Part 9: What Lies Beneath the Surface (I)
Last time, we obtained a Clue. Today, we are going to follow it!
The party meets Iskas in a familiar Middleport location.
Yes, we heard you're an expert on Rune Cannons.
Rune Cannons, you say. Ah, I wouldn't say I'm an expert, but I do collect them.
Iskas is fabulous. You don't want to know how much time it takes to get his hair to look like that every morning.
Have you heard about how all the Rune Cannons in this town suddenly disappeared?
Yes. The rumors say--
Those rumors are true. It's a huge problem.
I'll say! Those things shouldn't be in the hands of just anyone, fish monsters or no fish monsters.
It seems there aren't any materials to make them, or even builders who know how to.
Andarc's natural 20 bluff check: still going strong. Kyril still doesn't catch on.
That's why I'm gathering together all the remaining Rune Cannons I can find.
Why? Are you collecting them?
So, what can I do for you today? Are you here to buy or sell?
Neither, actually. We were just doing research.
Ah, research, hm? In that case... I might have some information for you...
I don't like the way he puts that. It sounds expensive.
Well, all you have to do is...
...oh, that's all? I thought he was going to... I don't know what I thought he was going to do, but it certainly wasn't to just hand over the information for free.
That's right. You might find some clues to the Rune Cannon mystery there.
It does make sense, though.
And... if you happen to find any Rune Cannon materials down there, please sell them to me. I'll be waiting here!
If Kyril can figure out something about the cannons, Iskas stands to profit from it. A lot, even.
Got it. We'll go check it out.
And now we have access to the No Longer Particularly Secret Underground Path! But wait, what's that a couple of steps above...?
It's the quest guild!
And it's almost completely useless to us right now!
All right, quests. There are two types of quests: personal ones, where we actually have to do real work, and dispatch quests, where we send one of our minions and just kill time until they return.
See how most of those are greyed out? That's because Kyril currently has no minions. Andarc and Seneca are both plot important characters and you aren't getting rid of them.
Dispatch quests are marked with a boot. But what about that other one?
It's a personal quest!
You'll accept that quest?
Great. We're counting on you!
Lalacle's lines are voiced.
They get old.
Okay! I'm on it!
Kyril's... are not.
Quests come in ranks just like skills. The more quests you complete, the more quests you'll be able to accept. We're rank E now because we suck.
Each quest costs a small number of Potch to accept, but I can't remember any that don't make up for it with the rewards.
The Deadline is where time actually starts becoming an issue. Some personal quests must be completed within a certain number of days, but quests never expire from the guild, so you're better off not taking them until you know you can complete them right away. All dispatch quests also have a duration, but it's a lot less of an issue when it comes to those.
This one doesn't have a deadline, so we'd technically be free to accept and then ignore it, but of course that would be a waste of 100 Potch.
We can also look at previously completed quests...
...including that one we did for plot reasons last time. It's pretty nice, but will you look at those terrible rewards? Well, I suppose we didn't have to pay for it, but still...
From one thing to another, I neglected to sharpen Seneca's weapon last time since I knew she wasn't going to be present in the last fight with Steele. Time to rectify that! (Also to listen to the music. This, too, starts sounding pretty familiar after a while...)
I wonder who lives there... People say they sometimes hear noises from within.
Also, rumours. This one seems relevant to our interests...
And his son, even more so! It's almost as if he shines!
This one, less so. Reinbach
And this one is just useless. Lovely! Time to head for Razril to play some games.
Before we can do this one though, Kyril needs to... stock up.
Once you've accepted her quest, Rita shows up in the Gossip section in Razril.
You're here to play my game, right?! Let's get right to it! The rules are simple! Whoever ends up with more of their +Affinity element after five moves wins! In other words, you have to change terrain elements as fast as you can. But if you attack me, you lose! Let's get started! You'll get the hang of it!
...I told you so.
The game is sort of interesting, but unlike S4 it's strictly a one-time thing.
See those elementals? I know killing the purple ones looks tempting, but don't even think about it.
This is why.
Don't think about attacking Rita either, because she will pound you into the ground so hard if you try.
I couldn't agree more, Kyril.
But we have that Rage Force Bead, and this is a perfect opportunity to show it off. That's a big area of effect!
Rita comments on the situation each time her turn comes up. The elementals make the game quite random, but this time I got reasonably lucky with them. And, of course that rage bead didn't hurt.
No, no, no! Not in a million years!
I'm not going to show the whole map here because you've really seen everything there is to it before.
Now for my third move. What the?! How can I be behind?
It's because I cheated and brought a cannon to a gunfight
Oh, man... My fourth move already?
And you're going down.
Rita is what you might call a sore loser.
You can only get the S rank reward for any given map once. I'd actually have liked a C rank here, since it gives better stats and I'm going to have to get one sooner or later anyway. Because reasons.
Apparently you can also get a pair of Star Earrings here if you beat Rita by just one tile, but again:
You certainly did, and badly, too!
This calls for some hardcore training! I'll have to play a lot more! Of course, you'll help me, right?!
can I get back to you on that?
I'm counting on you!
Anyway, that's what we were doing this for, so I suppose we can say mission accomplished.
Rita has forgotten everything Lazlo taught her and joins with absolutely no experience whatsoever, so she needs beefing up if she's to survive long enough to see the next level. (Note the word "survive" here - Rita is also the first character you get who can actually die.) One of the Silver Medals is an obvious choice (sadly I can't just give her both; you can only wear one at a time) as well as pretty much everything that boosts DEF.
More importantly, she is our very first actual minion! And that means we can do this quest... and only this quest. Dispatch quests have specific conditions - most of which you won't actually see in-game (). However, this is one of the things about the game that actually are documented, and this one requres 5 Strength, meaning it's the only one Rita has the stats to carry out. Don't worry; we'll be back for the rest soon enough.
You'll accept that quest? (yes) Great. We're counting on you!
This'll be fun!
Then, we sail back and forth between Middleport and Razril three times, because it takes a day in each direction and the quest takes five days.
Oh, and since we beat Rita, here are the results for that.
It's worth 1500 Potch and 1000 SP
Don't let me down, Rita.
Excellent! It's worth 1000 Potch and 250 SP - dispatch quests tend to give smaller rewards than ones you actually need to work for.
Also, Rita comes with two new skills we haven't seen before.
Smash: Goes with big, heavy weapons like axes and two-handed swords... and hammers. This gives your attacks a chance to ignore the enemy's defence and unbalance the target.
Armor Defense: Reduces damage from physical attacks when equipping Heavy Armor.
Just like in Suikoden IV, Rita is a decent enough character when she joins, but will be overshadowed by later ones. Her big weakness is that her weapon (still a big hammer, because, well, why not?) is "technically not an axe", so she loses out on the rune that goes with them. With magic runes restricted, this means she has no real means to deal damage other than hitting things and then hitting them again. She is still very lucky, though, and her skill is decent as well - if you're going to use her, it's probably best to put the Critical Hit skill on her, and a Killer Rune once you find some, to supplement her naturally high crit rate.
All right then, that's everything optional taken care of, so next time I suppose we'll have to go advance the plot.