Part 58: A Plethora of PrincesUpdate 17: A Plethora of Princes
"If they think this is bad, wait till after the draconians get through."
"I'm not sure draconians deliberately wrecking the place could actually be more destructive than gnomes trying to be useful."
"This will never work!"
"Case in point. These guys must breed like rabbits, considering the number of industrial fatalities we've witnessed already."
"Their casual cruelty really makes it easy to hate draconians as ignoble as that sentiment is against an enemy."
"And yet, dead is dead perhaps some creatures are so vile that righteous wrath is a justified response."
"Er thanks? You guys have really got a problem with this whole infiltration thing. Maybe you should spend more time together so you'd actually recognize when your friends are replaced?"
"This sign surely proclaims the most dangerous room in six dimensions."
"Out the window, you idiot! What is WRONG with you people?"
Those fireworks? That's the sign of 500,000 experience points for each of our characters. That's enough to guarantee a level for Boo, and TWO for most of our other characters once they get into another battle. This is pretty much a way to give under leveled characters a chance to catch up before the final battles, but I'll gladly take advantage. Luckily there's a training hall on this floor, but we have to go find it now before accumulating too much experience that's going to end up wasted.
"Some things never change listen, can we just skip the shakedown and get to the part where we kill you?"
"You're really taking all the fun out of this. Okay, if you insist."
Yes, this little encounter is fixed and is right outside the entrance to the training hall. Luckily it's not worth very much, so losing that experience doesn't really hurt.
"Wait, you're here too? This is the last place I'd have expected to find the same bartender.."
"Wherever there's an unquenched thirst and a heart that loves strong drink, I'm there. Care for a round?"
"That's a pretty extreme cure."
"Maybe they used that as a cover when they replaced him? That would mean the clerics were actually draconians, though "
"At this point, that wouldn't surprise me."
"How could such a powerful portal have been opened by those gnomes?"
"It appears mostly to be the result of being too stupid to realize that what they are doing is impossible."
This battle is a giant flashback to the challenge dungeon in Death Knights of Krynn, although by this point it's actually fairly simple. The most dangerous thing is the lich, and he's so exposed that his death is a foregone conclusion. After that, it's just a matter of cleaning up.
"I guess we should free him, but...I don't even know what were you trying to DO with this thing?"
Another half-million experience points? Yes, please. It makes no sense, but
"Fear not, we shall cage these hairless monkeys for you! It'll be like taking meat from a baby!"
"Meat from a what? You're walking cows! You should be herbivores, and your females actually have udders. Why would you give meat to a baby?"
"I really don't care about the answer. I think we should just help them take a nap."
A few slightly painful moments later...
"You guys really are just making this up as you go along, aren't you?
Another battle not worth mentioning, and the minotaurs have had enough time to wake up.
"I hate to agree with them, but that might be the most practical way of dealing with these draconians."
"I really don't like where this is going."
"Sounds like we're just in time. Don't worry! We're here to save you!"
"A very resourceful person but madam, please do be careful. You nearly hit US while defending yourself."
"Well, this is a bit embarrassing."
"Please don't bother the other guests."
There's a merchant hidden away on this floor, albeit a peculiar one.
Pricy, but it's one of the only places you can find enchanted ammo readily available. Still not willing to spend that much money for 10 arrows. This is also the last thing of interest on this floor, so without further ado we can move ahead to the next floor.
"They're impressively calm, considering the number of explosions and other disasters around here."
"Dogs too? I shoulda known!"
" is there a single living creature in this fortress that isn't a damn draconian?"
"If this little girl is a draconian, I think we should just kill every living thing in this tower and try to figure out the fire ships ourselves."
"A lost cat? Sure, kid. No way this can go horrifically wrong."
"Well, this seems like a quick, but unhappy ending "
"Or not. But you all know what this means as well as I do."
"Luckily they appear to be quite lazy, as disposing of bodies should not be a difficult proposition in a tower in the middle of a sea of lava."
"Hey, the north wall sounds hollow!"
"Pretty domestic for vampires d'you suppose there's any chance that they might just come out if we asked them to?"
"If they did, I'm afraid we would be faced with the specter of a vampire grandmother offering us a nice cup of tea."
"Oh come on, this is just getting silly. We know you're in there and you know you're in there, so why don't you just come out?"
"At least hiding in an abandoned wing and eating animals and explorers is a bit less convoluted than hiding in a tomb. Does this really work out that well for you?"
"Better than you think. The gnomes tend to assume that anybody who goes missing died in an experimental accident. Now, shall we see about dinner?"
Ten vampires in a small room. Fireball to the right with some of the fighters following up, and a straightforward fight in front. Oddly enough, the prize for this fight is a new +4 hoopak for Gable, the only enchanted hoopak in the game. Quite possibly the most powerfully enchanted hoopak in the world, for that matter, as I can't imagine there are many wizards who spend their time enchanting kender cultural weapons.
"Cat, you have no idea how lucky you are to be alive. You're coming with us."
"It's Puddy! Oh thank you, thank you!"
"Glad we found the right cat. I think this only leaves one wing left to check, over in the southwest corner "
"Y'know, nothing makes it more obvious that you're hiding something than trapping a door especially a door that opens out in to a public hallway. "
"I would beg to differ, as it appears we have now found something even more obvious."
"Sounds like a lot of them in there maybe they all worked in small groups and are just putting together the final plan now?"
"The ones in there probably don't know that their troops are dead, then let's keep it that way."
"The ring is still glowing? How many damn impersonators did they have?"
"No kidding. I'm surprised they didn't end up having more than one show up at court one day."
This is the first fight in a series of grueling battles. With all those spell casters you're going to take some serious damage even with every protection spell in existence on your characters although fire shield can help prevent just about all of it for any of your mages. To some degree the enhanced kapaks can actually help contain enemy spell casters, since none of their protective spells protect from acid.
"We'll have to follow him through that door although "
"Yes, yes, I'm working on it."
You'd definitely better heal before this next set of battles, which start with all of your characters taking between 10 and 25 damage with no way of defending yourself. The first battle is functionally identical to the previous one, and afterward well, things happen. If your cleric isn't knocked out, it's a good idea to stop and heal in battle before continuing. There's literally no break in-between.
"Great, mighty, powerful beasts? Who do you even think you're fooling with that?"
"And we've come too far and slaughtered too many of your soldiers to let you succeed."
"Also, learn a new trick other than pretending to be the king! You're terrible at it!"
Despite being smaller, this fight is no less deadly due to the fact that you're already weakened and battered from the previous fight. The enhanced bozaks are prime targets, since they share a fire shield with the dark wizard. Everything else is going to vanish in the first delayed blast fireball. How bad is this fight?
It came down to Ishmael against the dark wizard, running through exploding aurak draconians in a field of acid to use power word kill and finish the fight. Everybody else was down on the ground, either unconscious or dead. Luckily, a high level party can survive a pyrrhic victory like this, and a quick trip to the inn later we're actually back on our feet.
"I don't know if the gnomes could have created this, but it also seems beyond the abilities of the draconians and their allies."
"When in doubt, blame Fastillion.
"Your majesty, I presume? We'll have you free momentarily."
"Look -eep-, look -acqkgh- look out be -eep- hind you!"
"Hmm? Oh my, they just don't give up, do they?"
It's so much easier when we're too close for them to use fireball spells. This will still result in two meteor swarms to the face, but that's still a far better trade off. Also, the wizard can go down in about two seconds.
"Looks like they only had one competent imitator. Well, nothing to do but stab them both and see who shows their true colors."
"Hold on a minute!"
"That was - saagk- using the old -aagkh- noggin! Now get me out of here!"
"Of course, sire. Please, come with us."
"You idiots! I've felt -eep- safer in a Minoi steambath!"
"We will teleport back to the palace, your royalness. The lift system is not operating as well as we would like."
"That's one hell of an understatement."
"And they're gone. We'll just have to catch up with him when he's feeling a bit better."
We're doing much better with levels after the massive experience piñata that is the gnome citadel. This place is pretty brutal, but it definitely makes sure you're not going to be short on levels going in to the final dungeon. The leveling system handicaps this a bit, but we still got a lot out of it. We even have characters who are higher level than the guest characters, for once!
Average Permanent Character Level: 26.5