Part 13: Gaia, the Caravan, and OnracToday's update is going to be a fairly short one, but it should be interesting for those of you most excited by the hack's new content.
Our next stop is the town of Gaia, nestled in the mountains in the northeast part of the world. Strictly speaking, we don't have to come here, but it's a logical next step.
The town is mostly the same as in vanilla, laid out horizontally but with a wooded northern area.
The shops here sell level 7 spells. We can't make use of them yet, but we could buy them if we wanted to. Unlike in vanilla, there's no way to buy level 8 magic here.
One of the NPCs in town is this guy. It's apparently an old internet meme that the author thought was funny, but I don't know the reference.
The shops here sell mithril weapons and armor, which are the strongest (and, of course, the most expensive) gear one can buy. Per usual, I grab a mithril mail for Rogue.
The fairy who gave the party oxyale in vanilla has been removed entirely. Now it's the oxyale itself that's missing from Gaia.
The desert caravan is located in the same spot as in vanilla. Naturally, the area around it is woods and desert, so we can't park the airship right next to it.
This spot, to the south, is the nearest landing area. I think it might be a little closer than you can get in vanilla, but not much.
A short trip to the north takes us to the oasis. In vanilla, there was a hidden shop here.
Not so much any more. Whatever was here looks to have been wrecked. The desert caravan is a one-floor dungeon that spirals counterclockwise toward the center. The place is entirely linear and it's basically impossible to get lost here.
I feel like this encounter isn't supposed to be here, unless there's a landshark joke I'm missing. White sharks are similar to their lesser brethren: high attack power, high HP, high evasion. The BIND Ring is pretty useful when fighting them. The raiders are the same as the boss of the pirate lair, though they're not as threatening any more.
Like rogues, raiders drop lots of money.
Oozes are stronger versions of the slimes and mucks from the Marsh Cave, best handled by parties with significant magical power. Ankylos [sic] are tanky enemies with lots of defense and HP; they give so little money and XP that there's really no point fighting them if you don't have to.
Scattered throughout the dungeon are small rooms with mostly inconsequential treasure.
The rogues/sandhags group is turning into a pretty common encounter by this point. Sandhags are weak to ice, and ICE2 will usually kill them in one shot. The ICE Staff also works pretty well.
If this chest looks suspicious to you, then you have good instincts.
This is easily the most dangerous encounter here. I'd actually recommend fleeing, except that it can't be run from. Basilisks hit like trucks, and their attacks have a chance to petrify. Trickers, meanwhile, spend most of their turns casting spells: first BOLT, then BLT2, and finally BLT3. If they get to that last one you're probably fucked, especially with three or four of them casting at once.
The petrification proc chance on the basilisks' attacks is relatively low, but their raw power still makes them dangerous.
Trickers can be dealt with in several ways. They're pretty resistant to control spells like CHRM, but they're weak to lightning, so BLT3 can kill them easily (though we obviously don't have that). SHEL will stop most of the damage from their spells, though three shots of BLT3 at a time is still a problem. Since we have Cleric, I opt for the cheap option: MUTE. Trickers don't have much attack power, so this makes them basically harmless.
For the basilisks, CHRM is our best option. It will usually keep them occupied long enough to take them out. They're also weak to ice damage, so parties with ICE3 can make good use of it here.
The prize for winning is a shiny new sword for Ranger.
This room looks like it would have a spiked tile, but no. 15,000 GP is nice, but nothing amazing.
This setup also looks suspicious, but there's no spiked tile here either. A mithril robe is a great find for parties that can use it.
Tyros are a rare encounter in the dungeon. They're another monster with no special abilities, just lots of HP and strength. They're worth a fair amount of EXP though, and we even hit level 16 from this battle.
This room lies at the end of the spiral, making it the obvious place to put the big treasure.
Except... no. There's nothing here. This is actually a bit of a puzzle, and honestly, it's a little mean.
The trick is to walk out through the broken wall and check the lake.
Now that we have the oxyale, we're done here. The sandy area outside the walls has no encounters, so it's a simple walk back to the exit.
On the way back to the airship we run into cockatrices. They have low HP and power, but high evasion and the ability to petrify. Better not to fight them if you can't kill them quickly.
After resting up, our next destination is Onrac, the sea town. As with the oasis, there's no place to land next to it. You also can't walk here from the oasis landing spot, since it's completely blocked by mountains. That leaves two options. The first is to simply sail here. With no need for ports, you can just drop anchor next to the town.
I'm going with option B: a grassy area northwest of the town. The walk has tougher encounters than the ocean, but nothing really dangerous.
We follow the river, and arrive at Onrac without a problem. For whatever reason, the game doesn't trigger area transitions when leaving a river, so we can stand right on the town tile. Useless, but maybe amusing.
We come in from the south, rather than the west, and there's water here to represent the river - again, some verisimilitude. The town is largely unchanged from vanilla. It has an inn, an item shop, and magic shops selling level 7 magic (important for anyone doing a no-airship challenge).
This man drops a hint about a dungeon we'll be tackling later. Very mysterious.
These NPCs drop some hints about where to find the oxyale, and how the caravan came to ruin. Those trickers are no joke.
In vanilla, this NPC hints at the Waterfall Cave, which contains an important item. That dungeon got removed in UCE, though, so now he's just lying his ass off.
Next time: the Sea Shrine!