The Let's Play Archive

The Bard's Tale (NES)

by Miketopus

Part 5: Chapter 6

Welcome back, everyone! In case you're just now joining us (Or forgot since the last update forever ago), we've just assembled a team of powerful PCs to take on the forces of Mangar. They are Sir Runsa Lott, the cowardly paladin; Skarn, the lazy dwarf warrior; Leif, the paladin of vengeful Kesh; Costello, the wittier-than-his-author bard; Flamesack, the anger-prone elf conjurer; and Kymas Turan, the scholarly halfling magician.

After our hard work to level everyone up, we have this much cash left to fall back on in case of an unfortunate event... or string of them. But what're the odds of that, right?


Just south of the AG is another temple. Despite the name, its services cost the same as the other temples and nothing ever happens to you if you use it. It's the closest temple to our destination, too, so we'll be seeing a lot more of it.

A couple of steps south of the temple is this statue.

Leif: Well, fellows, what say you about this statue in our way?
Costello: I'm still figuring out how I know a statue is guarding a gate. (And that we have samurai in a medieval campaign setting, for that matter)
Flamesack: Whatever, it's in the way. I say we knock it down.

The party decides to attack the statue.

Leif: It's a tr-
Costello: Shh, we can't use that yet. We've only just started.

For all of its intimidation, the samurai is less than robust. And with it out of the way, our target is within reach.

This plain, featureless tavern known as the Scarlet Bard.

Costello: I should hope that's not foreshadowing.

Costello decides to have a drink. How does everyone else get in this tavern, anyway?

Costello: Wine, you say? I don't think the other taverns in the city have had any available. I'll take some.

The barkeep says, "Go down to the cellar and pick out a bottle."

Costello: ...Highly irregular business practice, but whatever you say.

The party decides to explore the cellar together. Remember, kids, always use the buddy system.

Kymas: I don't suppose anyone brought a light?
Runsa: Hang on, I've got one right here... ah.

Welcome to the first dungeon of the game. As you can tell by the corridor, this may get confusing quickly.

Sometimes while wandering a dungeon you will encounter a friendly monster that offers to join your party. If you accept, it joins the group as an unhealable, uncontrollable NPC that aids you in combat. It remains in your party until killed, replaced, or the game session is ended. You can also choose to fight it, or you can simply EXIT to move on.

Oh yeah, and monsters? Now they come in variety packs.

Runsa: Good GOD! Why are these things in a cellar?!
Skarn: Hell, I'd defend a wine cellar with my life.
Costello: Aren't you front row people forgetting something? Namely, putting your stabbers in their gullets?

In a battle with multiple groups of monsters, only the first two groups may be targeted for physical attacks. Similarly, only the first two groups can attack. Any group may be targeted by spells, however, and monsters with magic in the back row can also use them. And, as you can see, sometimes one group or another will change formation.

And, in a dungeon, treasure is no longer lying around for you to grab off the carcasses. In fact, every monster in the battle decided, just before attacking your party, to lock all of their goodies in one big treasure chest and lock/trap it. Flamesack's Trap Zap will be our only option, since there are no rogues and it would be undesirable to blow up our party for a few gold coins.

You can use Torches, Lamps, or magic to create a light source within a dungeon. Each one lasts for a very long time unless you encounter a Darkness trap. And you will.

Runsa: I don't know that I feel comfortable with this spider following us, guys...
Leif: Hey, I think it'd be cool to have it along. Come along, spider. I shall name you Fred.

Leif: Freeeeeeeeeeeed!

After fighting and exploring for a little bit, the party retreats back to the surface to rest and consult the Review Board.

Barkeep: Find a bottle?
Costello: What... why do... you can't... screw you.

After a bit of healing (And a couple of beers for our flustered bard), we return to the Scarlet Bard tavern. Oddly enough, the samurai statue is back, but no more a challenge than last time.

The adventurers discover aged wines. These areas of the cellar are optional, and lead to a series of empty rooms which may or may not contain a pack of monsters each time you go through a door.

Skarn: I'm more of an ale person, but that sounds tempting...
Kymas: Keep your eyes on the prize, my friend. We don't want to take leisure in the midst of a battleground.
Skarn: Speak for yourself...

Leif: Hey! Skarn! Get back here!

Runsa: Ahhhhhhhh!~
Skarn: Treacherous savages! Ye'll not be takin' my hard-earned spoils!

The battles are long and difficult, but after several rounds of combat (And a barrage of spells by Flamesack and Kymas), the party discovers stairs going down.

Flamesack: What a stench... it smells like a cesspool down there.
Costello: Likely the source of the monsters in this poor wine cellar. Be on your guard, everyone.

Note that this is the first thing you see when you go down those stairs. And, in fact...

...You cannot actually see stairs at all. You just need to wander over the correct square.

The party returns yet again to the surface.

And with this level up comes another tier of spells for our magic users!

Flamesack's new magic is Instant Wolf, Flesh Restore, and Poison Strike.

Kymas' new magic is Spectre Touch, Dragon Breath, and Stonelight.

Anyway, back into the sewers.

Here's a new enemy. As you can imagine, these guys like to hit hard and dodge often. Magic works rather well against them, however.

Skarn: Are these bastards ever going to stop coming? I'm getting sick of cutting them down.
Costello: I can't help but notice that swordsman is using a spear. Odd, that.

Also note that Black Widows have a high chance of inflicting poison when they attack. Every few seconds, a poisoned character loses 2 HP. I'm not sure if there's a spell to cure it, but it's rather expensive to cure at the temple.

The adventurers come across random graffiti during their dungeon crawl. Sometimes it makes sense, and sometimes it doesn't.

Costello: Usually if it's lyrical, it has a use. I'll keep this in mind.

Runsa: I really hope this isn't what I think it is... why am I doing this...?

In fact, there is a little known fact about the sewers; they are looped around in a big circle. In other words, if you go a little west from this spot, you wind up on the eastern side of the sewers, and vice versa. In other words, the sewers are a miniature version of a planet.

Skarn: Hmm... I'm going to search this statue.
Runsa: I really don't think this is a good idea...

Skarn: Uhh...?
Runsa: I told you so!

The Spinner is an extremely strong enemy that likes to poison those it attacks, but it's also optional.

Skarn: Shut up, dungeon! Anyone would've done the same!
Runsa: I wouldn't have!
Skarn: Quiet, paladin! How you ever decided to even come down here at all I'll never know!

The party has been wandering the dank sewers for about a day now. When it seems to make sense, yet another event happens to deepen its mystery.

Costello: Let's go back... we're running low on resources, and we need to figure out this place from a more organized angle.
Flamesack: How do you figure?
Kymas: Maps would be helpful... but something is affecting this sewer. I know we have not been turned around, thanks to your magic compass, but we have passed that spider statue three times.
Leif: Wait a second... so assuming we're heading back... how do we find the stairs back up?
All: ...Dammit.

(Half a f-ing hour of aimless wandering later)

...Level ups! Yay.

The party rests and heals up, then heads down into the sewers for another foray. This time they tread carefully, knowing that if they get lost down here, they may never find their way out again.

As they pass through a door...

Runsa: EGAD!
Costello: Our lamps aren't working... what about your spells, guys?
Flamesack: I get a flicker, but something's dampening the light.
Kymas: I think we've entered a trap. If we move out of its range, we should be able to use our lamps and magic normally again.
Costello: Okay, then. Let's follow along the wall on our left here and keep trying.

Skarn: GAHHHHHHHH! *Boom* *Crash* *Bang* *Boom* *Crabang* *Boosh*
Costello: Uhh... Skarn? You okay?
Skarn: I... err... found a staircase... ugh, my spleen...

Costello: Looks like somebody didn't walk away from that fall...

The second level of the sewers is a little easier to negotiate. There are a few areas which are unique enough to be used as landmarks, with the help of Flamesack's compass. It loops again, but this servers as a shortcut rather than a hindrance.

There's even more cryptic messages, if you can believe it.

Costello: Seven words... interesting.

Flamesack: What the hell?
Costello: Could it be an anagram? MIRK STEED MADE?
Kymas: If it is an anagram, it could be any letters, rather than just the letters in each word. Deciphering it could take hours, and we are not in a very comfortable environment for puzzles.

The party records the strange code and moves on.

Leif: This is odd...
Skarn: Bah! Odd, schmodd! Let's keep going.
Kymas: That may not be a good-

Kymas: -idea.

Yes, that ray inflicted 30 damage on every party member. And yes, we do have to pass through it. The solution?

Costello: "Pass the light at night..." Everyone, let's wait here a few moments. If I'm not mistaken, it's near sunset.

The party waits near the ray for a little while until nightfall. It doesn't take long, since getting down this far occupied most of the day.

Costello interpreted the riddle correctly; there is no longer a ray of light barring passage. Ahead and through a door...

Flamesack: ...We came all the way down here for that?
Kymas: Hmm... an insane man who proclaims himself to be a god...
Costello: You don't suppose... back at that Mad God temple...

The party hastens to leave the sewers, resting once more at the Guild and healing at the temple before going to the Mad God's temple at dawn.

Priest: Speak not the name of the High One so loudly, lest he awaken. Enter the catacombs, believer.

Runsa: ...You're sh*tting me.

Our first four party members level up again, catching up to Flamesack and Kymas.

But, a decision looms on the horizon. Who should leave the party?

Will it be Skarn, the bumbling dwarf?

What about Leif, the paladin of Kesh?

Or will it be Sir Runsa Lott, who when all is said and done, is a cowardly excuse for a paladin?

You decide, everyone! Which of these three characters is throwing in the towel? Find out next time, on The Bard's Tale!

Statistics for this chapter:

Enemies killed:
Thieves: 11
Kobolds: 76 (!)
Hobgoblins: 40
Dwarves: 37
Magicians: 29
Barbarians: 43
Mad Dogs: 30
Skeletons: 39
Spiders: 44
Black Widows: 22
Spinners: 1
Nomads: 18
Mercenaries: 31
Swordsmen: 24
Hobbits: 36
Conjurers: 32
Gnomes: 17
Orcs: 48
Half-Orcs: 57
Wolves: 25
Zombies: 24
Sorcerers: 7
Samurai: 7 (One for each agonizing trip!)

Ran from:
Way too many enemies to count!

Wiped by: Nothing, thankfully!

EXP gained this session: 25554
Gold gained this session: A net gain of... 1453!

None! Will wonders never cease?

Bonus image:

That's right. Barbarians work for me now.