Part 62: Won't Lovers Revolt Now?Update 33: Won't Lovers Revolt Now?
"It's funny, you know. Castleview has already started to feel like a home away from home. Whatever dangers we've faced in this strange new world, this is where we've come to rest and resupply. As we explore farther afield, I believe I'll miss it."
"Don't speak too soon. If our map is right, we'll have to travel most of the way across the world before we see another civilised town... if you can call any town on Darkside civilised."
"I suppose this is the single step that begins our journey of a thousand miles, then. Shall we begin by investigating that trading post outside the city gates?"
"Lady, if you're gonna run a scam, at least be more subtle about it. We just walked out of Castleview a minute ago. I'm sure they'll remember our faces and let us back in. Look, I'll show you!"
"Did he just say what I think he said? The nerve!"
"Flench pretty sure he said 'back off', but hard to tell."
"... I guess we'd better go see if that pass is still for sale, unless you all feel like using the Skyroads every single time we want to sneak back into town."
"Any more bright ideas on how to save money, Trish?"
"That guard was so obviously in King Alamar's pocket. It's a conspiracy, I tell you!"
The game does give you a bit of a break: since the Skyroads and the sewers both provide access to Castleview from outside, it shouldn't be too hard to get back into town without a pass if you don't have the money. But at this point, 1000 gold is a fair price to pay for convenience.
Anyway, the party's lounged around in Castleview long enough. Time for more exploration!
"Look! A tiny shrine! Perhaps it is devoted to a tiny god!"
"Without the altar's magical aura, I have no powers of healing. If you could just return the three statuettes, I would reward you with all that I can. You could start looking for the thief in the Great Southern Tower, rumoured to be a hideout for thieves. I do not have a key, but I have heard that the keeper of the fountain near Venom Pond has one."
"Hm. Statuettes like this one? We find gryphon in Great Western Tower."
Once again, we've managed to meet one of the victory conditions for a quest before even knowing that the quest existed. It'll be a while before we find the other two statuettes, though.
"Ugh! It's bad enough that monsters try to kill and eat us on a daily basis, but why must so many of them be so disgusting? At least if I were devoured by a giant butterfly, I'd know I was becoming a part of something beautiful!"
"I am having a bad feeling about this."
For monsters that appear right outside the first town, Electrapedes are surprisingly scary thanks to their ability to inflict Paralysis. While paralysis does wear off fairly quickly on its own, it's game over if everyone gets paralysed at once. A group of Electrapedes can easily wipe out an unprepared party.
"I won't let our quest to save Xeen fail at the hands of some overgrown vermin!"
They have 200 HP and inflict 50 Electrical damage per attack, so they're not exactly pushovers even before you consider the paralysis. They're immune to electricity and resistant to other elemental attacks; Insect Spray technically works on them, but if you're resorting to that as your main source of damage you're probably in trouble. A party that's level 15 or so should be able to block all damage from them (and therefore also block the paralysis effect) by casting both Protection from Electricity and Power Shield. At lower levels, keep all combat buffs active and hope for the best.
"Whew. That was a close haircut back there."
"No thanks to Anleisa. Aren't you supposed to have protective magic for stuff like that?"
"Hey, you can't blame me for being too grossed out to concentrate! Besides, we'd have been fine if the rest of you had killed them faster!"
"Ooh! Ooh! Fubar remember saving you! You make it all the way to Darkside? Groovy!"
There are a few places in Darkside that acknowledge when you've completed quests from Clouds: this is one of them. If your party hasn't retrieved Falista's Alicorn from the Witch's Tower and used it to revive her, the hut will be empty. If Falista has been rescued, she'll be here to fully restore the party's spell points whenever they visit.
"Old news. Must be from before castle go out of phase with rest of Darkside. Flench more interested in that tent on edge of world."
"Aw, no, it's another one of those backwards-talking monks. Aren't there any normal religions on this side of Xeen?"
There's an NPC somewhere in the game who straight-up tells you the answer, for the benefit of players who don't know it.
Either way, the reward for answering correctly is pretty sweet. If you're having trouble at the very beginning of Darkside, buying Swimmer skill for everyone and beelining west down the river from Castleview to this guy is one way to get a head start.
"Fubar claim salvage rights under law of sea!"
The shipwreck contains 12000 gold, 100 gems and some low-level random items. Not bad at all.
"For now, it might be best to avoid attracting too much hostile attention by making ourselves known at Castle Kalindra. We can return when we've grown stronger and are better prepared."
Castle Kalindra is just a short distance west of Castleview, but it's not accessible at the start of the game. Right now we've restored the first floor: the more Energy Discs we bring to Ellinger, the more of the castle we can visit. Restoring the entire castle will allow us to begin a quest chain leading to the endgame, but it'll be a long time before that happens.
The plains around Castleview also contain more wells than a compilation of late-19th-century science fiction. There's a Well of Protection near the western edge of the world, which is somewhat useful when fighting enemies with physical attacks...
... a Well of Might just a little further east, for when you need to open stubborn jars or tombs...
... and a Well of Resilience to the north, giving a temporary HP bonus.
"Ah! I know just exactly what to be wishing for! But I cannot tell you, or the opposite will happen!"
"Couldn't you have wished for the opposite of what you wanted, and then told us?"
"It is a bit late for you to be suggesting this now, is it not?"
Electrapedes are just one of several nearby enemy types that can inflict dangerous status conditions, so picking up a temporary Luck boost here might not be a bad idea.
Our next stop is a little hut just off the road east of Castleview.
World of Xeen's voice actors sometimes have trouble finding a happy medium between overacting and underacting. This one leans more toward the former.
"Okay, okay! We'll get you your damn melons if you promise to stop talking!"
Believe it or not, this is actually a pretty important sidequest. There are several Monga Melon patches in the fields south of Castleview, where the Electrapedes are. We only need to bring one melon back for now.
"Firstly, it's been like two hours since we left. Secondly, what kind of a reward is that? Aw, fine, we'll probably get around to seeing the dungeon sooner or later."
"The warning is appreciated, but that's no excuse for littering. Somebody ought to do something about all these bottles floating in the river."
There are a couple more dwellings on the road east of Castleview: one wagon and one tent.
"Now I'm just throwing wild crazy ideas out into the aether here, but maybe you should stop sending your caravans through a place called Ogre Pass if you're worried about ogres?"
"I dunno what you're complaining about. If it weren't for people makin' stupid mistakes we wouldn't get half as much work as we do."
"If it weren't for certain people making stupid mistakes, we wouldn't need to do half the work we do, because we'd still be rich."
"I've been putting up with it ever since we first set out, and I can't contain my curiosity any longer: what is the source of all this childish bickering between you two? Is it some fundamental clash of value systems?"
"Nah. We're both pretty much in this for the money and fame."
"Of her? Not likely."
"Sorry. It seemed worth asking. Perhaps we'd better just move on. Keep an eye out for... whatever unspecified danger this sign is warning of."
Remember Medusa Sprites from the Skyroads? Sprite Forest (southeast of Castleview) is full of 'em. They're still nothing more than a nuisance unless you either come in underequipped or get unlucky. Incidentally, they selectively target Rangers, so if you have one of those in your party make sure they're well-armoured.
"Hah! If ogres and sprites are the worst dangers we are to be facing, we will have tamed this forest in no ti--"
"-iiiime! Also, ow."
"First you make us fall in hole, then you attack us? What happened to idea of fair fight?"
Troll Grunts are quite similar to Ogres statwise (decent HP and a moderately powerful physical attack), except that they also have fairly high resistances to elemental damage.
On the other hand, they have very low AC, so as long as anyone in your party is halfway competent at physical attacks they shouldn't be too much of a problem.
"Looks like we weren't the first to fall into this trap. At least we can make sure we're the last, right?"
"And with any luck, there'll even be something in it for us. This is shaping up to be the feel-good adventure of the year! Well, not for this guy, but he was our competition anyway."
"And our competition died for pocket change. Now that's just sad."
There are lots of little Troll Holes similar to that one scattered all through the forest. Keeping Levitate active allows you to choose whether to climb down each one, instead of just falling in.
"So many people to help, so few hours in the day! But if all the cities require passes for entry as Castleview does, there's little we can do for Lakeside at the moment."
"Must be dungeon that monkeydog sent us to find. Good construction. Solid. Probably orcish work."
"Also well guarded. Not getting in here without key."
"What a curiosity! Who would be living so close to a dungeon?"
I'm including another video here so you can enjoy the obnoxious voice filter applied to Sharla's dialogue just as much as I did.
As usual, Darkside gives you an option to be a huge jerk and attack people who want to talk to you. Let's see what would happen if we chose to do that.
"Sisters, we are under attack! Stop them!"
Sharla and a group of about a dozen Medusa Sprites attack the party if you threaten her. Sharla herself has slightly more HP than a regular sprite, but her attacks can't petrify characters, so she's virtually harmless.
Well, that did net us two energy disks for very little effort, but it was also kinda depressing. Let's reload and try to resolve this situation peacefully.
"Not so fast. We've been harassed by sprites ever since we set foot in this forest. If you want our help, you'd better make it worth our while."
"We have two Energy Disks and some gold to give you after you rescue her. Will you try?"
"Now when you say 'gold', we're talking a pile of coins big enough to dive into and paddle around in, right?"
"Trust me, it's a bad idea to try that in real life."
"I assume the Temple of Bark is the nearby dungeon to which neither you nor we have the key."
"Nibbler did say to go see him after we'd checked out the dungeon. Who knows, maybe he can help."
"Of course you will. Fine, we'll go pick another damn melon."
"While we there, can pick one extra for Fubar?"
"You are an honourable... whatever-you-are! Thank you for this key!"
"Now, to be making no use of it because there is still exploring to do!"
"Enjoy them, ya smug li'l devil. You've earned 'em. Sort of."
Some of the Troll Holes in the forest contain Troll Guards instead of just regular Troll Grunts. They have twice as many HP and do a bit more damage, but we can still deal with them just fine.
"You know, I've never really seen the point of a thieves' guild. Why join an organisation whose whole purpose is to let other people know you're a thief?"
Troll Chiefs are a further upgrade from Troll Guards, with more HP and stronger attacks. You'll rarely see more than one or two in any troll hole, but they're usually accompanied by several guards.
"This does not look wholesome. It does not even look halfsome."
"Hmm. Is juice made for trolls, or is juice made from trolls? Hard to tell."
"Whatever it is, I'm not touching it. Just knowing we live in a world where it can exist is bad enough."
"Fine, you drink it if you're so tough."
"Maybe I will!"
"Huh, so I really can get you to do any stupid thing I want if I taunt you enough. I should make a note of that."
"Joke's... on you. I'm gonna be so much stronger... as soon as I... stop... convulsing."
Each dose of Troll Juice gives the drinker 5 ranks of the Poison condition, which is a bit of a nuisance since we haven't relearned Cure Poison yet and it takes multiple castings of Suppress Poison just to knock the penalty down to -1. But I just don't have it in me to pass up permanent stat bonuses, no matter the inconvenience.
"What's this? If it's some kind of trap, it's an awfully obvious one."
"What's the matter? Orange you glad we've found something good to eat?"
"It does say 'forbidden', you know. It's probably cursed."
"After eating dried rations for months, risk of scurvy outweigh risk of curse."
"See? No problem. Flench feel smarter already!"
"Smarter, you say? I will be taking over the eating from here!"
"And now that I am sated, I will obtain a nap..."
There are a few Forbidden Fruit baskets in the forest. Some give the first person to eat a fruit a permanent stat bonus, and inflict a negative condition on anyone else.
"We'd have to be plum crazy to miss out on this!"
The fruit generally correspond to stat bonuses in the same way barrels of coloured liquid did in Clouds. Purple liquid, for example, raises Speed: so do plums. Likewise, oranges and orange liquid both raise Intelligence.
Wow, I was actually unlucky enough to have a character get hit and turned to stone by a Medusa Sprite while exploring. I'm too busy being surprised and impressed to be annoyed by this turn of events. Well, here's proof that they can actually do that. OK, the novelty's worn off now: time to warp back to Castleview and get Fubar refleshified.
"I bet we'll be able to find a good apple-ication for this fruit!"
"At least this means I don't have to listen to Trish's fruit puns any more..."
Remember how I said some fruit baskets give a stat bonus to the first eater? Others skip the stat bonus and inflict a condition immediately, plus up to 500 damage. Clairvoyance can help you tell which baskets are good and which are bad, but what fun would that be?
"Watch out -- these fruit can be more dangerous than they ap-pear!"
I guess the colour-coding scheme for stat bonuses implies that this is a green pear. Well, not that green: it's now experienced being eaten.
"Sure, I guess this'll come in handy if we get attacked by any fire-breathing trees out here. And of course, by saying that I've now guaranteed that we're going to be attacked by fire-breathing trees."
This well is a good place to set a beacon when fighting enemies with elemental or magical attacks.
"Clearly this is the Great Southern Tower, but we can achieve nothing here without the key. We'll have to continue exploring for now."
"Hmm... coconut, coconut... ah, I've got it! Don't try and swallow it whole, or your voice will become hoarse!"
"See, because when you bang coconut shells together it sounds like a horse!"
"That's a bit of a stretch."
"So's swallowing a coconut whole!"
"Fubar not get all this stuff about horses. Only thing in common with coconuts is both taste good, and both hurt Fubar when hit in head."
"Speaking of hurt head, ow."
"This material just keeps getting tougher. Being an adventurer is hard sometimes. Wait, I know! You'll feel berry blue if you pass up a chance to try these!"
"How long do you intend to keep this up?"
"Only as long as we keep finding new fruit."
"At least one thing around here isn't an offence against good taste."
"What this? More barbarian friends for Fubar to talk to?"
"A refreshingly straightforward introduction."
"Perhaps you could be persuaded to redirect your violent attentions away from us and toward the tyrant Alamar, in the name of your rightful ruler, the Dragon Pharaoh?"
"Instead of new friend, Fubar get new fight? Talk about win-win situation!"
Graalg is basically just a regular ogre with more HP. If you can defeat a Troll Chief, you shouldn't have a problem with him. He has a chance to drop a high-level item when killed.
By the way, Graalg's ogres aren't actually the same ones Kramer the caravan owner wants us to kill for his quest, so we can't turn it in just yet.
"Ah, Yog told us that some ogres had taken away the discs of his people. Well, finding is keeping!"
Graalg actually has a surprisingly complicated dialogue tree by this game's standards (if you don't manage to provoke him into a fight immediately like I did). I'll keep his death as the canonical outcome because he's kind of a jerk, but I'll quickly step through what else he has to say for interest value.
Bribing Graalg with gold works well enough.
Surprisingly, if we then ask for energy disks he just hands them over without demanding more money:
"(grunt) Here are two energy disks."
Asking for his help against Alamar doesn't turn out so well:
"Hmm. We not know you fight Alamar. He pay us much gold to be on his side. We must kill you now. Sorry."
Which leads to the same fight as if we asked him to pledge allegiance to the Dragon Pharaoh right off the bat.
If we ask for information:
"What you want to know?"
... we get a further set of options. Asking about the ogres:
"We are Ogres! We take what we want. Yesterday, we took Sardaj's energy disks!"
Graalg has a somewhat flexible concept of "yesterday", considering it's been several weeks of game time since the Sardaj told us about the theft. Speaking of the Sardaj, what does he have to say about them?
"The Sardaj are weak. Their Giant friends are weak. We are strong."
So apparently the barbarians are friends with some giants. Interesting. And the orcs:
"The Orcs captured a sprite a little while ago... Har! (snort) Har! They sacrifice them to their god sometimes."
Which we already knew, more or less.
Funnily enough, threatening Graalg to make him talk works just as well as bribing him, and leads to the same options.
The only difference (apart from not having to pay 5,000 gold) is that he won't attack you if you ask for his help against Alamar.
Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled exploration.
"Remember, it always pays to pay respect to the gods!"
"This too spooky! Count Fubar out!"
"Aw, don't be such a baby. I'm sure there's no--"
After dealing with the sprites, searching the ghost ship again reveals a few random mid-level items.
"Blblbblblblb. Water not friend to Fubar today."
"Judging by your standards of hygiene, it seldom is."
These are the rapids the floating message warned about : some stretches of the river will push the party back downstream, doing some damage in the process. It's a nasty surprise if you were using the river to evade enemies.
"Is mantis? Is ant? Only thing Flench know for sure, is in bad mood."
Mantis Ants are pretty tough. They've got enough AC to be hard to hit, enough HP and physical damage resistance to be hard to kill even if you can hit them, and two physical attacks that hit for 2-200 damage each plus a chance to inflict poison.
They're completely immune to poison (except for Insect Spray, and I really hope you have better spells than that by now), but other magic or buffed physical attacks will work. Things can get hairy if you're facing multiple ants at once with a low-level party: it might be best to avoid exploring too far east of the Great Southern Tower until you've mostly cleared out the southwestern quadrant of the world map. We can take 'em, though.
"Did any of you anger a vengeful nature spirit recently? It seems the entire animal kingdom has risen up against us."
You know how I was just talking about how tough Mantis Ants can be? Well, those have 300 HP. Killer Cobras have 1000. They only have a single attack, which hits for as much damage as one of a Mantis Ant's two attacks, but can magically age the target by 1 year per hit.
Still, if you can beat a Mantis Ant, you can probably beat a Killer Cobra. Make sure you have buffs active and keep wearing away at their health.
"As the Drawkcab Monks would say: Ana, nab a banana."
"Don't mind if I do! Lay off the nicknames, though."
"I think I'll try another. What's the worst that can happen?"
"... You do remember how a bad fruit killed you earlier, don't you?"
"That one was... was... I don't know... I feel..."
"Anleisa? You okay? How many fingers am I holding up? Hello? Xeen to Anleisa? Anyone in there?"
"Trish! I'm fine, but it's so sweet of you to show you care! I know you'll always be there for me!"
To be continued...
(This update hit the length limit; I'm splitting it into two posts. Next one is coming in a few minutes.)