Part 22: ReunionUpdate 1: Reunion
Welcome back! After a lengthy break, it's time to pick back up with the next, and possibly best, game in the series:
I really feel that this game hits the sweet spot where your characters are strong enough to be interesting, but not so strong that challenges thrown in your direction have to be ludicrous. It's also got some really great side-quests, and a much more open feel than the other two.
Although it requires a bit of finagling with DOSBOX, carrying over your old characters is as simple as loading a saved game from the previous game.
"Hi everybody it's good to see you guys back here. It really doesn't seem like it's been a whole year."
"And yet, it has. I hope everybody's year has been as worthwhile as mine was."
"Can't really say that much happened. But y'know, Elon, there's something different about you and I can't quite place it "
"Maybe a new haircut? I'm just glad to get a chance to leave town for a while. So many people needing their boo boos fixed and their syphilis cured that I barely had time for a decent drink."
"Actually, I "
"I'm just glad I could be here. I thought I wasn't going to make it, but there was this wizard and an ancient castle and a teleported and well here I am."
"It's the robes, I think. Either quite a change, or a severe accident with bleach."
"Yes, on reflection I realized that I was perhaps better suited for a more altruistic pathway and our superiors in the Order of High Sorcery concurred, based on the stories of our journey."
"So, new robes?"
"And new spell books, although much remains the same. Also, I believe the ceremony is beginning."
"I've got a funny feeling that they weren't invited "
"I'm just glad we're not the only ones who think that anniversaries are important."
"It can't be "
"Such a thing shouldn't be possible, for one buried in a properly consecrated grave."
" he's definitely looked better, that's for sure."
"This is why we can't have nice things."
"Didn't they think that thieves might show up at something like this?"
"The nightmares and skeletal knights that stayed behind might be a bigger concern."
We actually get to see a new mechanic at this point. As a Knight, Boo has a chance (based on level and charisma) to exert control over NPC knights that are participating in battle.
They're actually not that bad, but it's not a big issue since melee types have very little opportunity to screw up in combat. On the other hand, they're actually pretty useful as meat shields when dealing with tough enemies.
Right away, you can see that enemies have gotten a bit tougher. The nightmares aren't all that dangerous, but skeletal warriors get multiple attacks per round, take half damage from edged weapons, and have enough magic resistance to ignore just about all of our spells at this point. It takes a considerable amount of time to take them down, and in the meantime they're tearing through your HP.
The experience awards have also increased, which is probably a good thing. At this point our experience points per level are fixed, so more experience is a great thing. As a note, this is experience without any treasure. It'll go up as we get more loot.
"Umm excuse me, a little help here?"
"What? Oh! Quick Sam, I'll get the feet if you get the head."
"I'd complain about you always taking the lighter half, but you're also half my size."
"I've got this, guys."
"Hmmph. Not half bad, but these are mostly scratches. You need to do a bit better for the ones who are worse off, like this.."
This screen also shows off one of the best features in this version. You might notice that three of our characters have their names in purple. This is the game's way of indicating that they've gotten enough experience to level up. This is checked at the end of each battle, which is why it didn't come up earlier.
"Oh yes sir!"
"Who was that gentleman?"
"None of you would have a reason to know him, but that's "
"Evil forces besiege us. We need warriors to defend the town. Will you help?"
"Wouldn't be the first time, that's for sure."
"That's why I'm asking you. Now, you've got three choices: Patrol, Guard, or Temple. What'll it be?"
"Given the fact that the enemy is already desecrating graves, it might be best if we started by ensuring that the dead are properly care for."
"So be it. Got to the temple, and help lay our fallen to rest."
"I will give our dead my highest benisons, but hope fails me. I sanctified Sir Karl, yet his body vanished from a tomb here."
"We sometimes forget that although our powers in the service of the light are great, we are matched by servants of darkness who are just as committed to their cause."
" Rip, how long has it been since you had a drink?"
"Wise words, my brother."
"Come then. We'll do our best, and perhaps that will suffice."
"We'll remain behind a bit to guard."
"A tunnel? Did they begin from outside the walls with this grave as their object?"
"Sir Karl warned us of you."
"A talking dog?"
"It would be far from the strangest thing we've seen in our travels."
"I see he exaggerates. Just in case, where're you go I will stop your meddling."
"Ha! If we're that much of a problem that we merit personal attention, then we're doing something right!"
"Oh no you don't! I ain't takin' no guff from anything that crawls on its belly and eats rats head first. Now git!"
"I think that should answer the question of how many drinks he's had."
"Just out of curiosity, how did you miss that giant gaping hole underneath Sir Karl's grave?"
"I swear, that wasn't there the other day. Uh maybe you guys should go while we take care of this?"
One rest period later...
"Oh, don't mind him. Sir Garren wants to break the siege. What do you think about that?"
"We could probably pull it off?"
"Should we attack?"
"Beats waiting around for something to happen. Sure!"
"No matter. We will keep our vigil."
"This isn't the last you'll hear of this! I'm leaving!"
"So, patrol or guard this time?"
"That's an awfully non-specific set of orders."
"Could be worse, though. At least the town walls are only so big."
"Ahh, volunteers. What's your task?"
"Whatever you say it is?"
"Wander the outpost, alert for invaders. Patrol until relieved."
"So pretty much what we were doing trying to find you?"
"Yes. Only more so."
"What would they do without us here?"
"Let us not find out. And also, let us deal with these invaders before they realize what they've stumbled into."
High level priests and wizards, but for some reason, they're mysteriously put into the front row. This is not a winning strategy.
The fact that the enemy is dropping bracers is a pretty important indicator of how things have shifted. A few of these items are magical as well, which we were only seeing on very specific and special characters at the end of Champions.
"Where were you guys two minutes ago?"
Money will never be a problem in this game, as long as we keep running into enemy wizards. Boo's carrying 9000 steel pieces worth of loot here, and I left a few enchanted items laying around from the last fight.
And with that, we head back to Sir Bertil's office to find...
"Meet Sir Thom, and heed his story."
"Once again, this is far from the strangest thing we've ever done."
"There's just a tiny little problem with that "
"Well, that was quick."
"To Kalaman, then!"
The consequences of being a Knight of the Sword become apparent. Even with nearly 340,000 experience Boo isn't quite ready for another level.
Sam, on the other hand, has gained two levels since we've started. You might wonder a bit about how suspiciously regular his experience total is, but he's not the only one and is poised to take the lead as our main ass-kicker.
Rip's coming along nicely, and if I'm not mistaken has just reached the point of being able to cast fifth level spells. That's a significant change, and will lead to some cool new abilities.
Nothing to report on Ishmael, although he's not far from getting access to fifth level spells himself. As our single class mage, he's going to be growing very quickly as the game proceeds.
Gable's our second character with a suspiciously even experience total, and has also gained two levels since we've started. The reason for this is because when you've got enough experience to gain two levels, you get reset to one experience shy of your next level. Gable and Sam are about to gain another level as soon as we get in another fight. And it will be awesome.
Elon has probably changed the most. I had a limited selection of deities, so I went with Paladine as that's the patron god of the Elves. Choosing Majere would have been making it too easy (what with all of the undead), and Kiri-Jolith is a bit too martial. So Paladine it is. Also, just as a reminder, that 134,000 experience is split between two classes, so he's actually at around 278,000 experience total. This will slow him down a bit, but the compensation is a LOT more spells available.