Part 9: Team Brute Force
Update 8: Team Brute Force
"Julius, how exactly is wandering around in the slums of Sandsobar going to help us find a way to remove your curse?"
"Don't underestimate beggars and thieves: they often know more than you might think. Besides, all the fellow adventurers we found in the Inn of Middlegate will protect us if we wind up in danger."
"Like hell we will. I'm only here because you morons are going to get yourselves into some good fights and I want to be there for them."
"Aw, c'mon, just because they're orcs doesn't mean they're stupid."
"When I said 'you morons', I was including you."
"Hey, speaking of morons, where'd Eastman go?"
"What do you mean, where did-- oh. Hmm. He must have wandered off. Well, no matter. He never was much use anyway."
"Keep your hands on your weapons, everyone. I think we're being followed."
"That's okay! We can hide at the end of this dark alley!"
"Eh, I was in the mood for a fight anyway. Bring it on!"
Muggers can steal gold from characters, but apart from that they're pretty harmless. The battle is over quickly.
"Dammit, can't anyone solve their own problems around here? Piss off! Go bother someone else!"
"Somehow, I don't think they intend to oblige us."
"I have to say, this is a new low for me."
"Don't worry. You'll get used to it. Anyway, Brad knows Restore Alignment, right? That's what Preacher always used to cast when one of us had beaten up too many cripples."
"Hey, let go of that pouch! That's where I keep my precious magical... uh, I mean, it's where I keep personal items of no use or interest to you. Yeah, that's it."
"Well, that's going to be just about enough gold to cure us all of the acute scrofula we picked up from those cripples. I hope you've all learned that crime doesn't pay."
"Scrofula? Is that even a real disease?"
"Oh boy, is it ever. It starts in the lymph nodes of the neck and then spreads out to the skin until--"
"Okay, okay, I believe you. Let's find the temple and then go explore somewhere far, far away from the slums."
"The tavern, perhaps? I could use a drink after that."
"Um, guys, weren't we leaving the slums so we could stay out of trouble? Maybe we should go somewhere else."
And now you know how this thread got its name.
"Give me the Roast Peasant."
"What? You can't just eat a peasant!"
"Why the hell not? I've got 50 gold."
"That's not the point! Think of the poor peasant who died for your meal!"
"You know, it's times like this that I remember a song Preacher once taught me."
"Aw, crap. You're not going to sing again, are you?"
"If you're looking at your boyfriend, thinking he's so yummy..."
"If you're looking at your girlfriend, thinking she's good enough to eat..."
"Well, think on this, don't think too long. Think on this..."
"Dammit, not you too. I left the old party to get away from this."
"We all know someone who's had a bite taken out of them by somebody else's spite..."
"It happens every day, but does that make it right?"
"Seriously, you two, I'm evil. I don't care. Knock it off already."
"Don't eat your best friend's thigh, you know why..."
"Even if they deserve it, you can't eat them 'cause it's wroooooong!"
"And if you do, don't eat the skin. It's fattening."
"Fine, I'll have the Wyrm Chop Suey. Just stop singing!"
"You're, uh, not going to be singing like that all the time, are you?"
"Preacher always told me not to make promises I can't keep."
By eating Wyrm Chop Suey, we just got ourselves Hong Kong Phooey as a hireling. Yes, really. He's staggeringly mediocre and the party doesn't really need a second ninja, but he's cheap, and Team Brute Force will take what they can get.
Of course, this being Team Brute Force, the proper initiation for a hireling is to level him up and get him into a bar brawl.
Thug Trainees can call for assistance, so this fight is actually even bigger than it looks: Team Brute Force will be fighting about 80 monsters in total.
"I... think we may be in over our heads here."
"Nonsense! Why, they're just a pack of common thugs! We'll rout them with no trouble at all!"
This battle is a good example of how larger, more difficult fights need to be handled in Might & Magic II.
Because Jugglers have such high speed, the battle will begin with both Jugglers damaging the party and messing up their formation.
The Inept Wizards are the party's first target, because they die more easily than Jugglers and we have about half a round to kill them before they zap the party with lightning bolts.
"Ha! Let's see you break out of that!"
Thug Trainees can shoot at the party, so they're a danger even when they're not in melee. Killing them is pointless because there are 70 more of them to replace any that die. Instead, a Web spell will keep them out of action for a long time while we deal with the other monsters.
Drewjitsu can revive unconscious characters with First Aid while Brad throws a Heroism spell on each fighter. It's not a good idea to let unconscious characters stay that way, since they'll be useless in combat and they're likely to get shot and killed.
This is the difference Heroism makes: about two extra attacks per round. Notice that one of the Super Sprites has cursed Julius, which is bad news for us: apart from preventing spellcasting, being cursed also makes attacks miss more often.
Julius takes revenge, but not before Chunko Splendid is also cursed. Chunko was going to use his magic to keep webbing the Thug Trainee reinforcements, but now the party's going to have to manage without his help.
It... doesn't go as well as it could have, but the party survives. Mostly.
"We won! I bet Lucindra's going to reward us for clearing all those thugs out of her bar!"
"Is that all you're going to give us? An incomprehensible hint?"
"Yup. Unless you also want to clean up all those corpses. There'd be some money in it for you."
"Uh, we'll pass."
What Lucindra is trying to say here is that tipping the bartender in a tavern will give a different hint depending on whether the current day is odd or even, and whether you're in the first 30 days of the year or not. (Cron's year is 180 days long.) Most of the hints give the location of spells, hirelings or quest items.
One quick trip to the temple later...
"Hey, here's an idea: next time, we should buy weapons before getting in a bar fight that gets half of us killed."
"We're gonna get along just fine, old man. Show me what you've got."
"You sell arena tickets? Is there an arena in town?"
"Sure is. Takes up the whole east side of town. You can't miss it."
"This won't be as tame as Middlegate's arena, especially if we use a yellow ticket for admission instead of a green one."
"Who are you, my mother? Let's make with the killing already."
"Why in the world is it holding a dagger? Wouldn't it be easier to just gore us to death?"
"Shh! Don't give them ideas!"
Werebulls hit fairly hard and can cause disease, but they're not terribly dangerous. Once again, Heroism makes the battle go more smoothly.
The rewards are much better than Middlegate's arena, too. Unfortunately, monsters killed in an arena don't leave any treasure, so using the arenas exclusively for grinding would leave the party underequipped.
Well, that's enough combat for now. It's time for the party to finish exploring the town.
"Could this be Sandsobar's mage guild?"
"Probably not, unless the guild is run by beggars."
"Well, magic is magic, after all. 100 gold is a bargain for such a useful spell. But how did you of all people learn it?"
"Oh, you know how it is. A talking well strikes a bargain with you and you end up trading one eye for wisdom. Here's some wisdom for you: don't throw your eye into a talking well."
"Is this a casino? Preacher always said gambling was a sin."
"Well, Preacher's not here now, is she?"
"Sure, I'm feeling lucky. Let's see what you can show me."
Lucky Spade teaches Gambler, a secondary skill that increases Luck. Secondary skills that increase stats are okay, but there are other, better ways to permanently increase the party's statistics.
"It's been a long time since I had any proper training in thievery. I could do with a refresher course."
Sly teaches the Pickpocket secondary skill, which increases Thievery by quite a bit. This is especially important for ninjas, since they have low Thievery to begin with.
"Thanks, but no thanks. Diplomacy is not how Team Brute Force rolls."
Rinaldo is, of course, yet another secondary skill trainer. Being a Diplomat increases Personality.
"At least you're not asleep on the job, I suppose. Very well, I'll buy a membership. Where is the guild, anyway?"
"Iss over thataway. See?"
"You... didn't actually point in any direction."
"I said thataway! You know, near the thing an' th' other thing. You deaf or shomething?"
"Never mind. I'll find it myself."
"I hope not everyone in here is like that guy, because I really don't feel like picking a fight with a bunch of drunken wizards."
"Better than picking a fight with sober wizards."
"Naturally. I'm always interested in learning new arcane techniques."
This guild sells Protection from Magic, Acid Stream, Lightning Bolt and Cold Beam, although Chunko is only high-level enough to learn the first three.
"We've explored nearly all of Sandsobar and come out alive. I think we can feel proud of ourselves today."
"As long as we forget about that time we massacred all those cripples."
"Well, yes, I suppose there is that."
"Still, I've learned some new spells, and isn't that what really matters?"
"Just so you know, I could beat any of the rest of you in a fight. I could use some better armour, though."
"If you're so tough, why do you rely on your armour instead of your own strength?"
"Hey, if you want to let monsters tear you apart, you go right ahead."
"Hey, don't fight, you two. We can all get along, can't we?"
"Got enough thief's picks there, Godobor?"
"Better to be safe than sorry, right? Any more back-talk from you and I might let you open the next chest we find."
"Could you do that? Please? Julius doesn't get hurt often enough. Wouldn't want my healing skills to get rusty, would you?"
"You really wouldn't. I've seen what happens when his healing skills get rusty."
"Are... are there any other parties in this inn looking for hirelings? Anyone? Please?"
That's it for today. Tune in next time as Team Ovaries explores the cavern under Sandsobar!