Part 6: Elfland, the Marsh Cave, and Astos's Castle
Kinu Nishimura posted:
man i am kicking myself for noticing something so small but you refer to the rogue character as a he when the game states she's a she. other than that this is cool and i kinda wanna play this (i've never played ff1 personally)
Huh, I didn't notice that. Even odder, the readme refers to the Rogue as a male. I have therefore determined that our Rogue is genderfluid, and you can't convince me otherwise.
Last time, we got a boat! Let's head back to Pravoka and see if anything's changed.
If you've played vanilla FF and are particularly observant, you might have noticed that there's something missing from UCE's overworld.
Ports. This hack removed ports altogether, allowing the player to dock at any traversible piece of land. This gives you a lot more freedom in where you take your ship, to the point that you can actually beat the game without ever getting the airship - the only things you'll miss are one town and one optional dungeon.
The Pravokans are out and about, and giving mostly helpful advice.
After a buying POIS for Ranger and staying at the inn, we head out for Elfland.
Kyzoku still roam the seas, and they're still worth fighting for money.
The game decided to skip the basic model and jump straight to pitting me against red sahag(in). Both species have pretty high evasion, which would make them annoying to fight if not for their crippling weakness to lightning damage.
Parking in this inlet lets us walk due south to Elfland.
There's definitely a pattern to their concerns.
Elfland sells iron weapons and armor, another step up from our current gear. As before, we'll grab a sword and some mail for Rogue.
Elfland sells level 3 magic, and there's some good stuff here. We'll grab CUR2 for Cleric; we don't have enough cash to buy anything else, and Ranger doesn't have access to level 3 spells yet anyway.
According to the author, Joris was an early playtester who gave up because the hack was too hard.
Elfland also has level 4 spells, but we have neither the levels to make use of them nor the money to buy them at the moment.
After a night at the inn, we head west to the Marsh Cave. The trip is a lot shorter than in vanilla, which is nice.
The cave looks similar to its vanilla counterpart at first blush, but there's a big difference right at the start: the lack of an exit. Apparently the author noticed that the world map sprite is a literal hole in the ground, so now we're just jumping in and have to find our own exit.
The cave is full of familiar encounters, though far fewer of them inflict poison than in vanilla. This fight is pretty manageable, especially with Cleric and her hammer, though red bones are still pretty durable, and the crawl is definitely the priority target.
South of the entrance is a chest containing some plate armor. Even setting aside the lack of a paladin in our party, this sucks! It's a tier behind what Elfland sells!
More zombies and ghouls. That first fight is easily manageable, but the second one is worth fleeing.
East of the entrance is a set of stairs leading down to the bottom level. The two-part intermediate area from vanilla is gone entirely, making the trip shorter.
This floor is much the same as in vanilla: a grid of rooms, some with treasure, some without.
Scum are basically the same as in vanilla, with high defense and a weakness to fire, but their attacks inflict both poison and mute. They are awful. Cobras, meanwhile, have had their venom swapped out for something sleep-inducing. They're more annoying to fight than dangerous. Mucks inflict mute, but not poison; I've never found an elemental weakness, if they have one (it's lightning in vanilla, but not in UCE).
The obviously important chest still has the treasure, and it's still guarded by piscos (formerly wizards).
While they don't hit nearly as hard as in vanilla, their attacks inflict silence and sleep, which can make the fight drag on. They're weak to lighting, but since Ranger doesn't have BLT2, we have to settle for multiple shots of BOLT combined with physical strikes. It's not too difficult, but I really should have looted the last row of rooms before tackling them. They also give me enough XP for level 6, which is nice.
(Please ignore the red outlines. I was a dunce when taking my screenshots.)
In the chest is... no, not the crown. It's actually the TNT, which gives us an exit into the outer world. The elf prince? He's entirely optional.
Finally, there's one last row of rooms to loot. Unlike in vanilla, they're not locked by the key. This chest is another one that clearly has a spiked encounter tile in front of it.
Except no, it doesn't. There's just a free axe!
The sword goes to Ranger, while the robe is money in the bank.
In each corner of the floor are stairs leading back to level 1.
To actually get out of the Marsh Cave, we have to head north from the entrance. A set of stairs here leads out.
The trip back to Elfland is short, and gives us a chance to rest up and buy MUTE and SLOW for Cleric before we head off to our next destination: North Castle.
Rather than making the long walk up here, we can just part the ship nearby and take a short walk there.
No shortcuts here: if we want to get to Astos, we have to take the long way around.
And yeah, of course there are monsters here. Green ogres, geists, and images are just stronger ogres, ghouls, and shadows, respectively. Geists don't even hit much harder, though paralysis is always a concern.
There's a house just sitting here in the middle of the castle, which is handy if you feel the need to rest up after your first trip. Houses still work the same (restoring a large chunk of HP and all MP, plus letting us save), so they're good have around.
Astos's treasure room isn't locked in UCE.
But the tiles in front of the chests? Still spiked. Nothing too challenging, fortunately.
Another silk robe, some actual up-to-date plate armor, and a nice chunk of gold are our rewards.
And then there's the king himself. Since the Marsh Cave no longer contains the crown, you can actually face this as soon as you can get here. Given the land routes to Elfland, that means you can make your way here right after beaing Garland if you're so inclined.
Of course, you won't win at that point without a ton of grinding, because Astos is fucking brutal. His battle pattern is fairly straightforward: he casts STOP, FIRE, POIS, BOLT, ICE, BLND, and BLT2, in that order, and then starts over. So unlike in vanilla, he won't outright murder a character on round 1, and he won't spam level 3 spells on your party. But he has a lot more HP in this version, so the you can't just rush him down unless you have a ton of firepower.
I'm not going to lie here: I attempted this fight about a dozen times, and realized that I just could not win at level 6. So I left, went back to Elfland, rested up, and did some grinding until I hit level 7. At that point Ranger got access to level 3 spells, including TMPR, so I figured I might be able to win. And I did.
Astos is, at least, worth a good amount of gold and experience. And, in a nice turn, dead characters still get XP, so your party's levels always stay equal.
The chest behind Astos contains the herb, which is needed to wake the elf prince. Good thing too, what with Matoya being a no-show. After this, we heal our two remaining characters and book it back to Elfland.
In another nice turn, clinics only charge 1 GP to restore the dead to life. It's really hard to get into an unwinnable position.
With the immediate crises taken care of, we head for the castle, turn in the herb, and get the key.
The treasures in the elf castle aren't amazing, but money is always good and more iron mail won't hurt. After that, we head back to Coneria to unlock its treasure vaults.
Some good stuff here too, including a steel staff, which we can't buy yet. Of course, no one in our party can use it, but it's still worth money.
Finally, let's head back to the dwarf cave.
The steel shield is the best prize here for us, but money and consumables are nice too, and finally getting an iron weapon for Cleric is good.
We also turn in the TNT, which lets us get out of the sea and into the wide world. It only gets tougher from here, but I daresay our intrepid party can handle it.