Part 1: Fort EmergenceUpdate 01 - Fort Emergence
Hello! I'm berryjon, your friendly narrator and LPer for this game. All of my narration and commentary will be done in italics, with that picture to the left to mark it. For now though, please click on the next image to get the opening, in engine cutscene!
"I hate you. I hate you all. Whoever thought this was a good idea will get their ass kicked."
Welcome to the user interface for the game. It's been refined from Exile 1 and 2, but everything should still be recognizable. On the left is the active screen, showing your party and their immediate surroundings. There are walls, a sign, a door, various things in the room like beds, things on the beds...
The white dot is a special event, in this case stepping on it asks if you want to rest your party up.
The upper-right contains party information. Right now, Art is our only party member, though that will get filled up once the thread has voted on who gets in and who doesn't. Art has 10 HP and 15 SP. and is in otherwise good condition with no buffs or debuffs.
In the middle-right is the inventory window. This used to be combined with the party status screen, but was given its own section to make inventory work less of a hassle. It's a neat quality of life improvement over the previous games and I like it. Unlike something else which will be coming up shortly.
Below that is the log, where recent messages can be seen and checked up on.
Under the main window is a description of where we are, and it can be a specific room, the name of a dungeon, or a whole area of the overworld.
And under that is our command buttons. We are currently not in combat, so for now the buttons are, from left to right:
- Cast Mage Spell
- Cast Priest Spell
- Look at target Tile
- Talk to target NPC
- Pick Up items
- Use something you are adjacent to
- Call up the Map in a separate window
- Enter Combat
"Where the hell did I put my shirt? I can't go around with my poncho all day!"
Picking up items will get everything in sight if you aren't in danger, or just things adjacent to the active PC if you are in combat or otherwise in danger. Changing from previous games, items now have weight in addition to taking up one of our 16 item slots. If you go over your weight limit, the PC in question starts taking combat penalties.
"There it is. And that candle looks like it will need to be replaced soon." She picks up the note from the dresser. It wasn't there when she went to bed. "What does this say?"
When something is in your inventory, you can Use it. For things like books and notes, it calls up a new window telling you what it is. Things like potions and scrolls get consumed.
"Anaximander, you have some explaining to do." She pockets the note - just in case she gets lost.
"No, no time to go to sleep. I just woke up!"
"I also need to get out of the habit of talking to myself out loud."
"It's weird though, I thought that this was already being handled? Why would I get called out of my retirement?"
"Yeah, this isn't ominous at all. Let's see... where am I?"
Instead of being black lines on a grey background as in previous games, Exile 3's map is full colour and a scaled down view of the map. I don't like it as details get lost, but it's workable.
"You know what? I'll wander a bit first. Get the lay of the land."
"commitment issues my ass"
"Ah! You must be the new arrival."
"That I am!"
And here is the 'quality of life' improvement I despise. Talking to people now covers up the active window, and brings up this... hideous thing. While mechanically it is the same as previous games, there is the addition of being able to click on a keyword using the mouse to ask about it, rather than typing it in.
Much like the previous games, you can click on the 'Record' button to have the game save the currently active dialogue. It's a neat way to transcribe what people tell you. Well, let me just Record this conversation tree, then transcribe it for you....
Where is "talksave.txt"? Where is the conversation dump file that I've been using in the previous LPs?
Apparently Vogel decided to incorporate the text dump into the game itself, so you can access it from within the game. While I can applaud the thought behind it, this means I can't transcribe conversations like I used to!
Well, that would be true, except for the efforts of my fellow goon, "Gullwhacker", who was able to locate a raw text file that was a full dump of every written word in the game. I was able to start extracting conversations from that file, though it does slow down my work flow. However, this is the raw file, and a complete mess. If anyone can find a proper dialogue dump, that would be most appreciated.
Also, conversations now have little faces in the upper left. I won't use them as there are fewer of those than there are NPC models in the game. As in, there is only one Slithzerikai portrait and one Nephilim portrait. So screw that, I'm sticking with what work for me.
You meet a young, scrawny man with short, sandy brown hair. He bows respectfully to you as you approach.
"Hey. I'm Art. Who are you?"
"Greeting, adventurer! I am Gordon."
"So, Gordon, what do you do around here?"
"Well, I'm sort of the servant for the guest quarters. I sort of keep everything clean, prepare meals, that sort of thing."
Like the previous games, everyone responds to "Look", "Name", and "Job". I won't be singling those out, but you can be certain I incorporate those into the dialogue I present. I will also be taking some small liberties with the text where needed to fit the narration and situation. For example, Gordon here addresses 'Adventurers' in the plural, rather than in the singular that is Art right now, so I changed that. In the future, things I ask of the NPCs will be bolded for ease of reference.
"You make the meals? You're the cook?"
He looks nervous. "Ummm. There's a bit of a problem with that. The fort is sort of not entirely ready, and I don't have the supplies up here to cook yet. Perhaps if you went to see Elisa?"
"And who is Elisa?"
"She runs the main kitchen, in the southwest corner. She gives lots of food to anyone who asks."
Not everyone will have something to say that will advance the plot. A lot of dialogue is incidental.
A young, lithe woman with dark skin moves lithely about the room, performing various martial exercises. A vicious looking curved sword is sheathed at her side. This person is clearly capable of being quite lethal.
She walks over and gives you a stiff, sharp, not entirely respectful bow. "I am Yanmitho, the trainer for Fort Emergence."
"Art, Unspecified Services. Retired."
She looks at you with distaste. "I am here to train soldiers to the best of my ability. I can also train... others." She says 'others' with great disdain. You can't help but guess her contempt is aimed at you.
A lot of dialogue assumes the party is new. As Art has been around the block a few times, I will be changing that as I see fit, trying to keep the spirit of the conversation, if not the words.
"What? Others? You do realize we all work together, right?"
"You work for Unspecified Services, do you not? I am not afraid to say I have little respect for your lot."
"... right. And just so I know what I'm working with here, what is your problem with Unspecified Services?"
"Pfaugh!" She spits. "A ragtag band of untrained adventurers, amateur spies and mixed hangers on. We soldiers train hard and die for our cause. You wander around aimlessly, and expect respect."
"And yet, King Micah gives the first contact with the surface to your undisciplined lot." She spits again.
"Right. I could tell you how wrong you are, but it's obvious you've already made up your mind. What I can do, however, is take my Royal Clearance, and let Micah know your opinion. How about that?"
"It is not to such as me to question the wisdom of my monarch." She pauses and thinks. "Even if he is wrong. When Prince Karmas ascends, I know the right order will be restored."
After we've levelled up, we can talk to this nice ray of sunshine to improve our skills. Later.
"Alright, the rest of the rooms are empty. Plenty of space for people to rest though. Just how empty is this place?"
"Really, really empty."
"Not the way I'm supposed to go, but who cares? I don't work for him any more! I'm doing him a favor, and he can afford to wait a few minutes more. Jackass."
"Huh. Mages workshop. Usually there's a sign. Must not have been put up yet."
You meet a small, bent wizard, heavy with years. He is poring over a thick book, researching esoteric fields you could never begin to comprehend.
He looks up at you. It is clear his mind is wandering in realms far away. He croaks "I am Berra."
"Art, Retired. Whatcha doing here?"
"I mainly concern myself with doing research. If only the facilities here were adequate."
She looked around. "Yeah. Pretty threadbare. What sort of facilities do you need?"
He croaks in irritation.. "Now, if I was at the Tower of Magi, I would have all the tomes and materials I need! But here, I have little to work with."
"And what are you researching?"
"I am devising immensely powerful spells, communicating with being beyond your comprehension, gaining absolute power. Nothing you could possibly understand. You're probably just here to waste my time."
"Huh. That explains why you're here. Peregrine sent you."
"That child has too much power! There is no way he can be reasoned with! Now leave me, before I turn my powers on you, and make sure you speak not for a year!"
"Yep, as I expected. Bye!"
"Huh. I haven't seen some of these is years. And is someone writing a book?"
"Oh! Hello! I'm Art, retired."
This woman is quite young, probably in her mid-twenties. Yet, she radiates power well beyond her years. She levels a piercing gaze at you. "I am Mazumdar. Head Mage of Fort Emergence. I am responsible for coordinating all magical activities that take place in the fort."
"Wait... what sort of activities? It looked like you are set up for biological experimentation."
"This fort will eventually be used for experimentation, training and launching magical spells against our foes. However, the Triad keeps us from being nearly as powerful as we could be."
"I'm sure the Triad has their reasons, like preventing Empire raiders from getting at sensitive material."
"Perhaps. Unfortunately, they tend to not want to let power out of their control. For that reason, our resources are nowhere near what they could be." She grins. "With exceptions."
"I smell the hand of Peregrine there."
"No, he was of no help. We are supposed to be able to train mages here. Yet, the Triad won't let us have the books to teach spells from." She grins mischievously. "However, we've managed to sneak a few things past them. We need those tomes after all."
She shares the grin. "Good for you. Have a nice day."
"And there's the signage!"
This young mage's robes were probably clean this morning. Now, they have bits of fur and tiny clumps of dung on them. She sees you, and curtsies, self-consciously brushing fur and such off her robe as she does so. "I'm Eva!"
"Eva? I read your book in the other room."
"Oh? That? It's just a draft. I'm here to research the flora and fauna of the surface world. We summon samples from the surface, examine them in their cells, and teleport them back up."
"Flora and fauna, huh? Why aren't you asking us people who grew up on the surface?"
"Oh, I thought about that. How do we know you remeber everything properly? It's been a decade at the least for anyone! But Plants and Animals? I can study them without bias! If there's anything you've found of interest, ask me about it. Maybe I'll know something!"
She does too! Asking her about conventional animals gives a quick description of them, as well as less conventional creatures. I'll skip over this for now, and come back later when we've encountered actual examples.
"Now, mention of secret tomes... secret passage sense tingling...!"
"Not getting through here for a while."
"And here's the open area of the fort. How typical."
You meet a portly bearded man in nondescript robes. He looks bored. "Oh. Hello. I'm Habecker. Can I help you?"
"Art, Unspecified Services. Retired. You?"
"Well, I was hired to research for the Fort. Which is why I'm so bored."
"Research? There's plenty of that! You shouldn't be bored!"
"I am a sage by trade. I was brought here to study samples from the surface world. That's why being here is so boring! If only I could find someone interested in my abilities." He looks at you meaningfully.
"Oh. You identify the properties of items, and without someone bringing stuff to you, you can do nothing. I think I can fix that."
"If you could, that would be wonderful!"
"Whelp, going to avoid that as much as I can."
You meet a young woman with long dark hair. She doesn't seem to be too interested in talking to you.
"Hey! I'm Art!"
"So, what do you do... wait. Don't I know you?"
"I'm with Unspecified Services."
"The department of spies, lone wolf mages, adventurers, and everyone else working for Exile that isn't in the Army or government proper. Also the eternal source of resentment on the part of the military. We're both on assignment for US at the moment."
"I know. I had a nice chat with the military trainer a few minutes ago."
"The military resents us because they don't control us and we do many things better than them. So don't expect much help from them."
"I know, I know."
"Wait. You said your name was Art?"
"Don't worry about it. What's your assignment?"
"Ma'am, I am the contact for the others being sent up there."
"Yes. Others. You didn't think that something so important would be left to a single group, do you?" She pauses. "I'm sorry, I'm not cleared to say more to you, Ma'am."
"I expected as much. Dismissed."
"Exit out to Upper Exile."
"Well, since they asked so nicely, why not?"
"A whole bunch of empty rooms."
A old, small, very round woman stirs a pot of savory lizard stew. She is surrounded with enough kitchen implements and supplies to feed an army. Which, you suppose, is her job. "Welcome, child. I am Elise."
"I provide hot meals to all my children. I also, if asked very nicely, provide rations for troopers going out on trips."
"Gordon mentioned your generosity. And I must say, it's a rare person who can make me feel young again."
"Oh, Mother-of-us-all, is that what it feels like?"
"Well, if you put it that way, may I please have a lunch, Matron-of-the-hearth?"
She smiles maternally. "You you poor dear. You need some lunch? Just a moment." She sets to work, and sook comes back with several neatly wrapped bundles of rations. "Here you are! Now, be careful out there!"
She gives us 8 food for asking politely.
"Never touch a Matron's pantry. There are less painful ways to die, I'm sure."
"Let's not disturb these guards."
You meet a gaunt, severe man. His armor bears the insignia of a commander. He has a regal bearing, but cruel eyes.
"Morning sir. Art, Unspecified Services. Retired."
He looks at Art coldly. "I am Commander Johnson, and I command all the soldiers in this fortress."
"Thank you for your..."
"Which you aren't. Someday, we're going to have to slay all those Empire bastards. And when we do, it'll be the soldiers who do the work."
"In case you haven't noticed, we've been winning against those bastards for a while now."
"Yes. That's right. You and your other 'Unspecified Services' wastes of air will then be no good to anyone. It's your turn now, but when you fuck up, it'll be me and my men who do it properly." He looks away.
"Right. Sure. Whatever you think."
"Now, if that map is right, Anaximander is north of here. So, let's go east instead!"
"Art? Art? Is that you?" You see a small, heavy-set woman with a friendly attitude and a radiant smile. She wears long, well cared for robes. "It's me! Marian!"
"Marian..? MARIAN! Honey! I haven't seen you in years!"
"Yes, not since Motrax's funeral."
"Yeah. I know. I'm sorry. At least he had his cats."
"They're still there, I think. After the wounds and illness finally killed him, the place had too many sad memories for us. I mean, me and the Captain."
"I know. How is Ko anyway?"
"Busy with work. We moved pretty much from there to here, and things just haven't stopped."
"How have you not convinced him to take a vacation yet?"
"Oh, talk to him, and you'll see. He's in charge of logistics for the Fort."
"Wrong door, Art!"
You meet a Captain of the Exile army. He's very thin, somewhat hyper and undeniably friendly.
"Wha..? ART!" He shakes her hand vigorously. "What brings you to Fort Emergence?"
"Oh. Um. Well, I'm helping Marian with the supplies. I don't deal with the spy stuff."
"Don't worry about it. How's the supply situation?"
"It takes a lot to feed an army. Even though they haven't shown up yet. Hey, there's a supply room off to the side that's got some stuff set aside for you. And you can leave your extra stuff there. Help yourselves!"
"Yep! I'll make sure nothing happens to it. Hey, once you've had your meeting, come on back! We can chat. Catch up on old times!"
"Don't mention old, please!"
He laughs. "Fair enough. But still, we should all sit down and talk."
"Here we go."
"Lots of basic gear. This is going to be one of those missions. I'm so glad I retired!"
"HANG ON! MOMMY'S COMING FOR YOU SWEETY!"
A pale Exile, impeccably dressed and hair neatly cut, waits behind the counter. As Art approaches, he checks his notes. "My name is Levy. How may I help you?"
"Art. Unspecified Services."
"Ah. And I am in charge of making allowances for those in Exile's employ. I provide rewards for those who perform exceptional services." He smiles. "In addition, I have been given a very valuable stewardship."
He gives a small, smug smile. "I am the one entrusted with the guardianship of Thralni's Sphere."
"PLEASE! MAMMA MISSES HER BABY!"
He flashes another small, tight smile. "Will you request it?"
"I will punch you."
"No, you won't. You gave up possession of the Sphere when you retired. It's mine now."
Her eyes narrow dangerously. "I will find a way."
"You do that. In the meantime, go talk to the boss."
"I will return. And the Orb will return to me!"
"Well, he should be here."
"And a whole bunch of nothing."
"You aren't Anaximander."
You meet a burly man with a lot of hair and a lot of gut. He looks you up and down as you approach. "No, I'm Flanagan." He rises to shake Art's hand. "And you must be Art. Heard a lot about you."
"I categorically deny using Hawethorne's and Garzahd's heads as puppets to entertain the children. I don't know who started that rumor."
"Ha! I haven't heard that one. Well, I suppose I should tell you what I do here. I'm sort of an investigating agent."
"Really? This is an office."
"Well, I'm too big and loud to be much of a spy! So, I wait here. Then, when something goes wrong, or gets weird, I'm the one who will look it over and make sense of what's going on." He taps his head. "I got more up here than you might think."
"I'm going to be talking to you a lot, aren't I?"
"Probably. I wouldn't be here otherwise. The Information loop would be too far."
"Thanks for your time."
"Hey, someone left their book on the table..."
"Eh, the series went down hill after a while. Too many retread plots. It should have stopped after the third volume, The Ruination of Gaia."
"And speaking of, is the rest on those shelves?"
"I swear, if I got called up here to deal with this, I will drag his carcass along for the ride!"
There is a dissonance here. Art is far too experience and veteran to be treated like that. Let's fix that!
"Anaximander? It's me. Art. Not some newbies." You greet Anaximander, commander of spying and special forces for Fort Emergence, and a very fidgety, nervous man.
"What? Art? You're early! I thought it was the others!"
Art shook her head. "Dammit, I'm retired! What sort of end-of-the-world emergency could you possibly have that would require dragging me up here from my hut?"
Anaximander took a deep breath to steady himself. "It's bad, Art. Really bad. We sent out a scouting party already, quite unofficially. They were supplied by X, and told to survey the region, check out the cities. That sort of stuff."
Art nodded. "Go on."
"They went missing a couple weeks ago. The last report was that they had split up to cover more ground faster." He looks sweaty as Art's gaze bores holes in him. "There's something wrong on up there, something that has the Empire in knots."
"I find that hard to believe."
"We're under Valorim," Anaximander passes a map to Art, showing her the local region. "You know about that?"
Art looked at the map. "Yes. Latest official colonization effort. Starting with Blackcrag Fortress, going south into Footracer and Midori Provinces. Any expansion after that was after I was Exiled."
"Well, they've gotten all the way to the southern end of the sub-continent," Anaximander wiped his brow. "The first party was basically there to make maps. We were supposed to put together an official delegation in a couple months, but after the last reports, we had to scramble."
"We need to know what's going on up there!" He yelled out, causing Art to lean back. "Reports of monsters, diseases, criminals and bandits all suggest that the Empire can't keep control!"
"Which is wrong."
"Very, very wrong."
"What do you want me to do?" She already dreaded the response.
"Under Section 4B.3 of the Exile Security Act, I am hereby officially reactivating your commission in Unspecified Services to for the duration of the emergency," Anaximander said. "I'm sorry."
"SORRY?" Art screeched. "I'm 50 years old! I can't go running around a continent larger that Exile doing things!"
"You're the ONLY ONE I HAVE!"
"Bullshit!" Art snapped back. "There's... Theodore del'Astra, Brickman Longfellow, Mad Jeff, Rashiid, Adel Behdin, Ashley Boul, Cameron Carson, Caradoc, Conrad Ayers, Geoffry Archer, Rekban, Irving, Mercy, Mrrawn, Orssa, Richard Fox, Sss-Graa...!"
"They all have other assignments. I have you, and a bunch of new recruits."
Art shook her head. "You have got to be joking."
"I wish I was."
"Who was on the first recon group?"
"Erin, Elsner, Glost and Tucker."
"That's four. Teams of six. I wrote those rule myself."
"It was decided that a smaller group would be better able to evade detection and capture," Anaximander huffed, obviously not comfortable with the facts. "I know why you wrote those rules." He shuffles some papers. "Um, look, head over to the sitting room across the hall. These are the candidates you can pick from. Choose five, and we'll bring them up for your team."
Art looked down at the papers. "Fine. But there will be a reckoning for this."
"I would expect nothing less from you. Oh! before you go, there's something I got for you."
"We contacted the Olgai-Vahnatai through their colony here in Upper Exile, and explained the situation." He produced two long wrapped objects from beside his desk. "They sent these."
Art held the two ancient blades up to the light, the dark metal glistening with oils that emerged from within. "They sent these?"
"They knew you would hold the gates," Anaximander gestured in the direction of the access point to the overworld. "They know you, and put their faith in you, as do we all."
This is my current map of Fort Emergence. To be updated once I get Magic Map.
Now is the time for Character Creation! The next post will detail how it is done, as well as how the voting for PCs will take place. Remember, you in the thread get to choose Art's