Part 9: Promotions 3: Promote With A VengeanceUpdate 009: Promotions 3: Promote With A Vengeance
We doing this or what?
Hold on, hold on, I just have to write my last will and testament.
And I'm updating my insurance information.
What's going on?
These two scaredy cats are getting the shivers just because I told them we were hitting up Corlagon's Estate.
...what's Corlagon's Estate?
Just the hideous lair of a necromancer who embraced lichdom, probably crawling with ghosts, skeletons and ghouls.
...Richmond can you help me with my will?
Wimps, all of you!
Right, so I decided I was properly decked out to handle Corlagon's Estate now, potentially jumping Richmond ahead to the most-promoted character if we find the Crystal of Terrax in here.
It's another one of the "dungeons as a maze, not a place"-dungeons, which is a shame, because there could've been a lot of mileage gotten out of building it as a Resident Evil-esque mansion full of secret corridors, ambushes, traps and locked doors. I maintain my suspension of disbelief by imagining this as the basement below the mansion, after the party's gotten through tossing every pillowcase and mattress for gold pieces and quest items.
The party starts almost dead center of the map, in the room that has a little "nub" at the bottom center housing the entrance/exit doorway.
I also hope you like brown corridors, because this dungeon is incredibly under-decorated. Just miles and miles of brown brick.
Stat-wise, nothing in here is a threat to us, not specters, not skeleton lords, but they can still age us, stick us with curses and in the case of the specters have a chance to land attacks that instantly drops someone to 0 HP and into the Unconscious state just prior to being Dead. Therefore my approach is generally to lean against doors and roast everything on the other side with Ring of Fire whenever possible.
Sometimes, sadly, monsters are in corridors and, cleverly enough, spawned midway along them so I can't cheese them, in which case I have to make them eat copious amounts of fireballs and other magical artillery. It's also important to remember to loot the ghosts, despite the fact that they drop no gold, they have a small chance of dropping good jewelry(rings, amulets). Richmond walks out of this with a Ring of Regeneration, which considerably lessens the need for the party to rest and considerably boosts their staying power as a result.
Welcome to one of the single-digit number of decorations in Corlagon's Estate. A drinking fountain!
Hey, what gives! This fountain doesn't do anything!
Dude, I keep telling you not to drink from every stagnant pond, you're gonna get dysentery. Again.
C'mon, you have to admit that so far I'm coming out on top in the superpowers vs horrible death gambles.
Two of the fountains have already killed you!
Killed me and made me stronger, so by my accounting, those two were ties.
Um, Deadeye? Agnes?
Being killed is so absolutely not balanced out by being able to dead-lift another two kilos.
Little help over here? With the undead?
You're just jealous I'm the only one brave enough to drink from them.
Hey Richmond, do I get a birthday party whenever the ghosts make me a year older?
The party does eat some mild aging from the evil spirits, but a lot less than I was fearing. It ends up being only one or two years each.
Watch your step, everyone!
I think the ghosts might be a bigger concern.
In the unpatched game, looking up and down is really annoying, so you could easily have walked out on to the path, been swarmed by ghosts from below and stumbled off the path in a panic. Which is probably what the devs intended. Since I have the superpower of mouselook, however, I look before I step, aggro the ghosts, back up and wait for them to come swarming to the door.
As indicated by the profusion of yellow dots, it's super effective!
Then there's this corridor which I don't understand, it has a trigger at either end to warp you to the other end(though you can, in fact, just jump over it if you know roughly where it is. ), but unlike most teleports in dungeons it doesn't disorient you(because you have a minimap and it just warps you in a straight line, anyway), nor does it drop you into any kind of trouble. No traps, no prisons, no swarms of enemies, etc. I guess maybe they were just experimenting or they planned something for that trigger which they never got around to implementing.
With only two monster types and very few gimmicks, there's not an awful lot to talk about in this dungeon.
Except for the use of some of the cannibal camp props.
What are ghosts?
Well, people who die in great distress, with unfinished business or under a curse are said to return as malign, tortured spirits.
Huh. Would failing to kill someone count as unfinished business?
Well, I suppose so.
What's got you so worried?
Well, I was just thinking, we killed all those people in the Temple of Baa, and all those people in the Dragoons' Caverns, and all those goblins, and they were definitely trying to kill us. Does that mean they're all ghosts now?
I... suppose they would bear us considerable grudges and died in some distress...
Thanks for that thought, you two, I wasn't planning on getting any sleep the next few weeks.
The "overarching" goal of Corlagon's Estate is to run around the tunnels in confusion until you press a sufficient number of skull switches which unlock access to other skull switches until one finally unlocks the last room with the quest item and boss monster in it.
In addition to preventing falling damage, Feather Fall also slightly lessens gravity, allowing you to "glide" slightly with normal jumps and casts of the Jump spell, and is therefore good if you're trying to break a dungeon by skipping bits of it with clever magic use.
More ghosts, more skeletons. Busting eventually starts to just make me feel tired.
This one button is basically what it's all about, because that's the one that opens the boss room, but because the party apparently has arthritic bones, they can't clamber over a waist-high wall to get to it.
Hey, OSHA guidelines says no climbing steps over two and a half feet.
Try pushing us on that one and you'll be dealing with the union, buddy.
There's thankfully a button around the corner to lower it, but less happily I'm a moron who spots it, gets distracted by a skeleton, and then keeps going without pushing it, fully convinced that I did. I suppose if I had Telekinesis, I could shortcircuit the dungeon by poking the button from a distance.
Aside from pushing that button and fighting the boss, there are only two locations left that aren't long, narrow corridors full of ghosts and skeletons.
There's the ground floor of the big room, with the now familiar skull piles of Bad Things Happen, Don't Touch Them You Moron.
And a couple of rooms up north have some of the only actually tomb-y decor in the place, some standing coffins. One of them even has a bit of lore in it!
As far as reasons for becoming an immortal undead abomination go, "I want to finish my PhD and then maybe get some revenge some day," isn't bad. Now let's go end the "immortal" part.
Finally pushing that button opens this door and, oh, yeah, you might notice a new face on the sidebar! When I went back to uncurse everyone one time, I got lucky and stumbled into a Banker NPC. They raise total gold acquired by 20% and take 10% of your gold, I'm not sure if they take that before or after the 20%, but either way it's an obvious net gain in terms of income. It feels to me like your best options for NPC's are Bankers(free gold) and Teachers(10% extra XP across the board, in exchange for 5% of your gold. Bring a Teacher AND a Banker and they're basically both free, though you wipe out most of the gold gain).
Don't mind me, I'm just here to count the money.
And here's the boss chamber of Corlagon's Estate. Let's have a peek inside!
As soon as you open the door, three Skeleton Lords are right up in your face.
And if you try to back away for distance, a teleport trigger instead warps you into the middle of the room.
Instead I wipe out the skeleton lords with Ring of Fire, then open the door and go for the boss.
Liches, Greater Liches and Power Liches are very tough customers, being respectively level 20, 30 and 40. The stand-in for Corlagon is a Power Lich, which is a bit odd since plenty of named bosses are actually renamed, like Snergle was. All three types are immune to magical and poison damage, Liches can Dispel Magic which knocks off the party's buff, Greater Liches target Sorcerers and Power Liches just hit like a truck. Normally the three monsters in a given "family" are an escalating version of the same theme, but here the three of them actually work in reasonably different ways. They do Electrical, Fire and Energy damage respectively. Energy is exceptionally nasty as, unlike in the World of Xeen games, there's no Energy resistance, which means you'll always be eating the full damage of it. With the damage done being 25 to 60 and the beefiest party members having around 150 hit points, unlucky targeting can absolutely screw us over. Thankfully a relatively small health pool of 280 means that we can probably rush him down.
And with that, Richmond has secured his second, and last, promotion of the game!
Let's get out of here, I don't even want to think about ghosts again for a long time.
Newton had better remember what he promised us when we get there, I don't want him pulling some "oh no, i'm so scatterbrained, i forgot your reward, tee hee"-thing on us.
This is about the last time we'll need to visit Mist for a while, I think the only other time I'll have a reason to visit will be when I complete Newton's council quest and when Richmond eventually hits 12 Water, since the Water Magic Master trainer is hiding out here alongside the Fire and Air Master trainers.
While it's still a boost, it's a surprisingly small boost for Richmond. Only about a +20% upgrade to both SP and HP, though having everyone Archmaged also unlocks access to the Air Magic Mastery trainer, which Deadeye and Agnes immediately take advantage of. The main immediate advantage of Air Magic Mastery is that it massively increases the duration of Fly, from 10 minutes per skill point to 1 hour per skill point.
It looks like there's still a fair while until the next Equinox in July, maybe we should get some training in before going to Silver Cove again?
So, funny thing. There was plenty of time... except that I forgot how long training takes in MM6. See, training takes up 8 days of time, and I only paid attention to what weekday it was, not what day of the month it was.
"Oh gee!" I think "It only takes one day to train!" When in fact it took up eight. Long story short, Druid promotions are gonna have to wait.
Hey Agnes, c'mon now, calm down.
He misread the fucking calender! We're gonna have to wait till the next equinox! I'm gonna make him pay!
Of course you are, but it'll be much funnier if you wait and find a way to make it happen when he least expects it.
Looking over my options, I realized that I could knock out a couple of overdue dungeons and make another promotion happen at the same time.
Bootleg Bay has two dungeons that I skipped over earlier(and a third that I'm leaving until I get the relevant quest for it), and which we now both have the quests for.
Pulling up the map again, they're the structures at 22 and 18, the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of Tsantsa, which I'll be assaulting in that order.
You know, flying is the way to travel.
It is very calming. No traffic and no annoyances.
I don't think it'll really catch on until they sort out the inflight movies.
All they ever show is "Death From Above," I've seen that a dozen times now.
Oh, another thing that master Air Magic does for us is nudging up the amount of projectiles from a cast of Starburst from 12 to 16. This means every cast drops 16x(20+Air Skill) damage on the battlefield below. It absolutely trivializes everything on the ground in the areas we've already been in(Frozen Highlands excepted), and is a great option for softening up larger groups even in the later areas. Of course, against flying enemies it has some issues. If you can lure them down to ground level by kiting them some, the explosions can still rip them up, but that usually involves getting dangerously close to the site of an orbital bombardment.
Welcome to the scenic Temple of the Sun!
Also welcome to die. It has a very rude entrance.
It's a pretty simple structure that starts off by putting you in a shooting gallery with about a dozen Monks or so, most of them Master or Initiate Monks, I don't think there's even a single Novice in sight. We're not far enough removed from last time we fought them for this to quite be effortless.
Augh! The fuckers! We need cover!
Get behind that altar on the right!
See? Perfect position to safely fire back from.
Yeah no kidding! Look, that other guy is using it, too!
I get overconfident after getting some cover and taking down a couple of monks with lucky shots.
If any of them ask me later it was tactical retreat.
I think it literally couldn't have been cut closer.
Coming back in again, though, at full power the remaining monks are no challenge for us.
Also, if you look at the minimap you'll see the third important change that Air Magic Mastery brings, now Wizard Eye sometimes, sort-of, kind of, pseudo-reliably also indicates doors, levers and lootable chests, except when it doesn't.
...why'd we come in here again?
I told you idiots on the ship over here. We're recovering that chalice Lord Stone wanted put in the Free Haven temple. None of us are clerics, but he'll still be paying us good gold for it. Plus knowing our luck, there's some idiot instructor somewhere that won't teach us unless we have an honorary degree in super clerichood. Now spread out and start looking for it.
Master Spirit Magic is gated behind the second Cleric promotion. The only really important thing it does is turn Lucky Day into an all-party buff, and as Luck factors into literally every thing that's rolled except for damage, that's a nice deal. It applies to resistances, chance to avoid conditions, chance of hitting enemies, etc. it's all-round very good shit.
Note how upgraded Wizard Eye doesn't indicate that the corners of the main room can be opened, though it's extremely obvious, so no great loss. In any case, the left entrance leads to this little bedroom.
The cabinet in the corner has the chalice, but be sure to click it again because it'll also dispense an item that has a chance of being quite high-level. I got a high-level shield that'd be great if I had anything resembling a shield user on the team.
Perfect, we got what we came for, now we can pack up and-
Are you really expecting me to just leave? Wizard Eye says there's loot in the other room. We're not leaving until it's all in our packs.
It really is a very good loot room, about a half dozen stat-boosting barrels and close to ten chests with randomly generated loot. Just one issue.
Oh dear. Minotaur Kings are, predictably, the top of the Minotaur monster line. All three are quite beefy and dangerous, while the basic Minotaur just hits people(very hard) with an axe, the mid-tier Minotaur Mage throws lightning bolts and the Minotaur King casts Finger of Death(not that he needs it, he does a guaranteed 60+ damage on melee hits he lands, which is still going to be about half the health of any party member), all three are also immune to Magic damage(which I feel like I've been needing to add to the description of every second monster, it really is the worst damage type in the game).
Let's see how the encounter goes!
Turn one he rushes in and smacks Agnes unconscious with a single strike(or possibly a Finger of Death that just KO'd her rather than kill her outright?). Let's just rewind and get a do-over.
Second try I lure him out into the main room and hide in the bedroom while blasting Ring of Fire through the wall to do damage to him. It won't get anywhere near killing him, in part because he has a ton of hit points and in part because on average every cast is reduced by 30% of the damage it does, but I'll take every advantage I can get.
All of Richmond's mana doesn't even amount to a 50% reduction in health for the minotaur king, definitely the toughest single enemy faced so far and probably the toughest the party will see for a while.
But somehow the dice roll the party's way, and with considerable Heroism-boosted hacking, they manage to chew him down before he drops one of them. He casts several Fingers of Death, but they manage to resist every single one through unfathomable luck. Like, the damage they took wasn't even over multiple blows, but usually just the result of one really solid whack from the big pile of beef.
Still, you don't need to beat him up, so it's kind of an optional battle like the Dragoons' Caverns basement, except this time there's actually a really nice reward for it. Most of the chests just have vendor trash, but gold is important, too, and the party does snag a couple of good rings and amulets to boost their resistances.
One of the worst dungeons in the game!
Ugh, this place smells like snakes. Again.
Now, I don't mean it's bad in the sense that it's extremely painful to play through or filled with super-nasty tricks or anything. It features, in fact, very little bullshit or trickery.
Which is basically the problem. 99% of the dungeon is just narrow corridors with the occasional room featuring a trio of Cannibals/Headhunters/Witch Doctors or a few snakes(absurdly, I have more trouble with the Queen Cobras than anything else in the dungeon despite their ostensibly being starter area monsters). You could either clear it with the occasional cast of Ring of Fire which one-shots almost anything in any of the rooms, or just by swinging your swords a lot. It has exactly one(1) trap.
These tiles do minor damage if stepped on, ooooooo, amazing.
Anyone else feeling unexcited by this?
I think Bobelix might be sleepwalking while fighting them.
Rather bored than dead, personally.
Hacking, slashing, hacking, slashing, I barely even bother to cast any spells and just power through on pure bless/heroism-fuelled mangling. There's nothing exciting in the way of drops(except for some bones which are worth a nice amount of gold and neither are there any lore letters or the like to spice things up even slightly. This is about as close as we get to a dungeon that's completely unconnected to the main plot, it wouldn't even exist if we weren't here to rescue some dude from Free Haven's friend that got stuck here...
Uhhhh, you know, how long ago was it that guy in Free Haven asked us to save his friend?
...probably a couple of months now.
And these guys are meant to be cannibals.
Hope those weren't their bones we just passed a few rooms back.
Oh right, and I guess I missed there are a couple of pits you could technically fall into. Except all that's at the bottom is like a single snake and I don't even think they're deep enough to do more than a minimal amount of falling damage. They're also narrow enough that you can LITERALLY jump across them with the game's anemic jumping mechanics.
Much like Corlagon's Estate the only thing you'll be looking for here other than things to mangle is a number of levers to pull, some of them raise/fill the pits, but most of them open the plates hiding other levers, eventually allowing you to pull the final lever.
It also amuses me that gravity doesn't work for NPC's until they're perceived by the party.
This big door is the thing that we're pulling all the levers to open.
Once a gain a single Fireball or a couple of Ring of Fire casts will clear out a room like this no effort and the only real "danger" is a Queen Cobra biting someone and landing some poison, though at this point I have both Cure Poison and the SP pool on Bobelix to just remove it every time.
Well I'll be damned, she's still alive.
By the luckiest of coincidences, too! You'd never believe my story.
I've been up to my tits in weird magical shit the last year or so, I'd believe most things.
I love a good story.
So it turns out these people are gourmet cannibals and refuse to eat someone who hasn't been properly seasoned and spiced. They were apparently waiting on a shipment of stolen spices from the Shadow Guild and it never showed up!
I guess we did accidentally save someone when we stormed their hideout, then.
Let's get over to Free Haven and prepare to see Lord Stone about our honorary high priesthoods.
You know, if that comes with a marriage license, we could have a nice side racket going...
Richmond, you got the shopping list?
Ahem, yes, let's see...
Oh gods yes, sell us that Town Portal, the less walking the better.
It says "keep away from flammable materials" on the back.
Yeah, yeah, we'll take ten.
Oh fuck me is that Remove Curse? Get it into the shopping cart before someone else snags it!
The fucking game had been boning me on finding Remove Curse at any Guild of Spirit for ages now. So finally getting it is a dream.
...and then we just have to drop off the chalice.
I don't know, I feel like we're forgetting something.
The game handles it a bit oddly, just entering the Free Haven temple deletes the chalice from your inventory and marks the quest as completed with no conversation option or anything. I think it's the only quest that works like that since every other quest item is handed over to an NPC via a dialogue option.
Well, let's tick it off. Spells?
Selling off junk from the temples in Bootleg Bay?
Got a hold of the second stable in Free Haven for Loretta's scheme?
Big ol' check.
Um, excuse me?
Shhhh, Sherell, important adventuring party business.
Hm, I guess it'll come back to us eventually.
Urgh, I think I know what we forgot.
I've been living off snow and pine needles for the last four days.
Yeah, alright, rations would've been a good addition to the checklist.
Oh, well, I guess I'm getting to see more of Enroth. Are they always like this? And thank you for sharing your private ration stash.
Usually they're worse. Just stay at the back and watch the fireworks.
Yeah, so, as anyone who pays attention to the UI might've noticed, I A) forgot to buy rations(which makes everyone Weakened on arriving in the Frozen Highlands, not the worst result) and B) I forgot to drop off Sherell for the quest.
I'm good at this game!
Shortly after arriving a Harpy punches Deadeye drunk and I take to the skies to drop spells on the local ground folk. Meteor Shower does roughly the same as Starburst does, on paper, albeit a different element, but because the projectiles fall much slower, there's a greater chance of the enemy having dodged them by the time you pop them out of the sky. I suppose you COULD just hit turn-based mode and THEN drop them, but if you're mostly doing real-time, as I am, Starburst is made superior by this minor difference.
Arriving on a red carpet of corpses definitely beats running into town while crying because the NPC's won't leave us alone.
I love that he praises us for what's probably the easiest road to dual promotions in the game. First we found some subcontractors and then we beat up some monks for a cup. Admittedly the monks were kind of feisty, but it was literally just one room of them, we could have completely ignored the minotaur if we wanted to.
I feel like I'm gonna need to find some new headwear now I'm an honorary High Priest. Dressing in funny hats is basically half the job.
Council Quests completed: 1 of 6, Lord Stone is still our only friend.
Promotion Quests completed: 5 of 12, we haven't started on Druids, Knights or Archers yet, but we've completed Sorcerers and Clerics and gotten started on Paladins.
With the equinox delaying any potential druid shenanigans(since solstices work as well as equinoxes, I can go take a shot at it in September), I'm currently waffling on what to do. It's tempting to take a crack at Lord Stromgarde's fortress to get started on the Archer quest, but at the same time we could also go take on the boss fight against Longfang Witherhide to finish off the Paladin line. I also realized I could go do the first Knight quest with effectively zero effort(we just need to find a non-signposted NPC that I'd been failing to trip over for a while now).
Alternately, it's also very tempting to just spend a month or so dunking on an unrelated dungeon to get a bit more power before taking on the monsters in Silver Cove.
Feel free to vote for the options:
Druid: Some unrelated levelling and then a run at the Circle of the Sun as soon as possible.
Paladin: Dragon fighting in the Mire of the Damned
Archer: Retaking Stromgarde's keep for him
I'll be doing the Knight promotion alongside any other one simply because it's so non-effort.
what magic are building towards on these characters? I assume with Richmond as the only Light/Dark caster you're keeping that open for him, and because Deadeye and Bobelix are less capable casters they're going to focus less on 'throw spells at the bad guys' and more buffing/utility stuff, leaving Agnes as basically the main healer (with some damaging elemental spells for if there's downtime and nothing needs refreshing).
Deadeye: Almost purely invested in Air Magic so far, mostly used for casting Wizard Eye, but I also like him having some zappy magic for the physical-immune enemies that pop up from time to time.
Agnes: Air, Earth, Body and Mind Magic are her main investments so far, though I'm looking to take her up in Water next to have a secondary caster for Lloyd's Beacon and Town Portal.
Richmond: Fire Magic and Water Magic, with, yes, a lot of his points being kept in reserve to be spent on Dark and Light magic.
Bobelix: Spirit and Body Magic, which isn't being used for combat but instead just for buffing and curing. Once Richmond gets sufficient Dark and Light magic, he'll be almost purely on curing duty with his magic since Dark and Light eventually replace 90% of the game's buff spells.