Part 40: Hopper Rouley and the Very Mean ManHopper Rouley and the Very Mean Man
When we last left Hopper he'd randomly found Rask, a character who seems to randomly show up to deliver exposition when he's not committing child murder.
Also we saw a flashback where a dark god possessing Dorpkhal's body ate a bunch of children after Dorpkhal cut off their parents' boobs and dicks.
This game, folks!
Why the hell not?
This happens 3 times this update, and I give in every time.
It's not interesting.
Why doesn't he just...go to the bigass mansion?
: Mushom overhears Ake and laughs. "I know Elias quite well. Used to be in the army together. A good man, but slow on the uptake. Still don't understand how he made Captain. That said, he's quite deft at swinging that sword of his-wouldn't want to get on his bad side.
This is technically a riddle, but I'm going to solve it and the next one for free, as they both have the game going DO YOU WANT TO SOLVE RIDDLE Y/N. The thread so far has been pretty adamant about solving these stupid things, so I'm just going to do it.
: Help him.
: You bring the huntsman into the house, remove the arrow, noting the peculiar arrow-head, and bandage the wound. It's clear that Gaynore will soon die without proper aid. Time to think things through.
The gimmick here is that we only have 1 potion and arbitrarily can't make more because Ash of Gods. Fortunately, I have GameFAQs.
: Go collect some herbs.
Anyway by the power of the Almighty Pot Leaf, which conveniently lives in the woods where a random hunter has a bigass mansion, we can solve the plot and go do whatever the hell Hopper normally does.
: You decided it would be much faster to venture into the woods and find the herbs alone. As soon as you gather the necessary ingredients, the glade is beset by armed men. You notice an archer among them. You unsheath[sic] your sword with a friendly smile.
Yea, remember Hederlig's guard commander? We have to go talk to him.
I want to point out that Chila's plan hinged on us getting to Gaynore's house just as he had been shot, deciding to help him, and Gaynore deciding to talk about the old woman who helped him. Chila can see the future I guess.
: Let Mushom talk.
Mushom is so good at talking to people that there is an encounter in the game with a witch where the correct answer is to let Mushom seduce her so you can get a riddle piece. I'm not sure if we've missed it, but it's pretty dumb!
Also Mushom is this guy's old friend.
More grammar errors!
This leads us to a fork in the road where I take the Shamanic Fell because it sounds metal.
: Tell Ake about the book.
Notice how the Jeranan king still doesn't get a name? It's weird!
WE HAD THAT THE WHOLE TIME?
We could have pulled so much shit with that it's not even funny.
I'm also not actually sure Terminum has a printing press, so would textbooks even be a thing?
: Ake stares at you, wide-eyed. "Do you have any idea how valuable that book is? That Isanan princess-Treeg's mother-died a long time ago. It's what made the king bitter forever and... now wait a moment! Didn't that all happen fifty years ago?
Women in refrigerators! Also wouldn't Hopper know these guys' names if he was bringing them steamy love letters?
This is an interesting characterization of Hopper though. For all that he presents himself as a wandering hobo he's clearly at home with the rich and powerful.
Let's go to Friga. Again. We get another curse spreading event, and I give in per thread vote.
The narration is voiced but it's not in sync with the text. Most of the time the voiced narration makes slightly different word choices than the text, actually.
I'm not sure I buy that, as Thorn seems to have survived running from the Reaping and he's a complete dumbass.
Let's stop here for a moment. The game is getting dangerously self-aware and so I want to point out some things.
Hopper has no clear goal except wandering around like a dunderhead trying to find these riddles to save himself from the curse. We don't know why he was cursed, except that the curse weakens the Reaping somehow. We know Chila and Coronzon were in on it because we got railroaded into the bell tower.
It is Chapter 7 of 10 and we learned all the above from Chapter 3 or so.
The game has been dragging us along with this mystery box, but not doling out nearly enough to stop it. Why can't Chila just tell us what to do? Fuck you. What are Chila's goals? Fuck you. We can surmise that Chila might have some connection with the Reaper "Childao". but we only know that name from optional random encounters and Khama's exposition dump. We have been chasing after a way to stop the Reaping, and we are no closer to doing any of this.
This is presented as an amazing plot point, but I have no idea what exactly Gleda's power is. So far she stood in the same town square as Dorpkhal and didn't die. This is supposedly because of Thorn's magic jizz used to conceive her when he went through some bullshit magic, but we've actually seen plenty of people stand up to the Reapers and not die. To wit:
All faced Atraakh with no special protection or bloodline bullshit and didn't insta-die the first round of combat. Lo Pheng has the excuse that the strixes implanted in his sword and body protected him. Reet has her weird Qimra thing the authors trot out to give her more cutscene abilities. The game really wants you to buy Gleda as having some super special power, but she's done literally nothing to earn it aside from the lonely teens in Thorn's unit fighting harder when she's around.
I still owe you all that bonus plot update, don't I?
Except if we're in real trouble, we can just...resist it and it goes away.
: Thankfully, you manage to leave it in the dust. For now.
She didn't. She hid behind her father who was wearing a strix. The Reaper literally just looked at her and left.
: The gate is wide open-no guards in sight. It's no surprise that you do not see a tollman-there aren't even any archers on the towers. The town is empty, the oldest fort of Berkana is abandoned[sic]. What's there to do in an empty fortress? Where should one go?
: Rask fidgets nervously in his saddle. He used to have a small shop in Friga, but sold it long ago. The memories still haunt him. He touches the wall as he rides by. You find this kind of sentimentality foolish.
This is the authors explaining that you might fuck around for days and miss Thorn.
I'm wondering if it's possible to make Thorn waste enough time that you catch up to him here.
AW YISS JOIN OUR PARTY
"Hey it's me Hopper I got your maybe grandmother laid."
: Well I'll be! A scribe from Isana! Here! What do you seek, Hopper? Are you lost or something? I mean, there's a war going on! Any day now, Gells will enter the fortress, and I'm not going to stick around to welcome them. What do you need?
: I am also the Jeranan Master of the Hunt now, Your Highness. I need to find Thorn Brenin. Prince Treeg has some questions for him. I need to catch up to him quickly and... discuss a matter of the utmost urgency.
: Damnation! That was Treeg's son, Ho, the crown prince! How did he beat us here? Unless he changed horses... what a pain in the ass! Apologies, Your Highness! Couldn't help it.
: Where would it be best to intercept him?
: I doubt Brenin is going to return to Friga. His way leads to Opacum now. Try to intercept him near the Water Menhir. He will certainly stop there.
: Excuse me, Your Highness! Did you not catch a glimpse of Thorn Brenin's daughter? A girl of around sixteen. Prince Treeg has no interest, but I'd still like to see her. She accomplished something remarkable back in Albius.
I will give the writers this: That last sentence changes the conversation so that Hopper doesn't sound like a pedo.
: Where will the Berkanan defense be staged now?
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Hopper, my man! You got Grandma laid! What are you doing here, we're evacuating.
: I'm looking for Thorn Brenin's 16 year old daughter for totally nonsexual reasons.
: He went to Opacum. Go talk to Lon.
: Rask furrows his brow. "So what? Do you call that a siege? We're still in one piece. Now to find this Lon of yours, get the latest news and be on our way. And let me tell you something-I've heard of the White Tower. Not a place a man should just wander into."
: "I've heard of this White Tower," you say. "No sane person would linger there. It makes sense to head straight to Opacum, but I've got some unfinished business here. I should seek out Lon."
: "I know that Lon fellow", Ake mumbles. "Not a bad soldier, but always whining about something. They say that when Lon visits the market, his face turns the milk sour."
: Hopper's the one leading our squad. He's a healer, and a scribe, and... well, many things. He's the one you should talk to. I must say, I'm glad to see you're in good health-though you seem as sour as usual.
Oh look it's Chila again. Yawn.
: A strange hag, you say... Have you noticed any other oddities since she healed your wound?
I really don't understand why Chila can't leave Hopper a letter telling him to do all this dumb shit or the curse will kill him.
: You nod and examine Lon's hand. Under the already familiar spellwork, you find a short sentence. It compliments the previous one, like a sword and sheath. "You will save yourself by saving others."
: I'd like to find that hag and have a little chat with her.
Holy shit, did Hopper actually figure it out?
Give Hopper a round of applause!
: Hopper's not some cheap magician if that's what you're thinking. He's got a Temple license and Prince Treeg's full support. Hopper aided you, so you should be grateful. It's not your place to ask how he did it.
Wait...so he used some kind of magic on you and you're not supposed to be concerned?
: Why is there no siege?
: Wait, I think I'm missing something. What leader are you talking about? Has some great warlord managed to unite the local Gells and Vandils under his banner?
It only took us SIX FUCKING CHAPTERS but Dorpkhal is back in the plot!
: What old woman are you talking about?
: What witch are you talking about? Do you just enjoy repeating any heresy you hear in Terminum or something? Next you'll tell me that you've seen the Lady of the Forest.
: There's still the big question.
: Heard anything about Mact? Mact Brenin, I mean. Concern for his fate was one of the reasons we came here in the first place.
Well that's nice of Hopper.
: Well, thank you, Lon. We'll be on our way if you've nothing more to say. The onslaught may still resume. It seems we'll have to take one of the roads to Opacum.
Oh boy! More riddle bullshit!
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Hey Lon. See any witches lately?
: Yea, she did something to my arm.
: Let me take a look. Oh, more riddle bullshit.
: What did you do to me?
: You dare question Hopper Rouley, wizard baron scribe? Know your place, peasant!
: Sorry, jeez. Look, I'll tell you what's going on so you'll go away. Dorpkhal the Reaper is leading that army to, uh, do a thing we're not sure of. Chila gave me a bunch of cryptic bullshit to tell you, but she also fought some kind of Reaper or sorcerer allied with them in a magic battle openly. Also there's some kind of "Lady of the Forest" who is a witch I'm obligated to clumsily foreshadow. Peace, I'm out.
: That old lady Chila sure is manipulating the shit out of us.
Hopper is at his absolute worst when talking with Rask or Coronzon.
: What are you talking about exactly? I felt it too. Barely though. Either the place or the weapon has been sealed with a spell, making it hard to tell where and when it all happened. Can you at least tell me who died?
"The writers realized they put branching paths in this stupid shit so they invented this magic shit to not write different dialog."
: What would he be doing here?
: Isn't it obvious? Friga should be governed by the prince of Isana, while Qarbaph has always been a frequent guest at his court. So, nothing surprising about good old Drooket appearing in Friga. The only thing that surprises me is that he actually died.
So yes, our boy Drooket was an Umbra and is apparently the only Umbra who figured out how to not have gold eyes. Good on him!
: Where's he headed now?
: I don't know. He was always quite fickle. One thing I know for sure, Qarbaph possesses only the bodies of certain lowlifes. Though he'd not settle for a peasant.
So this is just a reminder that all these Umbra assholes are murdering people to take over their bodies.
This is not going where the writers' grimdark tendencies would make you think. Dude just sired a bunch of kids.
: What's your take on all this?
: What do you think? Don't you see what I've been reduced to? For years now, every little sound startles me! I've been bound to this body ever since the Ashen Wasteland appeared. If it goes-I go with it. Perhaps my death will be even more final than human death.
: I think it all leads back to us somehow.
: (Alarmed) That's right. Qarbaqh loves life so much, he just wouldn't die that easily. His hand was forced. Whatever, I'll meet him later. Although he likes to pull pranks on me whenever he switches bodies. Takes his sweet time before reintroducing himself.
: Let's hope he doesn't possess the body of a shaman, or Frisian. Although, what difference would it make?
We are seven chapters into the game and we are no closer to solving most of them. This route is pointless. The problem with doing this kind of mystery box narrative is that to keep the reader interested you need to slowly leak answers, introduce new mysteries, or both.
Right now the game has exhausted my patience with incessant rambling about pointless political subplots and shit that doesn't matter.
: Let's talk some other time.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Let us spew forth glorious exposition upon each other, in a totally nonsexual way.
: Let me begin. Our old buddy Qarbaph, who you never heard of before and surely cannot pronounce, died. He will possess some new sucker and prank us.
: This sure is mysterious. Maybe I should spend less time fucking around and more discovering the plot of this game.
: Do ho ho!
: There are people living there, Mushom. There's even an inn there. And villages. And hamlets.
Fuck, I wish Hamlet was in this game.
This is the game's not so subtle hint that you should hit up that inn. It satisfies the animal friendliness riddle.
: Sorry, Mushom, but I was under the impression that true witches can only be found in common Berkanan markets.
: What stories are you talking about, Mushom?
: This witch dries people out! One touch of her staff turns you into jerky! She can also enchant the grass around her, turning it into blades that can skewer a man!
This means she will never be a boss fight because the devs don't want to have to depict all that shit.
I know these guys have seen Hopper fight, and it involves draining the life out of people with shadow magic and raining fire from the heavens. That seems on par with this?
: What's wrong with the flooded quarries?
: The bandits drown the merchants they've robbed there. They tie a rock to their legs, and down they go. Their corpses float up into the wells afterwards. Sometimes in the furriers' village, sometimes near the tavern.
: What's wrong with the hot springs?
: Thing is, the water in some of them isn't simply hot, but it also contains some sort of cursed salt! It won't just boil you alive, it'll completely dissolve your corpse too! Just think about it. It's claimed more than a few lives.
: Stop filling your head with foolish tales, Mushom!
: Tales or not, they strike fear in me. They're only foolish to people from Albius or Ursus, but you'll think differently after spending time in these woods! It won't take a week before you believe all of it!
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: What's up, Mushom?
: All right. Let's talk about something else.
: JET FUEL CAN'T MELT STEEL BEAMS.
: Shut the fuck up now, Mushom.
: I'm sorry! It's just that we're going into the spooky forest with that witch that Lon dude foreshadowed. We should be worried!
: Shut the fuck up now, Mushom.
Well that was enlightening.
Oh no. No. No. Please, god.
: Used to stay here. A grand fortress, this one. Not as beautiful as Heibord, or as formidable as Opacum, but it was so ancient and lively. Now it's empty. Isana's soldiers didn't even close the gate on their way out. I hope they didn't just run for the hills!
: The soldiers of Isana were the first Berkans to prepare for battle. As far as I know, Friga doesn't have a sizeable garrison, though Prince Hederlig personally assumed command to protect the fortress from the constant bandit incursions. Odalah even sent him a squad of swordsmen in aid.
OH MY GOD SHUT UP!
: It was Gebona that built Friga, Heiborg, and Opacum. THey were the first to stand up to Frisia. Even now, despite the numerous threats delivered by Frisian messengers-and the resulting infighting-they've not given up, nor betrayed their own. Remember that, Ake.
: I don't quite get you, Hopper! You're saying I should be grateful to Gebona or something? Thank that bloated kingdom that brings nothing but misfortune? Name a single reason why? Just one!
So pro tip for all you fantasy authors out there: no one actually cares about your fictitious history for your D&D setting. Knock that shit off. I know Tolkien did it, but Tolkien was setting Middle Earth up as a place of lost glory as they got further from God. If you're going to make setting elements important, they need to tie into the story.
This does not.
I could summarize this, but I want you all to suffer as I do.
: Neither Pertah nor Raydona defend the west of Berkana. Why?
What the fuck is a Pertah? We've heard of Raydona briefly as the home of the shitty Eikon ripoff twins. I don't think anyone from Pertah appears in the game. I don't know where it is on the map, and frankly I don't care. I don't care about this world's fictitious politics when they don't interact with the characters and story directly.
This is the kind of shit that is padding when we HAVE mysteries to solve and themes to explore.
: Why did Gebona not become the sixth kingdom in the alliance?
There's an alliance? I mean, I assume there's a reason Jeranan guys could run around Odalah like that, but there being a five kingdom alliance seems kinda important for a narrative about war. I don't need a history, but having Prince Treeg saying something like "oh I'm here on the sufferance of my allies" or something would have helped.
Of course, I'm stuck with the history anyway?
: Because every Gebonan's a devious bastard! Well.. their women are beautiful, and their children are nice... but all the others are bastards! I guess I did meet a decent Gebonan once, but that was ages ago.
This is the only important thing to come out of this - Coronzon wanted to destroy the alliance between the 5 kingdoms and Gebona. It's not that important, and I don't understand why Hopper asked the question only to slam it in Ake's face. I guess he's trying to teach him not to be racist?
: How were Frisian troops prepared for war?
: Who knows? I wasn't spying on 'em. They've got good fortunetellers or something. They foresaw the Reaping. The Frisians got their act together, assembled the troops and stationed them near the border. Then the Reaping strikes, and we're already at arms length.
: No time for questions! There are urgent matters to attend to!
Then why did we waste our time with this stupid shit?
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Man they are abandoning this fort and it sucks! I am mad, and that makes me racist!
: I will ask you trivia questions about worldbuilding, because that is the kind of stupid shit genre fans eat right up! First question: Tell me why the countries that aren't in this game haven't done anything?
: Because they're not in the game?
: Ake, you silly man! It's because they're all paranoid about ships. Next que -
: Is anyone playing actually asking these questions? Was I supposed to have read Sergei Malitsky's books that are only in Russian? Don't you have an arm to uncurse?
: But if I don't tell the players, how are they supposed to know Coronzon, the Temple, and the Frisians are all bad?
Finally, our long dialogue nightmare is over.
We gotta go to the Bear Inn per Mushom's explicit hint and the riddle about animals.
Reminder: Ake is racist but only against adult Gebonan men.
: Rask interrupts the giant. "Bollocks, all of it. Baztitch isn't crazy-never saw a witch in his life. And his bear is tame. It's like an old family tradition of his-they love animals. He started all the rumors so that bandits would keep clear of the inn.
: The inn's owner meets you beside the gate. He's got a gloomy countenance, but tries his best to be hospitable. After some talk, you learn the reason behind his sour mood: his bear is ill and the usual potions aren't helping at all.
As this is another "do you want to solve the riddles y/n" question I take the liberty of solving it for the thread.
: Offer a potion.
So I had to reload after I got Hopper drunk and missed another riddle.
: Stay, but don't drink.
: You refuse to drink, but your companions eagerly pitch in-gulping down beer as if it's their final bender. On the second day, you lose your temper and stop the drinking spree, driving everybody back into their saddles with much cursing. Sick from all the booze, Baztitch doesn't even make an effort to come out and say goodbye.
So you'll notice we're supposed to be going to the water menhir, but there's an X on the path. Why? Because the DM is railroading us.
Yea whatever fuck off.
: Mushom yawns fiercely. "Damn you, Hopper! Did you lace our food with sleeping draught? I don't understand. Could it be the forest? I'm falling asleep sitting upright!"
: Ake shrugs. "Listen, Hopper. I'm a bit tired. If we don't take a break within the hour, I'm afraid I'll fall off my horse."
Guess what! It doesn't matter what you pick, you get railroaded into the same bullshit!
: Ride a bit further.
: You shake your head. "No, Chirlan. You should never simply accept what falls into your lap. Let's look for a lighter clearing. I'm not afraid of strange sorcery-I have a fairly good sense for it-but bright sunshine will make me feel better, nevertheless."
: Rask takes another sip from his flask. "There's one close by! A lighter clearing with bright sunshine flooding its center. We won't find a better place, Blance! Not a bad place to die, if I say so myself.
: Ake suddenly shakes his head. "Answer me this, Hopper. Why do you call Rask 'Chirlan' and why does he call you 'Blance'? Are they code names, or something? As for me, I've always been Ake-nothing more, nothing less-and I'll be Ake, until I die!"
: Ake's face breaks into a crooked smile. "That's too bad. And what if I outlive you? Should I call myself 'Chirlan' then? Or 'Rask'? I'm afraid my commander won't understand!"
This looks bad. Who is that guy on the log?
God damn, whoever wrote "wafts to the green vault of the forest" could give Patrick Rothfuss a run for his money as far as bad metaphors go.
Shit. Well, we know why he's not chasing Lo Pheng and company at least.
: How did you manage to bind me with your spells? They've never had power over me before. But wait... The magic of the grass... How can it be? How long have we been sleeping here? More than a day?!
Well, shit. One of the bad guys showed up and offered to tell us what the hell is going on?
Decisions lie before us!
What do we tell Atraakh? Do we defy him, or do we feign ignorance?
Remember, Read what's etched into the stone by the water... especially if they make you an offer.. It may or may not be useful here.