Part 2: Owner of a Lonely Hearth
"Come on, everyone! Get ready! Word in town is that there's another party of adventurers lookin' for fame and fortune around here lately. Can't let them have all the fun, now can we?"
Dwarves have the most HP of any race except for Half-Orcs, and Barbarians have the most HP of any class, so Bob is going to be one hell of a tough nut to crack. Barbarians also end up having the best combat skills of any class, even better than Knights, despite having a limited weapon and armour selection. Knights can be superior early on if you find them good equipment, but by around level 20 Barbarians take the lead and never let it go.
"If they think they want fame and fortune, they're welcome to it. I'm just trying to make a living."
Belvenath is an Elf Ranger. Druids and Rangers only get a +1 SP/level bonus from being elves, compared to the +2 bonus that Sorcerers and Archers get; fortunately, Rangers have enough base HP that the penalty from being an elf isn't a huge problem. Rangers are a Knight/Druid hybrid in the same way that Paladins are a Knight/Cleric hybrid; they can use most weapons and armour, their combat skills are comparable to a Paladin, and they have access to Druid spells. It's worth taking a Ranger along for the handful of situations where Druid-specific spells are important: their versatility means they won't end up being dead weight by the end of the game like Druids often are.
"B... but... what about making the world a better place? Isn't that why... why we all became adventurers?"
Gnomes have the best thievery skills of any race, and Robbers make better thieves than Ninjas, so Martlin here is just about the best thief possible. Robbers also have slightly more HP and a better armour selection than Ninjas, but they're not quite as strong offensively. Finally, Robbers level up faster than any other class, which is a nice bonus early in the game when every single level counts.
"The pipsqueak with the speech impediment makes a good point. There's easier ways to make a living if that's all you care about. Which means there must be something else you're fighting for, right?"
"I'm just doing what I'm good at, that's all. And it's none of your business anyway."
Blind Eagle is an Archer, which is a Knight/Sorcerer hybrid: they can use all Sorcerer spells and most weapons, but have lowish HP and a limited selection of armour. As a Human, he starts with a good balance of HP and SP.
"I am ready to accompany the rest of you. It will be most interesting to see how this all turns out."
Caelas, like his counterpart in the other party, is an Elf Cleric.
"Interesting? I guess that's one way to describe not knowing whether we'll still be alive this time tomorrow."
And Murphy, like her counterpart, is a Gnome Sorcerer.
"First order of business: let's wipe out all those giant rats before that other party gets to them. Wouldn't want them stealing our thunder."
"What, you didn't hear? They've already cleared out all the rats."
"Then I guess it's time to fall back to Plan B, also involving rats: get completely rat-arsed and wait for trouble to find its way to us!"
A town's tavern is the place to go for all the latest rumours. You may need to tip first before getting any useful information.
Taverns also sell food.
"I question whether this qualifies as food."
Fine. Taverns sell a substance technically capable of sustaining life. Make sure to stock up: running out of food means you can't rest, which is bad news in the middle of a dungeon.
And, of course, there's one other thing we can do at taverns.
As you can see, being drunk raises Personality and Luck, but lowers all other statistics. Caelas' maximum HP has decreased due to the drop in Endurance, which is why his health indicator is silver (he has 6 current HP and 5 max HP). Also, everyone's portrait is hilarious now.
"Clear out the ratsh, will they? We'll show 'em. We're heroesh. Nobody'sh gonna show ush up. We'll find shomethin' elshe to do."
"Aagh! They're throwing daggersh at us! That'sh... that'sh cheating!"
Immediately upon leaving Fountain Head, the party is assaulted by goblins. Goblins aren't much of a threat, having only 10 HP and a fairly weak attack. Since they can shoot at you, it's a good idea to close to melee range as soon as possible, at which point they can be beaten to death.
"Hey, whash that over there? Y'think there'sh treasure innit?"
"Suuuure, why not. Thish should be a hoot."
Each character class gets a different fortune. I'll show off the ones for the classes we don't have in this party when the other party comes through here.
"What about me? Whash my future?"
"Your evil brethren guard a wealth of treasure in the Slithercult Stronghold."
"Do... do I get treasure too? No way he getsh treasure an' I don't."
"Practice makes for better lock picking. There are plenty of locked treasures for you to sharpen your skills upon."
"Didn'anybody ever tell you prepositionsh aren't for ending sentencesh with? Anyway, wha's my fortune, huh?"
"Your shots will always be true, but don't ignore the magical nature of your training. Spells are stronger than your bow in close combat."
"And what big bright shiiining pearls of wisdom do you have for me?"
"Walk carefully through the Evermoors. The trees will seek to destroy you."
"And me? What kinda bad luck do I got to look forward to today?"
"Beware the Fools of Mutant Mountain. They particularly despise Sorcerers."
So there you have it. Sophena's predictions are a mix of general gameplay advice, quest hooks and warnings. The warnings should be taken seriously: there are some enemies who will target characters of a specific class and attack nobody else in the party as long as characters of that class are still standing.
We also get a free gift with every fortune: Sophena casts Wizard Eye on the party. Wizard Eye turns the big "Might and Magic" logo in the upper right hand corner into a minimap of the party's surroundings. It's sort of redundant with the automap, but it does make things a little more convenient. Like all buffs in this game, Wizard Eye expires when the party rests or when the game clock hits 5:00 a.m.
"I bet there's shtill more goblinsh around. Letsh keep on goin' down the road and flush 'em out!"
Go too far away from town and you start to run into Orc Warriors. An Orc Warrior has 25 HP and hits significantly harder than a Goblin. Fortunately, it's still not such a big deal when there's only one of it.
Unfortunately, there isn't only one of it.
"Thish... thish ish the lasht time I pick fightsh when I'm drunk..."
In all honesty, this fight would probably not have gone much better if the party was sober. Orcs are less dangerous than Moose Rats, but that's no excuse to be careless. Well, at least we won, and we got some loot out of it too. Now it's time to rest for the night and let the party sleep off their mortal wounds.
"Ugh. Never again. I don't remember any of last night and I feel like I just got the crap beaten out of me."
"You did get the crap beaten out of you. We all did. You don't remember because you have a concussion."
"Oh. That'd explain it, then."
"L-look, there's another wagon over there! Why don't we... why don't we go see who's inside?"
"I ask a mere 100 gold for a bottle o' me liquid strength. Would ya be interested in buyin'?"
"Oh no. Not a chance. 'Liquid strength' and adventuring don't belong together. Wait, Bob, why are you handing him money?"
"Ugh, it's all murky and it smells like rotten fish. And it's got... little things floating in it. I think they might be alive. Are we really supposed to drink this?"
"Well, you could pour it in your ear, but I doubt it'd do you much good that way."
The Might Potion temporarily increases a character's Might by 5 points, which is somewhat helpful in combat and potentially useful for special encounters requiring high Might. A single bottle contains enough for five doses.
"Yeah, uh, let's not go in here just yet, shall we? I've almost died enough times for the moment."
"A band of hostile goblins living so close to town may pose a threat to the stability of Fountain Head. I suggest we encourage them to move on."
"By burning and looting their homes, you mean?"
"Unless you have a better plan."
"Hey, what are you doing? Don't set it on fire yet! I haven't finished looting!"
"Ah, there we go. And my beard's barely scorched."
"Uh, I hate to break it to you, knowing how you dwarves can get about things like this, but I don't see a beard anywhere. In fact, now that you mention it, did you ever have--"
"Oh no! It must have been more severely burnt than I thought. What a horrible tragedy. Well, all we can do now is move on."
Destroying monster lairs earns us experience and loot, and it also stops monsters of that type from randomly respawning in that area. The wooden and leather stuff we picked up from the wagon is junk, but the crystal gear is slightly better than what we already have.
"Well, well, what have we here?"
"Caelas, that was a terrible joke."
"Joke? What joke?"
There are lots of wells in the game, and they generally give the party either healing or nice temporary buffs. This little well, tucked away in the mountains to the north of Fountain Head, raises the entire party's armour class by 20 points, which makes Orcs go from a serious threat to almost never hitting us.
"I do hope we're not about to destroy a collection of historical Orcish poetry."
"As far as I'm concerned, that would be a plus."
The Orcs will be forced to leave the area when they find their outpost destroyed, and order will once again return to the Hidden Valley. (+5000 Exp)
And once again, we get plenty of loot out of it. The brass splint mail is worse than regular splint mail, but still better than what Belvenath's wearing at the moment. Coral boots are slightly better than regular boots, and the rest is junk.
The automap of the area around Fountain Head is starting to fill in, but it's still looking pretty incomplete. Most of the black bits are thick forest (which requires two party members with Pathfinder skill), mountains (which require two party members with Mountaineer skill), or water (which requires everyone to have Swimming skill).
Since we've cleared out this area as best we can right now, it's time to head back into town and spend our hard-earned loot.
"Wow. If I knew adventuring was so easy I'd have started earlier."
M&M3 pulls a little trick on you at the start. You'd think the monsters in the starting town would be the easiest in the game, but going outside to fight goblins and orcs actually nets you more experience and gold for much less risk, which is why this party is now about a level ahead of the other one.
And since the party is a level ahead, they have access to all-new spells!
Create Rope: If you find yourself without a rope, fear not. This enchantment will conjure up the very strand you lack. Cast it over a pit to make it useful. (Well, it does what it says on the tin, you gotta give it that. This spell is only useful in a handful of situations, but it beats wasting inventory space on Rope and Hooks in case one of those situations comes up.)
Toxic Cloud: Exudes a noxious cloud around a group of monsters so foul they will choke away their very existence. (This is the first area-effect damage spell that Sorcerers learn. It does 10 points of acid/poison damage to a group of monsters. Since the damage doesn't scale up with your level, it's only useful early on.)
Protection from Elements: (This spell is a bit of an oddity in that it starts out relatively useless and gets much better as you level up, as the spell becomes more powerful and monsters with elemental attacks become more common. It's an absolute necessity for some high-level areas.)
Pain: Overcomes a group of foes with writhing pain. A little more than your average bee sting. (This is actually just a direct-damage spell: it hits a group for 8 points of physical damage. The damage isn't great, but only undead are immune to it.)
Suppress Poison: Without removing poison from an adventurer's system, this incantation will slow its degenerative effects. (Poison steadily lowers some of a character's statistics. When a statistic hits 0, you can randomly die at any time. This spell restores the character's statistics to what they were when he or she first got poisoned. It doesn't save you from having to run back to town to get the poison cured, but it beats having a party member die.)
"I can stand up to any kind of punishment! I could use some better armour, though."
"We made a lot of money driving out those goblin and orc bandits. I guess if we helped the people of Fountain Head in the process, that's good too."
"I may not be able to use magic, but I can still hold a sword, and there's nobody better with locks and traps! Er, if I do say so myself."
"I'm nice and far from the front lines, right where an archer should be. Not that I'm afraid of a fight, but I can't help the party if my pitiful armour gets me killed."
"I, on the other hand, am well protected in the eventuality of an errant blow reaching me."
"Caelas, speak English, would you? Or Common or Terran or whatever the name of the language we're supposed to be speaking is."
And with that, you've seen both parties in action. Next update, we'll switch back to party 1. As is traditional, you get to vote on what exactly they'll do next. Should they explore the caverns beneath town, follow the second party's lead and explore outdoors, or go check out that creepy temple that we saw this update? Vote now!