Part 27: A Case of the Vapours
The good party's first destination this update is the Magic Cavern, which is located on the desert island in the southeast of the world map, in the middle of some mountains.
The Magic Cavern contains lots and lots of Sorcerers and Guardians. The Guardians aren't dangerous to a well-armoured party, but the Sorcerers' damage can add up pretty fast, so keeping Protection from Cold up at all times is a good idea.
"This is probably just going to explode or summon demons or something, but hey, there's only one way to find out for sure."
Lots of Sorcerer spells can be acquired for free from the crystals here. Deeper into the cavern, there's some really nice stuff like Implosion and Star Burst.
"Ooooooh, spooky vapours. I'm soooo scared. What are they gonna do, poison us to death?"
"Um, they might actually do that for all we know, mightn't they?"
"Well, yeah, they might. But it's not like we don't have resurrection magic."
"Hey, who turned out the lights?"
There are lots of purple vapour tiles like that in this cavern, and stepping on any of them immediately dispels all the party's temporary magical effects. This obviously includes Light, but also protection spells and any other buffs that are active, so if you have Protection from Cold up you'll have to recast it.
"Well, if the vapours were safe..."
"Ow! I think through mysterious arcane means I just gained the knowledge that it's a bad idea to wade into pools of unidentified magical liquid."
The pools do 50 magical damage, but also permanently boost Intellect by 10 points (one time only per pool). There are also green pools, which do the same thing except they boost Speed. There's 40 points of Intellect boosts and 50 points of Speed boosts in the cavern in total, which represents about a third of the total number of Speed boosts available in the entire game.
"That sounds like a rather important key to have. I suppose we shall have to disturb some tombs."
"Are you guys sure it's okay for me to, um, open this? Those dragons look awfully fierce..."
"It's not as if it's big enough for there to be an actual dragon inside. At worst, I imagine there's just a mummy or something in--"
"Well, would you look at that. Something finally shut him up before he was done talking."
"Speaking of which, maybe we can focus on not getting killed right now, if that's okay with you?"
So as you can see there are a few liches in here, and we already know that liches need to be taken seriously, no matter how badass the party is.
A couple of them are hiding in really nasty positions, like directly behind a locked door that is itself directly in front of some purple vapours, so when you first open it your party's in the dark and it gets to zap you while you recast your Light spell.
"Okay, everyone. Get ready for another lich to pop out once we open this one."
"What, all this gold and no horrifying undead monstrosities? Well, never look a gift tomb in the mouth, that's what I always say."
"So now that we've got the key to the Maze from Hell, how about we go take a look inside, huh? Sounds like fun."
"Instead, now that we're out of the desert why don't we go somewhere a little cooler?"
"You c-c-could at least have given us a chance to change clothes first. Brrrr."
"Oh, stop complaining. A little fighting will warm you up in no time, and I'm sure there's fighting to be done."
Cursed Cold Cavern is in the Frozen Isles on the far north of the world map, and is both significantly less dangerous and significantly more annoying than the Magic Cavern, for reasons that will soon become clear.
"We just entered and already there's a dead end in front of us? Screw this, I'm breaking that wall down."
This cavern's first gimmick is secret passages: almost every chamber requires bashing down a wall to access it. They're all in obvious spots, though, so just make sure to check every dead-end (or keep the Wizard Eye spell up like I'm doing, that works too).
These hands were a huge pain when the other party faced them in Cyclops Cavern 15 updates ago. Now that we have weapons that can reliably hit them and armour that makes it impossible for them to hit us, they're a speed bump.
"Um, y'know, I really don't see what clouds have to do with carnage."
"This, on the other hand? Yeah, this is some carnage goin' on right here. Eh, it's been too long since I picked up any cool battle scars anyway."
The second gimmick this cavern has to offer is guillotine traps. They only do 30 damage to the party, but there are lots of them and they're often placed in front of secret passages where you can't jump over them. I had to rest in this dungeon once or twice just because all that unavoidable damage adds up.
"Look at that! Look what they did to my sword!"
"It's gone as flimsy as a reed! How am I supposed to use this as a weapon?"
"Aw, don't get so down on yourself. It happens to every guy once in a while."
We ran into one of these Wicked Witches in Wildabar Cavern much earlier in the game, and yet they're no less irritating now than they were back then. While their attack does trivial damage to the party at this point and they die in one hit, they can curse the party's equipment. Cursed items are nearly useless and can't be unequipped, and the only way to uncurse them is to visit a temple.
"On the bright side, where there are witches, there's delicious witch's brew! Now with 20% more newt!"
"Looks like one of those newts swallowed something before it went in, too. How about that."
Searching the brews inflicts some magical damage on a character, but it pays off.
In addition to the spare key to the Tomb of Terror that we just picked up, the cauldrons contain permanent magic resistance boosts, Precious Pearls of Youth and Beauty, and even a couple of permanent bonuses to experience level.
"I am uncertain what a statue of a knight's horse is doing in a cavern full of witches, but it must be here for a reason."
"Is its purpose merely to ask us a simple riddle? The answer is 'tomorrow', of course, but--"
"Knew that already. Thanks, though!"
"Well, uh, time for me to do my thing. It's not like we can get any more cursed than we already are, right?"
"Most excellent. We should return these to Castle Whiteshield at our earliest opportunity."
There are a few ancient artifacts of all three alignments in the chests around here: a million or so experience points for the party is well worth the annoyance of exploring the cavern.
"What lives in the winter, dies in the summer and grows with its roots upward?"
"That's easy. It's an icicle."
"Princess Trueberry holds the Goldern Alicorn."
"Way ahead of you once again, informative horse statue."
"What is nothing but holes tied to holes, yet is strong as iron?"
"Could it perhaps be a chain? Admittedly, it is as strong as iron mostly due to being made of iron, but..."
"The password to raise the sunken island is YOUTH."
"Neato. That sure would be useful if somebody hadn't already gone and raised the sunken island for us."
"What cannot be seen but only heard, and will not speak unless it is spoken to?"
"What could that be but an echo?"
"The pirates' treasure will be real on Onesday."
"Are any of you statues named Smith, by any chance? Because I once heard tell of a horse that only gave hints long after they were already useless."
"Agh! I've been hit!"
"Wait, what? You actually got hit by that guy? But what about our obsidian armour-- ohhhh, right, all our stuff is cursed and useless."
The Black Knight is the boss of this dungeon, and I seriously underestimated him. Between the fact that he can hit a whopping 7 times for 4-160 damage per hit, has enough HP of his own to survive an attack or two, and the party being effectively unarmoured and already worn down by all those guillotine traps...
... well, the party still beats the snot out of him in the end, but he gives us a run for our money.
He selectively targets Paladins, so Charity was doomed from the start: I left her unconscious for the whole fight and let the rest of the party handle him.
"Whew. At least it looks like he's got some treasure for us to, uh, liberate."
The Black Knight's treasure chests total a few hundred thousand gold, a couple of thousand gems and a lot of mid-to-high-tier items: nothing terribly exciting at this point, but money's always nice.
"Seriously, another one of these things? Wasn't one enough? If this is all we're gonna find for our trouble, we shouldn't even bother with the rest of the cauldrons."
"Oh, come on, there's just one more to go. I'll even volunteer to--"
The good news is that this cauldron always contains a random top-tier weapon, usually obsidian.
The bad news... well.
"I... think we should pay a visit to the Fountain of Youth as soon as we get out of here. I also think we should get out of here now."
"Hey, that wasn't a total waste of a trip. We killed some monsters and got some treasure, and isn't that what adventuring is really all about?"
"That's all very well, but what we didn't do is find any Ultimate Power Orbs. At this rate we'll fall behind again."
"Aw, lighten up. The stronger we get, the easier it'll be to find more orbs! And the more places we don't find any, the less places there are to look!"
"Just as long as I'm not the one who has to dig around in witches' cauldrons next time."
"I'm still useful! I even got to pick some actual locks this time!"
"The witches' curse may have done some good after all: it showed me that I have grown too dependent on my weapons. I ought to develop my magical skills further."
"For my part, I consider my magical talents more than adequate, though repeated Divine Intervention can be exhausting."
"Look how smart I am. C'mon, just look at that. I can implode things aaaaaall day."
"As long as my skills as a warrior and healer are needed, I will not fail you. Unless I am beaten senseless by another Black Knight, I suppose."
"There's not much chance of that now that our armour is back in shape nad we're at full fighting strength. Ultimate Power Orbs, here we come!"
Welp, you all know what time it is again. The evil party's going to have to do a little more dungeon-crawling to catch up with the good party's lead, so for the next update would you rather see madness or carnage? Vote now!