Part 41: A Tuff AreaUpdate 22: A Tuff Area
"If we're going to be wading through lava, we'd best prepare ourselves first."
Right, time to take on the most dangerous outdoor areas in the game.
Before exploring the lava fields, we pre-buff with everything we've got: Day of Sorcery, Day of Protection and Protection from Elements. Individual Protection from Elements spells provide greater protection than Day of Protection, and we're going to need all the help we can get. Protection from Fire is almost essential, and Protection from Acid isn't a bad idea either.
The resistance boost from the Shrine of Fire will also help mitigate damage: set a Lloyd's Beacon there so you can head back when your buffs wear off.
Stepping in lava does 100 fire damage to the entire party. Our protections and resistances reduce that by at least half and usually more, but it'll still wear the party down. Jump and Teleport spells help: it's a lot cheaper and easier to avoid the damage in the first place than to heal it up afterwards.
Even if you don't normally bother with Day of Sorcery, keeping it active in this area is a good idea for Wizard Eye alone, since it's impossible to see through the rock formations to tell when you're about to step in lava.
"Hello, lava man! Have directions to treasure?"
"Fubar! Don't fraternise with the golems!"
Remember this guy from the bonus update near the start of the game? We're ready to take it on in a fair fight now. Lava Golems have 500 HP, 50% physical resistance, immunity or high resistance to all elements except Cold, attack twice per round for moderate to heavy Fire damage, and can break characters' weapons. They have a Speed of 30, and it'll make your life much easier if most of your party can match or beat that speed.
Protection from Fire and Power Shield will absorb most of their damage output, but not necessarily all, so when we see a Lava Golem we want to take it out fast before it hits someone and breaks their weapons. Golem Stopper and Mass Distortion work well: two Golem Stoppers from Flench and Vandesloof plus a round of physical attacks from the rest of the party is enough to take them out. They drop 10 gems when killed, which isn't enough to cover all the gems spent on Golem Stopper, but it helps.
"Monster ahead. Behind rocks. Strong."
"There is only one thing to be done: we must be charging ahead to glorious victory! With the help of magic, of course, so that we are not killed."
"Good decision, Vandesloof. If we'd run straight through the lava, we'd have to contend with two dragons breathing down our necks along the way. Or more precisely, breathing in our faces."
Here we see another new enemy: the Acid Dragon. Acid Dragons have a respectable 220 HP, a ranged breath attack for 100 Acid damage to the entire party, and complete immunity to acid. That's about the extent of their bag of tricks, though, and a few good physical attacks from a buffed mid-level party will take them out very fast. The important thing, as with most dragons, is to get into melee range with them as soon as possible to minimise the amount of time they spend breathing on you.
A little surprisingly, it's safe to rest on the lava fields (though not in the lava itself), as long as there are no monsters nearby. We have to do quite a bit of resting, since the damage from Acid Dragons and walking through lava adds up, and fighting Lava Golems depletes the party's spell points fairly fast.
"Wasn't this that thing what's-his-name wanted? You know, Freon or whoever."
"We can bring this back to him once we're done here. He was kind of an ass, so he can wait."
"What is that thing? It looks like it belongs inside the digestive tract of something even larger and more horrible than itself."
Great Hydras have a massive 1000 HP, a wide range of elemental resistances and 12 freaking physical attacks per round, each inflicting 10-100 points of damage with a chance to cause Poison. Even with our high AC, they'll get a few hits in each round. Fortunately, they've got no resistance to physical damage, and their AC is good but not amazing.
Even after taking a full round of melee attacks, though, this one is still alive. If you're having trouble with Great Hydras, Mass Distortion is a good option.
"That sure is a lot of lava."
"We become first to cross lava lake on foot! Set world record, get famous! Everyone want to be friends with us!"
"How exactly is this going to help us defeat Lord Xeen?"
"It is a fact known to everyone that villains hide in secret volcano lairs! Surely Lord Xeen is within that lava!"
"Wait, if fact is known to everyone, how is lair secret?"
"If this gets us all killed, don't come cryin' to me in the afterlife. In fact, don't look me up at all."
"Told you so."
Things are looking bad: our main healer's at critical HP, everyone else is pretty beaten up, we're facing three powerful enemies, and there's yet another Acid Dragon sitting behind that tower, ready to breathe on us each round as we fight its buddies.
In other words, we've found an ideal use case for Star Burst!
It even takes out the damaged Lava Golem: between their high HP and physical resistance, they're one of the few monster types in Clouds that can survive a single Star Burst from full health.
"To continue to the tower would not be pointy. Even if we could continue surviving the lava, the door is probably locked."
"Tower grapes, huh?"
I misjudge the teleport distance slightly, but it's close enough: we're out of the lava. The tower we've spotted is post-game content from World of Xeen, so there's nothing we can do there right now.
"Ah. Here is the secret volcano lair. That is much easier! Had we but known this earlier, we could have reached it with burns of only the first degree!"
"I'm not sure that's any kind of lair, Sloof. It just looks like a big ol' cave to me."
"Then perhaps it can become our lair!"
"We already have a lair. We paid 50,000 gold for it. It's within a day's walk of Newcastle and, and I stress the following because it's important, isn't full of lava."
"This may well be a lair, but it's not the one we want. Or maybe it is... dragons are known for hoarding treasure, after all."
"Perhaps another time. I think we've risked our lives enough for now. Let's give Halon his rock and return home."
Don't even bother trying to map the entirety of the lava fields. Just scout around for points of interest, fight the monsters if you want some experience, and try not to get killed.
"Just what Fubar always want! You best weird old man ever!"
"This is our reward? What is it?"
"Didn't you hear? It's a widget."
The Widget has no apparent use now, but is needed much, much later in World of Xeen. We're also rewarded with 150,000 experience points: not bad for a quest that can be completed with no combat if you're careful.
Ms Swallow, Flench and Vandesloof each gain a level this update, earning the first two a fourth melee attack per round.
This may have been something of a short update, but it was a valuable reminder of how brutal the game can be when it gets serious. We've cleared out all the easy areas and things are going to stay pretty tough from here on in. Next time, should we explore the deadly Volcano Cave, the even deadlier Dragon Cave, or build up strength and prepare ourselves a little more by advancing the main plot at Darzog's Tower? Vote now!