Part 11: PhoebusUpdate 11: Phoebus, City of the Sun!
Before we get started here, I'll mention that I finally distributed some of the free skill points we had picked up. Piers gets +2 Spirit, bringing his MP up to 24. He'll now be able to cast Fire Blast twice if needed. Kali gets +1 Spirit for the same reason, with the other points going into her Bandage skill. Dolph gets a boost to Int and HP. Louie gets +2 Str and +1 HP, bringing all of his attribute totals to 16. Hoping to get a little more melee damage out of him. Now with that out of the way...
Paragraph 26 posted:The walls of this city are of bright marble that seem to glow with an inner light. The streets are paved and clean, and there is no sign of poverty or disorder. The horse carts run on time. You can't shake the feeling something is about to go tragically wrong.
In general, one of the prevailing themes of Dilmun is: the nicer the place looks, the more fucked up everything actually is.
Paragraph 25 posted:"Welcome to Phoebus, City of the Sun!" chirps an odd mechanical voice. You stop in your tracks, trying to identify the source of the voice. After a few moments, you hear the message again, and determine it is coming from a raised stone dais and plaque directly in your path. Evidently the message is activated by your presence. "Welcome to Phoebus, City of the Sun!" the voice says again, this time a little slower than before. You examine the plaque and see it is a a map of the city. "Welllcoooome tooo Phoeeeeebussss, Ciiiityyy offff theeeee Sunnnnnnnn..." the voice intones, now perilously slow. Something's wrong with the device. A mechanical hand protrudes from the dais, frantically trying to shake your hand, but there's no way you're getting near it. Two stern looking gentlemen dressed all in black stare at you, making you nervous. Committing the details of the map to memory, you hurry away from the silly device."Wellllllllllllllcooooooooooommmmmeeeeee. . . !"
The paragraph suggests that you memorize a map of the city, but you don't actually get a map or anything. You have to actually walk around town if you want anything to show up on the automap.
Speaking of walking around: let's do just that. There are a lot of places to check out in Phoebus. And in many of those places, we'll find... these motherfuckers.
Don't worry. The Stosstrupen in Phoebus aren't dangerous. They only ever do stun damage! How much stun damage, you ask?
They also take a lot of damage to kill. Fortunately, at this point in the game they don't show up in large groups. One or two, we can handle.
You may remember that the Stosstrupen are Namtar's secret police. Obviously, Namtar is in charge of things and has a significant presence here in Phoebus. We've already been tipped off that Mystalvision is allied with Namtar, so this shouldn't come as a huge surprise.
Also, we don't have to fight any battles to make our way to the northeastern part of the city, where we'll find this:
Naturally, our first order of business is to "Ask for volunteers."
Of course, we've already hit the limit on characters. In order to recruit anyone, we'll need to dismiss someone. The only sensible option is to send Beast packing.
One thing I don't like about this game is that if you do everything right, summon spells aren't useful. We got a little bit of mileage out of Air Summon and Beast Call, but with a new party member set to join us, we won't be able to do anything with the other summon spells. That said, it's quite possible to permanently miss Louie and other recruitable characters and you could potentially escape Purgatory without missing Ulrik if you don't know the game well. I assume the summon spells would be essential for someone who was playing this for the first time and got stuck with only 5 or 6 party members. Thanks your suggestions though, we basically progressed through the game in the ideal way to quickly recruit a full cast of permanent characters. This is a good thing. We won't miss Beast very much, and here's why:
Valar is Level 2 and doesn't come with any skills, lores, or weapon specialties. However, he has 18 Int, 32 MP, and a point of both Low and Sun Magic. Once he levels up a bit, we'll put his points into the Sun Magic skill to power up his Sun Stroke. He'll prove to be very valuable in the long run.
Speaking of which: we know what Sun Stroke does, and having two guys who can cast it for big damage is nice. Guidance is another one we already have, it makes a compass if we're in a dungeon.
Armor of Light gives one party member +2 AC for the duration of combat for 6 MP. It's an embarassingly bad spell, one of the worst in the game. Remember, Cloak Arcane does this for the whole party for as little as 1 MP.
Heal does exactly what it says. It heals 2-8 HP for one member for 4 MP. It's more powerful than Sun Light or Healing, but it still only heals one character. In battle, that's usually too slow. Out of battle, we can just use Bandage.
We give Valar a Bow and some Arrows and Madrick's Brigandine. Party order will be Piers, Ulrik, Kali, Louie, Valar, Dolph, Madrick. With another magic user in the party now, Kali gets to move back into melee range.
All of these hints are meaningful and will be important later. I won't say too much about them for now, however. We'll file them away in our notes.
Across from the tavern is this scripted encounter. The number of rats is random. It can be as low as 1, and I've never seen more than 19. They're always 20' away, so we could just cheese this by running away and coming back until we get a low number. Or...
The building next to the rats (to the north) is empty. It's the one directly across from the Tavern that we want to get to, and that means tangling with some Mad Dogs. Anyone who has played The Bard's Tale just tensed up reading that last sentence.
It's always 4 of them, and they're always at 40'. Mad Dogs are... slightly less threatening in this game.
They do enough damage to make us Bandage up afterward, but if we had used magic, we could have made it through this fight without a scratch.
Another easy chest, Madrick can open it with his knowledge of Lockpicking 101.
The Mage Cloth give +3 AC and requires a Low Magic skill of 1. It can also cast Mage Light. I don't know if it lasts forever the way Magic Lamp does, but it has 10 charges. Also, it's an armor with no AV penalty, which is kind of nice but not especially useful for mages. We'll throw it on Madrick so he has some kind of armor.
The Magic Plate is the reason we came here. It gives +10 AC like the Plate Mail, but only -2 to AV. It's the second-best armor in the game. I put it on Kali, figuring she might be able to tank & heal in a tough fight.
Heading south, we hear marching soldiers. This is something to check out, but let's investigate the rest of town first.
Hmm. For some reason I get the idea this house is bad news.
We could beat those Stosstrupen by throwing a ton of magic at them, but there's no point. They're not guarding a treasure or anything.
These guys, in the western part of town, are guarding a treasure. They're also pathetically easy to beat. We take them out in one round. You know the drill: we find a chest, it's an easy lock, Madrick opens it.
Poogs Vortex is the High Magic version of Fire Blast (or double Elvar's Fire). Instead of costing 12, it costs 11, and the range is only 20' instead of 30'. The key here is that Madrick has enough MP to cast it three times without recharging.
Mithras' Bless gives +3 DV to the whole party for the duration of combat. 5 MP. Never used it.
Create Wall doesn't raise AC, or protect against magic, or anything like that. It literally makes a wall. Let's try it out!
Hmm. Maybe that wasn't such a good idea. The game has no problem letting you box yourself into an unwinnable state.
After reloading the game, we'll check out one more building in the northwest.
In case there was any doubt, Mystalvision is running the show around here. Let's show off some of our shiny new magic.
Stosstrupen are especially tough when accompanied by a group of enemies who can actually deal damage. They stun your front-linters right away, then the other group one-shot kills your now-exposed squishy mages.
Ulrik still just has a Hand Axe, but thanks to his 20 Str, he continues to deal consistent damage.
Fire Blast is expensive, but it really does wreck enemy groups.
Remember, Valar only has a 1 in Sun Magic, so his Sun Stroke is only for 2 MP. It can still do solid damage.
Like Fire Blast, Poog's Vortex has a high cost but really brings the pain.
Level ups! Valar will get +1 Sun Magic. For Ulrik, I use all of his remaining skill points to bump his Dexterity up to 20, just enough to give him an AV/DV bonus.
The building contains, you guessed it, yet another locked chest. I hope I've made it clear by now that Lockpick is an essential skill.
Now you see why I was so quick to unload the heavy magic on those guys. The game gives out Dragon Stones like candy, to the point where inventory management is becoming tricky.
Magic Shield is +4 AC. I give it to Louie who was slightly under-protected. All of our front-liners have double-digit AC now.
The Tri-Cross is the first crossbow we've picked up. The Bolt is crossbow ammunition and comes in a pack of 30. Crossbows aren't great in this game, but the Tri-Cross is kind of interesting so we'll give it to Dolph for now. Valar and Madrick don't have the Dexterity needed to handle it.
And with that... we've checked out most of Phoebus. It's strangely not much of a town. There's a tavern, no shops, no real dialogue, not much going on. But there are two places left to check out. One is the Temple of the Sun. We've stocked up on armor and spells, but are we ready yet for a showdown with Mystalvision?
The other place is in the southwest. Remember those marching soldiers we heard earlier?
Walking around a bit, we find a guard house. Before going inside, we have this order of business:
Kali: Hey, that's not nice!
Piers: Let's show these creeps how it's done!
They do pretty good stun damage, but they're not tough to beat.
We don't get anything special for beating the soldiers or saving the poor guy, but we do get some easy experience.
All the armor on our front-liners is dragging down their AV, so I give Piers +1 Swords, Kali +1 Axes, and Louie +1 Flails.
Paragraph 28 posted:Two officers occupy this building, evidently associated with the military force drilling on the parade grounds outside. The officers quickly shuffle aside the dice game they were playing when you entered, and snap to attention. They relax when they see who you are, and you sense a change in their attitude. The elder of the two officers gives you a close inspection. "Such a fine lot of patriotic types," he says. "It's about time someone from this feeble little burg enlisted in the army! Welcome to the service of King Drake. Hail Namtar!"
Well, this is interesting. An offer to join the army of our most hated nemesis? What's our play?
Shall we join Namtar's army of Kingshome? Or shall we not join the army and go to the Temple of the Sun?