Part 16: Session 13: The Swamp of
Session 13: The Swamp of
Sorry about cutting out last week, guys.
“Eh, it happens.”
“Just tell me I get to kill something today.”
I’m pretty sure that’ll happen. Now, when we last left off, I seem to recall that you had given Tarik the list of pirate names in town.
“Oh yeah! So can we get in on that?”
Sorry, but the guild intends to run this one close to the ground, and you guys stick out pretty strongly.
“You can’t argue with that.”
“Wait, so if the guild doesn’t need our help anymore, then what’s our quest?”
I’m getting to that. So, early the next morning after you delivered the evidence, you walk towards the market square. At that point…
Damn, didn’t know you’d get so angry about it.
What did you expect? I saw this kind of thing way too often back when I was growing up.
So what do you guys intend to do about it?
We should wave our swords around, maybe hit a couple so they know we mean business.
Wait, I got a better idea.
…So now I run into the crowd and tell them the orcs are attacking.
What do you say, exactly?
Um…“Hey crowd, the orcs are attacking.”
Not exactly a strong performance, but…fine, most of the crowd runs off to the South Gate. However, some of them remain behind, and they’re asking you for details. They look skeptical.
“Hey skeptical guys who ask too many questions, the orcs are attacking the gate thing.”
I could still hit them if we need to.
No, no…William’s character was convincing enough, at least.
Hey William, I forgot to ask. What’s your character’s name? I want us to start trying to use them, at least in character.
I couldn’t think of anything, so I just wrote “William” down twice.
Your elf’s name is William.
*Sigh* I give up.
He’s having you take him to the Holberkian ghetto in the northeast.
Nice to see someone grateful for once.
Tarik thanked us for the list.
Yeah, but did he give us anything? No. He didn’t even buy a round of ale for us, and he lives right next to a bar! And here’s this horc guy who’s probably the poorest guy we’ve met, and he’s offering us some food and stuff.
The place is small and shabby, but the interior is spotless. A Holberkian woman looks at you with wide eyes. Ordo talks to her in a strange language sounding like some dialect of Orcish. She goes to fetch a bucket of water and clean towels. William cleans himself while Ordo rips a piece of cloth and starts to bandage his arm wound. Afterwards, the woman brings some sort of stew which smells very good and tastes even better.
Do I get that hit point you made me take for the arm wound back?
I get the feeling that one of us should have taken Orcish.
Kara wouldn’t have learned it where she grew up.
It doesn’t really matter; these guys speak a pretty heavily modified variant. “Haffel doesn’t like strangers!” Ordo explains. “And since that fiend in the tower took his beloved Reto, he’s become totally unbearable.”
Is that his son?
“No, his dog. The magician in the tower nabs our pets for his experiments.”
Hang on. You said a mage.
In a tower.
Conducting evil experiments?
It’s why he needs the animals, yeah.
And the reason we’re going to go fight an evil mage in his tower is because a half orc lost his pet?!
Hey, fuck you man, I love my dog.
Yeah but it’s…it’s kind of a step down. I mean, there’s saving princesses trapped in towers, and then there’s saving the poor guy’s dog.
I like it, personally. It shows a sense of realism. The whole module has been fairly good about that, actually.
Too bad it had to be realistic about people being ungrateful dicks.
It’s never really explained why Holberkians look foolish when they’re trying to be serious. It’s the sort of moment that makes you think, “Well, at least they tried.” I can only hope they meant this to be in character for medieval racism.
You realize all three of them can understand you?
Oh, shit. That was out of character, honest.
No, I think I can roll with this one. They look at you in anger for an uncomfortable moment, then Haffel makes a short, calm speech, after which the three visitors leave, their heads held high. Ordo’s face is unmoved, until the door has closed behind them.
He actually seems to think your exclamation was funny. “You interrupted a family council, and insulted three family heads.”
Is that bad?
We were supposed to get a quest from them, weren’t we?
Actually, Ordo can tell you what he knows, even though it isn’t that much. He and his wife have been away for some time as traveling merchants, and Haffel apparently used Ordo’s absence to undermine his authority.
So what about the wizard? Can we still get the quest if we insulted the people who would have given it to us?
Well, er, let’s just say that after a long discussion, you finally agree that Ordo will convene a new council meeting and introduce a motion for you to stop the magician’s crimes. “Come back tomorrow, we’ll have a decision by then!”
Fine. We rest until it’s tomorrow.
I still can’t believe we’re doing this just because we heard someone’s dog got stolen.
About five minutes later, Ordo returns with Haffel, who is making an obvious effort to be amiable, though his success is limited. “This way!” he gestures, after you have taken your leave of Ordo and his wife.
Haffel leads you out the southern town gate, and after a short walk, ferries you across the Kvill in a rowing boat. “I’ll be waiting over there!” He points to the opposite bank. Apparently, he doesn’t like to stay too close to the tower.
I know I wouldn’t want to.
Fuck this swamp. Oh dear god do I hate it. Let me explain: there is one correct path through this swamp. To my knowledge, it is not the only path, but it is the one with the least number of horrible things in your way. That’s right, not even the right path is completely free of bad things. And for a completionist like me, for the kind of person who almost needs to explore every nook and cranny available, the swamp holds nothing but pain and despair. And lost hit points, naturally.
Like this. Do you know what this is? It’s a geyser. Do you know what it does? It makes you lose hit points. That’s it. The closer you get, the more you lose, until the game takes over and makes you run away. There’s no item, no special ability, nothing. Just pain.
That said, the right path is rather clearly marked, especially if you have a character or two with high Nature skills. It's also easy to remember: just turn right and stick to the outside edge of the swamp. The first indication is a set of footprints left on the muddy ground.
The second is OH GOD DAMN IT MOSQUITOES
You aren’t using Borbarad mosquitoes, are you?
You’ve encountered them before?
Let me put it this way: you are a gigantic douche.
I guess so.
That’s right folks, Borbarad mosquitoes don’t drain blood, they drain
Other markers for the correct path include this post,
This marked stone,
And finally, the tower’s outer wall itself.
Oh yes, and a dozen of the most annoying enemies in the game. Don’t believe me? Have a listen.
If you had to stop the video after you heard them screech a few times, do recall that I had to put up with it throughout the entire combat. I didn’t even mute it; the thought of doing so only just occurred to me as I started writing this.
That said, the combat does also point out the troubles two-square creatures have moving around. After vVhorpax Paralyzed the first one in line by the stone, the entire group behind it was stuck. Since there was only a single line of open squares back the other way, and since the things can only pivot around the front half, they were completely stuck in the back. You’ll note Kurzmann used that fact to absolutely slaughter a rantzy towards the end.
See? The mosquitoes don’t take nearly that much experience.
It’s still a dickish thing to do. Let’s see…ah, with all the points I’m not trying to spend on two-handed weapons, I got some pretty decent gains.
Any more rantzies between us and the front door?
Good. We go in.
No one answers.
Let me try the lockpicks.
There isn’t a keyhole.
It’s been locked by a magician who values his privacy. You wouldn’t be able to succeed.
Are there any other doors?
Through a crack in the wood, you can see two large metal bolts keeping the door shut. You won’t be able to open it from the outside.
Then what the hell is the point?! Where did the wizard put the door that works!?!?
You’ve only seen half of the walls of the complex. You could try going through the swamp a bit farther to see if there are any other doors.
Hate. HATE. HATE. I’d try to express how I feel about this mud patch, but I’d run out of emoticons. You thought the scree was bad? At least all it could do was around 4 Life on the outside. And you can’t even go around; every time you want to enter the tower grounds, you have to pass through this mud. Neither of the other doors can be opened from the inside.
…Alright, so it wasn’t so bad this time. But just you wait!
If you want to see the rantzies in action but can’t stand their screeching, this one is mercifully short.
Think we’re out of dick moves? Oh no, we’re just getting started.
Hell yes, we release them! That’s no way to keep dogs.
What about the door to the outside? We should probably open that first.
Oh yeah, we do that first.
You think I’m making this part up myself? Nope. For the first and only time in the game, you can leave a door out of the region open or closed. It does the decency of warning you, but the first time it happens you might just end up confused and have to fight a large number of dogs. However, if you open the door first, you only have to fight the four that went mad in captivity.
It’s not much of a battle either way, but I always feel a little bad if I have to kill the dogs we’re here to save.
So do we go back now?
No way. I came here to storm a tower and kill an evil wizard, and that’s just what Kara’s going to do.
Plus he might kidnap more dogs in the future.
Yeah, and that.
You know, Paul, there just might be hope for you yet.
Look at that smug asshole. I say we cave his face in.
“I’d rather advise against it.”
“So you two are living all by yourselves out here, wink wink nudge nudge?”
“I don’t know what you’re insinuating. We don’t need any more servants. I am quite capable of dealing with all the work living here entails.”
“Oh, I’m sure you’re ‘working’ hard under the master!”
“What I do is no business of yours. Away with you!”
Cave his skull in, I’m telling you.
The steward draws his sword and stands his ground. “I haven’t let my master down yet, and I have no intention to do so anytime soon. Either you leave in peace, or I’ll set you running!”
“Och, let’s be gettin’ ta the one thing we dyo best!”
Note that he can only be attacked in melee from one angle unless you draw him out of his starting square. The combat ends pretty fast once the beatdown commences.
I know you’ve been pretty descriptive when it comes to how our enemies die—
That was the creepiest part of fighting those ghouls.
–But did you just say he turned into a bat and flew away? Because that’s weird, even by your standards.
I stand by my statement. He did indeed turn into a bat and fly off. You’ll understand if you continue into the keep.
I’d hope so.
May I remind everyone that I have dibs on the second belt of might we just grabbed? I do believe our luck is improving.
Can we open the door from this side?
Nope. Turns out it was just a prop this whole time. And oh yes, since no one mentioned closing the door earlier,
Bonus Surprise Dick Move: not closing the door after you let the dogs out means fighting a second, even larger horde of rantzies. And no rock for them to get stuck behind, either. At least they’re worth experience…
Aw, who am I kidding?
Why do you hate us, Bob?
I don’t hate you, Suzie.
Then why do you keep doing these things to us?
It’s in the—
No, don’t try to hide behind the module. You could have changed it.
No buts. If we fight any more rantzies, I’m divorcing you.
You’re not married.
I’ll marry him, then get a divorce. That’s how much I hate rantzies right now.
Fine, fine, no more rantzies, I promise. Now, you should probably explore the grounds.
Right, we can get it out of the way before we enter the tower.
Illusory shrubbery? Not bad.
There’s nothing much behind it except some wild bushes and loose dirt.
Why loose dirt?
“Because there be byuried treasure here, ja-harr!”
Alex, what did I say last time?
Sorry. Couldn’t resist.
Suzie, drop Belle’s Charisma by two. Paul, Kara notices that the bones are definitely human, but they all come from the upper body.
So where are all the bottom halves going?
Must be some picky cannibal around here.
Anything else worth looking for around here?
There is a rather overgrown herb garden back the way you came. Only a small patch of it looks cared for. Next to Gulmond and Shurin bushes, which carry neither leaves nor fruit this time of year, there are various root herbs growing. You find some Mandrake and Joruga roots.
So forty’s a lot?
Oh yes. And they’re required for just about every type of potion there is. Let’s just say I’ll have something to do in the coming rest periods.
Should we even bother going in? It’s getting kinda late…
We can at least try and get the door open before we go. Do we have the usual options?
I’ll go first, then.
You try in vain to fit a lockpick into the keyhole. When you take a closer look, you discover that it is filled in with some kind of material. You check the other lock and find it is fake as well.
And Foramen still doesn’t work?
Not when you can’t tell how the lock works.
I could try to use the knocker.
As soon as you pull the ring straight back, you hear a soft clicking, accompanied by the scraping of stone on stone. Suddenly, boiling oil falls from above. It stops as soon as you let go.
The front door doesn’t work to get onto the grounds, and the front door doesn’t work for the tower itself. The magician is kind of paranoid, after all.
We should see if any of the other hedges are illusory.
Once you realize you have to look for something, the part of the wall that’s fake stands out pretty strongly. Thanks, otherwise-repetitive textures!
As you approach the real door, you see something move in the undergrowth. You begin to move on, but a horde of ra—er—five forest gnomes abruptly appear behind you and start clobbering.
Nothing much to say here except that Dark Eye gnomes are rather different from D&D gnomes, and that sticks are all kinds of useless.
We know that’s the real door now, right.
Yeah, that’s the real one.
We should just end things here, then. vVhorpax is running low on juice, everyone’s getting low on LP, and we all could probably use some sleep soon.
Fair enough. Wizard’s tower itself next time, guys.