Part 8: Ambush of Sheer Fucking IncompetenceLast time on Stygian we beat up a random child because Richter is evil but also because we need Cigs to buy...stuff.
I am not sure if this is an in-game tip for characters, or a real life tip for people trying to make it through this shitty game.
There are a bunch of NPCs hanging around Captain Cornuto's Inn of Immaturity, so we may as well chat them up.
Clara here doesn't do anything interesting and it's not her fault. She had a Hollywood career but it was cut short by the Black Day, and she got to stay at the Essex for a while because she was really hot. Moving on!
This guy rambles about Nodens because Lovecraft mentioned him a few times, and warns us that the Dismal Man is very dangerous. No shit Sherlock.
Anyway, we can recruit Sonia. I'll go through that dialog quickly.
: It may have been my imagination, but I did indeed meet your husband.
: You have? Oh, please do tell... (Her words are cut off by an impatient Marino)
I get that you're inept, developers, but maybe you don't need to write that Marino cut her off and then have Marino cut her off?
: It's rude to interrupt a lady, Marino.
This whole setup is really weird to me the more I think about it because in real life their marriage lasted two years because Lovecraft was an awkward dork. I am going to try to say some more positive things about Lovecraft in this LP but this game is really making me not want to go back and reread his works.
: I saw him in a dream of mine.
Now, you have to pick option two. Picking anything else gets you a disappointed response.
This ends the conversation and you have to go back and cockblock Marino all over again.
However, if you get it right...
: I wasn't, but the abstract realism of the vision almost seemed to suggest otherwise.
: He was about to enter an old abandoned house somewhere in Arkham...
: Some practitioners of the Art are known to seep into others' psyches. (Occult)
: My name is Bertha. Nice meeting you as well Sonia [sic]
: Of course Sonia, I'll be glad of any assistance.
: Not at all Sonia.
...Sigh. This is the game's bullshit party limit kicking in, and it's completely incoherent because people like Eduardo are allowed to break it at will, but the Outsider and Nameless Soldier fuck it up for Sonia for...reasons. Granted, I think they share slots with the butler and dog companions we can't get, but it's still a really incoherent design decision to have 3 companions and two slots.
Then again, it's not like this game has any real story than vomiting all the Lovecraft and roaring 20s references into something that looks like a dog turd, so....
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:: Excuse me Mr Barkeep, have you seen my husband?
: Uh...damn you hot girl, have some booze.
: I saw your husband in my dream.
: Really? What did he look like?
: Fuck you cornuto!
: He looked like HP Lovecraft.
: That's him! What was he doing?
: He was about to enter some old house in Arkham.
: Can I join your party so we can find him?
: Actually, with some kind of incoherent metaphor about stars, I've determined there are too many distracting men in your party and we're not doing that.
Whatever! The following is getting reloaded out of existence.
: We need to part ways.
I...actually feel kind of bad about this.
: Hey, don't worry, I'll be back later.
Now, you might be asking yourself "where do dismissed party members go? These developers have shown an uncanny ability to fuck things up so far, I'm sure they've done something completely idiotic here."
Well, you'd be right!
Dismissed party members permanently die off screen. RIP Sonia, we hardly knew ye. Moving on!
Incidentally, Sonia says this when we go to recruit her with an empty slot.
I...what...what the fuck?
Normally the little camera means we can't move, but the game actually lets us have control. I'm not sure if this is a bug from our inept coders or if it's just more special case idiocy, but rest assured, it's Yet Another Random Street Meeting that leads to more sidequests.
There's supposed to be a mob running to see this dead guy because the Arkham Stabber struck again, which incidentally is yet another sidequest that dovetails with our quest for electrical parts.
This man tells us the dead guy was named Julian and that he is the latest victim of the Arkham stabber, a vicious serial killer who might be a woman because the Mob is, shall we say, not exactly respecting women's bodies in this town.
After talking with the guy we get this scene.
It is entirely possible to get your sanity destroyed by random events you didn't see coming and lose the game. Remember, these idiots had to be pressured into including a manual save system.
I'm still not sure what we're actually supposed to be doing to be honest. We got...a key that led to a Cthulhu statue, and a poem that told us to collect the Necronomicon and stuff. We know that the Whisperer in Darkness escape isn't going to work, because the reveal in that story was that the aliens were cutting off people's heads and stuffing them in jars. We...don't really have a plan to escape Arkham, we're just following whatever the fuck the plot is while the game hits us with more disjointed Lovecraft references.
These two Mob idiots come along.
I will save you from Mafia unfunny comedy hour - these guys are terrified to report to Wax Face and they decide not to do it because the victim was not a Mafia guy, and the last guy who investigated it, Detective Wilkins, had his arm cut off for failing.
Not pictured - me running into the Essex thinking the upper levels have been opened, but realizing they aren't so I can't loot the free stuff.
Anyway, Richter told us about this scientist guy who might have some radio parts for us.
: Uh, I'm looking for a radio transmitter and a conductor. I've been told you might be able to help.
: I'm Bertha.
: I'm searching for a way out of this place and those parts would help.
She actually is!
: It is just one component in a much more complex machine.
: I wonder what kind of machines that is. Look, madam, I'd like to learn more about your miracle device, but I am close to a breakthrough here.
: What are you working on?
: Will you help me with the parts?
: Very well, madam, your direct approach also suits the constrained time frame of my work. I may have a spare conductor on hand, but the radio transmitter is another story.
: Would you care to elaborate?
: (He smiles thinly) I placed an order for some radio equipment and other electrical parts not long before the event I now describe as a planar shift.
: After the disaster I was as frightened and depressed as any other resident of this lonely town, but eventually my desire to continue my work helped me recover.
: Perhaps sensing it was my last resort, I returned to the lab. After some initial measurements and tests I knew I was onto something. I know that I was on the cusp of a discovery that could help us all.
: Let me guess: a disagreement with the Mob?
: No, not at all. I headed for the Marsh Warehouse. I knew that my shipment had to be in there someplace. It was the early days of Wax Face's rise and the chaos in the streets gave me the cover I needed to enter undetected.
: There were... There were things inside. (Fear spreads on his face). Creatures straight our of the folktales of my childhoos. Vareolac, beast people.
: Then the transmitter is still there?
: A good rifle could have solved your animal problems.
: Then the transmitter is still there?
Yes, they repeat the line.
God what a poorly made piece of shit.
: Where is the Marsh Warehouse?
The Marshes are of course a reference to The Shadow Over Innsmouth, a story all about how interbreeding is bad and putting minorities in concentration camps is good.
The Shadow Over Innsmouth posted:During the winter of 1927–28 officials of the Federal government made a strange and secret investigation of certain conditions in the ancient Massachusetts seaport of Innsmouth. The public first learned of it in February, when a vast series of raids and arrests occurred, followed by the deliberate burning and dynamiting—under suitable precautions—of an enormous number of crumbling, worm-eaten, and supposedly empty houses along the abandoned waterfront. Uninquiring souls let this occurrence pass as one of the major clashes in a spasmodic war on liquor.
Keener news-followers, however, wondered at the prodigious number of arrests, the abnormally large force of men used in making them, and the secrecy surrounding the disposal of the prisoners. No trials, or even definite charges, were reported; nor were any of the captives seen thereafter in the regular gaols of the nation. There were vague statements about disease and concentration camps, and later about dispersal in various naval and military prisons, but nothing positive ever developed. Innsmouth itself was left almost depopulated, and is even now only beginning to shew signs of a sluggishly revived existence.
Complaints from many liberal organisations were met with long confidential discussions, and representatives were taken on trips to certain camps and prisons. As a result, these societies became surprisingly passive and reticent. Newspaper men were harder to manage, but seemed largely to coöperate with the government in the end. Only one paper—a tabloid always discounted because of its wild policy—mentioned the deep-diving submarine that discharged torpedoes downward in the marine abyss just beyond Devil Reef. That item, gathered by chance in a haunt of sailors, seemed indeed rather far-fetched; since the low, black reef lies a full mile and a half out from Innsmouth Harbour.
Really! The fish guys deserved the concentration camps so bad that even the ACLU agreed!
In this game it's just a really shitty dungeon fortunately.
: I'll find that crate.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:: Ok, I'm intrigued by your request for a radio transmitter. Why do you need it?
: I need it to build an escape device.
: Really? You're a woman of science, you say? You know that it is a communications device, and not a teleporter?
: It's part of a more complex machine.
: I see. Well, as it happens, I have a conductor for sale and a fetch quest. You see, back when the city was rioting, I ordered some radio equipment. I was very sad until I realized I could do weird space science, but I tried to get my stuff from the Marsh Warehouse and nearly got eaten by ghouls. Can you deal with them? They're freaky beast dudes with evil human intelligence.
: Sure, why not.
He also straight up sells us the conductor, so buy that if you for some reason are also suffering through this game.
Anyway, we can't just go into the Marsh Warehouse, we have preparations to make.
You 100% need a lantern. Despite having one in the game's opening, the only way to get one is to pay the Pawn Shop. If you don't have a lantern you will get to the dark areas and take sanity damage in addition to fighting sanity draining monsters.
We also trade in the jizz stained porn magazine for some food, camping supplies, and a can of gas which we need to fuel the lantern.
I want to rest, but Marino is being a dick.
The solution is to camp outside with these hobos. I want our sanity healed and I want to learn Damnation to Stone before we go into the shit dungeon.
We prepare to rest and...
What. The. Fuck.
Ok, remember that masked butler guy who gave us poisoned tea and told us to go to sleep to break his mistress out of dream jail? Normally you get this encounter the next time you rest, but because we hadn't had the Randolph encounter after meeting Sonia the game loaded that instead. Let's see what the hell is going on, shall we?
Ah, yes, ripping off Lovecraft's love of telling you something is terrible because he has a chronic inability to portray it.
: No dreamer shall leave Thalarion without confronting them. Find the reasons that imprisoned her in this garden of notions and make her assume the identity which she calls the Dreaming Baroness, so she may know them.
: Garden of Notions?
Uuuuugh. This puzzle is shit and my advice to you is to just google it. We get a hint from the snow globe.
Now, you might be thinking, what if we just brute force the puzzle?
: You are one of the reasons which made her the Dreaming Baroness.
I do this a few times so I can show off some of the sanity loss crap later in the update.
The correct order, incidentally, is below.
Ship, representing the desire to explore.
Barenaked titties representing the desire for eternal youth.
The book and hourglass, representing the fear of losing accumulated knowledge or something.
This causes the Baroness to shatter her stone shackles...
And float away like Mary Poppins. Sure. Why not.
On the plus side, we finally learn Damnation to Stone, which is a legitimately great spell.
There is one more piece of business we need to take care of (aside from shooting Bertha up with drugs to cure her sanity) before we go into the warehouse and grind our way through the dungeon.
: How dreadful. You have my sympathy, Mister...
So an interesting thing happens in this dialog box. An animation plays, and the second option is stricken out and replaced with...
: I had a pet rabbit when I was seven and I always wanted to ride him you lucky bastard!
This time we lose the "stay silent" option.
: I agree. Especially ponies. I had the chance to meet a few in my lifetime, and they were all very well-mannered animals.
Notice that no one actually reacts to us spouting "crazy" shit. Hell, removing the SpoOoOky font makes it look like a bad joke.
: Weren't you at Lucy's side at the time of her death?
: You must have succumbed to a big distraction then. Something that happens rarely, if at all!
Ah, a tense change, I see.
: Did you catch sight of the attackers when you rushed to the scene?
: I wish I hadn't! (He seems to be reenacting the gruesome incident in his mind). I started running when I heard Lucy neigh in agony from afar, poor thing. On the way, I fired all my remaining ammo into the air.
: It was dark so I couldn't see much, but they had the silhouettes of wretched, dare I say dogs. And they grunted like hounds from hell.
: But one among their malicious pack was waiting in the shadows, a huge, hairless horror whom I believe to be the leader. That abominable monster waited on his subordinates to bring him the flesh of my innocent Lucy.
: I'll be entering that place shortly and may need help facing that monster. You can come along.
Spoilers: William doesn't help.
: Thank you madam, I'm grateful. You look like a fine lady. I'll do my best to not disappoint you. Lead on.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:: THEY KILLED MY HORSE!
: I'M CRAAAAAZY WHOOOOOOOOOOP!!!!!!!
: Poor Lucy was my only friend! They killed her!!
: I'M A RAVING MADWOMAN YEE HAW!!!! What happened?
: I was getting real drunk as a depressed ex-policeman. Then a bunch of ghouls ate my horse! They were led by a big ghoul, who went into the warehouse!
: Well, that's convenient, let's go shoot some ghouls.
Because we spent too long staring at tits in a dream we became schizophrenic. As the developers proudly point out, there is no way to cure this. This manifests as skipping turns in combat, saying stupid shit in dialog, but gives us a better grasp on reality with more mental defense (what?)
Anyway, moving on. We have such sights to see...
I didn't notice this at the time, but Eduardo just kind of...nopes off without saying anything, because he doesn't want money I guess. The Outsider wants to talk.
: This type of a bond is sometimes stronger than any other.
That's it. It's just more of the Outsider complaining that he doesn't have any friends (despite the original ending of the story having him getting ghoul friends). It's nuts!
Let's do this.
Getting the shipping bill lets us unseal the door with magic or something. We've been here earlier to scavenge sellable crap earlier, now we can do the whole dungeon.
In we go! There's a lot of loot here.
We get ambushed by Pickman ghouls. It's a reference to the Lovecraft story "Pickman's Model" about an artist who painted weird ghoulish pictures that freaked everyone out and then it turned out he had a real ghoul in his basement. Here we get none of that and it's just another reference. Wait, ghouls? Didn't the Outsider...
The Outsider posted:Now I ride with the mocking and friendly ghouls on the night-wind, and play by day amongst the catacombs of Nephren-Ka in the sealed and unknown valley of Hadoth by the Nile. I know that light is not for me, save that of the moon over the rock tombs of Neb, nor any gaiety save the unnamed feasts of Nitokris beneath the Great Pyramid; yet in my new wildness and freedom I almost welcome the bitterness of alienage.
Wait, what the hell? If the Outsider hangs out with the ghouls and eats with them why is he horr - you know what, fuck this game.
The ghouls are just fast melee enemies, who don't do anything interest -
Oh. So, I was trying to cast Blood Circle again. Remember that bug in the first dungeon where I couldn't give combat orders because the game bugged out after Blood Circle got interrupted? It happened again!. Fortunately I can at least reload.
Ok, let's redo this. This really isn't an interesting fight. There are three ghouls, they rush at you and use melee attacks.
William, incidentally, has a police revolver and a nightstick.
The Nameless Soldier absolutely, positively, does not give a fuck.
The inevitable happens. The ghoul flesh is a spell upgrade material as I recall, but because that system was stripped out of this spaghetti code abomination we can't actually use it. Free Cigs I guess.
See this table? This table rules. You have to right-click it and use their radial menu (the developers didn't master the arcane technology of "right click to use"), but when you do...
This sounds like a bad idea, but what it actually means is that the ghouls will turn upon each other and kill each other. You absolutely want to do this. Fighting all the ghouls straight up is a painful form of suicide. Fighting all the ghouls as they're killing each other is a cakewalk. Of course, you need the occult skill to do this, so if you don't have it sucks to be you I guess.
We can loot a dead guy for this free spell (which basically causes monsters to aggro a party member) and this cocaine-infused wine we are absolutely going to use because it gives us 3 AP a turn and we have some bullshit fights coming up.
We won't be using any of this except the .270 ammo for the Nameless Soldier's rockin' gun.
It's at this point that I fuck up. I open the menu and try to click "save game", but misclick and hit "return to main menu". There is no confirmation dialog and I am forced to do the ghoul fight yet again.
I show off Damnation to Stone. It calls a Medusa head that petrifies a target. This seems to last a while, making it great for dealing with the HP sinks known as Stygian enemies.
It also turns Bertha's hands to stone, because the developers decided all the spells needed drawbacks in addition to requiring your sanity to cast. It's weird, because when Lovecraft's characters perform magic that never happens. Who the hell knows.
Moving on! I'm not gonna show all the loot, but we get a couple of "Dead Man's" notes that I'll be showing off.
Backstory on the mob. Did we care? Not really.
There's a random sleeping guy next to some crates. I don't know either, he runs off and we keep looting. I guess he was delivering it to the Baroness we met?
We get this note. The chest contains an artifact, "Dust of the Seven Sleepers", that increases our healing on rest but doesn't let us post a watch. If you sleep in Marino's this has absolutely no drawbacks whatsoever, yoink!
More importantly, we level up.
Bertha gets more spellpower for all the damage spells she doesn't yet know but will learn fairly soon, and a point in Subterfuge so I can actually pick locks.
Outsider gets more spell and melee power.
Nameless Soldier gets a higher berserk chance and better melee and firearms skills.
Our first lockpick gets us these drugs which we use immediately on our mages to prepare them for battle.
More random hallucinations. I'm not sure if this is the schizophrenia or what, but they are attempting to warn us about the shitty next part of the dungeon.
Welcome to the basement. Its gimmick is that it's completely dark and you need a lamp. Fortunately I planned ahead and maxed out our kerosene, otherwise you steadily lose sanity.
The downside of the lamp is that it reduces your movement speed to "Tides of Numenera Combat" level and your pathfinding acts like your character had a brick dropped on their head.
There are, of course, more ghouls.
I wasn't kidding about the ritual. Every turn the ghouls spend beating each other up is a turn where we don't take damage and can kill them. They also hit each other fairly hard.
The free porn helps us recover more sanity on rest if we dedicate rest points to "reading" porn.
Ok, you have a gun, right? Just line up the sights and -
Really? I knew we should have taken Eduardo.
Ok, so, can we shoot them while they're eat -
That's a huge sanity loss.
This was the point that ended my test run. Between the Death of a Moron and the initial sanity loss here, my test character automatically died due to the cumulative sanity loss. Remember, if you go out, you need more kerosene to get through the dark areas.
Fortunately the dark ritual saves our asses here as this guy one-shots his erstwhile friend. It's very sad.
Bertha is as sick of this shit as I am and goes to town with her machete.
The rest of the fight is a vicious 3 on 1 beatdown.
Bertha petrifies this ghoul so we can keep stabbing the boss to death.
He tries to pull off some kind of big buff but we are not having that shit.
This is the Evil Eye casting animation.
The last ghoul wastes his turn wailing on the petrified guy, and the outsider deals the death blow to the boss.
The rest of the ghouls flee and...
We get our very first ANGST level!
The way ANGST works is that as soon as we open the menu we need to select one of these drawbacks. Here they are, as the game describes them:
Attached: "The loss and departure of companions and henchmen causes sanity loss. In such a case, the Madness Check value increases by 2%. Additionally, dialogue choices that result in a disfavor causes sanity loss".
Clumsy: "Critical Failure Chance increases by %10"
Dependent: "All addiction thresholds of the character decreases"
Depressive: "All future experience point accumulation suffers a -%25 penalty"
Ha ha fuck no we're not taking that one.
Distracted: "At the absence of experience gain and journal entries for a certain length of time, sanity loss occurs"
Fearful: "The loss of sanity caused by Horror Checks increase."
Hysterical: "Voice of Madness: Mania becomes active. If the character is afflicted with Mania, the negative effects are more likely to emerge."
Looks like that does nothing if we don't have Mania?
Nervous: "Panic Threshold increases by %20"
Rampageous: "Abstain from combat for a certain time period causes sanity loss"
Repulsive: "Dialogues with companions suffer a drawback (automatic disfavour) and a -2 Sex Appeal Penalty."
See how half this shit refers to mechanics the game doesn't explain? I say fuck it and go with "dependent" on the grounds we don't use too many drugs. We can't lose our Sex Appeal, we're a Sex Wizard!
Keep looting! Our reward from the boss fight is a unique spell upgrade component that...we can't use because the developers took out the spell upgrade system.
Loot from the room where the radio is. The Bleeding Badge of the Marshall increases firearms but makes you more vulnerable to bleeding. It goes right on the Nameless Soldier.
That's the pawnshop guy.
We get cutscene ambushed. It's a horrible fight.
You literally just showed us a cutscene about this.
Same uninteresting ghouls, they run up and melee you and inflict bleeding.
Bertha's sex magic makes them still hit each other. Don't ask.
The second wave is a test as to whether you did the ritual. If you did, they will beat the shit out of each other and you're OK. If you didn't, they swarm you and you die.
Bertha's mental illness starts kicking in here and I can't give her an attack order. Fortunately the blood circle is really, really strong and can hold off ghouls nigh-indefinitely with her high WIll and Spellpower.
Oh, hey, a shotgun! We're playing DOOM now, kids!
So I make the mistake of leaving the room and forgetting to grab the radio transmitter. Guess what happens when I go into the room?
The game freezes! It puts us into cutscene mode where we can't control our character, but all the ghouls are dead so the ambush never happens! I can't even load a game or anything!
Somehow the food meter still works!