Part 26: Prepare to Dye
The evil party's destination is this dungeon, in the centre of the swamp continent.
"Ewww. Do we have to go in there?"
"Sure we do. Son of Abu's black key opens this door, and everyone knows that robbers only keep keys around if there's still treasure behind what they unlock."
"Ha! What kind of idiot thinks that a wooden grate can stop the mighty warrior Sails?"
"Skeletons? Seriously? This is like shooting fish in a barrel, and the barrel is full of fish and is itself made out of fish and we're shooting fish at it. What I'm saying is that it's easy."
The first part of the Tomb of Terror is a long hallway with rooms branching off the sides, each one filled with large groups of low-level undead. Bashing down the grates to get into the rooms does more damage to the party than the undead themselves.
"Should we continue? This tomb is said to be home to the Vampire King, ruler of all of Terra's undead..."
"Bah, who cares about some old wives' tale? There's treasure and glory to be won!"
"Do precious stones really taste that good? ... Ow! Tianas, I think I chipped a tooth!"
"Those are my gems, you incorporeal bastards! Mine!"
This happens every time we step in front of a door in the next part of the dungeon. Not only does this take away about 25 gems, it also does 50 magical damage to the entire party. More of a nuisance than a real danger, but nobody likes losing resources. Worse still, unlocking the door in front of them means the party has to spend another turn on this space, which means another hit from the ghost guardian, and there's also the risk Cyrus will set off a trap on the door itself. The door and chest traps in this dungeon are hard to disarm and can easily do 200 damage to the entire party.
The difficulty of the undead has been stepped up for this part of the dungeon, too. Phantoms, Reapers and Ghosts all make an appearance. Since two of those three can cause aging and all are heavily resistant to physical damage, it's worth getting rid of them quickly with spells. Holy Word, Dragon's Breath and Elemental Storm are all useful for clearing out rooms of undead.
These tombs are locked and trapped too, but it's worth breaking into them for what's inside. Good thing we got Cyrus that Pirate Ring, or he'd be getting the whole party hit for heavy damage all the time instead of just most of the time!
Some contain random high-tier items, often in large quantities. That Accelerator Necklace gives +23 Speed: at this point, getting the initiative in combat is probably worth more than a few extra points of armour class.
"I don't feel so good. Maybe we shoulda listened to those blue talking statue heads after all."
All of the tombs will heavily curse the party when opened, which is a huge pain since only Divine Intervention can cure it. Calgon sets up a Lloyd's Beacon in the dungeon so that the party can Town Portal back to Fountain Head, get everyone uncursed at the temple and return to the dungeon as many times as necessary.
Other tombs contain high-level clerical scrolls, including Sun Ray and Divine Intervention.
"What kind of a name is 'Blayde'? Is that meant to strike fear in our hearts or something? Because it's not working!"
"And now this guy's called 'Phyre'? That's even worse!"
"Oh, come on, now you're not even trying."
"Shoulda seen that comin', really."
Yeah, there's one tomb that exists only to hit the party for heavy poison damage. Avoid that one.
"Ugh, what are ancient artifacts of good doing in a tomb of the undead? Get it away from me! I don't wanna look at it! I mean, it's bad enough that the Shadow Dwellers in this chamber are named 'Payne' and 'Deeth'! Whatever happened to dying with dignity?"
For the record, I did not make that up. The Shadow Dwellers whose tombs hold Ancient Artifacts of Good are, in fact, named Payne and Deeth.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever. More zombies for us to stomp, more treasures for us to loot."
"Well, is it death or is it not? Make up your mind, you two-faced cerulean flip-flopper!"
"I think the implication is that we're going to be turned into undead."
"Also, technically it has four faces."
"Bats? The terrifying power we were warned about is bats? Wait, what's going on with that one on the left?"
"Ohhh. That makes more sense."
Vampires are highly resistant to physical attacks and will selectively target Clerics. They're accurate enough that they actually have a chance in hell to hit the party through their armour, which isn't such a great thing since if they do they inflict 10-100 physical damage per hit and have a chance to reduce spell points to zero. I could put a Blessing on Tianas to buff her AC and slowly kill the vampires with melee attacks while they repeatedly miss her, but I'm already sick of their bullshit so I just have Calgon use Implosion on them instead.
"Ha! A few brooding bloodsuckers are no match for--"
"What in the world just happened?"
"Great K'rugot, save us in our time of need! I promise I'll sacrifice lots of extra goats to you once we get out of here!"
They have 50 speed, so they'll act before most of the party every round. They only have 200 HP, but that number is deceptive: they're extremely resistant to physical, energy and magic damage, and moderately resistant to elemental damage. Their attack inflicts minor magic damage to the entire party, and has a high chance to cause instant death. To make matters worse, chances are the party is going to be cursed from opening up all the tombs, lowering their Luck. Guess what statistic controls your chances of resisting status effects!
In conclusion, fuck Liches. I know I said that already but it bears repeating.
"I'll deal with this! Wizard of ages past, feel the power of my magic and learn when to make way for your superiors!"
"It... survived? How is that even possible?"
"Don't worry, I'm on it! No way is he gonna survive this!"
"He survived that too? No way!"
"He's on the ropes now, though. Let me at him!"
"Hmph. That was too close for comfort. We've been getting careless."
The best strategy for dealing with Liches seems to be to get into melee range ASAP and have characters with Sorcerer spells hit them with attack magic while the rest of the party attacks, supported by Heroism and Holy Bonus buffs from Clerical spellcasters. As you saw, Implosion doesn't work very well on them: Incinerate seems more reliable, despite its much lower base damage.
There are mummies in the mausoleum, too. They can't hit through the party's armour, but they can survive a lot of punishment, and we're pretty screwed if they stay alive long enough for multiple Liches to close in on the party and start zapping them.
"Ah, two beautiful, shiny Ultimate Power Orbs! That makes all of this worthwhile!"
"Oh man, you guys already saw the Ultimate Power Orbs? I was hopin' we could... uh, never mind."
"By the stars! Is one of the beasts depicted here the inhabitant of this tomb? What a horrifying creature he must have been in life! Surely he must have had a hand in creating many of the horrors visited upon us here!"
There's also a tomb for "Mirk Cauldelle" in this room. Mark and Andrew Caldwell were two of the programmers who worked on Might & Magic III. Both of their tombs contain Ancient Artifacts of Evil. Apparently Mark is now a VP at Disney, while Andrew has worked in various capacities for Pixar, Sony and EA over the past decade. Good for them.
There are two more tombs in this room, for Neshek and Koshek. I don't think these ones are named for any particular real-world person.
Neshek's tomb contains an item that we're eventually going to need.
Koshek's contains a number of top-tier random items, which are always welcome.
"This throne must be for me, because as everyone knows, I rule!"
"Wait, what price? What's going--"
"So, uh, somebody got an urn to sweep up our ruler into? Or a big jar, that'll work too."
"Don't bother, I'll resurrect her. It never hurts to have as many people as possible owe you their lives!"
There are three more thrones in the room: one throne of the Halo of the Midnight Moon and two thrones of the Chill of the Moonlit Mist. Referring to the hintbook, it looks like the reduplicated throne is a bug and the fourth one should be called the Throne of the Sorrow of the Howling Wind. Since none of the thrones will do anything but eradicate us right now, we'll have to come back here later, once a party's earned the title of Ultimate Adventurers.
"Ah, VonEmosh, lord of the undead. We are to meet at last."
Following the usual pattern for bosses in M&M3, the Vampire King is the same as a regular vampire but with more HP and an extra attack per round.
He has enough energy resistance to have a good chance of surviving an Implosion or two, but his attacks just can't pierce the party's armour reliably enough to do serious damage, so we can kill him at our leisure.
Killing the Vampire King is optional: the only thing we need from this dungeon is the Hologram Sequencing Card, and we've already got that. But seeing as he drops a bunch of gold, gems and top-tier items when killed, why leave him alive?
"Yes! Time to get another share of the power that's rightfully ours!"
"Well, at least today's unbearably awful joke is topical."
"Excellent. With this, we are two steps closer to victory."
"Hooray, I guess. It's gonna be a lot easier for me to do my sacred duty if you keep collecting orbs, 'cause soon there's gonna be a lot more suffering for me to bring meaning to."
"So, what's everyone going to do once we rule over all of Terra?"
"I dunno. I was thinkin' maybe I'd take some of the southern islands around Greywind and Blackwind for myself, so I could take a beach holiday whenever I wanted."
"Have you no ambition, Cyrus? Consider what you could do with all that power! Think of the respect you could earn, the bevy of beautiful women whose affections you could win! Would you really waste your days lying in the sand on some forgotten island, when you could be a duke or a general?"
"Aren't you supposed to be a druid? Don't druids like being outside with nature and stuff?"
"Who cares what he wants? The important thing is, we'll finally be able to afford our very own real temple, with our very own pentagram and our very own demonic altar and our very own underground torture chamber! Won't that be great?"
"Yeah. Awesome. Woohoo."
"Ah, the exuberance of youth. Don't spend your winnings before you've earned them: we still have many more orbs that we must find."
That's another dungeon completed and another update over, which means it's time to switch back over to the good party! Should they explore a cavern, clear a dungeon of its monsters and reclaim it in the name of Good, or solve the mystery of Castles Greywind and Blackwind? Vote now!