Part 2: Castle HarmondumpUpdate 02: Castle Harmondump
At least this place looks nice.
Plenty of space for some bee hives next to the church.
Maybe a ballista in the bell tower.
-a magical lab-
-some fortifications and spike pits-
-three idiots putting off what needs doing.
The sooner we get this over with, the sooner we get rich.
Maybe we could just talk to them. It might be this is all a misunderstanding.
Fair point. I figure we should start the negotiations with "DIE!" or maybe "COWER BEFORE ME!"
...perhaps a harsh critique of their cleaning schedule might be in order.
Castle Harmondale is the first thing that feels like an M&M dungeon in MM7. Rats swarm you as soon as you get in, and there's a considerably higher population of Fire and Lighting rats here than on Emerald Island. They can shoot from range and take a few more hits to go down, plus usually Stashley and Owen can't consistently hit them without being Blessed by Zaggut, so mostly they get dealt with by Zina and Zaggut blasting them with magic.
Also I want to point out that while it looks primitive, note the upgrade in effects since MM6. Everything isn't just a .gif on screen any longer, the effects are actually 3D.
Then as soon as the party moves forwards, they'll aggro more rat packs out of the two side corridors.
I sadly do not have any decent maps for most of the dungeons, especially for Castle Harmondale where the only decent one I can find has spoilers on it. But something worth noting here is that the interior is actually shaped like the exterior. It's not to scale, being something like a 4:1 where the interior is much bigger, but it's nice that the devs actually tried on this one, so we don't have another Corlagon's Mansion thing going on.
Say, I think there's something shiny in here.
Be careful, if you catch yourself on a piece of rusty metal you might catch-
I'm fine! I'm fine. It's just, uh, a skin condition. Lemme show you, I can crack over that chest there without any problems.
The garbage piles all contain some minor loot, a few of them armor upgrades for the party, but seem to have a 100% chance of Diseasing whoever roots around in them. As per MM6, Disease and Poison are seriously debilitating until we have a means to cure them.
Huh, looks like they missed their chance, this place might've been at its weakest but then we showed up.
Uuuuugh, are you kidding me? The throne room's blocked off by boulders so we don't even get to sit on a throne?
Starting to come around to the thinking that this castle's a bit of a ripoff.
You can't even drink from the standing water!
Good. Dealing with Stashley's tetanus is enough, I don't need to add your dysentery to the list.
The main hall also has four of these little side rooms, for now they just display a graphic of a thoroughly fucked room that was probably nice once upon a time. Eventually they'll have a purpose, though.
...alright, I think you're right about it being tetanus. Go ahead and cure me.
Well, um, the thing is that I can't.
Yeah, until Zaggut grows up and becomes a real boy, we're gonna need to go to a temple.
A temple, but-
That'll cost money, yeah.
The ease of picking up conditions in Castle Harmondale(or Harmondale town, which features at least one water source that will happily poison you over and over again) is really somewhat mean.
Also unrelatedly, siting the town in sort of a little cozy valley is a great move by the devs, since it makes it feel safe and home-ish.
Like, I make it off Emerald Island with less than 1000 gold, and if I want to get Poison or Disease cured here at the temple, that'll cost me 150 gold, more than 10% of my total, and clearing out the castle itself will barely earn me 1000 gold. Someone who doesn't know how the M&M series rolls and who interacts with everything and doesn't quicksave first is in for a rude surprise.
Check it out, Stashley, looks like you're not the only one in here with an embarrassing disease. We should go ask him what he caught.
Ugh, expositis, I hate that one.
Also the local guards either don't know that the party's their new employers or they're perfectly aware and also good judges of character.
Back inside and we're ready to explore the wings of the castle and their unfortunate carpeting. Like outside, the wings have four towers, which tend to be strongpoints for monsters.
Each tower contains enough enemies that just rushing in and face-tanking them all would likely get you extremely owned by them, so lure them out piecemeal instead. This is also where we first get to encounter goblins.
Goblins are still uncomplicated enemies. They cause no status effects, and the only things they get as they grow in rank(up to Hobgoblins and then Goblin Lords) is a non-elemental ranged attack and higher HP. Also, because they're incels or something, they prioritize attacking female party members.
Also when you finally fight your way over to a tower you need to have some situational awareness since usually the enemies up the adjoining wing will aggro as you reach the corner and come join the party.
What's this stuff? Never seen anything like it before.
Brightly coloured... warning prints down the side... this is someone's homebrew. I wouldn't touch it.
Alright, then I call dibbs.
Please, I already told you all, I can't cure poisoning!
No, no. I once met a one-eyed warrior who taught me that the key to power was to drink everything you encountered.
If he only had once eye left, that can't have worked out too well for him.
That's what I thought, but he kicked my ass when I asked him why he wasn't drinking from the spittoon, then. Which wasn't much of an answer, but he really was the strongest man I ever met.
Once again, coloured liquids do the same as they always do, stat boosts! The colours remain the same too, BUT! They now give +2 boosts rather than +1 boosts, which means that, at least for now, they always get someone over a break point. They contribute to Zaggut and Zina getting more SP, and Stashley and Owen getting better melee damage ratings.
I fight my way up to the corner and it turns out that the "back" wing doesn't go all the way across, though it doesn't take a genius to realize that eventually this area will matter, since the map doesn't finish drawing the wall at the end of the corridor. There's also a room up here, though...
At least this place has a kitchen, even if it doesn't have a magic lab.
The kitchen mostly just holds a few more barrels, but also some fruit bowls. They can be interacted with to yield one(1) apple each which stay fresh in the inventory forever but can be consumed to add +1 food to the party's total. They're nice to keep around as an emergency food source, in case you get stranded somewhere you can't(or don't want to) go off to hit up a tavern for a food refresh.
For all the talk about goblins taking over this place, I feel like we've been killing more rats.
The west wing of the castle is primarily vermin, and while there are a lot of vermin up the east wing as well, it terminates in a couple of goblin encounters featuring multiple Goblin Lords.
They're mostly handled by keeping Owen and Stashley on mook-busting duty while Zina and Zaggut throw all their offensive spellpower at the Goblin Lords until they go down.
Dealing with this room also required keeping Owen and Stashley constantly blessed, because otherwise they couldn't reliably hit half the enemies inside.
The fight wears down the party a bit, but I think I've got the place cleared and forget to look at the minimap as I walk in.
This guy then ducks out behind the corner and instantly KO's Stashley, Zaggut heals her, he KO's her again and so on for about four or five cycles. He never chooses another target and, somehow, he always manages to stop short of outright killing her. But that is, at last, the final real fight in Castle Harmondale, except for two rats who've been hiding in a corner. I'm not sure exactly what the trigger for completing the quest is, whether it's killing all goblins or everything inside, but there are few places for enemies to hide in any case.
Nice to have some proper fights for once, rather than just stomping bugs.
I do wish we could have talked them out of this.
Don't worry, you did your due dilligence by yelling "I'm sorry!" every time you hit one of them with a Mind Blast.
Now, where'd that butler say he was staying?
The inn, wasn't it? Can't think of anywhere else he'd be staying.
...is the inn really the largest structure in Harmondale? Except for the castle?
Absolutely my kind of town. I wonder if technically owning the place gets us a discount.
Say, has anyone noticed that fellow watching us from around the side of the tavern? He looks a bit shifty.
This guy is SUPER easy to miss and I think that I did so in every other playthrough. The only hint that he's anything but a generic NPC is that he doesn't move. He just watches you silently at all times.
So as we know from the letter, lighting the signal fires in fact summons goblins(which we may want to do, for murderous looty reasons), rather than reinforcements. Maybe we should call him out on this.
So the instant we call him a traitor, he drops his disguise and attacks us, for a one against four fight.
The smart thing would probably have been to run away.
Or maybe to surrender.
Ha ha, yeah, that would've worked out well for him. Totally.
The inn's got a couple of people present. Let's talk to the butler first.
He prompts us to find some contractors, the next major story quest. What about the other guy?
So what you're saying is that if we had this seal we could impersonate y-
Thank you very much, sir, we'll be sure to return your seal if we find it.
Then I decided to take a small tour of the town.
The raised northern section of town hosts a number of magical guilds. All of the basic divine and elemental options. The water guild, as per standard, has a couple of troughs out front that'll fucking kill you if you drink from them. Maybe the townspeople have some uplifting comments for their new guardians and benefactors?
You might also have trouble finding the local Earth guild, but that's because...
It's a literal cave tunneled into the side of a hill.
Also check out the stables ahead and on the right there, which, rather than just being a box with a hollow box attached, actually have a proper stable structure(of course still containing horseshoes) with a modelled wagon in it. Details!
Um, what are we doing here?
I figure since we own the place now, we're allowed to go into anyone's house and ask them what's up.
Gambling... it leads to dark things.
You just say that because I won a share of Harmondale off you on the trip over here.
Well, hanging around here isn't gonna get us anywhere, so what's next?
A: Beeline for the dwarves so they can fix our roof.
B: Roadtrip to find Lord Markham and give him a piece of our minds for selling us a trash castle.
C: Survey our new realm of Harmondale and find the lost Arcomage gambler
D: Intentionally trigger a goblin invasion of Harmondale just so we can fight it off and take their stuff.
Extra: Basic Magic
Since this post also isn't very long, I figure I could also cram an overview of basic elemental and divine magic in here.
Fire Aura: Gives a non-magic weapon a temporary Fire Damage enchantment that gets stronger with mastery, and permanent at Grand Master level. Non-magical weapons rapidly stop being useful, but I suppose you could use it for income by enchanting non-magical weapons and selling them. A decent early-game booster alongside Heroism for more damage, especially since it also affects bows.
Fire Bolt: The most basic Fire attack spell, 1d3 damage per skill point, with mastery increasing attack speed.
Fire Resistance: Gives fire resistance equal to 1x, 2x, 3x or 4x skill depending on mastery. Worthwhile until/if you get Day of Protection.
Torchlight: While it has no strict mechanical effect, I can't imagine playing this game without Torchlight for long. Some of the dungeons really are quite dark and the game simply looks better with it on, in 9 out of 10 cases. There are a few well-lit dungeons where Torchlight instead deletes moody shadows, though.
Air Resistance: Like Fire Resistance but for, y'know, air, which basically turns out to be electrical damage and nothing else.
Feather Fall: Completely negates falling damage. Not worth having on at all times, but absolutely necessary for some dungeons.
Sparks: Unlike in MM6 where mastery gave you more sparks, here you always get three sparks, but better damage for mastery. This makes it less of a brutal early-game shotgun. Each sparks does 2+skill damage, and mastery increases that to 2x skill, 3x skill and 4x skill.
Wizard Eye: You know it, you love it, it helps you not miss stuff. Spots enemies at basic mastery, items on the ground at expert and "points of interest" at plain Master. At Grandmaster it... just costs no SP to cast. Since it only costs 1 whole SP to cast in the first place, the Grandmastery boost is lol.
Awaken: Cures all party members of Asleep if applicable.
Ice Bolt: 1d4 damage per skill point, so technically better than Fire Bolt until resistances are factored in.
Water Resistance: Nothing to say here. But probably more relevant than Air and Fire Resistance since there's a lot of poison damage in MM games.
Poison Spray: What Zina's been using so far. It does 2+1d2/skill point damage, making it worse than Ice Bolt as soon as it's out of the lowest tiers. At first glance it seems odd, but then you realize that Poison Spray is now the Sparks-esque spell of the early-game, producing more projectiles as mastery increases.
Deadly Swarm: 5+1d3/skill point earth damage. The worse scaling makes it lose effectiveness compared to the other spells, but since resistances are a lot better balanced in MM7 than in MM6, it still retains a niche for exploiting vulnerabilities when something resists the other elements.
Earth Resistance: Like the others.
Slow: Can theoretically slow an enemy to a crawl, but it's a single enemy, and single large enemies tend to be very hard to stick conditions on, so I would tend to assume this is useless.
Stun: It suffers from the same issue as Slow, neither giving you a lot of rolls to try and stun a lot of small enemies or being reliable for stunning single tough enemies. The maths are somewhat more in favour of hitting monsters with status effects in MM7 and 8 than 6, but you're usually still better off just blasting them.
Bless: You need this to live. Without it, even at higher levels, physical attackers just will not hit reliably at all. Mastery makes it a full-party buff and gives better duration, but not better effect.
Detect Life: Lets you see numeric life values rather than just health bars, and at grand master level you can see active temporary effects. Considering that monsters do not really cast self-buffs and you should not be casting debuffs, this is not a very useful spell.
Fate: A stronger, always-single-target Bless... that only lasts until the next attack has been made. You might be in situations where even Bless doesn't suffice, but this does, but if you are, you're out of your depth.
Turn Undead: Attempts to make all visible undead flee. The same caveats as all "status effect" spells, but attempting to stick a lot of shots means there's actually a chance some of them might matter. Mastery increases duration.
Mind Blast: Zaggut's spell of choice so far. It does 3+1d3/skill damage. Now that Mind Magic no longer does generic "Magic" damage that everything is immune to, this spell is actually worth casting! In my opinion they should have made effects like Stun and Slow secondary effects of spells like this, if the engine could handle that, that would have made them a lot more viable, since a successful saving throw still meant you got some damage in.
Mind Resistance: You know it.
Remove Fear: While not as ubiquitous as poison and disease(which are common results of interacting with world objects), some enemies still drop Fear on you with every attack and it can remove a lot of physical attacker power, so being able to remove it is worthwhile.
Telepathy: Shows what you can gain by killing or stealing from a creature. Since you'll be killing everything anyway, and thus learning what they're carrying, and stealing is largely useless, this spell has no niche.
Body Resistance: Etc.
Cure Weakness: Despite pretty much being the lowest "tier" condition, it pops up very rarely, mostly as a side effect of Haste spells running out. Since that'll be happening a lot in the later game, though, this spell will see some use.
Harm: 8+1d2/skill damage. For a while it'll almost certainly have a higher minimum damage than Mind Blast and once again, you may want it to exploit resistances anyway.
Heal: A cost/effect analysis of Heal is difficult since there are only two other healing spells under Body magic, and one of them has no clear numbers attached to it. Per SP it does more healing than Power Cure, though, but since Power Cure basically drops four Heals at once, it wins out in terms of how many actions you use to get things done.
One thing that might be obvious to anyone reading this is that despite the game adding a fourth mastery rank, most spells don't really get any sort of noteworthy or unique benefit from it. Most of them don't even get "bigger numbers." Just longer durations or faster recast speeds, so Grand Mastery is mostly just relevant for getting access to Grand Master spells, more so than making your other spells more effective.