Part 7: Enemy At The GatesEnemy at the Gates
Continuing right from where we left off.
: He turned the handle on the winch, slid something between the gates, opened 'em up and off he went. All by himself! And here I thought he was a good-for-nothin' milksop. Surely, you know him? Short beard, always smilin', shop near the town hall? Doesn't shy away from drinkin' either!
: Rask?! So, he managed to get out of town... Is the gate still open then?
: No. The townsfolk were already goin' berserk. Some of the guards went after this Rask fellow by the way. Then the gate slammed shut, no one was holdin' it open.
: So it's possible to open the gate after all. Krieger, gather everyone, let's go! We're leaving town.
: Tenner decided to stay, so we're all ready now. Sopp, open the gate! Everyone, behind me and Krieger! Onward!
Tenner deciding to stay is technically true. We just didn't give him a chance to change his mind.
The incessant tolling of the bell makes you squirm as you examine the gate. There is some kind of glowing sigil on it. The square is filled with abandoned carts, baskets, crates, and corpses. There is no way you can ride through. You have to make a decision.
Oh boy, another dialog menu. Down the line, in order.
: How come these madmen don't scatter?
: Maybe they serve the Reaper now and are bound to its will?
: Ancient manuscripts make no mention of it.
: However, it's said that the Reaping is different each time. The Reaper could've thought up some new trick. Rask mentioned something like this too.
: You discussed the Reaping with Rask?
: Sometimes. You don't know anything of history if you don't know the Reapings. They drive it, even though there have only been two.
: Who knew it would come back?
Amma, for one.
: Alright, since there's no other explanation, we'll go with this.
: Why did the monster seal the gate?
: Those Reapers are like children. Very cruel children. Pitting people against each other, just to see what happens. Like playthings. It's what Father said.
: Is your father a Temple servant by any chance?
: A royal scribe. But I didn't want to be a scribe, I wanted to become a warrior. So I fled from the capital.
Buddy, you can read and write three languages in a society where most people aren't literate. If that's not the mark of a scribe I don't know what is.
: Consider your wish granted. I'd hoped it had lost its charm. It soon will, in any case.
: Shall we try breaking through?
: (Taken aback) What do you mean, "break through"? Are you out of your damned mind, Thorn? I know those lads-every single one of 'em. See the red-haired one? You know him too! He was a boy when he came to me, what, fifteen years ago? He wanted to become a guardsmen. And he did!
: (Quietly horrified) Well, I'm not quite myself when I drink either. Should I be killed for it? How do you know this can't be undone? Do what you will, Captain, but I won't lead an attack on my own men.
: (Firmly) You see the corpses at their feet? Those are our lads... Damn it. I'll give the order.
I've been pointing out through these last two updates that Krieger is in over his head and isn't doing a good job of leading his men, and this is why. Krieger knew somewhere deep down that they were going to have to fight the local militia to escape the town and didn't want to be responsible for giving the order to kill his own men. Thorn (for reasons we can debate) is able to see past that and give the order to kill the guardsmen because they're insane. Krieger's loyalty is going up because now he can rationalize away having to kill the madmen as just following orders and also because he doesn't need to shoulder the burden of leadership when nobody has any fucking idea what the hell to do.
: Why split? There's strength in numbers.
Because the game has an arbitrary 6 combatant party limit, that's why.
: And what if more madmen turn up? I'm not here to win a fight. I just want us to get out of this alive!
: How do we open the gate? It's sealed by the sign!
: If Rask managed, then so can we. On your guard! You there, follow me... the rest-to the gate!
Time to battle! Or rather, let's talk about all these new characters we picked up. What do they do? Are any of them any good?
; These guys are identical and have the same class, Warrior. They get 52(!) hp to start, an autoattack that raises their attack stat, a health-eating attack that pushes people back and stuns them, a free action counterattack stance, and free action damage reduction. I am still not sure what stuns do in this game, but they have a lot of HP and are best used to bait out the enemy. They can't actually block people from getting to the back line, what do you think this is, Tactics Ogre?
EDIT: Nick Buntline is a hero for our times.
Nick Buntline posted:
Stunning! Had to find that out through trial and error, since yeah it does not in fact appear to be mentioned anywhere in the game itself, but if an enemy unit has not yet gone during their round, stunning will remove their turn and prevent them from going (until everyone on the enemy side goes and the next round starts, of course). If they've already gone this round, then it does nothing. Still, can be very useful if you want to lock a specific unit down and can finagle the turn orders to do so..
: Hode is an Assassin. You guys might be freaking out and going "oh shit, a usually evil class, is he going to betray us?" No. You might think he has stealth, backstabbing, or poison abilities. You would be completely wrong. He has a health drain ranged attack, a melee move that blows off 14 of his 20 health to do 28 damage to an enemy, a free action defense/energy buff, a free action buff that makes him only take energy damage, and a move speed buff. He's not a terrible unit per se, but having to close to use his super move kinda sucks. You can buff up his health by having him snipe for a few turns.
: Fisk is a Spearman. He has a whopping 12 attack compared to Thorn and Hode's 7, or everyone else's 6. He compensates for this by being a glass cannon who has to close to melee and relies on blowing off his own health to do damage. His heavy move deals 12 damage to himself - bringing him down to 9 hit points - to push people back 2 squares and deal 24 damage. If there is another enemy nearby you are basically trading Fisk to do this, in a game where going down in combat dishes out semipermanent injuries. More on this later.
: These guys are Archers. They have a melee attack you will never use, a basic ranged attack, a Dead Shot which blows off 12 of their 26 health to deal 15 damage to a target, and a shot which reduces enemy attack power and deals a bunch of energy damage for 14 of their 22 energy. What immediately makes this more tolerable is that these are all ranged attacks in a game where most of your enemies are melee. You're not flirting with instant death in a way that violates workplace sexual harassment guidelines, so go nuts with these guys!
The corollary is that if the enemy is fielding their own archers, or a certain enemy mage unit these guys are hilariously fucked. (I am going to have a lot of words to say about that mage).
Anyway despite my rant about only using the protagonists, we're bringing a full crew. Thorn doesn't have the same solo power the other guys do, and he needs both to level up a bit and 1 support unit we don't have to make him good.
Krieger goes up to bait out the enemy. Perhaps you could even call him a master.
The sigil on the door. As you can see, I did something very stupid with Fisk. Also note the little door in the gate. There's no sigil on that! Just open the fucking door!
Thorn tanks for our heroes.
Hode assassinates a dude.
Fisk takes one for the team. Now, I could reload the battle and save him, but I wanted to show off the injury system and totally didn't fuck this up.
After a brief scuffle, Hode decides he's as sick of as I am and ends the battle with his super move.
Krieger kicks the sealed gate in anger. "Shit! That damned Rask made it through somehow. Think! What can we do?"
You pull the silver trinket from the bag and toss it to Krieger. He shrugs and slides it across the gap. The Reaper's sigil fades away and the gate creaks open.
Krieger laughs hysterically. "I'll be damned! Silver! The silver worked! Turn the winch, NOW!"
You and your company rush out into the open. As soon as you close the gates behind you, the Reaper's sigil seals them with a hiss. Soon ehough, fists begin to pound at the other side. The bell still tolls over Albius.
You look at your companions. "I must save my daughter... and you, since you've decided to join me-at least those who've still decided to carry on. We'll try to make it to the nearest menhir. It might help. Onward!"
Yup, the world map has its own set of mechanics. We'll cover those in full next update.
Krieger scratches his head. "I can believe that. I saw him open the sealed gate. He definitely knows something. We can still catch up with him, but this road doesn't take you straight to the menhir. Rask's got a head start, but his horse is no prize. We can go after him, but we'll lose an entire day, if not more.
You start having doubts. "And we may lose him, he's still got those nutty guards on his tail. They could have finished him off already... I have to make a decision now."
Welcome to the world map! We are in the town of Albius with the little circular icon, and our destination is the Dynford Menhir in the upper center.
Which way do we want to go? Also, some more decisions.
How do we feel about robbing merchants?
How aggressive should we be to randos?
The game does not tell us this, but we are on a timer.