Part 6: Might & Magic Hates You, Part 1
Update 5: Might & Magic Hates You, Part 1
"You, with the orange skin. What business do you have here in Middlegate? Do not lie: I have been observing you for some time."
"I'm rescuing the sons of Nordonna from the clutches of kobolds in this town's caverns. What's it to you?"
"I will relieve you of that task. My current party is... inadequate. I must borrow yours."
"Who are you calling inadequate?"
"I... have urgent business to attend to, somewhere very far from here. I'll just be going now. Eastman, Brad, follow me. No, Eastman, not that way. I'm over here."
"I can't just let you 'borrow' my party. For one thing, I have no idea who you are--"
"Indeed. And with that fact in mind, do you really wish to make an enemy of me? Our goals may prove to have more in common than you think..."
"That may be so, but my travelling companions make their own decisions. I can't speak on their behalf. For my part, I'm not going anywhere with you."
"So be it. What do your allies think? You, in the plate armour! Join me!"
"Hey, Gothmog! It's been a while. I think I've still got a month left on my contract, so if you're happy to give me back-pay for that last job--"
"Quiet, you fool! Ahem. It seems as if McGuffin has made the decision to travel with me. Anyone else?"
"Wait, how did you know his name was--"
"Did I hear you say something? I trust you will be travelling with me as well, if you know what's good for you."
"Don't think I don't know what you are, fiend. I'll follow you all right -- as long as you're in this town, I'll be keeping a close eye on you. David, I'd recommend that you tag along as well: we may need your powers."
"Why? Are we going to see some horses? It's been so long since I worked on a good horse..."
"What about you, she-orc? I hear you have some skill with locks and traps. Will you join me?"
"Do what you want. I'm staying with Julius."
"Hmph. Waddle Dee, it seems your services are still needed."
"Um, okay. We're still going to be rescuing those people that the orange guy talked about, right?"
"Of course. They are essential components of my plan."
"I see the seven dwarves, but where's Snow White?"
"Uh-oh. Those look like members of the Mad Dwarf Clan."
"What makes them go mad, anyway?"
"Every so often, a dwarf clan throws a party with some ale that's gone very, very bad. There's a reason why the Gnomish Surgeon-General warns against the stuff."
"Um, can we save the conversation for another time? They're trying to kill us!"
"Actually, I'd say they're being quite successful at killing us."
Crazed Dwarves can (and usually do) frenzy: this does a bunch of damage to the whole party, but the dwarf then dies of exhaustion. There are seven of them and they can do over 20 damage each. Our toughest party member has 47 HP. You do the math.
Fortunately, the party is saved (barely!) by one interesting feature: if an enemy uses an attack that hits the whole party, and some members of the party are already dead, the attack will sometimes fail to hit some or all party members. I'm not sure if this is deliberate or a bug: if it's a bug, it exists in every version of the game that I know of.
Dead characters don't gain experience, but unconscious characters do: since only Gothmog and Waddle Dee are alive right now, each gets a bigger share of the experience.
"How did we survive that?"
"'Survive'... an amusing choice of words. But I've gone on too long to let my existence end here."
"I, uh, don't think that's going to cover the cost of resurrecting everybody. At least we didn't die to the trap after surviving the dwarves. That would just be embarrassing."
"A pity... but I still have need of them."
Taking two corpses in each hand and heaving them over his shoulders, Gothmog walked back to the town temple.
Well, there goes half the party's hard-earned money. Never mind: with a bit of luck, they could earn all of that back in a single fight. Some monsters are very generous with treasure.
"Ugh... what happened? Last thing I remember was those dwarves..."
"Nothing to worry yourself about, my loyal servant. You are alive now: the past and the future are not your concern."
"We had a close call, but I'm sure we'll all be more careful next time. Are you ready to go back into the caverns?"
"Hmm. Looks like some skeletons. Let me see if I remember that spell..."
"That didn't work as well as I'd hoped. These must be stronger than the usual kind."
"Or you just screwed up the spell."
"Never mind, I'll kill them the old-fashioned way."
McGuffin's attack dislodged a few of the skeleton's ribs, but they simply reassembled themselves.
"Huh? What happened?"
"I can't hurt them either! What foul sorcery is this?"
"Honestly, I can't see what you guys are complaining about. They're not that tough."
You're probably wondering what just happened. Well, remember how I said that a character's sex was important in a few specific situations? This is one of them. Dancing Bones are invulnerable to physical attacks from male characters: only attacks from females, or magic, will work on them. There are a few other monsters like this, and some are quite nasty.
At any rate, the party survived this encounter and continued on.
"Eww! Those are the ugliest bats I've ever seen -- and they're everywhere!"
There are a few fixed encounters in the caverns, with specific groups of monsters at specific locations. This is one of them. Note another new feature of Might & Magic II: in the first game, monster encounters could have about 15 monsters at most. Now, a battle can have up to 250 monsters, although only 10 will actively participate in combat at any one time -- the rest are waiting in the wings for their allies to die.
"Ah, Flame Arrow. Simple, but effective."
Blood Suckers have exactly 1 HP. Even if there are 60 of them, this should be easy, right?
"Ow! My blood! I was using that to circulate oxygen and nutrients to my peripheral tissues!"
Every hit from a Blood Sucker has a chance to lower all of the victim's statistics. Lost statistics are restored by rest, but if a stat reaches zero, the character instantly dies. McGuffin's Personality has already dropped to 2: one more hit and he will literally be too ugly to live.
Amazingly, the party won the battle without a single death. For their pains, they earned loads of experience... but no treasure at all. Well, nothing for it but to keep exploring.
"Xabran? The legendary Mystic Castle? Wasn't that destroyed by the Elemental Lords a few years ago, as revenge for that whole Kalohn thing with the mountain that blew up and the dragon and everything?"
"Revenge? It was the elementals who sent their creations to ravage Cron and murder King Kalohn. It is their fault that our world is in such a state of chaos. I hope one day that I can show them what revenge is!"
"And one day, you may have your chance... yes, if all goes according to plan, you certainly shall. But for now, let us continue."
"As a man who appreciates a fine horse, I must ask: how in the world did you get those horses down here?"
"I don't think they're going to answer you, David. They seem rather intent on killing us."
Fortunately, Squires aren't so tough.
And remember what I said before about generous treasure? Yeah.
"Dibs on the bow!"
"Dibs on the better bow!"
"Honestly, how many different types of undead are there? Skeletons, zombies, wights, ghouls, vampires ... either they're smart or they're not, and either they have meat on their bones or they don't. That makes four combinations. What else matters?"
"Well, zombies don't usually explode. Perhaps somebody used too much embalming fluid on these ones."
Exploding, like frenzying, kills the user and damages the whole party. Killer Cadavers can also disease characters with their melee attacks, which prevents the afflicted character from recovering health by resting. At least the party didn't nearly get wiped out this time, so let's just count our blessings and move on.
"Hey, nobody tells me what to do."
"We should search."
"Do you see now? Just let me handle everything, and we can all get what we want."
Here's where the treasure is. You can keep leaving the cavern and coming back for more gold, but it's pretty deep into the cave, and 1000 gold doesn't go as far as you'd think.
As you can see from the map, the party's explored nearly half of the cavern under Middlegate now. This seems like as good place as any to split the update up, seeing as it's 6 a.m. here, I haven't slept yet and this post is getting kinda long anyway. The rest will hopefully be coming tomorrow: stay tuned!