Part 10: Promotions 4: No More SubtitlesUpdate 010: Promotions 4: No More Subtitles
Come on, I bet we could do it.
How about "nope, never, fuck no, hell no"?
So you really want us to travel all the way back to Free Haven, just so we can travel north again on the other side of the mountains? We can fly over! You can fly us over!
Travelling with you is cursed enough without making it literal. And that's final.
Well, it is nice to take a break somewhere I don't get frostbite when I cast spells.
I can exhale without getting icicles in my nostrils again!
Sometimes it's the little things in life. Anyway, this time we should probably make sure we have food before leaving. Deadeye?
Hey, food wouldn't even have been an issue if you'd just gone with my plan and flown us over, so I'm sitting this one out. You guys can do all the hard work.
I guess he's going to huff until we find something to fight again.
First things first, we offload the freeloader.
You can tell by the low gold reward how long ago we were meant to have done this.
At this stage, that only pays for two levels and for once, gold is actually my barrier to actually getting all the level-ups I can technically get. Dang.
Right, now the provisions, here's Abdul's Discount Sandwich Barn-
What's wrong? You usually like the Sandwich Barn.
They never cut off the crusts.
And the juice boxes are tiny.
I guess we can splurge on something different.
...are you sure we're going the right way?
Oh, yes, the tourist guide says this place got four stars, I'm sure they can do some fine cuisine for provisions.
It's when someone puts an olive on your bologna sandwich and charges you double.
...this place looks like a dump.
Do you think the cholera's free or they charge extra?
They've got a dartboard! And real bottles!
Ah, customers! Would sirs and lady care to see the wine menu?
This is going to get stupid, I'm sitting this one out.
Trouble with the party, son?
Nothing but, if you ask me. One of them's a ponce with a degree, the other's barely a kid, and the third one...
Aye, know what you mean, women on a battlefield are always trouble.
What? No. She's smarter than me. I hate that.
What's the sparkling stuff?
If it wasn't Enrothian, that's what they'd call champagne.
Would you care for one or two scoops of caviar in your rations?
It's like none of them appreciate getting coated up to your armpits in blood from time to time.
World's changing, and that's a fact.
You know what Richmond said to me the other day? He told me not to steal someone's boots, because that'd be desecrating the dead. I chopped him in half! How much more desecrated can you get!
Mmmm, can't hardly do what you like no longer. Back in my day we didn't have war crimes, we just had tuesdays.
But, why the decor? This is the finest food we've had since we started this adventure.
I assumed it would attract adventurers, but all it's attracted is that old man in the corner who drinks my cheapest wine. I thought adventurers were a rough and tumble lot who'd scorn the soft things in life, but they'd have plenty of money to spend...
Think about it, we spend months AWAY from the soft things in life. When we come back to town, they're the first thing we want.
You know, kid, I like you, so let me give you a little something...
You might not be a knight in name, but you're a knight in spirit.
I... don't know what to say. I don't think I've been this happy since we started out. Finally someone who gets me.
You ready to go, Deadeye?
Yeah, I'm... good. Can we drop by Temper's castle before we go to the Frozen Highlands again?
Huh? Oh, sure, if it'll make you happy.
Look, Deadeye, I got a juicebox the size of Richmond's head!
Getting the Cavalier nomination is both the easiest and hardest thing in the game. It's the easiest because as long as you can run down the road next to Temper's castle, probably dodging some Archers and Fire Archers along the way, you can get it in two minutes just from talking to Chadwick. It's the hardest because it's very un-signposted. I think maybe there's a random conversation option that pops on some NPC's that mention Chadwick, but that's about it. Without that, you're completely clueless. Of course, it's not very useful for us except as a source of extra XP, but it's about completionism.
Hope everyone's got their mittens and spellbooks ready.
The western "entrance" to the Frozen Highlands is one of the ones that drops you right into the heat. Magyar's of all three levels are going to come rushing at you and blasting away right away. The normal Magyars and Magyar Soldiers are pretty easy for the party to blitz down with a handful of melee attacks, but the Matrons, as per most third-tier monsters, are enough of a step up that I greatly prefer to fly around and drop meteors on them before getting into a fight.
And even then we don't quite make it out unscathed, their ranged attacks pack a punch even with the relevant resistance spells up.
Thankfully we've got a nearby town on the north side of the mountains where we can top up on what we need and get healed in between strafing runs. I clear out the Magyars off-screen, nothing interesting about it, for the XP and gold since I'd been left a bit short and didn't want to be missing the gold to resurrect someone if things went south.
For a brief refresher, point 35 on this map is Icewind Keep which we need to tear through. The flat ground around it is clogged with archers, and then further south of it are more magyars. So there's plenty of work to do.
Much like the Magyars, Archers and Master Archers are no issue, but Fire Archers are rude enough that once again they get the orbital bombardment treatment and get to eat meteors and starbursts before I engage them properly. After the first couple of runs, while I duck back for a rest at the inn to recharge the ol' magical batteries, I also realize I've collected enough gold to actually make use of the local Guild of the Dark!
Richmond's drunk because I got too close to a couple of harpies, but that's a great time to go through the Dark spells!
Reanimation: This one revives a creature, and that's it. They get revived as hostile if they were, or friendly if they were. I'm not entirely sure what the use case for this is, in MM7 there are some NPC's that help you out(or at least have the same enemies as you) and which you might want to re-assemble, but none in MM6. Towns don't even have guards. I can only assume it was meant to be useful at some point.
Toxic Cloud: Deals a massive 25+1d10*skill damage to anything it hits. The only downside is doing poison damage which a lot of things resist, completely insane damage, but it does also cost 30SP to cast, which is more than a single Meteor Shower. So expensive, but powerful.
Mass Curse: You know that fucking thing Harpy Witches do to us? Now we can do it to them! And everyone else. I generally distrust inflicting conditions in most games since it tends to be a boondoggle, but this might actually be good if you could stick it, assuming it affected enemies as it does the party, i.e. negating half their actions. Sadly, per Grayface, a huge amount of what makes monsters resist conditions is their level, and while monster levels keep going up, nothing on the player side of the equation can make the effects more easily stuck, so against what you'd want to use these on, they'd probably fail most of the time. Assuming I read the maths right, every thirty levels halves the chance of the spell working, from a base chance of 100% at level 0(assuming any monsters were at that level). End game monsters top out at around level 90, so a 1 in 8 chance near the end of the game. Not something to gamble your party's life on.
Shrapmetal: 6+1d6*level physical damage, for 50 SP. Now, you might think, that seems damn expensive! Until you notice that, like Sparks, Fire Blast and several other spells, mastery increases number of projectiles. At base that's three shots, and at master level that's seven, making it like a super-version of Deadly Swarm/Blades from Earth magic.
Shrinking Ray: A single-target spell that halves, thirds or quarters the target's damage output. Single big enemies are a rarity, almost everything comes with friends, so this would have very few use cases.
Day of Protection: This, however, is why we're fucking here. Casts all the elemental resistance spells, Feather Fall and Wizard Eye on the entire party at 2x the caster's level in Dark Magic, 3x at Expert level and 4x at Master Level. So as long as your Dark Magic level is at least half of the relevant elemental skill level, it's a better cast. Plus it saves you having to fiddlingly recast like seven spells every time you rest. God bless this spell.
Finger of Death: You'd need 20 Dark Magic skill points and mastery to have a 100% chance of success... from the caster's end. Then the monster would still get its save. Do not bother with this.
Moon Ray: Only works outside and at night, but hits all visible enemies for 1d4 damage per skill level and heals every party member for an equivalent amount. With the low damage it's really only worth your time if you're revisiting early-game areas in the mid-game and are tired of getting swarmed by ghosts.
Dragon Breath: 1d25*skill worth of explosive poison damage. It costs 100SP, and its poison, so it's not perfect, but this probably has the highest potential damage of any spell in the game.
Armageddon: Only castable outside, but does 50+skill damage to everything on the map, including the party, and has a limited number of casts per map, per day, per caster. It also does Magic damage which a lot of things ignore. Like Moon Ray I generally file this in the "for going back and showing those goblins who's boss"-box.
Dark Containment: A single-target spell that cannot be bought in guilds, only found in the gameworld, and does random but supposedly powerful things to the target. It cannot possibly be worth the 200SP it costs to bring out, though, just hit them with Shrapmetal or Dragon Breath instead like a sane person.
Meanwhile, back in the real world...
Boom! Got 'em!
Yeah, it's just a lot of Meteor Showers. Why stop doing what works? But what's this?
Looks like they were guarding a chest!
A chest full of sweet loot. The skeletal thing is a wand, by the way, sadly not a weapon for bonking enemies with.
In any case I absolutely consider these gloves to be the big lucky score.
Though the sword absolutely isn't bad either, Bobelix is getting that one to replace his two-hander which I was only keeping because of a nice elemental damage enchantment it had.
Was that all of them?
Except for the one I just stepped in, yes.
Icewind Keep... I've always wanted to come here.
Because of the rich military history?
It's because you had a plan to take the place over and use it to tax anyone crossing the pass as a bandit lord, isn't it?
Actually I just heard Stromgarde used to throw some great parties here.
And the bandit lord thing, yes.
So, Icewind Keep! It's a pretty okay dungeon, pretty simple, pretty straightforward, but it works.
The party enters at the bottom center and needs to hit the levers at point 1 and 2 to open the last part of the dungeon and get the quest item. So technically you can skip all the rooms along the sides, but since they're full of loot, hell no, we're not skipping a damn thing.
Before I can even put up the buffs, though, we get rushed by the single new enemy of this dungeon, an Ogre!
Ogres, Ogre Raiders and Ogre Chieftains are, predictably, big chunks of hit points that hit reasonably hard. The only one with a gimmick is the Chieftain as he can also poison those he hits, so they're refreshingly simple to fight, no chances of instakills or broken equipment. Compared to what we've fought before, even the Chieftains are relatively fragile, oddly enough it's much harder to get to Icewind Keep, thanks to the Magyars and Archers outside, than it is to actually fight anything in side it.
This big door is what the levers we're seeking will open, the enemies on the other side start partially aggro'd so they'll pile up against the gate trying to path to us. And you know what that means.
(it means Ring of Fire)
On either side of the big doors are the barracks and supply rooms for the fortress.
The ones on the left side hold ogres. Lots of ogres, positioned such that I need to actually engage them in a fair fight, the nerve.
Despite their comparative weakness, this is where the fight ends up the party, simply due to the ogre numbers. Thankfully conditions are no longer a "return to temple"-issue but instead merely me using Bobelix's magic reserve to make them go bye-bye.
Each of the barrack rooms also have an adjoining supply room. Bags full of food and gold, barrels full of stat boosts, and a chest full of loot.
This one has a nice big upgrade in boots and a lore note that's worth keeping in mind. This one will actually save new players a bit of trouble later.
The second room on each side is just another barracks.
And the east side is literally just the west side but with Guards, Lieutenants and Captains instead of Ogres, Ogre Raiders and Ogre Chieftains.
They definitely didn't save on the number of troops in here. Let's get those gates open.
You know, there's something I don't understand.
Shocker. What is it this time?
Well, the bad guys are mostly inside, right?
And, well, the door-opening levers are out here, right?
Give the kid a medal, obviously they are, otherwise we wouldn't be able to pull them.
I'm just thinking... if we're out here and we're the only ones that can let them out... are they in prison?
...son of a bitch, Bobelix said something useful for once. Did those idiots get themselves locked in?
The last big fight, or really the last fight, of Icewind Keep is pretty sizable. Probably about 20+ mixed ogres and guards, no cover, no clever nooks to catch them on to roast them with Ring of Fire.
It's one of the few times I kick on turn-based mode to limit their ability to rush and swarm me and avoid me fucking up and blasting my entire own party with Fireball or something.
But ultimately, after the rest of the castle, they're not that bad. They do force me to pull back more during the fight, just to buy some range, but that's the worst of it. No one goes down, no one eats a nasty condition.
The trick here is to remember what you read earlier about a hidden door and spot the hidden trigger on the smaller throne's armrest.
Cha-ching. Big loots and also of course the actual quest item reside in here.
Not to mention a spellbook for one of the best Light magic spells in the game, whoo!
I also like the little lore snippets that tie the various dungeons into larger conspiracies, so it really feels like Enroth is such a currently-dangerous place because of an actual conspiracy rather than just because the rulers are utterly incompetent.
In any case, that was Icewind Keep, which I severely overestimated the danger level of.
Some day I want to be rich and famous enough that I can pay other people to find my keys for me.
Speaking of, before we go back to Stromgarde...
You know, before these idiot things blast us out of the sky. Goddamn.
While I'm in town, I also find the Expert Dark Magic teacher for Richmond.
He looks extremely trustworthy, doesn't he?
I'm starting to have second thoughts about learning Dark Magic...
Along the way to Stromgarde's castle I also find a random wilderness location that pops up four horseshoes, nice score, that's basically a full free level's worth of skill points. This might happen at other places in the game, too, but unlike MM7 and 8, most of the little bundles of thing lying around the wilderness are comparatively worthless unless you really want to mess with the alchemy(in MM7 some of them are worth big buckazoids and it's absolutely worth your time hoovering most of them up. But more on that when we get there).
While it's a bit hard to see because he's not at 100% in either, Deadeye just got roughly a +20% health boost and a +30% spell point boost. He'll still mostly be hitting things with a large axe for now, but this opens up the possibility of him reading a book one day and learning more spells.
Rude, I'll have you know I read a lot of books.
Swords & Arrows doesn't count.
The towers honestly aren't that dangerous unless you remain immobile in the air or fly low enough to the ground to get whanged by the splash damage, but if you're doing either of those, you're definitely using Fly wrong. Still, XP is XP and it's a relatively easy quest besides. The only tower we don't yet have easy access to is the one in Blackshire. The others are in New Sorpigal, White Cap(Frozen Highlands town), Mist, Free Haven and Silver Cove.
At this point, the calender's also started ticking towards the point where I can actually do something about getting Agnes upgraded, she's starting to need it since her magic pool really isn't keeping up with the demands being put upon it.
So the gang pops back to Free Haven.
Adjusts the local Death Pole.
And hops on the ship to Silver Cove. Both to save time and because Silver Cove's docks are a much safer arrival point than any of the map borders.
Once here, I also hit up a couple of trainers I haven't previously had access to, like an Expert Repair trainer for Bobelix since gear-breaking enemies will only become more common from here on out, and broken swords means big problemos if it's in the middle of a nasty fight.
And while I'm here I find a Light Magic guild for Richmond. Like Dark Magic, most of the spells are... not good.
Create Food: It'll rarely give you more food than what you need for one rest, but you can always just cast it again after resting once. It's useful as a panic button.
Golden Touch: Become your own store. Turns items in your inventory into 40, 60 or 80 percent of their gold value(based on normal, expert or master skill), which could come in handy if you're in a dungeon where you find more loot than you can carry and don't want to bother coming back later. Still, between Lloyd's Beacon and Town Portal, this is rarely an actual issue. I suppose it could be important if you were doing some sort of run with no elemental magic, but then you poor soul you have bigger problems.
Dispel Magic: Removes all magical effects, "both helpful and harmful," on all visible enemies. Enemies in M&M6 never cast buff spells, but can be hit by your debuffs, so this game is worthless for us but sucks hugely when we meet the enemies that can cast it.
Slow: Halves the movement and attack speed of a single enemy for as much mana as it would have cost you to just blast it to ashes.
Destroy Undead: 16+1d16*skill damage to an undead creature, but sadly it does Magic damage which Specters, Power Liches and Skeleton Lords are all immune to, um, hm. I think that actually accounts for everything I would ever cast this on. What the fuck, developers? I'm going to have to test out whether it circumvents that immunity, but what the hell! If it doesn't, this spell is fucking useless! Like entirely goddamn useless!
Day of the Gods: Like Day of Protection, except this casts all the game's stat-boosting spells instead. Once you get to Expert or Master Light magic this is intensely useful as it's gonna amount to some considerable boosts to your ability to not eat various status effects and hit back real good.
Prismatic Light: 25+skill Magic damage to all creatures in view, but indoors-only. This makes it a stronger version of Inferno that more enemies will resist, at double the cost. Pass, probably.
Hour of Power: This one casts Haste, Heroism, Shield, Stone Skin, and Bless on all your characters, and once again, doubled, tripled or quadrupled based on your Light magic skill. Hour of Power, Day of the Gods and Day of Protection are the three spells that make the game bearable without having to recast twenty buff spells every time you rest.
Paralyze: Like Flesh to Stone except you can still kill the target while it's held. But once again, just spend your mana on something that actually kills it.
Sun Ray: An outdoors-only single-target spell that hands out a devastating 20+1d20*skill Fire damage to some poor sod. Unfortunately at 70 SP I'd say it's overcosted, not to mention that single-target spells aren't that great in most outdoors areas where you want to be raining doom from the heavens or use explosive spells like Fireball instead, to leverage your airborne maneuverability. Might be good for some flying enemies who take more direct fire, I suppose, but generically just... really, really too expensive.
Divine Intervention: Fully heals everyone, tanks up their spell points and clears all conditions up to and including Eradication. Also magically ages the caster ten years, so until you get easy access to age-reversal, it's only a sometimes spell. I don't think you can outright die from too much age like some of the older games, but you can certainly be rendered near-useless from it.
With money as my perennial shortfall, I also pick up a second Banker NPC to help shore up my finances.
And then I prepare to set out to sea.
Council Quests: Still only 1 of 6
Promotion Quests: 7 of 12, still missing both Druid promotions, as well as the final Knight, Archer and Paladin promotions.