Part 3: All Glory to the Hypnobeetle
Update 2: All Glory to the Hypnobeetle
"You over there! I recognise that coat of arms on your tunic. You're a paladin, aren't you? I'm in need of your help."
"I am indeed. Name's Cale Thomas. Who are those people at your table? Friends of yours?"
"You could say that. This is McGuffin --"
"-- this is Godobor, a fellow outcast from my tribe --"
"Nice to meet you."
"-- and this is David, a war veterinarian."
"A war veteran, you mean?"
"No, I treat the horses of Queen Lamanda's knights -- well, I used to, before that unfortunate incident with Lord Mandagual's prize destrier. But don't worry, I'm sure I'll pick up a knack for treating humanoids in no time. After all, you've got the same organs in more or less the same places, don't you?"
"I see. Well, it's a pleasure to make your acquaintance. You're certainly very... orange, Julius."
"That's what I'm here to talk to you about. My appearance is a curse, and I know of no temple that can lift it. I have resolved to travel across Cron in search of a cure. Will you help me?"
"You seem like a good sort, and I've been hard up for work lately. Very well, I'll help you. But if we're serious about this quest, we'll need a sorcerer."
"I'm a sorcerer. Well, sort of."
"What do you mean, 'sort of'?"
"Technically I'm an archer, but I studied magic for a while. So that's almost as good as being a sorcerer, right? Besides, I hate to say this, but it's not like you're swimming in other offers. I want adventure and you want someone who can tell the front end of a wand from the back. How about it?"
"I don't trust her. Be careful, Julius."
"Godobor, you're a ninja. You've been trained to distrust everybody. This archer looks harmless enough to me, and she seems to be the only help we'll find."
"Well, I'm glad that's settled. My name's neongrey. Let's get going!"
"Wait, where are we goin'?"
"I dunno. What's wrong with just wandering around town and seeing what's to be seen?"
"Thieves! Be on your guard, everyone!"
"Hey! Get your hands off my money pouch! I don't have any money right now, but it's the principle of the thing!"
Might & Magic II is arguably less lethal than M&M1, but it makes up for this by finding many more creative ways to screw the party over. Stealing their gold is one of the least infuriating things it can do.
Also note that tick marks designate which characters are in melee. Right now, five Neophyte Thieves can engage in melee, but only Julius and McGuffin on the party's side can do so. The others can use missile weapons, which would be just peachy keen if only they had any missile weapons.
"Hey, my fear spell actually worked! I guess that giant illusory scarecrow really is as creepy as everyone back at the palace kept saying."
"One down, five t' go. Easy."
"... me an' m' big mouth..."
McGuffin's been reduced to zero HP and rendered unconscious. Enemies won't target unconscious characters in melee, but if one is hit (by a spell, for example), they're instantly killed. Death is expensive to cure, so we'd like to avoid that.
This works the same way as it did in M&M1, but with one important difference. Every time a character is knocked unconscious, another party member is forced into melee to replace them, and they remain in melee even after the unconscious character is revived. At the moment, this is a good thing, because it means that more of the party can fight -- but when your cleric and sorcerer are dragged into melee, it's not such a good thing.
See how we started out with two members in melee and ended up with five? There were a lot of characters getting knocked unconscious and healed back up in this fight.
Still, even a hard-won victory is worth celebrating.
"I can't keep fighting with wounds like these. We need to make camp here and rest for a few hours."
"Wait, you guys are just going to camp out in the middle of the street? Seriously? Aren't you worried about more thieves coming along?"
"You wanted adventure, didn't you? Well, this is it. It's rarely glamorous and it's never safe. Some days you go to sleep and you don't know if you'll wake up. If you're not ready for that, there's no shame in looking for a safer career."
"So you think I can't handle it? Is that it? I'll show you. I'm as brave as any of you, and to prove it I'm going to sleep right now!"
"Well, we survived. That's a relief."
"While the rest of you were napping, I found this box among the thieves' possessions."
"Not a bad haul, eh? With this kind of money..."
"... we can buy ourselves some decent equipment. First, we'll need some slings for the next time we're caught in a narrow passageway."
"Well, what have we here? Looks like a chance to try out our new weapons."
"All the town's madmen are out in the streets tonight. Must be a full moon."
"I wish we could have avoided killing them, but we had to defend ourselves. Maybe I really am a curse to those around me."
"Dunno about that. Things are goin' better for me than when I was workin' for that Lich Lord out east."
"McGuffin, you once worked for a lich?"
"Yeah. Not layin' waste to towns or any of that, just helpin' build his fortress on the edge o' the Desert of Desolation. Then the economy went south, the fortress got cancelled an' I got downsized. You know how it is."
"But why would you work for such a fiend?"
"It's a livin'. Well, for me. Not him. Cause he's not livin', see, on account of bein' a lich. Anyway, I'm with Julius now."
"On the bright side, for lunatics they had a fair bit of money, and a nicely-made crossbow."
"Forsooth, I fain would flick a farthing!"
"What are those things?"
"Brain Eaters. Watch out -- their bite can send you into a deep sleep."
"They're also undead, so I can deal with them if need be. At least, I think I can."
"Well, that wasn't so hard. Let's see what kind of treasure they've got!"
"Not a problem. I'll just open this chest, and--"
"Godobor, fire is not treasure."
"She's still alive. A bit of rest and she'll be right as rain in no time."
"Anyway, she did get the chest open, and that's what really matters, right?"
In a sense, we got lucky here. Traps can't poison you or inflict other nasty status effects like they did in M&M1, but they can instantly kill your thief if they do enough damage.
"Hey, it's another fountain, and this one's not asking for our money. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm getting thirsty."
"Cool. I've always wanted panoramic X-ray vision."
The fountain gives the party the Eagle Eye effect, allowing them to see their immediate surroundings in the upper right corner of the screen. Unfortunately, it only lasts 8 hours or until the party next rests.
If we want a more permanent solution to the problem of knowing where the hell we are, we'll have to visit Otto.
Now's as good a time as any to explain one of the major engine improvements between M&M1 and M&M2: the addition of secondary skills. Each character can have up to two secondary skills (or two copies of the same skill; the effects stack). Some help in combat by raising a character's statistics, while others give them special abilities that are useful outside of combat, and a few do both. Otto is offering to teach the Cartography skill, which allows the use of the automap. Sorcerers start out with Cartography automatically, but we don't have a sorcerer in our party.
"I'm almost a sorcerer, so of course I should be the one to learn this skill!"
"As you wish, but it's coming out of your share of the party's funds."
"'Expeditions'? This could be a travellers' supply shop. We should take a look inside."
"Sir Edmund Hillary? I thought you were dead!"
"And I thought you were a dairy-based fruit drink, so I guess we were both wrong. Now, would you like to learn mountaineering?"
"We don't have anywhere near 2000 gold right now, but we'll be sure to keep you in mind when we do!"
Mountaineering, as the name suggests, allows the party to travel freely through mountains if there are at least two Mountaineers present. It makes outdoor exploration much more fun.
"Perhaps this one's a supply shop."
This ranger is offering to teach the Pathfinding skill, which works exactly like Mountaineer but for forests. Again, it's an essential skill, but we can't afford it yet.
Now, at this point you may be thinking "secondary skills are great, but you said that each character could only have two of them! What if I change my mind about which ones I want?"
Well, if you change your mind, this guy can change your brain.
"Uh... I think maybe we should go somewhere else. Now."
"I guess this is my fault for not specifying a place where we wouldn't be attacked by horrible giant beetle things."
Hypnobeetles are one of the most annoying monsters you can possibly run into early on. Why? Well, their name is a pretty strong hint.
They'll spend the first round or two of a battle spamming Sleep spells, which means your party is going to end up...
... like this.
"Are you all asleep on the job again? Then I'll just have to finish this myself!"
After a while, they'll switch to physical attacks, which do quite a bit of damage and can poison party members, resulting in the party looking...
... more like this.
"Wake up, everyone! Don't make me use smelling salts!"
"That was too close for comfort."
M&M2 is somewhat more generous with experience than M&M1. That's more than half the experience needed to reach level 2 in a single battle.
"Well, I'm glad that's over. Now, let me just see what I've got here for the treatment of poison..."
"I have a better idea. Let's visit the temple and pay for healing."
"Can you cure us of poison? I tried administering a purgative but Godobor would have none of it and when I tried it on myself it only seemed to make things worse."
"I'm not surprised. In healing, much like plumbing, half our income is from fixing up after DIY jobs. At any rate, you're cured now. Go and sin no more or whatever it is I'm supposed to say."
"Good. Now, I say we should head to the local training ground. We obviously need to hone our skills if we want to survive."
"Looks like we'll have to earn some more money first, though."
Several days of adventuring later...
"That's more like it. I feel stronger already."
"Ah, that was well worth it. It's been too long since I've had a good workout."
"Of course, now we have enough experience for level 3 but still not enough money."
"There's not much money in runnin' round waitin' for monsters to attack us, even if I did get this suit of ring mail out of it. Maybe we should look for a quest."
"Well, speak of the devil. How much money's in it for us?"
"Numerous rewards? I like the sound of that, and I bet we can handle a few goblins easily enough."
"It's agreed, then. We'll set off into the caverns."
"But not today. We've already explored half of Middlegate, and I think that's quite enough for now. We can enter the caverns tomorrow."
"Prepare six beds for us, but don't expect us to be staying long. We're adventurers now."
"Armour? I don't need armour. I can survive whatever those goblins can hit me with, and I'll hit back twice as hard."
"Don't know why I got this crossbow. I'm never outside of melee anyway."
"We may not be very well-trained or well-equipped, but we won't let that stop us! Every journey has to begin somewhere."
"Well, I've already got the cartography skill. Now all I need is a little magic and I'll be as good as any sorcerer."
"Don't underestimate me. I'm a natural born killer, and if only I had more to work with than this dagger and sling I could prove it."
"Perhaps now would be a good time to take stock of my list of spells..."
Level 1 Cleric Spells
1. NAME: Apparition
COST: 1 SP
TARGET: 10 monsters
DESCRIPTION: Creates a frightening apparition in the monster's memory causing them to be afraid and reducing their chance to hit.
"Not a bad spell, if you don't like getting hit. And really now, who does? The only trouble is a lot of monsters aren't so easy to scare."
2. NAME: Awaken
COST: 1 SP
TARGET: All sleeping Party members
DESCRIPTION: Awakens all sleeping members of the Party, instantaneously cancelling the sleep condition. May be critical if Party is attacked during rest.
"That spell would have been mighty handy when we were fighting those Hypnobeetles... if I hadn't been put to sleep along with everyone else, that is."
3. NAME: Bless
COST: 1 SP
TARGET: Entire Party
DESCRIPTION: Increases the accuracy with which all characters fight, for the duration of combat.
"Another good spell for a tight spot, as long as I can fit it in between healing everyone."
4. NAME: First Aid
COST: 1 SP
TARGET: 1 character
DESCRIPTION: Heals minor battle wounds, restoring 8 Hit Points to that character.
"A real life-saver, this one. Couldn't do without it. 8 Hit Points might not be much, but when it brings an unconscious party member back into the fight, it can turn the tide of a battle."
5. NAME: Light
COST: 1 SP
TARGET: Entire Party
DESCRIPTION: Gives the Party 1 light factor, which is sufficient to light up 1 dark area. Multiple light spells can be cast to accumulate multiple light factors.
"I wouldn't want to try stumbling around the caverns under Middlegate without this spell, let me tell you."
6. NAME: Power Cure
COST: 1/level + 1 Gem
TARGET: 1 character
DESCRIPTION: Restores character's health and 1-10 Hit Points per experience level of caster.
"I don't know this spell yet, but I'm sure I'll need it sooner or later. It isn't much more powerful than First Aid, and it uses up a gem, but it's only going to get better as we get stronger. I'll buy it from the temple in a few levels."
7. NAME: Turn Undead
COST: 1 SP
TARGET: All undead monsters
DESCRIPTION: Destroys some or all undead monsters, depending on caster's experience level and monster's power level.
"This sure makes undead a lot easier to deal with, when it works. Sometimes they'll resist it, of course, but I say it's worth a try."
And that's about it for this update. Tune in next time when we take a look at the caverns under Middlegate, and maybe explore the town a little more as well!