Part 3: Conscription is fun!
First item of the update is to clean out this battlefield. Battlefields are probably the closest thing to random encounters this game is going to throw at you. You enter, fight a random assortment of foes, and do it over again nine times, and then you get a prize of some sort, usually exp or gold.
First new enemy in this update is the Mad Plant. He'll use his branch to attack for a pitiful amount of damage and an attack called Full Nelson which...does a slightly less pitiful amount of damage. Not helping his case any is the fact that he's weak to axe attacks (weaknesses double the amount of damage you take from a given attack), so he's pretty much guaranteed to get one-shotted, even if you went straight for Minotaur and are level 2 or 3.
I don't really understand his damaged sprite. It looks kind of like he's melting or something, rather than being viciously cut into pieces, but that's just me. He is also weak to fire, so I guess it works.
The next new enemy is the Poison Toad. He's got a tongue whip which hits for very little damage, but the major concern with him is that he'll use Poison Fluid on you. Poison is annoying, but far from the worst status effect in the game. It'll deal two times your level in damage to you at the end of your turn, which is only ever a problem when you're facing down several enemies at once, or are loaded down with two other status conditions at the same time. Hell, it takes five turns just to reach the same damage that one cure potion will heal, so it's hardly worth the heal potion to use on it.
After winning all ten fights, the battlefield is destroyed and we get our prize. In this case, it's 54 exp, which is less than half of the experience we were getting from a single fight. Still, exp is exp.
There are a few fun glitches with Battlefields and cleaning them out, but we won't be covering those for a while.
Music: Sand Temple (among others)
Here in the Sand Temple, we can pick up the Elixer for Kaeli. Just head to the north, and...
Huh. Well this could be a slight problem. Suddenly, some music starts.
Art, seemingly hearing this music as well, looks around, seeming as confused as we are.
This guy comes out of nowhere and strikes up a conversation.
Our mystery guy is also a bit of a con artist. Sure, we'll be rolling in the dough by the end of the game, but that's a little much when the average encounter gives 5 or so GP. As a side note, I have no idea what happens if you're crazy to enough to go and grind up 9000 GP before coming here. I assume nothing, given that this is an SNES RPG and they probably didn't account for that, but if someone's insane enough to find out, be my guest (Nothing, as a few people pointed out after the fact).
Well there's a surefire way of making yourself look pathetic. I'm not exactly sure what Art's problem is; I mean the fucking Behemoth dropped more GP than that.
I'm going to the Bone Dungeon to find treasure. You come with me and help. If I get the treasure, you get the Elixir.
Art's ready to storm the Bone Dungeon, but our friend here has some other ideas.
Why don't you whack a few monsters there, and maybe win something, kid!
And now Tristam has joined us on our merry little quest (or to be more precise, we got forced to join him). Not that this is really a problem, given that we were told the Crystal of Earth is in the Bone Dungeon.
Thanks to a bug, it loads him up with Kaeli's resistances, rather than his proper Fire and Death resistance. It's easily fixable by doing a hard reset, but we'll have more fun with that later. Anyway, much like Kaeli, he's a lot stronger, faster, and defensive than we are, plus he's got quite a bit more HP (360 to our 200), which is where the game pulls a little white lie.
Astute readers might have noticed that we've gained one little "bar" every time we've leveled up. Every time we level, we gain 40 HP (which is what those bars represent) and a few points in every other stat except evade (which only increases with new armor). Tristam, despite the game putting him at level seven, has nine levels worth of HP (and heals 90 with a cure potion and takes 18 from poison).
Note: It's entirely possible they just have a shitton of HP and poison, etc. works on a percentage that just so happens to perfectly coincide with your level, but I doubt it, because EVERY party member from here on out is like this. Even the designated mage character who has shitty defense.
Tristam's weapon is the first of its kind in a couple of ways. First and foremost, it's the first weapon we get that's limited by ammo. He comes with 99, but we'll be down to 68 before we even enter the Bone Dungeon. Thankfully ammo is lying around all over the place, and we don't really have to worry about it running out. If it does, we'll "unlock" a hidden attack called Bare Fists, where since we don't have ammo for that weapon, the character deigns to instead punch them in the face a few times. It's a lot less than it sounds, because it does absolutely terrible damage.
The other nice thing about the ninja stars is that they also inflict poison and paralysis occasionally. Most enemies around here aren't going to survive one of his attacks, and a lot of them are resistant to poison anyway, so it's kind of wasted, but it's a good idea in theory (We'll unfortunately be demonstrating that "theory" next update).
In comparison to our axe, here's our stats with the Steel Sword equipped. The axe is a total upgrade for now, but later members of the sword family will give a bonus to our speed. Not that it'll really do much, because the game seems to just sort of randomly assign turn order unless something actually lowers someone's speed or something.
This is the magic menu. The system runs on charges, a la Final Fantasy I. White is your healing and status effects, Black is elemental damage magic, and Wizard is...well, damaging stuff harder. Right now, all we have is Cure, and Tristam, Life, but that'll change next update.
With that stuff out of the way, back to the world map.
We could go north to the Bone Dungeon, but first we're going to take care of the Battlefield off to the left.
Tristam's ninja stars in action.
The final new enemy this update is the Basilisk. He's got a claw attack that doesn't hit very hard, but the fang attack can take you by surprise if you're not careful. He's the toughest enemy of the bunch thus far, but that's not exactly saying much. The Poison Toads are worse anyway, because poison may not do much damage, but it still costs a Heal Potion to be rid of it (which there's only two sources of right now, both in the Level Forest, and it's only three at a time per box), making the trek all the way back to Foresta to rest every single time you get poisoned, or taking a turn in battle to cast Life (which means they'll probably throw it out again next turn).
Basilisk and Poison Toad wounded sprites.
After cleaning them out here, the Charm is our reward.
It doesn't exactly do a whole lot. No status protection or anything, just a single point of defense. Still, it's better than nothing, and the Charm line of armor will be amazing by the end of the game.
Next Time: An actual Dungeon, I swear.