Part 7: A Peaceful LandUpdate 7: A Peaceful Land
In this update we'll be cleaning up most of the southwestern province, Ticor, before actually heading to Ticoro and completing the chapter. The exceptions are Antara itself and Korus Landing which we won't have access to for a while yet. It'll also be a relatively chill little trip, mostly containing dialogue and lore, since the roads here are relatively clean of enemies, being as it is in the heart of the Antaran Empire, comparable to the southeast of the Kingdom in Krondor, and due to there being few reasons to actually go off the road.
I believe literally every town in this region also has updated content once we're a few chapters ahead, but in addition to that they also have unique chapter 2 content.
First up is Levosche.
Nothing unique at either the armorer's or the inn, but around this point I start noticing how many damn axes and crossbows are in the art and start wondering if they were originally intended to be part of the gameplay, too. In fact I'm pretty sure we see far more crossbows in the art than we do bows.
Unlike most trainers, who help out the entire party, this guy for some reason only trains Aren. I'm not sure if it's hardcoded to be Aren or if it just picks the character with the lowest Defense, though(which is likely to be Aren in anything but an edited savefile in any case), providing a +5 boost to his Defense stat.
Across from the defense trainer live the nice Ampersands which is... an odd choice for a fantasy name.
This guy has a somewhat complicated and mostly rewardless quest which I fucked up. I accidentally talked to the two NPC's later on, getting two-thirds of the info pieces he wanted, without even realizing I was getting them because this game is an excellent argument for the existence of quest logs, and the third chunk of information is apparently gained if you find an out-of-the-way code chest somewhere in Ticoro which I also missed.
The reward for completing the quest is that in chapter 3, the joyman's song would be sung at one of the inns.
So, eh, not something I'm terribly heartbroken over missing.
Ormede is next on the itinerary, and along the way I'm reminded not to keep casting Blazing Barricade all the time.
Here I'm about to tell William to attack the nearest rogue, there are two equally distant nearest hexes from which he can attack the rogue, except that one of them is currently shared with a bunch of fire.
So of course he walks into the fire. I'm kind of annoyed that the game doesn't in any way let you pick which hex characters attack from when there are multiple options or which direction they end up facing when making a move that doesn't terminate in an attack.
Ormede is one of those places where the game's presentation is at odds with what's actually being told, in that Ormede is mentioned repeatedly in connection with the Imperial Fleet and there's not so much as a pier here, or even a single ship.jpeg moored off the coast or anything.
Also there's a bunch of bandits out of town menacing(?) a travelling trader.
Considering that he has nothing to say about it, it feels like I might've just killed a bunch of his customers or something. He's selling no new interesting items, but he does have both armorers' hammers and whetstones, the latter of which the party goes through at high speed trying to prevent their swords from crumbling like rotten wood.
For not being a large town, Ormede does have a number of folks to chat with.
Don't take this woman at her word, she doesn't just make your perishable food laster longer, she makes it last indefinitely by turning it into the non-perishable ration type of food instead. I think that with the right food types, or if you happen to roll a bunch of bandits or whatever carrying loads of perishable food, you could save a decent amount of money here, but food isn't exactly super expensive in any case, so it's a minor thing.
On the other side of the street are some racist kids that Kaelyn almost strangles for playing Ethnic Cleansing with their buddies.
This one is just flat-out a scam, and if you've been mostly trying to follow the objectives in a reasonable way without going out of your way to scour the land for resources and quests, 150 Burlas could be a decent-sized loss, especially considering some of the less obvious scams the game is planning to throw our way soon.
The only store in town is this jeweler where some random person looks about to help themselves to the ol' five-finger discount. The prices for our gems are worse here than in Aliero, but I'm desperate to free up some inventory space. Also they sell nothing but non-magical gems and jewelry here, so there's nothing that's relevant for us to buy.
At the inn there's someone waiting for us with a quite long-winded lead-up to trying to take our money in a game of cards...
I turn down the offer because some scams, at least, are pretty obvious.
Lastly, on the far side of town, past the inn, there's a house we definitely want to hit up.
I choose "Area" since I'm hoping it might bump me over the edge needed to access some AoE destructive spells, though sadly it doesn't. Magic-training Aren is mostly relevant as a time-saving measure or when it can bump him over a chapter limit, every other skill needs actual practice, but magic can apparently be learned purely by Aren sitting around a campfire and theorizing a lot(with the exception of learning access to new types of magic, of course).
Next along the line is Ravenne on the western side of the Ticoro fish-hook.
I feel like the writing in Antara that works are often these encounters with people completely unrelated to the story or any kind of adventuring-related thing. Like just some dude having a good time making some stained-glass windows and being a happy fella.
Ravenne has a generic inn with no talkable NPC's or songs, and a general store which, oddly enough, actually has a gear upgrade for Kaelyn and William.
A shield upgrade! I find it odd that these shields that are literally just a carved slab of wood are superior to banded or metal shields. I suppose that, yeah, it would be pretty hard to hack through a goddamn slab of wood with a sword, but at the same time it also feels like it would most likely also be heavier to carry around than a conventional shield.
But maybe someone who knows more about historical shields can tell me what actual shields were like and which ones are actually most useful!
Now, on the far side of the store...
Is the only museum in Antara!
I think what's actually a shame about the museum is having the museum manager be the only person expositing about all of the objects. I think what could've been interesting would've been the PC's taking a poke at some of the objects, maybe Aren goes: "gee whiz folks what's this?" and then Kaelyn or William could reveal some of their personality and interests by revealing that they're actually deeply interested in the art of the Chungus region or that they were once stalked by a Killdog like the stuffed one on display, and maybe Aren could even surprise the other two by showing that he actually knows about one of them and isn't purely ignorant farmboy.
So! While we're here, we can also make use of that emerald.
Note that the bust is of an Emperor, and has only a blue eye. We had a puzzle chest waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back where the answer was that an ancient Emperor had both a blue and a green eye.
So what if we... complete the bust?
The Circlet of Senaedrin is a jewelry-slot item that vaguely boosts the wearer's rate of healing. I slap it on Aren since he's the one guaranteed to be "injured" in almost every fight(i.e. his spellcasting drains his health and stamina to work at all) and... I gotta be honest? I literally can't tell what difference it makes. Over like an hour of gameplay I can't tell if it notably makes him heal faster. It's possible that the improvement is very light, it's also possible that it's bugged and just doesn't work.
Then behind the museum we have one of the things that jukes my balls the most about fantasy settings.
Like, Kaelyn. Please, please. You know this is a setting where magic exists, you know that the temples are real and their magic works, you've been fucking blessed this month, you've been nurtured back from the brink of death by the holy water of Senaedrin's sect, so how the fuck are you acting like you're an atheist now? Fantasy atheists are always weird to me. Like I can perfectly accept shit like the Athar from Planescape who just want to kill or defy the gods, but they at least agree that the gods are real and their powers exist.
With that rant out of the way, this is also where we can actually get the answer to the Glass riddle from Cardone!
Turns out there is no logic! It's just a children's rhyme!
The last thing that's of interest for Ravenne in this chapter is that behind the house of the Henne-worshipper Kaelyn got angry with, there's a buried pile of Dervish Discs. As someone mentioned earlier, they are indeed pretty powerful defense boosters, which is nice. Now I just need to remember to actually use them.
Our next port of call is Melay, the only thing along the way that's interesting is something I notice at the river.
This river ford was funny to me because the little stepping stones are set so far apart that you're just sort of floating over the water half of the time. Minor entertainment, but I'll take what I can get, back to Melay!
Melay has the distinction that it's the only place in the entire game where we use a bucket. So I guess that's notable!
Now let's interrogate the locals to find out where and how and why we should make use of the bucket.
God damn that's a lot of dialogue. That bucket's gonna lead to something amazing, like a unique weapon or piece of jewelry or armor or something. Anyway, now we know it's related to some missing art!
And now we know that it's a missing malachite cat with gem eyes. Hm. Not much of a clue to the location.
Maybe the last NPC in this little part of town will have the advice we need?
So there are two ways you could reason this one out.
Either A) you could know about malachite, that it's water-soluble, consider that the well is "scummy" and decide to dunk the bucket into the well.
B) you could simply latch on to the keyword "WELL" and reason that BUCKET goes in WELL and use the bucket on the well.
I'm not sure which the developers expected.
This yields up no malachite cat, but does yield up the torchite gem! Since that part isn't water-soluble. I wonder what the gem mage will do with it?
A fucking shieldstone for all those fucking words-words-words. Goddamn. I can't even sell shieldstones.
Maybe the store and the inn will redeem this town.
Aside from Carlith Mating Rituals, the gambling-boosting book we've already had our hands on, this store has a couple of super-expensive books. But you know what? I like boosters. Let's see what's up with these two. Maybe... Halder's Tale first?
Good God! So, that's a lot of text, and 450 Burlas down and that gave us... fucking nothing. Fucking nothing. The most expensive item I've bought so far, aside from chainmail for the gang, is just a fucking fluff book, and nothing prior to purchasing it indicates this, when every other book in the game so far has been a stat booster. Man I feel robbed.
At the very least the other book is actually a stat booster, but it costs the exact same price!
Ponaka's Last Stand is a +5 Defense book which, as with the other books, all party members can read and get the boost from.
And there's nothing at the inn.
I will be so glad to never see this fucking town again.
Let's just head up to Varnasse and get this damn chapter out of the way.
Nice enough place, there's not a lot of chatter here, but there is some.
Surprisingly, they're actually talking about a place that's in the game and which can eventually be visited.
I love labour disputes in my games.
Varnasse has the obscenely expensive Rapier as a weapon upgrade, except for having a non-functional Hack attack, it's better at both Thrusting and Swinging than the Longsword. An odd thing about it is that the Betrayal in Antara wiki has different stats for it than the game does, which makes me wonder if it's a version difference or if displayed stats aren't quite the real ones.
Thanks to the fucking book down in Melay, I can only afford one, so William gets it(off-screen I also hoof it back to Aspreza and pay 200 gold to get the Montari Chain repaired and slap it on him as well).
I really wish they had more outdoors terrain like this. Toss off some walls or palisades around small towns, have the occasional shrine or whatever.
The last thing in Varnasse is on the far side of it, where the bridge towards Antara is coincidentally down. I'm not sure why they bother to block off the road in this direction with that, though, since they're often happy to just have the party complain and refuse to go in different directions, for instance we can't go north to Korus Landing, or into an area north of Ticoro(in the latter case, Aren complains about not wanting to leave Pianda until Finch has trained him, which seems like a bug).
With that sorted, in any case, it's time to head to Ticoro and continue the plot. We've got a hanging thread about the Imperial Consort dangling all the way from the intro, after all.
It's worth noting that entering Ticoro happens just by approaching the gate, so if you're just passing by in order to get to, say, Varnasse, you'll want to give the gate a wide berth until you're actually ready to head in.
Once again thanks to whatever brave souls found a way to record these videos at a non-postage-stamp resolution without the game crashing 2/3rds of the way through them every time.
Next time: we poke around Ticoro and probably get into some trouble along the way.