Part 13: The Walls of MistUpdate 13: The Walls of Mist
Imagine how much this'd suck if we weren't invisible.
I know, I know, I'm a genius and I've saved us all.
Welcome to the Walls of Mist. Either you have Invisibility and they're no issue, you're playing the Dark path and they're no issue or you're Light path without a Master Air caster and they suuuck. In this case, the party is invisible for two in-game hours which will hopefully be enough.
Hm, looks like nothing but air elementals.
I imagine they don't get bored being locked in here all day. Or get paid.
Air Elementals are inexplicably slightly weaker than every other kind of elemental in raw stats. Even if they start taking pots shots at us, they're not really spooky in any sense or form. The main danger is if they start blocking our path, since unlike civilians they won't obligingly get out of the way if we Yell at them to move.
Three portals and three challenges. Well, since we're not allowed to fight, I imagine they'll be pure intellectual challenges, just the sort of thing I've been craving since we started.
D'you think hitting him over the head would fail the challenge?
Mmmm, wait until we get out, no reason to take the chance.
Through the archway at the end of the main hall are stairs that split in two, looping around to balconies on the left and right sides of the room.
On each side there are three buttons and a lever, and no hints whatsoever, so it's one of those puzzles you literally can only brute force. This wouldn't normally be a big issue, but if you're using Invisibility you're on a timer and if you're not using Invisibility then it can be hard to focus because all the idiot elementals are shooting stuff at your head all the time. The best part is that you can only pull one of the levers when both sides are set right, which nothing indicates, so you'll likely fuck with all the combinations on each side separately before realizing they go together... or maybe that's just me.
Long story short I spent so long on this one that Invisibility actually started running out, and it can only be recast when the character frames are green. Thankfully there was one corner of the area where the enemies patrolled far enough away that I could recast it. It makes me regret not having Zina be a Sorcerer since the extra Invisibility duration would completely negate the issue(1 hour per skill point rather than 10 minutes per skill point).
So wait, it opened the entire floor, so we could get t' a chest?
I'm as puzzled as you are, Owen.
Wizards, man, wizards.
This gets us one of three keys needed to finish the Walls of Mist. Time to go back to the hub and try one of the other teleporter arches.
It puts us at the top of a pillar in the middle of a tall roundish room.
Probably the first thing you notice is that each wall has a little bunker inset in it, with a set of stairs leading there.
They're all red herrings, though, they contain maybe a stat barrel and a small chunk of gold each, and an altar which, when interacted with, just warps you back on top of the pillar.
Instead, you gotta keep your eye on the triangle of floor in the corner, which is a hidden elevator which takes you up to the key chest for the area.
Two out of three! No challenge for my intellect. How are you all holding up?
Need... need... need blood... help... so weak... all going dark...
Owen's got the blood shakes, but that's about all, he'll keep.
Off to the third and last section!
It's one of those pointlessly big rooms, again, presumably because they wanted you to spend as much time moving as possible to run down your Invisibility timer or leave you getting pummelled more at range by air elementals.
The entire big structure is just a ruse, though, as the actual content in the area is down below in the basement.
Once again, you're probably expecting some sort of mind boggling puzzle to challenge your vast, wrinkled hyperbrain. And good thing, too, you're gonna need all your brainpower to solve this puzzle.
Find the button...
Press the button...
Repeat three more times.
...I really don't have it in me to pretend that you couldn't all have figured this out, too.
Pay up, Stashley.
I feel like I'm missing something, here.
We had a bet on whether you'd be able to keep up the arrogant act until the end of the dungeon. I won.
Once all the buttons are pushed, this trough at the end of the area can be entered to reach the last chest.
Now to get back to the hub area and... hmmm... say, how long has it been since I last recast Invisibility?
Well, I'm sure that's enough to get back to the portal, use three keys and then get out, right?
Of course it's not.
And of course that means everything is now as dark as the inside of someone's asshole because the wizards instantly shut off every buff I have running.
And here I got stuck for almost five minutes because the interactive surfaces for the locks were wonky as hell. Turns out the actual keyhole doesn't react to you trying to interact with it, only the surfaces around the keyhole. This confused me for long enough that I actually went to look up a walkthrough to make sure I hadn't missed some important step earlier. Nope, turns out it's just bad design.
With that, though, the Walls of Mist are resolved, and we'll never see this dungeon again, except as a blasted crater once Team Evil have gone through it.
I hate to say it, but that was absolutely miserable. I'd rather sit through four hours of Owen hewing bandits.
Let's go cash this one in, the wizards can't all be pacifists.
Funny as it is to watch Owen babble in tongues from lack of murder, I certainly hope not.
Returning to Gavin and cashing in the quest has a big benefit besides letting us progress the main storyline: It's the only way to get a membership for the Guild of Light, allowing Zaggut to actually pick up the Light Magic skill and buy Light Magic spellbooks. From here on out, Light Magic is going to be the only thing Zaggut will be pouring skill points into, since the return on casting buffs through Light Magic is far better than casting them through normal Cleric magic, and the only buffs he can't replicate(that I care about, anyway), are Protection From Magic and Regeneration.
That will all be happening off-stage, mind you, since it's just a tiresome bit of Zaggut making a loop to make the trip from Basic Light Magic to Grandmaster Light Magic. With all of the relevant trainers being in Bracada and Celeste, it's kind of a pointless extra step. In general the trainers are kind of a mechanic I'm not very sold on except when they add to the gameplay like, for instance, giving you a reason to visit Nighon(plot-wise, there is never a need to visit surface Nighon) or in MM6 where a couple of trainers needed to be unlocked through quests before they'd offer their services.
So let's see what sort of exciting secret service work Bracada has to offer us.
Their four little houses are all down here, at the end of this alleyway near the Celeste obelisk. Mind you, prior to this, their houses would just have been entirely empty.
Whazzat, someone need some blood?
He wants us to go beat up the vampires that killed Zaggut, Owen.
I'm entirely on board with getting some revenge for that.
It's a shame that the Temple of Light got robbed and looted for everything it's worth.
What do you m- oh, right. I see. We're going to loot it.
You're starting to get the hang of this, Zag.
No quest from Robert the Wise yet.
JVC you isekai motherfucker, get outta here.
Wait a moment, soul jars? Owen, check your pack...
Oh, yeah! The ones we got in N- mfff!
You mean the ones we liberated from Castle Gloaming before we even got here. Days ago. Nowhere near Nighon.
Now, Dark Path players who want to do their Lich promotion need to go get both extant sources of Lich Jars, the ones in Mt. Thunderfist AND the ones in the Wall of Mist(which don't spawn for Light path players), but Light path players will only ever need one set of jars... yet the ones in Thunderfist will always spawn, and they're the exact same item as the ones in Castle Gloaming.
So boom! With that, we already complete one of the advisor quests! I presume Sir Caneghem just drops them over the edge of Celeste and watches them burst against the rock below like lightbulbs.
This also prompts some story updates so let's flip that bad boy open and see what our inflated legend is like.
These entries, sadly, only have one outcome. There are no alternate solutions to any of these quests.
But while we're here, in any case, let's collect that altar piece from the Temple of Light. Since they're our allied temple in this case, we have to go out of our way to piss them off, unlike those dickhead Sun priests from Evenmorn. Even so, they manage to throw a wrench into my plans right off the bat.
What sort of dickheads hide the front door?!
That's right, upon entering the Temple of the Light there are no ways to continue unless you have a walkthrough or Perception of 30+ on one of your characters. Thankfully I had some spare skill points on Stashley that got redistributed quickly.
Not even any misaligned textures or anything so you'd have a reasonable chance of finding it otherwise. Real dick move.
The interior architecture of the Temple is pretty alright, though if you were coming here with hostile intentions it'd be a cakewalk since the enemies are Sun priests(that we've already killed easily), monks(that we've already killed easily) and a few angels(who might provide some minor threat).
Sadly, though, it's not as lootable as you might dream of since A) the loot level is for some reason set absurdly low, like we're talking Emerald Island level gear and B) the Priests of Light get huffy with us if we try to poke our faces into any of the closed treasure areas. Spoilsports.
I'll probably give a more thorough inspection of the place to Team Evil since they'll be the ones it's actually meant for.
At the end is another puzzle you need to brute force. At the bottom of a courtyard is a star, this star is actually a button.
Above the courtyard are three sets of three buttons to interact with. Once they're all set right, the star can actually be pressed as a button. As far as I am aware, there are no clues for this one. It wouldn't be so bad except hopping down to the courtyard between every combination ends up getting tedious and wasting your time real quick.
And thus, we acquire one half of a quest object. Don't worry, there will actually be sections with gameplay in this update, and a party member will be in grievous danger. Someone will go into negative hit points. Just to keep you all on the edge of your seats.
But first, let's go pick up the Light promotion quests we missed and the new quest in the Bracada Desert that siding with Celeste made pop up.
It's slightly more interesting than Deyja's quest, but not more challenging. Killing griffons is child's player for a Dark player at this point, and in contrast, this is just asking a Light player to kill a bunch of zombies and harpies in the Hall of the Pit.
Right next door is the Light ranger trainer.
Interestingly enough, there are only Light path trainers in Harmondale, no Dark path trainers.
Now I want everyone to place their bets on which of these promotion quests will endanger the party most:
A brick building full of normal humans with swords
A temple filled with evil clerics and their minions
A fortress literally staffed by towering titans and dragons
While you consider that, the party will take the trek to Avlee where two of the quest locations are hidden away...
Nice weather for hunting titans.
Whaddaya mean? I can't hardly see two feet in front of my face.
Exactly. With all the ground fog, they won't see us coming until we're viciously stabbing their ankles.
Avlee has a lot of ocean area that you likely won't see much of unless you're completionist. There are a couple of GM trainers hidden out there, but flying out over the sea has the advantage of not forcing the party to punch a bunch of wyverns trying to get into their rations.
Following the coastline south and then passing over an inlet with a few islands in it takes you more or less directly to the Titans' Fortress.
It's guarded by a few water elementals that I ignore in the interests of getting inside as quickly as possible, a few of them get reduced to puddles because they won't get out of the way.
...are we sure that a bow, even if it's the Perfect Bow, is worth this? These stairs are awfully big.
C'mon, Zag, the bigger they are, the harder they fall!
The bigger they are, the bigger their wallets are. Eyes on the prize.
So the gimmick of the Titans' Fortress is that it's, you know, made for Titans, and thus it's big, and while Titans and Dragons aren't the absolutely toughest things in the game, they do come close. Both of them pack a lot of a punch both in melee and at range, but I think what makes them feel like they're punching below their weight is that all their attacks are elemental, and thus once you've got Day of Protection up, a lot of what they do is going to get halved in effect or more. It's a bit odd that it's all elemental, mind you, considering that Titans have big heavy swords they could whack you with. Keeping their ranged attacks elemental and their physical attacks melee would've given some motivation to keep at range. If you're coming in without elemental protections up, however, Titans are absolutely scarier than the dragons, however, with their top tier, the Blood Titans, doing 122 to 160 Air damage with a shot.
This may account for the walkthroughs and guides that suggest taking advantage of AI glitches to engage Titans from outside the range where their AI wakes up and shoots back.
For this party, though?
It's largely a long sequence of unwanted upskirts followed by going through pockets large enough to hide Stashley in. Like, the dungeon is weirdly easy for how high level the enemies effectively are, none of them are a threat to the party, but at the same time they have the biggest payouts of any enemies we've faced so far. They drop loads of gold, good items(including a couple of artifacts!) and piles of XP.
The dungeon itself is also a big missed opportunity. While things are, well, big, to fit the Titans and Dragons. and there are a bunch of dramatic pillars and tall ceilings and such... it would have been so little effort to have, say, a couple of rooms with beds and kitchen affects that were sized up to be Titan-sized. Maybe even a dragon-sized stables or something. Instead it turns out to be one of those dungeons that are just a bunch of geometric shapes intersecting but, at least it's easy to traverse. There are no hidden doors, teleporters, traps or other gimmicks.
I do find the biggest flavour of crown for Stashley, though. Score. Now she's as regal as can be.
They're like pinatas! You hit them and loot comes out!
I thought pinatas were meant to be full of candy, not that I'm complainin', mind you.
Yeah, that's what the guards thought, too, so they didn't bother checking them.
I can post another couple dozen screenshots of mangled dragons in formerly-white corridors, but unless there are any videogame snuff afficionados out there, I figure I'll just skip ahead to the results of all the murder.
I feel cheated, this bow is hardly perfect at all!
This shield though...
I feel like I look somewhat ridiculous.
When you've got that much gold, it's called being eccentric, Zaggut.
At this point the party's inventory is already starting to fill up, but I've got plenty of castle to go, and I don't plan on leaving anything alive in here if I can help it.
Damn, my boots are fulla titan blood.
Ooooh, tip them into this bottle, it'll go great with the dragon eyes.
It's mostly all generic loot until...
So the big difference between Relics and Artifacts is that Artifacts are all bonuses while Relics, out of all the items in the game, are the only ones that have penalties as well(there are a few fixed items that have penalties as well which aren't tagged as being relics, but still). The condition immunities would be insanely good if we weren't already immune to, well, more or less all of this through Zaggut's Protection From Magic(with the exception of Sleep, which it oddly enough does not protect against), but it'll still be useful if it gets knocked down early from too many conditions AND, more importantly...
It makes me look damn good!
Like a million gold coins.
Well, more like 48359, but that's still good.
I don't quite understand why they named it Yoruba, though. As far as I can tell that's just the term for an African ethnicity? Most artifacts/relics that don't have a lore name(like Kelebrim), instead call out real-world mythology(like Arthur, Conan, Zeus, etc.), so it seems like an oddity, the two holes in the breastplate also seem like they're referring to a specific myth. If anyone can answer this one, please do.
With that, though, it's time to make a quick stop by the shops and then find those bastards from the Temple of Baa.
This one I don't think you'd find by accident. The southern edge of Avlee is almost completely unremarkable, just a bunch of green edges, not even any trees, until you approach the right crevice from the east and find this place.
An un-noted advantage of going Light Magic is also that since they removed all the single-attribute buff spells that we had in MM6, Day of the Gods is now the only non-fountain way to temporarily boost your stats, and it'll boost your stats enough that you can collect any of these "games" you come across and get free skill points.
It feels a bit unsporting.
Do you want to be unsporting or do you want to be safe from Titans stepping on you?
...I'll pick unsporting.
Time for a nice, classic M&M dungeon that actually feels like some work was put into it.
At least this raid I'm going to feel good about.
Not like you to look forward to bloodshed, Zag.
Well, if you'd paid attention, you'd know they caused all sorts of trouble in Enroth. The world is better off without them.
The only ways deeper into the dungeon are two great big spiralling staircases, with the actual shafts leading much farther down(and something at the bottom being very angry and repeatedly trying to hit us, but not being able to due to the staircase getting in the way). It's a pretty atmospheric way to get inside.
Sadly the actual enemies are... a bit of a letdown.
Wait, is that a Priest of the Moon?
No, that's a Priest of Baa dressed like a Priest of the Moon. I don't think they thought this one through.
You never know, I'm pretty sure Zaggut would feel bad if he thought he was killing off the wrong murderous cult.
...maybe just a little.
It's something they experimented with for named/unique enemies in MM7 with identical stats to a generic enemy. In MM6, each "unique" enemy was, well, unique, but here their renaming is only skin-deep. If moused-over or right-clicked, they'll display their "true" name, but whenever you hit them with something, it just calls them by their "type" name, so for instance...
I can only presume that this new system saved them some work on some level. Maybe their engine had an upper limit on number of "true" enemy types it could handle?
Either way, the Moon cult ceased being a threat long ago.
Theoretically the level is split into two halves where you need to slog up and down the spiral staircases to move from one side to the other, but in practice, if you have the Perception or just mindlessly click every wall texture, there are hidden corridors connecting the two sides.
It's also one of those weird dungeons that has starter game drops in the chests and on the floor, in general few dungeons seem to be set to have particularly decent loot across the board, I think the Titans' Fortress is the only one I can really think of, and Thunderfist Mountain. Otherwise, most of the party's seriously good gear is either fixed drops or ore-gacha from the nerds in Steadwick.
Oh thank goodness, devils. I was starting to feel slightly bad about all this killing.
Devils are... very oddly statted. They generally have high levels and very tanky hit points, especially their Captains(third tier) who can also drain our spell points(though considering the general unimportance of combat magic in MM7, at least with a Light Magic party, the goon squad generally laughs this off), but their damage values are just... bad? Like really bad? Captains are level 70 and do 22-32 damage with their main attack(and elemental, at that), for comparison a level 65 basic Titan does 62-80. Theoretically they should be able to occasionally cast 20d15 Incinerate spells at us, but none of their damage ever bore it out. They might be scarier if faced in the open, since they can call down Meteor Showers but... A) we aren't meeting them in the open at this point and B) like any party with a Master Air caster would ever be near the ground to get hit by it. The Workers and Warriors, otherwise, are just laughable.
These things almost brought Enroth to its knees? The hell kinda weaklings are they over there?
A group of spiders(???? really?) in a store room are guarding an important letter from the head honcho of the devils.
I suppose we're fighting the scrapings at the bottom of the barrel.
Maybe if they'd stuck to offering cheap health insurance, it wouldn't have gone this way for them.
The last surviving priests rally in the inner sanctum to fend off the party's murderous rampage. Not that it does them much good. This is also where the high priest goes down, not that I realize it until I'm busy looting the corpses and find...
I'm sure these strange feelings of increased gullibility are just my imagination and not some horrible curse planted on this comfy cloak.
The only thing left to explore otherwise is the bottom of the spiral staircases, which turn out to contain the exciting reward of like fifty Devils to slog through because their captains' high HP take a decent amount of punching to go away.
Let's get out of here and cash in.
Spoilers: The Perfect Bow still kind of sucks ass. Even in the hands of a GM Archer, it would still do kind of eh damage compared to the raw murderosity that Owen can hand out at this stage. Of course, we're still going to keep it, it's for keeping score.
I don't know about this quest, it seems awfully elfy, you know, saving trees.
Saving trees for a reward.
The Oldest Tree is hanging out just off the coast of the Pierpoint, in this grove of aggressive murder trees that I'm just going to ignore because they can't even scratch us.
Hmm, there's something about this tree, my druid senses are tingling.
Is it the Oldest Tree?
It might be. Something about it is definitely exceptionally nice.
Squeezing thieves makes me think of Barkman back in Darkside of Xeen. Looks like it's off to Tatalia with us!
Welcome to the mercenary guild, which is yet another bafflingly designed dungeon.
It starts off creatively enough, putting you in this cramped corridor with a bunch of archers behind arrow holes where they can shoot at you. This design does, however, have two issues. Firstly, archers stopped being in any way or form scary about twenty levels ago, secondly...
I mean, nothin's stopping me from just reaching in and punchin' 'em.
The fact that they're not hidden well enough to prevent you just walking over and aggressing against them in melee before pushing the very unsubtle button to let the party out. If it was an actual gauntlet to run, that might be more interesting.
Our next speed bump is raiders, which I was killing without any challenge back in like... update 4, I think?
It's almost enough to make you nostalgic.
Uhhh... Zina, help me out here. Initiates of the Sword have the dorky green armor, and Champions of the Sword have the blue armor... what're the red ones?
So while recycling a bunch of low-level enemies, the devs accidentally dropped in the nastiest encounter they could here, without skipping to some out-of-theme stuff. We've never met more than one Master of the Sword before, and now, you'd think they'd be easy compared to, say, a Titan, doing only 44 to 60 damage. Except for two things. Firstly, it's physical, so while it can miss, Day of Protection doesn't do a damn thing to mitigate it. Secondly, the moment one of them casts Heroism, they're doing 58 to 74 damage per swing instead. They can also take more hits than Storm Titans and have a similar set of resistances to what matters(physical damage).
Well, that was unexpected.
How the hell did three idiots with swords do more damage to us than an entire fortress full of titans and dragons?
On the bright side, one of them drops a unique weapon that's easily overlooked in the confusion.
It's really good, if you have a sword user and haven't found better in other artifacts, relics and unique weapons, it's definitely worth dropping by even if you're not, ha ha, promoting a Ranger. And why would you ever be?
I also appreciate where they hide the Heart of the Wood, because you might plausibly attempt to interact with a bookshelf because you know they sometimes contain loot, even without knowing it was a secret. Even if you didn't, though, the Mercenary Guild has a relatively low Perception requirement for spotting secrets.
It's also worth noting that I never taught Zina Heal, and she's out of healing potions and ingredients for them, and I didn't drop Regeneration on Zaggut yet... so Zina's janky Expert-level regen gets the task of picking Zaggut up very slowly from his -40 Hit Points while the rest of the party breaks down doors and loots people.
The Mercenary Guild also contains what I assume to be a loose end of a cut quest of some sort.
It has, for no real reason, this prison cell with a secret door that opens up in the back. You can get in there but there's no loot or any prisoner to free or anything of the sort.
In any case, the local loot is garbage except for the quest item and that one new unique sword for Owen's left hand, so since we're in Tatalia anyway... we may as well go clear out those vampires for Crag Hack.
I can't believe that I'm looking forward to this.
I think we're all looking forward to some revenge on the undead dickheads living in this basement.
First time we visited the Wine Cellar, just about everything down here except for the bats could literally one-shot the party.
This time, however, the tables are turned and it's the locals getting one-shot instead.
It's once again a sign of the game's weird-ass balancing that at the same tier where you're sent off to fight level 80 Titans and Masters of the Sword, you're also sent to fight level 50 Queens of the Dead and Vampires.
...it feels like a bit of a letdown.
You wanted a big epic fight where you could show how much you've grown, huh?
If it makes you feel any better, the head vampire dropped a super snazzy cape.
In honesty it's not that great, but it does look nice and the luck boost, if nothing else, is useful to any class.
With the vampires all flattened, it's time to do the victory lap of collecting our various rewards!
Doing this also makes all the aggressive trees allied instead, so that's one less annoyance. And then it's back to Celeste for a pat on the back from Crag Hack.
Queen Catherine? I thought Lord Markham would be the one who'd be happy about it.
I'm startin' to suspect he didn't even notice anything was happening even as his neighbours turned up as corpses.
That man really is the biggest prick on Antagarich.
And another bit of storyline lore!
Finally! Now there's no more puttin' it off. The Pit is at its weakest!
I suppose you're right. I'm not exactly looking forward to an all-out attack on the Pit, though...
Well, there is one other thing we could do first.
A: Get on with the plot, no more side trips
B: Finish up the Obelisk collecting first