Part 73: Spirits & SpellslingersPart 73 - Spirits & Spellslingers
We resume our adventures from the third floor of the rickety apartment building supposedly containing APEX's nest in its basement and a variety of oddballs who can't handle their own damn problems occupying the floors above.
Right now we're looking for the Magnifikers' gang leader Trithemius in the hopes of getting the basement elevator back working again, and we were also tasked by some local residents to clear their living quarters of the aforementioned gang's roaming spirits, one of which we're looking at right now through this window. Might as well go say hi.
Would you look at that, we got to open the door without having to pay the usual pain tax. Seems even literal abominations have better manners than some of the people we've met.
Horrifying affronts to nature aren't in the habit of maintaining friendly relations for very long though, so we quickly pop this one like the bloated pustule it resembles with a beastly Flamethrower IV crit.
Another one floats into our sights from a room to the north, likewise crumbling in front of everyone's concentrated attention.
Things are more lively in the dining room where Glory interrupts a clearly unhygienic house party of two more abominations and their even meaner bird buddy Pestilence. This is a pretty hazardous scene, each of these spirits has high stats and access to a repertoire of nasty spells and abilities which include area damage and rough debuffs such as Petrify and even Confusion.
Knowing well that the odds are not on her side, Glory opts to fall back in an attempt to lure them to the rest of the group instead.
This plan turns out to work even better than hoped as two of the three monstrosities follow her right into our firing line, with the one in front quickly going down in a hail of spells and gunfire.
Not only that, but despite not being directly visible to anyone but Glory, even the big bad 100 HP bird goes down the same turn to a couple of well-aimed minigun bursts followed by Dietrich nailing a long-range Electro Core on the visible tile next to it.
We then proceed to surround the last remaining spirit in the dining room and eliminate it in a coordinated attack from two directions. A group of by far the most dangerous enemies we've faced yet, exterminated like ordinary household pests without a scratch on anyone. We've come a long way.
We never ended up asking for proper payment for all this spiritual cleansing, so it seems only we fair that we help ourselves to a Premium Medkit before moving on.
While Franz and the rest will be happy to hear we've successfully exorcised their home, for us the party don't stop as the next door down the hallway opens into a nest of the mage gangers themselves who continue to be wholly uninterested in civil discourse. Easy to see why the tenants here still consider Ullrich's bullies the lesser evil, there's just no working with these people.
Unfortunately for this loudmouth, nobody bothers to react to his shouting and the blasting he yearned for ends up being rather one-sided. Maybe the rest of the group gave this guy guard duty hoping someone'd come along to finally shut him up.
Like there's no way this bunch wasn't within earshot, right? We also catch sight of a conjurer behind the corner, making the lineup identical to the group we smacked around downstairs.
Blitz confuses one of the mages while we team up with Glory to incinerate the other one. Flamethrower IV's longer cooldown is unfortunate, but one can't deny the sheer juice content of these critical hits.
The enemy turn features the mage convert following our example with a Flamethrower crit on the healer (they grow up so fast...) while the conjurer manages to accomplish the impressive feat of losing control of her spirit the same turn she summoned it. Guess drugs and summoning angry beings of living fire don't always mix that great.
Our turn begins with Blitz finishing what the mage started and giving the healer more holes than she has time to slap magical bandages on.
Not wanting to feel left out in the middle of all this spirit action, Dietrich conjures up his own Abomination from a nearby summoning spot which works with Glory to quench the Inferno's flames before it hurts someone that matters.
The conjurer herself is too stunned by an earlier Lightning Ball from us to have any say in the matter.
One ganger is out of commission and the other is playing for the opposing team, so neither puts up any resistance while we pick them off. Just another pile of corpses left in our wake that we weren't really interested in making, but if idiots insist on throwing themselves at us like this then we've no choice but to keep batting them away.
We collect the amulets for Ullrich, and further investigation of the apartment nets us a summoning fetish from the scrying bowl and a Shadow spellbook from the bookcase. Well and good, but we're kind of in the "99% of loot doesn't matter anymore" -phase here so it's hard to get excited about any of it.
Back outside the filthy hallway stretches ever on. The next door down is locked, so let's try the intercom.
Seems there's just no end to quirky residents in this pit...
I'm not a spirit. What are you talking about?
That's EXACTLY what a spirit would say! An' then it'd get in here, and it'd... it'd... it'd eat my eyes! Suck 'em right out of my skull! I've SEEN IT HAPPEN!
[You hear a ragged intake of breath, and then the shrill voice raises into a scream.]
GET AWAY FROM ME!
Normally we'd consider that crazy talk, but those spirits did sort of look like they might be into that kind of thing. Not the first people we'd call should we need someone to watch over our eyeballs at any rate.
If I were a spirit, would I be using the intercom?
[The voice becomes calmer, and lowers in pitch.]
Huh. I guess I've never heard of a spirit using an intercom before. That's a really good point. Are... are you here to save me?
Yes, I'm here to rescue you. Let me in!
[There is a long pause.]
All right, I'm going to let you in. But be cool, okay? I mean that! No funny stuff!
I can't believe that worked.
Evening sir, if you're wondering why we insisted on gaining entrance to your home via deceptive means then worry not, because we don't really know either. We just go with the flow.
One of Parson's people, huh. He claimed the Communion is all about shedding your limitations, but this guy sounds like his ride on the autobahn of the mind ended up being a bit too intense.
You're one of those cultists from the Hub, aren't you?
I am nothing! Only the Communion remains! Only the Communion matters!
[His eyes roll in his skull, and a thin stream of drool runs down from the corner of his skull.]
The Hub! Yes, it is the source, the font, the home! It calls! It calls, and I must answer!
[He clasps his hands in front of him, pleading.]
I must return, I must rejoin! But it's not *safe!*
Tell me more about the Communion.
We *join* together in the Communion! It makes us strong! It feeds us, nourishes us! We *belong* to it, and it belongs to us.
[The cultist shakes his head violently from side to side.]
*Nothing* must separate us!
Buncha creepy cultists with an unhealthy level of devotion to some sort of hive mind... Weird, could've sworn we didn't have this headache a couple of minutes ago.
How does Parson figure into all of this?
Brother Parson brings us Communion. He speaks for it, and it speaks through him. He guides it, and though him, it guides us. You must speak to Brother Parson. He will make you understand. He will make you listen! Through him, the Communion will spread and grow strong!
You speak about the Communion as if it were alive.
The Communion speaks, and we must listen. All who listen will hear the Communion and be forever changed!
Alright look, there aren't any spirits here... not anymore. You can go rejoin the Communion, if that's what you want.
I... can... return? To Communion?
[He breaks into a ridiculous grin.]
I must go now! Yes! Communion awaits!
The enthusiastic man bolts off and we quickly grab some Cram from one of the drawers in the back near Mount Trashmore.
The final apartment door at the end of the hallway holds the mark Parson said would signify the Magnifikers' main hideout.
He also said to look for an old bookcase at the back and search for a button under the second shelf from the bottom. Wonder what the man needed this kind of a setup for in his "past life".
Cool place you've got back here Trithemius, though surely more befitting a major boss than a walking elevator part dispenser such as yourself.
So. You're the one who's been turning my home upside down. I assume that you come in search of my head at Ullrich's behest? I would warn you, stranger... he cannot be trusted.
It's Berlin, 2054. Trust is so 2053.
That may be so, but I'm telling you the truth about Ullrich. He may have a use for you now, but as soon as this no longer holds, he will kill you.
That sounds downright courteous compared to your amateur magician troupe who keep assaulting us on sight though.
[He steeples his fingers, looking for all the world like a kid in a Halloween costume.]
I would offer you an alternative. What is it that he has offered you for your assistance? I'm sure we can reach an equally beneficial arrangement.
We need to get downstairs. Into the basement.
In exchange, Ullrich removed the elevator control chip. A petty move, presumably to prevent us from accessing that same armory after he retreated.
If you agree to kill him, I'll give you the part that I removed. Then all you have to do is take the chip off Ullrich's stinking corpse. Trust me... that's the only way you will ever lay hands on it. Once your usefulness to him has run its course, he will devote all of his strength to crushing you.
Honestly, boss... I don't think that I believe either of 'em.
[He inclines his head.] To show you how serious I am, I will offer you a further boon for dealing with Ullrich as he deserves. A magical item of great and inscrutable power! With it, you may call a powerful spirit to your side, to defend you and to crush your enemies! Do my bidding, and this will be yours for the taking!
Nice pitch, but trying to bribe a mage with a summoning fetish is not exactly doing it, pal.
Besides we're done running errands, we need that elevator part to be functional and in one piece but those requirements are considerably more lax for the rest of you. And if comrade meathead outside decides to double-cross us afterwards, then you'll have all the time in the world to continue your bickering in whatever miserable afterlife you two deserve to end up in.
I made a deal, and I'm sticking to it. Now let's get this over with.
[His lips twist into a cruel smile.] Big mistake, pal. You're gonna burn for that.
Someone's gonna burn alright. Bring it, nerd.
Despite getting the first turn, the couple of gangers who try to hurl spells at us whiff completely in the face of our 10 Willpower. An embarassing display, as expected.
The gangers are no different from the ones we've faced earlier, while Trithemius is himself is (a little disappoingintly) a reasonably competent mage with a bunch of extra HP. His spell repertoire consists solely of medium-rank fire and lightning spells and he can also make use of the Force 6 Toxic Elemental Fetish he offered to us.
Despite our 92% chance of landing Confusion on him he manages to avoid it, forcing a hasted Glory to go work on him the old-fashioned way and succeeding in a stun which is almost as good. Blitz has no problem confusing the dwarf behind the western pillar in the meantime.
The enemy turn consists of the turncoat mage scorching his own boss with Flamethrower, while the conjurer's freshly summoned Inferno spirit does the same to us and slaps on the ever-annoying Heatwave on top.
This does little to prevent the inevitable curb-stomping we're about to deliver on them on our turn though. Another massive Flamethrower crit cooks the healer on the spot and then the 5 AP Glory goes ham behind the enemy lines.
2 AP to burst down the conjurer, taking down the spirit with her...
...another 2 AP to give the same treatment to Trithemius...
..and the last one to cap the confused and wounded mage with a Deadeye Shot from her Savalette Guardian. Now that's our kinda medic.
All that talk and they didn't even manage to hold on for three turns. We collect the amulets as usual, bringing us to 11 total, alongside Trithemius's personal one as proof for Ullrich as well as a key to open the three locked doors here.
We rummage through each room in turn, from the one to the right we pick up 69 nuyen and an Acid Stream II spellbook...
...the one in the middle nets us another 297 nuyen, a dose of Cram, and an Advanced Medkit...
...and finally from the one to the left we pick up a Flamethrower III spellbook, a Force 4 Earth summoning fetish, and most importantly the elusive elevator part.
Before heading outside, we stop by Franz's group to tell them the good news.
Hello again, friend. What can I do for you?
About those spirits...
Yes? Is it safe?
We dealt with them for you. It's safe now.
Thank you! Thank you so much! There aren't many people left that'd put themselves in danger to help a bunch of strangers.
Happy to be of help.
And so the grateful tenants begin their two-minute journey home and we get to bask in the warm glow of 3 Karma.
If we check the third floor again, we can confirm that they've arrived safely.
I enjoy killing things. Even things that aren't technically alive. So really, it was my pleasure.
Um. Well, I'm glad that you helped us, ha ha! Thank you, again! Really... thank you.
[He glances down at his PDA.]
Oh, would you look at the time? I really must get back to helping the others with the cleanup. Good-bye!
You have a way with words.
It's a gift.
We've kept our side of the bargain, so we hoof it back to Ullrich to see if he feels like doing the same. Let's get our money from the amulets first though, just in case.
I've got a few Magnifiker trinkets to sell.
Excellent, 11 amulets means 2,750 nuyen in your pocket. Here you are, payment in full.
Trithemius won't be a problem for you anymore either. Here's his amulet.
[Ullrich accepts the amulet with a smile.]
Ha! Nice work, friend!
[Ullrich holds a hand up and shakes his head.]
Whatever. It's not my problem... I've got bigger things to worry about. Besides which, you've got the chip. I've held up my end.
[Without waiting for a response, he takes a step back, then turns his head to shout at the toughs behind him.]
LISTEN UP, BOYS!
Surely by proper gang rules we should be the rightful owners of this place now, not that we have much interest in this crumbling deathtrap. Let's just hope they don't wreck the elevator again before we're finished with our business downstairs.
Speaking of which, despite several detours we finally have all that we need to make our way to the basement laboratory.
What can we expect to find down in this facility, why have we been sent this invitation, and how exactly does one even face something like an AI in the first place? All these answers we're going to have to find out for ourselves as we descend into the depths of the earth to confront the digital guardian of Harfeld Manor, next time.
First just as a random tidbit, neither Trithemius or Ullrich will ever betray you, though the reverse isn't true and it's possible to take out both gangs to get access to all their loot should one wish to do so. The fight against Ullrich involves a group of physical fighters and afterwards the crates outside can be opened for the elevator part, a Premium Medkit and the distinctive but by this point not very useful Ganger Mask armor familiar from the previous campaign:
On the dialogue front, one can try to gain entry to the Communion cultist's apartment another way:
On second thought, I am actually a spirit. *Boo!*
[A high-pitched, wailing shriek explodes out of the intercom. There is a burst of static, and the machine goes silent.]
You have a novel approach to dealing with the mentally ill.
I've gotta admit, I'm feeling pretty good about it.
Trying again afterwards:
Hello? Spirit? Are you back? I thought I told you to *leave me alone!*
I'm a spirit, all right! And if you don't open this door *right now,* I'm going to come in there and *eat your soul!*
No no no! Please don't eat me! I'll do whatever you want!
[You hear a great deal of fumbling on the other side of the door. Finally, the lock unlatches with a click.]
Once inside, picking some wrong choices can turn him hostile which is especially easy if he's already freaked out:
You... you don't look like any spirit *I've* ever seen!
[He eyes you suspiciously.]
But... you said that you were a spirit? You must be a spirit... they're everywhere now. All of the places, yes... all spirits.
[The madman's voice becomes shrill with panic.]
It's not safe. Can't reach Communion. Can't hear Communion! *It's not safe!*
Oh no, this was a mistake! I shouldn't have opened the door. It's too late! Is it? It is!
Calm down! I'm not here to hurt you.
Lies! Deceit! You seek to deprive us, to remove us, but you cannot! You *will not* separate us from Communion! It has warned! The Communion told us that the deaf would try and take us. We must resist!
He's about as dangerous an opponent as you'd expect.
If one entered by pretending to be a spirit and also has the Street etiquette, it's possible to avoid this outcome and even net some Jazz from the encounter:
Oh no, this was a mistake! I shouldn't have opened the door. It's too late! Is it? It is!
(Street) Whoa, easy, man! I'm here to get rid of the spirits. I've just gotta have a quick look around first.
Get rid of... ?
[He breaks into a ridiculous grin.]
Yes, be rid of them! Go, GO! Rid us of them now! Go, so I may return to the Communion! It has been so long... how long? Days? Weeks? Months? Without the Communion! *Without!*
[He reaches into his grubby pocket and pulls out an object. Shoves it into your hands. A jazz inhaler.]
Take it, take it! For clearing the spirits. To help return us to Communion! We must again listen, we must!
Yeah... oookay. Don't you worry, I'll get right to it.
[He nods vigorously.] Yessss!
Finally, as has been alluded to there is an option to lie to Franz and the displaced metahumans about it being safe to return to their homes without actually having cleared out the spirits. This (unsurprisingly) yields no Karma and leades to a different scene upstairs:
Huh. I guess that we're kind of responsible for that.
That... uh... that doesn't feel very good, chief.
You'll get over it. Come on, we have a job to do.