Part 2: The Adventurer's Guide to Middlegate
Update 1: The Adventurer's Guide to Middlegate
Well, after that last post I'm sure you've had enough of hearing me yammer on about character creation. How about we take a look at the actual game now?
For our guided tour of Middlegate, I'll be using the same party I used to complete Might & Magic I. Unfortunately, they haven't quite made it through the journey to Cron intact: during the character transfer process, all items are removed, experience levels above 7 are reset to 7 (or to 6, if you transfer your characters before finishing the first game), stats above 20 are reset to 20, gold is reset to 1000, and gems (magical stones used to cast some spells) are reset to 100. Even so, they're powerful enough to breeze through the early areas of the game, which is why I won't be using them for a while once this update is over.
Without further ado, let's introduce the party!
Meet Tarquinn, the party's Knight. Tarquinn is known for his prowess in combat, his thuggish demeanour, and his obsession with the size of his sword. Say hi to our readers, Tarquinn!
Here's Successhands, our Robber. With him around, opening locked doors and chests without setting off traps in the process is easy: convincing him to share any treasure he finds within is considerably harder.
"If you want a share of the treasure, open the chest yourself. No, really. Go ahead. I swear there's no trap inside."
This is Drewjitsu. He's a Paladin, which means that he fights for truth and justice, at least whenever he remembers that that's what he's supposed to be doing. Don't ask why his character sheet says he's 8 years old: it's a long, sad story.
"Hi there, everyone! Hey, where did all my equipment go?"
Here's Mattybee, the Archer. Look at those stats. He's better than you, he knows it, and he wants to make sure you know it too.
"Don't hate me. It's not my fault that I'm superior to you in every way."
This is Preacher, the party's Cleric and its conscience. Her main role in the party is to heal the wounded and be ignored whenever she speaks.
"Don't think I didn't hear that, young man!"
And this charming young lady is Jostiband, the Sorceress. She kills things through the ludicrously excessive application of magical force, because she can.
"Aw, now that's just not fair. If I really used excessive force, there wouldn't be anybody left alive to tell me so."
Well, that's the introductions over and done with for now. If the party is going to get any adventuring done today, first they'll have to leave the inn!
"Is that you, Corak? The legendary explorer from the land of Varn?"
"Come to think of it, that is pretty weird. How did you follow us to Cron, and why are you a ghost now?"
"If I told you that, I wouldn't be very mysterious, would I? Run along now and start adventuring."
"Isn't the sky beautiful today? It seems so much more colourful than Varn, somehow."
This temple, directly across from the inn, will be a good place to get acquainted with in case the party ever needs healing.
"We're just window-shopping right now. What have you got for us?"
Donating enough money will give the party a blessing, providing them with elemental resistances and other bonuses for one day. The party can also buy Cleric spells here: some spells are learned automatically when a character's level is high enough to cast them, others must be bought, and still others must be found. The three on sale in this temple are Apparition, Awaken and Power Cure respectively, and they're all first-level Cleric spells (as indicated by "C1"). Paladins and Archers start learning first-level spells at level 7, so Drewjitsu's just powerful enough to learn these.
"1000 gold? That's pretty expensive. I'll just take Apparition and Awaken for now."
Apparition creates an illusion that scares all monsters and weakens their attacks, and Awaken wakes up all sleeping party members. I'll give a more detailed list of what the various spells do in the next update.
Spells alone won't be enough for the party to survive in the harsh world of Cron, so next they head for the local blacksmith.
"Burlier is better when it comes to blacksmiths, right? Let's see what you've got."
"Show us your weapons first."
Price is usually, but not always, an accurate guide to the relative power of weapons. The most powerful weapons here are the Short Sword, Long Dagger and Nunchakas: all three are equally strong, but each can be used by a different set of character classes.
"What, that's all you've got? Pathetic. What about your daily specials?"
Selecting "Today's Specials" opens up a new list of weapons, and these ones are magical. The weapons are always the same, but the magical bonus changes from day to day. Since this is the first town, it'll usually be quite low, like +1 or +2.
"Fine, I'll take a scythe. Seems like a good weapon for killing things. What kind of armour do you have?"
And here's Svendegard's selection of armour, shields and helmets. Tarquinn, being a knight, can wear any of it -- except he can't use a shield right now because a scythe is a two-handed weapon.
"I'll take a suit of ring mail and a helm. You got anything else?"
The most important item here is the Thief's Pick, which boosts a Robber or Ninja's thievery skill when equipped. The Green Ticket provides admission to the town's arena, which will be covered in a later update.
Blacksmiths can also buy unwanted items for a quarter of their original price, or identify items in your pack. Identification tells you who can equip an item, how powerful it is, and what special abilities it has.
"I think we've done enough shopping for now. What's say we retire to the nearest tavern?"
"Well, this is either a tavern or the headquarters of an evil blood cult."
"And in either case, it's a place which respectable people have no business visiting."
"Then again, we never were very respectable."
"Give me one of every drink you've got."
Taking several of the same drink in a row can temporarily increase a character's stats. On the other hand, drink too much...
... and this can happen.
"Uh, maybe I'll just have something to eat. What are the house specialties?"
"Well, I'm sure you maintain the highest standards of hygiene when serving up pieces of the cursed undead for your customers' consumption. I'll have the Soup de Ghoul."
"Would you two please get out of here? I don't want to have to clean up after you."
"Sorry about that. Hey, how about a 10-gold tip to make up for it?"
"Hey, a clue! Score!"
"Well, at least this wasn't a complete waste of time. Perhaps if we listen in on the conversation in here, we can learn something more."
"Children? What children? Whose children? I'm so confused."
"Hey, shouldn't we be checking up on Tarquinn and Successhands? They've been out there for a while now and I can still hear them."
"Will you two ever stop getting yourselves into trouble? Honestly, it's a good thing I already know Cure Poison and Cure Disease, or we'd have to spend our hard-earned money at the temple."
"At least this two-bit town's got a training ground in it."
"I've been rusty ever since I came to this world. It's about time I found someone who can put me through my paces."
If Tarquinn had enough experience, he could pay to gain a level here. Unlike Might & Magic I, not all trainers in Cron are equal: trainers in later towns cost more, but allow characters to gain more hit points per level.
We've now seen the temple, the smithy, the tavern, and the training grounds, but there's at least one more important attraction in Middlegate...
"Ooooh. I think I'm going to like this."
"You bet I'm interested! I've been missing my trusty Fireball and Lightning Bolt spells, not to mention Disintegrate..."
"Okay, so how much does a membership cost?"
"Oh, you can't buy a membership here. Our agent should be somewhere in town."
"Well, we managed to spend the better part of a day here before somebody asked us to wander around aimlessly in search of someone else. That's not such a bad record by our standards."
Several hours of aimless wandering later...
"It's past midnight already. Can't we turn in for the night and worry about this guild nonsense later?"
"If you want to come between Jostiband and her magic, you're a braver man than I."
"Uh, sorry about waking you up at three in the morning, but we wanna join the Mages' Guild. Well, Mattybee and Jostiband do, anyway."
"Yes, yes, just leave the money on the table there and I'll deal with it."
"Awesome. I can't wait to get back to the Guild!"
"Your customer service leaves something to be desired. Now, let's see what your spells are like."
"We have Awaken, Energy Blast, Location and Identify Monster."
Identify Monster is a level-2 spell, so Mattybee can't learn it until level 9. (Spell levels are gained on every odd experience level.) The party can't really afford Energy Blast, but they buy everything else they can learn at the moment.
"All in all, that was a productive day -- and for once, we've even managed to return to the inn before dawn."
In Might & Magic II, inns function as save points: if the party doesn't survive to make it back to an inn, all progress since their last visit is erased. Fortunately, that's not a problem today. Let's see what the party looks like after their first day on Cron.
Tarquinn will eventually want better armour than ring mail, but to get it he'll need to look further afield than Middlegate.
Successhands went a little overboard with the Thief's Picks there. In M&M1, it wasn't possible to equip two identical items at the same time; this limitation has been removed for M&M2, and we'll be taking full advantage of that fact.
Drewjitsu has the same equipment as Tarquinn right now, plus some level-1 Cleric spells.
Mattybee can't wear a helmet, so his armour class is a little worse than Tarquinn's. On the bright side, he has a fancy new crossbow.
Because Preacher is using a shield, her armour class is the best in the party right now. Her weapon sucks, but she won't be in melee combat very often anyway.
As a Sorceress, Jostiband will always have lousy armour. As far as weapons go, she has a magic staff that she'll probably never use and a magic blowpipe that she can use to plink at enemies for minimal damage whenever she's not casting a spell.
And that about wraps up our first adventure. Remember, this isn't the party we'll be using for the next update. To continue this LP, I'll need your help! Read the section on character creation and pick a class, race, sex, alignment and name for your character. The world of Cron is counting on you!