The Let's Play Archive

Might & Magic VII: For Blood and Honor

by PurpleXVI

Part 11: Mistakes Were Made

Update 11: Mistakes Were Made

If this is a prank, I'm going to get extremely upset with all of you.
We've been telling you it's for real for the last week! C'mon!
Is it so hard to believe that we'd see the benefits of the Path of Light? all agreed to play a major war for profit and we've robbed the homes of two nobles entirely for profit.
Exactly, we're going where the profit is. Bracada threatened us, Deyja tried to bribe us. If someone's trying to bribe us, they're desperate.
Ain't no point to signing up with the losin' side, is there now?

Fire up the Town Portal, Zina, and let's bring Mr. Fairweather to his new pad.

Once we've picked up Fairweather, it's just a portal back to Harmondale and then a quick Fly over to Judge Grey's old house.

Welcome to the Path of Light! And welcome to...

The game re-colouring the entire UI into eye-searing Light Mode. The two Path recolours are both bad, but I think I definitely hate the Light path recolour more than the Dark path recolour.

Is anyone else gettin' a feeling like we just ruined someone's day?
I think you're just hearing the ambassador from Deyja, someone told me he set fire to a few things on his way out. And a few people.

So there are six potential variants of this entry, each made up of two variables. The first variable is whether you go Light or Dark(Peace vs War), the second is who ended up with the trumpet(Erathia, Avlee or "You" Win, with the "You" result being for handing it over to Judge Grey). I will not be showing all of these off, but I will be showing off one that differs in both variables for Team Dark.

Mind you, it's moderately annoying that Town Portal works for Celeste but not the Bracada Desert, considering how many times in a row it makes you pop back to visit. The nearest place is Erathia, so you get a brief walk and two loading screens every time(though the loading screens are, obviously, no big deal on a modern PC).

I'm... anxious about what we'll see on the other side.
If what we're seeing down here is any indication, it'll probably all be on fire.
Or maybe these are the slums and Celeste is where the Upper Crust of the wizards live, meaning it's going to be clean, shiny, well-planned and there won't be a speck of dirt in the streets.

Well, there's certainly no garbage in the streets. You were right about that one.
Explains all the stuff we keep finding on the ground, too, 's what some dickhead in Celeste was too lazy to put in the trash.

So yeah, stepping off the road in Celeste will literally drop you back into the Bracada Desert. Having Featherfall active at all times is greatly advised. :v:

Celeste generally looks alright, if a bit unimaginative.

Aside from wizards and generic human peasants, Celeste also has "light elementals" and angels hanging around, and a few Rocs in the corners. I honestly think Celeste could generally have been improved by scrapping the "cloud walls" and making it a more open area, perhaps even treating it like an outdoors area where the player could choose to navigate with Fly rather than following the streets.

The town doesn't have any unique stores or anything we haven't seen before, though it does have the Paramount Guild of Air, which still doesn't have a book of Invisibility. The Master guild in Pierpont hasn't ever had one, either. I'm sure this will in no way impact this update.

In no way.

Anyway, let's visit those houses up ahead. They're literally the only NPC homes in Celeste that we can pop into and talk to people in.

Finally, maybe now Zaggut can start pulling his weight around here.
Maybe it's time to lay off Zag a bit, he does keep healin' us and keep us hittin' stuff.
What's he gonna do? Stop healing me?

...lads, I think we might've teamed up with the wrong folks.
...we've really made a terrible mistake.
Ha! For once, the joke isn't on me!
You're forgetting who has to keep us alive if we have to go in there.

Past the few homes with people in them in Celeste, there's the town's Obelisk tucked away in a corner, guarded by a bunch of birds.

It's funny to me that generally one of the buildings that get the most design space in any MM7 town is the "town hall," considering that it's the building that has the least purpose in any town. Unlike in MM6 where they occasionally had quests and such(and weren't in all towns, besides), in MM7 all they have is the damn bounties, which no one should ever interact with.

Oooooo, purple rugs. We should get some of these for Harmondale.
It's not like we ever spend any time there, anyway.
Maybe we would if we had nice purple rugs rather than the red ones.

Similar to other castles, Castle Lambent has some sections that we are not welcome in. This becomes relevant if you took up Mr. Malwick on his deal back on Emerald Island rather than ignoring him or accidentally getting him killed. In that case, he would demand that you steal a tapestry from your allied faction and hand it in, or he'd flood Harmondale with evil mercenaries that would prevent you from using any town stores until they were all hunted down and killed. I think I might've mentioned this before, but I figured I'd tell everyone here, just in case.


...wanna go kill stuff and break things until we find an Invisibility spellbook?
Gods yes.

So that, that, is why you need a Master Air(or Grandmaster Air) caster and an Invisibility spellbook if you do a Light path playthrough. Fuck the Walls of Mist. Fuck the Walls of Mist.

Since the Air guilds and drop tables have been fucking me over on this one every time, I decide that instead, this is where I'm gonna go roll the party through all their Light Path promotions! So let's have a quick tour of the trainers...

Bracada Desert, Champion promotion for Owen. Fuck this one.

Erathia, Hero promotion for... no one. But I was here anyway and it's kind of on the way for some others.

Steadwick sewers, Spy promotion for Stashley. It'll take us to Deyja, same as the Hero promotion.

Tularean Forest, Arch Druid promotion for Zina. Good thing we already have that skull.

See? There's always a reason to collect skulls!
I refuse to take that as the moral of this.

So that's all of 'em! First things first, the Druid promotion.

Visitin' this place sucks a lot less when I'm not paralyzed.
Helps that we cleared out all the undead, too, I don't miss them at all.

Then it's a simple matter of interacting with this sarcophagus, though there's no clear indicator that this is Zokarr's. There's no nameplate, no hover-over text or anything. In fact you might well not even know this is Zokarr's Tomb unless you did the Initiate quest earlier and happened to remember what Hume called the place. Thankfully, though, by this point we have Town Portal and can just warp back to the Tularean Forest to collect our well-earned reward.

The second Druid promotion is probably the least exciting of all promotions. The Druid's main job is to cast spells and occasionally stab people, they've already got maxed stabbing and spelling skills from their first promotion. GM Alchemy is pretty alright, but once you've mixed all of the stat-boosting potions you can use(because each type can only be used once per character), it no longer has any real use(technically curing potions can be good, but they don't broaden your condition-curing abilities over what a Druid can already handle). The second GM skill is GM Meditation, and it's just a skill that doesn't... work. Like, yeah, it upgrades your SP pool, but for the main caster classes, the only ones that get it better than Expert tier... already have very good base spell points per level, while the hybrid classes, the ones with shit base spell point gain... can't really get anything out of it.

It's not a well-designed skill, is what I am getting at.

After that, though, let's hop the ship to Evenmorn Island so we can promote Zaggut and get to our Grandmaster spell skills. I confess to some annoyance that "mirror path" magic is locked behind both the final promotion AND starting on the final sequence of story quests. It just feels like it cuts you off from getting that much use out of it. But you're not here to listen to me bitch, you're here to listen to me roleplaying a bunch of characters bitching.

Welcome back to Evenmorn Island!

Hmmm... I remember two temples here.

...are you sure this is the Temple of the Moon?
What, are you expecting it to have a giant big crescent moon on top or something? Come on now.

Interestingly, coming in from this angle, there are still both some gargoyles and ghosts alive, and they get into a big scrum as I approach. I didn't even know that hostility was programmed in.

Please! It says "Temple of the Sun" above the front door!
Exactly what wily moon-worshippers would do to try and throw us off-track!
Huh, damn, almost got me, too. Good thing you figured 'em out, Zina.
I know, I'm exceptionally brilliant.

So, the Grand Temple of the Sun! It's got two kinds of fun enemies hanging around.

The primary type is Acolytes, Clerics and Priests of the Sun. Shocker, I know. They are hilariously, incredibly fragile for being something we're meant to deal with in a second-promotion quest, and their attacks do dogshit-awful damage, too. Their biggest danger is, I suppose, that the top tier can cast reasonably-powerful Power Cures, so if they were mixed into a big group of enemies, they could make them a lot more durable. It's generally a shame that MM7 doesn't dabble much in mixed enemy groups, which could make you, the player, think about your targeting priorities more.

The other type is the returning favourite of Monks. Unlike in MM6 where they were absolute shit-wreckers for their level and generally terrifying to fight, however, here they're still kind of wimpy for the stage of the game where you encounter them. They'd be more dangerous if they cast their spells more often, but instead they just use their ineffective punches more regularly.

Now, the reason I'm murdering our supposedly "allied" priests here isn't just for fun. There's actually a quite good reason to come in here even without a quest tasking you with it.

And it isn't just getting to see the grooving monks, dancing after drinking Colour Juice straight outta the barrels.

No, it's because massacring these innocent priests on their pulpit yields a cloak that's Of The Light, i.e. it adds +50% to the caster's effective Light Magic skill points. Since the Church of the Moon has a similar Of The Dark cloak, you'll always want to mangle your allied priests unless you're some sort of deranged person doing a run without either a Sorcerer or a Cleric.

There's also the PUZZLE ROOM. Three buttons on the left, three buttons on the right, gotta find the right "combination" to activate the button in the center and unlock a bit more loot. For fun I twiddle a random button on the left and it turns out that's what solves the "puzzle." I have no idea if it's bugged or if it's really meant to be that easy.

Turns out it was concealing a pair of monks who were busy writing their diary entries. It's one of a number of entries scattered around the game world in random chests, narrating chunks of the fight of a bunch of Sun worshippers against the Moon worshippers, but as far as I can tell it isn't a clue pointing towards any of the game's hidden treasures or anything of the sort, nor does it detail anything you can interact with since the churches of Sun and Moon aren't so much extant political entities as it is two groups of religious survivalists fighting over an island populated by more skeletons than living residents.

Alright, it may be that this is in fact the Temple of the Sun.
What, did the sun masks, sun iconography and light magic clue you in?
It could've been a very good ruse! I had to be sure.

Well. Alright.
I'm going to be the better man and not remind you of what you said half an hour ago.

I love how stupid the priests of the Moon look.

Unlike Priests of the Sun, they can actually do some damage! They're so fragile they rarely get the chance, but they can cast a number of hefty Dark magic spells at relatively high levels, enough to really dick us over. Thankfully their support is more or less all long-outdated Wights and Ghosts, which is atmospheric but once again a weird thing to put in here. Why not Vampires or Liches or something else more level-appropriate?

The Temple of the Moon is also slightly more involved than the Temple of the Sun. It has a bit more in the way of hidden doors and the secret passages, not that I in any way comprehend the point of like half of them. There seem to be a number of buttons and levers back here that don't actually activate anything, or they lead to the other side of a wall you were just on and could just walk to, thus not necessitating any secret door or lever-activated passage.

Also, speaking of useless things.

A fucking Lloyd's Beacon scroll. Congrats, you can set a beacon that you'd then need to luck out and find a second scroll to return to.

The temple does have a few nicer-looking areas when it isn't just narrow corridors full of Wights, though. One of the bookcases, of course, hides a hidden door that leads to the treasure motherlode of the Temple of the Moon.

Almost all of those are Light Magic books, so that's a sweet fucking score! It saves me from the misery that is relying on the RNG for generating Hour of Power and Day of Protection books.

It ends, of course, with a chapel just like the Temple of the Sun, and a +Dark cloak that I have no use for. One amusing thing does happen, though, because MM7 isn't... entirely as well-designed as it could be.

This one priest's Shrapmetal projectile just gets kind of suspended in space until it fades out. It happens on occasion when enemies cast projectile spells, especially the ones with customized projectiles like this, rather than the mono-colour lances the low-level spells tend to have. I have no idea if it's an entirely graphical bug or if the projectiles still function, because I have yet to be dumb enough to run into them on purpose.

It does look a bit goofy, though.

So, uh, anyone know how to purify an unholy altar? Zina?
I could sacrifice Zaggut or Mitch to consecrate it to the hungry powers of nature.
Gon' take that as a "no." Zag?
Hmmm... Zina, could I borrow a water bolt?

Wow, who could've guessed it was only a dark altar 'cause of all the dirt! Nice work!
Thank you, thank you.

Back to Celeste! Neither Pierpoint or Celeste have generated a fucking Invisibility book by this point, by the way, despite resetting both their inventories.

That's Priest of Light for Zaggut. That means GM Body/Spirit/Mind magic, access to Light magic(once we run Gavin's maze) and, oddly enough, GM Merchant which he doesn't have the spare skill points for. Still, a pretty good deal.

Now, the Spy and Hero promotions are in Deyja...

Well, this'll be a nice change of pace. I assume we'll be sneaking in there and sabotaging the tower without raising any alarms.
Bwahaha. That's why I like you, Zag, you make me laugh.
Aw, not again.
Yeah, we're going in and we're cutting everything in half. Start the buffing.
Fire weapons incoming!

Fucking look at that mad art. Holy shit, Deyja knows how to fucking party. I can't believe you guys didn't pick them.

This tower has more or less every single type of undead except for skeletons.

The foyer leads into an elevator that leads into the basement(where a bunch of lich kings are just hanging out like it's no big dealio). Oh, yeah, liches. Let's talk about liches.

All of them are ranged attackers that prioritize druids and clerics and have high-damage Dark spells in addition to their normal ranged shots, but the big kicker that can make them insanely scary is that Lich Kings can also cast Pain Reflection, which doesn't protect but means the attacker eats 100% of the damage they do. Considering that, say, Owen, could kill himself in two or three attacks with high rolls, that's scary! That's real scary! Thankfully they're super-fragile, HP-wise, for their level, and thus tend to go down before they can really start up on any bullshit.

There's also a back entrance/exit down here, you could technically enter this way, too, but nothing, as far as I am aware, indicates that the back entrance exists anywhere, so you probably won't find it ahead of time, which is a shame.

For some reason, earth elementals and fire elementals also seem to be associated with the undead, so there are a bunch of earth elementals hanging around here.

Stat-wise, they're oddly similar to Liches, having even the same health values for each rank, but more likely to be scary since their top-tier can bonk party members into KO status(i.e. flattening them down instantly to 0 HP, but not quite dead yet), and they have some beefy Earth spells besides. Thankfully Earth spells don't do Physical damage any longer, so it's actually possible to cast Earth Resistance to take the worst of the sting out of them. They also have one of the oddest, but most effective, dice pools for their melee attacks: 25d3, which means they're very reliable in the amount of damage they do, rather than being super-swingy, and thus can be relied on to actually be somewhat painful to get hit by.

At the far end of the basement, there's an elevator leading up again. What does it lead up to?

You are atop a pillar. There are liches to the East, North, South, Down and West. What do you do?
What we always do! Take cover behind Zaggut!

So yeah, it pops the party out atop a pillar with enemies across a chasm and on distant ledges in all directions, also enemies down below, and ghosts coming in to harass you and pin you in place.

The only smart play is to jump the hell off and take cover on the floor, since AI "pathfinding" does often mean the enemies path off their perches and end up within reach of you. You can also use the central pillar for cover as you shoot back at the liches and necromancers above.

But then you find yourself in a room with sheer walls in literally all directions. And with no apparent way out. I actually got stuck here until I checked a walkthrough to find out how the hell to get out of here. Cleanup first, though.

Alright everyone, chill out while I find us a way out of here.

This one completely-undifferentiated wall conceals a passage that leads back to the basement.

It is, of course, also stuffed full of fucking boners. Goddamn.

So how do we actually complete this dungeon? Obviously we need to get to those ledges in the big room, and we can't Fly, and Jump won't bring us far enough. Let's head back up the elevator again, now that we're not, you know, being shot at from all angles.

There are two buttons right at the top where you come up, and I have no idea how they works Sometimes they bring up/send down the elevator, sometimes they extend a bridge to one of the ledges. I just flicked them repeatedly until I could cross to the ledges and find the right one. Even the guide I found just suggested that the player "play" with the levers until they rolled up the right bridges. :v:

It's hard to emphasize how super easy it is to miss this counterweight and the lever next to it in the corner. There's also no general like... labelling to help you know that you've done the right thing and completed the dungeon. I wasn't even completely sure when I left, but there was nothing left to do.

So let's get the hell out of here.

Wanna go beat up Bill Gates next?

Ga- sorry, Setag's tower is just around the corner. It's relatively unadorned, and the doormen are just a couple of Initiates of the Sword, watching the elevator up. They die pretty fast.

We ride up the elevator and find the man himself busy... fighting... rats? Whatever. They eat some blows and let us charge in unopposed at first. He just appears to be a generic Master of the Sword, but that's still plenty scary.

Look at the damage he does to Zaggut and Stashley all by himself!

That's for Windows ME, you dick!

And that easily, we've rescued Alice Hargreaves. Once again, promotion quests sure as fuck aren't created equal. Compare this to what we had to deal with for the Spy quest. Three enemies vs three-hundred enemies.

In a back room, another, unnamed, Master of the Sword is inexplicably wielding Setag's sword against some other rats. It's pretty likely nothing will replace this in Owen's hands before the game's over.

Hey, sweet. If I stub my toe I can just whack Zaggut and I'll be all better!
Hey! No!
Aw, c'mon, you can just heal yourself afterwards.

Popping out of the tower, I realize there's one more quest I can clean up while I'm here...

Wait, where are we going? I thought we were headed back to Erathia.
Well, Zaggut said he had something important to do here and I figured I'd indulge him for once.
Oh, yes, we're almost there... almost there...

Uhhh... Zaggut, you got an explanation?
For months now you've been mocking me, calling my Arcomage interest an "addiction," but little did you know, any time we visited an inn, while the rest of you were "buying rations" and "relaxing," I was mastering the heart of the cards!
Yeah, this sounds kinda like what an addict would do, sorry.
But I'll have the last laugh! I now only lack one Arcomage battle to win the tournament!

So you want us to break into the Pit just so you can play a children's card game?
Arcomage is not a children's card game! But yes.
I'm going to go along with this just so you can never protest about what we want to do again.

Unlike Celeste which just has a teleporter out in the Bracada Desert, the Pit is at the far end of, well, the Hall of the Pit. It's a pretty short trip and as far as I can tell the only dangerous thing here is the occasional Marble Gargoyle spawn.

Hey, the streets are clean here, too!
I suppose kicking garbage into the magma is more eco-friendly than tossing it into the desert below...

So, yeah, The Pit. It's actually larger than Celeste, but we won't be seeing most of it here, since I'll just be running like crazy. I'm not sure why, since these are mostly the same enemies as Watchtower 6, but the locals here absolutely savage the party.

Thankfully a couple of Jump's from Zina allow us to shortcut over to the inn on the far side of the first magma zone.

The innkeeper is another Enrothian goblin, by the looks of it. Why are these guys always innkeepers?

The undead hordes outside are just politely waiting while the party has a drink and Zaggut plays a game of Arcomage, Zina nervously glancing out the door at a lich that's dramatically drawing a finger across its boney throat as their eyes meet. Whatever, I'm sure that leaving will go perfectly well.

Oh yeah, did I mention that without Grandmaster Water, you can't cast Town Portal with enemies nearby? The party's gonna have to run for the exit.

When we get back to Erathia I'm tossing his Arcomage deck in the harbor.

Speaking of Erathia, it's time to head back and collect our rewards for promotion quests!

Hero promotion!

Spy promotion! GM Disarm Trap is a bit academic, since once you have Master 7 or Master 10 Disarm and even just a few booster items on top, you can crack anything. But I guess the GM can be useful if you want to free up those slots or just roll zero boosters. More importantly is GM Dagger and GM Leather. GM Dagger adds skill as attack damage, and GM Leather adds skill as elemental resistances. Both are quite nice boosts.

And the Arcomage championship rewards. Let's go over what it actually gets you...

Firstly there's a cool 100k gold, which is nice, but again by the time you can do all the inns without getting wasted by angels in Celeste or liches in the Pit, it's not a big deal.

Secondly there are two chunks of highest-tier ore, which provide a pair of gear-gacha pulls that may or may not pay off...

Thirdly, a few generic trash items.

...and then the unique items.

Elfbane, which no one in the party can wield.

Elven Chainmail, which no one in the party can wear.

Mind's Eye, a caster-buffing helmet that only humans can wear... and our only human isn't a caster.

And lastly, the Forge Gauntlets, a decent enough pair of gloves that do actually work on Stashley.

Owen gets the Mind's Eye anyway, since it looks silly on him.

Hey, this thing really is making me smarter. I can spell "tax fraud" correctly now!

At the end of all this, however, including a side trip to get everyone the new GM skills they've unlocked, neither Celeste or Pierpoint have yet to spawn an Invisibility book, so it's time for... the Champion quest, to get Owen caught up to everyone else.

Now, if you're not trying to promote a Knight to Champion you will almost certainly never touch the Arena. You can't go there physically or stumble across it by accident, the only way is to take the stables from Harmondale on sundays. I think you can get lucky and it can pop up in NPC chatter, but I've never seen it in this playthrough.

Welcome to the Arena. It's fucking awful. You know why it's awful? Because this is the backing track for every second of your visit:

I figure about 20 seconds of it will get the point across, it's the sound generated by those rising and lowering platforms. Not sure if it's extra bad because the sound is just kind of crusty(there's a ton of static fuzz sometimes just from basic footsteps on certain surfaces), or if it was always this bad.

Fight seller, we're going into battle, we want your strongest fights!
My fights are too strong for you, travellers.
You callin' us weak?
You cannot handle my fights, travellers.
He's trying to rile you up, Owen. Look, just give us one of those... Squire fights. Let's see what it's all about.

So the moment you pick a difficulty level, the game crunches your in-game levels to determine what types of enemies are most appropriates, applies a healthy dose of RNG and spawns them in. Enemy types seem only partially affected by the difficulty level, but enemy numbers definitely are. The first fight is Wizards and Light Elementals. It sucks ass.

You see, Wizards summon Light Elementals, with, as far as I can tell, no upper cap, and mid-tier Wizards know Dispel Magic, the utter fuckers, meaning they're nasty to have in an arena mix at all. On top of that, they can cast, depending on their tier, either Hour of Power or Day of Protection, and are thus exceptionally bad news in these mixed arena battles where they can buff both themselves and other monsters. Top tier wizards' basic attacks are also Energy, meaning they blow right through any resistances. Light Elementals do, predictably, Light damage, which is rarely resistable, and also explode on death, for more Light damage. It sucks.

Now, let me give you a pleasant overview of what the remaining fights bring to the table...

A bunch of flying goddamn sharks.

Obsidian golems that literally only Zina can do meaningful damage to.

Genies and fire elementals.

Titans getting knocked on their asses.

Devils! Spoilers, arena! Guess they're back for this game.

Something that did this to the party in the span of a few seconds between two screenshots. You know what's extra funny? You can't save in the arena, and it takes several in-game days getting there, so you need to save, get there and then spend like 5 minutes manually adding buffs, and if you get owned, you have to do that party all over again. Also you get booted from the arena between each win, so you need to constantly re-do buffs and rest for entire weeks until the arena trip rolls around again.

Even with high-level spell point potions, Zina almost didn't have the SP to deal with all these fucking Obsidian gargoyles. Awful fucking things.

Angels also join the rumble, they're like Wizards in every way in terms of their spell selection, including fucking Dispel Magic, but beefier and without the potential for a Light Goo scenario wherein they flood the entire arena in light elementals because it seems funny to them. Predictably, they also take a lot more hitting to kill because they're not fragile old men wearing robes.

Ha ha, oh yeah, and dragons also show up. Because of course they do. It's interesting, mind, to note that part of the reason why these fights are a good deal tougher than normal fights is exactly because they mix a lot of enemy types, so you need to think about who you need to kill first, some enemies actually buff others that are already worrying into "BIG DANGER" levels, etc. because most of the enemies that normally drop strong buffs are not, by themselves, all that worrying as they otherwise appear in the game.

But eventually, the party chops their way through all the enemies, gets five wins and... amazingly, Pierpoint's Air Magic guild rolls up a book of Invisibility just then! Hooray! Time to go get Owen's last promotion and then prepare mentally for the Walls of Mist.

The Champion promotion is good as it provides multiple GM skills: Spear, Sword, Shield, Plate, Bodybuilding, Repair and Armsmaster. Bodybuilding is kind of in the same boat as Meditation, not worth your time as it's only strong on classes that don't need it. Spears are weird in that their high-level advantages only work with classes that can Master Swords or Expert Daggers(it allows you to one-hand but not off-hand the spears, so you need something else for that slot.). Armsmaster is just a flat general upgrade that rules, at GM level it doubles the benefits(attack speed, accuracy, damage) from the skill.

Next time... we walk through this unassuming door into the Castle Darkmoor of MM7, and then probably also do the remaining Light path promotion quests.