Part 14: The Dark Pit and the Ogre CaveThe Dark Pit and the Ogre Cave
"No, I am very, very annoyed. I want to vent my frustrations in a constructive manner.
There was mention of a Grim Cavern to the north, a source of the Undead. Perhaps an extermination is in order?
That sounds like a good idea actually! he rubbed his hands gleefully While I dislike delving into baser pleasures, a little pyromania can be good for the soul.
Um... who are you and what have you done with Peregrine?
I agree! Have you been possessed? KLAATU BARADA NIKTO!
Oh, you imbecilic peons, even the most astute of arch magi need to get out and stretch their physical muscles every so often. Have you not heard that a sound soul rests with a sound mind and a sound body?
I applied to that school. Didn't make it.
I'm not surprised. They are very particular about their entrants.
Right, it's a magic thing. Pft.
How about we just find these caverns, beat the crap out of some undead, and then figure out what to do from there.
Right, north it is!
This stinks. You guys smell that?
Sulphur? But we're not near any lava outflows...?
I know nothing about Magic, but even I can tell that this is a bad omen.
I can only hope that they remembered the first rule of summoning.
Don't call up what you can't put down?
I'm amazed that you retained that vital bit of information amidst all the detritus of your mind.
Before you two get into another argument, it seems like there is nothing to do here and no one has a reason to be here. This place disquiets me.
Someone tell me why we're taking the back way north?
To be thorough, and that encounter with skeletons back there means it would be a good idea to check everything.
Something is odd about this path.
I feel it too. Like there's something waiting for us.
Well, that's not ominous at all.
At lease someone has a good head on their shoulders. I think I would like to meet this Solberg, if only for the pleasant company.
Still no sign of more undead.
Ooooh! What's this?
Later identified as a strong poison, but Item Lore didn't kick in so I kept it around.
Bah! This could be such a windfall! Excellent alchemical ingredients!
I'll show on the map at the end of the update, but there are several of these locations between Mertis and the Tower along the east edge of the map hidden behind some secret passages. I view it as a constant reminder to check every last corner for things that may or may not come in handy.
We're going to have to cross this, aren't we?
Unless we want to take the long way around?
That's probably a good idea.
I just went through, and lucked out. Only a Karmas and Ember got poisoned, and that was easily taken care of.
So very glad we went around.
This place gives me the chills.
All places of undeath do. We must be vigilant.
Still up to beating things in?
As proud as I am, some things must be done.
Let there be light!
The Dark Pit is the first optional dungeon in this LP. There is no requirement to come here, and the rewards are paltry.
What the heck is that thing?
A fungus of sorts.
And hostile to boot!
I've been lax in describing encounters, sorry, and this update was long enough as it is. The Giant Fungus you see here can't move, but can attack three times for decent damage. They are a 'roadblock' enemy, one that must be put down before advancing. Nothing a decent party can't take care of.
Spirits. Undead that can cast up to level 4 spells, but actually fragile. Quite the glass cannon in my view. If you get caught by a group of them though, they can pile on the hurt like nothing else at this stage of the game.
Odd, this appears to be a dead end.
This is a Sapphire. It's a reagent used for casting spells. In this case, it's for the Magic Map spell which reveals the entire town/dungeon map. I'll be using them later on for the LP. You can also buy this particular reagent back in Fort Dranlon, but I skipped on it because I didn't have either the spell or the level to cast it. I'll be backtracking there a few times off-camera. But for now, I'll just store it.
This took way to long to find.
I guess the Spirit was hiding something after all.
What is this?
Meet the Aranea. Magic slinging giant spiders. They can also throw webbing around which can severely impede whatever character winds up in them, but I avoid[ all that in this section of the dungeon. Thankfully they also aren't very tough, but they do come in groups.
I am regretting coming here. Peregrine, this was your idea, can we go now?
No, this place is no ordinary tomb.
What. The. Hells.
That is exceedingly deep. And I suspect that none of us have any desire to go down there.
This dungeon wouldn't be so hard except that it has a gimmick. And that gimmick is that it will kill your current light source (be it magic or mundane), or just force it down faster. It's annoying, especially when in tight spots.
Hells, I can barely see through this!
And interfering with illumination. Definitely malevolent.
Does that mean we should go back and come back when we're more prepared?
I've found the best way to explore in these situations is to do so in combat mode. Why? Sure, you can't use the minimap, but you're always ready in case an undead pops out of the darkness, and if you get in trouble, ending combat mode will usually teleport your party together in a safe-ish location, where you can prepare to overwhelm the inevitable oncoming swarm.
Oh, and did I mention that Detect Life doesn't work on undead, so you can't keep track of them on the minimap?
Fixed one time encounter with some spirits. Not an issue.
Hey! I can walk through walls too!
This is identified at the end of the update as a Piercing Crystal, which, as mentioned in a prior update, is a one-shot casting of Dispel Barrier. Except I don't know what it is at the moment, and can't use it!
I can sense the magic on this, but cannot tell what it does. Pity.
So, does that mean we go North to Duvno or south to the Tower to get it identified?
South. Closer. But not right now.
Fixed one time encounter with some spirits. Not an issue.
I never thought I'd be glad to feel heat from lava.
It has been a long time since I have seen my breath condense like that.
We're almost at the middle, I know it.
This is worse than I thought.
And we can go no further. Someone has sealed off the central chamber.
I can feel the evil on the other side. It's contained for now, but there's nothing we can do now.
I'll have to come back here when I have Dispel Barrier or a supply of Piercing crystals. In the meantime, have a map:
A variety of undead reside in the Dark Pit. Skeletons are like you would expect, right down to the very AD&D taking of half damage from non-bashing weapons. Zombies are so typical I shouldn't have to explain them. Wights are very annoying as they can 'drain life' which actually reduces your SP, not your HP and can cause 'Slow' at the same time. Spirits are as you saw, magic slingers.
There are other types of undead in the game, including my favourite type of all time, but I won't cover those until we get to them.
Let's head back to Mertis and resupply. We're really low on food.
Mertis is probably the most cost-efficient place to purchase food in the game. At Silvar, you can purchase 6 food for 1 cold. 2 gold in Corta. But in Mertis, 2 gold gets you * 15 * Food.
I buy a bit over 400.
Aw, it didn't say anything new.
Any particular reason why we're coming here?
I was wondering about that myself, Art.
I suspect it is wondering at what could possibly convince the Tower to have a Monster infested location so close to them.
Training, I suppose.
Ogres? Oh, this isn't going to be pretty.
Ogres are straight up melee brawlers, a major step up from the Nephil and Nephar, and having a slight edge over the Sliths through better Hit Points. Otherwise they are nothing to write home about.
I can understand about keeping some monsters around to train magics against, but this seems a bit too... I don't know... Something's not right here.
Cave Giant. Can attack at range as you see here, and has multiple melee attacks. And a shiton of hit points. If it wasn't for the fact that it's by its lonesome, this guy would be trouble. As it is, I spent was too much time whittling him down to death through spells and blessed attackers. We'll be encountering them in groups much later.
This thing has a little hidey-hole back here.
Little for a giant. Normal sized for us.
The chest contains 50 gold. I was hoping for more given the general difficulty of the encounter.
A library? In an Ogre cav... vv... oh shit.
We must be on our guard. There are Ogre Mages about.
Right back to AD&D here, Ogre Mages are purple, and very powerful as spellcasters and melee combatants. They are high priority targets, and will often use normal ogres as meat shields to bring the hurt, and then mangle anyone that gets close.
I don't know about you, but I've heard that Ogres eat very healthy in order to support their bulk and muscles. They don't just scavenge around as it would make them weak.
I don't think that's a good idea...
What did I just see? SOMEONE TELL ME!
I DON'T KNOW!
There's a larder over there. That may contain our answer.
Let us never speak of this again. Let us never investigate anything like this ever again.
Hello? Any prisoners behind these locked doors? This is a rescue!
Let them go. It's a better thing for them than what we saw earlier.
Let's do the other door.
You see a man in ragged robes. He seems thrilled to see you.
"Greeting, friend! I am called Bantam the mage."
What are you doing here, good mage?
"I was an apprentice mage. Now I'm a prisoner of the ogres."
So I see. I assume you are affiliated with the Tower?
"Once. Then I fled. There are true horrors there."
What do you mean, horrors? Certainly your apprenticeship wasn't that bad?
He shivers and winces. "I only heard rumours. But the way people acted made me believe they were true." He looks from side to side, as if afraid someone would be watching. "I heard they were going to summon a Haakai!"
The Pentacle. And Kelner's reaction. THAT IS MADNESS!
For the uneducated, what are Haakai?
Demons above Demons. Creatures of terrible wrath and fury. To fight one is to die horribly. To summon one is the height of folly and to make a pact is unthinkable.
He winces at the sound of the word. "The mightiest race of demons. Fierce and deadly. Utter foolishness to try to summon one, worse still to try to control it. I heard they were going to lure it to the tower, using a powerful magic item as bait." He shivers again. "I tell you, it's bad here. But there, I was afraid for my soul!"
We must speak with Kelner.
You should escape now. I know not about Demons or Haakai or anything of the sort, but this we can do.
"Yes. I managed to find a secret passage in this cave. The Divine knows why the ogres don't know about it. It leads to water. I planned to slip away and swim for it, before they devoured me."
Let us further distract these Ogres. We have yet to encounter any of their Magi, so hold still until we have provided enough of a distraction, then make your way out. The Nephil prisoners are already leaving.
Ugh. This is what passes for a barracks amongst the Ogres?
This one is better organized. Search the shelves quickly.
I've mentioned before about Mage Lore. Well, this is a successful use of it. Normally this event is triggered by searching the bookshelves. The party has a total of 10 Mage Lore across all the PCs, and that's barely enough to get the 'successful' result. Anything less, and we would get a 'you don't understand this' message. But because we have, the party learns Protection. A Level 7 spell. However, I won't be able to cast it for quite some time, and I'll cover what it does when I finally get there.
So remember people, SEARCH EVERYTHING.
And behind the library with the spell too advanced for us is.... A boat.
Boats can be found inside or outside, and can traverse between the two. While in boats you can travel over water, but can't fight. So be careful while in hostile territory like this.
Did they seriously feed their captives to the lizards to feed them? I feel sick.
Oooh! I wonder what they would hide in the far end of this lake?
An altar. Don't touch it.
There's a switch here. It's not that well hidden. I don't think the Ogre Magi thought any of their followers would get over here.
Traps. Let me take the lead here.
Peregrine, I need you to short out that symbol there. That'll get rid of the trigger mechanism.
Yep! And I'll be right here in case you screw up!
I wonder if there's anything of use?
I think we've done all we can here. Let us leave.
The talk with Bantam and the Protection spell are indeed the only things in this dungeon worth getting. I don't think we'll come back here. Here's the map!
We must speak with Kelner at once.
Agreed. Haakai are no joking matter.
Y.. you return!
He grabs Kelner's collar tightly and drags his face close. There is a fire in his eyes that burns into the young man's soul. A. Haakai. What madness takes you?
Speak not to Linda! This was her plan! You are not from the tower, so you might be trustworthy." He speaks quickly, looking constantly for eavesdroppers. "A powerful creature has been brought here, and may escape any day. It all started when Solberg of the Triad left. It is my hope that if he is alerted, disaster may be averted."
I've heard of Solberg. Where is he?
"He went away a year ago. I don't know why. He was my friend, and looked after me, and said if ever he was needed, instructions for where to find him were left in a hidden cave east of here. I can't go find him, but maybe travellers such as you can. Please do it. If the Haakai Lord escapes, horrid, horrid things will happen."
He lets Kelner go, causing the man to stumble back. I don't have the power to do that, but I will alert Solberg. May whatever deity you hold dear forgive you for your part in this, for I do not. Art, we go north to find Solberg and let him know of this atrocity.
Agreed. But we stop in Silvar first to train, then in Formello to rebase.
Such is the seriousness that you would delay the goals of the committee?
Karmas, look at Peregrine. He threatened a mage with physical violence. I can't tell one demon from another, but this has Art and Peregrine spooked badly. We'd best follow their lead on this.
I hear ye.
I want to take a moment here to explain what's going on. Unlike the vast majority of modern RPGs, Exile belongs to that style known as non-linear. In that you don't have to be told about things in order for them to happen. You saw this much earlier with the Nephil Fort and the Bronze Key I picked up. You saw this with Fort Dranlon and the quests for the Dispel Barrier magic.
What I did over the latter half of this update was stumble into one of the end-game quests at about the halfway mark. Yes. There is stuff that's supposed to happen before this, and stuff that comes after it, but the design of Exile allows for me to see these things happen without being told to go do it. And once I talk to Solberg, there is little I can do about this quest until the end-game, many updates from now.
I love it. And you just don't see this level of design anymore. It's all very linear in order to make sure that the player follows the narrative as the designers want.
Oh, I also stopped by the shop in the Tower that has random items in it. This is what was available:
See that Gold Ring of Skill? That's end-game level equipment right there and I buy it and put it onto Art. That was such a lucky find. The Rings of Skill act much like the Bless spell does, but doesn't actually Bless the PC, so things like Curse don't affect it.
After this, I travelled to Silvar and did some training with what money I had after identifying and selling off some stuff. Here's the end results:
Art is pulling ahead in the XP race due to her build and front-line capacity. I bought the next level of Priest Spells in preparation for Formello, while those Skill points will be used to buff her SP in the near future.
In terms of inventory, there is no reason for her to have the Sapphire. I should give that to Peregrine. The Scroll of Stealth mimics the spell of the same name, reducing enemy effectiveness in locating you. Though were I'm going, it won't see much use. The Wand is just plain useful. Aside from the new Ring, her combat equipment remains unchanged.
Karmas' skills make him an excellent offensive fighter. I'll have to decide whether to switch him out to Two-handed great swords in the future, or start to train up his Defense skill. I may train that anyways and keep the Great Sword option as a contingency as the most powerful weapon in the game falls under that classification.
The Asp Fangs are an alchemy reagent dropped by Asps that are used to mix poisons. The two he has on hand are very powerful, and are best saved for powerful enemies. I did find a Great Helm for him to wear, increasing his defense.
I didn't get much training done on Rook, but I will be looking into increasing his dexterity for accuracy with the bow, and Assassination for the melee. Item Lore could use a boost too in order to compliment Duncan in that regard.
Flint Arrows aren't great, but they do come cheap, and as it stands, Rook can deal 9-10 damage with them when they hit. The Bronze Ring of Poison Resistance was a random drop from somewhere, and I put it on Rook. I should move it to Karmas in case he screws up with the Poison skill.
Duncan bought 3 points of strength and a pair of HP as part of my goal to bring him up to combat spec. By the time he reaches level 10, I can invest enough in Polearms Skill to worry about his Alchemy, Mage and Item Lores a bit more.
The Fang Necklace is a stop-gap measure to help him in combat while the Bronze Spear is an improvement over the Bronze Tipped spear purchased in Metris. Sell the lesser one when I reach Formello. The Fine Lockpicks are an improvement over the normal ones, with less chance of failure. They're going to be saved for special doors.
Peregrine got a point of Strength for further HP gains and the next level of Mage Spells for the same reason as Art. More SP and improved Intelligence are in his future along with a couple more points in Mage Lore. Art can cover Level 4 Priest spells for now, so it's not a vital purchase at this time.
Equipment wise, the Bronze Breastplate is too heavy for him to use, so I'll move it over to Duncan shortly. The wand is ever useful, while he has the Piercing Crystal in case I need to use it. It's not a guaranteed thing, as I found out via several attempts to use it off-camera in the Dark Pit and the Tower.
At the bottom of the XP pile, Ember has some catching up to do. A point of strength and Mage Spells for the same reason as Peregrine. Like him, she'll need to invest in SP soon. And with her equipment, I'll put a few points into Throwing weapons when I can.
Speaking of equipment, Throwing Knives are a step up from Darts, while Lighting Rods were a lucky drop from an Ogre Mage that deal massive damage, then hit the enemy for additional lighting damage. Think Zeus' Thunderbolts and you'll get the idea.
And here's the map of the Mertis Tower of the Magi region: