Part 10: Mystic WoodUpdate 10:
Paragraph 70 posted:Mighty oaks intertwine above your head to form a living gateway to this enchanted forest. A fresh coat of sparking dew lays over everything, lending a fantastic quality to the scene. The ground is covered with an inviting blanket of green moss. Faerie lights glimmer from within the boles of dark yet pleasant trees. This is a magical place.
So, this is the Magical Mystical Enchanted Fantastic Faerie Wooded Forest of Magicalness. The game designers certainly knew how to use a thesaurus.
Naturally, the best thing to do when presented with a mysterious magical forest is to walk straight ahead until we find something.
Tracker isn't really a necessary skill. Following tracks doesn't take us anywhere we couldn't go otherwise. Still, it's kind of cool, adds to the atmosphere, and is at least marginally useful at several points. It's no Lockpick, but it's not the worst.
Now, if we walk one step in front, we'll face a battle with a random enemy.
A pack of dogs might not seem so bad, but they're tough enough to survive a couple rounds of Elvar's, and this can happen:
Fortunately, they're 40' away and don't have magic, so we can safely run. Another, more interesting random battle we can get:
Hey look, it's a new sprite! These guys are trouble. Their weaker attack does a ton of stun damage:
In this case, we killed one out of two before the whole party was stunned, so we got a few experience points. Being stunned just pushes us back a tile, much like running away. That's not a problem, but watch out for their breath attack, which does real damage.
Anyway, this is what the tracks are actually meant to lead us to:
Select either King's or Quag, and...
Yep. You thought the Underworld was convenient? This can take you to two different places on the other side of Dilmun in one shot, and both of those places will allow us to hop right back to Mystic Wood if needed. This is not strictly necessary to beat the game, but it's immensely useful. We'll come back to this shortly. Also, in case you were wondering, Madrick notices the nexus because he's the first (only) person in our party with the Arcane Lore skill. If nobody has Arcane Lore, it randomly warps us someplace else (one of the two options) and there's no return trip. So it's good that we have someone with Arcane Lore. It's easily the most important of the Lores.
Anyway, speaking of the Underworld...
We can use "Climb" here to go into the well.
Of course, we can walk right back up the well to return to the Wood.
So remember, the Underworld takes us to Purgatory, Tars, Lansk, Mystic Wood, and some other places we haven't yet discussed, while the Mystic Wood takes us to Kingshome and Quag, with the city of Phoebus right next door. This doesn't quite mean we can go to all of the places in the game yet (remember Freeport?) but it's quite a bit of freedom. The Mystic Wood in a nutshell:
Also, this wall is the side of a building which is important for a different reason.
Paragraph 6 posted:Here you find a simple wilderness shrine, tended by a lonely druid. He welcomes you to his temple, saying the place of worship is open to all.
The shrine is earthy and natural. The walls seem rooted in the depths of the earth, the rock seems alive with animal spirit, the very air is crisp and sweet. You see that the patron deity of this shrine is the man-animal Enkidu. "He is the god of beast-men and man-beasts," the druid explains. "He respects only the strong and pure, to whom he will grant a powerful boon. Before Namtar's purge, the god was in residence in this forest, where he presided over a vast druid colony. Now Enkidu is gone, the brotherhood is broken, and knowledge of our magic is lost."
More info on Enkidu, and it seems to match what we've heard previously. That statue up ahead must be of him, so let's take a look at it.
The Beast Horn casts the "Beast Call" spell. It's Druid Magic, as you might expect, and it summons a Beast. I like the Beast a little more than the Air Elemental, but there's not a huge difference. However, the Horn itself is special. Like the Magic Lamp, the effects of the Horn last indefinitely. Note that the Horn has only 10 charges, so we can't mess around with it too much.
Besides, trying to summon a Beast won't work now, as we have a full party. This really limits the usefulness of summon spells, since they can't be used after you have 7 permanent members.
However, Beast Call at least has a use other than summoning a meat shield. If we look up Beast Call's entry in the Dragon Wars manual, it states, "This holy spell of Enkidu is used in secret Druid rituals." What happens if we cast it (by blowing the horn) right in front of Enkidu's statue?
Paragraph 73 posted:This hidden glade is charged with magical energy. The rocks marking this clearing form a ring of deliberately-placed standing stones, the focus of which is upon the earth where you now stand. You feel power rushing from the roots of the earth and into your soul. Enkidu himself stands and regards you.
Whoa. I guess that answers the "what happened to Enkidu" question.
Not only do we meet Enkidu, we get to challenge him to a wrestling match. We can select one of our party members to take him on, or we can press ESC to exit, in which case...
...he picks a random party member to tangle with.
The wrestling match is a Strength test, but there's some random element to it. Louie (14 Str), Dolph (12), and Madrick (10) do not have high enough Str values to win the wrestling match. Kali (17), Ulrik (20), and Piers (21) all have a chance to lose the match, but can also win. After experimenting a bit, there's a Strength roll that goes something like this:
Str - chance of winning
15 - Always lose
16 - 1/8
17 - 1/4
18 - 3/8
19 - 1/2
20 - 1/2
21 - 5/8
22 - 3/4
23 - 7/8
24 - Always win
I haven't statistically tested this or anything, but it's something like that. In a nutshell, 15 and under is not enough, 24 or more is a guarantee, and 16-23 is a maybe.
With his 21 Str, Piers is our best bet.
If we fail, we just blow the Horn again and re-try. This will continue to work even if the Horn runs out of charges.
Sweet! Piers just out-wrestled a fucking demigod to become the champion of the Druids! No, he doesn't get to equip a Druid Heavyweight Title Belt raising his Str by 50 or anything like that. Instead, look at the following screenshot. Notice anything different?
Yep. Piers is a magic user now!
Piers: Magic?! Noooooooooo!
Not just that. He's currently our best magic user.
The character who beats Enkidu gets a skill level of 2 in Druid Magic, and instantly learns 7 spells. This is a one-time thing per game, so it's best to pick someone who doesn't already have Druid Magic. If the character isn't already a magic user, he or she doesn't automatically learn Low Magic, so this means Piers can't increase his Druid Magic skill beyond 2 unless we build up a bunch of skill points to go back and learn Low Magic. We won't need to do this, however. Druid Magic doesn't have many variable-MP spells, so a skill level of 2 is plenty. The bigger problem with Piers as a spellcaster is that he has only 10 Spirit, giving him just 20 MP. In this sense, Ulrik might have been a better choice because he has higher Spirit, though he also has lower Int.
Anyway, those spells. We know about Scare, Greater Healing, and Beast Call already. The others:
Death Curse: 3-18 damage to one enemy, 40' range, costs 6. The damage/MP ratio isn't great compared to Fire Light or Sun Stroke, but anything that can take out a dude from 40' has its uses.
Fire Blast: 4-24 damage to a group, 30' range, costs 12. Twice the power of Elvar's Fire for twice the cost. Piers can only cast this once without recharging, so we can't use this too liberally, but this is easily the strongest combat spell currently at our disposal. Spells like this are essential for winning harder fights.
Insect Plague: -2 AV/DV to a group, 60' range, costs 4. I never really used this. I guess it could be okay, but it's probably just better to cast a group-damage spell.
Whirl Wind: Pushes a group backward 30', 40' range, costs 4. Again, I never really used this, it might be good for a defensive strategy of some sort.
Most likely we'll just have Piers throw a Fire Blast whenever we're in a jam, but there are a number of other options.
By the way, Air Element has 16 Str. So this can happen:
Air Element can't actually cast any of these spells, as he has a Spirit of 0 which cannot be raised. So let's not do this. Another thing about Air Element is that after waiting around for a minute or two, the spell runs out, and he just dies.
It's nice that he doesn't just vanish. He can actually carry items and gold, so you'll want to trade anything good to someone else. Once that is done with...
Let's use the Horn to get a buddy who won't randomly vanish from our party.
Beast is a pretty cool guy, nothing special, but he'll do a decent job up front.
Moving on, we'll walk down the western shore, avoiding most of the fights, but there's one we do want to take on.
We can take one of these guys.
Beast brings pretty consistent damage.
More AC is always welcome. The Wand does this:
It's limited to 20 charges, but it's our first access to a heal-all spell. I shouldn't have to explain why that's a great thing to have. Let's follow the shore just a bit further.
Other things in the Mystic Wood:
We can't do much with this yet. We'll come back to it later.
We'll have to come back to this later as well. Seems this really was the hotspot for the Druids.
And finally, we'll grab some of these mushrooms. What could they be used for?
We now have a number of options open to us, so it's VOTING TIME! Places we can go include:
- King's Isle (featuring Kingshome, naturally)
- Quag (featuring the City of the Yellow Mud Toad)
- Phoebus (featuring the Temple of the Sun)
- Cross the Heavily Guarded Bridge
Lots of exciting possibilities this time around, so voting will be open until at least some time on Friday.