Part 30: Thorn Brenin and the Problem That He's A Fucking DumbassThorn Brenin and the Problem That He's A Fucking Dumbass
When we last left our heroes, they had to go cross the Ashen Wasteland to save Thorn's son from being eaten by the rare Medieval European cannibals.
: You travel half a league before reaching an intersection-and are ambushed by white-masked cutthroats. It's clear that the enemy does not desire a peaceful resolution. With nowhere to run, a fight is inevitable.
This is the game's way of telling us we can't order Skoor to fight. However, Skoor has the same abilities as Vai, so it doesn't really matter. If you miss Vai he's your only cleric in Thorn's party, but we didn't this time, so
Anyway, let's discuss our newest ACTUAL party member.
: He's like Kendi. Same class and everything. I think we get...one new unit from here and the end of the game with new abilities? Creativity is hard, so the Ash of Gods developers avoided it as much as possible.
This fight has a little extra bit of special, Ash of Gods style bullshit for us. See that asshole in the lower left of the enemy formation, with the grey cloak?
Fuck this asshole. That Pillar of Ash attack can hit pretty much anywhere on the map, and it takes no resources that he can't just burn a turn to recharge. Sure, he can only attack every other turn, but this fucker is a 100% better character than...anyone not named Lo Pheng, to be honest. Shit, if we got him as a PC we could just field him by himself and use him to auto-win all fights forever with the craptasticalness of the turn system. Yea, he only moves 1 square per turn, but when you can blast your opponents from across the entire map for free who gives a fuck?
Oh, he also gains energy whenever cards are used. Most of the Enses have this passive, and will also use cards. This would cause me to question if the cards were actually invented to fight the Reaping if I were any way emotionally involved in the plot of this game, but I'm not.
Spoiler: We may get an Ense party member at some point. He will not be a warlock, fuck you for asking.
He hits HARD too, he's basically crippled Helm here. Helm is going to be spending a lot of time getting owned this update.
We finally zerg rush the warlock to death, while those two Ense Sorcerers do what they always do and surrender their bodies to each other for those sexy, sexy buffs.
Fanfiction is not encouraged but if anyone wants to try I can't really stop you.
We finally whittle it down to our Ense buff buddies, who have this ability. Now, this might sound like an awe-inspiring ability, but what it really means is that it fucks with the turn counter needed to use battle cards. As most of the good cards you actually want to use have a low turn count, you don't care.
We finally grind down these assholes after they do their best sumo wrestler impressions. Blast of Air, incidentally, deals damage to a target and knockbacks surrounding targets. You will never use it.
I take us this way in the hopes of triggering a specific random encounter. Unfortunately I don't get it, but it's literally the Banner Saga developers showing up to make fun of how similar this game is. I'll try to get it in a bonus update, but hoo boy does it not work.
: Ask your companions for advice.
: Andra tries to approach the girl herself, and the girl doesn't try to run. Andra looks to you in amusement, and you get the hint.
: Send Andra.
: The girl smiles at the approaching mercenary, then pulls her aside to tell her something. Your concern dissolves as both girls sit and begin an animated conversation.
: Andra comes back a while later, but can't remember what she discussed with the strange girl. She just smiles, and gives you a shard of a magical card she had clenched in her hand.
When I think of "Ineffable Mystery", I think of strange women who give my female acquaintances Magic: The Gathering cards.
We continue on our meaningless journey.
: Suddenly, you all hear a wolf howl. Your companions spring up and look around, but the guide remains unfazed. You decide to break the ice and talk to him.
You and me both, Skoor. You and me both.
: (Shrugging) That's simple. Death has its own odor. Not the one that comes from rotting flesh, but the odor of a soul ready to leave its body. It's the odor of primal fear that the beasts smell.
But...if you are ready to die you don't feel fear. Fuck this game.
: Are wolves frequent guests here?
: Their packs sometimes cross the Wasteland. Who knows why they're so drawn to the barren lands. It's as if they're visiting their old hunting grounds, but find no prey and move elsewhere. Or maybe they do find some unfortunate souls.
: They attack people? Maybe we should get some torches and ensure the campfire keeps burning brightly.
: Usually they don't go anywhere near the path. They should be scared of fire, too. However, there are more of them now. A lot more.
: So what are we to do if they attack us anyway?
It's OK Thorn, the Ash of Gods devs didn't want to have to design wolves for the battle system so we're safe.
: What else is there to be wary about?
: Yes, travelers like us. Well, if the Temple scrolls are to be believed, abominations can also manifest there during the Reaping. Haven't seen them myself, but I noticed some odd footprints on occasion.
: Why would Enses be there? Not a menhir in sight. The exception would be the one in Opacum, but it's lost its power.
: Why did you come here anyway?
: (Irritated) The problem is that I don't remember. I can't remember. I've been returning regularly, ever since I first saw the place. The Wasteland does that to a lot of folks-something's on the tip of your tongue, but it's like the words are stuck in your throat.
This comes so close to being an interesting idea, which is why the game will never bring it up again.
I...how are these feelings so pervasive and yet only now remembered? I'm so lost.
What the fuck?
: Here I am, looking around and realizing that I don't want to remember any of this. Everything is so... bleak. So hostile.
: I thought that way too. But then I started coming here again. Read everything I could about the Wasteland. I've combed the Temple libraries, but came up with nothing. It's one riddle I just wasn't able to solve. I still feel like I'm on the verge of remembering something vital, but I can't do it.
: Alright, that's enough chit-chat. We've got a long way to go.
: And how do you intend to go back afterwards? Don't think many share that sentiment.
: I am still thinking whether to return at all...
: You are an odd one, Skoor. You are quite bold, even though you are not a soldier. Still, I do not think this place will relent to you...
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Oh no wolves! Oh shit!
: Meh, they're around. Here, have some deep-seeming insight that's actually contradictory and makes no sense.
: Suddenly, I agree!
: I keep coming back here because I feel like there's something I should remember and this place should help me, but it doesn't. A lot of people feel this way.
: Suddenly, I feel the same! Except now I don't want to remember and actually there aren't a lot of people here!
: This conversation would be a lot better if either of us could keep a consistent position on anything. Anyway, just an FYI, you can talk to dead people here. It's good to listen to the dead. Now back to wolves.
: That seems like a very big deal but I'm gonna ignore it. Nice chat!
We carry on and get another random encounter.
I guess this is ominous because he's not an old lady we implicitly trust for no reason at all. Hell, we have Ramlin in the party and he's a warlock. Actually, why the fuck can't we ask him? He's a mage, maybe he knows what the hell is going on!
: Ask for Skoor's opinion.
: Look at the merchandise.
Turns out he's a generic merchant. I buy some strixes, and pause to laugh at some of the truly awful battle cards.
Can we trade half our party for this guy?
One more random encounter. It's not very interesting.
: Kesler just shrugs. "I can't say for sure, but I think I made a bet with some other minstrel that I could cross the Ashen Wasteland on my own. I was drunk. Who knew this place would be so wicked? And boring... There aren't any taverns out here, and I'm all out of supplies. Will you take me with you?"
We can share our supplies and he leaves, but I take the schmuck bait option because it raises morale.
: Take the minstrel with you.
: When you camp, the minstrel offers to play his lute in gratitude. You nod absent-mindedly and Kesler starts playing. The music lulls you to sleep and you fall to the ground. Kesler's sleeping spell lasts for an entire day.
: Despite having been put to sleep with a spell, you wake up well-rested and in great spirits. Some of your supplies are gone, meaning it's likely Kesler wasn't a mirage. You can't understand his motivations, but you don't really care! You have to keep going.
And we lose 1000 gold, but I want high morale for the endgame. Things get pretty dumb if you don't have high morale.
We make it through the wasteland unmolested aside from this scripted plot event.
They just didn't want to let this intriguing character go to waste, huh?
: You nod, unsure of what's happening. "Found it. And what are you doing here, Sir Baron? Aren't you...?"
It doesn't matter what you choose here. Go forward I guess.
: It looks as if your wife's face is shining in the dark. "This can't be! Liki! Is it you...or just some illusion?"
I apologize because I legitimately forgot about this and told the thread we never got to see Liki's face. Here she is, in all her glory.
: You can't keep up with her and fall to your knees. "Liki...Forgive me..."
Again, it doesn't matter. I could have sworn Tenner showed up if you killed him, but apparently not.
: "Hey! Anyone here?" you yell into the void. "How do I escape this darkness?"
Oh, look, it's Nakoma. I think this is supposed to be Atraakh messing with us, but I can't figure out why he cares?
It's literally taken 3 whole chapters for our main antagonists to show up in Thorns' story.
That's it. That's our interaction with the villains. You could seriously just make Thorn's story about traveling through hostile wilderness to rescue his kids, but that wouldn't let us rip off Banner Saga hard enough.
: Perhaps Skoor noticed something. He's perpetually suspicious after all. However, he's kept his questions to himself, and you don't exactly feel like sharing your experience.
We hit the end of the Wasteland and get another text box.
: Ask them what they're doing.
: Two thugs remain at the door, and the others close in on you, in response to your outburst. As you engage them, you notice the door finally give way, and the two thugs disappear inside the house and close the door.
It's an Ash of Gods battle and thus completely uninteresting.
Imagine a Mary Sue dumbass jumping up and down on a human face, forever.
Something to note about the victory screen. This card is called "Peaceful Solution" here, yet is referred to as "Peacefulness" everywhere else. As a professional software engineer this indicates spaghetti code under the hood, and thus we can conclude that not only is this game poorly written and designed, but it is badly coded as well.
Specifically, the fact that they don't have a central repository of some kind but apparently hardcode the results screen differently than the card menu is...not a good sign.
Because we went to Padagang's store, we never actually met Rask.
: You're frustrated with yourself. "Had I known who was hiding in that house, I'd have hacked those bandits to pieces straight away!"
Again, the game forgets the conventions it's established regarding first and third person. Generally you have a third person "Rask said" or at least quotation marks.
: You node, but then remember something. "I've no desire to butt heads with the local guards... if I can help it."
Hilariously, Gleda has a minor injury, implying she went down in that fight against two generic thugs. Even the game agrees with me that Gleda sucks as a combat unit.
We get dumped into the Dialogue Zone again...
: Sorcery at work. Again. Can't go anywhere these days without stumbling into it.
: Before she left, Chila told me that I'll remember everything in due time, but not before then. Enough about me. What are you doing here, Dad?
There was probably something to it if a Reaper showed up to attack us for doing it.
: Yes. And it's probably something you should heed.
No one knows what this choice does either.
: Dear gods! Dad! I want to visit the Ashen Wasteland too! At least once this is all over!
: That's a bad idea with worse consequences. I think you'd be better off visiting your grandfather.
: (Smirking) You aren't saying you'd dare disobey me, are you, Gleda Brenin?
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: I have no idea how I got here. I swear I wasn't drinking, Dad. Chila said I'd remember everything when it would be useful to advance the plot.
: Sorcery. I don't know why we all trust Chila as much as we do. Anyway, speaking of, I spoke to your dead mom. She said to go rescue Mact.
: HOLY FUCKING SHIT IM GOING TO THE ASHEN WASTELAND RIGHT NOW
: No go visit your grandfather.
: I am a Spunky(tm) Tomboy(tm) and I do what I want!
Anyway we get to the town. I go buy some stuff.
You bet I'm subjecting you to all this dialog before the update is over!
I end up grabbing this thing. The Blackthorn Bracelet gives +2 attack at the cost of 8 health, and would be amazing for Lo Pheng but he's not in this party. Alas.
We talk to Skoor next.
: Why are you heading west, Skoor?
: Does it matter? I can see that you're heading west, Thorn, but I'm not asking about your reasons.
: I've nothing to hide. My son's in trouble. He vanished near Friga. So, I'm trying to rescue him and praying to the gods for help. You didn't ask, but there you have it.
: Couldn't bear to stay home?
: I'd be happy to stay home and sit on my ass. Before the Reaping, however, an old hag turned up at my shop's doorstep. She made a ruckus and accused me of casting spells without a permit. So I had to...run away-and then this whole mess started.
: And you're telling me that you've never dealt in sorcery. I suppose you arrived near the Burial Stockade by chance, eh. Then, you, without intention, wandered into the Wasteland. You expect me to believe it's also a coincidence that you're headed west as well?
Thorn you fucking moron he just told you Chila put him up to this. The same one who used magic to fuck with your daughters head? That you don't care about, because you're a goddamn moron?
Holy shit Skoor is closer to figuring this out than Thorn. Remember when the game characterized Thorn as being really into books?
Also, despite Skoor having studied sorcery he has the exact same moveset as Vai.
: I've one last question.
: Will you accompany us to Friga?
I'm taking Skoor with us because I checked and he's not a sex offender.
: So, as everyone runs east, you're heading west. Few travel the same path, so the ones who do should be considered valuable assets. You need someone you know well to accompany you. Don't leave anything to chance.
: That's right. Weren't you headed in the same direction though?
: Your words ring true. I'm in. I'll follow you to Friga... and beyond. Having someone like you by my side is the safest choice during such difficult times.
: You think thugs will scatter in fear at the mere mention of my name?
It worked on Mushom and co.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: What up my homie.
: I've decided I'm going west. Turns out an old witch fucked me over and made me run for my life because I am also an illegal wizard.
: I'm just trying to rescue my son. Fuck wizards, yo!
: The witch had the same bracelet Gleda did, huh. I sure hope you aren't recklessly trusting her, because she seems ominous as hell.
: Join my party.
: We have shared deepities, so according to the customs of my people I must accept.
Well, at least the game is admitting it. We have more words to go!
: Why don't you return to your village-or wherever you're from?
: There's no turning back for me. Some hag accused me of hunting in our count's lands. Even brought a huntsman and showed him some bone she found in my yard. She hinted that a big fellow like me should be spending his days as a soldier, not in prison. And so, off I ran.
Yup, manipulated by Chila again.
You. Cannot. Be. This. Fucking. Stupid.
Maybe it's just more obvious to me because I've been so immersed in this game, but right after talking to Skoor and him basically pointing out that Chila sent him is very...special.
She literally even gave you a new horse, yet you don't question why this prophetess needs your daughter or wants you to cross this wasteland. I would be more forgiving of this if Thorn wasn't characterized as a paranoid suspicious veteran.
: Can't quite recall who you are.
One of these things cannot be true.
: Perhaps the time will come when you remember. But I can assure you-I've never betrayed or hurt anyone. Perhaps that's because of you. I am truly in your debt.
: All right, that's enough talk. We need to get moving.
: So you're saying you wouldn't flee?
: Why not put it to the test? You'll not be hard-pressed to find enemies westward.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Well after all this bullshit I'm unemployed. Did I tell you I basically got sent here by a witch wearing the same bracelet as your daughter?
: Derf? Do I know you?
: We fought together in - oh, never mind, you'll remember when you remember. You made me a good man. Pity you're senile.
: Let's go!
This is the last conversation for this update, I promise.
: Thanks, I could use your help. Just tell me the latest news first, so I don't choose the wrong path and end up stuck between a rock and a hard place.
We get to ask all the questions and also nobody knows what the results are, so I'll take this one. Next update, there will be a vote.
: Do you know anything about a white tower?
: Why are those thugs after you?
: Well, they were looking for you! Have you crossed paths with any rich and powerful foes lately? I mentioned your name at a local inn by accident, and those fellows tracked me down right away.
I was hoping for one update sans editing mistakes, but the gods wouldn't allow it.
: Do you wish to talk about Albius' guards?
: What's there to talk about? Those who wanted me dead have been killed. Nothing to boast of, nothing to be ashamed of either.
Not sure what we gain by pissing him off, sooooo....
: All right, I believe you.
I can't tell if he's supposed to come off as manipulative and dangerous or whether the writing is bad.
: Are you in a hurry?
Thorn he literally said that at the beginning of the conversation.
: I have a supply wagon waiting for me in Helborg. I need to see it, seal it, and have guards deliver it to your father-in-law. He's in command of Opacum now. Soldiers are saying that when Stakhet Vichti leads the troops-war isn't far off.
So I guess he's Chila's inside Umbra in Opacum? He did show up with a mindwiped Gleda, after all.
: Has the war truly begun?
: Friga is only besieged by Gell and Vandil hands at the moment, but a couple of Frisian legions are on their way. The ancient fortress will have to be abandoned. Our troops have been tasked with holding the forts at Helborg and Opacum.
: And why is that? What was the Jeranan king-or whoever is leading Berkana's troops now-thinking?
: Well, I'll not waste any more of your time.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Hey, old friend! Can I use my newly acquired political influence on your behalf? I'm in a hurry.
: It sure isn't suspicious at all that you, a merchant from a small town, can slaughter an entire guard patrol and suddenly have a ton of authority. Hell yes! Know anything about a white tower?
: A white tower, noo...oh, you mean THE white tower. Yea it's that way.
: Why are all those thugs after you?
: They're after you! I mentioned I knew you while trying to impress some women - you know, war hero, legendary swordsman, my friend - and suddenly a bunch of people came to beat my ass!
: Oh yea I'm a wanted criminal who escaped from jail, right. Speaking of horrific crimes, what happened to those guards?
: Self defence.
: You cut off their ear-
: SELF DEFENCE! Don't you trust me, your weird merchant friend with glowy, golden eyes who is definitely not working with Chila?
: Are you in a hurry?
: Yes, but let me dump exposition about the war.
Now we can leave this place.
And with that little bit of incoherence this Thorn chapter is FINALLY over.
Next time: An actual vote!
EDIT: Oh, I get it now. If Hopper is our Eyvind analogue, Chila is our Juno. More on this later.