Part 12: Chapter 12
So now it's time to find the Crystal Rod that the game conveniently neglects to tell you anything about the location of. The cave where it's at isn't even marked on the map, but it's a fairly prominent landform visible not far from Mysidia.
The layout of this cave is kind of funky. It has a lot of these little walled-off areas/pits all over the place.
Some of them have treasure. Ridiculously awesome treasure! You only need the canoe to get here, so you can theoretically get this stuff as soon as turban guy joins. I feel kind of dumb for not coming and grabbing it earlier, because it is super crazy good even if it's a little tricky to survive long enough to get it early on.
As mentioned when we stole one from pirate wench, the goldpin is a lightweight mage-friendly piece of headgear that boosts agility. The black armor is also lightweight mage-friendly armor with an agility bonus (again, sadly not cumulative), but it also has resistance to polymorph/teleport effects. Since that includes most of the game's nastiest spells, it's incredibly useful to have, especially if for some retarded reason you've arbitrarily limited yourself to having only one real healer.
Some new enemies, including one that should be an old familiar face to FF veterans, but here's it's a new familiar face, except it's a really old face because this game was released 20 years ago. The Malboro here doesn't have its signature Bad Breath attack just yet, though; these ones only paralyze or something on hit. Or at least they would, if Marty was hittable.
Yeah, here's that moronic riddle again. Putting the black mask on the doppleganger makes it go away, although if you try it before putting the white mask on the statue it won't work.
On to Floor 2.
Some more familiar faces! I think Red Soul might have set a record for the length of time it takes a boss before it shows up as a regular random encounter. Holy's non-elemental damage nukes both the slimes and souls, although by this point you should have weapons strong enough to knock out Red Souls in a couple of attacks.
More loot (just junk from Mysidia's weapon shop.) There's a section off to the right with no entrance, though.
God damn they liked their secret passages here.
And again on the next level. This is a pretty complete set of Mysidia's weapon shop selection, which is pretty pointless because by the time you can't get here without going to Mysidia and you probably have enough money by now to buy ten of these things.
Of course, for completion's sake there's a monster-in-a-box with an Ogre Axe. It's entirely possible to run into these things just walking to this cave, and they're not even among the more dangerous random enemies in this part of the game.
Problematic. This is why the Black Armor is really goddamn useful for its status resistances.
Fry has crap for defense and HP, so he bites it--but not before curing Guido, who singlehandedly reduces the remaining enemies to toads (Guido singlehandedly reduces a lot of encounters to toads at this point, but usually he has the other party members around to watch.) This gives us a rare look at Guido's map sprite and palette. You can't reorder your party members, so as long as Fry is alive you're stuck with his sprite.
It's a damn good thing they started putting in Phoenix Downs in this game, unlike its predecessor.
Why. Why do they keep doing this? Argh.
It's especially annoying this late in the game because quest items are eating up a lot of your inventory space and enemies are dropping much more valuable stuff that you end up having to throw out to clear up room to open up chests which turn out to be worthless.
While we're on the topic of "why": DOORS
The middle one yields some mildly useful stuff.
And completely useless stuff. This Silent B(ell?) casts Mute 16. Even assuming that you ran into an enemy with dangerous spellcasting capability that was not outright immune to mental statuses, and you had allocated one of your dwindling inventory slots to this and had nothing better to do (like turning them all into toads), mute has a tendency to wear off in less than 1 full round.
Next floor, we're back to the good loot. Drain does non-elemental damage and heals the caster; its damage-dealing capability is not great (since damage spells in this game are badly dependent on hitting elemental weaknesses), but it's a good way to bypass highly resistant enemies and the HP kickback is a nice perk. Unlike draining weapons it doesn't have any nifty percentage HP reduction properties, though.
Being one of the better pieces of loot in this dungeon, the Drain spell is guarded by one of the more dangerous monster-in-a-box encounters. The ghosts demonstrate why 99% of the spells used by monsters in this game are split across the whole party: because they are ridiculously lethal when they're targetting individual party members. I probably could've tanked this hit just fine, but I haven't been really keeping healed up since Marty is basically impervious to physical damage.
Blah, another potion. At least there are three other chests.
Oh you are fucking kidding me (yes, the other one is a potion too.)
At least it's near the end of the dungeon.
Which happens to be a treasure room. More dungeons should end in treasure rooms! The real treasure isn't an extra Drain spell, though.
It's this. Infinite MP is never a bad thing. In this version your target doesn't even need to have MP to steal--you cast Aspil and you get MP, even if you're hitting enemies that have none. I'm pretty sure the remakes fix this, but they also give you enough inventory room to just fill up with as many ethers as you need, so it kind of balances out. It's awesome enough for me to break my arbitrary and unnecessary division of white and black magic by having Fry learn it, because no fucking way am I turning my back on unlimited MP for my healer.
Of course, this means that all those levels in the Change spell are basically worthless now since the only reason I was using it was to leech MP from Guido (and occasionally from MP-bearing enemies.) Change is kind of infamous because of all the things you can do with it, but the most popular uses of it aren't very useful in the big scheme of things:
1) You can cast Change on really weak enemies to get rid of huge chunks of HP and MP, thereby triggering HP/MP growth. But usually you'll probably end up with too much HP if anything, and while MP is annoying it's easier to raise by using turban guy's Anti spell (also it becomes largely irrelevant once Aspil enters the picture, although you have to hunt Wizards if you want more than one Aspil book.)
2) You can take a character at low HP and cast Change to swap HP with a big tough boss, thereby leaving them stuck one shot away from death. But any time Change would work, Toad would also work and save you a couple of steps. Turban guy's built-in Change spell can help take out Captains this way (as demonstrated a bit), but once you can kill Captains you can get the Toad spell and then there's not much point to using Change offensively.
The treasure room also has this thing which is OK I guess.
Next time: we use the Crystal Rod to get THE MOST POWERFUL SPELL EVER OF ALL TIME ANYWHERE EVERYWHERE IN THE HISTORY OF EVERYTHING!