Part 8: The Obligatory Sewer Level; Cotra
"Ready to dive headfirst into the sewers?"
Before we get started, we spend our stat and skillpoints. Everyone's at level 5 now. The only thing of any interest is that Byff and Elly start investing in the Bows skill. They won't be great at it without the corresponding Dexterity investment, but they need weapons skills anyway to get to the Adrenaline Rush discipline.
"They put banners on the walls of their sewers?"
"Either that or that's a remarkably symmetrical infestation of mold."
"We're not in the flow areas, so why is this place so dirty?"
"Great. Mobile filth."
Just a bunch of cave worms, same as we fought in the Unfinished Fort.
Small Spiny Crawlers; they have a projectile attack but they're also really weak. The sewers are of course meant to be an intro dungeon. We make rapid progress through it.
"I think we've found the person responsible for us being down here."
"The mayor? What would he be doing down here?"
"You're not the mayor. But hey, do you know where these worms are coming from?"
"Your terminology is flawed. The proper term for a group of worms is a "bed" -- a "swarm" would be for flying insects."
"I can't fault your grasp of oratory. Sometimes you have to use the wrong word to create the right emotional response."
"So you dedicated your efforts...to learning to breed worms?"
"And we're just going to sit here and discuss the finer points of grammar and animal husbandry while he deprives the innocent people of Silvar of proper hygeine? Get out of here, Droknarr!"
"Finally, we're done talking. Let's shank this cat and go home."
Thanks to his improved combat skill, Kane's accessed the next discipline:
Marginally less damage than Well-Aimed Blow, and longer recovery time, but the debuffs can be handy.
Meanwhile, One-Eye has been double-dipping in both Throwing and Bow skills, so he has the fourth discipline already:
Generally speaking leg sweep is a strict improvement over shieldbreaker.
At the start of the fight, a few Cave Crawlers spawn behind us, and they and Droknarr both get Battle Frenzy, giving them bonus AP.
Droknarr loses health fast, and two turns in this happens:
This spawns even more crawlers, but they spawn too far away to affect the fight. Droknarr's next turn proper is spent on casting Call Beast...and getting a Nephil. How appropriate. He dies shortly thereafter.
"Okay, the sewers are safe. Can we please leave now?"
"Not yet. This is our only opportunity to loot the place before the workers return. We can blame any missing items on the shaman."
"Slimy or no, this is an enchanted tunic. Elly! You should wear this!"
"By the most secret words, you keep that thing away from me!"
"It'll make you better at blessing Kane and One-Eye! It's for the good of the group!"
"Why do bad things happen to good people? "
"In my experience, because the system is arbitrary and rigged against them."
"Gee, thanks for the comforting words."
"Looks like the other entrance."
"And hey, wasn't someone looking for picks and shovels?"
"Here, Elly, you carry this."
"Why do I have to carry all this junk, anyway?"
"To be fair, you've demonstrated the ability to carry heavy loads long distances in the past."
"That doesn't explain the hammers and tongs."
We'll need them later.
"Is this part of the sewers too?"
"Can't be Droknarr's work; it's the wrong species."
"Um, that rat looks a little...green."
"I expect living in the sewers isn't healthy, even for rats."
The Frothing Rat can breathe War Curse-causing poison, like a Vapor Rat.
It's also somewhat more durable than a Vapor Rat, but its accomplices are weak and we're stronger than we were back in the Batcave. War Curse or no, he drops quickly. And he was guarding a very nice item:
"What could a rat possibly be doing with a scroll of resurrection?"
"I'll be taking that, thanks. Consider it my payment for lugging around all this other stuff."
"You seem to be in charge of keeping us on our feet anyway, so sure."
Comes of being the last person in the marching order, and thus the one typically furthest away from the enemy. Scrolls of Return Life are rare and expensive.
"This sounds important."
"What does discorporation mean?"
"It means Elly carts your bits around for awhile."
"Let's be cautious around this then."
"Oh, wow this is really ill-advised."
"What? What's going on here?"
"I am seeing things you guys wouldn't believe. We've got to meet up with whoever's responsible for this thing; the Way of the Word could be advanced immeasurably!"
"Byff? I'm voting that we avoid the Tower of the Magi as long as possible."
There's nothing actually dangerous here; just the golems:
and the pylon itself. If you click on it, this happens:
"Whelp. No going back now."
"What? What happened?"
"We've been attuned somehow. I don't think there's anything we can do with it yet though."
"Now can we please leave?"
"Oh, fine. Let's go get discorporated elsewhere."
Before we go, here's the map:
Droknarr is on that islet in the south/middle, and the Frothing Rat is on the other islet to its east. The other !s are the two sets of stairs out. The rest of the level has a few worms, crawlers, and rats.
"Oh thank the Creator I can breathe again."
"We went into the sewers, Mayor Jonathan."
"Yes, I can tell."
"Your problem was caused by a nephil with a strong grasp of oratory, if a poor grasp of grammar."
"Anyway, he's dead now."
"Let's hear it."
"Wait, you know about that pylon? And you let people build it? Ha ha ha ha ha wooow, this is amazing."
"Hm? Is there something I'm missing?"
"Oh, nothing! Don't worry your head about it dear, everything's fine!"
"You're not the first to mention The Castle. It sounds significant."
"What with the capital letters and all."
"But we'll need some token of our skill first? How do we get a Crown Token?"
"And that's all I have for you. Now get out there and help people."
The mayor's ring is...
...it's a ring.
"So where to next?"
"You know my vote. Tower of the Magi."
"I want to go there too! I have got to see what they think they're doing with those pylons."
"I want to meet this King Micah, which means we should head north to Formello and try to get a Crown Token."
"For my part, I think we should investigate the sliths. They're the only faction we've heard of that we don't know much about, and they're the closest. That means walking to the west."
The forums have voted, and we're going west.
"Nobody mentioned a place named Cotra before. You'd think they would have; it's only a few miles from Silvar."
"Maybe it's deserted?"
"It doesn't look deserted. Mushroom farms, cooking fires, the whole bit."
"Maybe everyone we've talked to before was incompetent or temporarily insane."
"That sounds pretty plausible, actually."
"Sweet, another jobs board. Think we've already done half of these, too?"
"Nope. Oh well; we're taking all the listings anyway. I'm sure we'll get around to them eventually."
"I do not feel confident in our success if we try attacking a fort on our own."
"We've done that before! It went fine!"
"I'm with Kane. That fort had goblins in it; sliths are probably a lot tougher. Otherwise why would everyone be so worried about them?"
"Might as well hit up the mayor, see if they have anything for us."
"Sorry to bother you. Could we get an audience with the mayor?"
"Wait, a library? Down here? You people barely have paper!"
"Anyway, we really would like to speak with the mayor. Maybe we can help him with this prisoner business."
"What I'm hearing is, go rescue those prisoners and we can speak to the mayor."
"Hey, if you think you're up to that, more power to you."
"Before we go, care to tell us anything about Cotra? We've never been here before."
"Y'know, he didn't actually try to stop us from going through the door to the mayor's office..."
"Worst secretary I've ever seen."
"Pardon me, sir. We heard you're having some trouble with a hostage situation?"
"What's the job, then? Someone slipped up on a raid?"
"Just the rescue? No assassination or troop disruption?"
"We've heard of nephilim, but what are nepharim? That's a new one on me. Some kind of leader caste?"
"So noted. We'll do our best, sir."
"Anything else we should know about Cotra?"
"We haven't encountered sliths before. Well, just the one. What are they like?"
"That could be problematic. We'd heard of a peaceful tribe...perhaps the others can be reasoned with. Ideally not when they're actively trying to kill us all of course."
"People ask favors of you?"
"Ah yes, we'd heard of those tokens. We're looking to try to get one if possible. Once we've earned it of course."
"And rescuing your men doesn't qualify?"
"Frankly, no. It'd be all too easy to fake a task like that as a ruse to gain access to our inner government. Maybe if you won the slith war for us."
"Sir is pleased to jest."
"Okay, I think we're done here. Come back if you rescue my men."
Before we go, here's the library:
Sure enough, if we go into the back row and look for items, we find a Scroll of Group Heal. Score!
"All right, another job, and this time more suited to our skills."
"Wait, you think we're capable of sneaking into a fortress and freeing some prisoners?"
"They're just cats; how tough could they be?"
"I can't say that subtlety is our strong suit. If the mayor thinks these nepharim are tough, I believe him. We'd better be careful."
"Don't want to walk back home alone, eh?"
"Anyway, before we head out we should check the rest of town. See if there's anything more we can do here."
"Elspeth's Arms and Armor"
"What? I'm just admiring a shining example of lethality!"
"Sorry buddy, you're not my type."
"Arms and armor? Business must be good."
"So the sliths have a king? I thought they were barbarians."
"That doesn't make them anarchic. Heirarchical governments are common even among culturally backwards peoples."
"We've heard that nepharim are basically super-nephilim. Got any pointers on them? We may have to fight them soon. I mean, ideally not, but I know these boys and they won't be able to resist."
"We've wasted enough of your time on chatter. Could we see your wares, please?"
As usual, we won't be buying anything. The only really noticeable option this time is the Crude Halberd, which has a 20% chance to do a bonus hit to an adjacent hit (like the broadswords do, but with a higher proc rate).
"Well, hope to see you again, and maybe sell you something."
Next to Elspeth's shop is the shipworks.
Clicking on them gives us this flavor text:
"Arrr, they be boats, not ships."
"Ahoy, Eduardo! I'm just admiring your workshop."
"That's 100 gold less than in Silvar. Why would we ever buy from them?"
"Still, probably not something we need just now. Besides, sailing underwater seas cannot possibly be safe with no experience."
"Did a slith eat your leg off?"
"You boys and your worms."
If you talk to Eduardo again, his introduction text changes:
Also in the shipwright's shop:
"And how much would you charge us for a boat? Maybe we can slip you some cash under the counter?"
"Kids these days have no head for business."
"And what are you working on, honey?"
"He's certainly a colorful character. What's he like to work for?"
"He beats you? Oh dear, that's not a good thing! ...unless you like being beaten, I guess."
"Come with us! We'll take care of you."
Another hirable NPC, like Jay in Silvar.
"Okay, then I hope you get away from here as soon as you can. Good luck, Andrew!"
"So hey, Eduardo, we hear you used to be a pirate? How'd you pull that off without getting killed?"
"Yeah, that's about what I thought. I think we'll be going now."
"Glad to hear it. I always found the ''love potion'' business deeply unsettling. What's cooking?"
"And don't I know it. I'd love to get back into my old trade, but nobody'll tell me the first thing about the ingredients down here."
"Sounds like there's some secrets you're trying to liberate?"
"Wait wait wait wait wait. Erika? Erika Redmark? They put her down here?"
"Could be worth following up on."
"You bet your ass it is."
"In the meantime, what kind of potions do you sell?"
"And I don't suppose by any chance you'll sell me some recipes?"
"We'll do that, thanks."
"And when's the little muffin due?"
"Thank you for your time, Jenny."
"Cotra Tunnels. Sages and authorized agents of Avernum only."
"We're authorized, right?"
"By me. I authorize us."
"Let's start with the more obvious door."
"Oh man, are you responsible for this thing? What's that pylon supposed to do?"
"Uh huh. What does it do?"
Yes, this is the fast-travel system in the game.
"And we can learn to use this thing? Where?"
"Wow, Byff, you're more reckless than I thought!"
And then we say goodbye and he disappears, never to be seen again.
"Oh well, might as well loot the place."
We touch the pylon here, too. And I hope you noticed the button in the wall earlier.
"Nice. Hidden stashes always have better paydays than the ones in plain sight."
"Not what I was hoping for, but I guess Miles should pay us when we get this to him."
"Like that's going to stop me!"
"It really should. These people need all the resources they can get!"
"What, and we don't? We're fighting for our lives too, y'know. And I'm more attached to mine than to theirs."
"At least wait for the witnesses to wander off, okay?"
"How did I not see her?"
"You work with Elspeth?"
"Why? What would you two have done together to..."
"I think that's enough, One-Eye."
"Oh. Ohhhhhhhh. Dang."
"These little moments of dawning realization bring light to my days."
"Anyway, are you a weaponsmith then?"
"This sounds like my kind of story! Can they still wear shirts?"
"What do you know about it? Where'd it come from?"
"More importantly, what happened to it afterwards?"
"Oh well. Might as well salve my ego by doing a little breaking and entering."
"You are the worst person ever."
"Says the lady who's trying to destroy the world."
"It's fine! It'll be remade afterwards!"
It's a bit tedious to wait for a clear moment to loot these crates. Nance wanders around the courtyard outside and there aren't many blind spots. Not much to steal either; just a gold bar. There's probably more in the other warehouse, but we lack the Tool Use to open it at the moment.
"Another way down? We already found the pylon; what else is down below Cotra?"
"Man, never seen a lock like this before. I don't think picking it is physically possible."
This door requires a special key to open; Tool Use won't do it. We're locked out. Which is annoying, because we can see a spellbook in there.
Jeff Vogel, you tease!
"Another little stone man?"
"I don't suppose you have anything to tell us?"
"I find it somewhat suspicious that we've found living stone sentinels in two cities so far."
"Maybe it's some kind of automated security system."
"Heard any interesting news?"
"Nice, a haunted crypt! Where d'we go?"
"I don't suppose by any chance we can get a room for the night?"
"I thought as much. "
No, we will never be able to rent a room at an inn. Literally every single one is taken up by merchants.
"Hey, this fellow in robes must be that alchemist that Jenny was talking about. Excuse me, sir!"[/i]
"I heard you know a bit about alchemy. Anything I could do to learn your secrets?"
"It's a rare, powerful alchemical ingredient. If you find any, you should keep hold of it."
"So hey, you got those robes; you know any magic?"
Another reputation check.
"One-Eye? You want to learn magic?"
"Nah, but I figure the more Byff knows, the less I have to get punched in the face. I like not being punched."
"And what are you doing in this part of the caves, then? Shouldn't you be following up on Cortath?"
Finally for the inn is this fellow:
"Just looking for information, that's all. What're you doing here?"
One last thing in Cotra. If we explore the outer walls, we'll find this little nook:
One of them has a Gold Ring.
"Oh no! We'd better go tell the mayor!"
"Sir! We found two dead men inside the wall!"
"Oh dear. Maybe we'd better go have a chat with those nepharim."
Finally for the update, let's head back to Fort Avernum again. To the south of the passage to the portal, there's a statue:
"Hey! Give that here!"
It's another Wisdom Crystal. We still aren't using them yet. Reason being that, while killing monsters gives experience that scales negatively with your level (we already get only pity experience for killing things like goblins), experience from completing quests and using Wisdom Crystals does not. Consequently if you use them early, you end up just losing experience you would otherwise get from monsters you're going to fight anyway.
You need 1000 experience to gain each level, and Wisdom Crystals give one party member a random amount between 150 and 200. So another reason not to use them is that they'd desynchronize our levelups...though that ends up happening anyway as experience gains from monster kills are also somewhat randomized.
Just outside Fort Avernum is an encounter that I unconscionably forgot about previously.
"Gremlins? Oh dear. Watch your food, folks."
"Aww, they look harmless. Hello, little fellows, what's wrong?"
"Hey! My booze! I was saving that!"
This removes any Wine from your inventory; we happened to have a bottle, and it's gone now. For whatever reason they ignore your Ale.
Attacking them is also ill-advised.
They steal 50 gold every time you attack. There's nothing we can do here for the moment.
"Sounds like we'd better go stage a daring rescue operation. Let me take the lead on this one, okay?"