Part 42: Don't Need No Credit Card to Ride This Train
Update 41: Don't Need No Credit Card to Ride This Train
To use the time machine, we need to visit Lord Peabody with Sherman in the party. Otherwise, he just kicks us out and tells us to go find Sherman, even if we've found him already.
"Not bad, not bad. Can't complain. Delved into some dungeons, slew some monsters, gained some levels. Hey, can we borrow your time machine?"
Lord Peabody's time machine can take us anywhere from the year 100 to 800. Eras 1-4 actually take us to the elemental planes. The backstory explains this: the world of Cron was created by a war between the elemental lords, in which each faction successively gained and lost the upper hand until Earth finally won and formed the landmass we now know as Cron. The eras we're interested in, though, are 5-8.
"Lord Haart said that the Long One lived in the eighth century, so we should start looking in the year 700."
"Era 7, here we come! 1.21 gigawatts, Marty!"
"You know, that's not how to pronounce it."
"Actually, the soft G is a perfectly acceptable, if less common, alternative pronunciation that was in use even by some prominent physicists in the 1980s, although it's fallen out of favour today."
"Hey, Preacher, the reason we keep you around is to stop Jostiband from doing that. Start doing your job."
"Huh. The past looks a lot like the present, only... emptier. This is the road leading to Tundara, but I can't see anyone travelling along it at all."
The way M&M2 handles time travel is honestly kinda half-assed. It uses the same map as the present, but with nearly all the interesting features stripped away. Road signs, fountains, dungeons, even towns: everything is just gone. I'd like to say it creates the feeling of being in a hostile, alien yet eerily familiar environment where human civilisation is limited to scattered tribes in the wilderness, but mostly it's just boring.
"neongrey, when you were looking ahead for signs of life, did you happen to notice the giant hydras charging in our direction?"
"It survived being sucked into a black hole! That's cheating!"
Monsters encountered in the past tend to be much more dangerous than in the same areas in the present. Element Hydras are quite common, have a very respectable 600 HP...
... and they shoot fucking gamma rays out of their mouths. They managed to kill three party members outright by round 2, and surviving the battle required a Divine Intervention.
Once the hydras are dead, everything else is easily manageable.
"That really wasn't worth it for what we went through. Well, at least the treasure should be good."
"What, only 6000 gold and a lousy weapon that isn't even much use to a thief? What's going on?"
"Gold and magical items were worth a lot more before the Duplication spell was developed. It used to be that sorcerers had to enchant everything from scratch, and it took a genius to reach the highest levels of power. Now anyone with a few thousand gems and some good equipment to start with can outfit a whole party, using a spell so simple even I can cast it."
"Shouldn't we be looking for The Long One? Where was he supposed to be again?"
"I remember: area E2! The Desert of Desolation!"
"Well, this is x5, y4, but I don't see The Long One... wait, what's that over there?"
"x4, y5. I guess he must have moved a little."
Yeah. The only in-game hint as to The Long One's location gets the coordinates the wrong way around. Way to go, Jon Van Caneghem.
"So I guess we have to kill this guy and take his loincloth now, huh? Who's volunteering to remove it?"
"Sounds to me like you just volunteered."
"Uh, how about we focus on the killing part first?"
"Oh, so they call him The Long One because he can turn into a giant fire-breathing serpent. Makes sense."
The Long One has powerful magic, but he's only got 300 HP. It's a good idea to use some multi-target spells like Star Burst and Inferno to deal with the natives quickly, since they can dish out a lot of damage too. This isn't a hard fight for a level-20 party with good stats, gear and spells.
"So, Mattybee, was the serpent thing the only reason why they called him The Long One?"
"I'm never going to hear the end of this, am I?"
The Long One's loincloth raises Personality by 10 when equipped. No comment.
"Well, I'm glad that's over and done with, but how are we supposed to return to the present?"
"That's easy. Our very existence here is disturbing the past and generating paradoxes. The longer we stay here, the worse it gets."
"If we wait around in one place for long enough, we'll cause a local breakdown in the fabric of spacetime, sending us back to our native time. It could take a day or a week, but it's bound to happen eventually."
"I didn't understand much of that, but it sounds dangerous."
"Aw, don't worry about it. I disrupt reality all the time and nothing bad's happened to me yet!"
"See? Here we are, safe and sound back in our own time."
"Now we just need Spaz Twit's phaser. Where and when was he again?"
"I remember Tarquinn telling me he heard about somebody named Spaz Twit living in area A1, in the 7th century."
"Why would Tarquinn tell you something like that?"
"What, you think you're the only one I keep blackmail material on?"
"No time to talk! Back to the year 600 we go!"
"When you think about it, it's funny how travelling to the 8th century sent us near where Spaz Twit would be in the 7th century, and travelling to the 7th century sent us near where The Long One would be in the 8th century. You'd almost think it was some kind of cosmic mistake."
Spaz Twit is easy to find: he's one step to the west of the future location of Tundara. If he doesn't appear, face north.
"Eh, you don't look so unconquerable to me. Let's see what you're made of."
White Knights are nothing special, but what about Spaz Twit himself?
I kind of wonder if he was meant to have 200 HP and an AC of 50; as it is, he's ridiculously hard to hit, but dies very easily if you can actually damage him.
"Pathetic. Even Jostiband can hit harder than that!"
"That's way more than I needed to know about what goes on between you two."
"What? I wasn't -- you didn't -- we don't -- it's not -- ugh."
Apart from his unimpressive physical attacks, I'm pretty sure Spaz Twit can also cast Disintegrate if left alive for long enough.
Of course, before he has the chance to show off his powers, he gets a magic staff to the face courtesy of Jostiband.
Unlike The Long One, you don't automatically get Spaz Twit's family heirloom after killing him, so don't forget to search for it.
"Time to return to the present and turn in the phaser and loincloth to Lord Haart!"
"Hey, if you don't mind me asking, how did these priceless family treasures get lost in the first place?"
"According to our family records, Spaz Twit and the Long One were both killed by groups of wandering bandits, who... stole... wait a minute..."
"We still get paid, right?"
"Now get out of my sight and never come back."
"Yeah, we get that a lot."
"Can we make just one more trip to the past? There's something I want to see in the ninth century."
"That's strange. We're in the Quagmire of Doom, but in this time period it should still be the Savannah of Plenty. Unless..."
"The Mega Dragon... the greatest creation of the Elemental Lords. No human magic will ever match its power. In a way, it's beautiful."
"I might be better able to appreciate its beauty if it weren't trying to devour us whole. How strong is this thing?"
"Way too strong for us to kill, I can tell you that. It just killed Cron's greatest sorcerer without breaking a sweat: all we can do is run."
"So was this what you wanted to come back to see? If so, can we go home now? I've seen enough."
"Of course not."
"This is what I wanted to see."
Even in Castle Xabran, the monster encounters just don't let up. Dark Knights have 700 HP, making them a pain to kill.
Their attacks also drain levels, meaning that party members get fewer attacks and do less damage as the battle goes on. We actually had to run away from this fight, because all the front-line fighters were chipping away for 20 damage per round and that wasn't going to end in victory.
"What's this? Looks like it's made out of some kind of stone."
"Well, no harm in taking it along. It's probably useful for something, and it's just going to get destroyed when the elemental lords attack this place in a few years anyway."
There's one disc for each element: some are hidden in magically darkened rooms behind secret passages, others are in the far corners of rooms full of monsters. We need all four of them.
There's more to Xabran than just the disks, though: it's also an in-game hintbook!
Yup, there's a hall that lists every single hireling in the game by location.
"Y'know, this would be a lot more useful if we hadn't already found every hireling in Cron."
There's also a list of all the findable Sorcerer and Cleric spells in the game...
... from Nature's Gate...
... all the way up to Enchant Item.
"Gemmaker's Cave? So the legend is true? There really is an immortal alchemist who lives in a volcano and crafts magical gems? I always thought he was kind of like Santa Claus, but for sorcerers."
"Oh, hey, this must be telling us how to decode all those yellow messages we've been finding outdoors. Let's see if we can follow the instructions and put them together..."
If personal statistics you'd like to enhance, with circus games you should take a chance. Win dumb prizes, but don't feel bad, you can offer these toys to an old man who can be had. His hut in the wilderness is dwarfed by a tree. For the toy, he gives you a tip for free. Drink from the Inner Limits pool. Though once it was acid, now it is cool. With thirst now thoroughly sated, go back to the Circus and play games to raise those statistics which you truly hated.
"Whoever wrote these isn't much of a poet."
"And it's just telling us how to raise our statistics with the Circus, which we know about already. I kinda wonder how people from a hundred years ago knew about it, though. Is the old man really that old?"
"Maybe Corak went back in time and put this message here for us or something. It's the sort of thing he'd do."
"But we haven't seen any red messages, have we? Where could they be?"
"Wherever they are, they're not here. Time to take a rest and go back to--"
Hey, remember how resting costs money when you have hirelings in the party? Turns out that resting for days on end without dismissing our very high-level and expensive hirelings wasn't the best idea I ever had, and now the whole party is broke. Whoops!
Well, time to dismiss them, let them find their own way back to the present somehow, and pick them back up at the inn.
And that's all the time travel we'll be doing for a while. Spaz Twit and The Long One are the only things of any interest in the years 600 and 700, and King Kalohn and Castle Xabran are the only noteworthy things in the year 800. Just in case you were wondering, there's nothing at all of any interest in the year 500. I really get the impression that they originally intended to do more with the whole time travel thing but realised that doing it properly would be way too much effort.
"I have to say, Castle Xabran was kind of a disappointment. I was at least expecting to learn some new spells or something."
"Should I give up my great two-handed weapon to use this shield I found? Decisions, decisions."
"It's too bad I can't use shields, because I could use some better armour right now."
"I've got a new set of plate mail! It's shiny!"
"I'm still wondering what was up with that red interleave. Where could the red messages possibly be?"
"Thanks to the magical equipment we found in Lord Hoardall's dungeon, my divine powers are stronger than ever!"
"It's great that I've got all of these discs now, but where am I supposed to find a CD player in tenth-century Cron?"
"50,000 gold per day may seem expensive, but at level 36 I'm worth it!"
"I'm the luckiest rat alive! I'm even getting new equipment despite being a hireling!"
Once again, we've picked up a new lead for the party to follow up on. Should the party investigate the legendary Gemmaker's Cave, go to the Dragon's Dominion and harass some dragons, or explore a castle dungeon? Vote now!