Part 5: Why Would They Do This?Update 5: Why Would They Do This?
So to prepare for tackling chapter 2, I looked up the sidequests for the chapter in a sparse FAQ to try and plot out a sort of optimal course, whether there was anything I would need to pick up early to show something off later without needing to spend like an extra hour of playtime backtracking for a fucking bucket or a piece of rope or a nudberry or something. While doing so, I found out that I actually missed a sidequest in chapter 1! Now, remember that farmer working at the tavern in Balmestri? The guy whose farm Lord Garsson had repossessed? We can actually help him in chapter 1.
If you can't figure out how the fuck we do that, congratulations, you're a normal human being.
If you have in any way intuited a solution, or felt one was hinted at, then I believe the CIA is interested in you for their ESP program. For the rest of us, this will all be coming as a surprise.
So first, we're returning to Sortiga, the town between Balmestri and Panizo. I believe I skipped over the inn last time, but I'll be recapping the contents there this time, because they're, I guess, kind of relevant?
We've got this bunch of jackass locals laughing about how they mistreated some old lady, which just seems like one of the many aside content bits present in Antara which don't tie into anything. I, certainly, never realized it tied into anything! Now, let's hop outside...
Walk past a couple of houses and go off the road into this narrow area between Sortiga and a chunk of impenetrable woods and...
When we turn right, there's this super easily missed NPC hanging out next to the trees!
Her voice acting is... unique. Especially around 3:45 where she manages to put more syllables into the vocalization "hmmmph!" than most people manage to put into entire sentences. The long of the short is that Lord Garsson paid this old lady to curse the farmer's farm so he could steal it, and then handed her evidence that he'd worked with her, which is what clever criminals do. We then promptly buy the scarf off her for 250 Burlas(I think you can get away with just 125 or 150, but the interface is kind of wonky and has poor responsiveness on that) and hoof it northwards to Imazi since we now have something to piss off Garsson with.
The smoking gun! Or handkerchief, as it may be.
Along the way I also stop off in Ligano to pass some rations to Sgt. Kalyx so we can get his dialogue(and his stat boost...).
The writers for Antara were definitely fond of puns. Even if many of them are a bit too pained even for me.
So we confront Garsson with the evidence and he eventually caves and... gives us nothing. See, this is because you need to ask him the question without evidence and THEN present him with the evidence, or it doesn't work and actually give you the Deed item you need to hand to Farmer Mattia. This confused the hell out of me since I didn't realize I was meant to be given a quest item the first time around, hopped off to Balmestri(which was like a five-minute walk), had to pop out and check a FAQ and try to figure it out, realized I needed an item, hopped back to Garsson, went through the dialogues again, etc. and then back down to Balmestri. All in all that sequence alone took like 20 minutes, and that was with the roads completely cleared by earlier travels, since none of the game's limited fast travel speeds things up any, and there's a huge cliff formation blocking off a direct path between Imazi and Balmestri, so you have to take the long walk around. It sucks!
Done right, though, this is the item we get as a result. Now it's just a matter of giving to the farmer which... turned out to be slightly more challenging than I initially expected.
So far the way I've given items to NPC's at all points in the past, which has worked, has been to go to a character's inventory, drag out the item, and then use it on the NPC's house door or their overworld sprite, which has both started the conversation with them and given them the item. I can drag the Deed item out inside the Inn screen, but dropping it on top of the farmer's sprite does nothing. It turns out that for NPC's that are on a sub-screen, what you need to do is instead start a conversation with them, THEN enter the character's inventory and drag the item on to their icon. This probably works for all the others, too, but since it's a mechanic that the game never deigns to explain to us, how the hell would anyone figure it out except by experimentation?
The immediate reward, other than doing something nice and spiting a dickhead, is that Brunia gives us a random assortment of bottles which turn out to be potions.
An archery booster.
A spellcasting accuracy booster.
And a strength booster. All temporary, of course.
They're somewhat more useful than in Krondor because using potions from a character's inventory doesn't consume their turn, so you can actually bust them out in an emergency rather than needing to predict which battles will kick your ass before they happen. At the same time it also unbalances the gameplay a bit because a sufficient stash of Senwater now allows you to power through most situations unless something can kill or incapacitate a given character in a single round before they get an action.
No reason to be satisfied with just helping the man and getting his thanks, though, let's trek up to Imazi, again, and see how he's doing.
No eviction notice on his door any longer, that's a nice change.
And the man himself has replaced the two burly thugs who were keeping folks out on Lord Garsson's orders earlier.
So first his farm was cursed, then it was repossessed, and now it's haunted. This poor guy. Let's see if we can help him again, shoulder past him and poke around his field some.
There's something sticking out of the ground up ahead, but we can't even get near it as we are now.
Now, I'll leave everyone to consider how this situation is resolved. Perhaps we need to find a calming drug? Or find some sort of counterspell? Talk to the old crone from earlier and get her to come banish the evil spirits?
Ha ha, no, we have to exit the game and edit the game files.
After heading down to Ligano first, of course.
Remember this cleft which, earlier, just lead to a small clearing with a few trees in it?
And remember how I mentioned there was a bugged area near Ligano that required editing game files to unbug?
This is it.
I have to quit out of the game while in Ligano, delete or rename(ideally rename since I'll need them back later) two game files and then pop back in. Now when I go into the cleft...
There's a fucking temple here! After leaving, I have to undo the changes I made, for some reason, I'm not sure what happens if I don't, but I imagine the consequences are undesired.
Looks nice enough inside, though. There are two priests to talk to here, let's get the farthest one first.
As far as I can tell, informing this guy that he can go sort out the wedding is just a fluff thing and has no actual gameplay or gameworld effects. The other priest...
Offers us this super-vague blessing that no wiki or FAQ explains what does, exactly. What it most certainly does not, based on the description, is protect us from ghosts or terror.
It does not, I repeat, protect us from ghosts or terror.
It does not.
Ha ha just kidding this fucking vague-ass thing totally does for completely unclear fucking reasons. Once again props to the psychic ubermensch who were able to deduce this, because I sure as fuck would never have.
And just like that, boop, the fields are now passable. The farmer has no response to us doing this, which is a bit of a shame, but we do gain the staff as an item.
The Staff of Nightmares is a worse melee weapon than any non-magical staff. The other magical staves in the game are also pretty bad, all being between the starter Wooden Staff and Quarterstaff in strength. What's special is that if any of them are used for a Thrust attack, they instead deliver their magical payload. In case of the Staff of Nightmares, it makes an enemy instantly attempt to flee. This is absolutely terrible, since it means we can't kill them and take their stuff. It might be a decent in-a-pinch way of getting a single enemy out of the way, but looting enemies is incredibly vital since it's our main source of income.
We can now also continue past the farm, though there's no real reason to do so yet, but that's rarely stopped me. Behind the farm is an empty cave which we can't interact with for a bit yet.
Does certainly look somewhat neat, right? Looks kind of like someone broke into an existing underground structure.
Now I can head back to Panizo and finish the chapter. On the way, though, I decide to take the road from Imazi to Midova that skips Aliero, and which has its own little canyon network on its south side much like the northern one does. Most of the trip is unremarkable except for one nice-looking location.
This little hidden lake shows once again that the engine CAN do nice locations and the developers knew how to do it when they had the time or wanted to invest the effort. The chest is a code chest...
It contains a stash of money and Senwater, both of which are welcome. Anyway, time to head down to Panizo and end the chapter...
After the cutscene we're unceremoniously dumped on the doorstep of Panizo with the quest of finding "mage Finch" who's got a hiding spot north of Midova. This obviously makes Midova our first port of call but, eh, since when did we ever go where the game wanted us to go? It's not the boss of us.
Mostly I want to check up on Imazi to see if there are any new quests or dialogue over there relating Lord Garsson and our chances for ruining his day.
Most areas appear to have been repopulated with fresh batches of enemies, though not quite as many as the full complement present in chapter 1(thank God), and often a bit weaker. All of the ones I encounter in the Panizo/Midova/Ligano/Imazi rectangle are either packs of mage-less bandits or field worms, for instance. No montari and their wizards or other things that could present a potential actual threat.
There's nothing new in Ligano, as far as I can tell it doesn't update for the rest of the game and can thus be safely ignored unless we happen to need an inn to pass through, but Imazi does have some new dialogue from the residents. Nothing from Farmer Mattia yet, though, I later learn that while he doesn't by default have any new dialogue, now if you go poke around his farm's cave and clear out some newly spawned enemies inside, it'll have an effect. It'll be something to remember for a future update, though, since I didn't learn about that obscure trigger until after I was done recording.
As for the other residents, let's start out in the inn.
Yep, it's the asshole in the hat again. More or less every chapter, Scott will warp to a new inn somewhere to sit around getting drunk and be ready to voice act at us.
I guess Scott isn't the worst NPC in the history of NPC's but I also feel like the writers over-estimated how charming he would be. Thankfully there are other people to talk to outside.
Like this poor asshole who got extremely predictably scammed by Lord Garsson, whoops.
And this guy who's now literally out of business. If we find a pack of skins somewhere, he can make us a free drum, and I guess there's no reason to turn down a free drum.
Three houses that were empty in chapter 1 are now populated in chapter 2 and all of them have a good deal of dialogue.
So, okay, these bits of dialogue are pretty amusing(and I did buy the insurance policy since it actually has an in-game effect much later), but it feels a bit out of place that in a setting where we have folks recently mourning their permanently departed spouses or other family members, there's supposedly common-enough magical/divine resurrection that insurance policies need to take it into account. Now don't get me wrong, I think that would make for a hilarious and interesting fantasy setting, if you went hard on it. But it feels like it's not Antara.
Anyway, time for the last guy here.
As a rare thing, this is something I feel requires a brief content warning for mentions of sexual violence. Nothing egregrious in the grand scheme of things, but I know some folks would probably rather skip over it.
Fuck Lord Garsson. Keep this little sidestory in mind, though, as it will actually have a resolution... when we're about another 50% thorugh the game, admittedly, but I'm sure some of you will enjoy it anyway.
We can go talk to Garsson still, but there's no new dialogue, not even an option to punch him in his fat fucking face and then leg it, so now we're heading on to Midova to find Finch and teach Aren some Real True Magic(tm) unlike all the piddly lightning-calling he's done so far.
Being in chapter 2, this also lifts some spell-learning/skill-training limits which means Aren picks up another couple of spells on his own while taking the walk to Midova. The two spells he picks up are Web(creates a randomly-shaped area where anyone moving in or out of any of the affected hexes must spend their entire turn doing so, this could have some actual tactical use at times) and Moonless Night(target hex and all adjacent hexes are affected by a darkness effect, anyone under it has increased defense and worsened offensive stats, almost halving them. could be useful for buying time, I guess?). In most cases, just blasting enemies with damage will largely win out, however.
It's also worth noting that on the road between Imazi and Aliero there's a pile of rocks you can tip over, which contains the only spare pack of skins in the game(the same item that Kaelyn starts with, in fact. you could probably just keep that and bring it to Imazi instead. the 35 Burlas for bringing it to the guy in Balmestri is some real pocket change).
Before we poke around for Finch, I'll just stick my head inside Midova to see if anything should have happened to have changed there.
Looks like a new guy in the inn, and it thankfully isn't Scott!
I'm sure that this guy getting jumped and getting his ass kicked by a bunch of racist nobles is completely unrelated to anything.
Aside from that, the two previously sealed houses in Midova are now accessible.
At the moment there are no dialogue options for this guy, but that'll eventually change. For now it's just a nice unassuming store that sells nice things which we can't buy because Aren isn't allowed to have nice things. Let's check out the other one.
This guy is pretty blatantly shady, but thankfully he isn't our problem since William is actually smart enough not to borrow money from someone who'll try to break his legs if he doesn't pay up on time. In any case, it's clear that Mage Finch isn't inside Midova, so we'll take a look outside and just to the north.
I love that the mighty HIGH MAGE FINCH is just a chubby guy in a bathrobe wandering around barefoot in the dirt.
I swear there's no such thing as an even vaguely normal voiced NPC in this game. Welp, good thing we just met someone who can help us get rare foodstuffs!
A nice and simple convo, but he isn't lying. We're going to have to pop outside and sleep in a ditch for a week before things update. I sure hope Finch wasn't expecting that tea any time soon.
Why aren't we sleeping inside Midova? There's a town right there! It has an inn!
Look, you're perfectly healthy, there's no reason to spend money on an inn when that's the case. This nice ditch has even got comfy moss in it.
If I get some sort of horrible disease from this, you guys better pay up for the healing.
After about a week of brushing ticks off Aren every morning, we then wander back inside...
Oh no, turns out someone flipped Paolo's store AND stole our tea, the huge dickheads. Well, let's go see the biggest dickhead in town and see what he has to say for himself.
At least he owns up to it, but now we've gotta haul ass all the way down to Sortiga and probably beat some wizard over the head until he pays up.
I really hope Finch wasn't expecting that tea any time soon.
On the bright side maybe he was just saying it to get rid of us and the longer we take, the happier he'll be.
I haven't blown myself up yet. I'm sure it'll be fine.
Next time: Tea! Clearing out Farmer Brunai's cave! Maybe visiting Briala again if I feel like taking the long way!