The Let's Play Archive

Realms of Arkania III: Shadows over Riva

by Bobbin Threadbare

Part 33: Session 22: Illusions of Levels

Session 22: Illusions of Levels

Now, maybe this time we can finish the campaign.

“Except for the orc fighting you promised.”

Right, but that’s after the module finishes. I’d just as soon finish the Queen’s Lair as much as the rest of you.

“Actually, I may have to leave early. I promised a friend I’d meet him later tonight.”

Are you sure? You’d miss the end of the whole campaign.

“The queen dies, the anthill gets crushed, and the orc wars end, am I right? You can go ahead and use my character sheet after I leave.”

If you’re sure, then.

When we last left off, you guys were about to leave the Edifice of the Queen region to go into the main hive area, which the module calls “The Chambers of the Queen.” The only way down, however, is another chute like the one you entered the hive in.

Hang on, you mean the chute we all took damage from by simply using it?

Well, it’s not like we have a choice.

Everyone takes another couple hit points in damage. Now, there are three ways to leave the room. Which do you pick?

Straight. We probably should have gone straight last time, with the weapons and armor in there.
You’re all no fun.

What?! That’s crap, what’s a bottomless pit doing in the middle of an insect hive? And why would there be a one-man width plank crossing it?

It’s also one worm width.

I’m still calling bullshit. In game, that is.

You can’t detect any illusions to dispel.

I still don’t buy it.

We probably need to cross anyway, and I’ve got decent Body skills. I’ll cross the plank.

You get about halfway across the plank when it suddenly gives way beneath you, and you drop straight down. The shock is considerable, and you can feel your hearts leaping to your throats—even though you soon find out it was all just an illusion and the ground above the presumed dead-drop is just as solid as it is all around.

Wow. That’s even more bullshit than what Lewis suspected.

I’m not kidding even a little here. All three ways out of the first chamber force you to go past an illusory obstacle, and none of them can be dispelled, even with an 8 Dispel Illusions, which is really pretty good. The party doesn’t even get to disbelieve after facing the first one. Instead, when (not if) you fail, the entire party takes an Agility penalty of either 3 or 5, depending on the trap. At least the penalty only lasts about an hour instead of half a day like usual. Still, what the flipping fuck.

On the other hand…

You’re giving us experience for that?

I didn’t want to change the module too much, but I realize what kind of nonsense it is. Thus, I have prepared a reward for putting up with this.

…Alright, I’ll forgive you. This time.

Slaughter them all!
I’m low on AP, William’s out, everyone’s in beetle carapaces where their armor should be, and you don’t have your axe.
What? Aw, damn it, I wanted to forget about all that. Yeah, let’s not all die then.

You can still travel along in this room, but you have to stick closely to the sides and take the nearest exit. There are maybe a good two dozen worms with all three types present, so this is a combat the characters can in no way handle right now. Luckily, they don’t have to, as the path to the queen does not go through this room.

Now what?

Now I get to make you guys go through a bunch of dreams.

Here’s how this normally works: you, the player, are presented with three randomly selected “dreams.” When you fail, and you will, you get the message, “Think bad to be good,” whispered by a familiar voice. You then get to try again with three new randomly selected dreams; I believe there are around 10 in total. Now, here’s how it’s going to work here:

Before the dreams start, you hear a familiar voice whisper, “Think bad to be good.” Now, I’ve got a dream here for each of you to encounter. If enough of you get it right, I’ll let you proceed, otherwise you’ll have to try again. Suzie, you first.

Something interesting for once. Sure, let’s start.

“Think bad to be good?” Maybe I should just run away, then.

You’ve barely left the house when you see your father returning from the fields. Do you run toward him, or around the house and out of sight?

I’ll just run away completely.

Good. Hal, you’re next.

Sure hope I get to kill something.

From out of nowhere, the gleaming steel blade of a sword plunges into your bowels. You shuffle off your mortal coil. Your spirit is released and floats above the fight. Below on Arkania, you see your companions being attacked by a horde of ogres. Soon, they will all be dead just like you.

Crap, killing them would be helpful, wouldn’t it? I’ll just wait and watch the battle.

Gently, a giant raven picks you up and carries you with mighty wings to the Halls of Boron the Merciful. Alex, you ready?

Let’s do it.

Abruptly, you jolt up from a deep sleep. There it is again: a child crying out for help! Smoke and the smell of burning wood tickle your nose. The inn is going up in flames!

Well, screw the kid then. I jump out the window.

When you throw open the window, the flames grow even higher! Again you hear the terrified screams of the small child.

Every man, woman, and child for himself. I jump anyway.

With one jump, you’re out. The pain in your ankle makes you wake from your dream. You’re in your bed at the inn, and the candle on your night table crackles softly. You hear a hungry child bawling downstairs.

These are all dreams, though, right? Why did you end it like that?

This module can be weird sometimes. Lewis?

So what’s next?

You are inside a room with a mirrored ceiling, floor, and walls. Suddenly, the mirror surfaces start to move, and you see a gigantic claw approaching slowly from behind them.

Wait, would it be more evil to break the mirrors to keep the thing from coming in, or would letting it in be bad?

While you’re thinking about that, the claw, which is radiating waves of horror, slowly grows out from the mirror. Apparently the creature it belongs to is trying to enter the Mortal Planes.

Ah, that would make it a bad thing to help, then. I help it.

Without hesitation, the creature grabs your arm. You have allowed an archdemon entry to Arkania. After crossing over, he declares you his new chef as a sign of gratitude. But after taking a second look at you, he changes his mind and makes you his main course instead. William?


You’re up.


You’re in the body of one of Bosper’s guardsmen, and the weakened Rohezal is stretched on the rack in front of you. You’re holding a clay urn bearing strange runes in your hand.


So what do you do? Break the urn, open the urn, free Rohezal?

Don’t forget, you’re supposed to be making bad decisions here.
Oh. I’ll open it, then.

You open the urn, and a Borbarad worm comes crawling out and across your hand towards Rohezal’s mouth.

“Ha, ha, you’re about to get another dead worm up your nose.”

Accompanied by your laughter, the Borbarad worm crawls into Rohezal’s mouth. You can’t imagine why the mage is looking so aghast. Paul?

Finally. So what’s my scenario?

The ground is moving beneath you. It takes a while for you to realize the boards under your feet are actually the planks of a ship. “Phileasson, tie yourself to the mast! It’s an illusion, I’m telling you. It isn’t Adamantinia,” one of your shiphands bellows.

“Fool! Do you think I could fall for such a simple falsehood? I’ll tell you when something is or isn’t Ad…that treasure you said!”

The sailors blindfold you, but the gleam of gold and jewels shines through the mesh of the cloth. You push your comrades away to get at the riches.

I shall jump in, and swim towards my destiny!

With a fixed smile, and in the firm expectation of becoming the richest person in all of Arkania any second now, you drown. Well, that’s everyone. When your surroundings fade back in, you find yourselves on the opposite side of the chamber. You can cross it anytime you like now.


You sure it’s north this time?

Yeah, sorry about that.

We should follow them, see if that amber stuff is worth taking.

I know the piddly damage these weapons make me do isn’t helping, but it seems like the blue worms have way too many hit points.

Aw, man. Well, guys, I think now would be a good time to take my leave. See you all later. Here’s my sheet, Bob.
See you, Alex.

It looks like the amber has been consumed at some point before you interrupted them, but there are two piles in this room: one more pile of dead insects, and a pile of leaves and stems.

Sadly, while the claws make decent swords, there are no real combats left to use them in. Oh, sure, there are two big battles I could fight, but they’re more trouble than they’re worth. Too little, too late.

Finally! And what are the termite shells like?

They act as heavy armor. You can probably give your beetle shells to William and Paul while you’re at it.

So what can we do with the plant stems? Make blowguns?

They’re too full of plant matter at the moment.

“At the moment?” So I could maybe open it up somehow? How about with this bug quill?

Sweet. So this uses the poison darts we got earlier?

Yep. You know, a blowgun isn’t the only thing you can make with that plant.

What else, then?

Well, just take that beetle claw of yours and…

Why the hell would I need a flute?

You will, trust me.

I should also note that this is the only trap that everyone has to pass a Courage test to even try and cross.

Oh, and it’s the only trap that reduces everyone’s Agility by 5 instead of 3. On the bright side, the path you can take past the fire trap is the one that bypasses both rooms that are full of far too many worms (we’ve only seen one so far).


Yippy ki yay, motherfuckers.

This is the third trap. Nothing we haven’t seen before.

…And that’s why you need a flute.

Why didn’t you let us figure it out on our own?

And let you guys wander around for hours trying to figure out how to replicate three notes on your own? Not again if I can help it.

When did it take us that long before?

When did I start instituting Intelligence checks for when your characters figure out something obvious that no one in the room can seem to grasp?

Oh yeah. The adamantine golem, right?

Earlier than that, I think.

The basin is filled with a very sweet-smelling pink fluid.

Would it be helpful fluid?
We should throw something in to be safe.
What do we have worth throwing?
One of the spare pebbles we picked up should work fine. I’ll throw one in.

With some amazement, you watch the stone sink into the pink fluid. Bubbles rise to the surface as if you’d thrown something into a pool of acid.

Good thing we tested the waters.

Oh, and after a few heartbeats, there is movement beneath the surface. All of a sudden, a blue Borbarad worm jumps out at you from the depths of the basin.

Now that’s just sending a conflicting message.

I love Paralyze. Have I mentioned that before? I think I have. Well, it bears repeating.

I love Paralyze.

I’d show the combat, but I can sum it up in one screenshot.

Sure. What’s it do?

When you eat some, you regain…

Oh, hell yes. Looks like I’ll be useful at the final combat after all. How many lumps can we get?

You are able to pull off around 12 before the sap runs thin.

More than enough. Far more than enough.

There was a random encounter with a single worm at this point. If you’d like to know how it went, double check Belle’s portrait and then review the battle screenshot above.

Not again!
So now half of us are ill and we still can’t treat anyone. I hope those magicians are willing to pay out for a good healer.

This is the other room we must avoid at all costs. Again, both this and the other worm-filled room do not have to be cleared out in order to beat the game. Hope you think of that your first time through the dungeon, too.


Oh, hell no. And Alex just had to flake out on us right before we ended up here, too.

What? Can’t one of you try mapping this maze out?

I’m not.
I wouldn’t know how.
Nuh uh.
Sorry, Bob, but it’s way too boring.
Maybe we should just call it a night.

But we’re so close to the end! It’s pretty much just this and the boss herself left!

Yeah, but Alex was the only one anal enough to want to do the maps. And with a maze this big? No way any of us are doing it.
Maybe next time. Alex will be able to stay for the end, too!

We’re so close to the end…so close…