Part 14: Get Into My SwampUpdate 14: Get Into My Swamp
So, let's get back to it. We now have the Wraithslayer enhancement on our weapons and can actually go beat up some ghosts. One thing I'll note before this happens, though, is that Kaelyn's dad is a filthy liar, the enchantment never dissipates, either that or it takes a lot more battles and wasted time than I spent. I was nervously checking it before every fight just in case I was wandering into one I couldn't complete, but it never wavered.
Now that we can actually hurt them, wraiths are completely unthreatening. As far as I can tell they have no special attacks, they aren't even armor-ignoring like magic is. In fact they do insanely piddling damage, like 14 and 15 points per attack... when they hit, because they also tend to miss a lot, and about three attacks will usually take them down. They do have a neat-looking death animation, though.
There are four wraiths in the Ridgewood, three of them have a couple of Grrrlf or human husks guarding them(no mages, no threats), while the fourth is alone. Only one of them is marginally interesting.
Due to hiding out in this circle of stones and having one of these rare long-and-narrow battlefields, which I wish there were more of. They're some of the only ones where the game's very lenient zone-of-control rules might be useful and leveraged in some fashion.
Anyway, once they're all dead...
Kaelyn actually points out they're all dead, a nice touch, so you won't be wandering the woods for the next few hours wondering where the last damn ghost is. Obediently, we head back.
Cliff's Notes: "Yaaay, we killed them all." "Anything weird out there?" "Oh, yeah, circle of stones. Also I'm cool with you again, dad."
I took up this guy's chapter end video rather than posting my own recording of the conversation since he included it anyway. The chapter end animation picks up pretty much where we left off with William and Aren, wandering into a spooky cave.
A spooky cave full of Shepherds! And a few corners have some crabs as well. You can actually somewhat fuck yourself over here as you can't back out of the cave and the locals are carrying barely any rations and rarely any Senwater, so if you came in here with just a few sandwiches and nothing for healing, you could be pretty proper fucked. Still, I'm good on both, so the caves resound with carnage and get a new, red paintjob.
You can explore the caves pretty thoroughly by just using the old left-hand-wall rule, since there are very few places where the caves loop back on themselves, they're pretty linear for the most part. You want to keep going until you hit this staircase.
You could probably brute force this, each red stone has a state of either pressed or unpressed, order doesn't matter. How many possible solutions would there be? I think about 150-ish or something without bothering with the maths? Still, the game does actually hide a way to find the right solution if you keep going on.
I don't think any NPC's ever talk about this guy, the only places he's mentioned are in one item description and probably also in the manual's lore though I can't be bothered to read it again to check.
We bring this lantern back to the wall puzzle and...
It indicates the correct buttons to push.
It honestly feels kind of dogshit as a puzzle. It can either be brute forced or we can fetch an object that just tells us the solution. I prefer things that require me to invest a little bit of brainpower.
On the far side are a few actually room-looking rooms containing some more shepherds, you'd figure this was indicating we're getting close to their inner sanctum, and we are, except, uh.
The inner sanctum is actually in the caves beyond the actual structures, for some reason.
No don't fucking ask me why, it's stupid as all hell.
On the far side of some corpses(they weren't corpses before we got there, though), is this oblivious fuckwit who hasn't heard or noticed any of the violence going on.
It's Gar Warren! Leader of the Shepherds! He is an absolutely stupid motherfucker who wanted to kidnap the Consort(his first plan was Princess Aurora but she was too well-protected) so he could force the Emperor to sanction a full-on race war against the Grrrlf. But then his pet wizard just casually teleported the consort away to someone on the far side of a portal.
What an absolute jackass. Sadly there's no "kill him and laugh"-option, so instead we turn around and go on our way, except...
Okay, turns out Gar's pet mage did not in fact leave with the Consort but instead chose to hang around???? And decided that she, on her lonesome, can take us on.
Let's see how that works out for her, shall we?
Whoops turns out it gets her fucking one-shot by William because she decided to show up to a fight in melee range without wearing armor and without winning initiative. A fatal mistake on her part.
No sooner does she drop to the ground, however, than...
I'm unsure whether the cops just happened to find the place shortly after we did, or whether they were tracking us ever since Ravenne and simply took a smoke break outside the cave because they knew we'd cut half the Shepherds to ribbons and spare them the work.
Of course, not being total morons, our boys decide to peace out before the police pick up them, too.
They barely get two steps before a cutscene takes over.
Trying to chase down Gar Warren, they get lost in the caves but stumble their way outside. They reason that the Consort must have ended up with Ghanish mercenaries and... wouldn't you know it? It turns out they've actually wandered out into Ghan.
This is an earlier screenshot of the map, but we emerge just within a short walk of Torlith.
And next to one of the rare stone piles that are worth digging into since it doesn't contain just another shovel or a single chicken leg or something.
Instead it's got two unique books.
One offers a small boost to stealth, though Aren and William still flub nine out of ten ambush attempts(doesn't help that you have to be almost right up in an enemy's asshole to attempt it, and sometimes their aggro radiuses simply prevent getting that close without combat starting).
The other offers a small boost to Aren's electric skill, though I'm not sure if he still has any lightning spells left to learn.
Moving west to Torlith we encounter the most devastating enemy in the game: this fucking road. It requires a bit of explanation.
The low-lying swamp areas are impassable and un-enterable. This road is shittily made and only barely wide enough for the party, causing them to vibrate wildly left and right when using it.
It will, in fact, vibrate them reliably into the low swamp which they can't escape from.
Do not use this road, go around it and enter Torlith from the grass instead.
Torlith is notable for every building being interactible.
This is actually a chest we can find and the reward is... maybe worth it?
This one originally confused me a bit, but it turns out this is actually the rock pile we spawned right next to on leaving the tunnels and already cracked through.
I feel like this is a reference to something, but I don't get it. We also never see Ghan again after this chapter, so unless Betrayal in Antara gets a much-delayed sequel one of these days, we'll never know where they were going with this.
The last thing of note is that the store in Torlith sells the top-tier suit of armor in the game, it doesn't get better than this.
Weirdly enough, if you enter this little crossroad from Torlith, you can still get through, just do not use the part of it that's after the right turn up there. That's the one that kills you.
I suppose it's nice that it acknowledges the fact that the two parties are basically right next to each other, but this adds pretty much nothing. Anyway, let's go east and see what we can find in Ghan.
Mostly what we find are corpses that contribute to the "dress Aren up funny"-fund.
We already have the password here from the dad in Torlith, so we can crack the chest, it doesn't contain anything we want, though, just some worthless jewelry and plants.
The score is a Circlet of Senaedrin which is pretty eh. I also go get some Montari Plate for Aren.
It makes him look like he's halfway through a GWAR cosplay.
Since I've got some money left over and there's a temple of Kor here in the swamp, I go get the Montari Plate blessed.
It goes a long way towards rendering Aren invincible towards anything non-magical hitting us at this level, it knocks most attacks with broadswords and rapiers, still the most common weapons(and frankly I don't know if they ever upgrade beyond that), down to doing like five damage or so.
I get started on clearing the road east towards Keth, and thankfully all the enemies tend to be wearing platemail which yields good amounts of money when I haul it back to Torlith where no one blinks an eye at being sold blood-dripping armor.
Most of the enemies are just packs of generic fighters, though one group does drop this bow which I'll never use, since the Speed Bow does better damage-per-turn anyway and the Grrlf Bow can actually hit things well.
That's when I run into these pricks.
It starts out pretty normal, William gets his buffs on, starts chopping and then...
Yeah, fireballs are fucking SCARY.
It doesn't stop William from carving everyone to giblets, of course, but it does mean Aren gets to spend a few days while his eyebrows and skin grow back thanks to massive Senwater infusion.
Oh and these guys drop an incriminating and incredibly stupid note.
Why would you write a legally binding contract for an illegal venture, that accomplishes nothing but implicate everyone involved in some insanely shady shit? I swear everyone in Antara is suffering from lead poisoning.
Their armor is also enough to afford Montari Plate for William.
Unlike Aren, between his pose, the sword and the shield, he actually looks like he means business in it.
Returning to the scene of the crime, i.e. one of the many, many violent stabbings left behind in the trail of William and Aren, I happen to glance into the swamp to the south.
Being very wise, I understand that these glowing dickheads are Lightning Bugs and will probably fry my dumb ass in seconds if I give them a chance to, thus, precautions are to be taken!
I frankly don't know how much Grounding Wire affects lightning damage, but I think it probably reduces it by between 50 and 75%.
They're VERY trigger happy and pretty beefy, able to eat two 100+ damage hits from William before going down. Thanks to the Grounding Wire, their zap blasts only do 10 damage, but I can only imagine how much worse it would be if they actually landed a hit without it.
With the Grounding Wire, they just require a bit of patience, though they're some of the rare enemies that semi-reliably dodge William's attacks. What the hell is their defense rating? Assessment won't tell me.
It turns out they've been guarding a sinister goblin man, let's interrogate him.
At this point it's not super obvious, but guessable that you need to pass him a roll of Grounding Wire, so I do just that. The one I was using didn't have a lot of charges anyway.
As thanks for helping the mysterious goblin fella, we get...
A rating in Cold magic for the first time and.
His rather disappointing beatstick, the Grrrlf staff is still better nine times out of ten for when Aren needs to break some ankles the hard way.
It's tempting to get out of the swamp before more Lightning Bugs show up, but there's also a coded chest behind the goblin.
It yields the first damaged shield that's enough of an upgrade that it's actually better than the mostly intact shield William is already carrying! I appreciate this further step towards tankiness, even though shields are an annoying purely-random mechanic. I'm genuinely not a big fan of how they work.
There are a few more Lightning Bug swarms and bandits on the way to Keth, but William and Aren arrive without too much trouble, though Senwater supplies are running a bit low because of the fireball accident earlier.
I believe we can find this guy's wine in one of the Ghanish towns, but I don't know which, so we'll see if I come across it. There's also a chest behind this guy's house.
So you're looking at this shit, right? Maybe working it out on paper to avoid digging yourself into a corner, you finally crack out the solution and then you get...
A single fucking shieldstone for your half hour or whatever of trouble. This game displays just an outright disdain for the player sometimes, goddamn.
This is an insanely bad deal, by the way, this guy sells you 5 rations for 30 Burlas when you can get 14 ration-packs for that price all over the gameworld. Croc meat, tho.
A house where we just get told to fuck off. No, this is unconnected to anything and never changes.
Once again, everyone in Antara has lead poisoning. Why the fuck is this guy just randomly admitting to murdering politicians? We could be Imperial Shadows! Assassins out to avenge a dead Jaeger! Just public-minded citizens who want to stab and/or arrest an unrepentant murderer! But no, we accept his cookies, don't judge him and then learn more about killing people. Seriously what the fuck. No, just. This entire interaction is baffling.
The local store is mostly notable for selling Senwater and Grounding Wire, it also pays a slightly better price for looted armor than the store in Torlith and is a second place to buy Montari Plate, albeit at a higher price.
Ultimately, Keth is just a truck stop, so we continue south to Choth since it's one of the towns in the region where the writers display some fun and creativity.
If you're not obsessive about staying on the road, you can skip several fights by just heading across the grass from Keth to Choth. The special thing about Choth is that everyone has a tale to tell.
A store that sells exciting new swords we won't need.
Gory murder stories! This one is my favourite, personally.
Isekai stories! I want to kinda punch this guy.
I think we need a drink after all that, let's go to the inn.
Bartender! Tend me your strongest bars!
I love the idea of the Liar's Festival, now... depending on who you pick, you're going to get a separate reward. The only one you can't pick is the "Hero," the guy who said he saved Princess Aurora, because he's the only one actually telling the truth(and thus, hilariously, the only one that William doesn't believe).
I will be picking the Soldier because his reward is insanely much better than any of the others. What do the others get us, though?
Mage Gordostorini : you'll received 3 charluda's chain
Walter the hero : he is telling the truth, you can't choose him
Captive : you'll received a fake treasure map
Marion the Healer : you'll received 5 halder's brew
Beatrice the Thief : you'll received the Shadowring
We don't want Carluda's Chains, fake maps are obviously not good, Halder's Brew is like wasting inventory space on a worse version of Adrenaline casts, an extra Shadowring would be good, but not as good as what the Soldier gets us.
Aside from the Everedge, we also get a 100% quality Tower Shield, but the Everedge... oh boy. Stat-wise it beats both the Broadsword and the local Onyx Blade for sale, plus it always stays at 100% so it never needs sharpening and never loses any effectiveness(plus we haven't blessed it yet...). There's one sword in the game that can do more damage on a Hack attack(almost twice the damage modifier on that, holy cow), but it's not quite as accurate and we can't get it until almost at the end of the game.
It's actually kind of absurd that you can get such a good reward and then so many awful rewards with no real hint as to which is gameplay-wise the superior choice.
So that was a nice visit to Choth, next... we'll go to Imazi! It's not immediately obvious, but we can actually return to Pianda in this chapter! I don't think any town but Imazi has updated content, but I think folks will enjoy the Imazi updates.