Part 59: The Real Final Gaps: Magic Monsters, Magic Swords, Magic Stones, and Druid MagicThe Real Final Gaps: Magic Monsters, Magic Swords, Magic Stones, and Druid Magic
In the little bit of a pause we're taking before tackling the final dungeon, it's a pretty good time to talk about some of the various oddities that have come up. First up, I believe that a while back I promised stat blocks for the various types of enhanced draconians. So, without further ado, and going in alphabetical order:
It's hard to know if these are actually the most dangerous of the draconians, but they certainly can be if they get the drop on you. The delayed blast fireballs hurt, and they certainly have a variety of tricks to use. You don't often see some of them, like meteor swarm, since the AI tends to prefer spells that don't cut through their own troops when it comes to causing damage. They also prefer damage dealing spells to status effects, like otto's irresistible dance. Since they don't have any special defenses, however, it's pretty easy to keep a constant flow of damage and interrupt their spell casting. Like regular Auraks they go through three life stages, and the damage they do by zapping in their final stage can do as much as 40 damage to anybody standing near them. You definitely want to clear out at that point, especially to avoid that 16d8 explosion.
The second most basic of the draconians, these guys are really forgettable and still pretty much serve as cannon fodder when they actually bother to show up. They're easy to tear up with magic, which is the preferred method since they have a nasty habit of taking your weapons in mid-fight.
These guys oh man, fuck these guys. See where it says they can use fire shield once per day? That's not quite right. They've always used fire shield once per day, and it's always set to block fireballs. This makes them much more difficult to use magic against, and means that attacking them with weapons is going to result in you taking a shitload of damage trying to kill them. The funny thing is that since they explode into ice storms and their fire shield is never set to block ice damage, it really is possible to set off a chain reaction of death effects with these guys. As a note, they almost never use cone of cold probably since it's hard to control friendly casualties with that.
Ah, these poor bastards. They're meant to be fairly intimidating, but they never really get a chance to show it off. Even if they get into range, they've only got about a 10-15% chance of hitting our front line fighters. They don't have any way to protect themselves from spells, however, so most of them tend to die in the first round of the battle. Luckily they still serve a purpose, since they're often near enchanted Bozaks and tend to splatter them with acid.
The most dangerous of all the draconians in melee combat, these guys also tend to go down quickly but like to cause damage on their way out. That meteor swarm hurts, especially since it damages targets it passes through as well as targets in the area of the explosion. If they get to your mages these guys can be real problems, but other than that they're mostly petty annoyances.
The lowest of the low, these guys would barely have been a problem in the first game, let alone in this one. They tend to die within seconds of appearing, and can't even do very much damage on their way out. Just sad. I almost wish they'd killed these guys off rather than kept them as enemies.
We recently acquired a special sword, denoted by something more than the usual +3 or +4 suffix. The Vorpal Sword, which Boo now wields, actually has a bit of an interesting history. The first reference to a Vorpal Sword occurs in Lewis Carroll's poem Jabberwocky, published way back in 1871 (142 years ago!) as part of "Through the Looking Glass":
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back
That one poem might have set a record for the highest density of words introduced into the English language by a single work, and is notable in that Lewis Caroll didn't bother to define a single one of them. Through memetic mutation, the term "vorpal" grew to be associated with decapitation, resulting in its appearance as a specific magical weapon in D&D. In D&D terms the sword beheads its target on a critical hit, automatically killing them regardless of how many HP they might have remaining. The Vorpal Sword found its way into the first Final Fantasy (itself a D&D clone) and has found its way into some truly weird places. In Roger Zelazny's second chronicles of Amber the hero wields the Vorpal Sword to slay the Jabberwocky during a reality warper's acid trip (it's a weird series), except that in this version the sword is made of something as insubstantial as butterfly wings and has to be unfolded before use. Within Dark Queen of Krynn, the most important property of the sword is that it completely cuts off death effects. Killing an enchanted draconian with the Vorpal Sword prevents them from doing any of the nasty effects they cause on death, making Boo our fighter of choice when dealing with them.
We've heard a lot about the Grathanich or Graygem lately, but the game pretty much assumes that if you're playing this you're probably a Dragonlance fan and already know exactly where they're going. For those who don't, this is the basic story of the Granthanich:
More than 5300 years before our adventure, the (future) Dwarven God Reorx was tricked into creating the Graygem by Hiddukel. The purpose of the gem was to anchor the forces of Neutrality on Krynn, but Reorx kind of screwed it up. Attempting to capture a portion of the personification of Chaos, he instead accidentally captured the whole damn deity. To cover it up, Reorx hid the Graygem on the white moon, Lunitari, and tried to forget that the whole thing ever happened.
Reorx eventually went on to create his own race of followers, but he wasn't exactly happy with them and cursed them by turning them into gnomes, with the curse being that their inventions would never work as intended. About 4700 years before the present day, Hiddukel (by the way, he and Reorx REALLY don't get along) tricked one of the Gnomes into releasing the Graygem from Lunitari using a "self-propelled lunar extension ladder," The gnome in question lost control of the Graygem, and a couple centuries later Reorx noticed the havoc it was causing and told his followers to go get that shit under control. Fast forward a few centuries, and with the help of Gargath, a priest of the sea goddess, the gnomes almost caught the stone and were magically changed by the stone. Those who were curious about the stone were transformed into Kender, while those who desired the stone for its value became the first Dwarves. Yes, the gnomes are the parent race of both dwarves and kender. Afterwards the Graygem buggered off on its own to parts unknown.
The Graygem eventually found its way to Silvanesti, where it was responsible for the creation of two sub-species of elves. We've encountered one of them under the sea, while the others became sea merchants. Eventually the stone escaped to a remote island, where Gargath and his gnome helpers were able to confine it until a later date. Within the actual canon chronology of Krynn the stone was liberated by Caramon Majere's sons in the year 382 After Cataclysm and then lost again, resulting in the Chaos Wars and a severe change in the fate of Krynn.
On Taladas the legend is somewhat different, holding that the Graygem was entrusted to the first king of Aldinanachru and then eventually released by a gnome who was once again tricked by Hiddukel. The largest clan of the minoi gnomes was banished from Taladas and forced to pursue the stone. Eventually they arrived on Ansalon and gave up on chasing the stone, settling under Mount Nevermind and becoming the gnomes that readers of the original series are familiar with. The gnomes of Taladas hold that the stone is in the Tower of the Flame, which appears to be correct in the context of this game.
We've talked all levels of Clerical and Arcane magic, with the note that knights use the same spell tree as clerics with a slightly delayed growth rate. Paladins are somewhat similar, but top out at 4th level spells. The one exception are Rangers, who get access to the first two levels of Arcane spells and get an additional selection of Druid Spells. These aren't terribly useful, but can have some unexpected effects:
Druid: Level One
Detect Magic - just like everybody else's spell. Nothing more to see here.
Entangle - can potentially immobilizeize enemies, but also may affect allies in the area of effect. This one might be situationally useful, but balanced against characters who cannot defend themselves from the actions sparked by the enemy's immobility it becomes something of a liability versus just kicking the crap out of enemies.
Faerie Fire - Outlines invisible targets and gives everyone in the AO a +2 chance to hit them. Would be far more useful if any enemies in the game used illusion as a matter of course
Invisibility to Animals - Just what it says. Does not work on anything larger or more intelligent than a mid-sized animal, and is thus useless considering what we're fighting here. Complete pass, although it seems like a thematical and logical spell for someone who has to deal with groups of animals a great deal, but that's not the case here. Pass!
Druid: Level Two
Barkskin - raise's the target's AC by 1. Meh.
Charm Person or Mammal - works just like the 1st level mage spell, with the addition of working on animals. Not terribly useful, but it could be handy.
Cure Light Wounds - just like the 1st level cleric spell. I guess an extra 1d8 HP healed is good, but it's pretty sad that this is the best 2nd level druid spell. And this is it. These three spells.
Druid: Level Three
Curse Disease - exactly what it says. Next!
Hold Animal - works just like Hold Person, but only affects normal or giant sized animals. Functionally useless at this point.
Neutralize Poison - finally a spell that is lower level for Druids/Rangers than anything else on the shared cleric/druid list! That said, it's best to keep one for reserve but this spell isn't exactly a high priority.
Protection from Fire - A casual glance puts this one as a higher level version of Resist Fire, but Protection from Fire has the special quality of absorbing 12 times the caster's level in HD from fire damage when used on the originator. For anybody else it acts just like the 2nd level cleric spell resist fire. It's great to fireproof Sam, but for anybody else you'd be much better using protection spells from the other clerics.
Next time, we'll begin on the Tower of Flame and I say begin, since it's a very long dungeon indeed.