Part 11: Promotions 5: The Edgy 90's remakeUpdate 011: Promotions 5: The Edgy 90's remake
This is a nice view.
Indeed, sometimes it's nice to just take a break, breathe and enjoy th-
Bored now. Not enough gold or violence. When's the equinox?
Are you kidding me? Over a month away?
Well, we could always take the time to go back to Free-
Vetoed. If we leave Silver Cove I just know we'll end up showing up a week late for the Equinox.
We're sure as hell not spending a month and a half at an inn or visiting museums or whatever you guys want to do.
...all I said was the local museum of druidic worship has some quite nice sculptures...
Sorry, can't hear it when nerds talk. Silver Cove has dungeons, and we're going to deal with all of them until the Equinox rolls around.
Besides, I owe the Silver Helms a good beating for that stupid staircase back in Mist.
Why do we ever listen to you?
Welcome to the Silver Helm Stronghold.
Like the other Silver Helm outposts, this one is pretty well-designed. It feels like the most optional-esque of the dungeons so far, though, I don't believe any specific quests ever point you to this one, except for completionism and a general feeling of "fuck the silver helms for their bullshit." But, yeah, this is literally the fucking welcome committee and a pretty hard "are you ready for this kind of anarchy?"-check. There's nothing clever you can do to get out of this big fight.
The gang is absolutely ready to handle this shit, though. Ring of Fire is a quite good spell for this one since it lets you wear down all the hostiles present at once without frying yourself like you would with Fireball.
Nonetheless I need to dip out for a recharge before going back in. This is also the one dungeon where I somewhat regret using Torchlight since it's mostly possible to see what's going on without it, but it erases a lot of shadows and detail, it feels like. At least the Master Fire Magic version does.
In all the confusion of fighting those dozens of swordsmen, it's also possible to miss that there's a new type of enemy mixed in who's pelting you with various kinds of magical bullshit from the back rows!
The trio of Sorcerers, Magicians and Warlocks are once again the kind that's not merely escalating stats. For instance, the Sorcerers will prioritize Knights and Archers, while the other two types will not. All three do share that they're electrical-immune, a rarity and do electrical damage, however. The Magician is just a pure ranged combatant with no fancy things, while the Warlock can inflict the rare condition Insane with his attacks, both ranged and melee(though not his ranged spell casts, as I understand it).
Lowers Intellect and Personality by 90%. Raises Might by 100%, Endurance by 50%, and Speed by 20%.
So like getting Drunk, it has some niche uses that it might be relevant for. Obviously very nasty for spellcasters, but if you had a Knight, eh, why not? May as well get in those big hits. Especially in the early game a doubled Might stat could contribute a lot of extra punching power. It would also be relevant for the Circus and a few other situations that require high Might.
Most of the Silver Helm Stronghold is somewhat unremarkable, though. Bunches of melee enemies that hit hard and take a lot of hitting back to put down, and generally a layout that makes it feel like a real place, with every room clearly intended as an office, bedroom, kitchen or other purposed-for-something location.
Generally a good sign of an MM6 dungeon that's designed by someone who gave a fuck is that it has more than one wall and floor texture in use. Then you generally start seeing well-designed areas, like these little chapels, I like them.
The southern part of the Stronghold has the only bits that aren't just plain murder.
Though it does still have an awful lot of murdering.
I prefer to call it self-defense.
Well yes, most people do rush at us to attack once Deadeye bursts in and screams "your money or your life!"
I don't think they're very smart, they always end up giving us both! He clearly gave them an option.
So look at the minimap, see this corridor outlined in blue? That's usually a warning sign that there's some sort of trigger on entry, and usually MM6's triggers are bad news. So I spent a bit agonizing over what to do, finally decided to just quicksave and enter and...
It's the trigger to make a spooky ghost pop out of the wall!
The "wall behind him" is not literally the wall behind him, by the way, but instead the now-open wall on the right.
I'm so relieved that the Silver Helms are another Temple of Baa problem.
Why? It means there's a vast conspiracy undermining the entire kingdom...
Exactly! I've always said they were all out to get me, and it's true.
I'm also mildly entertained that the ghost says "no one's ever seen this secret area!" and yet there's a group of Silver Helm guards in there. I guess when you're a ghost you might not be super up to date on what's happening around you.
It does have two chests of nice loot, though. Thank you, John Silver. If we hadn't rescued Melody, he wouldn't have pointed it out, but the minimap would still, as per usual, have completely rumbled the surprise.
Zenofex? That's a weird name.
Probably some Temple of Baa higher-up. Hopefully we'll get a chance to put the boot to him sooner or later.
The main "target" of this dungeon is this generic-looking Warlock hiding at the bottom of a corridor to the south, without any real fanfare. He's supposed to stand in for John Silver's traitorous lieutenant.
He hits pretty hard and also makes Richmond go Insane. Sadly Richmond has one of the less funny Insane character portraits in the game. But don't worry, you'll get to see them all! Also the only reason you know he's John Silver's former lieutenant is because he drops the aforementioned Ankh when he goes down.
Once again, it's a point of weirdness that they didn't rename him considering that they clearly could make that happen in-engine with, for example, Snergle.
Nothing better than a nice helping of revenge to start the day. Now where to next...
Considering that Richmond's babbling in dead languages about the end of days, probably the local temple.
Oh fine, worrywart.
Not to be unthankful, but maybe we could do something slightly less stressful for a bit?
We could go visit those nice islands!
There are a couple of islands north of Silver Cove itself. The only thing of import that they contain is the Circle of the Sun, which is visible from shore, but they do have a few things of interest.
The circle, it has no purpose outside of the Druid promotion quest.
But a couple of the islands up here also have swords-in-stones, which at this level of the game actually have a chance of providing something good. Has the party gotten buff enough to yank this one?
Enjoy some more funny faces from them, though.
I'll get my revenge some day... sword.
The northern island just has an inn, a fountain and a ship. I'm not sure if the ship has any unusual travel routes, it was closed for business every day I visited it. The fountain, though...
Just one sip.
It's important to hydrate!
Well he didn't explode or turn to dust, and he doesn't seem to be leaking anything unusual.
...Deadeye, are you okay?
GUYS THIS IS THE BEST FOUNTAIN EVER. WE ALL HAVE TO DRINK FROM IT.
Yeah it's literally just a fountain that causes Insanity. Once again, enjoy the comically dumb faces. I think Agnes wins this one.
Wow! It makes perfect sense!
Another sword? Well, they do say the definition of Insanity is trying the same thing again and expecting a different result.
With his insanity-strength, Deadeye easily yanks it out and provides Bobelix with a very nice sword upgrade. It has better base damage, better to-hit bonus and it has an elemental damage lump on top for even better hitting power. That's about it for non-dungeon Silver Cove content, except for the fun of bombing wandering gargoyles and druids with orbital strikes and looting their camp sites. Deadeye greatly appreciates the killing and looting of creatures made of pure marble and diamond, though.
If only someone would make gold golems, this entire adventure would be worth it.
So now that we've maimed a bunch of soldiers on a lark, maybe we could give back to the communiy a bit.
If you're thinking of charity, it's coming out of your share.
Ha ha, gods no. Richmond and I were talking, well, Richmond and Bobelix and I, but you know how that goes.
We should only be mean to mean people.
So much for tolerant adventurers, I suppose. But, really, we found out the locals were very worried about a cult of evil druids over at some place they call the Monolith.
Didn't know someone had cloned Agnes.
Great comedy, Deadeye. No, these guys are apparently corrupting one of the main sites of druidic power in Enroth.
That doesn't sound good. What'll happen if they pull it off?
It'd royally piss off the elementals for one. Imagine an angry water monster in every drinking fountain.
Major crisis. Understood.
I think what bugs me most is that they call this place The Monolith and there are no monoliths involved. Neither is the external structure a monolith and nor does the internal dungeon contain one. It bugs me unreasonably much.
Seriously why is it named the Monolith, it's just another cave-y dungeon!
Probably what it reminds me most of is Snergle's caves. A series of narrow, winding corridors with little in them, passing through open rooms that contain enemies and objects to interact with.
This had better not be a puzzle dungeon.
Oh, I don't know, I feel it would be a nice departure from the usual.
What the hell, money grows on trees here? Agnes, why didn't you tell me druids could do this sort of thing?
Someone just tied a bag of gold to one of the branches, you rube.
The plants here are VERY worth interacting with, they can contain some decently large amounts of gold. At this stage of the game it's not super-big compared to what we get from just selling stuff, but I'd never pass up a couple thousand gold.
These fights are somewhat annoying, though, because there's no real space for dodging and we can't just end things with orbital bombardments, and the Grand Druids can blast away Agnes and Richmond's spell points with their attacks, which sucks.
In addition to the money trees, some of the rooms also require interacting with rocks to open doors. It's not very intellectually demanding, except possibly for Deadeye.
The dungeon's sole secret is in this room, where interacting with the flower on the ground on the left opens a small nook on the right.
Wherein a tiny tree holds 5000 gold. Yeah, it's... they're evil druids, man, they don't have to make sense, I guess.
But before I make the dungeon sound like a repetitive slog of killing lady druids and robbing their houseplants(which, like, half the dungeon is, admittedly), there are at least some new enemies!
Earth Spirits, Rock Beasts and Earth Elementals are, at this stage, honestly somewhat weak enemies for us to fight. Earth Spirits just punch moderately hard and can throw rocks at range, Rock Beasts are much the same but can also break armor and Earth Elementals have a chance of landing instant knockouts(reducing the target to zero hit points in the process) and, for some cruel reason, attempt to target Sorcerers whenever possible. As befits creatures made of dirt and stone, they don't care about poison, and they're yet another group of enemies that are also immune to magic.
They only merit acting as a speedbump because Richmond got drained by a Grand Druid again.
Oh damn, what's that? Another new enemy!
Somehow even less exciting than Earth Elementals, this trio of watery buffoons pack on only cold resistance as the only interesting twist to the elemental formula. The top tier once again, inexplicably, persecutes sorcerers and also has a chance to break items.
These guys aren't even a speedbump, I just roll across them. It's kind of weird, mind you, that the druids have two of the elemental types here to guard the Monolith, but no air or fire elementals.
Wow! I bet that's a focus of eldritch arcane energies!
No, he's still Bobelix, he just read those words in a comicbook last time we camped.
Actually I was wondering if I should touch it.
Signs point... towards no.
Why would anyone have something in their dungeon that doesn't do anything other than curse people?
I've been asking myself that ever since those damn skull piles. I guess some people are just assholes.
As far as I'm aware there's no possible good outcome from touching one of the henges, they'll just curse a random number of party members every time.
What follows is a couple of near-identical rooms, only varying in number of henges and druids in each, before we reach the final room of the dungeon.
Which is an even larger room with bigger henges and more druids.
This is the worst house of worship I've ever defaced.
Do you have any impulse control at all? One of these days you'll bring a roof down on our heads.
Despite their numbers, the druids and elementals do negligible damage to the party. I'm not sure if we're overlevelled for this, it doesn't feel like it since the druids theoretically have somewhat pinchy attacks, plus this last room has, I learned, a dick move where the door slams shut behind you if you move inside to engage, so you can't easily pull back to recover if you get in over your head.
The rewards is a pool to touch, an altar to break and two chests to loot!
I feel like when we eventually stave in this Cedric guy's head he's going to be carrying a letter implicating the Temple of Baa in this nonsense again.
I feel kind of bad we'll have to fight them again after all the times they've healed us.
You have to wonder why they keep doing that when we keep breaking into their facilities and stabbing everyone.
The pool just makes part of the wall slide away to open a way out.
The texture switch for the top of the altar kind of makes it look like the party just piled dirt on it and that breaks it.
I also wish I'd checked up on what Bobelix's Personality was before messing up the altar, because he gets a little sparkle and smile like Agnes does, despite being neither a Druid or Cleric, so maybe they messed up and it's Paladins instead of Clerics, or it's both. Who can say? As you can see by Agnes' spell point bar not changing between the two screenshots, we're at the point where even a +5 isn't enough to actually give a bonus.
You open the far end of the corridor by interacting with the flower.
Of course. Of course the flowers open a door.
And they smell nice, too!
Can we get out of here? Money on trees, and water and rocks and flowers that opens doors... it's too strange for me.
How's the calender looking, Richmond?
Hmmm... still the better part of three weeks to go.
Good thing there's still one place left to raid around here... let's crash the local economy with all this loot, then hit up the Warlord's Fortress.
Oh, yes, the Silver Cove overworld map does have one interesting oddity besides the stone circle. This field of rocks arranged in rows, between which the ground is shaded slightly darker. If you step on the ground there, it instantly teleports you to an otherwise unremarkable area to the north which normally wouldn't be a great hassle except by default said area is also patrolled by like 30 druids, numbering quite a few Grand Druids among them, and if you're suddenly in the middle and getting raked by all sides by magical zippity zappery, you're probably fucked. Especially because a couple of well-placed spell point drains from Grand Druids would see you unable to fly or teleport out in any way.
Alright, the Silver Helm stronghold was a cakewalk outside of the first ambush. The Monolith didn't challenge me much except for the last room. But the Warlord's Fortress does not fuck around much.
Almost every single room on this map contains a fight that required me to pull the party away for a full rest afterwards because they were beaten up and low on spell points, with very few exceptions.
It starts out easily enough, with a few brigands! Even Richmond can more or less one-shot them with his melee attacks at this point.
Wow the Warlord is a smart one, he locked the front door! There's no way we can get past that!
Turns out the Warlord is our smartest foe yet! The front door does not budge. And this isn't, like Snergle's Caverns, because you have to go get a key from elsewhere. No, this door 100% cannot open. Ever. No secret levers. No hidden keys.
But look at the minimap. The corridor section we're in is apparently a trigger. Interacting with walls and ceiling does nothing. Leaving and then returning does nothing. You know what does something? Clicking on the floor.
That's a pretty clever way to keep door-to-door salespeople out.
It may look like a maze, but it's really not. The interior doors just teleport you to other interior doors, except for one, but because you've got a minimap and it never loops back on itself, there's literally no way to get lost here.
The upper rightmost door just opens like a normal door and lets you into the Warlord's basement where we kill another few of his manservants and make our way upwards into the fortress proper.
The first couple of barracks rooms supplement their brigands with veterans, which are still, while not exactly a threat at this point, still possessors of enough hit points to present roadbumps that will slow the party down, plus they still sometimes break gear on hit, the fuckers.
Let's talk about these chests, though. Roughly half the chests in the Warlord's Fortress give this message, and it's odd because no other chests in the game do and there's no lockpicking skill or mechanic. It's not a Perception or Luck or Accuracy check either.
So I looked it up. According to the online jabber, it's something introduced by Grayface's patch, but the reason for it is argued about. In the patch notes he just notes that he "fixed duplicate chests." Some people online are complaining that there never were any, while others say that yes, they existed, and basically meant that multiple chests would link to the same chest "inventory." So as far as I can tell he just bricked-over the chests that connected to something another chest already did, rather than turning them into proper chests in their own right since that would make the Warlord's Fortress, an already big-loot area, into probably the biggest payday of the entire game.
Even before we get to the corner up ahead, enemies are active in the big room and headed towards us. But what's that, behind the brigand...
Looks like a tough bastard! Everyone ready! Richmond?
Oh no, it's a-
A death knight. Basic Death Knights are no big issue, they're roughly as tough as Veterans but cause Afraid instead of breaking equipment. The real problem is with their upgraded cousins, Doom Knights and Cuisinarts. Doom Knights have as much damage as Devil Workers, our biggest enemies, HP-wise, so far, while also doing enough damage to cleave at least a quarter off any party member's hit points on a whack that lands. Cuisinarts double those hit points and have 50 resistance to everything bar Physical, where they have a "mere" 30. This means that they are very, very big roadblocks to hack through and they're hacking back all the while.
Also, despite collapsing as empty suits of armor when defeated, they're not undead, more's the shame.
From here on out, every room contains either multiples of Death/Doom Knights, single Cuisinarts, or combinations of these, in addition to Fighter/Veteran/Brigand cannon fodder to eat up hits and get in the way of Implosion casts. At this point Shrap Metal A) does not have the Dark training on Richmond to outperform Implosion and B) because it has an extremely wide shotgun spread, like Sparks, it requires being so close to an enemy that they fill the entire screen for them to eat more than one hit. This is not in itself a big issue except that enemies stop advancing quite short of this, and attacks push enemies back ever so slightly, so it's not often that they're well-positioned. I question its placement as top damage dealer.
Share Life also starts seeing a lot of use as it's great for topping up Richmond and Agnes from Deadeye's big reserves of hit points.
Hey, leave my blood alone! It's mine!
But sharing is caring, Deadeye!
Also the party's "afraid" faces are quite funny. I particularly enjoy Bobelix's "deer in the headlights" look.
This place was full of enemies once, they sucked.
This door requires collecting two keys from the rest of the dungeon to open, which is frankly a bit odd since it's probably one of the least impressive rooms in the fort, loot-wise. Still, if someone doesn't want us to steal it, that's enough reason to bust it open and get stealing.
The door on the north side of the room has the first Cuisinart of the dungeon. Just look how huge they are, they tower head and shoulders and then some over the other human enemy sprites.
And that's what fighting one Cuisinart + chaff does to the party. And there are rooms that have multiple Cuisinarts.
I liked it better when my internal organs remained internal, I think.
Psh, eight hours of sleep will fix you up just fine.
The worst part is that you're right.
There are two keys in one of the cupboards here, but they're not both one of the two keys we need for the other door, only one of them is, the other one opens a door just next to the cupboard, which is what we call "bad security."
I don't know, I'd consider having a dozen Cuisinarts working for him to definitely be mastering the art of warfare.
On the other hand, Temper has the four of us working for him and we pasted the Warlord's Cuisinarts so far.
I'm sure there must be more to the art of warfare than clever subcontracting.
So, once again, there's no explicitly named Warlord in this place, and the trigger required to convince Temper that the Warlord is dead are these discharge papers which, I think, implies that the Cuisinart we just fought was, in fact, the Warlord.
This means we could just leave now, unfortunately for the Warlord's employees, however, their bodies are full of loot and thus they won't be left to go find employment elsewhere.
Also this is what I was talking about with rooms that could not be Ring of Fire'd. I think that it took like three full rests from Richmond to wear down a Cuisinart to half health in the case of one of the rooms that was so grimly full of enemies that I really had to soften it up a bit before walking in. So it's just not viable for all dungeons any longer.
Goddammit you big metal dickhead, you're not getting me, too!
It ends up about as down to the wire as it can get, plus of course the party's out of food, too(it takes at least two food to rest), so Deadeye has to lift the entire party on his shoulders and hoof it back to town with them to get them patched up.
Once they return, more violence, predictably, ensues.
But that earlier close call was as close as it gets(excepting encounters I had to reload because I was getting owned).
I'm just so glad that it'll be a while before we see any of these dickheads again, though they do sadly show up in one later dungeon to ruin my day.
Look, it's the other key!
Finally! Time to see what they've been hiding from us!
A fat load of stat-boosting barrels!
Someone trip up Deadeye before he drinks them all.
Which is kind of a forgettable thing at this point. Considering that they persist this late into the game, it feels like maybe the diminishing returns on stat boosts weren't in the original design docs or something, because at this point the stat boosts from casting Day of the Gods pretty much bumps everyone's stats into the realm where an effective "+1" requires increasing the base stat by 5 or 10 points, so a single room like this that maybe has +2 or +3 to each stat is kind of underwhelming. And keep in mind this is Richmond at the bottom tier of what he'll be doing with those stat boosts.
Urp, let's get out of here.
Aw, Deadeye, did you have too much to drink?
No such thing, one of those barrels just had Diet Dr. Pepper in it, blech. I'd rather drink more of that black goop from Snergle's mines.
Hmm... loot senses... tingling.
Indeed, I almost walked out of the dungeon without realizing that there were a couple of blue loot markers hovering in the void outside of the rooms I'd explored! Puzzling! Bizarre! Strange!
Turns out there was a hidden door in the very first little barracks room I cracked open.
And it hides a veeeeeeeeeery nice jackpot. About 15000 gold just in pure gold, not even counting a number of minor gear upgrades and proceeds from selling loot.
And all cleared with just two weeks to go before the equinox, which leaves the party enough time to sell loot and get in some nice training, too. The in-universe equinox is on the 21st and training eats up eight days(though, not eight days per training, if you enter a training yard and train, it eats eight days, but it'll eat up the same eight days no matter how much training you do. So as long as you don't leave between training sessions, any number of level ups will only account for eight days).
I gotta admit, I'm curious to see what all these druidic mysteries are about when not performed by someone trying to kill me.
Yeah, I know better than to sacrifice you on the slab, I'd get cursed forever by the powers beyond for offering them such trash.
Just to be on the safe side I arrive a day early and have the party camp inside the circle of stones until the right day hits.
At which point Loretta trolls us just for the hell of it.
The 20% extra spell points for Agnes may not look like a lot, but there's a hell of a lot of arcane murdery stored in those points.
Goddammit, she hung up before I could ask her about the next promotion! Guess we're headed back to shore.
What's she even doing up at this time of night? I thought we'd be sent off at the gates.
Probably counting her money... hmm... maybe she'll be interested in this ankh from Gerrard...
So nothing ever indicates you can do something with the Ankh, but you can take it to Loretta and Lord Stone. I think you may have to take it to Loretta first before you can show it to Stone, but I didn't test that out.
Loretta doesn't tell us this, but Cedric's temple is located in Free Haven, an area where we haven't touched any of the dungeons at all aside from the sewers. So I guess we know where our next point of interest is!
First, though, we have something way more important to do.
We really couldn't have stopped for a break first?
No time! Loretta said Stone would pay us!
Funny how it's always snowing here.
We should maybe do something about that 'eternal winter' thing people brought up to us, oh, say, about a year ago.
Loretta is an awful person, but I do like her style.
Anyway, with this done, the only thing left for this post is to go cash in our Champion quest with Temper in Free Haven.
Off-screen I also got Richmond upgraded to a Water Magic master, so getting around Enroth is now a lot smoother.
And that's 10 out of 12 promotion quests completed.
Next up will be the dungeons of the Free Haven region, though I do certainly dread the hell out of fighting my way through the Temple of the Moon. But we'll see just how bad it gets when we get there. I suspect I'll have to turn the cheese setting to maximum for that one to avoid tearing my hair out.
1 out of 6 Council quests completed: Still only Stone's
10 out of 12 Promotion quests completed: Only the Archdruid quest and final Archer promotion quests remain.
And then once that's done, we can get back on taking votes for what to do.