Part 2: Did I mention I don't like the combat?Part II: Did I mention I don't like the combat?
The next morning, Feng informs us the map is nothing special. Oh well.
: Secure my future?
And he wants us to kill some guy named Cassius. Great! We're free to do whatever at this point, so let's go over some game mechanics.
Hitting "I" brings up the inventory. Currently, we have two daggers, a sword, some alchemical ingredients, a few ingots of bronze and iron, the map, and the sphere. I'll cover the alchemy and crafting tabs later. On the right is our carry weight, damage, armor Damage Resistance (DR), and other stats. Let's see what happens if I equip a dagger.
Our damage and Critical Strike (CS) rating goes up, but Attack goes down because I didn't put any skill points in daggers. Still, I'm sticking with it for now because it uses little AP.
Pressing "M" opens the map. We can fast travel by clicking on the names, but Teron is small enough to traverse in a few seconds.
"C" opens the character screen, where we can distribute skill points. SP are split into three categories, two of which I've mentioned: CoP are received by winning fights, CiP through solving problems with talking and other non-violent means, while general SP is picked up by finishing quests and advancing the story. The latter can be used to level up any skill. General Reputation is a bit harder to explain, but certain actions increase the numbers -- for example, killing Cassius for Feng raises Loyalty. Some interactions can be passed by having high enough numbers, just like Skills. Traits & Ranks are titles we can get as we progress. Most are flavor, but there are a few with gameplay applications.
"J" opens the journal, which contains quests, lore, a list of factions and major characters, plus any important items. Like our goofy sphere.
Enough of that, let's head to the inn.
As you can see, it's a classy establishment.
There's a lot we can do here, but first, let's talk to the fellow in the loremaster garb.
Welp, we're a dutiful apprentice with no qualms about murder, so let's get this over with.
: Lord Antidas has sent me to escort you. Follow me. [lure him to an abandoned house]
: Master Feng thinks you've made a mistake accepting Lord Antidas' invitation so... hastily. He asked me to correct it.
I don't think insulting our master is the wisest move. Still, let's hear him out.
: I'm listening.
Cassius, I'm going to kill you just for making me read all of that. We have a high enough CS to off him outright, but I have to show off combat, so...
: This is going to be fun.
Lies. Blatant lies. By the way, we can't do a critical strike in dialogue unless we have a dagger in the inventory. Hooray!
Soundtrack: Combat I
So, combat. I don't like combat in Age of Decadence. In fact, I don't like combat in most turn-based RPGs, because it's bunch of number crunching and I just want to kill the damn enemy. To-hit chance? Action points? Tactics? I haven't got time for that shit! Regardless, I'll do my best to explain. We can move to any of the blue squares during our turn and attack within the green squares. Red squares are blocked. In the upper right is our Attack and Defense ratings. At the bottom is our HP, AP, equipped weapon, how much damage said weapon inflicts and how much AP an attack uses (in this case, 2).
Mousing over Cassius shows us our to-hit chance (THC), CS chance, and Armor Damage Chance (ADC). THC is determined by our attack rating minus the opponent's defense rating, plus 50 percent.
We do 2 points of damage, with 1 absorbed by his armor. Daggers (at least, in the beginning) are shit for damage, but the small AP cost means a lot of attacks.
We get lucky here and inflict Bleeding. Bleeding takes away a set amount of HP per turn, plus the effect stacks, meaning you can lay the hurt down with the right type of weapon.
Oh right, weapons. There are a shitload of weapons in this game, each with different AP costs, bonuses, hardiness ratings and passive traits. Daggers have an increased chance of a Critical Strike on aimed attacks, swords are more likely to cause Bleeding, axes can do increased CS damage, hammers can lower DR, spears can interrupt attempts to get close, bows can Cripple (which means movement penalties), crossbows can Stagger (-3 AP), and throwing weapons can bypass armor completely.
"What are aimed attacks?" I hear you say. I'm glad you asked! Right-clicking on the weapon (something I don't show here) brings up a bunch of attack options, such as Power or Aimed. Some options use more AP but cause more damage or some other effect. Cassius started the encounter with Flurry, a dagger-only attack that hits multiple times with low damage. Aimed attacks have their own effects: aiming at the head can inflict an Attack penalty and even knock out an enemy on a CS, while aiming at the torso can lower DR. There's a ton of effects and weapon-specific special attacks that I won't go over, but if they come up in the LP, I'll explain.
Honestly, the best strategy in combat is to fight like a dirty rat. Use nets, bolas, bombs, poison, anything and everything to inflict maximum damage in the shortest amount of time. The game doesn't give a shit if you fight honorably, so don't.
Cassius succumbs to blood loss. Time to loot his body!
We take everything except his clothes. Hey, let the poor guy have some dignity. We'll melt down the dagger to get some iron.
Let's inform Feng. Hopefully, this was worth it.
: Cassius is no longer a problem.
Geez, we kill a guy for him and Feng is still being a condescending dick.
: What are you talking about?
: Count me in.
: Where are you from, Feng?
: I've never head of Zhin.
: The locals are convinced that their Empire had conquered what they call the known world. I can assure you that is not the case, although they did do their best to turn it into a wasteland.
: Why did you come here?
If you have the loremaster background or high Charisma, Feng opens up. Otherwise, he tells you it was so long ago he can't remember.
: Couldn't you refuse?
: You don't refuse such high honor and live. Even a fool like me knew that.
: What happened next?
: There is more to life than this.
: Because we are not animals. Our thoughts, our minds are capable of so much more...
: The men who built the Empire were different. They did something with their lives.
I think there's a difference between someone hunting for subsistence and a rich noble conquering nations, but whatever.
Feng, how many people have you killed
Hmm. Seems unlikely, but we'll file this away if it becomes important later (it will become important later).
For listening to his life story, Feng increases our Streetwise and Trading skills, plus we get a few CiP.
: Let me ask something else.
This takes us back to the topic screen.
: Do you think it will ever get better?
: Do you have anything else for me to do?
Carrinas is the commander of the local garrison. We'll meet him and the other guild leaders in other playthroughs. For now, we'll remain a free agent.
Time to explore Teron!
Outside Feng's house are some vines.
With enough Dexterity, we can climb onto the roof...
...which is filled with trash. Does Feng own anything valuable?
We can lockpick the hatch, however. There's no real reason to do this with our background, but we get some CiP for the trouble.
Next to Feng's is the blacksmith.
: I was thinking of crafting a weapon or two myself. How do I go about it?
: Can you sell me some materials?
: Sharpening stones?
: Tiny crystals?
Getting some Solid Snake vibes from our PC.
He also sells weapon and armor schematics for 50 and 75 gold, respectively. We'll buy the one for swords.
There are arms and armor for sale, but good luck with those prices. We're better off crafting our own stuff.
Time to thank this helpful guy by breaking into his house.
The door and first window are locked, but the second pays off.
Here's why I put points into Sneak.
The chest holds a pretty nice axe for this stage of the game.
There's also some documents that raise our Crafting skill!
High Perception lets us find some metal ingots. There's nothing else here, so time to bug out.
Here's what the crafting tab of the inventory looks like. With the right materials and schematics, we can make anything, provided we have enough levels in Crafting. Right now we can only make bronze stuff, but that'll change soon. We can also melt down weapons and armor to get back metal, albeit only a little at our level.
Let's head back to the inn. There's an interesting conversation happening right now.
The cut-off bit says, "go forth and call up these allies. All the resources of the Empire are at your disposal!"
Also, this sounds like a bad idea.
A really bad idea.
A really, really bad idea.
"blood and fire."
: Do you really believe in demons? Do you believe they are the reasons the Empire fell?
: But surely there is more to the story? What about the Qantari themselves? Were they really bloodthirsty savages as the stories say?
: What can you tell me about these Lords that came with Ibn Hadad?
Remember those names.
Anyway, this whole story reeks of bullshit. There may have been magic involved, but nothing like what this guy says. Plus, he's a racist.
Next time: Thieving, sneaking, and dying.