Part 32: Shot Through the Heart, and You're to Blame
Update 31: Shot Through the Heart, and You're to Blame
"Hey, what's Escher doing here? Didn't she already finish one plus quest?"
"There's no rule that says I can't tag along on another one, and we gotta make up the numbers somehow, right?"
"Suit yourself. Now, our target, Baron Wilfrey, is supposed to be somewhere around here, in the Falcon Forest..."
"Isn't that a tautology? Who ever heard of a washed orc?"
Oh hey, look, another of those encounters that would have been somewhat challenging if we'd stumbled across it 5 levels ago. Time to hold down the autocombat button and go to town on them.
"Huh. That's the fourth green message we've found. Now, what did that message way back in the cavern under Middlegate say...?"
"So if I take the first letter from message 2, 1, 3 and 4 in that order, then the second letter from each of them, and keep going like that for the rest of the message... For each individual to become true, see the jury which resides at Mount Farview. Travel in groups of appropriate class. A Robber can aid all others with their task. Wow, that poem kinda stinks."
"It didn't tell us anything we don't already know, either. Instead of wandering aimlessly until we found all the green messages and the way to decode them, we wandered aimlessly until we found Mount Farview and got the exact same information. And speaking of aimless wandering, it's time to get back to looking for Baron Wilfrey."
"Ah, I probably should have warned you about these, shouldn't I? Falcon Forest is full of them."
"I never did see a falcon with such big claws before."
Griffins' attacks can turn party members to stone; I guess Jon van Caneghem confused them with cockatrices or something. They're a leading cause of death if you try to tool around in the forests near Middlegate at low levels. Fortunately, they only have 150 HP, so the party stands a fair chance of taking a group of them down before they can attack at all.
The experience and treasure they give is disappointing, too: it's okay, but nothing that justifies the risks of fighting them.
"Could this be where Baron Wilfrey is hiding?"
"A glove? That's a pretty lame weapon, and you missed me anyway."
"I think he's challenging us to a duel."
"I stand by my statement."
"Is it really much of a duel when all eight of us are ganging up on him like this?"
"What good is being absurdly powerful if I still can't hit anything?"
"Ow! Well, at least I can survive that now, I guess."
Baron Wilfrey is exactly like the Dread Knight: lots of HP, high armour class, nothing but physical attacks.
And, just like the Dread Knight, carrying plenty of Magic Herbs for healing will ensure your eventual victory.
"So, wait, what exactly was Baron Wilfrey doing that was so bad again? All we know about him is he trains falcons and he challenged us when we trespassed on his land."
"Beats me. I just came along because hey, 5 million experience points."
"Aw, man, I didn't get any more bonus experience for doing a second plus quest. Now everybody else has caught up to me. What a ripoff."
"Y'know, we may as well finish exploring the rest of this area with our newfound power."
"Oh, this is going to be good."
These guys are even easier than the orcs were, and the whole party is now around level 20. This fight is a joke -- one of those long shaggy-dog stories that takes ten minutes to tell and ends with a disappointing punchline, but a joke nonetheless. Movin' on...
"Well, this would be a convenient way to get to the dungeon under Castle Pinehurst, if that was where we actually wanted to go. Which it isn't, so we should probably find our way out of here and back to the forest."
There are a total of four teleportation spots in this little clearing. Each sends the party to a different castle dungeon -- sometimes near the exit, sometimes quite far from it. This one sends the party to the Luxus Palace dungeon.
This one sends the party underneath Castle Woodhaven.
"DC Comics is going to sue over that one."
"If anyone's lawyer ever sees this game, that's the least of our problems. For a start, George Lucas would want some words with you."
And finally, this one leads to Castle Hillstone's dungeon.
"Ewww. What is this stuff?"
"Look out! It's alive!"
"I don't think my arrows are hurting it."
For an area that's a stone's throw away from Middlegate, this place sure has some pretty dangerous monsters. Cosmic Sludges have 200 HP, are immune to all physical attacks and have a reasonably powerful melee attack that causes disease.
"Well, that's what Disintegrate spells were made for."
"Those sludge monsters may not have given much experience, but I can't complain about the treasure."
"I'll be taking that."
"Why do you get to take it?"
"Well, for one thing, I contributed to the battle and you basically stood around being useless, since I can cast Disintegrate and you can't. For another, I can cast Disintegrate and you can't."
"That there must be some mighty magic mango if it's growin' here on the edge of the tundra."
The mango temporarily gives the entire party 65 Intellect, which is mostly useless. On the bright side, at least it's delicious.
"Well, I'm not digging it up. My hands are cold enough as it is."
"Fine, fine, I'll do it."
Hooray, a free Ice Sickle! It's a decent two-handed weapon, and gives cold resistance when equipped; on the other hand, it's only +2, which makes it vastly inferior to the stuff we've already got, so it's getting sold when the party returns to town. We can always come back for another one later if we want.
"I wonder what else is buried in the snow."
"Right now, us."
The tundra is a pain to traverse thanks to blizzards and snowdrifts, some of which just do damage and some of which transport the party to another square in the area.
"Maybe we can look for shelter in those mountains over there."
"Looks to me like somebody else already got the same idea, and they ain't so friendly."
"Oh God, I'm being both sliced and diced!"
"Good thing so many of us know Time Distortion!"
See those mountains in the far west of the area, just to the north of the road? You want to stay away from those. There is an incredibly cheap and mostly luck-based trick to kill the Cuisinarts at a low level, and I'll show it off eventually, but for now the party is already overlevelled enough as it is.
"Whew. That's more than enough adventure for one day."
"I guess there are some things out there that are still more than a match for us, but that just means we're going to have to get even stronger!"
"What's this? Could it be that I finally have a decent armour class despite being an archer? It's a miracle! Y'know, Escher, I wouldn't really have disintegrated you if you hadn't given me this chain mail."
"Aww, that's so sweet. Do you really mean it?"
"Nah, I'd have just cast Finger of Death. Less chance of damaging the armour that way."
"So how much do I have to enchant this Might Gauntlet before it becomes a Probably Will Gauntlet?"
"Oh, I see how it is. The hireling always gets the lousy hand-me-down gear, huh? At least I got me this crossbow."
"Hey, first I miss out on that shiny new chainmail and now a hireling gets my crossbow? Why did I even bother helping you guys out?"
"Look on the bright side. Now that we're expert adventurers, we can charge whatever we like for our hiring fee and they'll pay it."
Thankfully, hireling fees max out at 50,000 gold per hireling per day. That's still some serious money right now, though.
"And that's why hirelings who start at low levels are useful: after a few stat boosts and a plus quest, the only difference is our price! All I ask for in return for my efforts is a few thousand gold a day and a retinue of servants to feed me grapes and massage my feet."
"Hey, if anyone sees my gallbladder, could they tell me where it is? I think I might have left it in the mountains with the Cuisinarts."
"Oh yeah. I can still taste those sweet, sweet experience points. We should kick around Cron with an all-archer party more often. Whadda we need those other jerks for anyway? Everyone knows we're the best."
That's another class's plus quest down. There are still the Ninja, Barbarian and Sorcerer quests to go, if you'd like to see another. Alternatively, the party could go and explore one of the many caves and dungeons that they've discovered and not yet delved into: Murray's Resort, the Dragon's Dominion, Druid's Point Cavern, any of the remaining castle dungeons... why, the choice is almost limitless! Or they could explore the outdoors or fool around with the time machine or something. Hell, if there's something you want to see the party do, suggest it and maybe it'll get some support. It's over to you again, dear readers: vote now!