The Let's Play Archive

Might & Magic: World of Xeen

by Thuryl

Part 75: A Lot of Bull

Update 41: A Lot of Bull

"If my reading of the map is correct -- and, as it is I who is reading it, it is -- the Isle of Lost Souls must be within this lake!"
"The island we're looking for is in the only lake in Darkside we haven't already been to? You don't say."

"Blugh! Fubar not in mood for sannakji today!"

Octopods have 2500 HP, are resistant to cold and immune to poison, and attack the entire party for 2-200 Poison damage with a chance to inflict the Poisoned condition.

The Octopod can wipe out lower-level or unprepared parties pretty fast, but at our current levels and with a full set of defensive buffs up, it barely manages to scratch the party before they finish it off.

There's a fountain just to the south of the Isle of Lost Souls that grants a temporary +50 bonus to Magic resistance. It could be helpful if you're having trouble with the magic-wielding enemies in Sandcaster or the Great Western Tower, but sadly, it won't do us much good where we're going.

"Be eating it, doubters! I have discovered the Isle of Lost Souls! Now it must be renamed the Isle of Found Souls!"

"You're kidding me. An inspirational dungeon. Now I've seen everything."

"Aaa! It'd be easier to be positive if we didn't have to worry about being stomped into the ground by minotaurs."

Oh boy, minotaurs. Where do I start?

They have 3000 HP, which would make them tough enough in itself, but to make matters worse they also have an AC of 80 -- significantly higher than anything else we've faced so far, and high enough that only Fubar can reliably hit them. They're 60% resistant to physical attacks, 50% resistant to magic, but vulnerable to elemental and energy damage.

As with anything that has lots of health and is hard to damage, Mass Distortion works wonders to cut them down to size. Once their HP has been halved a couple of times, Fubar, Flench and Vandesloof do most of the work to finish them off, the former with melee attacks and the latter two with Incinerate spells (or Mega Volts for groups). Implosion would be a great spell to use if we had it, but we don't.

"I have no idea of the purpose of all these hourglasses on the walls. We'd best leave them alone."

"Speaking of leaving things alone, how about we pass this room by, seeing as it's obviously full of minotaurs?"
"No, think about it -- it's the perfect place to hide treasure! Nobody in their right mind would go into a room marked 'Minotaur Storage', so you could put anything in there and it'd be totally safe! The only flaw in their plan is that they didn't count on us!"

"Quelle surprise. You're lucky my Mass Distortion works on all of them at once. What's that I hear? 'Thank you, Anleisa'? 'You've pulled our damn-fool asses out of the fire yet again, Anleisa'? Why, you're welcome."
"Remember, positive thinking."
"Oh, I haven't felt better in months. For once, I'm the star of this show."

"When she wakes up, I probably shouldn't tell her there was no treasure after all."

The Minotaur Storage rooms are best avoided, unless you're very confident in your party's skills and want the honestly fairly disappointing amount of experience awarded for killing the minotaurs. Each one is worth 250,000 XP, so levelling up a full party takes 24 minotaur kills.

"Waaaait a minute. There's gotta be a catch here. If we say yes, is a pit going to open under our feet or something?"

"Oh, fine. Brace yourselves everyone: yes, mysterious voice, we want to go downstairs."

"Uhhh, yeah. That definitely sounds like a thing we did."

"Look at this face. Is this face of liar?"

"As interrogations go, that one went remarkably smoothly."

"Important to stay hydrated. With souls."

There's no visible effect from drinking the Soul Waters. At least nobody died, right?

As we explore the level we can expect to fight our way through more minotaurs. No big deal: I just have to keep track of the spellcasters' SP and make sure to rest when they run low, because getting stuck meleeing a minotaur to death is tedious as hell and trying to fight two at once without magic usually means a party wipe.

"Ugh. No souls in this water."

There are some dials on the east side of the dungeon, each one set to a different setting. The Clairvoyance heads don't want us to turn this one, but no immediate harm comes to us if we do. On the other hand, there's no obvious benefit either.

"This isn't much of a puzzle. It can't be that easy, can it? Are we going to trigger a trap or open up a room full of monsters or somethin' if we follow these instructions?"
"Positive thinking, Trish!"

To complete this floor of the dungeon, the dials on the east side all need to be set to point straight up (setting 1).

That makes it possible to pull the lever...

... which makes Soul Waters flow in the stagnant fountains.

"I know I'm not Xeen's greatest theologian, but isn't drinking souls generally considered a morally dubious thing to do?"
"I don't think we're literally drinking entire souls. The water just has cast-off bits of souls in it. Think of it this way: when you take a bath, all the grease and flakes of skin--"
"Okay! Got the picture! Sorry I asked!"

Each fountain only gives experience to one character, but there are a lot of them. I try and spread the experience evenly around the party.

"This fountain looks different from the rest. Maybe it's... cleaner."

Pro tip: don't drink the Negative Soul Waters.

"Indeed! Our ornithological endeavours must not be kept waiting any longer!"

"Hey, no fair! We already got past that floor! This is like double jeopardy or something!"

So yeah, you actually do have to flip over every single one of the hourglasses on the first floor to finish the dungeon. It's best to do this the first time around as you explore and fill out the automap, so you can make sure you didn't miss any.

"Yup! Full of souly goodness!"

"Well, everyone else did."

"Aren't we always?"

"We're going to have to deal with one of these questionnaires every time we hit a staircase, aren't we."

"Flench pretty sure is not so much to do with negative thinking, more to do with getting killed by minotaurs."

"Oh no! This cannot be! Have we already spent seven years within this dungeon?"

I didn't mention this before, but minotaurs have a chance to age characters with their attacks. It's only a year per hit, but considering how long it can take to kill a minotaur, that adds up. We've already restored the Fountain of Youth, so this is at worst a minor inconvenience.

"Look out, all of you -- this is no ordinary minotaur!"
"Yeah, kinda figured that out on account of how it just turned Fubar into art brut."

Gorgons have another thousand HP on top of what minotaurs get, plus even higher AC and resistances. Their attacks do a bit less damage and are less accurate, but can petrify characters. Unless you're feeling lucky, gorgons should be a priority target over minotaurs if you're facing a mixed group: Stone to Flesh isn't a cheap spell to cast, and it doesn't get the petrified character back into the fight right away since they're also reduced to 0 HP, minus whatever damage the attack itself caused.

"Fubar celebrate return to meat-body by using meat-muscles!"

At least the third floor, where gorgons start showing up, is pretty straightforward.

It's just a maze with four levers near the corners of the map.

"We can count to four, you know."

"Well, okay. I can count to four."

"Neither minotaurs nor questionings will stop us!"

"And as long as I'm around, locks won't, either! I just have to get my tools out, and... huh. Hmmmmm. I haven't seen a mechanism like this before. Wait, what's that noise--"

"Maybe time for backup plan."

This locked door on level 4 of the dungeon is exceptionally hard to pick. Trish has something like 140 Thievery skill at this point and still couldn't succeed after many attempts. Teleport spells don't work in this dungeon, but Etherealize works just fine.

"Tremble, fiends! Your defenestrator has arrived!"

Our first attempt at clearing out the room behind the door does not go well. Let's reload and try that again.

After a couple more attempts it becomes obvious that beating all of them at once is overly optimistic, so we get to pull the old Time Distortion trick again. Once the party's rested, they'll be able to finish off the survivors.

It's actually a good thing we ended up having to use Etherealize to get in, since that locked door keeps the minotaurs in until we're ready to deal with them. (This is also why I didn't just bash down the door, which I could have done.)

"With persistence and positivity, there's nothing we can't achieve!"

"But as adventurers, we are equally unsuspicious of all levers!"

"Hm. Third from top... try going east at third passage, Flench guess."

"Whoa. Weren't we going east? How'd we end up back here?"

This dungeon level's gimmick is moving walkways. Step into one of those passages to the east, and you'll end up funnelled back down to the southernmost passage. The levers on the west side of the area will deactivate some of the moving walkways, but only one lever can be active at a time: pulling one will reset the others.

The solution is simple enough once you've seen the hint: pull the third lever from the north on the west side, go directly east as far as you can, and pull the third lever from the north on the east side. This disables the moving walkway that prevents you from accessing the stairs. But wait, remember how I said "the third lever from the north"? That implies the existence of two other levers. If, in the spirit of experimentation, we pull the second one from the north instead...

"Was there a passage here before? I sure don't remember seeing one."

Get ready to take fire damage every step on this long, long hallway. Remember that individual Protection from Elements spells are stronger than Day of Protection: Protection from Fire plus Power Shield is enough to block out most of the fire traps' damage.

"After all we went through to get to this, it had better not be more Negative Soul Waters."

You can drink from the Minotaur's Private Reserve up to three times before it runs out: that's nearly 23 levels' worth of experience in total. I give a drink to Fubar, Ms Swallow and Anleisa, since Fubar's damage output scales up well with level and the clerical casters could do with some extra spell points.

"I do believe we're ready to continue now, yes."

"Are you serious? What is this, a toll road?"

"It is seeming that if we are to progress, we shall have to pony upwards."

"Uh-oh. I think I see where this is going."

"Already paid this much. Might as well keep paying now."
"Bad thinking. Sunk cost fallacy."
"Maybe so. On other hand, you got better idea?"

"Totally called it. Oh well. It's not like we don't have the money."

"And people say I'm passive-aggressive."

At least once we've paid the fee, we can come and go from the fifth floor as we please. We have to pay it in full, though: if we pay the first few tolls and then back out, we have to pay them again.

Floor 5 is one big maze full of minotaurs and gorgons. No levers, no moving walkways, no fancy tricks: just six adventurers and a small army of monsters.

"I don't think this is the songbird for which we've been searching, but it seems a shame to let it languish here."

"Wait, do eagles even sing?"
"Magic eagle do what magic eagle want."

There are also Magpies of Might, Larks of Luck, Parakeets of Personality, Albatrosses of Accuracy, and Sparrows of Speed: in short, the party's getting a whole lot of permanent stat bonuses from this dungeon. No Intellect boosts, but Flench and Vandesloof have already done very well for themselves with the Int boosts in previous dungeons, so they can't complain.

"Not good. No gems mean no magic. No magic mean no dead gorgons. No dead gorgons mean many dead adventurers."

I managed to burn through a total of something like 5000 gems while clearing out the Dungeon of Lost Souls. 10 gems per spell from all those Mass Distortions, Incinerates, and, uh, Mega Voltses really adds up over time.

"Fortunately, the right spell for this situation demands no gems!"

There we go. This should be more than enough to finish the rest of the dungeon. I'm slightly embarrassed that I was actually careless enough to run out of gems mid-battle, and I don't want to let that happen again.

"Doesn't putting these statues at the bottom of an incredibly lethal dungeon run counter to the whole 'for all to hear' bit?"

"A deep, dark space? Were these statues built by someone who came from the sea?"
"Or perhaps from the void beyond the edge of the world."

"Lot of effort just to boast."

If you're familiar with previous Might & Magic games, something about these messages might be ringing a bell for you right about now.

The fifth floor is divided into two halves, separated by a gate. Once again, Trish can't pick it open so we magic our way through.

The west half is more open and less mazelike than the east, but is sadly lacking in stat-boosting birds.

"I'm not sure prophecies about crackers will be much use to us right now."

"See, this is why I hate prophecies. Always needlessly vague. How about telling us who you're talking about or where he is?"
"From context, the tyrant Alamar would seem a likely bet."

"Woooo! We finally find bird we look for! Only regret is, bird just for listening to, not for eating."

"Even the animal kingdom cannot resist my charms!"
"That's not really something you should brag about, Sloof."

"There's something awfully familiar about this dungeon level, but I just can't quite put my finger on it..."

"Well, no matter. We've achieved a great victory today."
"Great victory? We nearly got ourselves killed to find a bird."
"Fair point. We've taken a small and painful step toward achieving a great victory today."

"Will do!"

"...the castle. Unfortunately, I do not have the combination -- only Queen Kalindra knows it. But I can give you the combination to the safes on this level that contain energy discs. It is 64, 52, 31. Remember, only Queen Kalindra has the combination to her safe."

Dimitri rewards the party with several top-tier items of equipment. We're now the proud owners of an obsidian shield, splint mail and boots.

Oh, and make sure to talk to Megan again after giving the bird to Dimitri for an easy three levels' worth of experience.

Sure enough, using the combination Dimitri gave us on the safes on the second floor reveals a bumper crop of energy discs. There are a total of 25 discs available in the game, we need 20 to fully restore the castle, and 6 of them are in these safes: simple arithmetic reveals that it's not possible to fully restore the castle without helping Dimitri.

"I do believe it's time to pay Ellinger another visit."

"... magical duties that will require my full attention from now till the completion of the prophecy. Go with my blessing."

Thanks to our diligent disc-collecting efforts, we can finally access every floor of Castle Kalindra.

"Talk about all the modern conveniences. We should get a temple like this built at Newcastle!"
"Doesn't Newcastle already have a temple?"
"Yeah, but not one that looks like this! We're totally getting shown up here!"
"Perhaps that's because Queen Kalindra is the rightful ruler of Darkside, whereas we literally bought our way into the nobility a few years ago."

"At least I can get these locks open. I was startin' to worry I'd lost my touch."

There are some handy teleportation squares on the third floor that warp you between the northern and southern halves of the castle, which are otherwise separate from each other and accessible from different sets of stairs on the floor below.

The third floor also has a blacksmith, which can carry some very nice gear indeed. Anything up to emerald equipment can randomly appear, and I'm lucky enough to snag an armour upgrade for Vandesloof right away.

"Are you green with envy at my armour? This is too bad for you, for I am green with emeralds!"

The castle's training grounds can take us up to level 100, which is handy since some party members are already approaching Sandcaster's level-50 limit. Unfortunately, training isn't going to get any less expensive.

"Oh, so that's what the deal was with all those mirrors we kept finding. I knew it had to be something."

We can now use the mirrors that we've seen in towers as portals. Like the mirror portals in Clouds, we can enter the name of just about any location as it appears on the map and appear nearby in an instant. We can't use this to enter towns without a pass, though: saying the name of a town drops us directly outside the town.

"Free booze for heroes of Xeen!"

Fubar already has plenty of Might, but it's not like I'm going to complain about getting even more.

Queen's Brew gives +10 to Personality instead, finally letting Ms Swallow and Anleisa catch up a little to their sorcerous counterparts in spell point totals.

"I don't think we'll be getting this open without Queen Kalindra's help. Which is kind of a dilemma, since it's meant to contain the crown that we need to devampirize her."
"Then we'll just have to watch our necks when we find her, won't we?"

With the top floor of the castle restored, we can also access the skyroads from Castle Kalindra (and access Castle Kalindra from the skyroads).

"We've done all we can at Castle Kalindra for now, but there's one more thing we need to do before we can rest..."

"Ah. Much better."

I've shuffled the party's equipment around a bit to gain the best possible benefit from all the stat boosts we just got. Fubar's got 190 Might even before equipment bonuses. Also note his frankly ridiculous HP total.

Between her newly-raised Personality and being a few levels ahead of Flench, Ms Swallow's just barely managed to edge out Flench's spell point total for the first time since near the start of Darkside. She's also got enough Speed to actually go first against most enemies, which is no small feat.

Flench is a few levels behind most of the party right now, but he's still way ahead of where he was an update ago. I'm kinda wishing I'd given the Minotaur's Private Reserve to one clerical caster and one sorcerous caster, so that I'd get an extra level-based bonus to both kinds of buff. Oh well.

Trish is likewise standing out from the crowd less than she used to, since I've let other party members catch up to her a little. She's still pulling her weight, though.

Anleisa's finally shaping up into a well-balanced caster with a solid spell list and decent survivability, and now has the SP to cast her best spells more than three or four times. She's still not great in melee combat, especially since I haven't found a usable weapon for her in ages: she's stuck with a gold flail when the frontliners all have diamond or obsidian.

Vandesloof's encountered a bit of a problem with all this levelling up we've been doing: between being a few levels behind, being the class/race combination with the worst base HP in the game, and no longer having quite such a huge lead in Endurance over everyone else, he's fallen badly behind the rest of the party in hit points. He's fine against cannon fodder, but he'll likely be the first to fall if we run into any particularly tough fights. That spell point total sure is impressive, though.

I think it's high time we did some more outdoor exploration, to unlock a few more areas for future adventuring. Should the party start in the northwest, around the volcanic wasteland of the Forbidden Zone? Should they venture into the icy mountains and forests of the northeast? Or perhaps you think they should take a tour of the Skyroads, now that they're strong enough to face the sky golems? Vote now!