Part 7: PromotionsUpdate 7: Promotions
Get ready for a slightly less coherent update than usual, the goal for this one was to get all of the six first promotion quests, and then complete any that the party were ready for. Let me tell you, it was not easy going as this update we meet the worst monster in the game.
Starting off, I'm back in the Mire of the Damned because that's where I ended the last session, for reasons I can't even quite remember myself. But since I'm there, I figure I might as well set the party to beating up some ghosts and skeletons.
This is the best spell ever, nothing like shooting at enemies that can't shoot back. Give 'em another fireball, Richmond!
Only the ghosts are an annoyance and, hell are they ever an annoyance. Flying enemies are a pain to engage in the overworld since they almost always force you into melee or near-melee range before you can actually start landing any hits, where ground-bound enemies can generally be strafed pretty effectively from the sky and occasionally pinned against uncrossable terrain features like rivers.
Can't believe we used to be scared of these guys.
I still think skeletons are pretty scary.
Hey, while we were strafing these guys, I think I saw a cave tucked away in the hills near the circus, might be there's some loot in there. Just what it'd take to round my afternoon off.
This dungeon is actually relatively easy to overlook because, yeah, it's pretty well-hidden and doesn't exactly show up super-well on the overworld map either, but you actually need to complete it in order to be able to complete the other dwarven mines back on the Ironfist side of things.
Free drinking fountains!
So you might expect the drinking troughs inside a dungeon to fuck you up hugely. Joke's on you, though, that's both a HEALTH recovery trough AND a spell point recovery trough!
They're at points 1 and 2 on the map, with the party emerging immediately between them. Despite its large number of branching paths, Snergle's Iron Mines are pretty easy to navigate since they have no teleporters and none of the paths make contact with each other after branching off.
You'd expect some kind of welcome committee, though, maybe some guards, some monsters...
Maybe our reputation precedes us and they've decided to leg it rather than face our wrath.
...anyone else hear a sort of bubbling sound around the corner?
Oozes are why the Dragoons' Caverns back in Castle Ironfist are such a low-level trap, as they also feature these problematic protoplasmic perishers.
Get back to fighting and stay out of my alliteration. Anyway. All three tiers of these, Oozes, Acidic Oozes and Corrosive Oozes are completely immune to magic damage, poison damage and physical damage, which means that even Agnes' mainstay spell, Deadly Swarm, wouldn't scratch them. This means that encounters with them are often largely up to me to destroy them with my fire magic. Normal Oozes, at least, have a very weak attack, but decent hit points, Acidic Oozes hit harder and can spit projectiles, they can also damage(thankfully not destroy, just damage) equipment, and Corrosive Oozes, the mustard-coloured ones, take a while to wear down due to the limited damage sources, can break equipment even better and spit bouncing projectiles, so when playing keep-away with them, it can be a challenge to avoid eating any hits.
Phew, is that all of them?
We clearly need to diversify our magic more... but too late for that. Guess you're on the front lines whenever we meet more Oozes.
How about we, uh, go the other way for now?
Predictably, an enemy you'd find in dwarven mines would be dwarves themselves. Dwarves, Dwarven Warriors and Dwarven Lords are relatively uncomplicated enemies. They're immune to poison, and resistant(in M&M6's weird implementation of this it rolls out to 1/3rd damage reduction on average) to all non-physical damage otherwise. Dwarven Lords are the only ones which are a problem, as they have the hardest single damaging attacks we've met so far and really big health pools as well. They also have a chance to break armor on landing hits and prioritize Sorcerers, which seems very rude and uncalled-for to me.
Don't forget to mention the most important part!
Oh, yes, of course, dwarves also tend to be relatively rich sources of gold drops.
Straightforward doesn't mean trivial, however, this is how the party ended up looking when there were more dwarves than space for backing up and keeping them at bay. It certainly didn't help that they bonked Agnes out of the fight relatively early and thus prevented her from contributing.
Thankfully, despite the way the branches curl up on the rest of the level, there are a couple of spots where the party's far enough from spawned enemies to rest, one of them being just here in the sort-of-corner of Snergle's throne room.
The dungeon is also relatively free of anything complicated. No puzzles, only a few traps(aside from the omnipresent ones on chest that required multiple reloads to avoid Deadeye killing half the party)-
I said I was sorry!
-so it largely turns into a pretty straightforward repetition of push in, open doors, back out as enemies emerge, gun them down, lure a few more out, move to the next door, etc.
The branch on the south side of the main hallway leads to a number of small dwarven bunk rooms, though as an entertaining thing, the Dwarven Lords are often too wide-shouldered to actually get through the doorways and just get stuck in positions where the party can pelt them with arrows and laughter, Deadeye crunching a beer can and taking aim again, while Bobelix serves as an easel for Richmond sketching the scene and Agnes updates their map of the dungeon and tallies their loot so far.
Mostly those rooms contained gold and things that will be sold for gold.
I wonder why there are so many slimes in here.
Maybe they're guard dogs for the fabulous dwarven wealth.
Maybe they use them in arcane ore-purification processes.
Is that a kitchen?
I think that's the answer none of us wanted, I'm never eating dwarven cooking again.
Thankfully, as it turns out, Corrosive Oozes also have the width-and-doorways issue that Dwarf Lords have, so I can get those awful things stuck on doorways and bombard them semi-safely from time to time, though since they have a ranged attack themselves it tends to be more strafing runs than just setting up a folding chair and blasting away.
Predictably, the kitchen yields rather a lot of food. Not that the party's remarkably in a pinch, since the dungeon's pretty easy to leave and there's a comfortable inn selling packed lunches a few dozen steps away in the middle of the ghost-and-skeleton-infested marsh. It's either a passion project or someone's tax fraud business.
Weapons ready! Wizard eye's spotting trouble up ahead!
Oh no, I recognize that sound...
It's one of them! From Sweet Water!
Only thing sweeter than gold and violence is gold and vengeance! Hyeah!
You burned down our homes, you prick!
I was going to get a law degree! Not a monster science degree! Speaking of!
Ah yes, the feared enemy that dropped from the sky and started all this business in Enroth. Devil Spawn, Devil Workers and Devil Warriors are the basic varieties we'll be seeing for the near future. They're universally fire immune, quite physical resistant, and mildly resistant to everything else. At least it means I'll get a break when we're fighting them. Even their basic Spawn variant is quite hard to put down, deals considerable damage and has a ranged attack. Plus in melee their filthy claws can cause disease. A Devil Worker would, at this point, be the single toughest enemy we'd have faced, and Devil Warriors are twice as tough, also being Magic immune and hurling explosive fireballs. Hopefully we won't see any of them in here. How's the fight going, everyone?
Everyone seems to be alright...?
Yeah but it vanished! There's nothing to loot!
Devils disappear in a flash of flame when killed and thus, yeah, leave no loot at all. Even ghosts leave a corpse! Cheaters.
This room absolutely contains the biggest cluster of angry hostiles in the dungeon, though. They take a lot of killing.
But they also guard some quite decent loot and several barrels of Basement Fun Juice.
One holds a dagger with the rare Antique "enchantment" that does nothing to buff an item but instead vastly increases its value, I think by something like 10x, while the other holds a sword with the second-best basic chassis in the game, which immediately goes in Bobelix's hands and probably won't be replaced until I find the top-tier sword(and if he has Sword mastery by then it'll go in his off hand). I'm still trying not to get into melee fights, but now if I do, I'll be a lot better off.
Something's up with this room, usually they all rush at us as soon as we open the doors... Bobelix, why don't you take a peek inside?
Sending him in alone is cruel, you know.
Hey, he likes feeling useful, give me a break. If I sent Deadeye, he'd ask for hazard pay. Should I send you next time?
...well if Bobelix likes it so much, let him go in.
I'm back! Looks like they're napping!
Actually what happened is that once again, for inscrutable reasons, three dwarven lords and a single normal dwarf all got hung up on the geometry of one of the bunk beds. I could probably have dislodged them, but who am I to disregard a bounty dropped into my lap! Another free target practice situation.
If you pay even the slightest attention to the minimap, you really can't miss this hidden door at the back.
It leads to a pair of Devil Spawn guarding four chests. Mostly not notable except that Bobelix gets a new hat.
It's another Of The Golem item so actually quite good despite having no basic AC bonus. Oh and another chest has a lore document.
Also despite this place being called "Snergle's Iron Mines," it feels more like a small fortress, with basically nothing about it that looks... mine-ish. No exposed rock or soil where it's clear that work's being done, etc.
This path contains one openable door and three locked cells that we can't access until we've been all the way back at the end of the other path past the throne room at marker 3. Two of them just contain fun barrels and a bit of minor loot(as well as some slimes), but the third is the one we really want into.
There are a lot of enemies in this completely optional room. Dwarves. Slimes. Devil Spawn and...
This big asshole. As mentioned, the toughest enemy faced by the party so far. But even he can't defeat the greatest challenge this game has...
Bad level geometry.
I get him stuck in a doorway and do strafing runs with Deadly Swarm until he combusts. The fucker.
That's a lot of guards for one cabinet. Let's see what's in it.
Shitloads of gold, multiple high-tier magical rings, a high-tier trident and halberd(great if anyone was using polearms) and a third-tier suit of chainmail with an elemental resistance buff(since Bobelix is still using a tier 1 rusty chainmail, this is a quite big upgrade for him). Definitely worth the fight.
So going back the other way, this first door isn't openable by the party at the moment. What happens if they try?
It roasts them for being idiots. I come back later off-camera and loot this, though, because it's a library containing about ten spellbooks of varying types and levels, which is a considerable saving compared to actually having to buy the damn things.
I like the detail that Snergle has a little window for watching his throne room subtly from above, it's exactly the kind of thing a paranoid, evil ruler would have, so it's a subtle little thing that helps make the world make a bit more sense.
His bedroom is also host to a veritable orgy of armed dwarf guards.
Once again saved by broad shoulders and narrow doorways.
All that murder just to pick this little thing out of his cabinets.
Picking up the key spawns a few dwarves and devil spawn down in the throne room on the way back, but if you made it this far, you shouldn't have any issues with it.
Now this room is actually kind of tricky, since you open the door and it's... empty. One ragged low-level cloak on the floor you might well choose to ignore. But that's because you're a fool. A fooooool. There's a trigger on entering the cell that's important and they really should have made the cell a bit longer and with a chest or something at the end to entice you into stepping inside.
Because BAM, you step inside and much like the little girl in the Temple of Baa and the lady in the Shadow Guild hideout, you encounter a prisoner! He instantly throws a key in your hands which causes a graphics glitch, and this key is what you need to be able to finish the dwarven mines over on the Castle Ironfist side of things.
He also hints at some of the M&M background sci-fi. The Crossing is the original settling of the world, and if someone refers to the Silence, they're when the advanced tech of the settlers stopped working(a lot of the top-tier gear is produced just before or just around the Silence, when the magitech forges were still able to crank it out in vast amounts, or made from advanced materials they stripped out of the Heavenly Forges when they were no longer operational).
And with that key in hand, we can get the hell out of the Slime Fetish Mines.
I feel like we almost died more times in there than was strictly necessary.
No kidding, I almost lost my other eye to those slimes.
Didn't Humphrey say something about promotions?
If we got promoted, we'd be tougher...
Lemme see that tourist guide... High Cleric Lord Stone, Master Archer Lord Stromgarde, Foremost Druid Loretta Fleise, Big Mage Dude Albert Newton... and we already met Temper and Humphrey. Looks like we're heading to Mist, Silver Cove and the Frozen Highlands.
Mist is first in line, and on the way I stop by the Shrine of Electricity because the month's ticked over. A base 10 resistance isn't a lot, but it's a hell of a lot better than a base 0. After some selling and ID'ing at Castle Ironfist, I then head to the New Sorpigal docks because I'm a moron and don't realize that the Castle Ironfist docks can also take me to Mist, which is only reachable by ship and located north of New Sorpigal and east of Bootleg Bay. I think it may be possible to simply walk there with Water Walking but A) I'm not sure, B) I don't have Walk On Water and C) it would run out as you arrived and dump you into the water for considerable damage until you got Fly or Water Walking up again.
So instead we're just going to get a nice boat ride.
Perhaps the reason that Mist isn't a more hip and happening tourist destination is that as soon as you arrive you're within view of and firing range fore multiple Mystics of Baa situated near the lighthouses to either side of the dock.
Damn, this place has more monsters than citizens!
Mist is almost purely its town and little else. The islands to the north just contain more Cutpurses and Mystics of Baa and a few chests, and the local Obelisk. Ah, yes, speaking of cutpurses, you probably noticed that some of the targets on the ground aren't in white robes...
We could certainly have handled Mist well before, well, almost anything else we dealt with. All three variants of theses, Cutpurses, Bounty Hunters and Assassins are weaker than the Baa footsoldiers and have no ranged attacks. The Assasins do have a chance of causing instant death in melee but, well, this doesn't really endanger us much when we're flying above them and bombarding them with fireballs. They're really just comically fragile at this point.
Maybe he'll promote us just for helping clear out his island.
Do you think that's likely, Richmond?
Not really, no.
We could probably clear out Newton's council quest at this point, but that wasn't what people voted for, so instead we're going to do the other one, as soon as we finish having a look around Mist, that is.
I only included that third screenshot because c'mon, isn't that the apex of being a weirdo water mage? Just hanging out with the lobster under a waterfall while having a shit-eating grin on your face.
This lady in the lighthouse offers us one of the game's few non-quest quests, as in it changes a game state, but there's no "finished" state where you return to her for a reward. The teleporter is the little pad out behind Newton's castle, you'd figure he'd cover it up or something if it's a two-way portal for raiders to come harass his town.
Also no free booze from the fountains here, they're either +Luck temporary fountains or poison. The local temples must make a killing.
I also have to say that I greatly enjoy how none of the towns in Enroth have a similar layout, they're all different in some way. Some are walled in, others are not, some are bunched up close together, some are sprawling villages, some have a town square, others don't, and so on.
Clearing out the northern islands is almost comically easy, I'll note. Like, Fireball regularly wastes six or eight targets per cast, and the islands are spaced well enough apart that I don't have to save on mana, I can just fire away, then settle down for a nap while the next island over cowers in fear.
It's nice when we can have a fight where no one gets hurt.
I think the thieves and cultists on the ground would have words about that, Bobelix.
Probably, but fuck them, if they didn't want to get blown up with fireballs, they shouldn't have tried to stab us.
If anyone's read Thuryl's LP's they surely already know what's up with the obelisks. We're getting a series of horizontal lines of garbage text, and once they're all stacked vertically, we can read each column top to bottom to make some sense out of them. Hopefully.
It's a pretty clever way of arranging it since at no point does it give you a partial message that's coherent enough for you to skip the rest except maybe when you're one message shy of done.
Or you could just read it in a FAQ if you're a filthy cheater.
This is, at the moment, literally all we can do on Mist. But how will we ever find a mysterious hidden Fountain of Magic and get promoted? Perhaps some helpful NPC will tell us? Or maybe we'll have to scour all of Enroth?
Or maybe we've already been there?
What, you might ask? Bootleg Bay?
Turns out getting the Wizard promotion is the easiest one in the game. It's just there, right on the shoreline, and you just need to spend second to mouse-over it and for your brain to register that it says "fountain of magic" rather than just "drink" like every other fountain.
Booyeah, damn, I feel more magical than ever.
I guess it's... hidden in plain sight?
The little plaque on the side says "Fountain of Magic, no littering."
Doesn't he know it's right there on the beach?
Have you been listening to him? I think we could steal his drapes and just walk away with them.
Alongside having the easiest first promotion quest, I'd say that the Archmage quest is also not that bad. In fact, I think that with a bit of suffering, we could plausibly go do it right now. At this point Corlagon's Estate has relatively little opposition that we haven't already met and fought.
Because I am an idiot, though, I really wanted to collect all the council and first promotion quests instead, soooooooooo let's smash cut to Free Haven.
The reason for this is that both Stromgarde and Stone are north of Free Haven in the fucking Frozen Highlands zone. Fuck that place. On the way we also encounter a type of Free Haven enemy that's plenty prevalent up north and which might have been visible in the background of some screenshots previously...
Archers! In the same sense as Deadeye, that is, not that they merely have bows. All three types have light elemental resistances and prioritize attacking Archers themselves, the first-tier Archers and second-tier Master Archers are no big issue, but the third-tier Fire Archers hurl Fireballs(thus blasting the entire party at once) and also have tons of hit points. We'll happily take on the former two, but not so much the latter.
Check out those cool weather effects!
Maybe after we find a nice warm fire and my fingers stop turning blue?
No, we're appreciating them now.
The Frozen Highlands are unusually split. If you didn't have Fly(or, I suppose, were willing to do some work with Jump), you'd be stuck on the lower or upper sides. The southeast holds Castle Stone and one village, while the northwest holds Castle Stromgarde and the other village, as well as the earliest accessible guild of Dark and Dark Magic trainer. Note that "accessible" in this case means "accessible" in the same sense that you can technically reach something glowing white-hot in a fire. It'll hurt and it'll suck but you can do it. Between the difficulties in getting there unmolested and the costs of buying Dark Magic training, guild membership and spells, we'll be going over them at a later date.
We're hardly two steps in before we get swooped upon by harpies.
Indeed, in my most scholarly opinion, fuck harpies. Normal harpies are no big deal, though their melee attacks can make the party drunk, oddly enough. Harpy Hags are slightly worse, as they can slap someone with a Curse if they get into melee, but we can avoid that. But then we have Harpy Witches. They're not exceptionally hard to kill... but they have a ranged Mass Curse spell. It's not even a dodgeable projectile, it just slaps every party member with a chance to eat the Cursed status. Absolutely awful.
No witches, we can take them! To the skies!
...who's that on the ground?
Magyars are an... odd naming for this group. The normal and Soldier types are just big lumps of hit points with a melee attack, but the Magyar Matrons are as tough as Devil Workers and fling high-damage electrical bolts in the bargain.
Nope, fuck this, we're out.
Oh and don't drink from that well, it spawns a group of mixed Archers in the town all around you. We're going straight for the castle and not fucking around.
From this point on, consider me to be cutting out talking to every street NPC and busting into every house looking for someone who's either a stonecutter or a carpenter so we can complete this one. We also like rich rewards and we need this guy's council vote, so we'll be picking up the Prince of Thieves in due time, too.
Pop out of the castle and over the hills we go.
Which is, of course, where the harpies are most prevalent, and where they have Witches.
Thankfully Stromgarde is literally just over the hill, let's dive for cover in his castle.
...are those hostile archers in the castle courtyard? Lord Stromgarde really does need our help, it seems.
A man after my own heart, check out that decor.
This is another one that's likely to get put on the back burner, I'm quite sure we could get to Icewind Keep, but I'm less sure we could clear it out without dying. If we did that, though, we could reach most of the towers, though the one in Blackshire would likely be some work to reach without getting boned by wandering monsters.
I largely skip over the town to the west, aside from stopping by to become less cursed(joke's on me, though, I get mostly recursed before making it out again), but do discover that both of the fountains outside the temple will just straight up kill whoever drinks from them(in exchange for +5 Might and +5 Endurance respectively). Bit of a dick move, but, once again, someone put down a temple in the canniest place possible to make maximum profit.
It is one of the cooler temples in the game, though.
Not that I disagree, but can we get out of here before Deadeye isn't the only one who needs resurrecting?
Just, uh, look at the minimap. That should explain everything.
The party arrives in Silver Cove and are immediately beset by a bunch of robed hoodlums.
Gah! Where are they?
Behind that tree! Richmond, Torchlight!
I see one!
Ah. Druids. Unlike Agnes, these are trying to kill us, however. They're ranged attackers whose level 1 and 2 variants prefer to target knights, the level 3 variants probably skip that because their Fireballs hit the entire party anyway. The level 3 Grand Druids can also drain spell points in melee, which is honestly quite scary. They're strangely fragile for an area that's technically after the Frozen Highlands where everything is a shitwrecker, being more like mildly upgraded Mystics of Baa across the board.
The party drags their sorry carcasses to the nearest inn as soon as the druid situation on the road is resolved.
Silver Cove is rather like a more orderly Free Haven and features our first chance to get our hands on Light Magic, though once again, budgetary concerns prevent this for the time being.
That's a nice castle in the distance.
Loretta Fleise lives there, they say she's the richest woman in the kingdom.
Maybe she could lend us some money to get trained and equipped!
You think she became the richest woman in the kingdom by paying beggars like us? Let's just see what she's going to demand for promoting Agnes.
Approaching the castle entrance you will aggro the swarms of Gargoyles that make up most of the hostiles in Silver Cove. Do your thing, Richmond.
Gargoyles come in Stone, Marble and Diamond varieties, all of which prefer clerics and female characters as targets. They're mildly resistant to most things and immune to Poison, and the Diamond golem is outright immune to physical damage as well. They're generally very hard to hurt, hit like kissing a battering ram and the Marble and Diamond types can paralyze on attack, too. So the main takeaway is to never let them get into melee range.
huff, puff Did we lose them?
I hope so, something tells me we're not getting anything if we track gargoyle all over the carpets in here.
Rather like the Wizard promotion quest, the Great Druid quest is very much "hope you like hunting for an unhinted-at random location!" It's actually right here in Silver Cove, but until the party's outfitted enough to handle gargoyles and druids, I'm going to put it on at the back of the queue. Probably there's some random bit of dialogue from an NPC indicating where it is, but you might never come across that when you actually need it.
Thank God for learning Fly early. Silver Cove is just crawling with gargoyles, and now the goal is to get back to Free Haven and attempt to do Stone's quests.
Partially cursed, low on money and low on food. Thankfully I find the Free Haven NPC who buys bones(I think I may have falsely stated he was in a later area, turns out he's just in a sort of suburb of Free Haven slightly west of the main city) and he sets the party up with some operating capital. Then a solid half hour of trying to find a Carpenter and Stonecutter NPC occur.
I luck out and find the carpenter early, but the party gets dragged all the way to New Sorpigal before they find a stonecutter. I do get to see some more hilarious NPC images along the way, though.
Look at this guy and his silly hat.
And I find a quest in Free Haven I managed to miss. It's the one drawback of the larger towns, it's really easy to miss just one NPC door, especially when some houses have multiple entrances and back doors.
And then when I finally find a Stonecutter in New Sorpigal, she won't talk to me because of those bones I sold that people got angry about.
But eventually Deadeye "sweet-talks" her into coming along to the temple in Free Haven.
Congrats, you guys live here now. Better hope Lord Stone actually pays you for the work!
While we're here, we should sort out the Prince of Thieves, I don't like the idea of someone muscling in on my territory.
Don't you mean Lord St- wait, no, no you don't, do you?
You guys are catching on.
The Free Haven sewer. It's kind of lame!
The enemies are Acolytes of Baa(and their upgrades), Rogues and Rats. Nothing we can't clown on effortlessly, and despite the size, it has literally one location of interest, in the upper left, where the Prince of Thieves resides.
It's hard to capture in screenshots, but something in this area was incredibly buggy. The light and textures kept glitching all to fuck.
You just click on the bed(which isn't clearly interactible so, once again, easily missed! No other beds are interactible in the entire game, I believe), and boom, you've nabbed the dangerous Prince. The only bright side to this little side trip is that one of the Prince's chests generated some really nice loot.
Now let's hand over this guy. Good thing he won't try to escape while we rest or anything, Prince Nicolai was literally a better sneak than this guy. Why was Stone even worried?
Thankfully, once we don't have to cross the harpy-infested mountains, dealing with the Frozen Highlands isn't quite so bad.
Off screen I also hit up both the Bootleg Bay(+10 Strength) and Mist(+10 Intellect) shrines.
The Cleric promotion quest also has the side effect of completing the repairs of the Free Haven temple, which is quite useful if you plan on doing some of the dungeons in the area(it has four including the sewers, and not counting a... special case later).
Huh, I guess we're more holy now.
Getting the hell back to somewhere my axe-swinging arm won't get frostbite.
I'm not sure if it's just all the training we got fighting monsters, but I do feel stronger after those promotions... perhaps we should get them all before we continue our quest?
2 out of 12 promotions acquired.
Cleric to Priest(or Honorary Priest)
Sorcerer to Wizard(or Honorary Wizard)
1 out of 6 councilmembers satisfied
Stone likes us now.
So since we're still doing promotions, which should be next? Please pick two in case one turns out easier than expected.
Paladins: need to rescue a fair maiden!
Sorcerers: need to brave Corlagon's Estate!
Archers: must battle through Icewind Keep and deactivate the Dragon Towers!
Clerics: have to restore the sanctity of the Free Haven temple!
Knights: must gain the approval of a senior knight!
Druids: must worship at the Circle of the Sun on an astronomically relevant date!