Part 58: Barbarian RhapsodyUpdate 31: Barbarian Rhapsody
"Whatever wonders and terrors Darkside may have in store for us, it's good to know one thing never changes: once we overcome them, we're gonna get filthy rich."
"Are those... bats? Carrying eyeballs? Now I've seen everything."
"So have they, by the looks of it. Er, so to speak."
"Aaa! Stop staring! Fubar face get all warm from embarrassment!"
"Actually, I think that's because your hair is on fire. I'd do something about that if I were you."
The hintbook for Darkside describes Beholder Bats as "probably the coolest monster in the game", and I won't deny they're pretty high up there. Their attacks hit the entire party for mild to moderate fire damage, which can be a nasty surprise for an unprepared party. They have enough HP to survive a hit or two from most party members, and are immune to fire and resistant to electricity, but if we have Protection from Fire active they can't scratch us and we can beat them down at our leisure.
"Welp, no treasure here, just really old bones."
"Not speak so soon. Bone meal useful as nutritional supplement for livestock. Remember this place if ever want to retire from adventuring career to start farm."
"Given our history, a shortage of bones isn't a problem I imagine we'll face in the foreseeable future."
"Good to know spiders like to hang out here too. Let's see if we can get this over with before they decide to show up."
"Woohoo! Score! Sapphires as far as the eye can see! I'm gonna dig into that vein so hard they'll revoke my phlebotomy accreditation! But it doesn't matter, 'cause I'll be so rich I can just ride around town all day in a solid gold rickshaw! And I'll pay doctors and lawyers to pull it for me, just because I can! Not cheap doctors, either! Heart surgeons!"
"This situation reminds me of a Pet Shop Boys song."
"Absolutely Fabulous? Winner? Let's Make Lots of Money?"
"I'm With Stupid."
Whenever you mine a gemstone vein, one of three things can happen at random. The first possibility is that you get some number of gemstone rocks between 1 and 5, decreasing every time you mine the same vein until it's finally played out. Gemstone rocks are quest items, and can't be sold: their only use is to make weapons and armour at the gemsmiths outside.
The second possible outcome is getting a random number of regular gems. A vein that's almost exhausted may only give you a handful, while a large fresh one can give you close to 1000 gems on the first mining attempt.
And this would be the third possibility.
"Flench suddenly very glad to have Lloyd's Beacon set in front of Castleview temple."
"Well, it took us three trips and two near-death experiences, but we seem to have cleared out this mine. Now that our own needs have been met, perhaps we should consider investigating some of the threats facing the Darkside--"
"Oh, no no no no no. We're not done just yet."
"They're the Gemstone Mines, plural. You can't stop at just one! They're like potato chips, if potato chips were made out of precious shiny rocks!"
"If potato chips made out of rocks, probably easier to stop at one. Unless made out of very tasty kind of rock."
"You know, rubies actually same thing as sapphires, just different colour."
"Oh yeah? Well, if you're so smart, can you tell the class why sapphire weapons and armour are so much stronger than ruby ones?"
"Huh. Hmmmm. All in head. Wearing too much red make you overconfident, so you not fight so well."
"You made that answer up on the spot, didn't you?"
"Could still be true. If you have better answer, Flench love to hear it."
"Oh, come on. That makes even less sense than exploding gems."
It's not a bad idea to have Clairvoyance active in the gemstone mines: a few of the skeletons have random items in them, but most either do nothing or explode in your face.
Piles of rubble won't explode but can contain either items or Beholder Bats, which aren't so bad since they're basically free experience.
"This certainly isn't a mine. It looks more like some kind of fort, although the construction is rather crude."
"Well, uh, that depends. Do you have stuff worth taking? If so, will you give it to us if we help you out, or do we have to take it?"
"Trish! What my friend here means to say is that if your intentions are peaceful, so are ours."
"I could have sworn I just went over that part."
"Need energy discs for magic ritual. Can pay with gems if you want."
"Hey, I didn't agree to that deal! Hands off my share!"
"Whew. That means we're allowed to just kill the ogres and take the discs now, right? I mean, they're thieves. And not the super-cool, classy kind of thieves that everyone wants to adventure with. By the way, got anything else for us? You know, like as a consolation prize for getting here after the ogres did?"
"I guess that'll have to do. Laters!"
After accepting food from the Barbarians (they give 120 units on top of whatever amount you had before), it's no longer possible to pick a fight with them: they'll just welcome us and see us on our way whenever we visit. If we had decided to pick a fight...
... Yog would have been all too willing to oblige.
Yog has twice the HP of a regular Barbarian and a somewhat stronger attack. He and his barbarians selectively target Sorcerers, but they're not a huge threat to anyone else as long as your party is reasonably well-armoured. On the other hand, none of them give out particularly good experience or items, so fighting him isn't really worth the trouble.
Having finished that brief venture into an alternate universe with a slightly more belligerent party, let's get back to events that actually happened.
"Looks like not all of Yog's people got the message that we're friends now. That's what I get for daring to hope we'd finally found some allies, I guess."
"And now we have to deal with ogres too. Great."
Ogres have a physical attack for moderate damage, a decent amount of HP, and absolutely no other interesting qualities. They can't even attack from range, which might have posed an interesting challenge in the limited visibility of the forest.
A few good hits from the party's melee fighters should take them out. They have no elemental resistances, so you can always hit them with some spells to speed up the process of dealing with large groups.
"Even animals hate us. Back to the status quo: us against the world."
Dark Wolves have less HP and lower AC than Ogres, but can attack up to three times per round.
But their attacks have trouble getting through most of the party's armour and they still have no fancy tricks to speak of, so the biggest danger is that their adorable "taking damage" animation will make you feel bad about killing them.
"At least our wealth will never betray us!"
"Unless you drink it all away again."
"What's that? I can't hear you over all the little cash registers ringing in my head! Or maybe it's tinnitus from those gem explosions! Either way!"
"What these doing here? Supposed to be extinct."
"Today you have fought bats carrying giant flame-spewing balls of eye and seen gems and bones explode, and this is what you are questioning?"
Sabertooths (Saberteeth?) are actually a meaningful threat to the party, at least when they appear in groups. They have as much HP as an ogre with higher AC, and attack three times per round for more damage per hit than an ogre does with its single attack. A group of three that decide to focus most of their attacks on one or two characters can easily render someone unconscious.
Like this. And of course, once's someone's unconscious and their armour is broken, they'll be even more vulnerable to future attacks after you heal them up. Even if a bad encounter is unlikely to wipe out the party, it could force them to run back to the blacksmith for repairs.
"We've seen more sapphire and diamond veins than emerald ones, and yet emeralds are less valuable than either of those. How odd."
"If supply lower and price lower, that mean demand also lower. Maybe green out of fashion this season."
There are still a couple more mine entrances deeper in the mountains, but since the party hasn't yet regained their Mountaineer skills, we can't get to them just yet. Plus, we've already seen examples of everything the mines have to offer by now... haven't we?
"Wow, what a haul of gems! I knew I wouldn't regret adventuring with you guys."
"With all of these gems and rocks, surely it is time to be putting them to good use. Let us bling ourselves outward!"
Ruby equipment is the most cost-efficient in terms of gems, so we'll start by turning all our Ruby Rocks into gear.
The difference between ruby and diamond armour is pretty small, while the difference between ruby and diamond weapons is quite a bit larger, so we'll be making armour.
We don't get to decide what the gemsmith makes (unless we savescum for the item we want), but it'll be a random piece of body armour, and of course it'll be made of ruby.
After getting enough ruby and emerald armour to equip the whole party (even Vandesloof gets a set of Ruby Robes), I decide to spend the rest of our gems on three diamond weapons.
I end up with two Diamond Scimitars and a Diamond Cutlass, replacing Fubar, Ms Swallow and Trish's weapons. Flench still has the Emerald Halberd from King Gettlewaithe, so our four main melee fighters are pretty well set for weapons, at least until we start finding obsidian gear.
Our money problems are solved for now too, thanks to all the superfluous armour we accumulated -- and these selling prices are before we've found a place on Darkside to relearn the Merchant skill.
We'll have to be careful with gems for a while to avoid running out, but it was worth it: with half the party using diamond weapons, we shouldn't need to throw too much heavy-duty magic around anyway.
Since we didn't solve any quests this update the party didn't gain much experience, but the equipment we've acquired will make more difference than a couple of levels anyway. We shouldn't get cocky, though -- even with diamond weapons we still can't scratch Sky Golems, and our armour will do nothing to protect us from elemental attacks.
What next, readers? Should the party explore outdoors to fill the gaps in the map between the Gemstone Range and Castleview, perhaps in hopes of finding those energy discs the ogres stole, or should they use their shiny new diamond weapons to fight the heretics in the Great Western Tower? Vote now!