Part 30: Bolton and the Wolfrider WarrenUpdate 025 Bolton and the Wolfrider Warren
And now we begin the next major arc of the game. With the distraction of the New Formello Murders, the party returns to the task of exploration and discovery. Our next goal is the south-eastern quarter of Valorim. If you thought, from the maps, that Krizsan and Bigail were empty, you've seen nothing yet.
But first, something far more important needs to be handled. You see, while Delilah picked up Priest Spells through joining the Anama, Art has yet to learn anything from the 4th level or higher yet, despite being able to cast up to the fifth.
So, I consulted my handy-dandy Spiderweb Software written guide to find out where those spells are sold. And it turns out that Ahonar, the head of the Anama, sells all the fourth circle spells. Well, this just gives me an excuse to start using the Teleporter.
Hey, Shayder, please.
We finally get to use one! This will be amazing!
No thank you.
Art, let me talk to Ahonar, convince him to teach you.
Where is he?
Oh, there you are! Father, do you know someone who is willing to teach a dedicated priest who is not a member of our church?
Why, I can!
I pick up everything for art except Sticks to Snakes. Art now has Firewalk! Huzzuh!
Matthias! The Amulet!
And now we head east, right?
Yeah. I'm thinking we stay along the southern coast, and start by following the road that the Slimes were eating up.
Sounds like a plan to me.
* * *
* * *
We can't cross here. We'll need to go south.
As we go east, Unicorns become an overworld random encounter. And they have a 100% drop rate for Unicorn Horns and nothing else. So we kill any that we come across, and pile on the horns for the next time we visit Krizsan.
I wonder how long it will take the land to recover.
The surface is badly scorched in places, and while the topsoil will recover eventually, I'm more worried about the acids soaking into the water table.
Yet, if it's just the surface, the ground can be disturbed, and the acidic soil spread out so that it's not as intense. You could also wait for the ground to naturally recover. It'll take years for some of this to get rebuilt, and by then the government will be in a position to assess the remains of the damage and organize a proper response. If there's anything the Empire is good at, it's throwing bodies at a problem until it stops being a problem.
It will take more than a couple years to restore all this.
This section of forest, north of the Slime Pit, would have generated an enemy encounter had we not resolved the situation already.
There's a camp up that way.
It's only 50! We got lots.
He has a point. Besides, we don't know if they have reinforcements nearby.
* * *
I wonder what forces created these mountains.
I love how official policy is to ignore polite signs telling people to stay away, and only fall back when faced with force.
:heh: I actually didn't write that rule.
Makes sense. Sure, let's see what you got.
This would have been closed off before we offed the Alien Slime.
We can afford one. Because we bothered you. And now I feel like we need to get our investment back.
Your mother was an elf!
This'll be easy.
Well, Ni'aurrl and I both can cast Firestorm now.
Yes, they can. Even without it, we're still over-levelled for this encounter, and it's just free XP.
Take it away!
You know that the Anama think that is a reason for removing Mage spells, right? Not the power, but what it does to the people who wield it.
If we want to finish this, we should go north.
I'm for it. I'd hate for their population to explode in the absence of the Slimes.
* * *
The path leads up this way.
I just want to go on record as wondering why the old guy is our tracker. I mean, he doesn't wear furs, or anything!
Without the Wilderness Lore trait, we would have taken damage. And we can't get past the hidden event here.
Perhaps there is a less obvious route in?
We'll come back later. Come on, we'll head back south.
* * *
At least there's enough of the road left to follow.
I'm surprised that even this much is still here, given that the Slime Pit was just to the south.
* * *
* * *
We're out of Slime territory. They wouldn't have ignored this forest.
Is anyone else confused about why the road goes north here?
I have no clue about this. I can only presume that the road was laid down to go around the worst of the forest, then logging thinned it out to the point that we see here.
That looks like a nice little town.
We know who you are. Keep your noses clean, and there won't be trouble.
But I wash my snout!
... You guys do good work.
I don't know why these guys are here. They don't move, and they don't talk.
I am really worried about the guards in this town.
I'm going shopping!
Generic store with nothing interesting.
I think the sign fell off.
Wait? Monster Saw You? What is going on?
So, this guy has actually been talked about in the thread already. He was accidentally flagged as a 'hostile' NPC, rather than friendly, and because of that you can't start a conversation with him. You actually need to charm him before he'll talk to you. He has a name and everything!
Except I don't have Charm Person, and my guide doesn't tell me where to get/purchase it. It's a level 2 spell, so it may have been something I skipped in Krizsan or Bigail.
This would be an awesome place to buy food except Art has Manna.
Hi! Are you going to be mean?
A massive, grim looking taciturn man is working a piece of red hot steel with firm, practiced blows. When you approach, he sets the metal in the coals to keep hot, and turns to you.
You make things?
He talks slowly and simply. I have weapons. I can also do improvements. What would you like?
You improve weapons?
He grunts, and picks up a massive steel hammer. Rework weapon. Make is sharper. Better against troglodytes. Just ask for augmentation.
What are trogs?
Troglodytes tough. Need good weapons. Otherwise they spit you and you die in agony. Augmentation?
Too expensive at this point, but I should check it out later. And he only sells basic bronze weapons, so I skip that as well.
And as ususal, the locals ignore us.
I wonder what was being stored here.
What. A. Slob.
I'm serious. You'd need a Pheonix Egg to burn this clear.
And this is for the suffering I had to go through.
Well, let's see what the Inn has going for it.
You meet a young priestess. She nods at you when you approach.
I am Meiko.
Matthias. So, you a local?
I am out spreading the faith of the Anama.
We preach of the dangers of magic. We are based on the Isle of Bigail.
The Isle of Bigail? I can't say I've been there before.
A beautiful, recently settled island. My church has worked it very hard, despite many difficulties. Head west to the city of Farport. You can take a ferry over. Hope you go! It's wonderful there!
What are your problems with magic? The difficulties it creates?
She smiles sadly. Just look around. Magical creatures slay us, forcing us into hiding at every turn. Unless something is done about this, these problems will get worse before they get better. If this idea intrigues you, my church can be found on the Isle.
I'll keep that in mind.
* * *
Hey, Art? Question.
I mean, I get the mission of exploration and recon. But why are we going out of our way to take on these plagues?
I too agree that this is something that has tickled my mind.
Because it's the right thing to do, and we're heroes!
We're technically adventurers in the service of the crown.
Which are not mutually exclusive titles. Still, word from on high would be nice.
You want to know the truth? I wouldn't mind doing just that. That we just seal off Upper Exile, and let Valorim fall. It would be easy, and I guarantee you that there would not be a tear shed in Exile or Olgai or in the Slith lands.
Talking to me here.
Eh, we forgive you. Anyway, while it would be the simplest and easiest course of action, the reality of the situation isn't that simple. We are not properly isolated. It's been years, but we're still finding the occasional Empire squad in the caves around the Abyss. And more than that, teleportation exists. Despite our best efforts, you can move from point A to point B without going through Point C in the process.
In addition, the status of the Empire is still a relative unknown. Over the past ten years, the two most powerful members of the government have met their ends at the hands of Exile, and the current head of the government should be Empress Prazac, first of her name. But we don't know.
Now, that's been confirmed already, but what kind of person is she? What are her policies?
What are her intentions with Exile?
Exactly. And while she would have every legitimate political grievance against us, being, you know, a rebellious colony that's already won one war of independence, we haven't seen or heard of them in years. Why is that? Has the Empire suffered internal strife with the first major loss in its history? Or something else entirely?
And so while I can see the logic in investigating the state of Valorim, that doesn't answer the question why help?
BECAUSE WE'RE THE GOOD GUYS!
He's right, but for more pragmatic reasons. The plagues are here. What about the other continents? Aizo or Pralgad? Or the others? Is this an isolated incident, or something world wide? By helping here and now, we invest in our protection as well. We learn about these things, and their creators, and should they start to occur in Exile, we can be better prepared to respond.
And in doing so, we also earn the goodwill of the local provinces. With the Empire occupied elsewhere, unable to help them, and lacking the resources to save themselves, they will remember us as the ones who helped them. We earn enough trust to show that we are not the source of the plagues, and that we helped them.
That the war is over. That a ... Reconciliation can begin.
Exactly. We help, to try and earn a lasting peace. And if there is to be no peace, we at least show that we can be peaceful to those that the Empire hasn't helped.
Ugh. I hate politics.
So do I.
I wanna go for a swim!
Sure, as soon as we can find a safe place. I haven't done a proper geothermal bath in ages.
Oh great. Well, if it hasn't attacked yet.... Let's talk.
I don't believe we're being given a choice here.
This fight is... well... you'll see. But first, let's see who we're fighting alongside...
He could wipe out the party without any trouble at all. And what could possibly threaten him?
Only about a dozen drakes. And because of the rocks in the way, the Drake Lord won't engage them, and they're all huddled up against the other side of the rocks I'm hiding behind. How bad is it?
This encounter is well above my punching weight. I'm going to have to come back in about 10 levels to try again.
On second though, let's not provoke the Drake in its home. Bye!
* * *
Curious, I see Goblin signs to the west.
Isn't that the fortified mound they have?
No, something closer, I think.
I take it, this will be our usual response to people telling us to go somewhere else?
Yep. And it's Goblins too!
These are the same foes we took care of back in Upper Exile. This isn't a threat.
Not even a token pen? What keeps them in place?
As good a reason as any.
Oh hey, an Ogre. Marginal improvement in danger.
She said Marginal. Not that it actually became one.
Two sets of gates. One to the west that leads deeper underground, and one to the east.
How about we backtrack, like, five paces, and investigate those doors?
You mean these doors?
You'd think they'd have better precautions than a single sign.
As long as they keep coming in such an unorganized manner, I'm fine with it.
Yeah, but it's like we're the only people who can fight as a group.
Exile specializes in small unit tactics and asymmetric warfare. To us, being outnumbered is typical, so we're trained to exploit terrain and tactical synergy.
Whereas the Empire has historically fought full wars, which involves massed logistics, supply and organization. Objective based, where they had specific goals in mind.
Goblins such as these also tend toward cavalry tactics hit and fade, and we caught them in close quarters, away from their mounts.
They're also Goblins, and we're all stronger than they are.
I think controls one of the gates.
Have to figure out which one though.
Ah, the last of the Ogres.
This entire wall looks weak.
oooh! I know! I know!
I don't think I've used True Sight before now, but what it does is act like a mini Magic Map, revealing everything within two tiles of the caster. Useful for checking out if there's a secret passage nearby.
I think there's a passage behind.
We'll circle around to find it then.
Sass, you still have one of those piercing crystals, don't you?
And now we have cause to go get more.
Let me check this out...
Look at the body, this person killed themselves.
No, too much for me.
Yeah, this trap exceeds her skill at this point. Triple explosions are never fun. And even if we did pass it, there's not much in the chest:
Another switch. Well, there were two sets of gates.
The entrance to the passage is just over there!
So it was. Well done, my boy!
Now this is easy.
Not bad. Take'em.
Shall we investigate the back door now?
I think so, yeah.
Hey, we're over here now!
Indeed. Behind the Goblin's defensive line.
Except they're ready for us.
I love it when the enemy obliges.
Hey, what were they guarding?
Doesn't look like homes. More like a ... mine?
Only about 2000 gold.
Alright, I think that's good for this place. Let's get out of here.
I suppose this means that we took out all the defenders here further up the hill.
I don't mind that at all.
Well, that's done. So, now we head south again to Bolton, then east from there.
* * *
Can someone explain this to me?
It's a road.
Not that! Why is it here? I mean, it goes nowhere. There's no town, or port, or anything of interest. It's like whomever was laying the road just went off in the wrong direction.
Did... did the game just recognize that I have non-humans in the party? WHAT?
And this must be the Sludge River. I can see how it got its name.
We'll pause here, take a breather, then cross.
That should be enough for this update. Join me next time when we cross the river to find out what's on the other side!