Part 14: Matthew"For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." ~ Matthew 3:3
Or, how El learned to demontongue it.
So whilst El is busy trying to solve his identity crisis, let's look at this games modified version of the ability to talk to things.
To ideally do this in any meaningful manner, we need to go to Remlia (which is in the bottom left). The other town you see here, in the desert, is one we'll be visiting in the next full update. If we were to head a bit further south of Remlia, we'll find some slightly more powerful enemies than we need deal with right now.
Tanki is the one we're after here, and it's the rock-snake-thing on the left (the red one is a D-Link and he's a joke). Seeing as how we're only like level 4 at the moment, you'd think going after slightly more powerful enemies than we're accustomed to would be a bad thing. It really isn't.
Anyway, combat is pretty simple, this box appears first and applies to all party members rather than doing it one at a time; Fight lets you choose whether to Attack, cast Magic, use an Item or Guard to reduce damage (obviously, you select which you want a party member to do for their turn). Auto spams the Attack command and makes grinding a complete joke. Run is self-explanatory, I'd hope. Sort allows you to summon demons and whatnot, so we can't do anything with it yet. Status is also, hopefully, self-explanatory.
Talk is what we're here for however. When you choose it, you get to pick whichever party member you want to talk. Whether they're a human or a monster is irrelevant. El gets the unique version of this, though, seeing as how you manually decide what responses to say to demons.
Every dialogue option is a Yes/No prompt and your choices sort of influence what they'll say next. There's a very slim number of dialogue branches, though, and they are shared by everything rather than being limited to races as per other MegaTen games.
We'll be nice to this guy, since we do want him to join us. There are two reasons for this that I'll cover when he's added to the roster.
Expect to see this a lot. Doing negotiation manually is a very hard thing to successfully pull off, especially because your Intelligence stat doesn't influence it in the slightest. This also helps to show that, no, being nice and sympathetic will not work for many things. In some cases, being a jerk won't help either.
And everytime you fail a negotiation this happens:
This is basically the only way to ever actually take damage in early random encounters unless you're against multiple enemies that can deal more than 0 damage.
Seeing as how I'd like to get out of this alive (game overs don't exist here, it follows the Pokémon style of defeat in that it costs you half of your money), the best thing to do at this stage if a negotiation goes sour is to just run and try again.
Fortunately, when trying to find this guy again El gained a level so he has a bit more HP. He can afford to screw up twice this time! And, now that we've learnt that sympathy isn't going to help here, we can tell this guy "no" and get that line of dialogue instead.
Since we're trying to be a dick this time, we'll tell him "yes" to this prompt and see where that leads.
Answering "no" to both of these (our magic sucks but we still think it's better than his, basically) leads to, uh...
Okay, so now we know that actually negotiating with things is really kind of hard we can now just skip ahead to when this stops going wrong luckily. Fortunately, this occurs the next try (this time I just kill these things for the sake of it).
Okay, this time we'll tell him "yes" to wanting him to join and then string him along a little.
I don't see how telling him that we think he is scared of us leads to the second question but it does. Somehow.
If we've learned anything from this, it's that negotiation is an extremely painful task that has got to be worth whatever we can get out of this. Right?
Well, we get an automatic end to the combat and a demon to join our ranks. I was after a Tanki in particular here, not because its the best in the area or anything but it does have a few benefits at this point.
Tanki is able to somewhat live up to his name with that 11 Endurance, I guess? He doesn't have much health so it's kinda nice. The rest of his stats are less than what El even starts with but that's unimportant. One of the reasons for grabbing him are those spells. Sleep 1, well, inflicts Sleep. It's not particularly helpful since it doesn't work very often and isn't worth the MP cost against random encounters. Heal 1 is the spell you'd want out of this lot, since El doesn't have any means of healing outside of Mana Seeds right now and they're not particularly common at the moment. Recover cures status ailments so it'd be kind of nice later but now it's just there.
The second reason for getting Tanki is ending fights quicker. Not for the reason you'd think though.
Tanki are quite good at negotiating, far better than El would be (against certain demons anyway). D-Links aren't exactly interesting and have no redeeming features at all so I just used one as an example. Ordinarily, this would mean that we can just leave it to the AI to automate every negotiation from now on but that's not a particularly wise idea since whilst demons are quite good with some, you're better off doing it yourself in some cases.
There is one other demon nearby worth getting though she is a bit more out of the way at the moment.
By heading south from Remlia, you'll eventually find some kind of pseudo-maze type thing of giant rocks in the desert (or mountains, whichever). There is no reason at all to come down here yet, and the enemies themselves reflect this... unless, of course, you want say $6000 for a new sword in which case you'll be spending a lot of time here. To alleviate this, we can get one more demon...
Harpies are significantly more dangerous than Tankis (for a given value of "dangerous"); they can potentially put you to sleep, but it's not likely, and they can hit you for a bit more than a Tanki can too.
You get the dialogue shown here by saying that you don't think they're afraid of you, and in this case I genuinely don't. At least, not yet anyway. El's like maybe level 6 or so. Harpies are level 7. Since I don't have confidence in a lower levelled demon being able to manage this one, so I tried to handle it myself.
Note the "tried." This ends about as well as you'd expect, so I just leg it. I could handle it in a 2-on-1 easily but I'm trying not to grind too much if I can help it.
Since manual negotiation is a pain, I opted to let Tanki try and show his stuff against something effective and he succeeded... the second try. The sudden health decrease came from El still having no armour and taking an ice spell to the face which would've hurt a bit anyway. So, why are Harpies so useful?
It's certainly not for their spells even though she does have Sleep 2 and 11 Intelligence so she might prove useful for that at some point. Might.
Harpies, much like the Tanki, are actually pretty competent at negotiations so those two will be handling all attempts from now on. Well, all of them except this one anyway;
Not all demons start with the "do you want me to join you?" Prompt, sometimes you'll get this one instead. This one is actually better since it seems to actually work a bit more often. For some people anyway. I have about as much luck as a sackful of kittens, so this is going to end about as well as you'd expect.
Answering these two as "no" and the first one as "yes" leads to the one dialogue prompt that might work occasionally more often than whenever Gefion decides that it's cool.
This choice right here is supposed to have a higher chance than normal of working. Or maybe that's just a placebo, who knows? Anyway, let's see what happens if we answer "yes."
That went about as well as you'd expect. Telling a monster that you might just be an emissary from god isn't exactly going to have a happy ending any time soon. Instead, let's just say "no" since that mayhap be a tad more likely to be favourable to a demon.
Oh, well, that didn't quite go as expected...
Fortunately, there are in fact ways to get manual negotiations to always go as you want them to. All it involves is a notepad, a pen and a lot of trial and error. The same answers for a successful negotiation will always work, but this takes a long time to actually do unless you get lucky and have it work first time. Of course, there are always some demons that you just outright cannot convince to join you; these include bosses and some random encounters. Liches, for example, will never join you via negotiation.
And, for those curious, a Kobold starting with the "lower your weapon" prompt will join if you answer "no," "yes," "no," and "yes" in that order.