The Let's Play Archive

Rondo of Swords

by Einander

Part 17: Thunder Emperor (assassination)

And Ansom wins the vote, buoyed by love of large numbers and intense bitterness towards other SRPG archers. For those less fond of him, don't fret; you'll see his limitations soon enough.

Not today, though. No, today is special.

Chapter 13: The Thunder Emperor
(Or, "Ansom Showcase Stage, Part 2")

These new enemies... Who are they?

I learned of them in Verona. I believe they call themselves the Order of Anrah.

If I had to choose between "What!?" or "Cover the world in darkness!?", I'd take the "What!?" over the Metal Gear any day.

Scene transitions here.

Hmph. So Bretwalde has made it this far... That's what comes of leaving things to a child.

Lord Ernest.

What is it?

Tell him to stop his baseless worrying, and get back to sucking up to the Emperor.

...Yes, Sir!

Why is everyone around me skilled only at getting on my nerves...

If the name "Mephreyu" isn't ringing any bells, look at the tail end of update 1 again.

Selmer out, Kay in. Serdic, Margus and Cotton learn nothing. Kay learns Will of War 3. Margus learns nothing. Ansom learns Sharpshot 1, 2 and 3 (+accuracy).

I don't move accessories around much. I do, however, give Ansom the Black Ring.

Marie has learned Arcane Light (-6*level % mp cost for Light-elemental spells, and all her spells are Light) and Holy Favor; I give her one level of Arcane Light and four levels of Holy Favor. If you've played Fire Emblem, Holy Favor is the Rescue Staff -- when cast on a distant ally, the spell teleports them immediately adjacent to the caster. The spell places allies in the same order as ZOC -- top to bottom, left to right, starting at the closest spaces to the caster. It is, as you might expect, ridiculously useful. Holy Favor is the argument for a two-healer team -- having two sources of it lets you do some interesting things, especially with other mages in play. Teleporter leapfrog!

It costs 25 MP per level, starts at 5 range, and gains 1 range every level. Marie has 256 MP, meaning she regenerates 25 every turn. Cure Drop currently costs 30 MP, and this is with no levels in Arcane Light. Marie stops having MP worries rather quickly if she's just casting spells. (The last part of that statement will make more sense next chapter.)

Alhambra Card Quests: 2

The Gargantuan Hive quest is the first character-related Quest, unlocking only if Ansom joined the group. Neither of the available Quests are continuous, so Sasha and Owl take care of them.

Off to battle!

...Well, I'm sure someone would go get me if it was serious. Now, back to work.

This isn't a very complicated stage.

As you can see, the area is rather small, terrain is limited, and there aren't very many enemies.

Did you pay attention to my hypothetical last map?

Magna Volt is the ultimate lightning spell, combining high power and the longest spell range in the game; at level 5, it has 10 range. Depending on the spell level, this will range somewhere from "bee sting" to "run him out of MP first." I'm not moving any non-Margus character into his range until I know which.

Or that's how it'd normally work, anyway.

The top Mages here have White Dust, the lower ones have Fire Raid. The Scouts are pretty much what you'd expect from previous incarnations.

The door indicated in the start-of-level dialogue is Arios's location. He will eventually emerge from the house as an allied unit. Whether or not he dies, he'll still join up.

That's good, because there's two of these directly in front of that door and Arios isn't terribly durable.

The Mages have Ice Spear, the War Mage up top has Meteor Gate. Meteor Gate is a fire-elemental spell and the strongest single-target spell in the game. Its primary detriment is its lack of range -- it only has 7 at max level. I'm not very fond of it, personally.

The rightmost Mage has Fire Raid, the one to his left has White Dust. The Armors in front of the top group of War Mages have ZOC. The War Mage next to Ernest has Magna Volt, the one adjacent to him has Sedna Prison, and the other three have Spark Edge.

Sedna Prison is the best AOE spell available to conventional elemental mages. I'll discuss it later at length.

There's two conversations to start with on this map.

It's so cool here... you'd never believe you were in the desert. So this is what the Ark magicians can do, huh?

Oh, come on... it's not like you were the one who did this.

Hey, I'm an Ark magician too!

All right... then tell me exactly how and where you helped out.

Hmph... it doesn't matter!

Ooh, a temper... you really are just a kid.

I suppose this conversation establishes that for all Elmer insulted the Ark's inaction last time, he really does love the place.

So this is the Ark, huh? They must have lots of great stuff lying around!

Oh, of course. I know that! Don't treat me like an idiot!

I... I apologize.



Just one souvenir is okay, right?


Ansom moves eight spaces forward and shoots the lower Ice Spear Mage. Serdic moves after, positioning himself as bait for the Scout; on general principle, it's better if he doesn't attack Ansom.

Margus plays the bait to Cotton's Fire Dragon. Kay moves up to kill the Fire Raid mage. He's within range of a level 4 or 5 Fire Raid, but he probably has the HP to survive it.

No enemies move. The only attack this turn is White Dust on Serdic, courtesy of the Mage directly above him.

Serdic attacks the Scout.

Marie casts Holy Favor, bringing him out of range of enemy retaliation. This is the primary use of the spell, and it's very good at its job.

Cotton kills a Scout, Kay kills a Mage.

Then Ansom runs eight more squares, shoots at Ernest, kills him one shot, and wins the map.

Yes, it really is that simple -- but only if you've gotten the Black Ring and done Ansom's Card Quests. If you have, even a starting level Ansom can do this.

(If you don't have the Black Ring, it takes three turns instead.)

Complete Victory gives a lot of bonus experience, guys.

Note that the experience is based on turn count, not type of victory -- compare to this screen, when I won in three turns instead:

The gold reward seems to be based on kills, so the two are generally inversely proportional.

The Spark Medal is yet another anti-elemental metal; -6% versus lightning this time.

Am I the only one that hears Jade every time Arios speaks?




Master Arios!?

Mmm. I am indeed Arios. It looks like during the short time I remained indoors, things have taken a turn for the worse.

Master Arios! I need--

I can hazard a guess as to your reasons for being here. But I didn't expect Ernest to fall in with the Order of Anrah.

If you talked to Arios during the stage, the lines from "You're..." to "I can hazard a guess" are skipped, going directly from "top of our class" to "But I didn't expect."

Apparently he was so focused on research that he completely missed the conquering of Almeria, and he still figured out the situation thirty seconds after stepping out of his house.

Oh, and then he figured out that Spanta is cursed. Probably without even looking at anything other than the hilt, because the fight is over and the blade is probably sheathed.

Arios is
really good at what he does.

The Order of Anrah... Master Arios, do you know how to remove the Holy Blade's curse?

...Unfortunately, I don't. But if the Order is involved... Hmm.

...what papers? Did Ernest drop a folder when he teleported away or something?

How about starting there?

Very well...

Before that, let's briefly discuss Arios. He's joined us permanently now.

Lasts until the next player phase.

A residential assistant of the Sixth Research Lab, and overseer of Selmer and Elmer's training. Very knowledgeable, but not very sociable.

Arios is one of two contenders for the title of best (conventional) elemental mage. Between Meteor Gate and Flame Shard, he has the best magical single-target damage in the game, especially once he gains some levels in Invoke Mind and Wisdom Lock (+magic in exchange for -defense). Between Invoke Mana and Arcane Fire, MP isn't too much of a concern either. There's nothing particularly distinguishing about him otherwise; he simply does everything well, gaining every elemental spell (except the Light/healer spells, because he can't use the Seventh Fonon isn't a healer) and every basic magical skill. He's more durable than Selmer and Elmer, at least, especially with Magic Guard... Right now, anyway. Arios has the worst HP and defense growths in the game. He eventually learns Arrow Guard, but trying to use it will get him killed. Don't let him enter the range of anything non-magical.

It's worthwhile to splash some points in other elements to gain additional options, like Abyss Gate for long range or Sedna Prison for AOE, but you'll probably use him like Cotton: Get near enemy, blow enemy to bits with Meteor Gate. His physical durability does make that much more problematic for him, however. He does have one interesting late-game perk: At level 45, he learns Ars Magna, the best spellcaster ability in the game. Ars Magna reduces MP costs and increases the strength of all elements, both at a rate of 6% per skill level; maxed, it's as strong as the elemental Shard abilities and stronger than the elemental Arcane abilities, but they don't stack. Unfortunately, he only obtains this right as the game is ending, so it's more a neat bonus than a distinguishing trait.

Arios isn't my preference -- he only has four move, and I think the next mage is more useful -- but he's very serviceable. If Ansom was voted off of the island, he would have been our second Warlock. He'll still get his demonstration stage, though!

There are a number of conversations with Arios in the level. Serdic's conversation, as mentioned, requires recruiting Elmer. Selmer's has no requirements. The Alhambra conversation requires her to have spoken to Selmer previously about Arios, so I couldn't actually trigger it on this file.

Arios and Serdic:

Oh! You're...

I am Serdic of Bretwalde.

I see, I see. I am indeed Arios, Head Researcher of the Sixth Laboratory here at the Ark. And you're the Crown Prince Serdic. Hmm...

Is something the matter?

E-Er, that is... Ah yes! You must see this!

This is the Holy Blade of Bretwalde, isn't it? I've always wanted a good, long look at this. ...Oh dear. This is...

Yes, someone has laid a curse on it. I hear that you may know how to lift it...?

Hmm... hmmmm. I'll need to glean more information first...

I understand completely. In the meantime, let's drive out the Empire. Ernest, one of the Grands, is supposedly within this very building.

Ernest, eh?

Do you know him?

He was a classmate of mine... Our discussions on magical theory used to last long into the night. How should I put this... smart, but not very wise.

That's quite an assessment...

Arios and Elmer:

Hmmm... With Fire at 30, and Thunder at 20, then...


One moment. If I alter the proportions, what would happen...?


Yeargh! Oh... it's you, Selmer. There's no need to shout.

What are you doing here during a crisis like this!?

Isn't it obvious? I'm doing very important research.

Still? But the Empire has occupied the city... Is your research more important that that?

Well, seeing as how the research can be done anywhere, but only I can perform it... Hey! I'm sorry, Selmer... Please don't cry. I'll join Prince Serdic as soon as I gather my things.

Arios and Elmer:

...I'm sorry.

Hmm? For what?

I went against your teachings. Instead of helping people... I used my magic to hurt them.

I see... but you were still doing what you thought was right, I assume?


Or did you know it was wrong and did it anyway?


If you still believe you need to apologize to me, then Elmer... I don't mind, and neither should you. Understand?

...Thank you, Master.

I really love moments where characters who seem eccentric or out there sober up and deliver that kind of pinpoint observation. This scene alone makes Arios much more interesting -- it shows that, for all of Arios's eccentricity, he has a good understanding of what makes his student tick.

Arios and Alhambra:

So you're Selmer's teacher, huh?


That kid told me you might have a way to fix this body of mine.


Wh-What is it?

Very nice...


I can fix you... or should I say, restore you. I, Arios, am probably the only magician in Brevord capable of doing so. I will definitely restore your body. Just stay at my side, no matter what, all right?

...Why didn't I pay more attention to what the kid said...?

And that's that!

Resets So Far: 8 (+0)

Next time:
Okay, enough clowning around. Let's do this properly. (Chapter 13, version 2)

13v2 goes up tomorrow, and the final two tutorials go up the day after that, then Chapter 14.
If I'm able to ignore the siren song of Dustforce that long, anyway