Part 37: Avoiding Civilization"That's all I can tell you at this time. You're dismissed."
"Thanks, your majesty. Guess we'd better be going then!"
"Good luck out there. Do the best you can, for us all."
"Anyone got a rock handy?"
"There's rocks everywhere, dude."
"Great, thanks. I'm gonna crawl under one and hide for the rest of my life. That was embarassing."
"I dunno, he seemed to take it well."
"Whose idea was it to go to the Castle when drunk, anyway?"
"Okay, in my defense, I was drunk. You all should have known better than to trust my decisions."
"He has a point."
"I nominate that we go explore where there aren't any cities for a bit."
Straight north from the Castle...
"Gah! Slith raiders!"
Our Cave Lore was good enough to avoid them, but screw that, slith raiders a stone's throw from the Castle!
"Yes! This is what I'm talking about! Kill the invaders! Stain the rocks with their blood!"
"Right, thirty-minute break while we wait for Miss Berserker to calm down."
"Oh, you're no fun."
"Guess we found where the raiders are coming from."
"And so much for the stealthy approach!"
Mage, shaman, and a cadre of warriors. There's a lot to chew through here, but nothing we can't handle. Really, most fights where we can survive the first round are winnable; getting our buffs up and the enemy priority targets blitzed down makes fights far more doable.
"Don't suppose you lot would care to engage in a dialog about our differing belief systems? I derive my strength from the legal system, myself!"
"<Your head would look good on top of a pole!>"
"They never want to talk."
The difference between Kane and One-Eye in these melee fights is interesting: Kane takes very little damage from attacks -- but One-Eye simply never gets hit.
"Ha! Behold the power of my drunken archery!"
"How about some drunken healing?"
"Ĉ͖̰̯̗̣̞̿ͣ͒́̉ͤͅȯ̮̱̾mͭͬ̎̐͊ͪͨi̳͓̝͈̹̝̟̊̃̀͐ͧ̾n͍̟͙̟̾ǵ ͧ̄͗ͭ͒ͤr͍͓̺͖̈̈̈ͫ͐ͪ̓i̗͚̙̓̀͋ͧͤͪg̯̲̙͖͚͙̋̊͑̄h̳̠͆͑ͅͅtͣͤ ͍̯̟͙̬̖̻̌͋̅ͦu̠̬̺͖̲̜͙p̾̋ͪͥ̚!ͩͪͮ͛͌̆"
"Ack no no no!"
"Allow me to mop up. Eat lightning, lizards!"
"I'll take it!"
One-Eye's Deadeye Cloak is pretty useless to everyone else, but he really needs to start investing more in his armor, and Sniper is a somewhat undervalued skill.
"I wonder if anyone will care that we did this?"
"Oh, probably. They'll ask us to fend off some raiding party, we'll go "Oh, this raiding party?", and then we dump a sack full of their heads on the guy's desk. Sounds good?"
"Sure, if you carry the sack."
"How'd they get in here, anyway?"
"Oh, Fort Emerald! I know where we are now!"
"Yeah, in the Great Cave."
"No, I mean --"
"Hee hee hee."
"I think my buzz is starting to wear off."
Indeed, a bit west is a familiar sight:
"Didn't someone say something about friendly sliths being around here?"
"Aren't we still avoiding anyone whose opinion we value?"
"Hey look, merchants!"
I'm briefly tempted by the Scroll of Return Life, but we still have a decent reserve of them.
"Judging from our map, this must be Blosk."
"Hey, there's someone wandering around out here on their own. What the --"
"Sure, I guess. Here's enough for a beer."
"Enjoy the beer!"
"Well this is grim."
"And now I have a headache."
"Huh, a mage's tower."
"Or it could just be a regular tower."
"What do you mean? Mage towers are regular towers. What other kinds are there?"
"...you know, you have a point there. Can't think of examples of other kinds. Weird."
"Not so loud, please!"
Don't pick attack, you dumbass. She'll just kick you out and your reputation will decrease.
"Do you have any willow bark, by any chance? ...no, I guess you wouldn't."
In the original game, Silverlocke sold Skill Potions, which gave you extra skillpoints -- basically the equivalent of selling character levels in a jar. The reremake's replacement, the Wisdom Crystal, is nowhere near as useful. This makes me a sad goon.
"Wonder why nothing grows here?"
"If I had a decent lab and some soil samples I could probably figure that out for you."
"Eh, no point really. What would we do with the information?"
"Hey guys? Company!"
What are these guys doing here? These are Rogue Warriors and Rogue Archers, mid-tier bandits. They attack the party hard...missing everyone except Byff, who eats an arrow.
"Phew! This place is rank!"
"Got some bad news for you, Elly. I can see a building on the lake."
"Lemme see that Orb, Byff!"
"Hey, wait -- "
"No using the Orb without authorization!"
"Says Mr. Curse of Eternal Itching."
"...you can't do that, right?"
"Oh, quit bickering and let's check this place out so we can leave!"
"Great. Now I have a headache too!"
"Oh no. And it's about to get worse!"
Fortunately, Basilisks are fragile, and enough characters aren't stunned in the first turn that we're able to kill several of them. The accompanying Mutant Lizards are just so much chaff at this point. Though, Kane never does manage to take a turn in the entire fight.
"Huh? What happened? Where'd the basilisks go? And why are there sixteen of you guys?"
"We have got to work on protecting that noggin of yours, Kane."
There's no immediate reward, but if we investigate the ruin again:
250 coins and a Reflecting Shield:
Eh. If One-Eye ever switches back to a one-handed weapon, he can use it.
"Oh look dangerous plants. Whatever will --"
" -- dangerous fungi. Whatever will we do?"
"BURN THE INFIDEL!"
"Well, you won't let me go after the sliths!"
"Hey Byff, can these things get headaches? I want to share mine."
"Drink water! You're probably hungover!"
"And fighting for my life against a bunch of plants! Funguses, whatever!"
Burning Fungus, Thorny Fungus, and Submission Fungus. Presumably they all have various ranged attacks, but seeing as we killed them all before they got a turn I don't really see how that's relevant.
"What's with all the cloaks lately?"
"Ooh, let me see!"
"Okay, that's not suspicious at all.[/i]
"Um, Byff? Orb, please. I don't trust that bridge."
"Aw geeze, all this flying is -- "
"Okay, I have questions."
"Seems pretty clear -- a message for anyone who finds the bodies that Avernum won't bow down to the Empire's might."
"No no no, I mean, a) what were Imperial soldiers doing here, b) why would anyone "send a message" in a hidden tunnel, c) they wrote the message in blood what is this a cheap romance novel, and d) why didn't they loot the bodies?"
"Well, never mind. Ours now!"
The potion's an Energy Elixir, welcome after the guzzling we did against the last couple of liches.
"Hey look, a wishing well!"
"Don't tell me you believe in that stuff!"
"Hey, I've seen stranger things come true."
"Hey, One-Eye, get out of there!"
"Aww, c'mon! Nobody'll miss them!"
So far as I'm aware, the wishing well does nothing, except give you 100 coins if you rob it, which you can only do once.
"We should be south of Almaria right now..."
"Hey, what's -- are those statues of sliths?"
"Oh yeah, those basilisks! Guess we're doing that earlier than expected."
"I feel that headache coming on again..."
We already did this encounter on the lake, only that time we had bonus Mutant Lizards. Round 2 doesn't go differently.
"So, One-Eye, are we sober enough to return to town to get paid?"
"Oh, shut up and let's go."
"Mayor Bevan, we killed those basilisks you were worried about."
"Oh, real cute. Got any other fun, nearly-lethal pretend jobs to send us on?"
"C'mon, folks, let's go. Leave the mayor to his clearly very important tasks."
"Have fun with your soldiers!"
"Hm, y'know, we haven't been east of Almaria yet. The Tower of the Magi should be off that way, but there's stuff in-between. Want to check it out?"
"Sure, nothing better to do."
"You have strange priorities, man."
"They speak my language, that's all."
One of these farms is a little different:
"Ahh, and here's a lady who's speaking my language! Thanks, ma'am!"
Let's go follow up on that.
"Hey Dex, show us your tool!"
"Hey Byff, can you make, like, a reverse alcohol? That can be delivered via syringe?"
"Why would you want to go the wrong way past sober?"
"No, no, not me. For One-Eye."
"Well, give me a packet of mildly salty water and I could probably rig something up..."
"Man, you would not believe the adventures I've been having lately."
Well, this is marginally better than most "tool" shops we've seen, in that he actually has an item we'd like: the Speed Burst scroll. Kinda expensive though.
"Hey, got any jobs you want done? I always wanted to be an enforcer for organized crime."
"Aww, no clonking heads?"
"Ahem. Surely I don't need to remind you of how illegal this is?"
"Dude, we robbed the king's bedchamber."
"You don't need to remind me of that."
"Okay, back to the farms!"
"In the name of the law..."
"By all that's lucky..."
"Aww, we'll make regular priests of you two yet!"
"This seems thermodynamically unsound."
"Phew...who would want to set up camp here? It's a sauna! ...on the plus side, my headache is gone."
Another basically pointless shop. Oh well.
"Man, there's just lava everywhere down here."
"Okay, come on then! You're just a demon, I can take you!"
"Oooh, there's that hubris knocking."
"C'mon, he's in chains, this'll be easy!"
"Hey! Get back here! Get back here so I can smite you!"
"There's that name again. Who's Grah-Hoth?"
"Whoever he is, I hope he's not as big a deal as Adze-Haakai was."
"Bah. I've got demonslaying blue balls now. Let's go."
"Hang on, is that a path?"
"Aww, c'mon. I don't wanna walk in the lava!"
"I'd say we're lost but we know damn well where we are! Why does Kane get to pick where we walk anyway?"
"He's the least crazy. I think."
"Hey look, a fortress!"
"It looks kind of...shattered."
Before we check it out, let's go poke that mossy wall over to the east.
"My word, that's a big lizard."
One Drake and a bunch of Fire Lizards. These guys would have been a big deal ten or so levels ago, but they aren't any more. There's another enemy pack here that's just Fire Lizards.
"Hey, maybe if we dig deep enough, we'll come out on the other end of the world and reach the surface!"
"Or maybe we'll just get eaten by unnamed horrors from the depths of the earth."
"That sounds fun too!"
It's just a Steel Helmet, sadly. I guess it can replace Elly's old Bronze Helmet though. She's been wearing that thing since near the beginning of the game!
"Okay! Let's go, guys!"
"Because it's there!"
"Oh, okay then!"
"Sounds like a good enough reason for me."
"I'm surrounded by crazy idiots."
And now, it's been awhile since we took a close look at the party. Everyone just hit level 20, so let's see how they're doing! The effective level cap is 30 -- you can still gain levels past that point, but you only get skill points every 5th level. So our characters have realistically 20 more skillpoints apiece before they stop improving.
Kane's skills are massively biased towards melee weapons and tankiness. He's maxed out the Hardiness trait, which makes a huge difference in how much damage he takes from nearly any source. He's started investing into Parrying, which when maxed will give him a 30% chance to ignore any melee attack. He's also maxed Blademaster, which helps his damage keep up.
Mighty Blows increases melee damage by 3%, Parry Mastery adds a 3% chance to ignore melee attacks, Backstab increases melee damage by 5% against flanked enemies, Drath's Knowledge slightly increases spell damage and reduces Arcane Lore requirements, and Negotiator gives 10% more money when selling items.
Kane is carrying the cake because he doesn't trust anyone else with it.
Everything else is just minor stat boosts or resistance boosts.
As Kane is with melee and durability, One-Eye is with archery and extra actions. He's halfway through Gymnastics; each point there gives him a 10% chance at a bonus action point. Each of those is calculated independently, so he sometimes gets 4 bonus points...and sometimes gets none. The Sniper skill, at this level, gives him a 45% chance for an attack to take half normal AP, much like Haste does. Unfortunately it doesn't stack with Haste.
Sure Aim increases missile damage by 3%. The Fortune traits give bonus Luck (which I got to increase One-Eye's durability slightly); they involve finding, respectively, a rabbit's foot and a four-leafed clover.
One-Eye's inventory is kind of a mess. There's the Meat Stash, alive (?) and well. He's also still carrying a bunch of javelins that he's probably never going to throw, two bags of sugar, and some alternate equipment in case he changes his mind about what to use.
Byff, in all his shirtless glory
He spent all those points on archery; may as well take advantage and start investing in Gymnastics for those bonus AP.
He doesn't need much more in mage spells to be able to cast the biggest spells in the game. He's also capped on Spellcraft (+2% spell effectiveness per level) and has started putting points into Resistance for extra durability.
Elemental Focus gives +3% damage on elemental attack spells per rank. Energy Blessing gives +5% spellpoints, which currently means 14 extra spellpoints. It's not much.
Byff is keeping hold of the Orb of Thralni, as well as a few odd artifacts, including the relics we found from that lost civilization. Equipment-wise, Byff and Elly both mostly get hand-me-downs from the two warriors, but they have a few neat toys of their own.
I'm honestly torn about using the Lost Mage's Robe vs. the Mercuric Leather he currently has (which is +1 AP, -1 STR). +1 AP is kind of a boring ability, but it means he only needs one Gymnastics rank to "proc" to be able to double-cast, which is hugely useful.
Silly to have this on a mage, but Kane's shield greatly increases his mental resistances, which is far more important.
Like Byff, Elly's started investing in Gymnastics. More actions = more better.
Again, Elly's magical skills look like Byff's, of course with Priest Spells instead of Mage Spells.
Healing Focus is +3% effectiveness on healing spells. Elly's Light Heal can already full-heal any one character though, so this is of limited utility.
Elly's carrying our alchemical herbs...hang on, why does she get them instead of Byff? She's also carrying all of our miscellaneous quest items, like sacks of mushroom meal, iron bars, aranea fangs, wine, ale, etc.
"Can I please take this thing off already?"
"Sure, go ahead."
"Okay, where's my old shirt?"
"Left it in the sewers in Silvar. What a pity."
And that's it! See you next time!