Part 5: The Goblin Tunnels (1)Chapter 04 The Goblin Fort
"Let's see, we should ask around for where Anaximander is. And if we're meeting our boss, I should put on my hat now."
You have a hat.
Yes! Isn't it dapper?
Not the word I would use.
So, who should we ask about Anaximander?
"One of the guards should know."
"I don't think so. Did you see the looks they were giving us?"
"And this place doesn't seem so friendly as to let us wander around."
"Hey, we could ask her!"
"Yesss! We're here to find Anaximander!"
"Uh... you wouldn't happen to be the group from Unspecified Services, would you?"
"Yes, we are."
"I'm Matthias. This is Delilah, Ni'arrrul"
"That's what I said, Sass and Bronwyn. If I may, who are you?"
"Art, Unspecified Services."
"Ah! It seems like the Services has a large presence here in Upper Exile. What is it that you do, exatly?"
"Oh, a little bit of this and that. I primarily deal with recon with a side of diplomacy and wetwork when needed. You know, just an ordinary day for Unspecified Services."
"Ah, then I suppose you will be told about the things we learn about on the Surface?"
"That's the plan on some level I'm sure." She shakes her head at the absurdity of it all.
"And diplomacy? Surely someone specialized in recon would be an ill fit for that."
"Don't be so sure. When you have traveled on the edge of the known world, being able to sweet talk your way into and out of problems is a vital skill. Just ask the Vahnatai."
"Yess, I saw those wave blades at your side. Have you spent time in the Vahnatai Lands?"
"Yep. I was part of the first official delegation to meet them, and through some effort, wound up with these." She taps the blades fondly. Good times those were.
Now I really don't want to know about what you define as wetwork.
She laughs. Eh, it's been years. I'm getting old and slow and people want me more for my mind and wit than my ability to carve through small armies. She pauses to think about it. Actually, when was the last time I did that? Has to be years ago...
Sass! Snap out of it!
It's you! You! Her! I've seen your statue!
In Gnass! The one put up by Arrth-Tsss! Although it's bigger. I thought you were bigger! Oh, it's such a pleasure to meet you!
Oh great. Another Slith fan. You're worse than the Vahnatai, you know that, right?
Um, could someone clear this up for me?
It's her! You know! Art!
Look, the only Art of importance is the Assassin of Hawthorne and Garzahd. And there's no way that... any... one.... ...
Hey! Nice to meet someone who agrees that my reputation is ill founded and blown completely out of proportion. It's all true though.
Relax. So, you're the team I picked.
I GOT PICKED BY ART!
Wait. You picked us as a team?
Yep. Alright, grab a seat boys and girls, it's story time.
I am certain I'm older than you.
You might be. Still going to explain things.
Alright, here's the problem. Behind me is the only known and secured exit from Exile to the Surface. There have been others, but the Empire has collapsed them, so we'd rather not lose this one too. A couple weeks ago, a scouting party was sent out consisting of four experienced Services Operatives. Naturally, they fail to report in or come back.
So, the higher ups panic. They recall me. And tell me to pick a team to go up there and find out what has gone wrong with, well, everything. I get handed a whole bunch of files, and you were the best I could get on short notice.
Wow! Thisss is going to be so much fun!
Yes, even you. For that reason.
That's all well and good, but what?
No! This will be great! We get to ask questions no one else has ever asked before!
But! Before we do that, I want to deal with two lizards with one stone. We need to start to learn to work together as a team, and there's a couple dangerous places to the North that need dealing with.
There's a Goblin Warren, and a Bandit Fort that need to be addressed.
Well, we were attacked by Goblins on the way here.
Good! We go harass that place, and use it to build some sort of working routine. But first, gear. It's not a lot, but there's a storeroom to the west set aside for our use. Come on.
Everyone gear up. I've just got to run and get a map.
Actual gear? Amazing.
Oh, don't be so dramatic. This is AMAZING!
And against the racial stereo types of everyone ever, I am not using a bow.
Ah, here we go.
You know, I'm surprised that there is enough of an economic impetus to have organized banditry in Upper Exile.
And the two maps that Anaximander gave me.
Right, let's get back and check in on everyone.
Ah, having heavy armor to protect me is such a good thing!
And we're all ready.
Not going out yet?
Not yet. Have to get practice first, remember?
While you could run out with your Level 1 party, I don't recommend it. The Goblins and Bandits are there for a reason.
Hey, you alright?
I will be. Just old age catching up to me, I think.
Well, hold on, let me help.
That must be more than old age if it's resilient like that.
There's been a bit of talk about Chronic Illness in the thread, so I want to make some official comments here. Chronic Illness effectively gives the character in question a hidden Bar of Uranium in their inventory. This causes them to become diseased on a semi-regular basis, either one or two-stepped as the case may be.
Disease is a status that does nothing by itself. However, it can generate a new negative effect fairly quickly while the PC is under its effects. Here's the total list:
- Poison (Damage over time)
- Curse (Reduced combat effectiveness)
- Slow (Less actions in combat)
- Dumbfounding (reduces maximum Spell level)
- No Effect (YAY!)
- Drain (Loss of Experience Points)
Needless to say, curing Disease is a top priority for me, but at the moment, only Art can cast the necessary spell, and we don't have access to Cleansing Powders the item that removes Disease. Thankfully, Spell Point regeneration on the over world has been accelerated, and you can't catch Disease while resting.
I am much better, thank you.
See what I mean about accelerated recovery? I swing around north of Fort Emergence, and Art has all her SP back, while Matthias hasn't been reinfected.
Oh, hey, something easy to start out with!
Me and my big mouth.
Wow, haven't seen wolves in the flesh in a decade.
They're from the surface, but there's a breeding population down here.
This particular party, as chosen by the people in the thread is massively in favor of magical skill over the previous two teams. That means that Art and Sass have to pull double-duty as meat shields and front-line combatants.
As I go along, I develop a certain pattern Art advances, then Blesses herself. Sass and Bronwyn form a line with her, then Ni'aurrl and Delilah Bless them while Matthias either casts haste on someone, or holds off a turn and waits for Fireball opportunities. Except with the improved equipment, this happens:
Too much gear! Argh!
That didn't happen. Reload!
First time with everyone, so be careful.
Ideal combat formation, still working out the kinks in buffing.
Wow, I'm glad I remembered to take off that shield. It would have been impossible to cast spells in that!
Not bad actually.
Not a scratch!
Wait, who is that coming from the west?
Have a nice day!
Too bad they couldn't have helped out with the Goblins.
Enemy and Allied mobs on the overworld don't fight, sad to say.
Yep, this looks like Goblins!
Yes. Yes we smell.
Ladies and Gentleman, the advantages of the Highly Alert Trait! Without that trait, we would be facing two enemy encounters ahead and behind, rather than just the one in front.
Same tactics as last time?
A spell I never used in the previous games, I decide to finally start using. Don't expect me to show it off all the time. Anyway, here we have Monster Stats! And this will let me explain combat in a bit more detail.
Level affects XP gains for killing the enemy. If you kill an enemy of the same level as you, you get 4 XP, and everyone else in the party gets 1 XP spillover. However, because the Wolf is Level 3 to our Level 1, the XP is increased. I'll have to double-check the exact numbers. Once we go over that level, the XP gains start to go down.
Health is how much HP they have, while Magic Points is their MP/SP pool.
Armor affects their damage reduction and avoiding being hit in the first place. Skill affects their ability to hit you. Morale is a measure of how much they can take before they run away, and can be affected by being awesome, or casting Fear. Speed determines how much AP they have by default.
Enemies can also have up to three attacks, and in this case the Wolf deals a basic 2d6 damage per successful hit. The Wolf also knows no spells in either the Mage or Priest line, and can't poison us when they attack. They also have no special abilities, and no resistances or immunities.
So, combat is actually pretty simple in this game, enough so that you could probably adapt the d20 system to it. When the Wolf attacks, it rolls 1d20 behind the scenes and adds 5 for the Skill stat. If this number exceeds the Defence stat of the target, then it rolls 2d6+Skill for damage, once again reduced by enemy defence.
When a PC attempts to attack the Wolf, they roll 1d20+ their own modifier (shown on their stat page), and if that exceeds the Wolf's Armor+Skill, they are hit. The PC then rolls their damage, and reduces that by the Wolf's Armor to determine how much damage they take.
It's simple and elegant. I like it! Except for how Luck factors into it. I think it adds 1d(Luck) to all your relevant rolls, and affects the enemy negatively the same amount. Who knows?
I should really catch combat in a video. The engine has massively improved, and watching numbers like that pop up never gets old.
And here we are. One set of Goblin Tunnels.
What, exactly, is our goal here?
Make a mess, disrupt their operations, get to practising as a group. The usual.
Oh, Dark Dungeons, how I don't miss thee. SP wasted on Light spells because I can't be bothered to carry around torches or the like.
Man, I can't wait for the free HP gains from level ups.
There's quite a few of them!
You and I can keep up the Fireballs while those three hold the line, and Delilah heals!
Aww, so few?
Just the front guard. Let's take this one problem at a time.
And that's that. Take a breather people.
I took some notes about those Goblin Fighters though. Here they are:
Everything else is doable with spells (which ignore Skill in damage reduction) or blessed beaters. But the Poison 2? That's what makes these guys real pains in my book. Also, the Health is 0 because that particular specimen was on the verge of death when I had Matthias scry it. They normally have 20 health.
Hey, this Goblin has a crossbow!
Oooh! Nice. Any bolts?
No, doesn't look like it. Must have broke, or just never had any.
Crossbows are new to this game, and are heavier but more damaging than bows. I'll keep this around for Delilah when we get those.
Oh Joy! More Goblins!
And with that kill, Art levels up! I'm going to be keeping an eye on her to make sure she doesn't get too far ahead of everyone else, but she's still only taking 100XP per level, which is less than everyone else.
And with that level up, Arts HP almost doubled, and she got 5 more Skill Points to be trained up at a later date. Not certain where yet, I want to see how the rest of the party develops first.
Oh, goddess of Joy, show me some happy results from this chest!
Garbage and a crap knife.
Well, that's enough for here, just a bunch of sleeping pads. Come on we're going north next.
Wouldn't it be funny if they were stolen from the Brigands to the north?
They all have food stores in them. Edible too.
Interesting corner. Was that there before the cave was expanded, or was it used to wall off another section of the cavern?
The water is too shallow to swim properly in.
Oh, hey, more Goblins. And Wolves.
This is not optimal!
But it's what we have.
Just shut up and let me swing!
Almost makes you feel sorry for killing them.
They are a hazard. It's not like you can negotiate with these tribal creatures.
Still no swimming...
Not my god.
I worship Nephil deities.
Hey! We can talk about this!
No! You ruined everything!
Wait. Is that a WORG?
Shit. That is.
A what now?
Big, huge wolf thing?
Keep those teeth away from me!
Another graphical step up is that casting spells and firing off munitions results in seeing the projectile travel through the air. You can barely see the arrow from Delilah over the enemy Nephil Warrior on its way to the Warg.
Think that was the leader?
Maybe. But this seems less ornate than what a leader should have. And there is that building to the west we have yet to find a way into.
Please, Oh Joy!
Just some gold, a potion and shirt.
Let's get out and rest up.
Art, Delilah and Matthias levelled up, and I want everyone else to get at least one more under their belts before heading topside. That means back in!
I was wondering what was in that structure. We should investigate!
I agree. We're doing good, but I think we can do a bit more.
Oh hey, they replaced their guards!
And my first assassination of the game! When you're over the target's level, there's a chance to essentially double your damage to the target, depending on how high your assassination skill is. As you can see from the screen shot, the only one who hasn't levelled yet is Ni'aurrl. I should find a spot and feed her Fireball fodder.
Hrm... South west, not north west.
But the structure is nor'west!
NO ONE HOME!
Weird, I can hear something from the north.
Me too. Like wolves?
I think they would have a kennel of some sort around here.
I agree. Look at the floor. Paw scratches. Big and small.
Ignoring that for now. They have at least one Worg, and I'm not interested in more.
And here is the other end to that structure! And multiple doors! Amazing!
It's a prison. Don't get your hopes up.
Requiescat in Pace.
CLOSE THE DOOR!
Giant Lizards can deal multiple attacks per round. Not fighting one in close quarters yet.
Then what is that at the end of the hall?
Even I'm not eager to go down there.
Then we're not.
Mung Rats can cast Stinking Cloud, a persistent field that curses anyone who enters. Not fighting it right now either.
Here's the map of the south-east corner of the Goblin warrens. I still don't like the way it's the same as what we see in the interactive screen, just reduced ratios. It's messy. Of course, with this, I note a potential hidden room.
Ack! That viper bit me!
And there's nothing happy in this room either.
Hold on, Ni'aurrl, can you take care of that?
No, I got it.
Am I the only person here who can't use magic of some sort?
Yeah, I'm willing to keep this door closed for now.
You sure you want to look into the Kennels?
Well, if we can cull the pack...
Yep, just around the corner.
Let's start culling!
I hear more this way.
Worgs! Form a line around the exit!
Being able to control how enemies get to you can be vital for survival. Art may have hit another level, but Worgs are still dangerous to everyone.
I should Scry more monsters. Maybe put together a post full of stat pages.
Ugh, I got Worg guts in my hair...
There are Goblin skeletons here. Looks like that's how the giant wolves were getting fed.
And this is far better construction than anything else. I wonder why?
Yeah, we've got enough practice now, let's get back to Fort Emergence, clean up, and put our new found exercise to work.
* * *
And that's exactly what I do. While having more levels gives you more HP to take hits with, you really need to train to improve your skills. Now, because I'm running tight on funds (as there's no place to sell loot in either Fort so far), I skip training Art. She already has an advantage with her swords.
Gets 1 point in each of Strength and Pole Weapons. I'm going to be speccing him that way for the first few levels, then I will probably invest in bringing him up to Priest 3/Mage 3 for the buff and debuff spells. And Fireball.
1 point of Strength, Dex, and two into Edged Weapons. She's a straight beater, so I'll have to keep her Assassination skill up, and also invest a couple points into Luck.
One level up, put everything into Spell Points, as I noted she was running short on those a lot. Expect her to pick up Priest 3 sooner, rather than later, as well as trying to balance that with improving her archery skills.
Priest 3! Huzzah! And one more point of Intelligence and 2 more into Spell Points. She'll turn into our next Peregrine with no difficulties at all!
He only got one level, so I poured all of his Skill points into Spell points. More SP means another Fireball, which means more XP gained for killing!
* * *
This is quite the event.
Yeah. Let's just get this over with.
I wonder what it'll be like out there?
I've heard of trees crowned in green, and fields of golden brown.
Us old folks though, we have memories, faded as they are.
Well, let's go get a breath of fresh air, shall we?