Part 13: Update 10, Part Two: Island Fort, Swamp Town"Now that we actually have directions, let's go kill that slith priest for Commander Rosie. Sounds good? Sounds good."
You can just barely see Fort Dranlon peeking out from under the message log; the slith village is seriously close by.
"It doesn't look like anything much."
"But they managed to capture several of the soldiers from Fort Dranlon."
"The real question is how many spellcasters they have. If there's just the one priest, then we should be fine."
"We'll be fine anyway! And they're all going to die. Just saying."
The entrance faces us off against five sliths (two just offscreen) and two slith flingers, along a narrow bridge. A perfect chokepoint for Kane to occupy! It'd be more annoying if you had more than one melee character, of course, but that hardly seems necessary.
Kane just spends his turns casting Minor Heal and preventing the melee sliths from getting anything done; we snipe down the flingers at our leisure. One-Eye is proving to be more effective than I'd anticipated: each point he puts into the Sniper skill gives him a 5% chance to get two shots per turn, which is a great damage boost when it happens.
"Wait...are we really attacking a farm? I see mushrooms growing in rows back there!"
"Not just a farm but a fishery."
"Slavers don't deserve to eat! Salt the earth!"
"Where would we find enough salt to do that?"
This really is almost entirely just basic sliths, with the occasional warrior, flinger, or solitary Frozen Worm. Why didn't we come here first, instead of that temple?
"Wonder if the sliths could teach us a thing or two about farming down here. These don't look like the mushrooms that Avernum uses."
"Maybe they feed the mushrooms to the fish?"
"We are not killing the baby sliths."
"What, you thought I'd insist on killing everything here in some kind of anti-slith fanatical rage?"
"The thought had crossed my mind."
"Wouldn't dream of it. Besides, without their caretakers they'll probably die of starvation soon enough."
"Well aren't you cheery today."
One chest has a couple of potions; always welcome especially considering our depleted stock. The other has this:
"Maybe the scales have some ceremonial purpose?"
"Or they're toys for the kiddies!"
We start hitting level 12 as we slaughter our way through this hapless farming village full of bloodthirsty lizard men. This is a very good thing, as it means we've unlocked an important bonus trait:
Sage Lore renders the Arcane Lore skill almost useless. There's almost no Arcane Lore skill checks in this game that Sage Lore doesn't count for, and 12 Arcane Lore (i.e. four characters with Sage Lore) is enough for every spell in the game.
"Let's all be sage buddies!"
"Great, trash and worms. Why do we always have to explore the trash heap?"
"Hey, you never know what someone might throw out!"
It's true. There's almost invariably something good in the trash heaps of dungeons.
Also, that's three Frozen Worms, the first significant encounter of the dungeon. We might be a bit overleveled now. Fortunately, they stick to hitting just Kane; with Byff on dedicated healing duty, the rest of the party can mop up in record time.
"Okay, so what's so great that we had to come here?"
"Looks like...a crystal we can use to cure us of whatever diseases we've acquired from poking around in the trash heap."
Now watch me forget we have the thing and struggle through some boss encounter that involves everyone being continuously doused in acid.
"Found the spellcasters. And Kane's been terrified."
"You have to stop them! They're going to take away my license!"
"Oh, for...Elly, can't you fix this?"
"Are you sure you want to? This is hilarious!"
Technically that caster is Astha's Apprentice, not a generic mage or priest. Seems to cast a mix of mage and priest spells though. Too bad for him he dies in about three hits!
Too bad for us there's more where he came from. Another Apprentice, and Shaman Gyss-Astha him (her?) self.
"Kill the apprentices first! They die easier!"
"Way ahead of you, buddy."
"And now there is nobody left for you to hide behind! T̜̫͆̽̃̓̆̚͟i̶͉̼͖̼ͪ́̚m̺̭͇͇̩͒̄ͭͮ̕e͕͔̗̦̺͌ͧ̍͗̚͟ ͚͙͈͇͗̾͌ẗ͍̬͖̬̯́̒̈ͧͣ̂ͥ̕o̖̬̮̪͛̓̅̄̐̚ ̪̘͚̈ͧ̑͒̒f͍͍̝̺̻̦͓ͮ͒͋a̱͇͔̤̖̅̌̿ͧc̹̰̞̥̠̼̈͂̈͑ͮëͫ̇̃̍͛̅ ̻͍̲̔͂ͫͨͣ̽͆t͋ͯͯĥ͎̟̓̀e̙̝͙͗̒͘ ̗̩͖̗͢mͫ͏͔u͌͊ͧ̈́̎̔͆s̳̫̭̞̫͓͇̈̋ͤ͒ͭ̓̉i̾̈ͮ̋͊ͮ͏̯̬̣̠c̳ͨͥ̋!̣̜͉̺͎̍ͩ̎ͯ"
Something magical happens when One-Eye hits level 12: he gets to 15 points in basic combat skills.
A guaranteed three shots, with a chance at four or maybe even five if the stars really align and his Sniper skill triggers several times. Shaman Gyss-Astha dies with alacrity.
"That was almost disappointingly easy."
"So long as we get paid, I don't care if it's to go out picking flowers."
The shaman drops a nice new belt:
This is probably better for Kane than the strength belt; he needs all the defense he can get.
"What's the word on the altar, Elly?"
"Looks like a slab of rock covered in blood to me, Kane."
"What, no daemonic influences? No eldritch shadows waiting to tear our minds from our bodies?"
"No, not that I can see. Why, do you want some?"
"That's quite all right, thanks."
"Another purification pool, I'm guessing..."
"...but why is it full of whips? Slith religion is weird, man."
"Better question! Why haven't I read these books yet?"
"Awww, history books don't usually have magic spells in them."
"Usually? You found one that did?"
"Yeah, a cantrip to set someone's pants on fire. It was scribbled in the margins by a bored student."
The other book, though...
"Yay! ...wait, I can't cast this. "
This is our first spell to get to level 3!
Not sure what the 20% bonus is; it might just apply to duration. And giving our party members Spine Shield (remember, it deals damage to enemies that attack us in melee) is not that significant. Oh well.
Did you notice the button in that room earlier?
"Hey, it's a hidden book. Betcha it's got something nice in it, Byff."
"Too bad I can't read slith heiroglyphics. This dungeon sucks."
"Hey, but I'll bet Mairwen back at Fort Dranlon will be interested in this."
One final bit of looting. A storage room has some vendor trash and a Bag of Sugar to go with the one we looted from Fort Avernum way back when, and there's another hidden passageway off of the altar room.
"Hold this tripwire, cut it in the middle, tie it off, and...there, safe to cross."
"Thank you, Mr. One-Eye!"
"These chests just have blank paper in them!"
"You missed the spellscrolls there, buddy."
"And this other chest has some lovely crystals in them! ...none of them look like they belong in the crystal cave though. Pity."
"Well, what do you know. I think that's the first nice thing she's said to me since we got here."
That's it for this dungeon. Yep, it only has one level to it. Here's the map:
The !s are, left to right, the nursery, the book we stole, and the War Blessing tome.
"Alright! Let's go get paid!"
"Rain check on the payday."
"Curse you you stupid lizards! "
Did I say that was it? I lied. Three warriors, a mage, and a shaman. Kane draws the warriors' attention (healing himself on every turn to counteract the damage they do) while the others snipe down the casters.
"Aww, look at all the blood!"
"...yes. No literal bloodbaths, please."
"I can't imagine that'd work very well. You'd get all sticky."
"Payday, here we come!"
"Commander! We killed that slith you wanted dead?"
"Are you sure this time? Because as I recall you've had some trouble on this front."
"Look, here's its head!"
"Ooogh, geeze One-Eye."
"Hm, yep, that looks about right. Good job!"
"Thank you, sir."
It's a Grounded Cloak, which gives +5% energy resistance. Eh.
"And lest I forget our other payday...Byff, I have a surprise for you."
"Is it another lizard head?"
"Mairwen! Does this magic book of slith magic strike your fancy?"
"Wait, we can learn Dispel Barrier? We can learn Dispel Barrier! A new spell! Thanks, One-Eye! Have a hug!"
And fortuitously, Byff just hit rank 11 in magic spells, which means he can actually cast it! Here's his spell list right now:
...yeah, we uh, kind of missed going to the places where spell teachers live.
"Hang on, Mairwen! You can teach spells, right?"
"Please! After everything we've done around here, surely you can spare some time?"
Sure wish I'd noticed the dialog option that leads to this screen a few updates ago!
"Finally! I have come into my own as an effective member of the team!"
The standout here is Icy Rain, which deals cold damage in a circular area and would have been incredibly useful against the fire-resistant sliths if we hadn't already killed most of them. Haste is also useful to cast while Elly is laying down War Blessing and Protection prior to us picking a fight, and improving Bolt of Fire is an easy win, since it's a very cheap spell and makes a fine "standard attack."
As for Dispel Barrier, leveling it up is important, because some barriers require a higher rank in the spell than others. There's a very small number of barriers in the game that require Dispel Barrier level 3 to open, in fact, so we'll still need to track down whatever dungeon or quest blocks us from that one.
"Right. And now that we have the proper key, there's some doors that have offended me by their lockedness."
"You mean back in that temple, don't you."
"Well, I guess it's been depopulated already..."
"Lemme at 'em!"
"I admit I was expecting more fireworks."
"Oh man, this spell is going to be the gift that just keeps on giving, I can tell already."
"Or it would be if these were spells I could cast!"
"Take heart, Byff. It's useless to me too."
Domination is the charm spell. Like most mental spells, it's of limited utility to us because our enemies tend to have very high mental resistances.
"Hey, while we're here, there was a trap we couldn't deal with last time. I want another look at it."
"Yeah, the partially-phased out one. Here, we need to balance the charge on this side with the charge on the other and..."
"Yeah, okay, but then wouldn't the pressure plate be..."
"Never would've thought those two would have something in common."
"And what's that mean?"
"Uh, dunno. You just exclaim it after you accomplish something."
Nothing back here but a sarcophagus with a platinum ring and a Powerlash scroll:
The Lightning status effect deals heavy energy damage to the target each turn. It's nasty and we get precious few ways to apply it.
"And don't think I've forgotten about you! Byff, do your thing!"
"Wait, what just happened? I cast the spell and it didn't work! "
"Don't think I'll forget about this, door!"
"Aww, too bad Byff."
This game is a jerk sometimes. This is one of those level-3 barriers I mentioned earlier.
"Screw this then. Let's go."
"And where to next, then? I think we've done about all we can in the slith lands for now."
"Still want to go to the Tower of the Magi!"
"I vote we push deeper into the Slith lands! They haven't learned their lesson hard enough yet."
"And you've all forgotten about Formello? Help the mayor out, get a Crown Token, and we can talk to the king of Avernum himself! C'mon, Byff, if there's anyone who knows a way out of here, it'll be the king."
"There is that...damn, now I'm conflicted."