Part 10: Nighon Holiday SpecialUpdate 10: Nighon Holiday Special
Gee, guys, I can't decide if we should be good or bad! Maybe we should go be violent while we think it over!
Nyahahaha, we'll go along with it because we love money!
And I'll go along with it just to spite Zaggut!
In my endless wisdom, I understand that making a fight out of this is unproductive.
Well, the worst place I can think to drag you all is Nighon! So let's get on with it!
Once again, all my careful warnings and advice have been ignored.
Rar, blood! Also killing!
Nooooo, the dwarves and warlocks are killing all the gogs before we can do it! I need blood!
If only I had been able to help you better yourself. Truly, the blame is on me.
Yes, Zina, I agree with your scratchy, witchy cackle! We'll hide in the shadows and loot the corpses when the dwarves and warlocks have risked their lives! No reason to intervene and help them!
And then Owen said-
Hey Zaggut, whatcha writin'?
...is that a picture diary where you're writing me as a mindless, bloodthirsty child? That's extremely petty of you.
I know, I'm sorry, I just-
I'm actually impressed you've got some spite in you for the way we're treatin' you. Nice job, bud.
I'd respect you more if you just called us assholes, though, try that next time.
So the tunnels to Nighon were a bit of a surprise, I expected the Warlocks to be hostile since the lore is that the Warlocks and Dwarves are, you know, at war, but I guess fighting the Gogs takes precedence. The gogs themselves aren't directly dangerous to us, but their explosions can rack up a decent amount of damage, so I have to be careful in how many I engage in a row. The only difference from the gogs we've already fought is the addition of the big red Magogs which are the same but slightly punchier.
Hey, cool, a warlock spa!
Occultist girl bath water is overrated as a magical reagent, leave it be.
It does have an awful lot of gold lying around, though, and relatively little challenge. In fact I'd argue that ducking in here as soon as you clear out the Trog Tunnels in Stone City might not be a bad idea, especially since you can straight up walk past a lot of the gogs because they tend to prioritize fighting the dwarves and warlocks. There's really only one unique thing down here, not even any chests as far as I'm aware.
A few gogs are guarding the remains of KING ZOKARR, whose name you might recognize from the tomb where a bunch of Barrow Wights non-canonically ate Zaggut's brain a few times and we got the Monk promotion telepathically from Hume.
The unique axe is a weird-ass drop because the only classes that get above Expert skill with axes is Knights(Master) and Rangers(Grandmaster). Knights have no magic, and Rangers cap out at Expert Earth Magic. Archers could potentially get up to Master Earth magic, but they'd be screwing themselves over to boost less-great magic at the cost of not wielding a Spear, which they would be much better with.
...we've done some unusual things before, but why are we collecting this person's skull?
This is no mere skull, Zaggut, this is a historical skull.
Indeed, it belongs in a museum.
...after they pay us fair market value for it.
Thank you, I was afraid I was hallucinating for a moment.
The tunnels don't connect directly to Nighon proper, though. Rather, when we get down here and start walking down the right passage, we suddenly get an area transition prompt...
Which drops us right into this fresh nonsense.
Minotaurs are big rude piles of beef, they hit hard and take a decent bit of killing, while the purple ones(Minotaur Headmen) can turn us insane and the big red ones(Minotaur Lords) can one-shot knock someone into Dead. We chew through the normal ones pretty fast, but the bigger ones hurt.
That's what the first meeting with a Minotaur Headman does to the party.
The tunnels themselves are mostly just brown and knobbly, but as soon as the party rounds the corner, they instantly run into another new friend, a beholder!
They're unthreatening by themselves, but could potentially be dangerous when mixed with other enemies. They do relatively low damage and are reasonably fragile, but they can afflict us with, in ascending order of type, Asleep, Afraid and Insane. Afraid and Insane don't really do much damage in-combat, but getting repeatedly put to Sleep could lose us precious actions if we were fighting, say, a bit Minotaur Lord or something where every swing mattered. The biggest type, Evil Eyes, also has a deceptively high damage output since they sometimes do a special attack that's just three of their normal attacks, which can roll up for a decently big amount of damage.
Man, I figured there'd be people in Nighon, not just minotaurs.
Well, the people in Nighon really liked making minotaurs. Also giant eyeballs. And giant birds. And multi-snakes.
What normal people call "hydras," Owen.
While the Thunderfist Mountain map is relatively large, it has the advantage of having multiple entrances/exits to surface Nighon. Thankfully I stumble into one of these almost right away, because having to walk all the way back to Stone City after meeting one of the mountain's worse residents would suck.
I found it amusing that the first NPC I meet right out of the gates is an Expert Healer. Fella knows what kind of state most people stumbling out of Thunderfist are gonna be in.
And while the mountain is full of natural tunnels, none of the entrances are natural caves. The Warlocks are smart enough to have fortified the only easy paths to their territory effectively.
Nice place. Real tourist hot-spot.
I'm just going to... talk to one of the locals and make sure we're welcome here.
Pffft. Sounds like what those posers in Bracada said about themselves. I bet every house here is just a shack, some sort of filthy hovel with a crystal ball or something.
Warlocks know how to party.
I'm mildly worried about all the exposed flames.
Other cool interiors in this village...
Warlocks are almost as good at interior design as necromancers. Also, on the way out of the village I meet a friend.
Mitch here drops an insane +15% XP on the entire party. It rules.
Alright, now Zaggut can't consider me an uneducated brute any longer. Teach me stuff, Mitch.
Well, I don't teach, per se, I help you understand what you see as you travel.
Uh huh, alright and... when do we start?
Ahem. Before you is a mountain. There is snow on the mountain. Snow is cold. Also wet. Snow is largely solid water.
Damn, I'm feelin' smarter already.
Paths are open to the East and Southeast.
Let's go with East.
Nighon is mostly separated into small villages. There are no lone cabins or tents anywhere, just two small villages and one larger one. This one is mostly trainers, including the Master Dagger trainer for Zina and Stashley, who also has a sweet fuckin' pad:
Nighon is mostly, as far as I can tell, just humans and goblins, unlike Deyja which is humans, goblins, elves AND dwarves. Of course, some of the residents are old or weird enough that it's hard to be entirely sure if they're a wrinkly human, dwarf or elf.
Here's the main village of Nighon. Sadly I don't think it really gets a specific name of its own, unlike, say, Pierpoint, Steadwick, etc. in some of the other provinces. Let's meet the locals.
Still absolutely ballin'.
Mmmm, missing some chess-playing skeletons, but otherwise it's a strong contender...
Murray's Extremely Trustworthy Healing Services over here, is a giant temple that appears to disappear into a mountain like it's some Dwarf Fortress thing.
Now, who could be possibly be living in such an unassuming cottage at the edge of town?
Why, it's the Leader of the Warlocks!
Hm, very... humble. I had expected more from an evil wizard.
I'm a bit disappointed, myself.
Oh, I'm not disappointed, I approve. This is what a leader should live like, equal to their people.
I wonder if this dialogue of his is hinting at a planned Neutral path that was cut at some point during development, or just to indicate that the Warlocks are generally outsiders who work with the Path of Darkness because their interests generally coincide, but not because they're formally wedded to it.
Even the innkeeper is a wizard here! Also with this one sorted, we're only two Arcomage wins from completing that subquest.
I'm so going to laugh when Zaggut wins a funko pop or a participation trophy.
Well, that was a nice diversion. Can we get back to killing stuff?
I'll allow it, those minotaurs and eyes were loaded.
I'm not going to ask where a floating eye keeps its spare change.
Also the entrance screen for Thunderfist Mountain is pretty cool.
While the Warlocks in the Nighon Tunnels are friendly, and the ones in Nighon proper are just town guards, the ones in Thunderfist do not like us at all.
They come in Fire, Water and Air flavours, in order of escalating danger, and are all very much glass cannons. They also have no fixed part of their main damage, it's all a scale, so it can whiff totally or completely blast you away in one shot. Sometimes they also cast spells, which will generally roll out as being less dangerous than their main damage dice. The exception is Fire Warlocks, who cast Fireballs which hit the entire party at once. Even if it's low-damage per character, the total damage done there is likely to be higher than their main attack.
Warlocks aside, it's still mostly minotaurs patrolling the tunnels. The normal ones are, as mentioned, no danger, and we survive the Headmen with a few dents to Zaggut.
You are in a cave. The pungent stench of mildew fills the air. Before you stands a Minotaur Lord. Will you Fight, fLee or Cast?
F! C'mon, you cowards! We can handle a walking cow!
Owen, I'm not s-
What, Zaggut? ...buddy? Aw man.
Bury me... with... my bees...
You realize if I die I lose all my gold, don't you, cow? I'm never going to give up my gold. Never.
Alright, you two. It says in your contracts, Appendix F, paragraph 2, that if everyone eats shit, you have to help me carry the bodies back to town.
...I knew I should have read that contract better.
I don't have to describe what this feels like, do I?
Open up, you dorks! I got some corpses for you to revive!
Welcome back... Zina... you're looking a bit rough around the edges.
Hnnnn... brains... grrrkkgkk.
...certainly that was just a fluke. Right, Zaggut? Owen?
...can you three still understand me?
If characters die and get resurrected at a Temple of "Darkness"(which I think should be the temple in Nighon, the one in Deyja and the one in the Pit), they get revived with the Zombie condition instead. This zeroes their Personality and Intelligence, and halves their Speed. I think it may also, since only one condition can be listed at once, prevents them from being hit with any condition that wouldn't override it(which I assume to be Stoned, Dead and Eradicated). Thankfully, they still have SP while being literally brain dead, and they can still cast spells, and the Master Water Magic trainer is in Nighon, so Zombie Zina now has Town Portal.
Minion, take us back to a temple that isn't a hack ripoff.
Klaatu... verada... nictooo...
Thankfully Nighon is one of the Town Portal locations for the game so we won't have to trek back through the tunnels to make the return.
The only way to get unzombified, as far as I'm aware, is to get it sorted at a Temple of "Light" or casting Divine Intervention. It's a shame about the Speed Penalty that being a zombie has, too, otherwise leaving non-caster characters as zombies would actually be to the player's advantage.
With that handled, I have Zina take the party back to Nighon again so we can finish the rest of our holiday adventure, or adventurous holiday.
The adventures so far have pushed the party over a level-up threshold, too, so let's visit Nighon's trainer!
Are those... buff skeletons?
You're going to make some tedious complaint about how big strong skeletons are illogical or something, aren't you?
No, no... I just wasn't expecting it, is all. I am entirely alright with this.
C'mon, bone boys, let's lift some skulls!
Seriously, check out how well they're filling out that armor. Those are some swoletons. In any case, once I've hit up a few more levels, I go back to Thunderfist Mountain. I won't be showing off the whole thing, since about 2/3rds are just brown tunnels with minotaurs and gazers in them, but there's one corner that's different which I will show off.
Oh, and there's also a third exit from Thunderfist aside from Nighon Tunnels or Nighon proper...
Anyone who's paid even a modicum of attention will probably recognize that we could go visit the last faction right now, and probably get our asses kicked. Eofol is a bit like Paradise Valley from MM6 in that it mostly exists to beat you up and take your lunch money with monsters that you won't be quite ready for before the endgame.
This narrow bridge spans the volcanic pit at the heart of Thunderfist Mountain. I have crystal clear memories of, as a kid, seeing monsters sink into this bridge(and it being possible to swap into turn-based mode and watching them sink all the way through it, haw haw), but it doesn't seem to be the case that either the party or monsters sink into it now. I'm not sure if my memories are just busted or whether it was a bug that's since been sorted.
On the far side of this bridge is a warlock lair/dorm, appropriately enough at the heart of a volcano, arranged around a big ol' magma spa.
And the loot down here is veeeeeeery good stuff, while the warlocks themselves mostly bounce off the party. It helps that the area makes it very easy to keep them coming in small groups where the party can bonk two or three of them at a time and then recover, plus having Master Body Regeneration on everyone all the time provides an absurdly fast recovery, especially with Shared Life to redirect wounds from one person to everyone, so you now have four people's regeneration countering the HP loss rather than just one character's.
The party's going to pass on taking a dip in this spa, even if most magma in the game does pretty negligible damage and will, in fact, kill you slower than drowning in water.
Hey, what gives? Nothing on these shelves is worth looting!
Nothing of value? This one has "50 Shades of Gazer." I'm keeping that.
The shelves are largely non-interactible, which is sad, so instead I'm just gonna say the warlocks keep a library of supernatural romance books rather than spellbooks.
That and a quest item in a box in the back. Unsurprisingly, the Dark Path sorcerer promotion is to a Lich, complete with your own soul jar and a new character picture. Sadly we won't get to see that this time around, unless the vote for this party goes to the Light path, at which point I'll make sure to keep a Sorcerer in the alternate Dark Path Party.
Now, about that secret door from earlier...
It leads down to a mildly disappointing treasure room, but since it contains a Minotaur Lord, that's like a challenge I have to take on.
First things first: Spells at range. Zaggut lets loose with Psychic Shock, his best damage spell, and Zina uses Implosion because it doesn't have a projectile and thus can't miss, which is a very cool advantage in real time or cramped conditions where spells' auto-aiming for center mass on enemies might make them bonk into terrain.
Step two, retreat while the big mountain of beef comes for us. Note that his horns are already clipping into the ceiling.
Step three, retreat into the narrow part of the tunnel and bombard him while he can't get to us. Zina ends up chugging enough mana potions that she's at risk of kidney failure, but in the end it works.
Step four, collect our loot, snice playing fair is for nerds.
For some reason I think this warlock and the Gazer ended up getting into a fight until I interrupted and killed them both. With that sorted, though, there's nothing of any real interest to show down in the tunnels, but there's a lot of surface Nighon I haven't shown, including some enemies that I believe are unique to the area.
Hey, I didn't just want to kill people for this holiday.
I wanted to see the local sights, too!
Hm, sure, alright.
Welcome to the exterior of Thunderfist Mountain, which is so tall that you literally can't fly to the top, but instead have to stop about 2/3rds of the way up and use a combination of Jump casts and manual climbing to cover the rest of the distance.
It's worth the visit, too, as the rim of the caldera is full of top-quality ore and high-quality reagents. Oddly enough, despite Nighon being generally a pretty denuded region in terms of vegetation, this is one of the few places that has a lot of trees. It must not be erupting regularly.
Oh yeah, and coming up here aggros the Rocs on the lower slopes, who have no issue flying up here to hiss at us.
Apologies for the lower-quality image, for some reason the usual source had a dead link to their roc .gif. Not that there's a lot to say about Rocs in general, they're pretty fragile(compared to just about everything else in the tunnels and on the surface), they fly, they do physical damage, and their top-tier variant, Thunderbirds, can break armor. I seem to recall they had more of a gimmick in the TBS games, so I'm a bit surprised they don't have more of it here. I also think they were a barbarian-town monster there, which makes it a bit odd that they're here in Nighon.
But I'm sure you guys aren't concerned about birds. I'm sure what you're thinking is...
Oh hell no.
C'mon, it's a volcano! How can't there be something special down there?
I have to agree with Zina, if I wanted to ruin our day by hiding something useful, I'd hide it in a volcano.
So, you can absolutely drop into the volcano and then regret your life as you try to get back out again. Not that the interior is very interesting, mind you.
Just deformed textures leading down to a flat magma plane that will, unlike all the other magma in the game, instakill the party on contact. I know there's an item marker on the minimap that insists its in the caldera itself, but I could never find it. The game has a few phantoms like that, including one that's apparently lodged inside the geometry of the Harmondale town inn.
The southwest of Nighon is full of Rocs, of all types. They're not a big threat, but they are guarding something very great.
Since we're largely immune to statuses(thank you, Protection From Magic), these boosts don't do much for Stashley and Owen, but they do improve the SP pools for Zina and Zaggut.
Rocs also guard the Nighon obelisk. I haven't collected them as obsessively as the inns since we still lack access to a few important areas to pick them all up, but we're well over the halfway mark, there. The Roc Zone is most of the west of Nighon. What about the north of Nighon?
It's a lovely beach full of hydras. At first I avoided them like the plague, and then went: "Eh, I can always reload." And charged in there, expecting the party to get wiped in seconds.
What the hell? These things aren't a challenge at all!
Hydras are strangely unchallenging. Checking their stat numbers, they should be quite threatening, but I think it may be because all their attacks are elemental and thus have a decent chance of being greatly reduced in damage, unlike physical damage which we'd have to eat in full(the third tier, Chaos Hydras, aren't present in overland Nighon and do Energy damage which it's impossible to resist, so they'd probably be a lot nastier). But aside from that, they have solid resistances, high health, no problem hitting us and can technically do enough damage to drop even Owen in three shots(20 to 100 damage per attack for the mid-tier Air Hydras).
Instead, they rarely even do enough damage to outpace the party's constant Regeneration enchantments as they work their way east across the beach(there's a dungeon on the west side, but I'm leaving it be since we're leaving the sidequests for a bit and also it MIGHT kick my ass at this strage) and then down along the eastern side of Nighon.
It's primarily just more fire hydras, and a few air hydras that fail to really do any damage either. Normally I wouldn't really track all the butchery going on across the map, but this hydra-owning leads to an extremely important plot point.
See, once all the hydras are dead, it's time to start looting their corpses. And I find...
A tier-two crown for Stashley.
Now we can go home.
I don't think we left anything here alive except for a few townspeople, in any case, and at least you haven't all started deciding they're fair game yet.
Aw, look, the beautiful golden leaves of autumn!
...did we spend an entire season killing giant birds and hydras in Nighon?
Yes, yes they did... which means that it's unexpectedly October and the party can spend all their genie lamps wishing for-
Zaggut to be less useless.
The rest of the party to develop morals.
A giant hog!
What? I figured riding a boar would be cool. Better than somethin' lame like a horse, in any case.
And with that, we're actually done for this episode and we can get to tallying up the votes... since Torrannor was offering to do a final tally at midnight(for, uh, some time zone), that's the one I'll go with, since I did the update a bit faster than I expected.
Please vote for the Path of Light.
Yeah, sure, vote for the Path of Light if you want less cool chess-playing skeletons.