The Let's Play Archive

The Banner Saga Trilogy

by FairGame

Part 19: 10-2: Myths Become Real


Per your vote, we'll stick to the mud. DO NOT SPOIL THE OTHER OUTCOME. OR THIS OUTCOME. I will address both when we reach the end of part 2.
The man looks surprised, but shrugs it off. The rain continues, and the caravan struggles to keep moving.
We take a morale hit and we travel really slowly, but we've got enough clansmen to forage for food while we're slow. Not a big deal.

However, this one requires a bit of luck rather than just a ton of supplies.
: Wait here. Iver and I will find him.
"I'll remember to send someone else to you with bad news from now on," Iver says as the two of you slop through the mud. After a way, you see the boy in the distance. He's pulling on a rope leash around the goat's neck. The goat is up to its shoulders in mud.
"Come on, boy. What's wrong?" you hear the child ask the goat. "You're sinking! Come on, you have to try!" You cannot move any faster to help, and soon only the goat's head is visible. The boy shouts again. "You're my friend! You stupid goat, you're going to die!"

: Iver, can you reach them?
Just before the goat and boy vanish beneath the surface, Iver leaps toward the two, creating a huge wave of mud that splashes you.
When you clear your face enough to see again, Iver is there with the goat under his arm and the boy clinging to the giant's neck. The child thanks Iver many times on the way back to the caravan, calling him a Luck Varl. Iver spits mud and curses.

Iver: best varl.

Time to meet the kragsmen! They suck.

I figure it's time Hakon got some action, and I really do need to get him that level back at some point.

I hate fighting human enemies, and kragsmen are the worst of the lot. We'll trivialize all of them because of Alette, but the cragsmen melee fighters have such high strength and exertion that they can just kinda walk over and maim archers at will. It's even worse with their spearmen though none spawned on this map.

Also sometimes krasgmen maps have WAR BEARS who have the same passive as Folka: armor damage instead of strength until their armor is fully exhausted. In general they're just a pain in the ass to fight.

Imagine Alette knocking back a human fighter, forever.

We eventually get Hakon in on the action to finish things just because someone other than Alette should get some kills.

The weather eases up somewhat as we approach Godstone Baldringr.

Varl: still don't like flames even when it's just a representation of them.

I really like how they did the Godstones in this game. You don't have to click anything at first and can kinda just take a look at the cool artwork.

: Aleo, what do you know about Baldringr?
"Not much, but enough," the skald says. "These flames symbolize Baldringr's love of fire and war, the first being a means to the second. When the varl were dominating humans in the first great conflict, it was Baldringr who gave the losing side fire to combat the giants." You hold up your hand to halt the storyteller, listening through the rain for anything that might be following you.

Hearing nothing, Aleo resumes, holding the gaze of his audience. "Humans praised Baldringr for the gift of fire, but the god only desired more war." He points toward the distant shapes of the varl. "When the giants and humans found peace, this godstone fell from grace. It looks to continue keeping the land scorched. Perhaps its shadow can still kill."

In a Rook playthrough, despondent Rook has a 3rd option: to go stand in the shadow of the flames and thumb his nose at the gods who created a world where his daughter and wife could die. Everyone is horrified, you lose morale, and while making a scene a bunch of kragsmen sneak in and kill people.

Alette, however, will be doing none of that.

Instead we are going to kill some more kragsmen.

Aleo hits level 6. I put the points in willpower. He'll rarely do any combat, but having someone who can completely lock a boss unit out of taking a turn is incredibly powerful. He needs to be at least level 8 to have decent range on Insult, though.

We start the fight surrounding them. No varl in this battle so Ludin and Yrsa get to come out.

Aleo, you've been in every fight since we met you. The plan hasn't changed. Egil draws aggro and tanks while Alette pincushions anything dumb enough to approach. Hasn't failed us yet!

This is seriously just absurdly strong.

Aleo steals the final kill, but honestly I'm just steamrolling all these fights now. Bolverk's caravan has the hard fights. Alette's overwatch trivializes everything and I don't care enough about the combat to not use it.

Our reward is Fallows' Rebirth a weird little artifact that gives us a very high dodge chance and protects from death unless your strength is 1. In theory it could be really good on someone like Hogun who doesn't need strength to be effective. In practice there are far stronger fighters than Hogun so I don't really see the point to it.

Welcome to the plains. Our destination is Lundar. Not to be confused with the far smaller town of Grundar in the distance.

Everyone has gallows humor in this game.

: ...perhaps the people here have forgotten us as well.

: I don't believe it.
: Are those...
Two horseborn hold simple, bronze weapons and stand guard over a few others who look wounded and unable to rise. The size of the caravan seems to make them nervous.
: I have to get a closer look.
: Me too.
The two of you advance a hundred yards, showing every sign of respect and peace. A number of clansmen push closer too.
Right, so remember when I said we wouldn't be seeing any horseborn in The Banner Saga? I'm technically not a liar. This is The Banner Saga 2

: Damn. The caravan is scaring them!
: Go tell the archers to put down their bows.
Oddleif looks irritated at having to leave the horseborn, but she does what you say. You slowly advance and point.

The two standing horseborn exchange a look; the female snorting and shaking her mane.
His voice sounds strained, and his mouth moves uncomfortably around the foreign words.
: Yes. Help.
You wave to Eyvind, who approaches slowly, but confidently.

: Help...Ro'Ech and others.
: I'll try. This is certainly a first.
The standing horseborn step aside, allowing Eyvind to approach the wounded fighters.

"They called us outsiders," a woman says. "They don't want us interrupting their wheat harvesting festival. The merchants don't seem to mind trading, though." The clansmen soon shrug it off and take renewed interest in the horseborn; some in awe, others in disgust.

So now we have 3 new units. We can use them but it'll take some savegame editing because all of the horseborn are bugged to shit in this game.

Male horseborn all share the same passive: "hit and run." It works just like the same skill in XCOM. They can move (without willpower) after attacking. This also includes movement after using their special.

Female horseborn all share the same passive: "free roam." They get 2 tiles of movement per exertion point. So basically they can move across the damn map in the blink of an eye.

Male horseborn like Ro'Ech (who we have not met yet; Eyvind is healing him) and Scathach are direct melee units. Have to be in 1 tile range. Female horseborn are ranged attackers. They can attack anything directly next to them but can toss javelins from range just like an archer shoots arrows.

They're all generally stronger than humans and I like them a lot. Except...

Male horseborn get 2 abilities: "Trample," which is basically the horseborn version of the backbiter's "Run Through." And "Mule Kick," which is obscenely overpowered. 100% accuracy, armor damage, knockback, and causes the target to be stunned and miss its next turn. Between Aleo and male horseborn you can basically completely nullify any major attacker (if you don't have Alette doing that with overwatch, anyway).

Female horseborn get 2 abilities: "Poison Tipped," which does a DoT attack on enemies (very powerful; bypasses armor). And "Pin," which greatly restricts an enemy's movement.

Just like any other character in this game, they get to pick a new ability when they hit level 6.

But for some reason they fucked it up in the code so that when a horseborn hits level 6, he loses his first ability. And since the pickup ability at level 6 is treated as being at level 1, it nerfs the shit out of horseborn.

I know how to edit their abilities back in. It's a pain in the ass, mind you. But I can do it.

So let's learn a bit more about our horseborn friends. Hogun can wait.

You glance at Ubin who snorts and smiles.
: Scathach's thanking you for helping his friend Ro'Ech. Derdriu's the other one, but she's not in a "talking with varl and humans" mood.
: You're welcome. I'd like you to meet Hakon.

: Varl...mans. Same herd?
: No, but we're no longer enemies.

: I haven't seen horseborn in centuries. Last they knew, humans and varl were at each other's throats.
: How do you know our language?
Scathach just stares at you.
: You talk like us. Where did you learn?
: Herd little trade with...mans in mud.
: I think he means our bog friends, the kragsmen.
: What brings you so far north?
Scathach looks confused by the question, so Ubin shows him the map, pointing to Dalalond and Grundar.
: Food. Our plains...break.
Hakon snorts.
: Might be justice. Didn't they kill all the horses, Scrivener?
: His ancestors did, yes. But blaming folks for things that happened hundreds of years before they were alive? You may as well accuse these humans around us of starting the Great Wars.
: What happened to Ro'Ech?
: Ro'Ech...brave fighters. Protect food. Hit many times.
: Hit? Who was attacking?
Scathach says many things in his other language.

His eyes go wide, and he stomps the ground before pointing west. You look to Ubin.
: I don't have a clue, but clearly not a friend.
: Was it the people here? In Grundar?
Scathach looks where Hakon is pointing. He shakes his head and points west again. The varl king eyes Scathach suspiciously.
: Does that mean all the horseborn have come north?
: Many. Not all. Not all herds...same. Herds fight herds...many fights.

Ubin gives Hakon a sideways look.
: Others take food south to us herd.
His hooves scuff the ground during certain words.
: Just those two? What about you and the couple?

: Thank you.
Scathach nods in a movement that uses most of his upper body.

Ubin chuckles, and you smile while Hakon shakes his head and walks away.
...not sure why Hakon is so hostile to horseborn. He wasn't even alive for when they killed all the horses. And Scathach, language issues notwithstanding, seems a decent dude.

But maybe we'll have better luck talking to an old friend.

Or not.
: Hogun? Everything okay?
He glares at you.
: Where's your brother, Mogun?
: He left with the Ravens. Wondering if I should've done the same.
: Why is that?
: I followed your father a long way and now you. And for what? My brother's gone. My wife and children are frightened of everything around them, including me. I tell them this constant fighting is only for a time, but it's changing me. I see it in their eyes, in my own reflection.

: What do you want to do?
: I'm torn. I think it's good for me to be out there fighting. Makes me feel alive, like I'm doing something. But I know why my wife worries. Her father was consumed with raiding, felt useless when he wasn't fighting. He died soon after she was born.

: We need to keep everyone safe, not just your family. All the families. Make things right with your wife and kids in Arberrang.
The axeman looks somewhat relieved, if not a bit guilty.
: A few more fights, then. You know, I had my doubts about following you back in Boersgard, but you're alright, Alette.

(We could have released him, losing 1 fighter and gaining 1 clansman. But even though he's not very useful I think he should stick around.)

This is a lucky find, but we're 2 renown short of affording it. Ah well. We don't really need Alette any more powerful than she already is, I guess. We'll just head out. On to Grundar! But before that...

: What crazy idea is in your head, Scrivener?
: With the world falling apart around us, there may not be another chance to trek down south.
: Listen to yourself. "The world is breaking."
: I don't expect a human to understand, but a varl as old as me has more important goals than just staying alive.
: What about that competition you varl have for who lives the longest?
: I've always understood the rules to mean you're actually doing something. Not holing up somewhere safe. Besides, my guess is Snorri didn't make it out of Grofheim when the Sundr attacked. I might already be the winner.
: Well, I'll miss your stories, Ubin.

: You taking your hired muscle with you?
: I'd feel better if Gunnulf stayed with all of you. That blade of his is sure to attract the wrong kind of attention.

: I'm old, not an idiot. I've learned a few tricks to keep my head on my shoulders.
The younger varl shrugs and walks off to find food.

: Don't worry about me. Just make sure you're alive to see this thing through to Arberrang. Farewell.
Scrivener says a few more goodbyes before departing with the horseborn.

...there are so few varl left. You can't keep Ubin from leaving, though. He can probably write some awesome stuff about horseborn and he's not gonna get another chance to do it.

Minus (probably) the world's oldest varl, we depart Grundar. From here it's a straight shot to Lundar.

But first, time for more lessons with Rugga.
: It's not getting any easier, is it.
: It probably won't get any easier until we get to Arberrang.

: Then I'll fight whoever gets in our way.
: Good. In order for that to happen, we need to do something about these soft peasants.
: What should we be doing with them?
: Training fighters. Making the decision to leave weak members behind. Arrive in Arberrang as a hardened army.
: You sound like Bolverk.
: That varl knows how to survive and keep others around him alive. It's why I originally hired him.
: I'll consider what you've said.
The governor is about to react, but calms himself.
: Get us across this wasteland. And try not picking up any more strays, will you?
He sneers in the direction of the horseborn before leaving you.

Rugga's veneer of politeness is starting to wear thin. Still, we did try and kill him earlier and he might suspect it. And he's also not wrong about needing more fighters. If nothing else, having more fighters will make me feel less badly about editing our losses down to 0 every time the "you won a war battle but you're being penalized like you lost it" bug rears its head.

And so we train up 200 more fighters, taking 3 days and everyone's morale moves to great.

In theory we could train up the last 65, but let's pretend those are young children. Oddleif trains the women to fight, and the men are largely already fighting. But we'll draw the line at child soldiers.

A random event. It always happens in your campaign, but it's a question of when.

We continue watching.

And keep watching.

As the banner lowers, the young version of you cradles the boy dressed as your father. The other actors stand in a semicircle around you and begin singing a familiar tune.

The crowd joins in and an impromptu line forms with everyone walking by to lay a hand on your shoulder.

We gain +10 renown. Even in death, Rook makes Alette and the Skogr clan stronger.

Another random event. We'll make a wager.
Everyone in the group starts smiling and tossing coins in a purse before heading down the trail. When it branches, two hunters spring left and three think the center trail looks promising.
We take a path off to the right, on our own.
You choose to hunt alone and move down the path quietly. Sure enough, a couple of hares bolt for cover before you can sight them. But it's not you they're afraid of. The scent hits you as a bear crashes through the brush nearby. You instinctively aim and fire, scoring a shot no one will ever believe.

One hunter was wounded, but it will heal. The two others brought back a large boar, but you are clearly the victor. You give everyone back their coin and drinks are shared while the injured man's leg is mended. Later, the entire caravan enjoys the stories of the hunt while feasting.
Morale improves, and we gain a modest amount of renown.

Still, we don't get much further before our progress is halted.

: I'm impressed so far, Alette. You've managed to keep your composure through tough situations.
: Thank you.
: Not to pain you with further comparison, but you remind me of your father at the godstone of Stravhs. Determined.
: What actually happened there?
: Your father faced down his fears, walking through thousands of dredge to obtain the only weapon that could bring down Bellower.
Editor's Note: Reminder that this is a lie, albeit a white one. The arrow only "worked" because everyone believed it could work. The only ones who know the truth are Juno and Rook, and Rook died. Goodness knows what'd happen if everyone knew Bellower couldn't die, but it probably wouldn't be good.
: That's incredible...and frightening. I don't know if I could do something like that.
The Valka gives you a maternal smile.
: Neither did he.
: Tell me his death meant something.
: I can't do that. Rook's death was unfortunate. But his life...his life was very important. The people he brought here from Skogr, including you, and all the others along the way are being forged into what the future will require. The previous era of peace is over, and one of survival has begun.
: Arberrang may be the best shelter for the coming storm, but the people there are soft...too dependent on a society that will no longer exist.
: Because of the dredge?
: Partially. But mostly because of a coming darkness that is pushing the dredge.
: The way we live is just...going away?
: The civilization we have now can live on only if civilized people live. When faced with disaster, we often slip into savagery. You saw what happened in Boersgard.
: Yeah. Riots and slaughter. I'm supposed to stop that?
: You'll have help from those around you, but yes. I believe you can stop it or minimize it.
: Why me? Couldn't others learn to lead this caravan?
: The straight answer is yes, others could do it. But the clansmen choose to follow you under that banner. If you didn't appear worthy, you would be replaced.
: That doesn't sound like I have much say in the matter.
: Quite the contrary. Your every decision is your say in the matter. You keep all of these people alive as best you can, as if they were all from your own clan. That is rare and needed.
: I don't understand how you got involved in all of this.
: At times, I think this is all my fault. At others, I'm not sure I could have stopped it.
She sees your wide-eyed expression and attempts to clarify.
: How I became involved is confusing at best, but you and I share something in common: we're both learning what we have to do as we go. But only the future will tell if my role is villain or hero.
: Thank you. I should get back to helping the others.

...Juno is frustrating. She clearly knows more than she lets on. But she's also telling the same story as Rugga, to an extent: Arberrang is going to be a fight, and we need to arrive there with strength if we're going to keep things from going to hell. Rugga probably thinks that because he wants political power. Juno probably thinks that because she wants to avoid riots and further bloodshed. But they've both reached the same conclusion: Alette's the best person for the job until such a time determines that she isn't.

: The chasm at Ormsdalr and the tremors in the ground concern me a great deal.
: Yeah, me too.
: Should that incredible creature ever resurface, do not attempt to stop it. It would take power unseen in ages to affect the Serpent. If you see it, run.
Her words chill you as you find yourself nodding to her command.

Nothing comes of this. Maybe later? Or maybe Alette scared off whatever it was?

At last, Lundar comes into view.

"How is that possible?" you ask, knowing better than to doubt her sight. "I thought we lost them at the chasm." You can make out a dust cloud on the horizon, which means they can make out the same produced by the caravan. And it's headed in the same direction as you: toward Lundar.

: It's like that damned crevice at Sigrholm all over. The dredge were just pouring out of it.
: Does that mean they could...
: Appear almost anywhere? Yes. But let's not panic the caravan. Just keep moving.

...fine with me. I'd rather face dredge than humans any day.

As we get closer, we can see that things aren't great.
: Lundar: the archer's haven. Home to the finest fletchers in the world. Though it appears beset with war.

We can see horseborn on the outskirts as we approach. And if Nid was right about the dredge...

Then Lundar is not even remotely safe.

: I always heard the horseborn had trouble with walls since they usually fight in open fields. Ubin's the only one old enough to actually know, but it doesn't really matter because those walls will barely slow the dredge.
: And if those dredge flatten this town, we're defenseless out on these plains. But what are the horseborn after?
All eyes turn to Ro'Ech, Derdriu, and Scathach.



: If we're splitting up, my varl are hitting the dredge. We're good at that. Yngvar can do what he wants. Always has.
: Scathach, why did they take off like that?

That's not much help.


A.) Stop the horseborn! Our new horseborn friends are going to die, and Oddleif's been with us from the start. We can't let them fall.
...If you select this option, do we:
A1.) Rush into battle, trying to save our allies at all costs
A2.) Advance with a shield wall. We'll get there more slowly, but we're a lot less likely to take casualties.

B.) Stop the dredge! Oddleif and the horseborn will have to fend for themselves, because if the city falls then it doesn't really matter what the horseborn do because the town will get overrun without walls.
...If you select this option, do we:
B1.) Attack as a complete unit, trying to drive the dredge off with brute force?
B2.) Send in Prince Ludin and Dagr, Rugga's bodyguard, as a vanguard? Rugga says that Dagr is used to fighting in close quarters and could sneak in. And Ludin--he of the character development--now wants to help save people rather than just make a name for himself in battle.

C.) Split the party! Nothing bad has ever come from splitting the party! But seriously--Alette can't be in two places at once, but any fight she's in is almost certainly an auto-win. And we can probably handle the rest with the remaining heroes. Though from a story standpoint we might not have enough fighters in either location to make it anything other than a pyrrhic victory. (Not breaking the 4th wall here. Rugga explicitly tells you that splitting the party might win the battle but lose the war and gives you a chance to change your mind.)