacks of Animal 3's, Fear's and Warniaks. The Warniaks are just speedbumps, but if the Fear's decide to cast fear-causing spells rather than beating up on Tom and Drirr, they could be dangerous. The Animals are just plain dangerous, in one fight I got cocky and figured I'd save on mana since clearly this next round of melee would dumpster the Animal they were beating on...
But thankfully right at that point Mellthas had practiced his demon-banishing enough to contribute a lot.
Wait a moment, that was a demon.
And he banished it, but it went... up? Are we below Hell right now? I'm so confused.
It doesn't quite make the following fights a cakewalk, but it does simplify them somewhat.
But the reward is pretty worth it. A non-cursed magic weapon, tons of gold and a bunch of gems, not to mention all the magic training for Mellthas and all the general levelling up for the rest of the team.
At this point all that remains of the dungeon is hauling the blue sticks back to the electric barriers blocking the path onwards and disabling them, along the way making sure not to miss a reasonably well-hidden side path(there's a suspicious skippable electric field that hides one of the subtle wall buttons which will reveal the passage) leading to one of the game's best magic items.
With this, even the weakest of us can carry his weight in loot! Oh and I guess they'll also be protected from harm.
Oh thank God he's alive, we can get off this island. Fascinating as the Celts and their Druids are, this is a level of danger I'm not prepared for.
I think we've just about tapped this place out, too. Let's hope the Druids don't want any of the irreplaceable artifacts from Drinno back.
Thankfully finding Bero nets you a warp back to Arjano, so you don't have to backtrack through everything.
Mellthas, maybe we should tell him.
Tell me what? Is something going on?
...I see. Well, while I'm happy for the two of you, not everyone on Gratogel may feel the same. Mellthas, I think you should stay with your capable companions for a while. If they managed to get you safely through Drinno, they must be both capable and of strong moral fiber, Drinno has many temptations for the greedy!
Neither of you have anything to say?
If Rainer tattles on me he goes on the front lines, if Drirr tattles on me he goes off the front lines.
Yes, I deeply regret having put Mellthas and his new companions in danger because of my foolishness. I'd like to thank them all again.
Thank us by giving us a magic amulet for Tharnos so we can get off this island.
Oh yes, you mentioned that on the way up...
Thank God that's over.
I thought it was an invigorating experience. Much more straightforward than dealing with crime and motives, I simply hit what Tom tells me to until it stops moving.
See? Drirr appreciates me.
I look forward to seeing Maini, I've never been there before.
Ah yes, Maini has both human and Iskai residents, mostly they get along well.
We have your amulet, Tharnos. Now give us the writ so we can get out of here.
Be calm! I'm writing it now, you're making a fine deal, just for this little errand.
Dude, we've been away for almost two weeks, and we're back wielding magic weapons and wearing magic bling, also Sira had to stitch Drirr's head back together after a demon flattened it with one hand. Did you think we just sauntered over to Arjano and got the damn thing for you? Hand over the writ before this gets ugly.
Ship. Maini. Now.
I'm just going to say this is magic now. Because it still doesn't make any sense.
And we're finally out of the sticks.
I admit, it'll be nice to be back somewhere they know what a bath is, and where the houses aren't made of living plants.
On Maini, the party can finally collect its sixth party member, and we actually get a choice of who to recruit, too! It can be either:
Her motivation is that she likes to fight, and would like to fight more things. She exists to be a big chunk of meat wall and will just generally dumpster pretty much anything that gets close to her by being the beefiest party member available, even if she's not quite as fast as Drirr. Is the closest thing the game has to an entirely optional side character as she's thoroughly unconnected to the story. Also looks kind of badass.
A goony-looking motherfucker who's a wizard that literally lives in someone's basement and used to be a member of a suspicious cult. His motivation is that he'd like to see the Toronto because it sounds interesting. His magic is almost exclusively raw blowing shit up. Is actually related to the storyline.
I'll take votes on who to recruit if anyone has a preference.
Next up: Tom gets to solve another mystery and hit things with a sword.