The Let's Play Archive

Jade Empire

by Doc M

Part 15: Pirates!

Episode 14: Pirates!

Last time, we closed the Great Dam and saved Tien's Landing from a slow death. Or possibly a quick one, since the sailors might have burned it down one day. Nevertheless, the dam is closed and the trade routes are accessible again. We are far from done with Tien's Landing, though, since we still need to find that flyer and the wind map to the Imperial City.

Oh yeah, we also met a creepy little girl named Wild Flower, who is possessed by a lion goat demon thing in what is apparently a mutually beneficial arrangement. The sight of old Tien's Landing submerged in water looks to be making her a bit uncomfortable.

...speaking of which, I hope the monkeys we saw down there made it out.

As we head back towards Tien's Landing, we're stopped by another cutscene and discover that Silk Fox has been following us. Of course she has, she's been doing that since Two Rivers.

Powerful forces are at work here. You are caught in great events that are beyond you. But I may have use for someone as... impetuous as you.

Yeah, she thought we were in league with the Lotus Assassins. We've been getting that a lot. We also weren't supposed to know who Silk Fox was until she introduces herself here, but the HUD already spoiled that for us when we fought her earlier. Anyhow, she apparently wants us to help her with something, as most people here do.

A fair question to ask, really.

I want nothing more than for you to continue your journey. You seek the old man who was taken from Two Rivers, correct? Of course you do. He was taken by Death's Hand. I could tell you where his minions have gone... for a price.

Fair enough.

If she can actually help us with this, we might as well tell her the whole truth.

Huh. Well, that was probably expected.

The Glorious Strategist has been dead for twenty years! Everyone knows this! You mean to confuse me, but I am not a willing fool. I will let you maintain this deception for now, just to see where it leads, but we share an enemy in Death's Hand. For that reason, I will help you.

That's what we get for trying to be truthful, I guess. Hey Fox, let me tell you about this place called Dirge...

Lord Yun governs much of the Great Southern Forest. He petitioned the Lotus Assassins for a wind map so he could settle a trade disruption. Of course, that has earned him their attention, in addition to whatever trouble is infesting his lands. I doubt he has time for charity, but you might try to find him.

Huh, well, that actually helps us quite a bit. We heard that guy at the town gates looking for people willing to "brave the Great Southern Forest" and we would've investigated that soon enough anyway, but now we really have a good reason to do so.

I have matters of my own to attend. If you survive, we will see what use you are to me. Remember, if you want to reach the Imperial City, you must go to the forest and get that map from Lord Yun. My path takes me elsewhere. If you actually reach the Imperial City, I will be impressed. Until then, I wish you luck. You are a surprising little peasant.

Silk Fox did gave us some pretty useful info there, but somehow I can't help but feel slightly insulted.

We arrive in town just in time to see the sailors boarding their ship and sailing off.

Hey, it's Baker Bei! How are you today?

I think he couldn't wait to get out on the river... and as soon as the water came back, he left!

Well, actually this is supposed to be just some random beggar from the pier. Who needs more than five different NPC models anyway?

In any case, he gives us our reward for helping out Captain Ing, a very handsome 2300 silver. That is about the same amount you'd get from the wine merchant if you decided to fuck over the town and leave the dam open (someone asked if you can use the Jade Heart as a gem if you sabotage the dam, the answer to that appears to be no), although I believe getting this actually requires seeking out Captain Ing and talking to him. Minister Sheng points you in Ing's direction if you missed him, but it seems it is still possible to miss out on this payday if you forget about the good Cap'n.

With one of our main quests complete, we should take a break and talk to our party members at camp. In general, you should check back with them quite often, especially if they have the yellow arrow over their heads because that usually means they have something new to say.

If you could spare some time, could we talk about what we have seen? I'm not sure I can make my concerns fully understood. Our time in the ruins, the creatures we encountered... so much unrest.

"also good job killing all those poor monkeys you idiot"

I feel they would linger here, even without the support of whatever has increased the ghosts elsewhere.

Something I should point out about Wu's dialog: to keep things flowing a bit better, I omit the generic conversation starters after we've seen them once (in this case, it was "I'm interested in how you are, Dawn Star. Is there something bothering you?" after Dawn Star asked if we could talk about what we've seen) and things like "let's go back to my other questions." All the actual dialog is kept in, of course, and as you've probably noticed by now I try to have a screenshot of the dialog choices whenever it doesn't break the flow (in general, I try to avoid having two consecutive screenshots of the same character talking).

I mean... if I had suffered something like that, I'm sure it would have stayed with me.

It doesn't compare, really. These spirits; they truly suffered and have a right to turn on those who left them behind. Me, I feel like my abandonment was partially my fault, but I was three, and I couldn't help being different. I would have tried to fit in, if I had been given a chance.

Sometimes you get these choices where it seems like you can convince your party members to follow the Open Palm or Closed Fist paths, a bit like the hardening and softening mechanics we'd see later on in Dragon Age. You can indeed turn Dawn Star to Closed Fist eventually, but only if you're pursuing a romance with her as a male character.

It may not seem like it, but I draw great strength from you and the things you say. I am grateful for that. As always, I have much to think about after speaking with you. Perhaps we can continue this another time.

Indeed. We're far from finished with these camp conversations, though.

Zu doesn't seem to be too pleased about Wild Flower's presence.

We don't need anything of him right now because we've exhausted his important dialog for the time being, but this is a fun exchange nonetheless. Let's have a talk with our newest friend, then.

We already had plenty of time to chat with Chai Ka, but didn't hear much from Wild Flower.

Who is going to hurt her and why?

Now we're needed here, with you. You're the last, he says, so we have to protect you, to make sure balance is restored. You hold the amulet and can use it, unlike.... Oh! He says I've already said too much. He doesn't like me talking about him while he‘s busy. Maybe... maybe we can talk again sometime? But for now... not about that.

Busy? What is Chai Ka even doing in... wherever the hell he is supposed to be right now? We'll find out in due time, but right now we should go to town and consider our next move, as well as check if there's anything new going on now that the dam is closed. I do remember Merchant Cheung giving us a discount on his wares once he gets something in stock, and there was also that cameo portrait that might belong to Old Wei.

Oh, I guess we have this chump to deal with as well.

Such dreadful injustice! Whatever shall he do now?

Okay. Hold on a second. His wine operation went belly-up just because the sailors left? The sailors who were stuck in this town for the last couple of months? How did he run his business before those guys showed up? And now that he's apparently gone bust despite still having the several thousand silver he's earned, he's threatening the person who fought her way through a bunch of ruins infested with ghosts, demons and Lotus Assassins. How in the goddamn hell does he think this is going to go for him?

He did at least hire two random thugs to help him out, but surely he had to realize this was not going to end well.

Here lies Merchant... I forgot his name. He died as he lived -- making incredibly stupid decisions.

But that's enough of that. Here's Old Wei, let's show him the portrait we found.

There we go.

Turns out it did belong to him. Not that there was ever any real doubt, of course.

In the form of the two dialog options we won't pick, here's your daily reminder of just how much of a raging dick you can be in this game. "Hi there old man, I found this memento of your dead wife in the ruins, now pay me or I'm keeping it. Actually, I'll just keep it so I can burn it or maybe hit a puppy with it. Have a nice day!" Obviously, since we're not fucking psychopaths, we do the right thing and give him the portrait.

Even if I was doing a Closed Fist run, I'd give that back because holy shit.

Looks like trade got restored pretty quickly around here. Let's look at Merchant Cheung's wares.

Oh, hello there. Storm Dragon is pretty much the best support style in the game. We saw an enemy use it earlier and cause damage over time that way, but that is not why the style is so good it's practically broken. The real reason is that you can stunlock enemies if you keep switching between it and a martial style. We won't be abusing that too much, but there is another reason why Storm Dragon is great and that is its usefulness in setting up harmonic combos.

Minister Sheng is, naturally, over the moon due to the fact the town is no longer dying on his watch. As you can see, the fine minister shows his gratitude in his own special way.


Oh okay, that's fine then. He'll probably get Wu's name wrong if he bothers to include it in the first place, but it's not like we care all that much.

Chumin? Oh, guess not. Come on BioWare, surely you have more NPC faces and models than this. If you're gonna reuse them, at least wait until we get to the next major area.

You seem a woman who knows her way around a battlefield. Are you willing to put those skills to the test?

The Great Southern Forest, which lies north of this village, suffers from a terrible disease. Every tree within its borders sickens, and the place is infested with ghosts of all manners.

Great, we haven't fought any ghosts in at least 40 minutes. We're not actually doing this quest at this point, but no harm in getting it a bit early.

Lord Yun. my master, seeks a way to open the forest again and make it safe for travel. He is prepared to reward whoever aids him. Our men are no match for the ghosts in the forest. Perhaps you are.

Sure. We'll get there eventually, but I decided to do the pirate lair first for no particular reason. Well, I guess one reason is that they don't have any ghosts in there. Sorry, pirate ghost fans.

Before we go deal with the pirates, it might be a good idea to check in with Hui the Brave so that she knows the amulet piece is gone.

I'll have you know the fact we spent a couple of hours dicking around with sidequests had nothing to do with that.

Whatever the outcome may be, my part in these events is over. Now that you have been to the ruins, I may finally take my leave of this town. And so I step away. I have no further part to play, and I am glad for it. Perhaps history will clear my doubts and show my time was worthwhile. I wish you luck.

Hui walks away from Tien's Landing and heads towards parts unknown. After 15 years, it's about time too.

Glad to help!

I have no doubt the pirates will be dealt with soon, as well. Things always look up eventually. It reminds me of an old saying my father taught me. "The storms of misfortune always pass, and the rains of sorrow bring forth a field of opportunity." Words to live by, I say.

This guy's relentless optimism in the face of adversity is starting to pay off little by little.

Huh, I don't remember seeing this guy before.

I am Merchant Shipeng. Once, I worked for Merchant Jiang, but now he's dead. Very sad. But don't worry, I've taken over his business. You want to buy something?

Oh yeah, Jiang. That was the wine merchant's name. Yes, we heard of his passing. Very tragic indeed. Now let's see those wares.

Now that they mention it, he does slightly remind me of the Sumatran Rat-Monkey.

That being said, Merchant Shipeng seems to be more competent at his job than his late predecessor, because he actually lets us buy things. You may remember that we tried to buy stuff from Jiang when we first arrived in town, but he just turned us away because he "had paying customers." Shipeng mostly sells generic gems, but he has some more interesting items in stock. Flawless, seen here, is an artifact weapon, a more powerful version of one of the starting weapons. All the upgrades you've made to your old weapon transfer right over, and these are also 25% more powerful than the basic weapons. We're not buying Flawless because we're not using staves, but if you did pick the staff here's your first chance to upgrade to a better version.

EDIT: I've been informed that putting enough points into focus cost reduction lets you wield the basic sword (but apparently not the staff) without using any focus while artifact swords drain focus no matter what, so keeping your old sword can be a viable decision despite the comparatively low damage output. To be fair, the focus cost at high levels is fairly unremarkable anyway.

Shipeng also has this for some reason. At the moment we have absolutely zero clue why we would need a bezoar, but we'll buy one anyway in case someone accidentally drinks poisoned wine or something.

Speaking of wine, here's Ru the Boatswain. Looks like he did actually managed to show up at the pier.

I can take you to the pirates, if you still want to go. It'll be an easy trip: The river is quite tame again since you closed the dam. No danger at all... until you meet the pirates.

We can take those guys. Come on.

That is very considerate of him. Let's try our best to avoid that particular scenario, though.

Make up your mind, Dawn Star. Earlier, she said that while it might seem like a bad idea to place our trust on a drunkard, she felt Ru would come through for us in the end.

Okay, time for the dramatic journey to the pirate base, during which we desperately try to fight off hordes of bloodthirsty pirates and a mighty river serpent while armed with nothing but an oar, until the massive pirate fortress suddenly emerges from the mist.

Or we could just fade to black and teleport right to the pirate lair. That'll work too.

Ru isn't going to join us on our... well, frankly rather ill-advised assault on the pirate base, choosing to stay behind instead.

We can talk to Ru at any point if we want to go back to Tien's Landing, not that there is really any reason to do so at the moment.

Right, here we are. Let's look around.

Unsurprisingly, there are pirates on the pirate isle. Those guys are just hanging out.

Wu decides to crouch down behind this rock and eavesdrop on the pirates while we admire the beautiful textures on display here. Jade Empire is a beautiful game for an original Xbox title (or a shoddy-ish port thereof), hence the "Art" tag on the thread, but even though they seemingly improved most of the textures for PC there are still some that certainly were not made to be viewed up close at resolutions above 480p.

As we try to stop our eyeballs from bleeding, this rather shabby-looking gentleman shows up and heads to the dock.

Apparently he's a slave, and probably not the only one we're going to meet on our little visit here.

You're nobody now! If you weren‘t so pathetic we'd have sold you as a slave long ago!

Okay, so maybe he technically isn't a slave, but I don't see any real difference here.

The other pirates find all this extremely hilarious.

He may be a little hard to see, but the slave cleaning up the dock is there to the left. The game actually focuses on him for a couple of seconds after this, but he isn't really very significant.

The old ex-pirate turned manservant walks away and, after looking around him to make sure no one notices, slips away and comes running towards our little hiding spot.

He hasn't noticed us, though, and is quite interested in that rope tied around the tree. We can just about see something suspended at the other end of the rope, although we can't really tell what it is from here. Let's go see what this guy's up to.

Revenge, apparently, and that rope is the key to getting it. Unfortunately for him, he seems to be having some technical issues at the moment.

"You look more like a flooring inspector."

The younger pirates used to look up to me. Now they treat me like dirt! They treat me worse than that slave cleaning the pier. But I'm going to get even... I'll show them!

Aside from ineffectually flailing at it, that is?

One quick pull and that cannon comes crashing down, taking out the dock and anyone on it. But my old bones can't pull hard enough to loosen the knots in the rope.

Seems like a solid enough way to get rid of those pirates around there, but... well, there's a reason why the camera briefly focused on that slave back there.

Yeah, dropping a cannon on him seems a tad unhealthy.

Some of us still take pride in our work, you know.

But whatever you're going to do, do it quick. Won't be long until those pirates on the dock start wondering what's taking me so long with their wine.

All right, time to get to work. No big deal, we can handle a bunch of ruffians absolutely fine. No sweat.

Interacting with the rope here would send the cannon crashing down on the dock, which I will say would've been a really fun way to remove a few enemies if it wasn't for that guy in the midst of them.

Well then, let's do this pirate-style.

Just so you fellows know, you strike with the grace of an ox.

Gah! What the hell was that?

That was the Hidden Fist support style, as is this area attack. I'm not sure why it sent us flying here, I'm pretty sure it shouldn't normally do that. Maybe we got stuck on geometry or something. Disorientation is a huge pain in the ass when used against you, because it seems to scramble your controls like the drunk driving status in Carmageddon II.

Here we can see Storm Dragon in action. The area attack, as mentioned earlier in this update, is great for setting up harmonic combos as we are doing here. See the green circle underneath the enemy? That's a timer. If we manage to hit this pirate with a strong attack from Legendary Strike (or any other martial style you have, which we don't) the harmonic combo is completed. As for what happens then, well, you'll see soon enough.

Unfortunately, this pirate keeps spamming Hidden Fist and messing up our controls, so despite trying extremely hard I don't manage to pull off the full harmonic combo in this fight.

I was hoping this strong kick would land before the timer ran out, but no such luck. Oh well.

But there's more pirates inside. Lots more. They'll catch you, and you'll be a slave like the rest of us. Or they'll kill you. This whole island is crawling with pirates. They'll kill you... but they won't catch me again! I know where to hide!

We'll be fine as long as we don't run into too many more Hidden Fist-using jerks. Also, there is nothing on this dock, but the view here is quite pleasant so I included this shot.

Gao ruined everything. I tried to tell them, but nobody listened. You'd think the Lotus Assassins would have been a warning. Even a pirate knows better than to get mixed up with them.

Gao the Greater, as he calls himself, is the leader of the Guild, a powerful crime syndicate. They never used to bother with us, until Gao came to power. Gao himself came and took over our operations. He began building the flyers, and he made slaving our main activity. My own men turned on me. Now they treat me like a dog!

Wait, Gao the Greater himself is here? Now?

Watch yourself in this place. One minute you're on top, the next you‘re on the bottom, bowing and scraping.

Cheung (no relation to Merchant Cheung) walks off and we're free to continue further into the pirate lair proper.

Oh dear. That is a lot of pirates, most of them armed with swords or spears and I think I spy another Hidden Fist user as well. This may be tougher than we expected.

We also don't have a ton of room to maneuver, which is bad news with all these idiots swamping us. As long as you don't get too badly surrounded, you should be fine here, but if you do then all bets are off. Those swords can and will cut you down fast if you give them the chance.

Right, let's give this another shot. Storm Dragon area attack to start the harmonic combo...

...Legendary Strike strong attack...


Since I had never used harmonic combos very much until I started doing the LP, I had forgotten the combos straight-up instagib enemies if they are low on health.

Killing an enemy with a harmonic combo often leaves behind a powerup, the type of which depends on the style you use to start the combo. I mentioned earlier that there is a tutorial for harmonic combos, but that is actually not the case and the scrollstand "Harmonic Combinations" at the start was all the guidance we're getting on that front. That scrollstand didn't exist in the Xbox version, so you pretty much got no explanation whatsoever how harmonic combos worked. This may be why I never really used them before, because most of my playthroughs of this game were on Xbox.

EDIT: Apparently you can get a harmonic combo tutorial from Jian the Iron Fist in Tien's Landing. You know, the old goat playing Go without a board or pieces against his former apprentice. Since he's very much a Closed Fist guy and I always play Open Palm, I just figured he doesn't have anything useful to say since he certainly isn't going to teach us Tempest.

Speaking of scrolls, there is one right next to us. Yeah, that's definitely one way to achieve flight.

Moving on. We're going as far up as we can.

Looks like some slaves in cages. We should try to find a way to free them. It'll probably involve killing several pirates.

Someone's getting sleepyheaded.

And he's dozed off. The slaves remain behind bars, of course, but it should now be a fairly simple job to free them.

Hm? Looks like someone may have the same idea.

VIDEO: Mr. Blue Sky

The man in blue guts the pirate guard with his dual swords...

...and frees the prisoners as well. Nicely done.

Of course, by now more pirates have arrived to find out what all the ruckus down here is about.

Whoever this is certainly doesn't lack for confidence... and unless it's BioWare's limited number of NPC models mixing things up again, we know that lady in the background.

Sounds great! Can we have one too?

I see Gao the Greater only employs the best and brightest.

Huh? What's that now?

Partner? I don't see anyone here but... oh. Oh.

Well... shit. To be fair, we were probably always going to have a big fight in our hands as soon as we freed the prisoners, so this doesn't really make much of a difference.

Next time: We fight these pirates, find out what the deal is with this ~handsome rogue~ we just met, and then fight more pirates