Part 70: A Nice RingUpdate 64 A Nice Ring
"Sass, if you please."
"You have to be kidding me."
"I hate mazes!"
"At least it's not one with moving floors."
"Well, I hope this ring is worth it.
Welcome to the Tower of Zkal. The hardest optional dungeon in the game. And the reason for that is actually pretty simple. Here, let me show you.
"As an Undead, maybe. No thanks."
"Well, let's see what sort of welcome we get."
Here it is. The dungeon actively drains your SP. Don't do what I did here. Be prepared with at least a dozen Medium Energy potions (Strong ones will get worn away before you can get full use out of them), and another dozen Piercing Crystals.
"I'm glad I mapped this place first. Imaging walking into the Quickfire!"
"That would be bad. But at least I don't have the weakness you guys have."
"Oh, shut up. The headache is bad enough as it is."
Look how much SP I've lost just walking north to this corner of the dungeon. And it's pretty much a straight line too!
"I wanna pull it!"
"Well, let's see what that did for us."
Except all it leads to is a dead end!
Well, the other path isn't that much better. Perhaps we have to go south?
Oh, ye of little faith.
I could do with less faith, and more undead smashing!
Impressively natural looking. But why would there be something like this in here?
I don't know.
But there's still another secret door leading out.
Ugh, I feel so drained...
This is why you need the Piercing Crystals. I feel no shame in telling you all that I cheated in those potions and crystals now. Because I'm making this dungeon look easy. But when you can't cast Slow Group, or Major Blessing, or even healing spells, this place becomes astoundingly dangerous.
After dealing with those, we should check on that chest.
Four Medium Energy Potions. Literally a godsend if you're not prepared.
No one say a thing about how we had to go through those barriers when the secret passage was right before them.
Knowing our luck, this teleporter will just take us to the other side of this stream.
But it's the only way forward!
Ugh. Where are we now?
Could be worse.
Another confession time I'm taking the shortest line to get to the end here. No exploring to the sides.
Well, at least the rats are a nice change of pace.
And we're right back to the undead.
The one in the back. More hidden, and it seems to lead to new places.
Oh wait, no energy.
Well, it can't attack us here, so let's see what we can do.
Take another secret passage to what looks like stairs.
Down we go!
Some 'Tower', that only goes down.
Keep the lights down.
Yeah, this looks like undead central.
I'm serious. There are a lot of undead here, and the mana-drain is still in effect. Sneaking by them is a viable strategy.
It looks like there is a teleporter near the south side though. It should take us into the construction to the east.
But first, something in this cavern here.
More energy potions. We must conserve these.
Do we want to investigate those corpses?
No, there's nothing on them, or in there aside from the flavor.
This should be it.
Oh great, more of them.
No, this is a resonance key. I recognize the layout. The teleporters by themselves do nothing, but when you activate them in a certain order, you can build up enough energy to get to where you want to go!
You need to walk through different teleporters in order to get out.
Which ones is the question?
Give me a few moments. Thankfully, I don't need my mana to do this.
I see... this isn't a resonance cascade...
This one first.
Now, we have to go through it again.
Are you sure?
We're still here! Now where?
The south one.
And then back to the first one!
And here we are!
Wait! The walls are moving!
I hate this room. It's dark, your SP is gone, and the walls are bouncing back and forth and it's next to impossible to get through without setting up barriers of your own, like as shown.
And if you screw up...
Let's do that again, this time with the liberal application of Fire Barriers that I can stand in and not worry about getting crushed.
THIS IS A HORRIBLE IDEA!
But now we're out, right?
I got this.
Still hate you.
Ugh. This is annoying.
And of course the gates leading to the treasure are blocked off.
I do have to admit, the presence of Vahnatai undead is a surprise.
At least they aren't summoning talking spiders.
UGH! Webs everywhere!
What's going to try and kill us in this room?
ENOUGH WITH THE MOVING WALLS ALREADY!
Get to the switch!
At least we can't get crushed by the walls here.
I think that opened up the exit to the west.
But closed the one to the south.
Well, only one way to go.
This is a bad idea. You'd be better off drinking your remaining energy potions now, buffing the party, then charging in.
Going for the Lich!
I'm in an Anti-magic field. I don't need to fight you here and now. I will take my leave now that Zkal is dead.
I appreciate that.
Don't worry, you'll get what is due to you.
That was odd.
Eh, it's not like I haven't angered the demons enough.
Without care, these will safely destroy themselves.
Come on... there has to be a ring here somewhere...
And here is the reward for this hellish dungeon. The Ring of Endless Magery is a 40-use full restore of your SP. That's right, it's effectively 40 Strong Energy Potions on a ring. It's going onto Ni'aurrl.
I also find it hilarious that your reward for getting through a dungeon that drains your SP is an item that gives it all back.
That's enough. Let's get back to Fort Emergence and see what's up. We have a lot of things to catch up now that we've finished being distracted.
Right, using the Amulet now.
Here is a nice summary of the dungeon. Because I hate it.
The Tower of Zkal is Jeff Vogel breaking out his trolliest designs. A good 2/3rds of the first floor is dead-ends and fakeouts. There are cunningly-hidden secret doors that don't lead anywhere useful. There are obvious progression points that are locked off and impossible to unlock. There are teleporters all over the place that take you to a little pocket along the outside wall where your only choice is to leave the dungeon (resetting it in the process). The correct path on the first floor includes taking the correct teleporter in a series of three blind choices -- and each wrong choice forces you to leave the dungeon.
The enemies aren't anything much; mostly ghasts (slowing melee), wraiths (XP-draining melee), and spirits (weak spellcasters), with the occasional spectre (freezing, XP-draining melee) thrown in for flavor. But dealing with them without using magic, in a dungeon comprised entirely of 1-tile-wide corridors, is pretty irritating.
The second floor is much more straightforward. The portal puzzle can be solved by trial-and-error; there's a mushroom patch that changes each time you enter a portal, and you can use that to figure out which portals reset the puzzle, which do nothing, and which progress. The sliding walls do require some way to create an obstruction, whether it be a barrier, a summoned monster, or a web. And the fight at the end is pretty easy, so long as you use Antimagic Field. If you don't...well, sucks to be you, I guess.
Oh, and the treasure room has a cursed ring, a Bronze Ring, a Ring of Serpents (casts Sticks to Snakes when used) with 1 charge remaining, and the Ring of Magery.
And this is where my backlog of images ends. That has been all five Artifact Quests, and now it's time to get back to the main plot as there's not much left to do otherwise aside from incidental stuff. See you all next update!