The Let's Play Archive

Torment: Tides of Numenera

by TheGreatEvilKing

Part 41: It's Just A Prank, Bro! The Changing God Pranked You, Bro!

It's Just A Prank, Bro! The Changing God Pranked You, Bro!

Last time, on Tides of Numenera, we caused a murder robot to question his morality then murdered him for Silver Tide points. It sucked.

Now, we're gonna hang out with Aligern and see what his deal is. Unfortunately, this means we need to boot Callistege for a little while. As the thread commented, this means our team is really shit in fights.

Fortunately Aligern has our back because we helped Daddy-bot that one time. Or something.

Let's take a look at our old buddy.

FUCK! Aligern does come with the game's healing spell, but he can't really heal that much because he's still...Tier 1. He has no edge and his skills are much weaker than the rest of the team's. We are also dragging around a terminally underleveled Matkina because Rhin left us after our misadventures in The Slum of Sexual Harassment.

Notice the mace and the healing spell? Yeah, Aligern is a D&D cleric. He has the nano class, but he's explicitly specced as a D&D cleric. I'm not sure if you can give him Flash and Maelstrom and have him go to town nuking things. Callistege is missing a lot of spells off her nano list, so who knows?

So, uh...we missed a bunch of stuff in part two with Aligern. I know, bad LPer and all that. Maybe he'll give us the lowdown?

: Let's talk about you and your story,

: Can you tell me about your history?

: You said "things happened" that made you leave your village. What things?

I will tell you. The Changing God showed up with a magic picture frame that killed his whole family and left him with the snake tattoos.

: You said you were an Aeon Priest. What's the story with that?

The Aeon Priests are Numenera's version of scientists, studying the artifacts of the ancient worlds so the world can maintain its Dungeons and Dragons style of living.

: He grunts and looks away. "The Order of Truth and I don't get on. They think I'm carked, and I think they're frauds. We exchange these little pleasantries every time we meet."

: Can you tell me about your tattoos? They look almost alive.

: Who's your friend at the Order of Truth?

: How did you come to travel with Callistege?

: Did you and Callistege have a...relationship?

This is kind of interesting as Aligern admits fault here, while Callistege is still so pissed she makes catty comments about him every so often. Oh well! We don't have the option to tell him we broke them up.

This exhausts the personal history questions and I cut it there.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hey, tell me about yourself. What's your deal?

: No. It is very traumatic.

: So, you were an Aeon Priest, right?

: Yes. But they said I was obsessed, just because i wanted to find the Changing God who killed my whole family. I think they're frauds and dumbasses. Look at us! There are nanomachines everywhere, but we're still stuck in the Middle Ages! I only have one friend in the Order of Truth, he's a bro who helped me with it.

: So, what's with the snake tattoos?

: A memento left by the monsters who killed my family.

: So, you have a friend at the Order? Who?

: Oh, Orth Faung. He might be important later. Just a hunch.

: So, uh, what's with you and my girl Callistege?

: I let her down and we had an awful relationship.

: But you were a thing, right?

: Yup.

Orth Faung can be found dicking around the place we sent Artaglio to his death. Remember him? We beat him in a drinking contest, and then we made him get eaten by the Trolley Door?

Of course, Matkina is attracted to Aligern's mysterious past. Or something.

: You don't know my history. You wouldn't understand.

: So, boredom, then? In case you haven't noticed, you don't have a monopoly on tragedy here.

It's like someone on the writing team grew dangerously self-aware of how much maudlin melodrama the player characters all had to have.

Tides of Numenera Vision Document posted:

The nature of your character is such that you attract others: powerful but fundamentally broken people who seek out your presence.

Funnily enough Aligern is the only guy from that vision document who made it into the final game. Additionally the document notes that all these people need our help to solve their problems. It really reads like some fourteen-year-old confused trauma with depth again and was unable to create interesting characters without it. Oh well!

Anyway, let's start Aligern's quest.

At this point you guys can write your own Great Evil King commentary on how unnecessary these character descriptions are.

Why is this world stuck in the Middle Ages if there are people who understand how circuitry works? Why does anyone think this game has "good" worldbuilding?

Not pictured: Aligern grabbing anyone. You could have the dialog stand on its own here. I swear, I should generate Bingo boards with how often I reiterate the same complaints.

I can't really blame the game for having Aligern just...not do things if we don't make him. A lot of other games do this too.

Thanks Counselor Troi! Remember, not only are we giving up an artifact slot for this, but we're eating stat penalties as well.

: Why did you tell Aligern to stop using his tattoos?

: Where did the murdens take the frame?

We've been there already. It's two screens away, and I noped out because I didn't want to do Numenera combat.

We will be fighting with our current party this update. This is your fault, thread.

Orth Faung: Back to their filthy nest, no doubt. I've heard they eat people, and I'm not much of a fighter. Or a negotiator, for that matter. I just don't know for sure.

We could do that, but The Last Castoff was promised pointless exposition and by The Black Three we will get it.

: Why did you come to the Bloom?

: What happened to your left eye?

So, for bonus points, we also have an artificial eye. We get no reaction or ability to comment on this. They promised "increased reactivity" at least four different times in the kickstarter. Come on!

Orth Faung: This? Oh, nothing. I was doing some research in the Order of Truth and found this delightful apparatrus. I though that it appeared to be a prosthetic device, and as I was studying it more closely, it leapt onto my face and devoured my eye. Then it mated itself with my visual cortex. The pain was tremendous, of course, just blinding...ahem, if you'll pardon the phrasing.

: Farewell.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Yo Ali G! My man! Did you get my note?

: Note? What?

: Yes! At the Order of Truth! Despite me being your friend for a long time and your willingness to tell everyone you know how much you hate those assholes, I was sure you'd go there! It's about your tattoos!

: My tattoos? Tell me!

: Yea! I got the picture frame you were obsessed with that murdered your family! I got a theory, but the crow guys stole it because they're people eating assholes! If you go get the frame back I might be able to give you some very good news!

: Let's go, nameless woman!

: Hang on. I still have exposition. What are you doing here?

: I came out to help Ali G! The Order of Truth thought I was nuts for being obsessed with a powerful and dangerous artifact wielded by The Changing God, but I might actually be able to do something useful instead of whatever those idiots do all day.

: Hey, you have a robot eye too, let's bond over that! What happened?

: I found it, then it tore my eye out but gave me sweet infrared vision. It owns!

: Ok, let's get moving.

We go back and talk to the murdens again.

They all have psychic bullshit that hurts you if you mind-read them. However, because we helped the space guys get home, we have the psychic translator and can use it to fuck them up.

: [Raises Blue Tide] Use the Magmatic Annulet to communicate with the murdens.

Fuck 'em.

: [Persuasion, Deception][Raises Indigo Tide] I mean you no harm. I've come to retrieve the standard for Artaglio's Irregulars.

I don't actually care about this. If we hadn't outdrunk Artaglio, we could have gotten the standard here to make him suicide by Maw instead. I just don't want the joy of Numenera combat.

This gets them to fuck off.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Fuck you! Have psychic damage!

: No, fuck you! I have the plot device, YOU take psychic damage! Anyway, I need to, uh...get the flag! Yea! The flag! Cool! Thanks!

This lets us hit up a bunch of jail cells. First, this person.

: [Raises Blue Tide] What price? Time only, I suppose - my eyes would regrow eventually.

We actually have heard of the Iron Wind.

You probably don't remember this posted:

If Callistege is to be believed, the Iron Wind can actually kill us. Fun fact, if Erritis is in the party he tries to grab the jar and open it, leading to a Game Over. Fuck Erritis. This person is also part of his quest.

Zeniel helpfully spoiled it in the thread, but Erritis' deal is that he's a peasant possessed by nanomachine demons who want him to do STUNTS for their entertainment. Unfortunately the terror of demonic possession/mental illness is reduced to a wacky annoying comedic relief man. I've said before I hate Erritis and he's never joining the party again. Work your debt off, asshole! Skoura here could help us control the Audience (Erritis' evil nanomachines) but he's gone. Forever.

: What happened to you?

: What do you want me to do for you?

: Examine the jar she holds.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Damn, you're ugly.

: Hey kid, you want a sidequest? I'm blind - what would you give to have your sight back?

: Nothing, because I'd just regenerate.

: I'll give you this dangerous jar of self-replicating nanomachines that can kill castoffs if you restore my sight. I used to be a researcher, but then the combat nanomachines ripped out my eyes.

: What do you want?

: I literally just told you, dumbass, I want my sight back.

: Oh, wow, cool nanomachines. I want. Ok.

I decide to leave, because I really don't want to deal with a fight with a wizard over nanomachines that can actually kill us. That is another sidequest for another update - that I clean forgot about, even.

We can loot the next sell for vendor trash and shims.

The next cell is a little more interesting. We have to make skill checks to open the door.

Even though we made the unlock check we get blasted with acid. Sure. Why not.

What if - and I know this is a tall order for you, Colin - you assumed that the player had a functional brain cell, and could tell they were wearing the Memovira's uniform by the fact their models are, and also that when you hover over them they're labeled "Memovira Thug?"

These guys are part of a sidequest that I do just because it's here.

: Free them both.

I'm sure you're all crushed I didn't press them for information about how they got in Bird Jail.

Oh look, another opportunity to run NPCs over with trolleys. I have no idea why you'd take the Red Tide option, even as an evil character, because influence with the Memovira or the guard captain is worth more than anything the murden could give you.

: [Raises Blue Tide] If you go hide in the next cell, I'll tell the murden guards that you've escaped. That should give you time.

I think the intern wrote this. Why is this Blue Tide? Because you made a plan? Shouldn't it be Gold for helping these guys escape? It's at times like this I take a deep breath and remember the Tides system makes no sense.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Oh no! Please let us out of this jail cell or the birds will kill us! If you do, our captain or the Memovira will give you lots of free stuff!

: Sure, I love free stuff.

: Yay! Are the guards gone?

: No, but if you go back to jail I can lie and tell them you've escaped. Then when they check the original jail cell you can run for it!

: That is a solid plan that is not dumb at all! Have some Blue Tide, the color of...good plans...screw it. Blue Tide.

: Yay!

Moving on. This is the cell door we actually want to go to help out Aligern. Dumb shit will be upon us.

: Who are you?

: [Smashing] Bash the door down.

We get a few "the door holds" screens until the game designs we've wasted enough of our stat pools.

This is the third try. What an interesting consequence for failure!

: Before I let you out, I need you to answer some questions for me.

The Last Castoff is going to get her exposition by hook or by crook.

: Tell me what's in the room. Why does it frighten you?

: What are you doing here?

So yeah, the crow dudes are sacrificing people to the Bloom. Why? You'll see in a minute.

: What's that symbol on your cheek?

The irony is that Matkina is unbranded and the biggest murderer of them all, and I'm glad the game for once didn't explain this by - oh, she just explained it with detect thoughts. Sigh.

: Who are you?

: I have no more questions.

This is hilarious hypocritical because we are traveling with an assassin and have a massive body count ourselves. Of course, the game is not going to let The Last Castoff consider this, because it would actually give her some character but also because it would detract from the sheer mechanical "theme" at play here. Here is a man. Does his life have value? Pull switch. Wow! Gain arbitrary and inconsistent "Tides" points! Is this deep yet? Have you answered any questions? Has this game let you come to your own answers within the excruciatingly tight little box it's laid out for you?

: [Raises Gold Tide] Step aside to let him go.

Of course not.

I regret this almost immediately.


TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: I don't wanna die! Let me out!

: I demand...exposition.

: What do you wish to know?

: What is in there that has you so terrified?

: I'm an illegal slave about to be sacrificed to the Bloom! I got sold to the crow dudes illegally, and this room ate a woman and I'm scared!

: Why are you here?

: He's a murderer lol

: Yea, but it was self defense! They were gangsters! You gotta believe me!

: Pull trolley lever y/n?

: Sure...go...why not?

: Yay!

What fresh new bullshit is this?

Ok. I've got maxed out Tidal Affinity. The last time we did this we could basically make the Bloom our bitch.

: Touch the Magmatic Annulet.

We're given the option to solo this fight for whatever reason.

: [Raises Red, Silver Tides] Prepare to fight whatever comes.

I know you have an animation budget. Also, really? The Bloom monsters have tentacles too? We already ran into the Sorrow tentacle monsters.

They seriously make us read the description of the animation before playing it. The mind boggles. Did one of the writers throw a hissy fit and demand that no editor touch their wo - actually, that sounds exactly like what Patrick Rothfuss does.

The jail cell locks behind you, by the way.

This is a Corpusular Maw. Despite looking like a sperm with tentacles, it is NOT a Sorrow fragment. In fact, the two will fight each other later in the game. Really. They gave both the Sorrow AND the Bloom tentacle sperm minions. It's astonishing just how much failure of imagination these game developers have. It's amazing. You have the potential for all kinds of crazy crap with a spiritual story about gods, souls, and legacies, and the lost technologies of a thousand ancient worlds and this is the best you can come up with. Fuck, rip off the Hydralisk from Starcraft, I don't even care at this point.

Oh, yes, we're dragging around two underleveled pieces of dead weight too. Thanks again for making no catchup mechanism, you FUCKING HACKS!

I know you guys like Oom, but he is dead weight in combat.

The black demon seed have a counterattack that teleports people to a random position on the map when they get hit. Because they don't teleport you far enough that you can't back and stab them, this serves only to waste the player's time. In that respect, they are in no way out of place in this game.

They're also vulnerable to statuses, which means TLC can spam her "Annelid Attack" move to just lifedrain them to death with relativistic damage.

I have no idea what's going on here, and honestly I don't care. This fight is just a long, boring slog of waiting for TLC to get a turn so she can actually deal damage, keeping the other PCs out of the way and healed with the occasional chip attack, and waiting for Thorn Brenin's jizz to stop their damn teleport animations already.

This is Annelidic Attack in action. Jacks also get the game's taunt move, so there is no reason to ever bring a glaive at all.

Does anyone know what an echo of the singularity is? Isn't "gathering together" directly implied by "merging with the others"? Why do I even bother reading the fucking text boxes at this point?

You can rip a steak apart with very little noise. You have audio designers, right?

Oh, you cheaped out on the Maw opening animation. That's cool.

Thank you Matkina.

So I fuck up and go down to the murdens, because I figure they have the frame and I want to get out of this shitty dungeon (and worry the Maw takes you to a new battlezone or something tedious).

They have this unfortunate woman turned into a vegetable, and the murden chief calls you a dumbass for talking to her and not him. You can negotiate with him for the flag, but the frame isn't in the room. I'm not dumping all the dialog here, he just acts like a smug asshole. You can fight him too, but I don't want to do any more combat with this party.

If you go through the Maw you can loot the treasury. It has a bunch of shims and vendor trash.

We want the black frame so we can get out of here.

As you might expect, Aligern is not keen on handling the weapon that killed all of his family. Unfortunately, we have more looting to do.

Great. A choose your own adventure segment. We have one left over from Act 2 to do as well. We'll get to this later.

This is a waste of time where you can take and swing the pickaxe, and then if you take the shins you get demoralized until your next rest. It's another pointless Numenera mystery no one cares about.

It's made extra idiotic when you go back to Sir Arthour's long rant in the Fifth Eye and he rambles about how the value of the shin is completely independent of rarity, so you're using random empty coke bottles that everyone just agrees are valuable.

On our way to trick the guards Matkina tries her luck with Aligern again.

: That's rich, coming from you.

: I sneer. I glower. You mope. Big difference.

So these guys. The guards are right down the hall behind us with a clear visual to the cell. Got that?

You have to talk to this guard because the other guy spits at you and delegates. In an RPG with a better combat engine I'd just murder them all, but they get to act this way because they know the alternative is Numenera combat. We tell him the prisoners are gone.

The dipshits literally run past the cell with the two guys. Good going!

We let these guys out. Trust me, there is a lot more dialogue this update, you're missing nothing. They promise to tell their captain about us. We need to take the frame back to Orth.

Buckle in, persons of various genders! Things are about to get real dumb, real fast!

: Is this the frame you're looking for?

We never agreed on cash, but I'll take it. Hey, where's our XP?

The cut off text is "He beams". Editing!

Yes. This is going where you think it is going.

: What are you saying?


Seriously. That's the resolution. It's just a prank, bro! Your family isn't dead, bro! The Changing God pranked you, bro!

We have used them approximately never, Aligern.

: [Blue Tide] Perhaps it requires a special activation sequence, Aligern.

Really. We get actual points for guessing an ancient computer might be password protected.

We can use the Tides. Does that count?

So, yea. The lady psychics of the Fifth Eye didn't leave, as I recall. Sagus Cliffs is literally just down the road from the Bloom. Aligern can go there right now and get all his family back.

Also, I just want to point out that his family probably saw everything he did, so his mom was probably watching him bang Callistege or something. That's just weird, game.

Words, words, glorious words!

Does Oom know something we don't?

XP! Glorious, glorious XP!

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

Orth: Hey, you got the frame?

: Is this it?

Orth: Yes! Guess what, Aligern! Those shouldn't use them. Why? Because that's your family! Your family isn't dead! The Changing God pranked you, bro! He just turned them into tattoos.

: What? My tattoos? This whole time...I thought they were dead...but I made them kill people for me...did I hurt them? Oh no!

Orth: No, they were transmuted to pure energy! They should be OK, but don't use the tattoos! If we reactivate the frame, we can get them all back to normal!

: Noo! I can't get this stupid iPad to work!

: It probably is passcode locked.

Orth: That's it! It must have a passcode! You should go back to those psychic ladies from the Fifth Eye and they can unlock it for you.

: Thank you, friend. You were awesome. We are BFFs. Once this game is over I will go back and unfuck all my family.

Orth:No, it was a great puzzle. But tell everyone how much I rule!

: *sickeningly cute onomatopoeia indicating great sadness*

So, we are unintentionally gonna be a dick to Aligern now. Let's see what he has to say.

Once again, this is conveyed through the dialog and doesn't need a separate screen.

Anyway, now that we solved his Big Trauma he'll tell us his story, right?

: I want to talk about you and your story again.

: Tell me about your history again.

So, let's take a minute to talk about a much better game, Baldur's Gate II. One of the companions was a paladin named Keldorn, who is an awesome ass-whooper and a pretty cool character for a guy in a videogame. His quest involves the player discovering Keldorn's wife is cheating on him because Keldorn is too busy beating up bad guys for the lord to pay attention to his family. If you get the good resolution for the quest, the other man steps down and Keldorn vows to stay in the party but once this is over he's done adventuring for good and he's gonna take care of his kids. You can immediately turn around and tell him that his family is important and let him leave to go take care of his children, and he runs off yelling about how he's gonna take his kids to the circus. It is a cool and good moment and why, despite being one of my favorite characters, I always feel bad about keeping him in the party. I want you to contrast that with what's about to happen.

: I think it's best we part.

As far as I can tell, there is no "hey Aligern, go get your family back, I can take care of my shit."

Seriously! For a silver-tongued manipulator, we seem incapable of framing this in a way where we tell him that he should go tend to his family and we'll go get jenkem at the Fifth Eye when this is all over.

: I've got a way to contact you if I need you. Farewell.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hey, I've been kind of a dick to you...but you're awesome! My trauma is cured! My family isn't dead!

: Can you tell me your story?

: Yeah, someone turned my family into snake tattoos, but now I can go to the Fifth Eye down a few blocks and get my family back! Yeah! WOO!

: Oh, I think we should part ways. I've got a bunch of dumb bullshit to deal with, and man, your family is pretty important. I would want to see them too, if only to explain why they all had to watch when I made out with Callistege.

: You want me to go away? *Snif*'re mean! A big meanie! Waaah!

: Look, I can call you, OK? Just...go do your family thing.

How hard is this? There are no less than six expanded reactivity items in the kickstarter goals, including a "greater companion depth". Seriously, Aligern should be happy now that he can go get all his friends back.

So this was my first time seeing Aligern's storyline, and I kinda feel like we were supposed to do all the stuff in Act 2. Right now this is disjointed as hell, and to be honest the resolution of "they were the tattoos the whole time" seems like a really dumb cop-out for a happy ending. Aligern is, as mentioned, one of the two characters who has direct business with the Changing God (the Changing God used the tablet to turn his family into tattoos) and the resolution that it was just a prank and they're all in stasis just falls flat. There's a desperate attempt at adding pathos by having him worry whether his use of the tattoos somehow hurt his family despite them being energy beings now or whatever, but it feels like a batshit plot twist the DM threw in to keep the players' attention after rambling on about worldbuilding. I'm not even going to dignify this with a literary comparison because there's no tragedy, it's just a stupid waste of time we solved in five minutes.

...ok, I can kinda see why Aligern is mad now. You shouldn't be level 1, dude!

Anyway, we go turn in the missing soldiers quest.

: [Raises Gold, Red Tides] You look worried about something. What's wrong?

So we have returned all the missing men. She is still worried. Maybe she hasn't seen them yet?

: I found two of your men alive in the old slave block and your patrol in Little Nihilesh. They're all right.

So they all returned AND reported back to you with a description of The Last Castoff? You're still worried they're missing? Wha?

: Farewell.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:


: Oh, those guys? I found them all.

: Oh yea, they all reported to me earlier, and said you helped. Have some cash and XP.

Enhanced reactivity my anus.

Next time: Why the hell is Tybir even in this party anyway?