Part 2: Wildlife ConservationUpdate 002: Wildlife Conservation
I can't believe we ended up getting Tails, I was looking forward to looting a fort.
C'mon, everyone! We've got a little girl to save!
Does anyone want to remind him that we spent four days scouring the countryside after we got told the child was missing? I'd be surprised if we even found bones.
We're going to be heroes!
...I don't have the heart for it.
Considering Portbello didn't just fetch his damn candelabra himself, I think we can assume it's not gonna be safe going in. Weapons and spells at the ready!
All of the dungeon entry screens have a bit of animation. For instance, here, the red eyes flash on and off.
And for anyone who wants to follow along, this is the full map of the temple, with the party entering at the lower right. Some of the more 3D parts can be hard to make out(where corridors cross over each other), but hopefully this gives an idea of what we're dealing with.
Now now, bats are generally peaceful herbivores or insectivores-
Augh! The bats! They're in my hair!
-except for a few specialized blood-drinking bats that primarily feed on lifestock-
They're coming out of the damn walls!
...and I feel like no one's quite listening to me.
Ah, yes, I see. Firebolts coming right up.
So bats. They come in the usual three colours, yellow, blue and red(from weakest to strongest) and you wouldn't think that they'd be terrifying enemies, but they are. They do relatively low damage, but attack really fast(like about twice as fast as the party) and are actually of higher level for even the weakest variant so we have some trouble hitting them with physical attacks. They also all have the ability to Disease us, which is resisted by Endurance and Luck.
Now, Might and Magic 6 is a bit less datamined and documented by dorks than 7 is, but as far as I've been able to tell, most conditions seem to do roughly the same thing.
Weak Effect: Lowers Might, Endurance, Accuracy and Speed by 40%. Reduces combat efficency and lowers Hit and Spell Points to 50% maxmimum over time. Cured by a Cure Disease spell or potion.
Moderate Effect: Lowers Might, Endurance, Accuracy and Speed by 30%. Lowers Intellect and Personality by 40% Reduces combat efficency and lowers Hit and Spell Points to 33% maxmimum over time. Cured by a Cure Disease spell or potion.
So while it's less outright evil than Wizardry/Wizards & Warriors Disease, in that it causes no permanent stat penalties, it does have a more acute function of making someone totally useless for combat. Casters can still function, but the problem is that once they rest, they still only recover to the reduced maximum until healed, so their ammo supply is severely stripped down, if nothing else. At least the bats can only cause the "Weak" disease effect and not the moderate or severe ones.
Anyway, let's see how the party's doing after that fight.
I don't feel so good. I think I might've caught something off those bats.
Just a scratch, champ, you can walk it off.
He's turned green. We're dragging him back to the temple.
Because, of course, I have nothing that cures Disease or Poison until I hit the next town, so every infection is costing me 50 gold. Considering that I'm entering the temple of Baa with 200, that strains the party's economy a bit. I won't be recording every trip out to get un-diseased and de-poisoned, but you can assume it's happened every time someone stops being bright green from one screenshot to the next.
Aside from an immediate rush by a bat swarm, all the entrance hall has for us is a bit of dropped loot on the floor(scoring Deadeye some nice electricity resistance gloves and a suit of platemail for selling) and a barrel of +1 speed(which goes to Agnes). Currently no one in the party knows how to wear platemail anyway, and I'm strongly thinking that the speed penalty for wearing plate won't be worth the armor boost unless I find one with some very nice enchantments on it.
Anyone perceptive can probably spot the pack of bats hurtling up the stairs. This is how it ends up:
Gee, Deadeye, maybe you should walk it off.
Get me to the temple before I puke up my kidneys.
Oh no, I'm sure you can handle a room or two more.
This seems pointlessly cruel, what if he gets badly hurt?
Well he wants us to drag him to the temple anyway, doesn't he?
And it's yet another new enemy!
Cobras are even tougher than bats, but because they don't fly, sometimes you can get them lodged on geometry more easily or they can't path to you if there's, say, a shallow moat of some sort. Predictably, they poison people. Aside from being higher level than bats, and having more HP than bats, they also do over twice as much damage, and on 1 in 5 attacks they also do bonus poison damage that can catapult them up to 3d6+6 vs the basic bat's 1d3 damage. That's a lotta hurting! Combined with twice the hit points and twice the armor class that also makes them take longer to put down, they're probably the most dangerous enemy in the Temple of Baa.
As for the effects of poison...
Weak Poison: Lowers Might, Endurance, Accuracy and Speed by 25%. Reduces combat efficency and lowers Hit and Spell Points to 50% maxmimum over time. Cured by a Cure Poison spell or potion.
Moderate Poison: Lowers Might, Endurance, Accuracy and Speed by 50%. Lowers Intellect and Personality by 25%. Reduces combat efficency and lowers Hit and Spell Points to 33% maxmimum over time. Cured by a Cure Poison spell or potion.
Sevre Poison: Lowers Might, Endurance, Accuracy and Speed by 75%. Lowers Intellect and Personality by 50%. Reduces combat efficency and lowers Hit and Spell Points to 25% maxmimum over time. Cured by a Cure Poison spell or potion.
It's actually less awful than Disease, but otherwise has much the same effects. It's also resisted by poison resistance, rather than your endurance. Most of the cobras in the dungeon only do "weak" poison, but the toughest cobra down here, the Queen Cobra(of which I think there's only one present), can hit the party with Moderate Poison. The party does, in fact, want none of this if they can avoid it.
I think we got them all!
Some enemies aggro through walls, while others "wake up" when you enter their line of sight, in this case there were twice as many cobras inside the room as I originally aggroed and they took me a bit by surprise.
Including a goddamn King Cobra. Nope, please die and stay dead, you terrible thing.
Yeah, that's right, they're not hiding any new monster types deeper in the temple. They're springing all three new monster types on us pretty much as soon as we enter.
Spiders are, by their read stats, probably about as nasty as cobras, but for some reason they always end up going down more easily, I'm not sure entirely why. Mostly it probably helps that we almost only encounter their brown first-tier variety down here, the second-tier blue ones can do level 2 poison and the big red ones can do level 3 poison.
This is what the party looks like after clearing out both of those little rooms at the end, both full of spiders and a bit of incidental loot. Predictably, none of the animals drop gold, but cobras and bats have small chances to drop amulets and rings, presumably stuff they've swallowed when eating other adventurers.
How come you don't get poisoned, Agnes?
I figure it's because I'm not dumb enough to fight giant spiders with an axe, try to collect one for my studies or to try to pet one in the middle of combat.
Also these are the faces the party make while falling, which trigger a lot more easily than actual falling damage. Just going down a hill or some stairs a bit quickly tends to provoke it.
Right side of the hall is much like the left side, except just a chamber with cobras(note the one falling from the ceiling in the screenshot. I presume that gravity doesn't take effect for spawned enemies in dungeons until the party's close enough to "activate" them) and no little extra chambers full of angry, angry spiders.
And an introduction to the idea of not poking every object. This bucket, for example, holds a ring, but also poisons whoever fumbles around in there for it.
The chest in the corner contains the candelabra, and as the smart thing to do would be to head back out to hand that over to Portbello for some XP, that's exactly what the party is going to do.
So, handing that over to Portbello is actually quite a nice payday. 1000 gold and enough XP for a level-up(ignore the high gold value in the last screenshot, I went back later for some more of his randomly selected dialogue).
However, a few quests in the game, especially the one from the local bad man cult, drop our reputation precipitously. We started at a flat 0 and now we're down to -200 on a scale that goes from -1000 to 1000. Thankfully almost any other quest gives us positive rep, we can bribe the local temple to raise our rep and also over time rep tends to slowly head towards 0 if we don't do anything.
It's also worth nothing that Portbello means what he says about temples of Baa having cheap healing, they'll heal you for, if I remember right, 1 gold no matter how badly bruised you are, but like completing their quests, this will also drop your reputation.
Anyway, level-ups for eeeeeeeeveryone.
And as we start getting some skills up to 4, we can start expanding them to Expert skills. For some this is more vital than others, for instance for Disarm Traps and Identification it literally doubles the value you get out of each point, and some spells are absolutely not even worth casting without their Expert level expansions(either because they scale the skill pay-off or because they suddenly become full-party buffs rather than single-character buffs).
Unfortunately this is A) somewhat expensive and B) not all skill trainers for expert skills are available in New Sorpigal(or they have certain requirements for accessing them that we don't quite fulfil lyet), so for now the only Expert is going to be Richmond who gets Fire Magic Expertise. During this little interlude I also went and picked up Sparks for Deadeye since people insisted it was good. Let's see how it works out.
Stand back, I've got this one with my new spell. SPARKS!
Yeah one of the issues of Sparks is that it's not a projectile that gets aimed at targets, instead it goes flying straight out from where you're facing and, unless you angle your view up to fire it like a mortar, it just skips along the floor. This is fine for walking enemies but, as one might term it dogshit useless for flying enemies like bats.
It's alright, Deadeye, what matters is that you tried!
Yeah, Deadeye, don't worry about it, it's perfectly natural to have trouble getting your projectiles up sometimes.
As much as I appreciate bullying Deadeye, can we kill these bats before they give me rabies again?
Past the first wave of bats, we enter a more natural cave-y looking region of the dungeon.
And we can see an odd phenomenon past the bats.
Huh, that looks like fireworks.
That's nice, Bobelix.
Fireworks in a dungeon... the imagination on that boy sometimes.
While I hate to side with him, I'm doing it explicitly to spite Agnes. That totally looks like fireworks.
So there's a chest at the center of the cave that blasts out Spark-like projectiles in a radial pattern, including one fired straight up. After a few moments, they'll all explode damaging anyone near them, and of course if the party gets hit, they also take damage. So the trick is to note the pattern(it's consistent, at leaast), run in between two of the "spokes," crack the chest and leg it back out again before the central one explodes and without getting too close to any of the others.
Why are we all running with him? Deadeye could just run in there on his own!
We have to show him we trust in his trap-dodging and trap-disarming skills!
Ha ha yes if this kills me I'm taking you all with me.
Nothing unique in the chest, but the bow is an upgrade over Deadeye's crossbow and the gold is very nice, as I didn't have enough left over after the Expert Fire Magic lesson to cure anyone if they got bit by a bat or a spider and needed the temple. I mean anyone besides Richmond, who'll just have to deal with it for now.
And then the party manages to dodge out of range just in time to avoid getting exploded. The cave is also designed with enough generous space around the sides that if you hug the leftmost wall you can pass through without any risk of getting blasted, so you don't have to wait for the chest every time you want to make the trip in and out.
Also I want to point out what a fucking relief it is to be able to see five feet in front of the party in a dungeon with Torchlight up compared to fucking Wizards & Warriors. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy everything this game does that W&W does not, yet?
As we get deeper into the cave, bats become less prevalent and the enemies start switching over to mostly spiders and cobras. The spiders are no big deal, but when the cobras land their second attack it really kicks my ass. Even with Protection from Poison up, it feels like I get poisoned at about the same rate as usual, maybe this'll change once Bobelix is a Body Magic Expert or simply has more ranks in Body Magic, but for now it feels like it could be going better.
The cave doesn't have an awful lot of branches, but here's one of them, and this one is important to head down because...
How the hell is she alive down here? We almost died ten times getting this far!
Don't you worry, Angela, we'll get you home safe. I'm Bobelix, the other three are Agnes, Deadeye and Richmond.
She seems to be in good enough health... we should probably get her back to her mother right away.
Eh, if she's tough enough to have made it this far, she can ride on Bobelix's shoulders while we check out what's behind that door.
That's one hell of a door. It bodes.
Yeah, the rest of us are gonna stand behind the corner over here while you open it.
-grim, yes, I know.
-I was gonna say that's a jackpot. Dead people can't stop us stealing their stuff.
Just put your hands over your ears any time Deadeye's talking, Angela.
The room has a bit of scattered loot, and the hanging cages can also be looted for some random rings and other trinkets.
Since she's implemented as a follower, albeit at the lowest payment rate, Angela still snags 1 coin from any pile we pick up.
See here, Angela? You can have this shiny gold coin for being a brave girl.
That's absolutely coming out of your own share.
Are we sure this is a smart thing to do? People come to bad ends robbing tombs and graves...
What are these old bones going to do? Blow us up?
The game doesn't even bother to explain this one with a sound effect or a damage splash or anything, the party just gets to eat shit for poking these two cages at the end of the room. Might and Magic might have entered the realms of 3D, but it's still every bit as willing to fuck you over at the drop of a hat as the older games.
Okay, point taken. Ow.
Thankfully the game is generally semi-merciful with heavy damage. It takes a LOT of damage to drop a character from alive straight into dead, there's a buffer period of KO'd between the two. It still sucks to be in, since every time a character gets KO'd I believe they have a chance to have a piece of gear broken, which would suck. A quick nap inside a chamber full of ancient, mouldering corpses with a small child along for the ride patches everyone right up.
It's starting to worry me that getting assaulted by swarms of carnivorous bats no longer frightens me.
That's just you developing some character, Richmond.
Ah, good, I was worried it was the rabies again.
Which we are we going, Agnes?
Not left, I can sure as hell tell you that.
This area is another little crossroads, with the left path being a bridge over a lower tunnel full of bats. I'm pretty sure if you cross over it the bats will aggro and come up for you, because they didn't seem to follow normal aggro rules as I could approach the edge of the bridge and look down at them and they didn't come for me.
Going right, on the other hand, is oops-all-cobras territory.
Damn, Richmond, maybe you should've had some of that lucky well water after all.
As fun as it is to pick on Richmond, we should probably wait until we've hauled him out of the cave to go "I told you so."
I can feel my blood coagulating inside my veins.
Hear that, Angela? You're going home!
Vision... blurry... is this the temple?
Uhhhhhh, yeah, just sit down here on the grass while we go talk to the nice priest.
This would be an interesting bit of dialogue in a different game where we could actually talk to the goblins. All we can do here is feel sorry for Jimmy Goblin as we carve him into shreds and loot his corpse.
I get Richmond de-poisoned and, as it turns out, rescuing Angela was enough XP for another level-up!
The big changes are Expert Earth Magic for Agnes as well as some Mind magic, Water magic advances for Richmond, Bobelix getting ready for Expert Body Magic and Deadeye finally getting some magical advances, in his case in Air Magic. He's otherwise busy being mostly invested in non-combat skills, since elemental magic is what I've got on three characters, so I figured he was the one I could most safely dump stuff like ID'ing items and disarming traps on.
As much as I enjoy these regular brushes with death, I'm glad this is going to be our last visit to this place.
Cobra queens aren't exactly unique boss enemies, but I believe there's only one or at most two down here, and they're the toughest thing we've had the pleasure of fighting so far. They're definitely not enemies we want to get close to, so fighting them is mostly a matter of running away, turning around, blasting them, and then turning and running again before their flinch-animation ends.
Damn, what were those snakes fighting so hard for anyway? You'd figure they'd just start running after we killed the first fifty of them.
Well there's your explanation, Deadeye. Most animals will fight to the death for their eggs or young.
Ugh, I hope there isn't a nest of spider eggs down here, too.
Can I keep one? Maybe we can hatch ourselves a friend!
Not until the next game. What I want to know is why snakes are guarding a chest.
Huh, let's find out what's valuable to a snake. And steal it.
That huge green splot is what happens when Deadeye fucks up disarming a trap and gets the party knocked around. The chest mostly just contained gold and a new axe for Deadeye.
Proceeding through the snake lair, what comes at us next is brown spiders that are annoyingly hard to spot against the brown floor sometimes.
Also note that dense cluster of enemies on the minimap, that's a bunch of enemies that have pathed on to a ledge just above the ramp, which means that as soon as I step on to the ramp, they all drop on my head and get attacks on me while I can't blast them from range. It hurts.
On the bright side, now we get to see Agnes' poisoned/diseased expression, too.
While I chop my way through the spiders, I almost manage to miss the Queen Spider, who's just another spider, but larger and red. She's supposed to have 50 hitpoints but nonetheless goes down to just a couple of casts from Agnes and Richmond, leading me to suspect they must've rolled pretty much max damage on both of them, which is good, because the Queen Spider does not fuck around if she gets close enough to take a nibble out of the party. She's even capable of spitting poison at range if she feels like it.
She also guards this little pond containing a chest and a skylight.
Will Deadeye pick this one without getting everyone killed?
Hey, last one was a fluke, who would have expected snakes to be good locksmiths?
We have faith in you, Deadeye, from over here, behind the door.
He actually does crack it, though, and it contains a fat load of gold, over 5000 gold pieces which is a big cha-ching and will pay for some more expert-level training and some more spells. After that, though, it's just cleanup.
Looping around below the stone bridge.
Deadeye fucking up again.
Also, because the dungeon is relatively long and linear, both paths(going over and under the stone bridge) lead to a teleporter that takes you back to the room with the fireworks chest, which is a nice bit of quality-of-life stuff. Most M&M6 dungeons do not waste your time with a huge, long slog back to the entrance, which I appreciate them for even when they fuck me over.
I'll be happy never to see the inside of another Temple of Baa, no matter how good their prices on healing are.
Maybe if it wasn't full of angry animals it would have been a cozy place!
Hey, for this kind of payday? I'd slog through that place twice.
I do feel a bit bad about all those dead cobras, though.
I never expected you to care about endangered species.
Maybe Deadeye wants a pet cobra, too!
Hell no, what I'm looking at is how much this doofus is paying us for the eggs! We should've scored a breeding pair and set up a Cobra egg shop rather than going out risking our lives.
In any case, the Spider Queen's heart nets the party yet another level-up, and thus more skills at 4 points that need turning into expert skills.
In particular I'm excited to get Deadeye up to Air 4 so Wizard Eye will reveal more details and Spark will deliver 60% more projectiles when cast.
Mind, Water and Body are the respective upgrades for Agnes, Richmond and Bobelix. Now, to find those trainers, let's bring out the New Sorpigal map again...
So the Body, Spirit and Mind Expert trainers are in the 20-22 row of houses, those are easy enough.
But where the hell are the Water and Air trainers?
The Water Expert Magic trainer is out at 37 and thus unreachable to us at the moment until we expand our skill selection. Either Air or Water magic can solve the problem for us, predictably.
And now the important one, where's the trainer that'll give me access to infinite arcane power?
Says 25 in the margins.
...that's the bank, you're holding the map upside down or something.
Agnes is, in fact, correct, it's in that building. But it's not the ground-floor entrance, no, the developers cruelly hid the Air trainer behind the door up on the little balcony, which is unreachable without some intense jank exploitation or learning some advanced air spells.
Now, I could be patient and wait with this upgrade, but fuck patience. We're getting that expert training now.
How am I gonna get up there? No one here's invented a ladder, and if they had, they wouldn't loan us one after we did that quest for the Baa guy.
Hmmm... I might have an idea. Bobelix? Please, stand over here.
A bit to the left.
Uhhhh, I'm seeing something weird, it kind of makes my head hurt...
That just means its working, now... step back, and then forwards, and reach out...
At the right angle the bottom of the balcony stops rendering, and thus stops existing, and the party can just reach up through it and knock on the door and summon the trainer.
Alright, let's never do that again. In fact, I need something to clear my palate, let's go clean out Goblinwatch.
Clean up, you mean.
No, I don't think I do, we're stripping that place to the floorboards.
This can't possibly be worse than the Temple of Baa, at least.
Next Time: Do goblins have families? We'll empirically test by killing a bunch of them and see if anyone shows up for their funerals.