Part 98: Quantity Over QualityUpdate 53: Quantity Over Quality
Remember the lava lake back in Clouds that had a locked tower in the middle of it, that couldn't be opened by any key on Cloudside? Remember that key we found in the dungeon of Alamar's Castle?
Welcome to Dragon Tower.
"Not that I'm complaining, but I don't see any dragons, just a lot of lava."
"What kind of idiot would put a bed here? You roll out of bed on the wrong side and bam, suddenly you're on fire. As someone who's constantly getting up on the wrong side of bed, I wouldn't last one night."
"You already got this far. Why not further?"
"You call us cowards? Fubar show you meaning of courage!"
The first floor of Dragon Tower is mostly covered in lava, but if you don't have enough magical oomph to block all damage from lava by now, what are you even doing here?
There are three staircases leading up, each connecting to a separate section of the tower. We'll start with the right-hand side, because it seems like the right way to go.
Remember how Cloudside dragons used to be scary? Not so much now that we've taken on the Mega Dragon and won, hence the update title.
...no 10,000,000 gold pieces!
"Ten million? Guess I know where to start negotiating from once we bring that egg back. What kind of potion's worth that much, anyway?"
"Today just keeps gettin' better and better."
The items in this treasure cache can be top-tier, but they're not guaranteed to be, so there's a high chance they'll just be junk unless you savescum for what you want.
"Perhaps that's the item we need to rescue Prince Roland from Sheltem's dungeon!"
"Come to think of it, Corak did a number on that castle last time we were there. I hope the dungeon didn't collapse or anything. It'd be pretty awkward if we got the future king of Cloudside squished."
Our reward for reaching the top of this side of the tower is four doses of a very powerful Endurance potion. I feed a bunch of them to Vandesloof to max out his Endurance and give what's left over to Anleisa, since they're still the two most fragile party members.
The left side of the tower is mostly a mirror image of the right, but with different and equally non-threatening Cloudside dragons.
"There is wisdom in these words. Dragons are known for being really, really big."
"So the people most likely to look in one are least likely to survive. Gotta love fate's sense of irony."
Four more doses of that delicious Endurance potion await us on the left side, along with one more thing...
"Wow. This biggest egg Fubar ever see! Would make great omelette for sure!"
"Oh no you don't. You're not eating my ten million gold. We're taking this right back to that druid!"
"Yessssss! Yes yes yes yes yes c'mon c'mon where's the money where's the--"
"Aw, crap. I shoulda made him promise not to do that."
Back in Clouds, the Dragon King was tough enough that I had to devise an elaborate strategy to beat him. Now, he's about as dangerous as a Cloud Dragon: capable of doing some damage if we don't kill him first, but not a real threat.
Well, one of him isn't a real threat. When we head up into the middle section of the tower, we face lots of them, enough that I have to keep an eye on the party's health.
"I'm impressed that the dragons are physically capable of turning the pages on this book."
10 levels' worth of experience is pretty cool, and everyone in the party is allowed to read it once. It's a pity that gold is still the limiting factor in the party's training, even with all the cash we've picked up in this tower.
Did I say 10 levels' worth of experience? There's a second book, so make that 20 levels. It'll be fun to look at the party's experience total at the end of the game and calculate what level they could have achieved, at least.
"Wow, this lock is a pain in the ass. I must be out of practice, what with how the monster-slaying-to-lockpicking ratio has skewed in the direction of the former lately."
Twenty levelups and a couple of Lloyd's Beacon spells later...
"That's more like it! Now let's see what these dragons have been--"
"I'm not angry, just disappointed."
The dragon kings' chest does 10,000 fire damage to the entire party when successfully opened. Even with massively high fire resistance, the odds are that most of the party will get wiped out.
On the bright side, our reward for getting it open and surviving is no less than ten guaranteed top-tier items.
There are two lesser chests on either side of it, doing 5,000 fire damage and containing three top-tier items.
And last but not least, there are a couple of treasure caches with two top-tier items plus a million gold, and no deathtraps whatsoever.
"To the skies! A fitting place to be fighting dragons!"
In addition to regular Cloud Dragons, the Dragon Clouds contain Phase Dragons, which as their appearance suggests are basically supercharged Cloud Dragons. They have twice as many HP, do a bit more damage and have higher speed. Keep Protection from Cold up and fight them the same way you would Cloud Dragons; just pay closer attention to the party's health.
"Ooh! Ooh! Fubar always want to learn history!"
... worlds being uncreated in your brain. You try to break free from the grip of the Dragon but are helpless to do so. Your body collapses as your soul is rent from your body and consumed by the vortex of the past.
"Hands up who didn't see that coming. Anyone? Didn't think so."
"Let me be trying! Surely I will have the fortitude of mind to withstand a mere orb."
... you as you realise what will happen to a mortal who sees the infinite. You break your link with the Dragon in a desperate attempt at self-preservation. The following words tumble from your lips as you recover from the experience:
"The history is endless."
"Sloof? You okay there?"
"I believe so, although I am feeling as if I have been hit with an alfalfa hammer."
"You mean a lucerne hammer?"
"Eh, same thing."
Looking into the orb and surviving requires a minimum of 200 Intellect. While it's kind of a hint to a certain puzzle, it's mostly there for cool flavour text.
"How fascinating -- surely there's some potent magic in this..."
"Oof. Potent indeed, but worth it."
Dragon Power Crystals inflict 2000 Electricity damage to whoever touches them, but grant a permanent bonus of 3-5 levels. The number of levels gained is random, so you can savescum for the best result on all of them. I won't, because I'm trying to play as fairly as possible and also seriously I've beaten the Mega Dragon so what the hell do I need levels for any more.
"Maybe this book not kill Fubar quite so bad."
"Yay! Still alive!"
"Strange. Must be some kind of code or symbol."
The minimum Intellect requirement for this book is only 100. Considering how many Intellect boosts the game throws at you, it'd be hard to get to this point in the game and not have 100 Intellect on somebody.
"Another book. Maybe these are names of important dragons?"
"Psychology another subject Fubar want to learn!"
"Wait, you're not seriously going to--"
"-- you did. Well, I suppose there's no point knowing resurrection magic if I never have the opportunity to use it."
"Maybe Flench have better luck."
... brain reels from the onslaught and breaks the link before it is overloaded. You feel weak and drained from the experience but are surprised to find yourself uttering a single phrase over and over:
"The knowledge is limitless."
"Flench! Hey! Flench! Snap out of it! Team Sanity needs you on our side to keep from being constantly outvoted!"
"I'm sure this'll be okay to drink from. Wells are hardly ever lethal. I mean there was that one in Necropolis but that was kind of obvious."
This would be another good place to go in preparation for fighting the Mega Dragon, if we hadn't killed it already.
While the west side of the clouds is full of Cloud and Phase Dragons, the east side is full of Green and Energy Dragons. Energy Dragons have 5000 HP and breathe energy for 1000 damage per hit -- that's comparable average damage to the Mega Dragon, and they can show up in groups of three or more! At least they can't eradicate anyone, and with only 50% physical resistance a solid round of melee attacks will finish one off.
"Futurology is legitimate academic discipline! Fubar show you all!"
... innumerable races yet to exist. You lust for more but the mortal shell you wear is unable to cope with what the mind now holds. Fire explodes in your head as all the cells in your body implode upon themselves.
"You know, I was always curious what it'd look like if that happened to someone."
"And? Now you see, what you think of it?"
"I think curiosity is way overrated."
"Nonsense! I will boldly risk all in the name of discovery! And also in the name of the great Vandesloof! Do not be forgetting it!"
... tender wood. You break the iron grip that the Dragon holds on you before you are destroyed. You try to vocalise your experience but can only mutter the words:
"The possibilities are unlimited."
"I hope there aren't any more of those orbs. Resurrection is a rather tiring spell to cast."
Make your own jokes here, because even I'm not gonna make a Monty Python reference in 2014.
"Hm. If we put runes in all four books together... probably important for something, but what?"
"You'd think a dragon's lair would have a statue of a dragon instead of some creepy demon dude playing air guitar."
The game is serious about the 'or perish' part: if you answer this question incorrectly, your whole party will instantly be eradicated without so much as an insulting message.
"This must be what runes are for. Assemble in right order..."
"This seem familiar somehow. Hope Richard Garriott not sue for copyright infringement."
"When you think about it, does the secret of the dragons still count as a secret once non-dragons know it?"
"That dragon not there before. Maybe here to congratulate us and offer honorary commission in dragon army for fighting and riddle-answering skills?"
"I suppose being devoured is like joining the army, in the sense that both involve becoming a part of something bigger than yourself."
A total of thirteen energy dragons spawn behind the party after receiving the Silver ID Card. It can be a nasty surprise if you think you're safe to run around at low health because you've already cleared out the area.
"With this ID card, we should finally be able to rescue Prince Roland. Let's return to Castle Alamar at once!"
Showing our Silver ID card opens up a passage in the north wall of this room, which leads to...
... another, pickier skull.
"So how many more times are we going to have to do this? Does it end at gold or do we need a platinum card after that?"
"Guess we know where the next card is, at least."
The party was able to gain a ton of levels this update, thanks to the gold in the tower and the crystals in the clouds above it. That means more HP and stronger attacks: as you've seen, enemies in the postgame can put up a fight even against a very strong party, so the extra power is still useful even if it's kind of overkill. Next time, the party will have the chance to put that power to good use in Darkstone Tower!