Part 5: (Kreuz)basar of WondersPart 05 - (Kreuz)basar of Wonders
Our tour of our new home continues as we head north from Zaak's "magic" shop, encountering a pale-looking young woman along the way.
I wasn't aware of any convent or church nearby.
She's there when I close my eyes. And I'm Maria. She says I'm to be governess to the children.
Ah. "Simmy" did sound like an unusual nickname, but that'd explain it.
This story sounds familiar...
Captain von Trapp is very well known and respected. The poor dear lost his wife, and the children their mother. A child should not be without a mother. And a mother should not be without a child. Have you seen the captain?
This is not going to be a very constructive conversation, is it.
Look, do you know Monika?
Monika? Is she one of the sisters at the abbey? No, wait. Monika...
[A flicker of recognition fights through the haze in the young woman's eyes.]
Yes, Monika. She's good to me. Brings me food to eat and tea to drink.
I'm afraid I have some bad news.
[Despite the woman's persistent dilerium, she seems to glean meaning from your tone.]
I'm sorry. She did.
[The girl grips her head with clawlike hands, tugging at her hair as if she might pull her brain out through her skull.]
I don't like this... But I can't switch it off.
She sure was. That murderous door has a lot to answer for.
[The girl then begins to mumble to herself, while fingering the hair that covers the jack in her head.]
I'm going to step away now.
Yes, good. I need to rejoin the children.
Hate leaving the poor girl in this kinda state, but sadly we don't have an instant miracle cure to BTL addiction on our hands right now.
Heading past Simmy, the narrow path between buildings leads us to a dead end in the northern corner of the Kreuzbasar. Two obvious things stand out here - a very out-of-place monument and the sound of a ringing phone from a nearby booth.
No reason to take a random phonecall that's probably meant for someone else anyway, so let's take a look at this weird statue instead.
[As you approach, a small, grimy monitor at the base of the statue flickers dimly to life. The grainy face of a smug young ork appears onscreen.]
Hello there. I'm Herbert Künzel, the creator of this monument. What would you like to know?
This is my "Tribute to Victory"... the victory of anarchy. It is both a citation and parody of the statue we destroyed some twenty years ago. You may remember it from the history trids as the Siegessäule. Or Goldelse.
In our world the Siegessäule or "Victory Column" erected to commemorate Prussian victory over Denmark in the Second Schleswig War of 1864 is still standing, and it's a little bit larger than Herbert's reconstruction here.
Isn't it obvious? The Siegessäule: a monument to the hubris of the Prussian state, gets blown to bits. So someone takes a lot of bits and builds a monument to the hubris of anarchy. I mean, what more is there to say?
I am the visionary Herbert Künzel, from the Lindwürmer. You might know me from... Okay. Well, there isn't much I'm known for. Yet. But I intend to change that. All art is born from misery, after all.
Well that was... mildly educational I guess?
It's not looking like anyone's coming around to answer this thing and it's not showing signs of stopping either so fine, let's see what's so incredibly pressing.
Whoa now, can we take a step or two back here real quick?
Who are the Schockwellenreiter?
The Schockwellenreiter is fighting for the freedom and liberty of information in Berlin. The F-State manages many things, but information remains controlled. Corporations keep any information they can under lock and key - silencing dissent, silencing indiscretions, silencing the truth.
"Schockwellenreiter" is German for "Shockwave Rider", and everything about them is basically one big reference to John Brunner's novel of the same name.
Our goal is to liberate this information so that any who wish to may access it, and so that the F-State can regulate itself based on truth. We are simply a collective of like-minded individuals working toward this cause.
This is another ongoing but entirely optional side thing and it's pretty much like the voice describes it - As we go on missions, the Schockwellenreiter will ask us to bring them classified information or data from our destinations so that they can then leak them to the public.
It is our stated goal for this information to remain free to all. However, you will be compensated for sought-after information returned to this location.
[The line goes silent.]
Working for the local wikileaks branch seems like a relatively easy way to make some extra cash, as long as they don't ask for anything too crazy. Let's just hope they know how to keep their information sources secret, we've garnered enough negative attention as it is.
Our next stop is the TRIAGE Cyberclinic located in the northeast end of the area, past Zaak.
Clean-looking place at least, and that's a pretty rad looking wheelchair in the corner there. Let's go say hi to the local doctor, all things considered we're likely going to end up dropping by here often.
Sounds like a private talk between a doctor and a patient. We probably shouldn't listen in on his conversation.
No... no. The price I'm quoting you is *more* than fair. Well below market value, in fact. If you can't pay it, that's your problem.
Yes. I *know* that the price has gone up. This is a seller's market. ...Well, then, you'll just have to find the money or go without. I'm sorry, but I have to go. I have a patient.
That sounds more like American than German healthcare. This truly is a dark dystopian future.
[He extends his hand.] I am Dr. Xabier Ezkibel. And your name is...?
Everything about this guy from his face to his demeanor immediately reeks of scumbaggery, but we should probably put our personal feelings aside for the time being. Pissing off the only local doc on day one is likely not a smart move if we're to have a shadowrunning career here.
[Shake his hand.] Rosa. A pleasure.
Pleased to meet you, Rosa. What can I do for you today?
This also seems like the best place for figuring out what exactly is hidden in Zaak's ¥700 mystery mix.
Can you analyze a substance for me?
Should be simple enough. You'll have to leave it here with me, and come back later for the results.
Here. This is being sold on the streets, called "Flash". Can you tell me what's in it?
I'll take a look at it. Come back in a day or so.
Great. In the meantime, show me what services you have available.
Ezkibel here serves the role of Dr. Castle from the previous game, handling both medical supplies and cyberware. We can't afford to lose essence so we're staying far away from this stuff, but it's worth mentioning that anyone wanting to employ a datajack can now opt for eye- or hand-based versions if they want to use the head slot for something else. Pretty neat.
The medical side is just your usual healing and revival items which we don't need right now, so we say our farewells to the doctor and head out.
South of Zaak's stall and southwest of the clinic is where we find the local arms merchant, alongside a second U-bahn entrance with an identical function to the one near the safe house.
T'aven baxtale. You're here to conduct some business? If so, I welcome you to Mettbach Arms and Ammunition. If not, keep right on walking.
I was actually hoping to ask you a few questions.
Despite his claim, buying something won't make any kind of difference here.
So what'll it be? Will you buy some guns, or will you be on your merry way?
Care to tell me about your inventory first?
We have weapons from all across Europe... Ares, Ceska, Fichetti, you name it. If it can be found on the continent, it can be acquired by Mettbach Arms.
I don't conduct business with suppliers that I know nothing about. Talk to me about Mettbach Arms.
And I don't discuss family matters with customers, let alone strangers. It's nothing personal, but the answer is no. Understood?
If we continue arguing here he'll get mad and demand that we buy something as an apology. There's even a Street etiquette choice to calm him down, but as far as I can tell angering him has no gameplay effect and you're not actually forced to buy anything either.
Understood, Herr Mettbach.
[Mettbach nods his approval.] You show me respect. This is good. Now. Unless you'd like to take yours elsewhere, let's get back to business, eh?
Yeah, show me your inventory.
Guns! We're not into guns this time around either, but this is the store category that has gotten the most additions since DMS so it's definitely worth a look. Firstly, sniper rifles are a new weapon type and as can be expected excel at hitting things accurately from afar, are terrible up close and lack the rapid fire options of assault rifles. Due to armor now being flat damage reduction, snipers with their high-damage single shots are very useful for taking down armored targets.
Second, Smartlink weapons are now available from the very beginning instead of the very end. They'll hit things more reliably but burn a bigger hole in your wallet, require a datajack and sometimes require higher skill levels to use as well.
Some more exotic weaponry is also available, including fist irons for boosting unarmed attacks, a taser which can be used to deal AP damage, and even a portable and easy-to-use grenade launcher.
There's also some very solid armor for sale here, which we might even consider buying had we more funds. A little tight around the chest though.
Nothing for me today after all, thanks.
The section south from the rude arms dealer doesn't have a lot going on in it besides the U-bahn entrance and a lone street performer. We throw a few nuyen in her bag and head west and south through the small garden.
Our final stop is the southern section of the Kreuzbasar in which we find both the local talismonger (read: magic vendor) and the cafe we originally set out to find. There's also a lone street kid hanging out near an old trailer.
They don't actually have character models for non-adults in this game, so we have to take the description's word for his age.
Oh, hoi, Rosa. Have you seen Monika around? I've been looking all over for her.
I'm afraid I have some bad news for you, kid.
[He blinks, a blank expression on his face.]
She's dead, isn't she?
I'm sorry, kid. We all are.
Our "day ruined for a local" -counter continues climbing with no end in sight.
Let's think of happier things, like killing people with our magical might. Hopefully this store will have what we need to get that done.
Very purple, so you know it has to be a place of magic. In fact you can practically feel an aura of magic in the air here, permeating every corner of the building.
No wait, that's not magic. It's more like an aura of... smugness? And it seems to be centered around that man in a fancy coat who seems... vaguely familiar somehow...
Maybe we'll just pretend we didn't see anything and talk to this lady behind the counter instead.
Did you just say Alje whoah
Wait, no, we haven't come this far only to be drawn into somebody's acid eye dimension!
We get +1 karma for avoiding losing ourselves in the lady's freaky eyes and blacking out.
What... what was that? What happened?
My fault, and my apologies. Sometimes, when I daydream, I bring others along for the ride. It was... unintentional. Yes. But there was no harm done, correct? You'll be fine.
Right, no harm done. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go stand in the corner for a while.
Considering the pace at which bizarre events have been rapid-fired our way already, it's looking like ordinary days are going to be in very short supply in this corner of the world.
And the presence of this guy right here is definite proof of that.
Unbelievable. As it turns out not even crossing an ocean can save us from the Grandmaster of Crypticism and the eternal title-holder of the annual Smug Mug -competition.
Now, tell me: how may I serve you?
I have a few questions for you, if you don't mind.
You are in luck: I have a great many answers.
What's your story? Have you been in the Kreuzbasar long?
Yep, these are definitely tried and tested Aljernon-brand answers already.
And what kind of magic do you practice? Shamanic? Hermetic?
Personally? The true kind. But I sell goods tailored to all traditions; in my shop, we do not discriminate.
What's the deal with your assistant? There's something funny about her eyes...
Absinthe is a friend, nothing more. She helps out around the shop when the fancy strikes her. She is nobody's assistant, and I am no one's master.
But her eyes?
I hate you so much.
Now, is there anything else that you need to know?
Can I see what you're selling?
Getting clear answers from Aljernon might be migraine-inducing, but there's no denying his magical wares are the real deal. Since this is finally our territory, we're gonna take a closer look at what we have to choose from.
Let's start with the ol' staples. Healing, accuracy and damage - You've got these, and your spot in a team is already justified. Dietrich has already covered Heal Wounds and Aim so they're not our top priority, but Flamethrower is exactly what we need to patch up our currently shaky damage output. More damage than Manabolt and half the cooldown, yes please.
With the armor system overhaul of Director's Cut, the two armor spells have suddenly gotten a huge boost in usefulness due to armor itself becoming much more valuable. Note that they now have infinite duration for as long as combat persists, and repeated castings stack the effect. While at rank I they're not yet that impressive, the later ranks turn both into some of the most valuable and powerful support spells in the game. Strip Armor in particular is almost guaranteed to get a permanent place in our figurative spellbook later on. Plus it makes for a great bachelor party trick.
Now imagine, if you will, a spell which immediately eliminates any enemy as a threat for 2 turns with a 3-turn cooldown. Pretty broken, huh? Now imagine if I told you that there are in fact multiple spells which share a similar effect, but on separate cooldowns, with Mind Wipe being merely the first. Have I mentioned that this spell is practically guaranteed to land on the majority of enemies in the game?
If you're a Mage and don't pick up Mind Wipe then honestly what are you even doing with your life. I'll tell you what you're doing, you're not bluescreening the brains of every third unfortunate asshole that stands in your way and laughing as they stand there drooling while they, their friends and loved ones are all incinerated in righteous hellfire.
The rest of the spells share either the issue of having an overly long cooldown for their effect (Lightning Bolt, Acid Stream) or there being better ways to spend your precious AP (Stunbolt, Distraction). Manaball is alright because area spells are always great to have but there are better options out there, whereas Dispel Magic just doesn't do anything a lot of the time and spell slots are too limited for that. That's what it comes down to with all these spells really - it's not that they're necessarily bad but there's some seriously stiff competition for those 6 spell slots, especially if you branch out for some shamanic tricks as well.
Some of them do become more useful at higher ranks, so we'll come back to take another look at a later date.
I'm not going to analyze the shaman spells any deeper, but there's a couple of things worth mentiong. First, Silence and Quiet Bomb still haunt the list despite having no effect that I'm aware of, at least in the official campaigns. That leaves Shamans with 4 initially available spells of which only Haste really stands out, all in all a pretty sad sight compared to the Mage selection.
Second, spells can be lent to companions the same way as any other equippable item, so we could for example grab something for Dietrich from here if we wanted to. Oh, and he also sells summoning fetishes of various types, the bane of shaman wallets everywhere.
Adept spells exist too, I guess. Magic Resistance is a one-rank passive now, previously it had three ranks and getting the medium cover bonus (which itself is now far more valuable) required Chi Casting 6 instead of 2. Overall Adepts are in a much better place here than they were in DMS, but they won't peak until Hong Kong.
Some new armor here as well, but it's not so great that we'd jump at the chance to upgrade. Our leather jacket is cooler anyway.
This'll do for today. While we're here we also sell off the AK-97 we've been lugging around since the beginning of the game.
And now we've finally taken in almost all the wonderful sights and fascinating inhabitants of the Kreuzbasar and arrived our destination, Cafe Cezve. You can see Maliit the tech merchant up there, so our safe house is very close by.
Next time: Actual forward progress!