Part 24: Hopper Rouley and the Quest for HolesHopper Rouley and the Quest for Holes
The thread overwhelmingly voted that Hopper likes holes.
: Ake is clearly worried. "Be careful, Hopper! Forget the hollow! Mark my words, there's a godawful snake in there! There are no tree-snakes in Berkana, of course... but it could be vermin from the Madwood! Screw it. Let's go!"
Write your own jokes about snakes in holes! Include Amma for bonus points!
I elect to leave, because snakes will fuck you up bad.
The alternative was to reveal that it was a magic snake and eat some curse power. We, uh, don't want that.
We get another curse prompt along the way, and I give in this time.
We keep trekking and get another event.
But what if she's really hot and wants you to mess with her hole?
I'm applying the last vote and checking that hole myself.
: You approach the tree, lean on a thick bough and stick your hand into the hole. Your fingers touch fresh earth. You grab a handful and show it to Ake.
: Ake frowns. "What's this? A cache of dirt? Either it's very special dirt, or it's no cache. Why the blazes did you stick your hand in there in the first place? Are you going to check every tree hole along the way? If so, it'll be slow going."
That gets us a skill point, and uh - that's it. No new instructions or buried treasure or anything. If you were expecting coherence, why are you still reading Ash of Gods?
I take the closest road to Ursus to get our plot on.
: Ake grips his sword tightly. "Hey booklover! We should help the boys deal with the abominations! You just stay here, away from the sharp blades!"
We have 5 skill points to put into Hopper. He doesn't gain levels based on XP, he gets skill points for eating curse strength and solving riddles.
We get to unlock his health-drain attack and his passive that gives him two attack when he kills any enemy.
Then he opens the first round of battle circular hitting these two bozos to death, getting a whopping +4 attack in the process. I'm not sure if the devs thought fighting 1 v World was supposed to be harder than getting an entire team of morons, but they buffed Hopper to compensate. Yea, he's an ancient immortal being or whatever, but these battles are a complete waste of time.
I will point this out. In Banner Saga you'd be totally fucked because you have no health. See that attack score though? it's 25 out of a starting 15. We end that battle one-shotting that bozo and not caring about the attrition mechanics. After killing those guys we get thrust into a dialog.
: Can't do that, Ake. Besides, why do you need to reanimate the dead, anyway? They're already in the hands of the gods. It's the living we should be looking after.
Because necromancers are usually one of the more powerful builds in fantasy games? Off the top of my head, 3e, 4e, and 5e D&D can all be busted wide open by various necromancer builds. They're also my favorite character class in RPGs, and I will almost never not be found in some RPG casting dark magic backed by a horde of skeletons.
Yea, remember when I said even Hopper was scared of our man Lo Pheng? I hope our main man comes back soon...
: There were Enses in town? Has the Reaping gotten Ursus too?
: If messengers are to be believed, it's the same mayhem as in Albius. Not sure if it's the Reaping, but many are getting sores on their necks, and the bell hasn't stopped ringing for days. No Reapers here, but those white-masked abominations are popping up like mushrooms.
: Judging by the flags, the king is in town. Why not in the capital, though?
: They say war is coming to the western border. And which Berkanan kingdom will be the first one plunged into the mess? That's right, Jerana. Gebona's trouble is business as usual, anyway. Besides, the king's old now and his health is declining. His son, on other hand[sic] is young and healthy. His Highness is stationed in Ursus, by the way.
: This is hardly a big city, but it has more resources than Albius, and thrice the population. We even have a royal palace here. Just you wait 'till Prince Treeg comes back-then it'll all be like it was.
: Have you, perchance, seen Prince Ho?
: Thank the gods, we found him at Unda the healer's house-he's suffering a wound from an abomination's dagger. Everyone there was thrown into the dungeon, including Thorn Brenin. That didn't make the prince feel much better, though.
: At least he's alive. It seems His Majesty employs exceptional healers.
Remember these guys? They contribute!
: You said Thorn Brenin is in the dungeon? And what of his daughter?
: Of course he's in the dungeon. Brann Vichti, Thorn's brother-in-law, made sure of that. The girl's vanished, though. Her uncle turned the whole town upside-down, to no avail. I see you know Brenin, since you were talking about his daughter.
: Maybe you don't care, but I need to get to the dungeon and talk with Thorn Brenin. Right now!
: What say you, Sheck? The booklover wouldn't ask that without reason. Give us a short meeting. I can attend so you don't feel pressured. Besides, he defeated the abominations that were ready to tear into your guards.
This LP brought to you by Burger King.
TheGreatEvilKing summarizes posted:
Hopper stab good. Hode sick. Thorn in jail. Enses bad. Time to visit Thorn.
We get another skill point and a chance to read more dialog from our party members. You know those three guys who are following us? Well we can have a chat with them for more delicious exposition! I kinda feel compelled to apologize for this update because not a lot happens, and I'm running out of jokes besides "ha ha look at all these fucking words".
: Don't get so cross, scribe. Everyone does their duty as best they can, using their best judgement. It's not like you wanted Coronzon to back you into a corner in Town Hall.
: (Surprised) And where'd you hear that? It seemed to me like no one but Coronzon was at the town hall or the shop with me.
: (Frowning) Did the prince hear that as well?
: (Squinting) I see now. I'll tell you this though, Mushom. As you can clearly see, I'm no hag, and I obviously have no idea what that prince of yours saw in his dreams. If I happen to stumble upon someone like that, I'll tell you.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Why are you staring at me? I'm not gay dude.
: I know about you and Coronzon. Specifically that he pushed you into the bell tower. He mentioned some shit offscreen and I told the prince, who thinks you're that wacky hag poisoning his dreams.
: I'm a wizard baron swordsman not a witch sir.
I'm out of stuff to say, but I mentioned somewhere in the thread that Fire Emblem: Three Houses does pretty much everything this game tries to do but better.
It has a cast about the same size of this game, but the character writing is extremely good and lots of time and care is given to all the characters in their support conversations.
Can you all tell me one thing about Stein? Where did we meet him? Why is he with us? Why do you care?
I don't think we needed all three of these guys for Hopper to bounce off of. I believe Bijou (one of the developers) is on record as saying that the writer inserted these guys to help characterize Hopper - but Hopper is going through all kinds of towns and villages and talking to people.
This here is supposed to be a major character moment for Stein - that he feels bad about being mindcontrolled into killing his friends - but I just don't care because up to this point he's been Pointless Guy #2 in cutscenes.
Oh look, the bell again. We've already had exposition on this from a few different characters.
I may do another post on this game vs Three Houses as a fair amount of the themes are similar and the choices in that game matter a fair deal. On the other hand, major Three Houses spoilers.
We'll see if anyone's interested.
Oh look, he's just like Krieger.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: I got mindcontrolled by the Reaping and tried to kill my friends and it makes me really sad and I'm scared I might become a scary murderer man.
: (Fumbling about) I still don't get why the Cardinal carried you in his arms. You may have undone the sorcery and be quite deft at swinging that sword of yours-but so what? Why would the Cardinal care?
For being "the dumb guy" Ake sure gets to the actual questions of "what the fuck is going on" quite succinctly. There's actually some important info in here that I'm going to put together quite a while before most people playing this game will.
: (Grinning) What if I tell you I'm a great scholar? An expert on ancient manuscripts? An interpreter and translator? I'm a rare breed, my friend. Do you think the Cardinal would rather rummage through hundreds of manuscripts, or just ask me for the answer?
Honestly, just having Ake travel with Hopper would be enough. Ake is there to ask questions for the audience's benefit, the other two are rather meh. He's still not very interesting, but eh.
: By the way, Ake, you do know that the Temple looks down on such talk, don't you?
...you know, despite the Temple having laws, we haven't met one character in this game who actually shows anything like piety. Vai is a monk, but there's nothing in his demeanor or manner to show that he actually believes this stuff as opposed to just studying magic and taking the habit as a means to get sweet healing powers. It would be extremely interesting if the religion was something they all just paid lip service to and everyone knew about it but no one dared acknowledge it, but that is not in the game.
: Do you want to know more about the monster from Albius?
I literally fired up the game again because I thought I'd missed a screenshot here.
: (Shrugging) There's nothing about our current Reaping in any of the records yet. It makes sense that it was a Reaper-although that's just what people call them. They consider themselves harbingers... messengers of the gods. There are records of some of them, but I cannot tell you anything about the one in Albius, I've not seen it.
This we knew already. If you go back to the prequel with Amma they talk about how the Reapers are also Umbra, and they served the gods. I'll stop pussyfooting around this, Hopper, Amma, the Reapers, and the rest are all the "angels" mentioned in the OP.
: That was Dorpkhal, one of the most powerful Reapers. His weapon is the biggest clue. The hidden chronicles call him the Butcher of Berkana, or the Scourge of Berkana, or... well, he's got many names. Quite a bit of carnage he's dealt through the centuries. A ruthless and cunning beast, that one.
: I don't quite understand. Why would a monster that powerful even need to be cunning? That's a weapon of the weak... unless he's not the only one. Do the chronicles say something else? Don't fret. I'll not tell the Temple about this.
Because Lo Pheng will kick his ass if he's not. Anyway...
: Interested in the reasons behind the war with Frisia?
: That's exactly right! Prince Treeg sent more patrols westward the moment he heard the Reaping was coming! We've never been friends with Frisia, obviously, but why are they at our throats in Reaptime? Are the gods not bestowing their due share of misfortune?
: Well, maybe they've got their own way of life. Who knows? Maybe the Temple rules their lands, while our monarchs try to maintain law and order. Still, Berkana doesn't attack Frisia in Reaptime!
: (Shrugging) So that's how it is, eh? Berkana played dirty with Frisia and now expects payback during every Reaping? And why tell me of the Frisian ways?
We know Hopper's wrong because we saw that the Frisian armies are taking direct orders from Atraakh. Is he being deceptive? Hell if I know.
: Do you want to know why Trobbel had to die?
Who gives a fuck? He had one conversation with Thorn before Dorpkhal killed him.
That is not the cutscene I saw.
The beginning of the game posted:
: (Pondering) Do you know why they need the Reaping? Because they find nourishment in death, torture, and pain. More precisely, those things power the sacred stones, imbuing them with their healing properties. Now tell me-is it any better to be killed by a friend than an enemy?
: What are you even saying? An enemy, of course! Let's see him try to kill me! A friend who plots against you is no friend at all, wouldn't you say? Much more infuriating than those who present themselves as enemies from the start!
: That's how it is. Your hatred, your tears-despite your best attempts to hide them-are just food for the sacred stones. So... If Trobbel became that Reaper's servant and began to slaughter the townsfolk-the Reaper would find it quite amusing and satisfying!
Man is this plotline lame. The Reapers are supposed to represent Satanic evil I guess, but Milton's Satan is far more interesting than these guys. Their whole MO is to murder and steal to power healing stones for some as-of-yet unrevealed nefarious purpose, but the game's writing is just unable to stick the landing. Satan is evil because of his pride and desire for power. These guys are simultaneously both the cruel whims of an uncaring universe AND working for some greater scheme to do something which is somehow going to be worse than unleashing a genocidal plague to turn neighbor against neighbor. If we're being generous it's a satire of utilitarianism, but no one has said anything about "the greater good" yet so who knows. It's one of those really shoddy constructions beloved by genre authors to contrive a motivation for people to be evil instead of actually studying humans and coming up with a coherent motivation.
Just wait till we get to what's motivating the Enses.
How was this supposed to work anyway? Trobbel's old. Was he supposed to order Krieger and co to massacre the villagers? They had to be dragged into fighting their friends by Thorn and were showing obvious hesitation even when confronted with irrefutable evidence their friends were insane.
: I suppose that's enough for now.
: Ake, this is a pandemonium I want no part in. Not in the way I appear in your eyes, at least.
God damn is this phrasing awkward. I think he's trying to say that this is not a can of worms he wants to open, but yeesh.
: I've heard this Reaping's the last one. Is that true?
: Think-what would it take to make this the last battle?
Ok, last update I confess to dropping a bit of "wink wink nudge nudge" plot bullshit. We've heard this language before.
Remember Chila? posted:
Ok, yea, gold eyes, doesn't do the bidding of others, probably meaningle-
More Chila! posted:
: (Lowering his voice) She's no old crone, Hopper. Half the village is old women. I know all about them. Chila doesn't walk, talk...or even smell like one. The way she moves... it'd be the envy of any young lass. That is why I do not think she's human.
Huh, so she's like Coronzo-
We wasted 10 strixes on this fucking thing posted:
I'm gonna leave this here, but right now we know she doesn't want to deal with Hopper and wants everyone to go to Opacum. Why? We don't know yet. Have fun speculating!
Ugh, Thorn is escaping his own storyline now. Oh well, it's not like anything was happening in this one anyway.
These guys have been chasing Thorn all game.
: So he hired me to locate his son-known to the Albius company as Hode. I was also instructed to find you, Thorn Brenin, and hand you over to the closest Berkanan military governor. I could not refuse.
So...Jerana rules all Berkana? I thought that there was at least Odalah in there. I don't understand this game's politics at all. If Thorn is a national hero, would the Odalans really hand him over just like that? Did I put more thought into this than the game's writers?
: Perhaps he's not yet done for? I've saved many lives that others felt were beyond saving. Why so quiet, Ake? Will you help me get into the palace?
Audience participation! Can YOU find the grammar errors?
I admit to laughing at the top line. Also, we're Thorn again.
: Aren't you a little old to be chasing girls, Hopper?
: Am I supposed to laugh? You and your daughter both managed to stand your ground against a Reaper in Albius. You can understand why that would pique my curiosity. I'm trying to learn what causes the Reaping and how to stop it.
: (Cautiously) Any Temple servant can tell you of the Reaping's causes, but stopping it is beyond anyone, save the gods. You seem too frail to best even me, let alone Ake-or a Reaper.
: I am no god. Even an ordinary soldier, in the right place, can rebuke an entire army.
: Are you saying my daughter is this "right place"? Or is she a weapon for you to defend yourself with? Even if Ake's right about you, why should I entrust you with my child's fate?
: Has Brann Vichti sent you?
: Brann Vichti? Son of Stakhet Vichti? So, your brother-in-law, then? Why does he have it out for you? When it comes to relatives, it's usually about an inheritance, or a personal grudge....
I gotta give it to Hopper he's an excellent cold reader.
: Guess you'll have to take my word for it. I know nothing of Brann Vichti. Never seen him. We've never spoken.
: Perhaps you need to talk to my dead wife too?
: I share your grievances, Thorn, but no one's going to survive this Reaping unscathed. That's how it always has been and always will be, unless the Reapings are stopped for good. I take it your son and daughter still live. At least you have someone to pray for.
This is literally the third Reaping ever. The last one was 700 years ago.
This game wants to explore this theme, but we could go read Nietzsche instead. Or hell, any ancient myths where everyone knew the gods were dicks but you kept your mouth shut so Zeus didn't zap your dick with lightning. You know what's a really good struggle with this? Elie Wiesel's Night, where the author abandons his faith in God after surviving the Holocaust and concluding that no God worth worshipping could allow it. Unfortunately, the only interaction we're going to get here is literally just Thorn ranting about it.
Of course, Hopper used to answer to the gods but manages to compare a genocidal plague and the death of Thorn's wife to a random idiot yelling "fuck." Real compelling argument there, buddy.
It's especially weird when we go back to the point that nobody believes in the gods. There was an old religion of Terminum, now banned, with a Christ figure who returned three times, but as far as I can tell the modern Temple is a bunch of sorcerers -with healing magic because D&D - who take orders from a Reaper in Frisia and an Umbra in Berkana, neither of whom mention the gods at all. The only Umbra talking about the gods is Amma talking about her old bosses. I think Vai talks about the Reaping being punishment for sins or something (a very Christian concept) but that usually comes with "if you follow these laws you don't get smote".
: Come to your senses! These walls I cannot bring down. Besides, Ake can hear us. The only reason he's not voicing his outrage is that he's so mad he can't even speak. I'd rather know how you managed to stand your ground against a Reaper. Did your daughter help in any way?
: All right, I'll tell you. Yes, Gleda helped me keep it together-I couldn't bear the shame of breaking down in her presence. There could've been other factors. I'm no sorcerer. It reminded me of a similar feeling from many years ago... back when I saved my father-in-law from the clutches of the Veil.
The what now?
: I had to save my father-in-law. The loss may have been too much for my wife-her heart was already quite weak. So, off I went. Then, something happened to me there. And maybe it was passed to my daughter. Still, I wouldn't have survived if not for my mentor. Drewer died, but he helped me escape.
Thorn Brenin literally has magic jizz. The game talks about it later, but yes - passing through the magic bullshit thing at the edge of the world gave him magic jizz that made Gleda special and that's why all the magic people want her in a hopefully nonsexual way.
Decisions lie before us!
What are we gonna have Hopper do?