Part 14: Hopper Rouley and the Party Members Who Don't Do AnythingHopper Rouley and the Party Members Who Don't Do Anything
When we last left Hopper, he was making a critical decision whether to enable Henry VIII's constant remarrying to preserve England from civil war - oh, no, he was just resolving a dispute between two unbelievably petty assholes. Carry on.
: The Temple is above any crown...
: (Outraged) An overgrown stalk can always be trimmed, Coronzon. Even one growing in a Temple. If anything happens to Ho, Thorn's head will roll. And if you object, you'll lose yours too!
: (Smiling mockingly) Really? Maybe you'll cobble together a scaffold together yourself? And find an executioner too? Do you even have a herald? What will he cry about? How Odalah shows no respect for the crown of Jerana?
As much of an asshole as Coronzon is, he's completely right here. I assume Jerana and Odalah are fairly close, but I can't imagine the crown prince showing up with armed men is a fairly popular act. Remember, Mushom was at the gates of the town - I doubt this is just a small bodyguard detachment.
: (Calming down) Glad to hear that. The gods were on the Cardinal's side today, let's leave it at that. Bow to the scribe, Coronzon. He soothed my anger. But don't you dare talk back to the crown prince. As for you scribe...You should greet your future companions.
Jesus Christ, what an asshole.
We get one option, and that's to leave town.
Holy shit! I've complained about the stage directions before, but how fucking stupid do they think their playerbase is? Also, Hopper's a narrator now? I don't remember him muttering little soliloquies like he made a mad dash out of Elizabethan theater.
There's a lot wrong with this particular set of words and image, I don't know where to begin. First, the stage directions are completely redundant with the spoken text. "Had the lecture on our goals and reasons" is just clunky and sounds like a bad satire of either a public school teacher disciplining a kid or a corporate bureaucrat explaining the new buzzwords that they hope will let them see a titty in real life. The most grievous sin, however, is that the two guys with their backs to us are Mushom and Ake, the people we literally just fucking met and traded names with.
See that guy? He looks nothing like the two dudes we met, and is dressed completely differently. You could have just had a scene with his back to the camera, Hopper facing us, and maybe something like this.
Dialogue The Great Evil King Wrote Himself posted:
: You're a new face. I'm sure Prince Treeg told you what we're here to do, but I'd like an introduction please.
See that? The dialogue explains why Hopper is there and what he plans to do without using valuable screen space on stage directions and other stupid shit. Ash of Gods devs, you might want to have a talk with your editor.
: (Smiling) Fancy meeting you here. The prince entrusts you with priority assignments I see. Guarding the gate, spying on scribes...
There's one reason I can think of why they didn't do this, and I'm not going to spoiler tag it because it's a route not taken. If we'd taken the other route at the tower, we would have run into the Albius guard watchtower where Stein was standing guard. After we left, Krieger would have suggested going back to murder him and we could have presumably deleted him from this scene. It's still incredibly clunky.
"don you not". There have been a lot of typos in this script so far, but this really stands out. Remember, these guys have gone through a TON of editors by now, and I don't think they're getting their money's worth.
: Mushom, don you not have anything better to do?
: You're my business now, Hopper. I'd much rather spend quality time with a young damsel from Albius, but the king's will is the king's will. You're wasting your time, scribe. I'd rather find out where to look for prince Ho.
: I'm certainly considering it, no doubt. There aren't that many roads in the world. You're still young, we've plenty of time to travel them all.
One of the other things that's really hurt by the stage directions are that their absence makes the text drier and suggests the reader take every sentence without a stage direction as a literal statement. In any other game, you could read Hopper here as cracking a joke. Here, because every emotion is telegraphed by (I AM FEELING SAD NOW) I can't tell if Hopper is supposed to be serious or not.
: If we don't find Ho, we'd best not to come back here.
: You look as if you don't approve, Stein.
: You are indeed a man of duty, following orders you disapprove of. For the time being, all you have to do is point Thorn out to me when we catch up to him.
: Many noble souls have ascended the scaffold, but very few have returned.
: Must you always escort me, Ake?
: (Squinting) Laugh all you want. I'm keeping my eye on you. I'm quite capable of handling a dozen Gells all by myself, but taking down the town hall is another thing. And don't you dare hex me, or I'll beat the living daylights out of you!
: (Shrugging)I am no sorcerer, Ake. The town hall was already falling apart. I just sneezed a little too hard. But thanks for the warning.
: You sneezed so hard that the Cardinal himself waded through the rubble to get you out? That's some achievement right there.
: Chance rules the world, Ake. That, and strong fellows like yourself. If you're lucky.
: We'll have plenty of time to talk on the way. Let's make it through that gate first.
: Good. It's time to go. We will get to know each other on the way. Don't get frightened if anything else crumbles like the town hall.
: Not so fast, scribe. His Highness asked me to give you this captain's insignia. Why a vagabond would need it is beyond me, but it is the prince's wish. He's also granted you travel documents with his personal seal. It'll make the journey easier.
Remember, captain's insignias have strixes. Ironically enough, Hopper is the only protagonist who doesn't need them.
He's literally giving you the stuff you need to do that job.
: Let's talk in private for a moment. We've a long road ahead, and I need to tell you something. They say the Cardinal blessed you, so you're not just some filthy sorcerer, right? So you won't make fun of me...
We get thrown into a private conversation with Ake.
: (Looking around) Thing is...Whatever hag appeared to our prince in his dream, I saw a pretty girl- the one that Padagang thought he'd glimpsed. Only i never mentioned her to anybody.
This is the game beating us with the hag-girl connection I outlined earlier.
: Why didn't you? Did you pity the girl, or was it something else? And how do you know it was the same girl? There are many pretty women in Berkana. More than anywhere else in the world if you ask me.
: They make your blood race, not curdle. I nearly shat my britches when she came to my tent. The way she stared at me! And then, when she vanished into thin air, I decided that it'd be best to keep silent... Y'know, for appearance's sake.
This is the first time we've seen anyone express fear of the girl. Gleda just expressed a mild wonder, Coronzon a vague familiarity, Treeg the respect accorded to a wise mystic. Given the curse she hit Hopper with, she might not be on the level.
: Why did you bring her up, then?
: Nonsense or not, thank you for telling me. I'll rack my brain for a way to save the prince and solve these riddles. Let's go. Your ruler can't wait to see us leave.
: Gods know where these "parts of wisdom" might be. This "guiding one" is also a mystery. It seems there's a long road ahead-no time for leisurely traveling to the far ends of Terminum. The Reaping, the prince, Thorn and his daughter, all of them are bound together. One can only pray there will be no need to sever this tie.
Decisions lie before us
TWO votes this time! The first vote is, which way do we go? Remember, we have riddles to follow.
Follow the guiding one. Collect the seven parts of wisdom. Read and be saved
The signs should be found in burnt-out coals, ruins, or a place where there's no water
Or we can say fuck it and not listen to strange witches.
The other vote concerns the curse. We do not track strixes as hopper. Instead, every few days we get a pop-up telling us we can resist the curse, which will raise the game's difficulty, or give into the curse, which will lower Blance's stats but not raise the game's difficulty. There are a few more things to note:
-The game's difficulty isn't an arbitrary setting, it raises the power of the Reaping in the upper right corner. This doesn't just make combat harder, but (according to the devs) makes random encounters more likely to fuck us over.
-We can immediately lower the difficulty after resisting the curse. This does not, however, prevent it from having an effect on the ending.
I need a strategy - do we always give in? Always resist? Give in until the curse hits a threshold?
Choose wisely, goons!
Edit: Place descriptions
When you click on a place on the map the game gives you a short description, something I completely ignored in my playthrough but might be helpful here;
Gebonan Watchtower: A remnant of Gebona's former glory. A decrepit fortification on the Berkanan road, garrisoned by the Jeranan border guard.
Watchtower: A modest fortification that houses Albius patrols and toll collectors
Dead Spring: An ancient spring with stone slabs complete with a water trough. Dried out many years ago.
Serpent Creek: A green glade encircled by mountain pines, infamous for its abundance of venomous snakes. A narrow creek flowing through it disappears into the rocky hillside
Free-miner's hut: A crooked hut where a crazed free-miner has lived for twenty years, trying to find gold in the spring water of the Mannaz.
Burnt mill: Testimony to the stubborn miller failing to construct his mill on cursed ground. Only after the third mill was struck by lightning did he give up the idea.
Abandoned Camp: A tiny mountain glen traversed by the forsaken road and dotted with black fire-pits and the remnants of burnt-down structures.
Dynford Village and the menhir we've seen.