The Let's Play Archive

Exile 2: Crystal Souls

by berryjon

Part 4: The Attack on Fort Ganrick

Update 002 – The Attack on Fort Ganrick

I mentioned a technical difficulty in the game in the thread, so I wanted to show it off.

I created all the characters, (and now that I'm writing the update, I think I messed up with Kai-Lyss' SP. Something seems off. I'll see about fixing it before the next update) and then altered the graphic for Marianna's new PC. I replaced the guy with the red tunic and sword that is the first PC portrait, in case you were all wondering.

Now, Exile isn't exactly a moddable game. But what I could do was tweak the “PCS.bmp” file to alter the character graphics. Hence, Marianna and her swank blue robes.

Anyways, this is what happens when, for whatever reason, you leave a town, and don't do so via a 'normal' method. In fact it's very equivalent to using the “Leave Town” command in the cheater.

... Maybe I accidentally triggered that command when I was updating Art?

Speaking of, as per the voting at the end of the Exile 1 thread, Art is starting the game with some improved stats, and the Alien Blade. The stats aren't such a big deal, but the Alien Blade is probably the most powerful one-handed weapon in the game. I understand that game balance is not something you guys will see, but for the sake of narration, I couldn't justify stripping Art of all her gear.

I can also throw the Alien Blade on people who need more XP, and send them into combat with it equipped. I suspect Dmurr and Marianna will need this advantage to keep up.

That's enough explanation. On with the LP!

“We are here.”

“Why, I've nevah seen such a fort before! It's quite rudimentary.”


“And yet, we have been given our duties. Why I was not assigned to the front lines, I cannot say though.”

“Aren't you a little short to be a trooper?”

“I would have to ask that you don't make undue assumptions about people. It's not only not-nice, but you are most often wrong about a person.”



From the left; Aarth-Tss, Chester, Kai-Lyss, Dmurr, and Marianna. These are the PCs for the rest of the game.


“And who are you, to ssspeak ssso?”






“So, you're the new trainees I've been sent? Who has the letter?”

“I was entrusted with a message. Prove you are the one it was destined for.”



“Ollie, Ollie, Oxen Free.”

“Really? That's a password?”

“Yes, for a low-security message like this? Pass it over.”

“As you wish.”

“Oh bloody hell. Can't catch a break, can I?”

“Well, you could always take a quick nip. I find it's good to keep the stupid away.”

“You are truly Art?”

“Well, until someone else starts showing up with that name, yes.”

“I am Aaarth-Tss. It is a pleasure and an honour to meet the Slayer.”

“Oh... I do not have time for this.”

“I do not believe you are the Slayer. You are... small.”

“Wait? What are you guys talking about? I thought we were supposed to help out the Army up here?”

“Oh, this is going to be great.”

“I agree with the young boy here”
“Do not interrupt me!”

“Oh joy, a road show!”



“Alright, seeing as how you all somehow missed the briefing, here's the short version. My name is Art. Yes, that Art. You can blame me for inviting the Empire down to invade another day. I work with Unspecified Services. You, through whatever process, now work for me.”



“I thought I was going into the army!”

“Not a question. But Unspecified Services takes in those who are deemed a poor fit for the Army, and gives them a place where they can serve. Now, would you all kindly introduce yourselves?”

“I am known now as Kai-Lyss. More, I will not say.”

“Aaarth-Tss. I am out of Gnass.”

“Ahrt, dahling, there must be some mistake. I am Marianna, and I am not here as some... peon.”

“Name's Chester, Ma'am! Proud to be here, even though it's not where I was hoping to go!”

“Huh? What? Show's over? I'm Dmurr. I'm thirsty, is there a drink nearby?”

“Mess is behind you to your right. Water is free.”


Oh, this is going to be a long day. Not even Basic, Anaxiamander?



“I do not care where you are from, or what you thought you were sssigning up for, but we are here now, and we ssshall do what we promissed.”

“Thank you. Now, questions?”

“Where's the real drinks?”


“I have tastes!”

“They are very poor ones, based on what I've seen. And I've run vineyards.”

“I thought you were... taller.”

“No, I'm actually slightly below average for a human female.”

“What is our current assisgnment?”

“What he said!”

“There is a Nephil fortress located to the east, between here and Motrax's cavern. We are to disrupt their operations while the Army prepares to wipe them out properly. You can start by equipping yourself from stuff in the two store rooms over there, and meet me back here. We'll head down to Fort Draco for some information, then do a bit of reconnaissance.”

“I claim the wine-skins!”

“Why me?”

“There was not much in the way of viable supplies, but we are equipped.”

“The armour chaffed, so I passed it to someone less.. finicky.”

“Everyone ready?”

“... yes.”

“Good. Once we get going, we can talk more.”

Click the above image to watch the video! Really!

I want to make something clear. This is not an easy fight. This was my fourth try at it in order to avoid party deaths. In fact, here was attempt 2:

For some reason, Kai-Lyss aggro'd a lot of enemies in all my runs, even when he's just sitting near the back.

I actually want to talk about this fight. It's actually very easy to skip. The hidden trigger for it is in the courtyard of the fort. If you want to leave, just head out through the Mess, and you can skip it entirely. If you don't feel like fighting this battle with a party of Level 1 characters, you can leave the fort, grind against some local mobs, then come back and do this properly.

Actually, this fight isn't even required. You can just skip it! No plot happens here at all!

There were a few interesting comments from the thread about this battle, so I decided to show them off here as there are some interesting observations that I didn't make at the time of the initial writing:

veekie posted:

Man that is a hugeass opening battle, especially without gear worth a damn.

TooMuchAbstraction posted:

That fight is a bastard. I can't remember how many tries I took at it when I tried to play E2 with a solo slith, but it was a lot. Haste and bless up, step onto the trigger square, then rush to the doors to try to bottle up the nephil casters, and you'd better hope they get distracted putting damage fields on the soldiers instead of casting Curse or Slow on you...

Shady Amish Terror posted:

While that first battle is (technically) optional, the game expects you to get into it. It's honestly one of the first things that comes to mind in terms of poor design decisions in Exile 2 (after the wonkiness of the poison, alchemy, assassination, and luck skills, but before we run into some of the more insane sidequests later on).

While I love Exile 2, that fight is a piss-poor way to introduce a new player to the game, as you're usually unprepared, the enemies are all around you, and you don't know the mechanics yet. They love to bunch up on your poor mages, who will probably be thrown into the middle of the courtyard with them when you hit fight for the first time without knowing how the game likes to put your characters in formation, and they can roll RIDICULOUSLY high damage numbers for being the first fight of the game. Even an optimized party can suffer a death with some poor luck.

And for those reading along, take note: while most maps you find in the game are poorly-scrawled, this one is especially terrible.

MagusofStars posted:

The fight in general is just horribly set up.

>If you try to fight it straight, even an experienced player can struggle badly, much less a newbie.
>There is no opportunity to gain levels/XP beforehand or even to visit a store. So if you have an oddball setup (e.g., multiple archers), it's entirely possible to have a character forced to use a weapon with no training.
>The enemies here (Chief, Shaman, several Warriors and half a dozen regular Nephils) are roughly equal to a late-Chapter 1 random battle. The soldiers help, but you're still outnumbered.
>It's entirely possible to just run right out the front door and skip the entire battle. Since there's usually a soldier or two closer to the nephilim spawn than you, this is actually reasonably safe. But doing so screws you out of the map and LoTR reference password which (AFAIK) is unavailable any other way.
>You can, as mentioned, dodge the fight trigger entirely by going through the mess or abusing the start/end combat button to jump past the trigger.
>The tired/lazy/drunk mage in the room next to yours actually can be requested to help and is a huge benefit...but from where you trigger the battle, it's actually extremely difficult to get to him unless you immediately enter combat mode and run for it (something that a new player probably wouldn't think of). I'm pretty sure you were actually intended to run and ask him for help, since this not only draws him into the fight, but also gets your characters out of direct fire, letting the soldiers wear down the enemy, making the battle significantly simpler.

Shady Amish Terror posted:

Just to clarify for people who might still be new to the game/series, fighters have a weak start in the early game; your money has to be split between their gear and getting training for the whole party, and running up to hit dudes is risky business when one bad turn with just a couple of enemies can splat a low-level character. High HP gains, damage that can't be negated by magic resistance, and some other goodies make them excellent at taking out single targets later on.

Conversely, opposite what you might expect, mages are indispensably powerful early on; the magic level is Mage 3, at which point you get access to Fireball. Some spells you have to be taught (few of the low-level spells, but nearly all of the high-level spells need to be acquired extrinsically), but a few you will know right away at the correct level, and Fireball is one such spell.

Berryjon will almost certainly be showing off why Fireball is good; for those playing along at home, get at least one, and maybe two characters who can cast this AS SOON AS YOU CAN, maybe even right out the gate. It's worth it. I've said that I love Exile 2, and I've said that Exile 2 has some questionable gameplay decisions. Just know that Fireball is borderline necessary to beat the first chapter.

Shwqa posted:

Though it does show just how much Jeff Vogel (owner of spiderweb software) has improved in his ability to make fun games.

In one of the last gene forge game you are in a similar situation. You are fresh recruit right off the boat about to begin your training and all hell breaks loose. The opposing forces are attacking and you have to run through a battle of giants vs lightning lizards to safety. You aren't going to die unless you do something stupid like attack a giant. Still gives the same sense of conflict, but it's not nearly as annoying.

And it is pretty cool, because the giants and lightning lizards are new summons to that game, so you get to see them in action in end game fights.

TooMuchAbstraction posted:

I will say this about that introductory fight, though: it does a good job of setting the mood for the game. The nation of Exile is in bad trouble in E2, and this fight shows the player that instead of just telling them.

veekie posted:

It really should be impressed on newer players that you want M3 and P3 in your starting party just to get over the gear gap at least. And that letting the NPCs soften them up goes a long way.

When you go into combat (by pressing the “F” key for 'Fight'), the bottom row of commands change, and the party splits up into a loose formation. You can abuse this later, but I won't. Except to show it off. Honest.

From the left, we keep the Mage and Priest spell commands, though the available spells will have changed from what we can cast out of combat to those we can cast in combat. Magic is a lot more in depth in this game, so I will whip up an update dedicated to all the magic.

Those who have read my Exile 1 LP will be pleased to know that Major Blessing is still the BEST SPELL, though it is a lot harder to get now.

Next, we have “Look”, which is pretty useless in combat, except to differentiate specific enemies from each other. “Parry” is a defensive command, which makes it harder for the PC to get hit, and they take less damage when the do get hit. The bag is the “Gather” command, which lets us pick stuff up. If you're picking things up in the middle of combat, you're either gathering ammo for your ranged weapon, or you're so far ahead of the curve you can afford to stop and collect the shinies.

Wait is the command to cause the PC to move to the bottom of the cue. The Arrow is to fire a ranged weapon, End ends the combat, while 'Act' should allow you to interact with the environment while in combat.

Now, every player gets 'AP' or Action Points to use when their turn comes up in combat. Most PCs start with 4, however, taking the 'Sluggish' disadvantage reduces that to 3, as you can see when Kai-Lyss' turn comes up. Thankfully, the game comes with a helpful graphic to show off the costs of various actions:

I think I will get into more depth about combat later, as this is getting long.

“Oh my, what is this?”

“This is... crude.”

“Thisss... what.”

“Wow! They left us a map to the back door to their camp!”

“Why would anyone do that?”

“Who cares, dahling? If this means we can do things without bloodshed, then why not?”

“You all help the garrison clean up. I'm going to talk to the Captain about this.”

“Asss you wissh. Chesster, help the soldiersss ssecure the wallss.. Aaarth-Tss, take the Nephil and check the outsside for sspiess. Marianna, with me.”

“Now hold on! Who put you in charge?”

“I did.”



“What do you want?”

“I'm sorry for the men who won't make it.”

“Save your pity.”

“It's not pity. It's honest.”

“If you really want me to recognize you, you'll go return the favour. A hundredfold.”


“Where were you?”

Excuse me?”

“Where were you? There's no signs of a fight in here, so it wasn't like they came in through your room as well.”

What are you saying?”

“Do I have to? You're so quick to accuse people of being what they are not, I just had to give it a try.”

“That was a quick leaving there, Ma'am. Err, Sir. Art. Sir. Ma'am.”

“Don't worry. It's just Art.”

“The captain seemed quite livid at the attack.”

“That she was.”

“So, um, Art. Sir. Why are we headed South? Along the road, I mean?”

Roads... No, we were too aquatic to recognize them for what they can do.

“Are you injured, Art?”

“Huh? Why do you ask?”

“Your hands. They shake.”

“She just needs a stiff one, that'll clear right up.”

“No. You all deserve to know if you're under my command. I was on a raid in the former Giant Lands, headed for the Abyss when we got into a fight. I got the wrong end of a Mind Duel, and took the brunt of it. I'm supposed to be headed to Formello to check in with the healers there. They want a good look at me.”

“Oh. Um.”

“A drink.”

“Oh, you poor thing!”

“I thought I saw something moving to the east.”

“Oh good! A distraction!”

“What is the purpose of this distraction then?”

“Investigation. And people tell me I have a commitment problem.”

“Oh joy.”

In case it isn't obvious, not all events are shown on the map. They can catch you by surprise. I hope you're prepared!

“Ssspiders? I thought they were catsss”

At least they aren't the Giant Intelligent Friendly Talking kind.

“The what now?”

“The less you know, the better.”

“Now I am interested in them!”

“I doubt spiders would make interesting conversationalists.”

“That is the lasst of them. Ssshall we advance?”

“I don't think I read that sign on the way up.”

“You were sloshed on the way up.”

“I've heard good things about Motrax.”

“He's a nice guy. Haven't heard from him in a while. May want to make a side trip there.”

“Iss this ssstandard for you humanss?”

“What? No. Unspecified Services encourages independent initiative in their agents. Because we have to work outside the framework of official channels.”

“That sssounds like an interesssting work ethic.”

“That is does. It also means we don't pry into our people's pasts.”


“So, Fort Draco. It has to be an improvement!”

“Maybe we can stop at the Tavern first?”

“No, we're going to buy, at the very least, you a bow.”

I apologize for the short update, it's difficult to get into the new writing habit of a more experienced Art, and the new cast. I should find all their voices in the next couple updates, so please forgive any changes you may see.

As is the tradition, here is the current Map:

Something has changed here between Exile 1 and 2. Back in E1, I showed that the map seemed to equate to about 1 square to one mile. However, the above Sign, when compared to the distances on the screen are, at the best, distended. It's location when compared to Fort Draco puts it 6 squares away, making each square 1/3 to 1/2 of a mile, depending on if you want to interpret the exactitudes of the map.

But Fort Ganrick is 11 tiles North, which rounds out to 1.5 miles per tile. This sort of distention is... odd, but I will work to check out other distances as well, to see if this particular sign was just misplaced (it works better if it was SW of the crossroads, rather than North-West), or if there is a bit of retcon work being done on the map.

Man, making a LP sure makes me think hard about what I'm doing.