Part 32: The Trolley to End All TrolleysThe Trolley to End All Trolleys
Last time on Numenera, we were asked where we wanted to steer the trolley to.
: [Raises Gold Tide] Each life is important. Every person carries a world of potential. Each life should benefit others.
This was the consensus the thread came to, despite a ton of heroic efforts to treat this question with the respect it deserves (i.e. none)
This is the point of no return for Act 2. Strap in boys and girls, this is about to get very stupid, very fast.
: I'm ready now. Let's do this.
Aardiriis: You have proven to me I can trust you. Only remember what you have learned in these tasks. Be gentle with Zerian. You are violating his mind. Be true to his path - find what you need and return without causing him harm. You have a duty to preserve his life as he intended it. If at all possible.
Look out for trolleys, got it.
What if you relied on the artistic depiction instead of shoveling dull clinical description down our throats?
: Try to remember who you are and how you can find Mazzof.
Zerian is a necromancer, but he's a science necromancer. Even my love of necromancers can't keep me invested in this awful game.
: [Raises Blue Tide] Use your connection to the dead to learn more about the area of the spine.
Basically Zerian is a necromancer for hire sent to find the bronze sphere that may or may not be our party-swap device. Blah blah blah.
: [Perception] Explore the towers around the spine.
: [Success] You search though tower after tower. Some of the chambers you come to are filled with piles of dead relics and broken cyphers, but nothing of value.
: Finally, you come across something promising.
If we try to go up to the transport tower and use it the game gives you a warning that this will kill Zerian and probably piss off Aardiriis. I'm going to summarize the Merecaster stuff quickly because, to be frank, it's not very interesting and this shit never comes up again for the most part.
Going to the obsidian flows is a waste of time. You get attacked by some kind of pillar of light with claws. I used the staff.
I'm pretty sure fighting with the whip is a waste of time that gets you killed, so we run the hell away.
Much like MMO mobs, if you run far enough away from the monsters they lose aggro, even if you attacked them with high energy weapons from the ancient world. Whatever. You want to go to the mountain pass.
Raising the dead with non spiritually significant rites reveals two women fought over the bronze sphere. Watching the wights' behavior reveals they communicate by temperature patterns. You want to stay in the hot area or this happens:
Fortunately the wights work on MMO logic too and won't chase you if you run away. There's a shield you can try to grab, but it's stuck in the ground and a waste of time. Anyway, if you stay in the hot areas you can grab the sphere.
I've never tried using the whip, but I suspect it kills you.
We just need to get through the walls of text at the tower and we can get to the part we care about.
Man, it's almost like the art describes this guy, but we need another dull clinical description with no emotional impact!
Seriously, Zerian can talk to dead people, maybe he'd have some unique insight? No?
Anyway, we can use Persuasion to end all this bullshit and speak with Mazzof.
: [Persuasion]: Where is Mazzof? I need to speak with him.
: [Raises Blue, Gold Tides] I'm not really Zerian. I'm a new castoff, using a Merecaster to project myself. I was told you could fix the resonance chamber.
: What does the resonance chamber do?
IT'S A TROLLEY!
We fade to this screen for a bit, then we fade out to...a plot twist!
Thanks Tides Dog!
: Collect your thoughts.
Who knew that exploding devils with blue balls could be so useful?
The thread called this before we even did the probability engine quest.
: No, I am.
That is not what the internet said, by Jove!
: And what would happen to me?
As you may guess, this is a game over, and unfortunately we have many more trolleys to ride!
: No. This is my body, not yours.
To the person in the thread I argued with about the bowl cutting earlier - I guess it does have this mildly interesting effect.
: I knew you'd say that.! But let's get this straight. I lived in this body. I made it for a purpose. And now you say your wisp of a life outweighs my centuries of experience?
Why is the Changing God, the last man who actually understands science, talking about hell?
: The Changing God.
This is why you always wear a space condom.
: "Then, I'll take it," the Specter says and spreads his arms.
Remember way back in the Fifth Eye, when I went back to get the Doom Pepes and said there was another use besides blowing up the devil?
: Unleash the Words of Qra on the Specter.
We already used the teeth imagery for not-hell and the Dendra O'Hur. I just want to point out that we unleashed this setting's equivalent of a thermonuclear bomb and it's described with the same lack of emotion we reserve for coldly analyzing a woman's appearance or drinking space jenkem.
Anyway, let's ask his daughter for her opinion.
: Call upon the ghostly woman from the recesses of your mind.
Oh no! Not your valuable plot reminders that were rendered obsolete by the journal!
We get back into the Labyrinth.
Sure, why not.
We exit the Specter-free labyrinth to find...
This is probably bad.
: [Raises Blue Tide] Yes and no. Mazzof says the resonance chamber will destroy us all if the Changing God activates it.
Aadiriis: Now we must deal with the situation at hand. A few have already escaped, but most are trapped within the rubble and flames - some too terrified to move! You must get to the teleportation platform and flee. Save as many as you can on your way!
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Have you considered how deep these last conversations have been?
: Yes, they are very deep and have taught me about critical thinking.
: Where should we drive the trolley? What does one life matter?
: Internet says...all lives are sacred, and we should help each other.
: You are very wise! Take this plot device, and go into Zeriel's past. Remember to be a good person and not ruin his life!
: Can YOU do this fetch quest? If you can, you can advance the plot!
: Lol kite mobs get loot. What's the plot?
: The resonance chamber? You can't fix that! IT'S A TROLLEY! THE CHANGING GOD IS GOING TO RUN US ALL OVER! Find the First Castoff, she has a plan!
: Hi, It's me. Guess what! I'm the Changing God!
: No I am!
: Nuh uh! Also I want your body.
: We're not having sex.
: Whoa no I just want to possess your body and kill you.
: Have some father guilt!
: Fine. I'll be back. I'm not owned! I'm not owned!
: You're back from the flashback zone! Did you learn anything?
: THE RESONANCE CHAMBER IS A BIG TROLLEY AND THE CHANGING GOD IS GOING TO RUN US DOWN!
: Oh no! Once we finish this awful gimmick fight you must find the First Castoff and finish this!
I'm going to say it right now: this is the most awful bullshit fight in this entire game. Not because it's a hard fight to solve, but because the game lies about what you have to do. See all that shit in the corner? We're not going to do any of that aside from activating the shield generators.
Part of the reason this fight takes so long is that all the random assholes who were hanging around Miel Avest also get to participate. This, combined with the snails pace of combat and the Sorrow fragments spawning turns this into a long fucking slog of boredom. You might think we get something from going and talking to the castoffs. We're not going to do that. That's not even the optimal way to save them all anyway.
The game doesn't tell us this for a few more turns, but where we really want to be is this pyramid from the last update. Fuck this thing.
Unfortunately, the way to the pyramid is blocked by these rocks, which require 2 skill checks to break through, each.
Fuck this encounter.
The optimal way to play is to make a beeline for the pyramid ASAP. Do not save castoffs. Do not fight Sorrow fragments. Get the fuck out. Under no circumstances run to the northern teleporter pads.
This guy is going to ruin things for everyone in a turn or two.
Do not, and I repeat, do not go here. The game is a lying piece of shit.
After a turn or so has elapsed, this happens.
This is an incredibly slow animation. I'll speed it up a little.
So yes, if you didn't get Inifere's Evanescence flashback, this is the first time you see the full form of the Sorrow. They add this whole slow phase in animation to an already slow and tedious combat.
The Sorrow has this effectively instant death attack it starts spamming on nearby castoffs. Yes, that is the irresistible relativistic damage. No, we're not gonna fight that thing, are you insane? That's 800 health and Callistege does like 30 damage.
Dipshit here makes the smart decision to run for the teleporter pad. I can't really fault him for it.
Unfortunately the Sorrow's cutscene powers let it act out of turn and cast some terrible nanomachine technology.
It severs the teleporter pad, which falls with this really cheap looking effect like it was made out of cardboard.
Aadiriis then tells us that there were legends about that pyramid or some stupid shit and that we need to run there instead, but to buy us time she's going to uselessly throw herself against The Sorrow.
I go with the Indigo Tide option. It really doesn't matter, she ignores you.
Yes yes she's very special and beautiful and heroic, can we move on?
So, Aardiriis is a nano and every turn will throw the top tier "Maelstrom" art at the Sorrow.
Unfortunately she didn't get the memo that you should really use Breathes Shadow to convert all your damage to relativistic and she demonstrates another reason to nope the fuck out.
Meanwhile our dumb asses are stuck literally throwing themselves at these rocks to get to the magic pyramid.
You might be asking "can't you just have Callistege teleport over the rocks? What about a castoff nano?" The answer is no, teleports in this game need line of sight. That would just be "too pleasant" or something.
The Sorrow can break the forcefields. In another turn it will kill Aardiriis. Let's not let that happen, shall we?
So, the last bit of fuckery the game doesn't tell you about is that The Last Castoff must be the last person to touch the pyramid. You can have two other party members use the bone knobs (heh heh) or you can have TLC use the Tidal Surge option.
Sorry, quantum Zerg!
It sure is dickish of us that we left all the castoffs to die, isn't it?
: The interior of the pyramid swirls with a mysterious energy. A loud, plaintive chittering beckons.
Oh. Huh. It's funny, you're supposed to be saving castoffs. Remember how we had all that talk about how all life mattered, and we need to help each other out? Isn't it great that narratively we get thrown a huge bone to save all the surviving castoffs with no effort whatsoever? Even the one who was trying to sacrifice herself to save us?
: You are pulled through the feretory...and the world goes dark. Your sense of sight has suddenly failed. You try to move your limbs and find that you cannot. You're alone, cut off from everyone else.
Yes, being alone means that there are no other people present.
: You sense the terrifying presence of the Sorrow as it surges through the portal behind you. Knowing you are trapped, it reaches out...
: ..and is hurled back, shrieking in fury. Its cries vanish at once, as if an impermeable wall had suddenly been raised between you.
: In the instant before that happens, however, you sense the roiling, nauseating shape of its mind through the place in your mind where Oom resides. And Oom's pain, mingled with a wordless rage.
: [Concentration][Raises Red, Silver Tides] Resist with all your might.
RIP The Changing Goddess.
: A new sound replaces the chittering...a bone-jarring hum, like the buzzing of insects' wings the size of mountains. It grows stronger and stronger.
But...wait. The way that is phased implies the buzzing has a size. You also get a lot of buzzing if you have a giant swarm of locusts or something. What an awful simile.
So the space alien is playing Flight of the Bumblebee really loudly to hurt us. OK.
: Then, without warning, it stops. You feel a sudden sense of recognition... and perhaps surprise. The chittering fades, and you slowly wake.
That's it! We're in Act 3 now, kids!
I'll try to get an Act 2 retrospective up sometime this week.