Part 52: Finally, MayhemUpdate 11: Finally, Mayhem
For our next destination we're headed into the southern half of the map, which is about as vast as the northern half and has just as few actual destinations. The world maps here give the impression of vastness, but in reality they could have been about half the size and still done the job pretty well. There actually aren't many more areas to visit in this game than in the previous ones. After New Aurim, we've got about 5 more destinations before the end of the game.
"Really strong. Strong enough that I think we should start by burning the place to the ground and move on from there."
"You've said that about every town since we left home."
"Yeah? What do you want?"
"Not from around here, are you? Wanna earn some cash?"
"Now you're speaking our language."
"Good. You can outfit yourself at the corner storeroom. When you're ready, go to the Hith Temple for orders. And tell 'em Steve sent ya."
Right next door...
"Nah, Stephen. Get your equipment out of the pile and get out. Unless you want to buy something."
"Wait, you have to buy equipment? What kind of army is this?"
"The kind where I'm going to retire on my own private island."
"I don't know how the king can stand the smell, but he's given THEM refuge. Even has some in his palace guard."
"We'll be glad to have them when the war starts.. maybe it'll happen when we get enough draconians. And deal with those stupid rebels."
"What rebels? We got their leaders in prison. The rest of the rabble will be rounded up by the press gangs."
"Well, this answers all the questions about draconians."
"Never mind that. Is it just me, or do all these guards look kind of the same?"
"Probably some kind of magical cloning accident."
Again, next door...
"This one says they've blocked off an entire quarter.. or depopulated it."
"The rest are complaints about the priests of Hith. They're not exactly popular."
"I can't imagine why not."
"This is odd the Senate goes and votes over in some place called Hawkbluff."
Just to underline how very strange this place is. It's kind of like Zhentil Keep or similar evil cities from other settings.
"This has to be about the third most run-down bar I've ever seen. And I've never seen a zombie waiter."
"Can he even take drink orders ?"
"Anybody want that? No? More for me, then. Let's go share with that guy in the corner."
"Sure, sure zombie, another drink for my new friend!"
"Ah! Thizz is great! I'z heard about zpiritz in the palaze warrenz, but itz better then izz wazz thought. More, pleaze!"
"I don't see why not."
"Ah yezz! Theyz wanna take me ta camp to hurt bull men, but ize do what ah wants! Yezz, zleepiez now, go way!"
"Kind of a jerk, but not nearly as bad as you'd expect."
I don't think it works that way, but it's a nice story."
"Here for orders?"
"Ahh, good. Tomorrow morning, soldiers will be needed to escort new recruits to Hawkbluff. Your orders are to get a clay pass from the commander of the city guard. He will tell you where to report."
"Where's the commander's office at?"
"Down the street , right before it turns left. Can't miss it."
"Where did you come from?"
"We're new here."
"What a jerk. Do we kill him last, or first?"
"Last. Everybody else has at least been polite about it."
"I believe these gentlemen just volunteered to go first."
Our first encounter introduces the next new wrinkle in the game, enchanted draconians. These are beefed up versions of the draconians we've been dealing with before, with better attacks, defense, and new death/wounding effects. I'll cover them as they show up. Incidentally, the fanatics in the front row have 81 HP and an AC of 6, meaning they're essentially 8th level fighters for some ungodly reason. The Thenol wizards here got the drop of me and added another total wipe to the counter, by the way.
Enchanted Sivaks, by the way, explode with the effects of a meteor swarm spell. The game isn't playing around with these guys, so you REALLY don't want to be anywhere near them when they die.
"That was a kindness. If you are truly of good heart, then seek out the Mislaxa cleric at the tavern."
"I'm the commander's physician. He has been afflicted by mummy rot and is very weak. Please don't anger him."
"I'm surprised you don't use zombies, since there are so many of them running around."
"I think that's everything we came for. Can we start cleaning house now?"
"Let's check out the city jail first, since they mentioned locking up the rebel leaders there."
"How about you pick on somebody your own size? Or do you get a special thrill out of torturing an old man?"
"Less talking and more fireballs, I believe."
The next tier of Thenol fighters are the actual warriors, who are only a couple of levels higher than the Fanatics. They're essentially higher end cannon fodder at this point. Also, another enchanted sivak!
"Oh no you don't."
"At least he gave a name for the tavern. Get over there yourself, old man, and have a drink."
"Out you go. Tell your friends."
"Women and children as well. It's refreshing when an enemy makes themselves so obviously despicable."
"I just hope if they name any of them after me that they're girls."
"Can we get a special blessing? We're about to go on our first mission."
"Certainly. Follow me."
"My lord, these people have asked for the special blessings of Hith."
"Well, this certainly saves time and tiresome explanations."
This battle doesn't include any draconians, but does include Thenol Warlords. These guys tend to hang back and shoot at you with crossbows, and have about 120 HP. They're kind of a joke. This fight is actually far easier than you would think, since the mages tend to be considerate of their fanatic shock troops and won't drop area of effect spells indiscriminately. This gives you plenty of time to deal with them. The priests, on the other hand, need to go. They'll get more creative the longer the battle goes on, and have a spell called destruction that can kill a character beyond any method of in game restoration.
"If you'd paid a bit more attention before now, we wouldn't be behind you."
Zombies? Really? This is just sad. It still makes you burn through a few extra spells, though.
"Your optimism is impressive, considering that all of your superiors lie dead behind us."
This is at least a bit more intimidating, although the exposed nature of that cleric makes it a bit less so. It brings back memories of when this many skeletal warriors would have been a party wipe.
In the southeast corner of town the rebel hideout offers a safe place to rest and train, as well as providing a +4 shortsword. Another nearby rebel hideout offers a magic shop, but there's nothing worth buying there. In another nearby abandoned house...
"And I'm not sorry about what we're about to do here draconian."
More new draconians. Enchanted Auraks behave just like their previous incarnations, but their spells have considerably higher casting levels and their energy attacks can do up to 40 damage with no way to evade it and no way to interrupt. They've also got one of the better ACs in the game although it really means that Boo and Sam have about an 85-90% chance of hitting them. They still explode on death, but it's been upgraded to a 16d8 fireball. Enchanted Baaz are just meatier versions of their earlier models, with the addition of having the weapon trapping effect activate on hit rather than on death. So it's quite possible to lose your weapon in mid-fight, but the game figures all damage in the round you lose your weapon as though you still had it.
"Watch out for that Trandmere. He used to be a pretty religious official, but he seized power from the king and brought the draconians here. Funny thing is that I see more draconians leaving the palace than entering it."
"I think we know how to deal with that situation. I wonder where they're getting the dragon eggs, though?"
"Brave heroes, thank you for freeing the hostages. Take this talisman. With it, you will be aided by friends of Mislaxa against the Hith worshippers."
"This would have been a lot more useful before we'd dealt with just about all the major concentrations of Hith troops in the city."
Moving on, our next destination is in an abandoned temple of another God...
"Ohhh, vampires. I knew we were missing something!"
"That's not how people normally react to us "
That is a LOT of vampires. That's not even all of them. There's about 18 or so vampires in this encounter. I was happy to only get hit and drained 3 times.
"Funny story about that "
"Do you guys ever find yourself thinking that there's more bad people in the world than spells and arrows?"
"I would, if I did not regain my spells every night."
It's always nice when enemies tuck their mages into a nice safe corner far enough away that I don't have to worry about accidentally fireballing my own troops. Next!
"You can try not to cause too much of a fuss while you're dying."
No magical items here, just some steel and other monetary items. Still, it's better than a fireball in the face which you can see we took several of in the battle.
"You could say that but the fact is that we're not from around here, so we don't really count as rebels. Also, if it makes you feel any better we saved you for last."
"Sounds like the whole draconian thing isn't working out that well. I think it's high time we pay a visit to the palace."
Who knew that killing most of a town could pay off so handsomely? There's still a few more spell slots to come, but after this it's mostly HP. Other than that we're just tacking on a few more levels. Somehow it's a bit less exciting when your characters aren't making the huge leaps forward. On the other hand, we've reached a bit of a milestone - Average party level: 20.5