Part 49: The Chief of StaffUpdate 26: The Chief of Staff
"Hold on a minute. Before we confront Lord Xeen, we should make sure we're fully stocked with food and supplies."
"Careful. Someone waiting outside. Could be ambush."
"Gross income of 50,000 per annum on initial outlay of 15 Megacredits? Will take long time for investment to pay off, but at least have awesome castle now."
"There's no such thing as gross income. Pecunia non olet an' all that."
After rebuilding the dungeon, we can drop by Newcastle once a year and automatically collect taxes when we enter. Of course, since it's nearly the end of the game, we'll pretty much only be doing it this one time.
"This time we're ready. Fubar, you've still got the Xeen Slayer Sword, right?"
"You ever see Fubar throw away a weapon?"
"If we are to be crossing a great expanse of clouds, it would be good to set a beacon here for easy return, lest we find ourselves above the sea without a paddle."
"It's 'up the creek without a paddle', Sloof."
"Look down and tell me again if what you are looking at is a creek or a sea."
"Ooh! Lord Xeen leave dinner out for us. Wonder if taste like chicken?"
"With bird that size, probably more like beef. Larger animal mean muscles do more work, so flavour stronger, less delicate. Texture also tougher, need more careful cooking. Not just roast over fire and not pay attention to doneness, or get dry and stringy."
"We've spent the past four years drinking random liquids out of barrels and suddenly you're picky about how you want monster meat cooked?"
"Well, no. But always useful to know facts about meat. Never know when come in handy."
Rocs are basically big blobs of HP: 300, in fact, which is more than some dragons. They attack twice a round for moderate damage and can inflict paralysis, but like most physical attackers they'll have trouble landing any hits on a party with half-decent AC.
There are also some Cloud Golems up here: we've seen them before, and they're still mostly unimpressive if you've got elemental protection magic up.
"Too bad no eggs in nest this time of year. Could make world's largest oyakodon."
There are several roc nests in the clouds: destroying them grants the party 50,000 experience per nest, but no treasure. If you destroy them all, rocs will no longer respawn if you leave this area and return.
"Wow, Lord Xeen think of everything! Even give us cloud bow for shooting down cloud birds!"
There are several sword, bow and shield offerings in the clouds, and they have a chance to be top-tier items. In fact, this area is a bit special because it's the only place in World of Xeen where it's possible to find top-tier bows: everywhere else, the code for generating top-tier items specifically excludes missile weapons. Of course, the reason for this is that bows are mostly irrelevant at this point in the game, since they don't benefit from your level the way melee weapons do and can't put out the massive damage of high-level spells. Still, hey, free obsidian bow for me to show off.
Some of the offerings are in isolated areas of cloud, requiring Jump or Teleport spells to reach.
"One step ahead of you as always, prophetic statues. Let's see what pearls of wisdom you have for us this time."
"Still a little sore about him charging us to help save the world, by the way."
"You'd do the same in his position."
"What, and you wouldn't?"
"Right, right, he's up here somewhere. That's why we're up here. If we didn't already know that, we wouldn't be here, reading this."
"Our quest is nearly complete. Soon, the world will be free from Lord Xeen's tyranny."
"Assuming we can actually find him. We've been all over this cloud and seen nothing but birds so far."
"Uh oh. We're gonna have to take a leap of faith, aren't we."
"It was really more of a teleport of faith. And also, less of faith and more of magic. Have my powers ever failed you before?"
"Do you want a real answer to that question? Because I've been compiling a list."
"That... will not be needful."
Teleporting 9 spaces north from the signpost lets us reach the cloud where Lord Xeen's castle is.
"Ooh, sky circus! That best kind of circus! Maybe see sky elephants!"
"Fubar, there's no such thing as a sky circus, and sky elephants have been extinct for over a century."
"Ooh! Ooh! Fubar can do this!"
"Really! Can do this! Just need to hit right on centre next time!"
"Told you there was such a thing as sky circus."
Winning this game is partially random, but is based on the challenger's Might stat: a stat of 100 guarantees victory, but even a stat of 20 gives you a good chance, so I don't think it's a simple percentage. As you've probably guessed already, there are going to be other challenges for other stats as well.
"Aw. Fubar wanted extra one to give as gift. Maybe try other games, win different prizes!"
"Perhaps later, Fubar. For the moment, saving the world takes precedence."
I've also put up a video of the above sequence as a shining example of World of Xeen's enthusiastically amateur, or amateurishly enthusiastic, voice acting. I've messed around a bit with the way I record audio since people complained about the sound quality earlier, so hopefully the sound is a bit better than previous videos.
"... of course, if saving the world happens to require winning a few prizes, what's the harm?"
"What an oddly cheerful admission requirement for an evil castle."
"I can do this one! Just watch me!"
"Wow, credit where credit's due: those stubby little legs of yours sure can move."
"Flench will shoot. Flench will hit. Flench will win."
"At least you aim better than you talk."
"Ha! This will be easy! My endurance is legendary -- you need only ask any of my many paranoids!"
"Do you by any chance mean 'paramours'?"
"Huh. How about that."
And here's the purpose of all those tests.
Winning the Might, Endurance, Speed and Accuracy contests nets us the Cupie Doll we need to enter Castle Xeen.
"Oh boy, a castle in the air! Maybe find Princesses Rhyme and Reason in there?"
"We have dealt with Lord Xeen's little circus. Now, it is time... to send in the clowns."
"I don't know what that thing is, but I don't like the look of it."
"Aaa! What was that? Lord Xeen has command of strange magic indeed."
Xeen's Guards have only 100 HP, but have incredibly high AC (higher than the Dragon King), are highly resistant to all damage types except energy and magic, and attack one character per round for a hefty 100 Energy damage, which is hard to mitigate.
In large groups, like this, they can be pretty threatening. Fortunately, their low HP means that a couple of strong physical attacks should kill them despite their resistances. If you're in trouble, Star Burst should one-shot them all at once.
"I don't know what exactly this does, but given that it's in Lord Xeen's castle and apparently generates poison, we probably can't go far wrong by-- ah, I see Fubar is already taking the initiative."
"Fubar is way ahead of you! Anything Lord Xeen make, Fubar smash! Good chance to test out new sword!"
"Well, just make sure not to break it before you've slain Lord Xeen."
We get 200,000 experience for every generator we destroy, which would be nice if we hadn't already hit the level cap.
"None of you happened to see a Horrible Lightning Bolt Generator in the courtyard, did you?"
These traps do a fair bit of damage to the party, even through their protection spells. If we hadn't destroyed the Cold and Poison generators, there would have been traps of those elements too.
"On our way back, I vote we just jump out a window instead of running that gauntlet again."
"Now this is just getting ridiculous."
"More things to smash? Hooray! Fubar have chance to help!"
The Fire and Electricity generators are both located on the upper floors of the castle, and sure enough, destroying them turns off the traps downstairs.
"More guards? Did we not already clear this room outwards, only a few short minutes ago? It is not a large room. There are no obvious places for hiding."
"Not be good hiding places if obvious."
"Lord Xeen must be just beyond this gate. I do hope you're all well-prepared."
"What makes you so sure he's there?"
"Can't you sense the concentration of malign power growing stronger as we approach? Also, it's the only part of the castle we haven't already explored, so there's that."
"Oh look, it's the second most powerful dragon in Xeen. Hey, if dragons have an afterlife, give our regards to your big brother!"
Xeen's Pet hits very hard, breathing acid for 250 poison damage to the entire party. However, it only has 400 HP and is vulnerable to everything except poison, so one Implosion, two Incinerates or a few good melee attacks will bring it down.
"Aha! I knew that the guards were coming from somewhere! It is time for us to become the sandbags of justice that stop this flood of evil!"
Destroying the guard-making machine earns us another 200,000 XP and prevents the Xeen's Guard enemies from respawning. Until it's destroyed, they respawn every time you enter the castle or change floors inside it. In theory you could leave it intact on purpose if you wanted to fight more guards for the experience, but you'd have to kill 300 of them to gain a level's worth of XP for a full party, or 60 just to match the experience from destroying the machine.
"I've got this horrible feeling we're about to regret not healing up after fighting that dragon."
"No time to run now. We fight and win. No alternative."
"Anyone else feel like making any optimistic predictions?"
Lord Xeen has 500 HP (fourth-highest of any monster type in Clouds, after the Dragon King, Diamond Golem and Great Hydra, and tied with the Lava Golem), 50 Speed (making him difficult but not impossible to outspeed), and hits a single character per round for 1000 Energy damage, probably killing them outright or at least rendering them unconscious. Even if they somehow survive the damage, the attack also has a high chance to cause eradication.
To be honest, there's not a whole lot of strategy to this fight. Lord Xeen is immune to all magic and all weapons except for the Xeen Slayer Sword, so attacking with it and keeping your party alive is all you can do. It helps if you have at least one strong pure melee combatant like a Knight, Barbarian or Ninja, to wield the Xeen Slayer Sword. If you want to be a little bit cheap, you can pass the sword around through the inventory screen so that everyone can attack with it, which will probably allow you to take him out in one round.
"Fubar, use that damn sword of yours already! If he keeps hitting us like this, there's only so much I can do to keep you from staying dead!"
"Nobody hurt Fubar friends and get away!"
"Congratulations, all of you. We've saved the world from a monstrous tyrant. I can only hope that this will be the dawn of a new age of peace for Xeen."
"Wait, isn't that the Sixth Mirror over there? Once I've fixed up Trish and explained to her that she owes me her life yet again, we should bring that thing back to King Burlock. Maybe then he'll finally remember how to say 'thank you'."
If we avoided Lord Xeen and went straight for the mirror at first, we'd get this message. Since we've killed him, though...
... mirror, rising rapidly. Just as you realize that the mirror and the scepter are not compatible, the mirror shatters in a spectacular display of light, noise and violence. The castle gives an awful shudder, groaning as though it were a beast wounded mortally. With masonry falling from the ceiling and dust filling the air, you all decide to remain calm and proceed to the nearest exit in an orderly fashion.
Ending video time! The important details are replicated in screenshots for your convenience, but it still makes a pretty good watch.
"Glad we got outta there when we did. Falling into a dimensional rift isn't my ideal way to celebrate after saving the world. I mean, unless it's to the booze dimension or something."
"Sadly, there is no booze dimension. And do not think that I have not looked."
"Aw, I was hoping we could take over Lord Xeen's cool cloud castle and turn it into a second home base."
"Count your blessings. One castle is more than most people have."
"Saving the world is less than most people do."
"Shh. Something happening. Look, in sky."
"You have defeated my general, Lord Xeen, and foiled my plans to conquer this world. But the Darkside shall always be mine. Hahahahaha..."
"Well, that was ominous."
"So, has it sunk in yet? How does it feel to be heroes? Think fast: King Burlock might want us to give a speech."
"Without Lord Xeen organising them and stirring rebellion against the king, even the monsters are at peace now. I mean, the ones we didn't kill. Probably best to keep quiet about that part, really."
"Congratulations, adventurers! Crodo and I are eternally grateful! Let us review your fantastic campaign!"
What follows is a montage of every single monster in the game playing its attack animation and its injury animation. It's sped up to around Mach 8 on account of being designed for computers from 1992, but you're not missing much by seeing the fast-forwarded version.
"Go now: your destiny lies on the Darkside!"
You used to be able to send your score in to New World Computing and be mailed a certificate to commemorate your victory. Since NWC has long since gone out of business, I wouldn't count on hearing back from them if you try it now.
"Maybe now that we've saved him and his kingdom from an usurping lich-lord, King Burlock will finally stop asking us for that stupid mirror and give us a real reward."
"... are you kidding me? If his head were any further up his ass, he could see out of his own mouth."
"What can you do? Let's head back to Vertigo and relax for a while."
We've finished Clouds of Xeen in a little under five full years of game time. I'd say that's a pretty normal time if you thoroughly explore every area and fill out the map. It can be done much faster if you try.
Of course, this LP is only half done: Darkside of Xeen, a full game in itself, still remains to be shown. The first time I completely finished World of Xeen, my party was close to 35 years old by the end.
Here's the full list of titles we've earned for completing every quest in Clouds of Xeen, not counting the guild membership titles and the class-or-race-specific Northern Sphinx awards.
"If Fubar fight with friends by side, can never lose!"
"I wonder what we should do with all our wealth, now that we've ushered in a new era of peace and prosperity. Perhaps we should start a charitable foundation."
"Not speak too soon. Remember warning from armoured man in sky. Should investigate."
"C'mon, don't be such a killjoy. That stuff can wait. Right now, we need some rest -- if anyone deserves it, we do."
"I wish you'd stop making so much sense lately, Trish. It always makes me feel a little unclean to have to agree with you."
"Once again, the great Vandesloof has proven his spectacular magical powers... with the assisting of his valued allies, of course."
"So, before Ms Swallow convinces us to donate it all to the needy, I've got a few ideas on what we could do with a million gold pieces and a reason to celebrate..."