The Let's Play Archive

Might & Magic VII: For Blood and Honor

by PurpleXVI

Part 14: An A-maze-ing Tale

Update 14: An A-maze-ing Tale

Now, with lunch out of the way, we can continue with my favourite subject: Me, and why I'm so great, and also these other three guys who occasionally do some of the grunt work. As you'll recall, last we left off, Archibald Ironfist had just praised our valour, intelligence and skill after we effortlessly fought our way through the deadly Breeding Zone below The Pit. Of course, his approval garnered us more than just praise. Once we'd returned to our castle in Harmondale, we saw that Deyja's engineers had spruced the place up a bit...

So, since this is what you see every time you Town Portal back to Harmondale, it's very easy to miss that picking your side in the choice of Light or Darkness also come with a castle refurbishment, since you'll probably just head straight for the exit. Firstly, the four empty rooms next to the throne room now contain an armorsmith, a weaponsmith, a temple and an alchemist... and they're all pointless, because all those utilities exist just outside the gates in village, and the ones inside aren't particularly cheap or high-quality.

What's actually of use is that they added a first floor! It's not very useful, sadly.

It has several small storage rooms with low-level(very low-level, since it generates at Castle Harmondale's fixed level) loot lying around and a few barrels of stat boosts. Also this barrel that can get any party member drunk an infinite number of times, in case you really wanna party down.

This library is the one useful thing here, since we need it to complete the Ninja quest. If you recall, the promoter in The Pit gave us a ciphered scroll, and sent us off to find the cipher word in the School of Sorcery in the Bracada Desert, but unless you happen to just know how ciphers work, we need a scroll from the library here to tell us how to make use of it.

Also the ciphered message, for reference.

The last advantage is that now the team finally has bedrooms! Of course, this doesn't actually change anything, they'll happily bunk down anywhere a goblin isn't actively stabbing them in the ear and that isn't waist-deep water, but I suppose it's nice to know that it's there. Team Light, of course, has the exact same setup, they just aren't telling Zaggut about it since it's funny to watch him try to pitch a tent in a sucking bog while a roc is trying to carry him off.

Now, to leave the castle and get on with adventures...

I'm not entirely sure what the time span is for this to trigger, but it happens to either side if they accept Malwick's offer on Emerald Island. Note that it's a very terrible offer, also you shouldn't pay the price, just let them take their revenge and then murder the resulting swarm of bad guys. But since this is the evil team, they're going to do the unintelligent thing and follow this little side plot to its end.

A brief star-wipe later and the team is in Tatalia...

Since we've got a whole month and I can Town Portal straight to The Pit in a split second, I decide to clean up a couple of promotion quests that I can either complete entirely via town portal trips OR which I can hand in over in Deyja when I head there to rob Castle Gloaming.

First: We're gonna go fetch a maiden for Bill Gates.

If you're going Dark, this isn't a bad time to go score the paintings from Catherine's castle. I already grabbed them, though, so her security detail is somewhat reduced and don't offer much resistance. Up the stairs, to the left, ignore the doorman, find the only door that's normally locked.

So you can read this one of two ways! Either they screwed up(or ran out of time) and her greeting line ended up being the same whether you're Light or Dark, OR, William kidnaps her every other week and they have tea in his tower until Quixote or one of his apprentices bring her back. The latter honestly seems kind of in-character for the followers of the Dark, since most of the trainers seem like alright people.

Second: We're gonna go murder some elves. Incidentally, that is, the dead elves aren't the mission, they're just a bonus.

It turns out the elven treasury isn't on the ground floor. Damn. Off to the basement.

Unlike the humans, the elves know how to read and actually have a nice library. But where's the treasury?

Again, the elves are actually literate and know to hide their treasury under a secret hatch so a bunch of psychopaths with swords won't carve their way in and loot it. Sadly they didn't predict that Scalise would have a hefty investment in Perception, no loot escapes his eyes.

Pretty nice except for all the shit on the floor. Clean up, c'mon, you goddamn elves. I'm not sure what the exact trigger for completing the quest is, but I popped every chest(even if most of them had nothing worthwhile in there), and that seemed to be enough for Org.

It's enough to give you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

Almost makes up for Windows ME. Almost.

Now, what happens when you rob the superpower you're supposed to be allied with? Surely. Surely. The developers were canny folks, and doing it with Invisibility and sufficient stealth will shield you from the worst of the consequences, right?

Keep in mind that this place is cramped and full of tons of patrolling monsters, plus it's also pretty big if you don't happen to magically know exactly where the tapestry is.

You can tell it's the right tapestry because it's the crustiest JPG ever.

Seriously! What goddamn intern made this?

We've got a bigger problem, though, note the frame colour for the characters below. It's yellow now, because invisible or not, grabbing the tapestry aggros the entire castle. This is permanent and also permanently locks the throne room... until the entire castle resets, in one year of in-game time. :v: I'm not sure if this can pop up before the Walls of Mist/Breeding Zone quests, but imagine if it does, and you do it, and then have to wait 12 months before you can turn the quest in? That would be hilarious.

This also has a... consequence later, though for spoiler reasons I won't be able to reveal all of it.

We also get a hefty fine for it. How the hell did the necromancers figure this one out? Assholes.

Now to skip back to Tatalia...

The party, of course, does not get paid, and I don't think this quest even gets any XP. As an additional issue, a known bug is that, even with Grayface's patch, sometimes this quest pops back in the quest log for no clear reason. I don't think it starts the timer again when it does so, but it offends orderly people.

After that, I swing the party past Evenmorn. There's nothing new in the temples, but the temples do contain a couple of items I didn't show off last time:

Like, almost ten updates ago, Thom Lumbra in Pierpoint asked us to restore three shrines by returning their action figures to them. One in Bracada, one in Avlee and one in Tatalia. But he, of course, didn't give us the faintest hint about where the damn statuettes were at. There's one in the Temple of the Sun, one in the Temple of the Moon and the third... we'll find eventually.

Since the boat from Evenmorn happened to roll the day where it would take me to Tatalia, I went ahead and slapped down the bird statuette. I forget which one goes to which altar, but thankfully the game automatically applies the right statue...

And then I decide, hey! Maybe it's time to go look for that third statue! Since I know where it is! This is a huge mistake, I should have done this quest with the Light Party, my soul is forfeit.

Off to Nighon, off to the beach, off to the hydras, who do notably more damage to this party than they did to the Light Party.

Once the hydras are dealt with, the party wanders off to the western end of the beach and find a dungeon!

The Maze.

You know what you find in mazes?

Minotaurs! Minotaur Lords! Minotaur Lords with a chance of instant Dead status with every swing! The only sure defense against which is someone who can cast Grandmaster Protection From Magic! Now, imagine you were an incredible fool who didn't bring a Cleric. How badly could it go?

So, the casualties this party suffered to the Maze(not counting total wipes that required a reload, I think there were about five of those):

Punch Fisto: 5 deaths
Jackie: 7 deaths
X: 6 deaths
Scalise: 5 deaths

If I'd gotten X promoted to a Lich already, I could possibly have sniped them from a distance with Dark magic, but as it is, the only option I have unless I want to spend an hour kiting each of the fifty or so Minotaur Lords in here, is to run in there and start swinging and get my ass kicked. On occasion Jackie manages to land a Paralyze with her mace(what GM Mace gets you), which locks it up for long enough that we can keep swinging unopposed until they die, but it's in no way reliable, I think maybe one out of ten or fifteen minotaur lords manage to get stuck with the condition.

The maze itself sadly isn't very maze-like, since it's mostly in two branches and never really loops back on itself in a way that can get you lost and... well... having a minimap and a compass also rather limit how bad it can be.

Aside from the twisty bushy passages, the classic maze look, there are also a couple of unique locations inside the Maze.

Like this door! What do you think is behind this door?

Yeah, it's more minotaurs. It's always more minotaurs. Way more than this party can take in one go. I end up pulling them out and splitting them up into smaller groups, then, thinking I've cleared them all out, I head into the room only to learn that I overlooked a couple that now have me penned in and are coming up from behind.

The first Minotaur Lord that catches up flattens Fisto before I can kill him, but thankfully Jackie has the SP pool for a couple of Raise Deads before I'm forced to head back to a temple, and the Minotaur Headman here is actually stuck behind the altar so I can stand just out of his range and poke him with weapons until he keels over.

And while Scalise did have an axe-related accident, I get the second Minotaur Lord stuck in the lowered section that he can't path out of and I can, once again, poke him to death from the high ground at my leisure. This area is just for show, though, a nice little warlock torture pit of some sort.

At the back of the maze there's this little warlock fortress, with warlocks on the battlements slinging spells down at you as you approach. They'd work better if there were a few monsters out in front, to slow you down while the warlocks fired, but as it is they only get off a couple of shots before you're past them and inside.

The first stop is a couple of hydras guarding a chest with the third shrine statue for Lumbra's quest. It's completely meaningless for it to be here, so good luck finding it unless you're doing every dungeon anyway.

And there's the last chest we're interested in, in here, and this is also where I make an interesting undocumented discovery as my Haste runs out: Haste will not allow itself to be re-cast while any party member is suffering from Weakness, so if you let it run out and it Weakens the entire party, you need to cure them all first. This isn't noted in the manual or on any of the FAQ sites I can find, or in-game. Anyway, surely we'll just walk over to the chest and grab the last thing we need in here, right?

Ha ha, no, of course not, a single Minotaur Lord shows up and flattens 3 out of 4 party members, leaving only Fisto alive. Thankfully he's tough as balls against anything else, so he just punches the surviving Hydra to death and then heads for the chest, where he tanks the explosion like a champ.

In the real world I stumble around in here for a while longer, clearing out the last monsters, to the point where I spent almost two hours in this cursed-ass dungeon, but in this supercut of Team Evil's adventures, we'll just skip right back to collecting some rewards.

What I didn't get is why he felt a need to lie to us. Dude, we're already making our own lich, why would we be upset that you're making yours?
Might still blow him up for having to deal with all those minotaurs, though.

Next, Drakkson in Deyja wanted us to kill all the griffons in Erathia and Bracada...

The only challenge in this quest is making sure you've cleared them all out in both locations since there are no real indicators for when you've cleared them all, and they're kind of spread out all over both maps, though thankfully in clusters rather than one by one(spoilers, I totally fucked this up). So, convinced that I've gotten it done and deciding that I'm here anyway... I decide to clear out the two quests in Celeste: The Walls of Mist(for the lich jars) and assassinating a random defector. Now, here I'd also like to clarify something I got wrong in the last post! While the lich jars for the Light path quest are interchangeable between Nighon and Castle Gloaming, the lich jars for the Lich promotion quest and the eventual storyline quest on the Dark path are not interchangeable. Though apparently entirely because the Lich promotion guy is too lazy to take the damn jars out of the box.

We deal harshly with the immigration officers before they can become too much trouble and then move into the business district where the cops have been busy.

Each wizard can summon between 3 and 5 elementals and they can do this fast, like often before you even see them, they've got the full complement out and you have to deal with them.

And the light elementals love to play keep-away(though, interestingly, not in the vertical plane, only in the horizontal), which normally isn't a problem except here we can't go chasing after them without dropping into the desert below. Awful things.

The Walls of Mist... go pretty much like last time. I poke my head in once, thinking it would be fun to go all ultraviolence on it, but then it turns out that having wizards constantly dispelling all my buffs is in fact incredibly annoying, so I pop back out again, cast Invisibility and just saunter through it all like Team Light did. There's only one real difference, at the very end.

This chest at the very end contains four non-descript jars needed for the Lich promotion. Thankfully, if you're coming in here for that, you'll be guaranteed to have someone who can cast Invisibility.

Thankfully this also means still being invisible when we re-emerge into Celeste. The angels and rocs aren't an issue, and I can kill the wizards, they're just more effort than they're worth. Now, we need to kill a lady for the Assassin trainer. She isn't located in a sub-dungeon or anything, she's just wandering the streets of Celeste, which is super-easy to miss until you realize every other citizen is dressed in green...

Despite ostensibly being a Deyjan spec ops defector, she's statted like a peasant and goes down like a sack of potatoes after Fisto caves in her head with a casual swing of his arm. Her unique dagger drop(the quest item) is also unusually bad, like absolutely not worth using. This does, of course, present us with the issue that we're now at the back of Celeste, without having killed everything on the way here, Invisibility is down and stupid angels keep getting in my way on the way out.

Problem solved.


Now we can haul ourselves back to Deyja and cash some stuff in.

So it turns out, Halfgild doesn't care if you have four lich jars... you need to distribute them so each character is carrying one of them. He'll just complain you don't have the jars if they're not properly distributed.

Boom! Promotion for X. The Lich promotion is actually super fucking rad, because it gives you Mind and Body immunity, it's not common for enemies to hit you with these damage types, but it does happen(Titans, for instance, tend to use Psychic Shock casts at range). Mind you, I'm not sure how this interacts with things that call your Body Resistance(Poison, Dead and Eradicate) or Mind Resistance(Insane, Paralyze, Afraid), whether it treats your resistance as effective 0, infinite or just really high for this purpose. I suspect it's immunity, though, since I don't think there are lich faces for most conditions. It's not really documented anywhere, either in-game or on various sites.

It also put this jar in your lich's inventory. If it's removed from their inventory they suffer rapid HP loss until they die. So, you know, don't toss away your literal soul, I guess.

Drakkson at least tells you if you're only missing some gryphons in one place, here it turns out I was missing one fucking gryphon in Erathia. Thank God for the lich promotion and having Lloyd's Beacon to make the trip back to him(even if it inexplicably deposited the party four meters off the ground compared to where I set the beacon...).

Not a big reward, but every little thing helps. Now, to collect the Assassin and Priest of Dark promotions...

I still can't get over how polite, professional and often human the Dark path trainers are. I feel like in most games they'd be far more stereotyped as cackling villains. Now for the second-worst part of recording this update, sorting out the Ninja promotion. We've got the ciphered message, and the instruction on how to decipher a message, but we still need the Scroll of Waves from the School of Sorcery so we know what our cipher word is.

So, one wizard is a pain in the ass because he dispels your buffs.

Two wizards are a pain in the ass because they summon light elementals by the truckload.

Now imagine a dungeon where almost every single enemy is a wizard.

Inexplicably the wizards inside aren't hostile despite us being on the Dark path, I imagine this is because you need to interact with them to get the Sorcerer to Wizard promotion, and in case you haven't gotten it already before picking sides, they didn't want to accidentally lock you out of it.

Obviously the Scroll won't be in the bookshelves out front, so we'll need to get inside. Unfortunately the doormen aren't happy about that.

Look how many Greater Light Elementals this asshole summoned in the two seconds between us wasting the doormen and coming around the corner for him.

He was guarding the lever to open the front door, which otherwise just electrocutes whoever tries to touch it. Now, let's go inside and experience some wonders!

Yeah, it's gonna be like this all the way. Thankfully at this point X is casting Souldrinker which erases the tier 1 mages and light elementals in one cast, but the wizards and archmages and their summons are still persistent trouble, plus Souldrinker has a massive cooldown, which means X is out of actions for like three full cycles of everyone else's swinging and shooting with every cast.

It's the same shit all the way up the stairs and into the library.

Under these stairs there are wizards summoning so many elementals that they're clipping through the fucking floor.

And there's the Scroll of Waves! There's one last thing to poke at in here, though, the school's vault!

These four levers aren't for a code(thank god) but instead do a different thing each: two of them drop down walls that lock you in the room, the third does nothing and the last opens the door to the vault. The closed walls can't be opened up again, but at the end of the vault there's a lever to re-open the walls so you can get out even if you don't have Town Portal or Lloyd's Beacon.

Of course, the vault contains more wizards and light elementals.

Clanker's Amulet is honestly alright, with it, even a character that has just one point of alchemy can whip up some okay blue mana potions if they have some high-level ingredients, and a character that's actually invested in alchemy can produce really good potions. Plus you can just swap it on and off as you need to make potions, if you have a better amulet for actual adventuring use.

Now... to find the tomb for the ninja quest! It's supposed to be in the south of Erathia.

Now, I'm sure all the cool kids playing along at home have already done all the tedious legwork of using a word replacement cipher to break the code and solve the puzzle, but for anyone who's too lazy to do all the actual work and time that requires(thus being smart), here's what the deciphered message reads:

"I have found the tomb of Master Kelwin and have deduced the code from his notes. It is north east south west and center. My job is done and the debt paid. Good luck."

...I mean, those had to be placeholder sound effects, right? ...right?

The tomb itself is nothing special, just a pair of vampires and a pair of liches.

Though it is the first tomb we've found so far where it's actually possible to open the sarcophagi and loot them! Though, in a break with M&M tradition, none of them curse us for doing so. Only one of them has something semi-interesting to loot, though.

It'd be an alright piece of equipment if Stealing wasn't dogshit and if like... pretty much any generic, non-unique enchantment wouldn't give us a better boost.

And thus, the party is ninjafied! Next is the Archer promotion to Sniper, which once again is the Titan's Fortress. It goes a lot rougher for this team. Team Light didn't take a single casualty in there, and came out of there equipped with two artifacts. Team Dark, on the other hand, wipes seven times due to their weaker elemental protections because the Blood Titans love casting Sparks(for 144 damage if cast in melee, no spectrum, just a flat 144 damage if the resistances don't reduce it).

But they do find some artifacts!


They are, of course, artifacts that are either a bit poor for this stage of the game(we've already collected most of the XP in the game, otherwise +15 Learning would be quite nice) or they're swords, which no one in this team uses! Owen would've loved these, though.

Why th' hell are these goobers gettin' these swords? I could've put 'em to good use!
We'll trade you if you assholes find any good maces or spears.

And of course there's the Perfect Bow which needs turning in for tuning and turns into the exact same merely-okay weapon afterwards.

Another happy ending.

While we're here, we stop by the Avlee shrine on a small island out in the bay.

And the one in Bracada.

Before heading back to Thom Lumbra in Pierpoint.

The reward is the exactly same as collecting the three paintings for that guy in Tatalia but at a much higher difficulty scale. Not that I'll turn down 50k gold and 50k XP, but it could've been a bit better balanced! I feel like Thom's dialogue implies that there's something a bit shady going on, like perhaps there are no real druids requesting that we did this and it's for some other purpose, but I'll be damned if I have any idea what it is.

Now, the only promotion we lack(that we're going to do, fuck the bounty hunter one) is the Warlock promotion. This requires us to head back to Thunderfist Mountain and enter the Tunnels to Eofol so we can reach the Land of the Giants and collect a dragon egg.

The tunnels are much like the Tunnels to Nighon under Stone City.

It's a mess of brown corridors, but with even less locations of interest than the Tunnels to Nighon. No dead Zokarr or anything of the sort, just corridors and their residents.

Behemoths and medusas so... so many medusas. Enough medusas that they actually blazed through all the charges on the team's Protection From Magic and stoned Jackie before I got it up again.

It's actually exceptionally annoying because the behemoths keep breaking the team's gear, and some of the rooms have large enough volumes of Ancient Behemoths to actually be a threat, so I look up a map and just plot out the straightest route to the exit since I don't want to deal with it any longer than I have to.

Now, upon arriving, I get a message that...

A) is almost certainly a sequence break
B) is almost certainly intended for a Light path player, because some parts of it don't really make sense as delivered to a Dark path player.

Unfortunately, because Archibald's castle is under lockdown for another in-game year, I sadly can't go check and see if it's... broken anything or if the game stats are just hilariously mixed up by me arriving here earlier than expected. But, really, it's not completely unexpectable that a Dark path player would go here as soon as they have access to the various promotion trainers.

Since it would be a bit of a spoiler for the Light Team, I'll be hiding what popped up.

Meanwhile, let's look around a little bit. There are only two artificial structures in the Land of the Giants, so we'll check those out first.

One hides the GM Armsmaster trainer, he's a big fucking deal if your party has a Hero/Black Knight along. If you can get GM Armsmaster at all, it's a +10 to damage at minimum(as it doubles the effects of Armsmaster which are +attack speed, +to hit and +damage at the Master stage). Though it's a bit odd he's the only one they hid here.

The other is this little shrine which, when interacted with...

Warps you back to Harmondale, but not just that, it also activates the little shrine in Harmondale to function as a teleport back to the Land of the Giants, which means you don't have to slog it through the Tunnels to Eofol just because your Lloyd's Beacon expired. A few NPC's in the game hint at this functionality, but it's easy to forget since they're few and far between, and also because something's broken in their spawning. Their directions to the shrine only make sense in Harmondale, but sometimes you get them popping up in, say, Celeste or Nighon, too, which gets a bit confusing since they talk about a "shrine to the southeast" that doesn't actually exist on those maps.

Now, for that dragon egg...

I'm not stopping to fight any of these idiots, at least not with this party. Or at least not yet. Team Light can probably scythe through them no problem, but Team Dark just is not up to the challenge of dealing with this amount of Titans, though they can take the dragons almost as easily as Team Light can.

There are two dragon caves here, and we're... not going to interact with one of them just yet, instead we'll stick to the one that contains the dragon egg.

It predictably also contains a few dragons, but they're no big deal. Even for Team Dark, they're simple to clean out.

Now let's show this thing to Tor and see if he's impressed with us.

The baby dragon is conceptually cool. All casters need SP regen, and boosted casting stats are always good. If you're bringing a druid and going Dark Path, then it'll at least help salve some of the pain of having made a painful combination of poor decisions. Sadly, Warlocks don't otherwise get anything that Archdruids don't, so much like in Zina's case, the promotion is a bit of a disappointment. Look at what a cutie he is, though, I love his expression, he seems to know exactly what kind of bullshit he's dealing with and he's already tired of it. Sassy little fella.

...and so you see, we perservered against terrible odds, but our natural strength and superiority bore us out on top.
Oh and Fisto literally carried us out of the Maze several times when everyone else died. I'll always be thankful for that man's back muscles. But I'm sure you must need a moment to process simply how great and amazing I am, so feel free to take a look around Castle Harmondale for a while, then we'll finish this story in the evening.