Part 5: Fort Draco and Under DracoUpdate 003 Fort Draco and Under Draco
I've heard of Draco. We passsed by on our way to meet with you.
It's not much. Just a mining town, really. Not even properly threatened by the Slithzerikai. Right now, it's being reinforced to deal with Empire incursions.
Wouldn't a fort closer to the river to the west be better, Ma'am, Sir?
Oh, don't be such a boor, my dear Chester. Even Ganrick is an outpost. Draco is an established locale to operate from.
Ssstill, there is a tenssion in the air.
Right on that. Can't wait to get my hands on a proper bow, that's fer sure.
I went and fixed up the party's stats. It seems as the in-game character creator acts like a trainer, not proper character creation, so it doesn't add in the additional Stats for being Slith or Nephil, nor did it add in the extra SP from having levels of Mage and Priest to Kai-Lyss. He's a hella lot better now, as is Dmurr and Aarth-Tss.
Alright, Draco is a secure location, I should hope. So once we're inside, we can split up and do our own thing. We'll meet in the tavern to eat before we plan out our next move.
You want us to go our separate ways, Ma'am, Sir? That doesn't seem like a good idea.
Don't worry. If anything goes wrong, we're all in ear-shot. Besides, one of the things that Unspecified Services encourages is independent investigation. Consider this a... test of a sort. I'm going to visit Boutell, the blacksmith, then head over to the tavern to wait for the rest of you.
I may transcribe these extra messages in the future. I'm not sold on how they're presented in this LP yet.
Barriers? What are they talking about?
Go and find out.
Such a taskmaster! Who does she think she is, giving orders like that?
Crisper? I do not know that name.
Speaking of names, wasn't there an Art... something or other some years back? Oh, darn. I suppose I should have paid more attention to that sort of thing during my time in the Capital.
This restaurant is quite poorly laid out. The table doesn't even have a proper view!
A large, filthy dirty man sits at the bar, swilling mushroom ale. Hey, let a man drin in peace.
Well, I be! And who are you to tell me what to do?
"Harg. And you heard me. I'm drinkin' here. Go away."
Don't mind him. He's a grumpy drunk. The bar is tended by a handsome man with somewhat deranged demeanor. He fights a constant and futile battle to keep the counter free of soot.
Ah! Food! Drink! Finally, I'm famished!
Shouldn't you be getting a replacement bow?
Nah, Chester said he would. He's a pal like that.
It is improper to take advantage of your fellows like that.
What? He said he would, and I trust him! More'n I trust you, really.
"Welcome to my inn! My name is Crisper."
What do you serve?
"Drinks are a gold. You can sleep in the common room for 5 gold. And you can even buy rations! Feel free to stay and rest for a while. Just never mind me. It takes all my time keeping the place clean."
Fort Draco serves much the same purpose as Silvar does in the first game, providing a basic base camp for the party before they move on to more important places and locations. This is the Inn, and here you can also buy food. Food, basic supplies and training are all to be found here, though like Silvar, there are no additional spells to be had.
Can I get a drink?
"Here's some of our finest!" He serves up several mugs of mushroom ale, with little flecks of soot floating on top. It's strong, and not entirely repulsive.
Oh, that hit the spot. And it should tide me over for a while. So, why are you constantly cleaning?
He twitches. "All the ashes! I never knew when I bought this place there would be so many ashes! A ton a day, piles and piles of them, all over. And smoke too! And it isn't just that... He twitches alarmingly. "It's the spiders! I have to clear away their webs! All of them!"
Ummm... Art did mention something about spiders before...
"They're what did this to me! It was the happy spiders! I can't get them out of my brain! I hear them speaking to me sometimes! A whole bunch of them live to the west. Some of them came around not that long ago, looking for someone to help them. I ran! I've always hated spiders! And having them hit on me only makes it worse!" He's ranting. You get nervous.
Yes, they're here. Yes, we'll visit them before the end of the first Act.
You see an ageing and greying man behind the counter, wrinkled and grumbling. He is sharpening an arrowhead. His skin is like parchment, bleached white. He looks up at you. "Ah! A customer!" He brushes soot off the counter with his hand. "I am Orson. Welcome!"
My name is Chester, sir. I've been given a shopping list to take care of. Would you be willing to help me?
"Sure! I run this fine little shop. You can buy and sell weapons here." He waves at his stock. "Not bad, despite the barrier. Really messed with my stock."
Your stock seems well enough, sir. What is the problem?
"Well, I won't be able to get much new stock with those barriers up, but I still have a lot here. I just hope they get the thing down soon."
Let me buy something first, if you don't mind.
I was supposed to get a bow and some Arrows for Dmurr. I wonder if these are what he was after.
Oh sweet mercy of Sanity and Intelligence! This alone makes ranged PCs worthwhile instead of dead weight in Exile 1!
Oh, about those barriers?
"It's awful! Big magic barriers, cutting us off from Exile! Ask Commander Anford about it! He'll tell you."
Everyone will give you this line when you ask about the mysterious 'Barriers'.
Ah, I've heard of this place. It's where people go to get trained! Though I don't feel the need to visit here yet.
Training is done on a screen exactly the same as character creation. However, instead of having unlimited gold to work with, we have only the party funds. And additional Skill Points are earned via levelling up. Characters will earn 5 Skill Points every level until Level 20, then 4 points each level thereafter to the cap of 50. There is another way to earn Skill Points, but I won't be able to get that until Act 4.
<What curious thoughts emerge from beneath the bubbling water.>
<To think that such large effects from such a small thing.>
<What am I to learn?>
Boat. <Float-craft>. Boat.
You meet an energetic, long-haired woman, her belt laden with tools of various sorts. She holds a ruler and a scroll, and her jerkin is covered with a light layer of sawdust. Hello! I'm Tess, the shipwright of Fort Draco. Pleased ta' meet'cha!"
I am Aarth-Tss. I wasss looking at your... boatsssz.
"Whaddaya' think? I make them. Wanna' purchase one? Only 300 gold. Highest quality!"
I do not know... I would need permission, nor do I have the money required. It is not like we have had much need for sssuch thingsss in the passt.
Makes sense. We don't get much business, and it's not often that Slith come up this way. They like to stay closer to the Gallery and the waters near there.
I am from Gnass.
Interesting! Well, how about we talk some more in my shop?
That may be... interesssting.
<A quiet place to reflect.>
A middle-aged man is reclining against one of the statues, looking out over the water. The green light from the fungus above shines eerily on the river. He wears the robes of an apprentice. Strange - he's old for an apprentice. He looks up at you. "Welcome. Join me in enjoying the view. I am Anford."
Kai-Lyss. What do you do around here, humanz?
"I am the fort commander. I'm also a mage, but that isn't as important."
This fort is yourz? Ssshould you not be attending your dutiess?
"This is where I do my thinking about the fort. My office, so to speak. Normally, I'd be planning tactics, defenses, that sort of thing. But not lately. We fought off a bunch of Empire assaults, and they've left us alone lately, so that's not on my mind. We have a different threat now. I'm mainly thinking about the barrier."
Your peopless have spoked of these Barriers in passing. What are they?
"The barriers appeared less than a week ago. We just found out about them. Magic barriers, of a sort we've never seen before, cutting off this area from the rest of Exile. We can't break them down, we can't touch them. It's a disaster! Exile needs our help!"
What does Draco produsse that makes you so vital?
He gives Kai-lyss an appraising look. Metal.
Fair enough. You also appear to be a mage. But your cloth indicatesss you are apprentiss.
"I've been an apprentice mage for five years. In the slith wars, I got assigned to this fort, and they found I had a knack for tactics. I never returned to the Tower of Magi."
Ah. We are ssimilar then. I too was magusss before being zwept up in the War. Though I wass on the...other side.
You know, I'm willing to let by-gones be by-gones, if you are.
Yesss. We are sstrangers. We sshall sstay that way.
<Did I read that right?>
<I did. Good.>
This is ludicrous! How did I wind up in this situation?
"Hi! I'm Kev!" You find a very young man, just starting to get fuzz on his upper lip. He's rearranging the thick piles of dirt on the floor with a large broom. Huge piles of ore dwarf him on either side.
Oh! I'm so sorry, dear child. Whatever are you doing here?
"Sweeping up the warehouse."
This seems like such a big job, to be cleaning a large warehouse such as this by yourself!
Yes, Ma'am! But, it's nice to see someone. This place makes me nervous. I keep hearing noises."
Noises? Surely there are many sounds in this building.
"From the storeroom, with all the barrels. I hear scraping in there all the time. I try not to go back there - it sure don't sound like rats!"
laughs Rats? I'm sure a good man like you has nothing to fear from them!
"Big as me! And sometimes they blow this foul, nasty gas at you! I run when I see 'em. You should do the same!"
Ah, Mung Rats. I've heard of those.
This storeroom, right?
I'm not strong enough to force the door, nor do I have the required items to flip the lock. Perhaps I can convince one of the Lizards to do it for me?
For all the changes, at least the foundry is in relatively the same spot.
Boutell? You in here?
Oh! You must be Art! A short stout woman is taking notes on a sheet of lichen parchment. She, like everything and everyone else, is covered with a thick layer of soot. She slaps you on the shoulder in greeting. You think she sprained something. "Hi! Call me Cappy."
Oh! Boutell mentioned something about you the last time I was through here. I don't remember what, exactly.
"I'm the forewoman here. We can't talk long. We have a load of ingots due in Formello."
I'm headed up to Formello myself. Any news?
Not really. It's still the biggest city up here. It's some ways to the southeast. They've built up a large barracks there." She frowns. "Lucky thing our next steel is going there, what with the barrier and all."
"Because of that barrier that just appeared, we can't send stuff anywhere else. It's a bad thing. Lots of fortresses count on us for weapons."
You didn't answer the question!
Look, talk to the Commander. He knows more about it.
Hey, I'm Art. Where's Boutell?
A tall, thin woman heaves sacks of ore over to the smelter. The muscles of her arms show through her pale skin like steel cables. She gives you a brief nod. "I'm Della. So, you're Art huh? The lady with the fancy sword?"
That's me! I thought he only hired one helper, not two?
"I help keep the foundry going! While I can."
What do you mean?
"Those cursed Nephilim have cut us off from our fine ore, but we've got plenty stored up, so we'll be making steel for a while!"
Actually, one of the things I'm up here to deal with is the Nephil problem. You know anything about it?
"Up north. They took all our mines from us. Hope we get back at 'em soon. Exile needs Draco weapons." She grabs another sack of ore. "Look, I got a lot of work to do. Boutell's in his shop."
Heh. So many theories you've dashed.
You are greeted by an enormous, heavily muscled man, stripped to the waist. Somehow, his ruddy glow manages to shine through the paleness that comes from years of living in these caves. ART!
This conversation is about to go seriously off the gameplay. I'll post the actual conversation tree afterwards.
Hey, you old fart! How's the metal?
Shit, as always. You?
Got my ass handed to me in the Giant Lands by a lucky Emp.
Ouch. At least you got out alright!
Tell me about it. Anaxiamander took my stuff for people still on the front. Got to keep the blade though, no one else will touch the thing.
HA! How's it holding up?
She draws the Alien Blade, handing it over to Boutell. Still damned perfect. No nicks, no kinks, no nothing, no matter how much I use it.
He examines it with a critical eye. You really should let me have this for a while. Give me a month or two, and I think I could crack its secrets. He hands it back.
I did. Four years ago. You had it for six months, my friend. What makes you think this time will be different?
He sighs. You're right. It's beyond me. But I have to keep trying, you know? To see such fine craftsmanship, and to see my own works... It's a blow every time I see you.
Hey, no mushy stuff. You're Boutell! Man among Men! Even X thinks you're awesome! You just need practise! It's like I keep telling you, you're a great smith, the best the world has ever seen. Someone got lucky in making my blade, but you consistently produce the finest weapons Exile has ever seen.
Ah, you always knew how to bring a smile to my face. Ever since you brought me Demonslayer, it's been one job after another for you, ain't it?
You got that right. So, what's this you wanted to talk to me about?
Well, he leans in to speak quieter, We've got a bit of a smugglers problem here in town. The guard have been chasing their asses, or patrolling for the Empire. Would you kindly take a look around? There's places...outside the walls that people seem to miss.
I can look into it. Sure. Anything else?
Well, X paid handsomely for that anvil, and well, I've picked up a wee bit of magic. Come around and ask me about augmentation when you come back.
First, the conversation:
Name: He grabs your hand. "I'm Boutell, master blacksmith of the caves." He doesn't seem terribly humble.
Job: "I work steel! Only person down here who does! If you want a good weapon, you can buy it here! I also do repair work."
Repair: "Yes, indeed. Mighty Demonslayer itself was reforged by my hand!" This seems implausible, but you let it slide. "I can repair any blade you need reworked, and I can improve weapons too."
Improve: He leans close to you. "Let's just say not all of my skills are mundane - some are magical. For a fee, I can take any nonmagic weapon and give it an enchantment. Make it stronger. I'm the only man who can do it! Only works once for each weapon, though. If you're ever interested, bring me a weapon and ask me to augment it. Make sure you know exactly what it is, first!"
Augmentation is a means by which Boutell can improve a non-magical weapon, and make it almost as good as a Magical one. For the people more familiar with DnD 3.0, this is the equivalent of making it a Masterwork weapon.
It's only really useful in the first Act, although the lack of magic weapons can be felt all the way through into the end-game. It's also very expensive, and I'll show it off before I finish off the Act.
Your new anvil?
You know it!
Alright then, time to gather everyone up.
So, what did you all find out?
There is a boy afraid of rats. By the way, this Fort has a horrible rat problem.
There are boatsss. I've never been in a boat before!
<That is what held your attention?> I sspake with the Commander of this Fort. He told me of some form of Barrier that iss blocking sshipments from the rest of the human nation.
I heard they were only to the south. That the caves to the west were still clear. Hey Art, There were some Spiders that came by a while back asking for help. You know anything about that.
I thought Unspecified Services did that sort of thing?
Not much, I'm afraid. I don't really have the skills for this. I got some supplies for Dmurr, but what I think was interesting was that it was hard to find good weapons. I thought Fort Draco was a supply centre for good materials?
Boutell has a contract to sell his good stuff to the Army. What with the war going on. Kai-Lyss, anything more about these barriers?
No. Only that they exist. You imply we sshould invesstigate?
Probably. We can swing south before heading to Formello. Actually, we do have one thing to do in town first.
What is it, Ma'am Sir?
There is a smuggling ring in town, and we're going to break it up.
A good endeavour.
What are they smuggling, the boors?
What are 'boorsss', and why would anyone sssmuggle them?
I think she means it as an insult.
But what is a 'boor'?
A person or persons lacking in the dignified social graces expected of them.
Also known as everyone.
I am confussed.
We can talk about that later. I already have a lead, so we're going to all go together.
Right behind you boss. Subtle like a spider!
Ah, this is the store. And what happened to the person who was living here last time I was here? The friend of Zathnia and Cortath?
A small woman with curly hair sits behind the counter watching you silently. She looks uncomfortable. "I'm Cheryl. I don't know who you're talking about."
That's alright. So, what are you doing back here anyways?
"Just sitting. Maybe with some things you could buy. But things that are perfectly legal to sell! And you can sell me things too, nothing wrong with that. Nothing illegal going on here." She is intensely nervous.
She sells lockpicks, which I get for Marianna.
Ma'am, sir, I think you should see this.
It's like they want people to see this.
I'll go first.
Hello all. I don't suppose we could talk like rational people?
We must seperate!
Ah, the joys of combat in a limited space. Only Chester and Art are outside the pile.
And this is how the battle goes for the most part. Kai-Lyss, once again, draws a lot of attention. I had to reload a couple times to avoid his death.
Another thing to note for those familiar with the performance of Art in the previous LP. With only one other spell-caster in the party, she has to spend actions to cast Priest Spells rather than attacking, killing, and making more XP. It's a small difference, but considering she needs the least XP to level, and is in the best position to generate XP, it may just add up.
Why wouldn't they talk?
Indeed, you'd think they would be amicable to a business proposition?
Maybe because we didn't have an appointment?
That's silly. And quite possible. Perhaps we should...
You guys do realize that there's more people down here, right?
<Kai-Lyss, I do not understand what happened.>
<Aarth-Tss, we are aiding in removing a criminal under-element to the supply of weapons and armor to the Human Nation.>
Ahhhh. But why would sssomeone do that in the first place?
Aaarth-Tss had a question best asked in our native tongue, and I answered that we were removing the smugglers before they could damage the material economy.
Pretty much. And if my Slithzerikai isn't totally ruined, I think the answer to your question is that they felt that they could profit from their actions while not adversely affecting the source of their stolen goods.
I agree. We should teach these thieves a lesson in manners!
A Black Sword?
Must be the local group. Talk about a lack of imagination.
Oh, guess what! You can push crates/boxes/barrels around now! When you try to push them into an occupied place though, you just switch places. It's fun!
Alright, time to talk about the combat system a little bit. For some reason, the enemies won't come into this room, they'll stay in the hallway, so I have a bit of time to prepare. I recognize that Marianna is in the least position to gain XP, so I take this opportunity to set her up for grinding.
I'll give Marianna the Alien Blade for this, as it's the best weapon by far. In the meantime, in case something goes horribly wrong, I have Art equipped with a Stone Axe and the Bronze Broadsword. As you can see here, Art is pretty close to Level 2 already, so by the time this is done, she'll have gained the next 8 XP through leak experience.
Ah, so may subjects, and a linear format to present them all. Let me get experience out of the way first. In combat, when a PC kills an enemy, they gain XP. Normally, you would gain 5 XP for killing a single foe of equivalent level, with less XP for killing lesser foes, and more for higher levels. However, the other members of the part get 20-25% of the 'kill' XP as 'leak' experience, and so far Marianna has only been gaining that.
It's also the reason why Pacifism is -40%XP.
What I'm going to be doing is setting Marianna out front with the best gear, with Art Blessing her, and Kai-Lyss using (Minor) Haste as well. She will hold the hallway to the south, earning the most XP in order to keep her up with the rest of the party, something she'll need.
Now, Marianna has a Stone Knife, and the Alien Blade equipped at the same time. Because she doesn't have the Ambidextrous Trait, she is taking penalties to her 'To Hit' percentage for both weapons, while the damage remains the same. I don't want that.
Now she only has the Alien Blade equipped. She has two less Dexterity, and 7 less Edged Weapon skill, so she only has a +15% to hit, instead of Art's +30%, and deals less damage per blow. To elaborate, while the game operates on a % base, it actually rolls on a d20 as all the percentages are multiples of 5 (once again, this game predates 3rd Edition).
I've put some thought into this, as well as some off-camera testing, and as near as I can tell, combat works by rolling to hit the enemy, then rolling to determine the damage. To-Hit is determined by rolling a D20 in the back ground, adding the 'To Hit' bonus of the equipped weapon(s). A character's 'Luck' stat may also affect this roll as well, but I don't have proof of that. This total is checked against the Defence of the target, and if the attacker exceeds the defender, damage is dealt.
Damage is based on the weapon. Each weapon has a 'Damage' stat, which the game rolls as a simple 1d#, where the '#' is the damage stat. Additional damage is applied through the strength of the character, as well as the bonus from the weapon. For the record, the Alien Blade is a 10/+5/Poison weapon. In that is deals 1d9 damage, with a +5 (25%) to hit, and to damage and has a chance to poison the foe as well.
Damage is reduced by a combination of the 'Defence' value of the armor the PC is wearing (or a flat value in the came of enemies) as well as the Strength stat. You can see cases where someone gets hit, but the hit causes no damage. That's due to a low roll not exceeding the armor of the defender.
What? Why is there a Shaman here?
Perhaps the two groups are in allegiance?
I hope not!
Of note, each casting of Bless on a person results in a +5% chance to hit, and +1 to damage, in addition to an unquantified improvement to their defence. Given the nature of the observed system, probably a +1 to avoid being hit and a +1 to damage reduction.
And Marianna starts her killing spree.
I'm covered in blood!
Marianna, under the effects of 7 Blessings, and a couple Minor Hastes. She's killed everything in front of her, and earned 72 XP in the process. Not enough for a level yet, but it's a good start. Art leveled up by proxy though, but I won't cover that until a bit later.
An impressssive display.
Of course! This brigand was no match for the Kampffechten I know!
... you were swinging wildly, and the other got confused.
You just don't know style, my dear.
Thissss... We come upon them at meal timesss.
Barracks. Looks like someone forgot their armor.
Or, it's a spare set.
We should come back to this later.
Here, let me.
That's not how you do it!
I really need the Unlock spell, of for Marianna to improve dramatically.
Damn it, I hate Mung Rats.
I can see why, Ma'am Sir.
Ugh, I hate webs.
The sspoilz. Not much here.
I'll let the people up above know.
We sshould finish checking everything else first.
I think so, too. There could still be more supply caches around.
This infestation must be put out!
Another sleeping room. Why have two?
Huh, this is odd.
... this will be important.
Back down, Ma'am Sir?
Yes, we're not done yet.
What layz back here?
You hear rats.
Ugh. More vermin. Best be at it then.
Disgusting creatures! Their deaths are well served!
Couldn't agree with you more.
The way back here seems... more open.
Mark the location for the troops to secure., we'll go back the long way.
Do we confront the merchant who guards the entranze?
We have no proof she has done anything wrong. It would be wrong for us to take actions based on guesswork.
I disagree, but will resspect Art's decision.
Chester has a point, let's just get back in there.
I believe that this would lead up into the storehouses above. A good way to enter, I think, if we could get into that room.
And another secret passage out. Does this mean we're done?
We should be.
And now we're done.
I confess something. I didn't know about this dungeon the first time I played the game. It wasn't until my second try that I discovered this, and the shock of the discovery led me to spend far too many hours trying to find each and every last little thing in this game.
Fort Draco itself has undergone some massive changes since its Exile 1 incarnation. The only thing that's remotely the same is Boutell and the Boat shop, the rest is new, and rearranged. Also, in keeping with its position as an early-game supply stop, steel weapons are no longer available. Instead, we are allowed to purchase the early items as the good stuff is being shipped off to the war effort. Instead, we get a couple stores to purchase supplies (I buy a bit of food off screen from the Inn), a trainer, and a quick dungeon.
A lot of towns got changed between the games. While I don't like the changes that happened to Fort Draco, I do understand why they were done. Other times, not so much.
And now: VOTE TIME! Shall the party:
A: Deal with the Nephil Fort, like they are supposed to?
B: Investigate the 'Barriers'?
C: Do some exploration first?
Voting will last until Tuesday evening!