Part 97: Draconian PunishmentUpdate 52: Draconian Punishment
"At last! This will be the chance for me to be showing all of Xeen the power of my magic!"
"We're really doin' this? We're gonna take on the Mega Dragon? Awesome!"
"If it ever moves from its perch atop the ruins of Castle Alamar, there's no telling what destruction it could wreak. Now that Xeen is no longer in danger from Sheltem, we can spare some time to deal with his little pet."
Before we take on the Mega Dragon, the most difficult enemy in all of Xeen, let's look over our party's capabilities.
Fubar's role in this fight will be to start hitting the Mega Dragon with an obsidian weapon immediately and never stop until it's dead.
He's got a few good pieces of energy resistance gear: that plus his massive HP will hopefully be enough to keep him in the fight even as weaker combatants fall.
Ms Swallow is going to be a very busy woman: she's going to need to use her clerical magic both to soften up the Mega Dragon with Mass Distortion and to keep the party alive with Resurrect and Divine Intervention. She can also help clean up with melee attacks toward the end of the fight if needed (or if she runs out of spell points).
Again, I'm counting on her good energy resistance and decent HP to help her survive. Ms Swallow and Anleisa are the most important party members to keep alive in this fight: if they both fall at once, we're pretty much done for.
Flench's sorcerer spells won't be much use in this fight, so I'll be using him as a secondary melee fighter. Fortunately, his high Might and Accuracy make him more than competent in that role.
His energy resistance is a touch lower than Ms Swallow's, but his slightly higher HP should balance that out.
Trish is going to be another secondary melee combatant, although her lower level will make her a bit less effective compared to Flench.
That long bow she's wielding is nearly useless in combat, but the Luck boost it provides might help her resist the Mega Dragon's attacks. A lot of her other gear is focused on improving her armour class and thievery, neither of which will be useful against the Mega Dragon. Still, she's got an obsidian melee weapon, which is all she really needs to contribute here.
Anleisa, like Ms Swallow, is going to pump out healing and Mass Distortions as needed. She's got enough spell points that I hopefully won't have to worry about her running out, but that low HP total could be a problem.
She'll be a bit useless in melee combat -- she hasn't even got an obsidian weapon -- but if I find myself relying on her melee attacks in the first place then something has gone terribly wrong.
I'm not going to mince words: Vandesloof is the weakest link in this fight. Sorcerer spells are next to useless against the Mega Dragon and Vandesloof's melee capability is seriously subpar. I'm mostly going to have him spam Identify Monster so I can keep track of the Mega Dragon's remaining HP from round to round.
He's got the highest energy resistance in the party, for what little good that'll do him: I should probably have redistributed some of his resistance gear to more important characters.
If you're preparing to fight the Mega Dragon, two things matter most: HP and energy resistance. As such, it's very helpful to stop by the +2500 HP and +100 resistance wells in northwestern Darkside. I, however, am not going to use any wells or fountains, because you've all been taunting me about this fight for the last three or four updates and I have a point to prove. I'm going to pre-buff with Day of Protection and Day of Sorcery, and that's the full extent of the preparation I'll do.
From this position on the map, we can reach the clouds above Castle Alamar by teleporting 7 paces east.
"Hm. No Mega Dragon here. Time to go home."
"Hold! Look over there!"
"What a marvellous creature! My only regret is that its head will be too large to be hanging on the wall of my trophy room."
"So this why life insurance company always hang up on Fubar when he say occupation."
"We're all going to die here, aren't we. And the worst thing is, this time it'll actually be my fault."
"Too late for second thoughts now. Nothing to do but fight."
Since Identify Monster is (as usual) giving a glitched readout on everything except HP, let's take a look at the Mega Dragon's entry in the hintbook:
There are four important things to note about the Mega Dragon. Firstly, it'll average about 1000 Energy damage per round before resistances to the entire party; secondly, its attacks have a chance to cause eradication; thirdly, it's immune or nearly immune to all damage types; and finally, it's got sixty-four-fucking-thousand hit points.
(By the way, its appearance isn't a glitch -- it's meant to look like that.)
This is the state of the party after its first attack (which came before anyone could act, on account of how it has 200 Speed). As you can see, Anleisa's already at critical health, while Flench managed to resist the damage completely because he's just that good.
Our first priority is getting that 64,000 HP down to a more reasonable figure, which mostly involves casting Mass Distortion a lot and hoping it sticks.
Even if the spell 'works', it's not guaranteed to halve the Mega Dragon's HP: it'll often only do a little damage.
"We're not off to the best start here."
Even with the best possible preparation, characters getting eradicated can totally ruin any strategy you have. Not only does it mean your cleric or paladin has to waste a turn and 125 SP casting Resurrect, it also causes all items and equipment in the character's inventory to break, severely weakening melee combatants and removing the benefit of any resistance-boosting gear. High experience level and Luck both seem to improve your odds of survival, but in the end it still comes down to chance.
I spend one of Ms Swallow's turns resurrecting Anleisa and another resurrecting Vandesloof, which was a tactical error; once Anleisa was alive I should have just cast Divine Intervention to bring all non-eradicated party members back to full health and let Sloof sit around and be a skeleton for a while longer, since he's not really contributing anyway. If Ms Swallow had been eradicated at this point, the fight would have been as good as lost.
As it is, she manages to get a Divine Intervention in just in time to bring Anleisa back into the fight, so she can return the favour when Ms Swallow needs resurrection.
Once revived, Ms Swallow finally manages to land a Mass Distortion at full effectiveness, cutting the Mega Dragon's HP in half. Three or four more of those and it'll be in the range where we could reasonably hope to finish it off in a round or two of melee attacks.
"It's finally slowing down -- if nothin' else goes wrong, I think we're gonna win this one after all!"
Something else went wrong. The good news is that the Mega Dragon's down to around 2000 HP, and Fubar's equipment is still intact. Now it all comes down to a battle of attrition: can Fubar survive long enough to take out the Mega Dragon's remaining health?
"Fubar not let friends down!"
"Hah! I knew that I could not fail! Once again, the great archmage Vandesloof's mastery of battle and leadership has saved the day!"
A whopping 100 million experience points are distributed evenly among all surviving party members. Not that we have any use for them; for one thing we've just proven we can already kill the toughest monster in the game, and for another we still don't have any money for training.
"I see that we've been victorious. The scourge of the skies has been brought down to earth, to trouble Xeen no more. All that remains is to revive our dead."
Unfortunately, fixing eradication at a temple is incredibly expensive for high-level characters: it'd completely drain what little gold we have left. I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and use Resurrect spells, even though they come with the side effect of permanently losing a point of Endurance.
"I have to admit, that was pretty cool. Now let's never do anything like it ever again."
If you want to see how fighting the Mega Dragon goes down in real time, I did an alternate run in video form. This attempt goes a lot faster than my original run, with two characters getting eradicated right off the bat but the party landing a couple of good Mass Distortions early on to stage a comeback. In this run I don't end up using Resurrect at all, since neither of the healers get eradicated until the fight's nearly over.
Next time, we'll be getting back on track with the postgame!
(Credit for the fanart in this update goes to my friend Nerissa. Thanks, Nerissa!)