Part 13: It's Snowtime
Update 12: It's Snowtime
"We got kicked outta Team Suave. Can we join you guys?"
"Can you kill things in excessively violent ways?"
"Sure! That's what we do best!"
"Where are we going this time, anyway?"
"I was thinking we'd start by exploring the area around Sandsobar..."
"... dammit, Tarquinn, what did I tell you about cannibalism?"
"It's wrong, you know."
"What's the big deal? They're just peasants."
"And if they struggle, I can immobilise 'em!"
As you may have noticed by now, anything with "Mad" or "Crazed" in its name can and will frenzy, ruining the party's shit. Oh, and here's the best part: the square they appear on is where the party winds up after running from battle, so if the party runs away, they'll immediately run into a fresh group!
Somehow, the party manages to kill them without anyone dying.
"Perhaps we should purchase some better weapons and armour before exploring further. I hear that Tundara has an excellent blacksmith."
"Thundrax? Is that supposed to be some kind of pun on 'thunder' and 'tundra' or what? Man, these blacksmiths think up the dumbest names for their shops."
"We'd rather see the wares you're proud of, if it's all the same to you."
"Wow. Well, I sure got my wish."
On day 179, the second-last day of the year, every blacksmith in Cron holds an end-of-year super clearance sale with nothing but +12 weapons on the "Today's Specials" list. Better still, storebought magical items, unlike ones found in chests, have no alignment restrictions.
You better believe I'm sending out every party to spend all the money they've got on weapons today.
"Hah. Not with these weapons, we won't."
"Since we're here anyway, why don't we try out our new gear and hunt down the Snowbeast?"
"Some old wino in Sandsobar said the Snowbeast lived in the city walls. Maybe he meant this city instead of that one."
"I would assume so, yes. But how can we--"
"Shh. I'm listening for something."
"Yep, this wall right here definitely has a secret passage in it. Come on, everyone: it's got to be the way to the Snowbeast's lair!"
"Nuts. Okay, we're gonna need a Lasting Light spell..."
"What? This is bullshit. Fine, we'll go back through the secret passage and I'll make a bunch of light for us. Now, let's see what's on the other side..."
"Is that the Snowbeast?"
"It is not. Those jugglers may cause us some trouble without our magic, though."
Or not. These weapons haven't exactly broken the game, but they've sure made it a lot less painful for a while.
"Yeah, you'd better run!"
"Sure, I guess. What harm could it do?"
"Well, that was anticlimactic. Do we just have to wander around and see what's changed?"
What's changed is that the party can now get to a section of the outer wall that used to be blocked off by a magical barrier. You get eight guesses as to what's behind it.
I hope you guessed "the Snowbeast" all eight times.
Snowbeasts have 60 HP and hit pretty hard. Normally they'd be a bit tricky but very beatable... but the party still can't use any magic. Will their new weapons be enough to turn the battle in their favour?
Of course they will.
"Man, these snowbeasts sure managed to hoard a lot of treasure. Hey, what's that body over there?"
"Well, I guess we've found out what happened to Old Hanna. What do we do now?"
"She's dead. What the hell's she gonna do with a ring? I'm taking it and getting outta here."
"Wait, I think there are two people hiding in the far corner!"
"Yeah, thanks for the help an' all. Before we got cornered by the Snowbeast, we were busy robbin' some old lady we dragged here, so we better get outta here before the heat shows up. See ya."
"Great. So Old Hanna was murdered and now we've got her ring. If we tried to just walk out of here with it..."
"... well, I bet it wouldn't be pretty. So let's not do that."
"Hey, I'm not dropping the ring."
As soon as the party walks through the secret passage back into the main part of town, they'll be captured. Using magic to fly or teleport out won't work, of course, because magic doesn't work here. So how can the party get out without losing two years of their lives?
Well, there are a couple of ways.
The easiest is to simply wander around inside the outer wall until some monsters show up, then run away from them.
Somehow, this gets them straight back to the inn without attracting the guards' attention. I like to think that the party just runs in a straight line toward wherever they're headed, leaving Team-Brute-Force-shaped holes in the walls as they go. Now, they just have to remember never to approach the secret passage to the outer wall while carrying the Emerald Ring.
Why go to all this trouble in the first place? Well, the Emerald Ring raises the wearer's Armour Class by a whopping 15 points.
"Man, I'm never letting go of this ring. The caverns can't be too hard as long as I've got this."
"See? Just a bunch of lousy wizards."
"Hey! Knock it off!"
Illusionists aren't all that dangerous: lost spell levels are restored with rest. They're only a problem when they accompany other, stronger monsters. They do, however, carry around some very nice treasure...
... like this. Silver armour provides resistance to energy attacks.
"It's about time I found some decent armour. If there are any other monsters down here feeling lucky, you're welcome to take us on!"
"Oh, this is gonna be satisfying."
Leprechauns sure are a lot easier to hit when the party has +12 weapons.
"Uh, guys, I think we just went around in a big circle."
"We sure did. Time to start hitting our heads against the walls looking for secret passages again."
"And our reward is a broom closet. Well, that's just great."
There are a few areas like this down here, filled with a limitless supply of torches, helmets, large shields and maces.
"If someone wants to keep us out of here, there must be something especially valuable inside. It could hardly be less valuable than what we've been finding so far, at any rate."
"Well, uh, okay."
"I'm not sure what this does, but..."
"Hey, we're back out here again! Neat."
That room was a teleporter: set the coordinates and it'll take you anywhere in the cavern. Of course, it's not much good unless we know where we're going.
"The Gemmaker? Isn't he some crazy old guy who lives in a volcano? Man, even his advertisements are hard to find."
"Radicon? Sounds kinda dangerous, and Lord Hoardall might not be happy if we just walked in and took it."
"Are you kidding? This is awesome! I bet there's a button around here somewhere that brings them all to life!"
"See? We've just gotta try this. I'm never gonna have another chance to see so many undead in one place."
"Wait, you can't just--"
"Too late! Ahahaha! Man, I feel like a little kid again!"
"I think it's best if I cast Time Distortion before we're all killed."
The party flees, only to run straight into another, smaller pack of walking dead. Every few steps they take in the outer corridors is now going to trigger an encounter with these. Whoops.
"Wow. Exploding zombies. This is so cool I don't even care about all the third-degree burns I'm getting."
"Hmm... most interesting. I wonder what magical techniques they use to work themselves into a battle rage."
"Eh, they're probably just on drugs. All kinds of stuff grows on those tropical islands, y'know."
"Spaz Twit? That's gotta be the stupidest name I ever heard."
"Aw, I don't think it's so bad."
"Yeah, you're right. It's actually the second stupidest name I ever heard."
"Hmm. There's an empty space on the map. It's almost like there's a room there... and when I was going past, I think there might have been a secret passage that opened from the inside. But how do we get in from -- of course! The teleporter!"
"I can't wait to see the secret of this cavern!"
"Well, uh, that's kind of a letdown."
That's right: the teleporter's only real use is to get into a room containing an infinite supply of weak healing items that you could just buy in Middlegate. We're done here.
"Well, the cavern might have been disappointing, but at least we saved two lives today -- and that's not counting anyone who might have been attacked by a Snowbeast in the future. Hey, what's all that commotion in the back rooms?"
"You no like Gertrude's cooking? Gertrude kill!"
"... of course, I suppose anyone killed by the people we saved has to count against us."
"This might be even better than The Flamberge. I could get to like this world if it's got more weapons like this."
"I wonder what Preacher's doing right now."
"Hey, Sir Hyron, look at my shiny new sling!"
"You think that's something? I've got a shiny new bow!"
"I'm not sure if I still need all of these thief's picks..."
"Even I've got a great new weapon! Hell, I don't need these jerks at all any more. With all my magic weapons and armour, I'm invincible!"
"Well, if you're so confident, clearly there's no need for me to help you escape next time we find ourselves facing hundreds of undead."
Two new hirelings, Gertrude and Rat Fink, have also become available.
"Why Gertrude no get fancy magic weapons?"
Gertrude here has decent, balanced stats (apart from her horrible Intellect and Personality, which will only be a problem when fighting stat-draining monsters), and free Mountaineer and Pathfinder skills are handy for travelling outdoors, but overall she's nothing special.
"I killed a man in Sandsobar, just to watch him die. And an old lady in Tundara, and a couple of small dogs in Middlegate..."
Rat Fink has good stats too, but the trouble with hireling Robbers is that, well, most of the time you only need one thief in your party. Still, he's an extra pair of hands.
Well, the update's over and that means it's time to vote for who gets to do the next section! Choose Team Suave, Team Brute Force, Team Ovaries or Team Phone Home.
If you have any strong opinions about whether or not I've got too many parties up in the air, feel free to weigh in on that too; if a lot of people are having a hard time keeping track of all the characters, and if there's a clear set of fan-favourite characters who can be made to work together as a party, I may start consolidating the teams into one or two parties again. Even if I do this, any characters who are left out will be brought back for special areas which require a specific party composition, so don't worry about your favourite character being killed off entirely.