The Let's Play Archive


by TheGreatEvilKing

Part 17: Cleopatra Jones and the Burning Library

Cleopatra Jones and the Burning Library

Welcome back! Last time on Tyranny we chatted up some party members and learned that Lantry is a functional drug addict! Today we're finally going to stop fucking around and go do what Bleden Mark wants.

We got our new sigils I'm mostly not using and our wacky drug trips. What could go wrong?

Do you want an encounter y/n?

We kinda want to know about the cart.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Tyranny. We're going to send the kids to Tunon for two reasons: working for Tunon is a better fate than pretty much anything else in the Empire, and it also gets us that sweet, sweet Tunon favor we need to convince him to not execute us for kicking the Iron Marshal off the Spire. We will never know if that guy was actually a creepy pedo and the kids are lying to us, but my guess is if they did attack the cart and kill the owner they would not have brought the body back.

This is a good deal. Ok, we did kind of steal their food there, and it's a long journey, but we gave them a letter that they can show to Kyrosian forces and ask for Tunon. The worst thing that happens to the kids is they get to...learn a trade, which is a fucking bonanza in this time period.

Here we are!

I am buffing the party for absolutely no reason at all.

I then get distracted by the free sigil lying on the ground. This place is unsurprisingly full of awesome sigils you absolutely want.


: [Leave] Very well.

I get the impression the Scarlet Chorus doesn't like us very much.

The green text is because she's pissed we ordered the Chorus to rescue Disfavored scouts. Oops.

: The only reason I've instructed my soldiers to show restraint is because of the sensitive operation ongoing in the ruins - one that I don't intend to disturb. The players in that little game have enough to keep themselves occupied.

: With that said, I wouldn't hesitate to kill you, if it proved necessary. So...

: [Athletics 43] If you don't want to see your blood decorating this camp, I suggest you let me into the ruins.

: Let me give you another option. You can lay down your arms and surrender.

: She rolls her eyes, unperturbed by your aggression. I don't have time for this nonsense. There's a time and place for bloodlust and sadly, I've got an operation to oversee.

: We are under attack! Kill the Fatebinder - throw yourselves at her if you must!

It's hard to make out in the screenshot, but that running figure with the orange spear is the Censor running away from Cleo in Cutscene Mode.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: You ruin everything! I hate you! Waah!

: Let me into the library or I kick your ass.

:smugwizard:: Nope nope nope.

: I have a very important operation to oversee, so I'm gonna run off and let all my soldiers get killed! See ya!

The fight starts and we're surrounded by Chorus assholes. It showcases a weakness of our party - if we get jumped in multiple directions, we can't take a lot of punishment between the initial engagement and landing the first barrage of spells.

The enemy also lands their crowd control bullshit on half my party. Turnabout is fair play I suppose.

We eventually settle into a comfortable tempo of blasting.

Lantry is torn apart by archers.

The fight ends with Barik taking apart the last guy after Eb and Lantry go down. A quick rest later and they are good as new. I learn nothing from this and forget to distribute all the health potions in the inventory, which will come back to bite me in the ass.

Scarlet Chorus commanders will occasionally drop this.

Despite the Scarlet Chorus being a bunch of random peasants, their commanders can actually read. It's rather amusing when compared to Drastus proudly asking you if you can read the note at the beginning.

We enter the library and are confronted with this plot barrier. Notice that it has every core sigil in the game.

Fortunately Lantry gives us the lowdown.

: There's a sequence to lower the barriers, but as custom and paranoia dictate, the Sages use different sequences every day. And I'm guessing whomever set this one is long gone, likely dead. We'll need to look for something that might help.

Yea, the Vellum Citadel is not too exciting gameplay wise.

: Wow, I'm convinced, both of these bodies are totally dead.

Some players might go "ha ha, Bleden Mark likes humor! What a cool guy!" These people are ignoring that Bleden Mark is always watching.

: Fascinating. So then you just sprouted wounds?

Welcome to this dungeon's gimmick: collecting passcode pieces. Fortunately it has some good loot.

Yea, um...we'll technically do that.

: Let me try to bind those wounds.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Wow, a totally dead person!

: Pffft. Oh, don't mind me, I'm just snooping!

:fireman:: Wow, it didn't work! Well, at least we saved the library with our stasis magic. Trolled! Oh, you're a Fatebinder! Here, take this passcode, and make sure the Scarlet Chorus don't destroy the library!

: Want me to look at those wounds?

:fireman:: No! I must characterize the Sages!

I have no idea what happens if you try to play this game with no lore.

: I haven't been this excited since I learned my first sigils. Truth is, in all my decades at the Vellum Citadel, I never once set foot anywhere near the Archive.

: He starts thumbing through the shelf, opening books, flipping through the pages, and shaking them by the spine to loosen any loose scraps of parchment that might be hidden within.

The Sage's sacrifice lets us get through the barrier.

Moving along.

Oh dammit.

: Do my ears deceive, or did you just question my actions?

This is of course yet another reason tyranny is inefficient. Ulsten is absolutely right to challenge Cleopatra here, as this is an ongoing military operation - but because the rules don't apply to the powerful, instead of being able to prevent her from screwing everything up he's reduced to kowtowing.

: What exactly are you doing in here?

: He looks at his men, who stare back blankly. I assumed you knew. Why else would the Censor have let you in? He shrugs, absentmindedly. She's put us in here to compete. We're supposed to find the Silent Archive - and isn't it just like the Chorus to have a contest that gets a score of decent soldiers killed.[sic]

: Which is why we're bent on finding the Archive first.

This may seem like typical Chorus bullshit, but remember that the Archive is forbidden by explicit orders directly from the Overlord. Nerat is killing any potential witnesses to his retrieval of the Archive.

: What's so special about the Archive?

: It's the heart of the Vellum Citadel. They say the most valuable records are stored there - books that only the senior Sages knew about before the cataclysm.

: The Voices of Nerat wants it destroyed so that Kyros' wrath against the Sages is complete.

We'll talk about this more on the Scarlet Chorus path, but Nerat's plan is to take the knowledge for himself.

: [Subterfuge 43] [Address Ulsten] You're being held back by these fools. Wouldn't you rather press forward alone?

On a very minor scale we do to Ulsten what Kyros might be doing to us - letting Ulsten go so he can disrupt our enemies. If Kyros wanted us dead Mark would be putting our body in the proverbial dumpster.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hey shitlords! We need to get moving! Wait, Fatebinder, what are you doing here?

: Are you questioning a Fatebinder?

: :sickos:

: Uh...nope...just, uh...I thought you were with my boss. Don't worry, we'll find the Archive.

: What exactly are you guys doing?

: We're all fighting to the death to be the first to find the Silent Archive. Just the Scarlet Chorus way.

: What is this Archive?

: Some kind of book reading nerd shit that Nerat wants to destroy.

: You know, you could get this done if you just went by yourself.

: Yes! I'll be my own master! #HordeBoss #ScarletChorus #HordePower! You guys get out of here, I am going into the dangerous magic library by myself!

The library is full of these magic explosion traps. We can disarm them, and we absolutely want to do that.


More goddamn traps. You could probably use this if you wanted to fight Gaptooth here, but we're not going to do that.

Rub that sigil like an inappropriate metaphor.

Excellent! Spell damage increase...which only Lantry is capable of using. Thus we switch Lantry from awkward support/offensive hybrid to full offense. It's what the drugs would want.

: Four groups? What do you mean?

: You know. Groups to compete in the Censor's little 'game'? She squints at you. Do you really not know or are you just playing stupid? Either way, I'm not in the mood for babysitting idiots.

: Tell me more about this Archive.

: What do you take me for? Your own personal Sage? She holds up a hand and starts counting off facts like a checklist. It's in the Library. It's rumored to be incredibly powerful. it's behind an impenetrable barrier. We need to find the passcode to get to it. The Censor is particularly itchy to get her hands on it.

: Well, we're just going to pass through.

: [Subterfuge 38] You could always try to get the drop on Numbly. Does he even know you're here?

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hey, get over here! The Censor sent in another group? We don't need four.

: Groups?

: Yes, four groups who are all going to kill each other over the Silent Archive. Like that fucker Numbly who has part of the password...I don't want to cross the lava to hit him, but...

: What is this Archive anyway?

: Some nerd shit the Censor wants. Anyway, we gotta kill you.

: What if you just jumped Numbly? I bet he doesn't even know you're here!

: Great idea! Thanks!

The gang runs off and we continue on our merry way.

Well this is odd. Apparently Graven Ashe was sending letters here, or the Sages intercepted this one. I thought the Sages were defying Kyros? No matter, let's move on.

Wall shoving! It's a dungeon, what do you want from me?

The Scarlet Chorus left us these handy ropes.

: Honestly, I'm just as surprised as you are. Until we meet again.

: Of course, Fatebinder! Go in good health. She smiles wickedly. Until we meet again.

Thanks for leaving us the loot pile, Gaptooth! It's also interesting that the Chorus is expending Scarlet Furies and Blood Chanters here, as usually the conscript trash mob is supposed to eat the brunt of the casualties.

We grab the next part of the passcode while Gaptooth is distracted.

I'm sure this won't be useful later.

More traps!

We'll need a second Spire to do anything with this, and if we go my plan we'll be able to use this with our third.


Meet the second major type of enemy in the game: the Bane. We've seen a few references to them before, such as when we had the option to ask Lantry if he knew anything about them.

I'm going to be honest, I have no idea what the fuck the Bane are supposed to represent in our tyrannical allegory.

Until now the game has been pretty consistent about having the supernatural elements correspond to some portion of the allegory. The Archons transform because they become less human as they grow in power, with Tunon being made of shadow to represent the brutality of the law he enforces and Nerat being a sickly green flame to indicate his hunger for lives and power.

The magic in the game corresponds to political power and privilege as it runs off the reputation of the Archons (who embody power both mystical and temporal). More magic translates to more temporal power, capping off with the head honcho Kyros and her country-devastating Edicts. The Beastmen are both less technologically advanced victims of colonialism and an ironic echo of Kyros and the Archons struggling for dominance.

The Bane are clearly supernatural creatures. We saw them in the Spire as they swarmed with claw and fang. I really don't know what they're doing here or what they're supposed to represent. They never communicate, they just pull from a stable of uninteresting attacks and get blown to hell by our mages.

It's things like this which make me say Tyranny is a flawed game, because we start with a very down to earth allegory about the misuse of power and then start blending in myth with things like our quest for the artifacts.

As boring as the all-human enemy roster is, it makes complete sense. This is a story about man's cruelty to man, not man versus terrifying monsters of myth and legend.

This is ignoring the fact that many of these monsters could be perfectly valid for our tyrannical metaphor if we had chosen to go that route.

The dragon is the obvious example, as it is traditionally associated with greed in myths such as Beowulf, and with evil rulers in the book of Revelation.

Bloodsucking vampires would also seem an obvious metaphorical choice.

I don't get it. I can't tell you where the Bane fit in at all or what they're supposed to represent. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Sorry thread, I'm at a loss.

We also haven't gotten to the main story arc featuring them, so maybe we'll figure it out later.

The blue bane resist ice, the red bane resist fire. If you're using the Frostfire sigil you can just kind of laugh at them.

Another handy rope.

We run into this guy.

: You've made it pretty far. How have you fared?

: Most of the troops think this 'contest' is a death sentence - and for most of them it is. But me? I've had no lack of fun so far.

: He pushes the point of a blade against his thumb and twists it around slowly.

: So. Much. Fun.

Let's try our Kyrosian manipulations again!

: [Address the Sages] Do any of you want this man to find the Silent Archive? Because I don't.

Bone Whittler isn't nearly as smart as he thinks he is.

: How can you be so sure?

The Horde member straight up murders the Sage, leaving this genius with only one other mage besides himself.

This looks like our gambit failed, but it worked brilliantly! That's one less Sage we have to fight.

Lantry puts it better than I could, and it once again ties back to Kyros and the destruction of knowledge - but it also ties back to how tyrants destroy their long term prospects to keep power just a little longer. It's all a matter of scale.

: What do you know about the Silent Archive?

: Nothing.

: He stares at you for a couple of seconds before continuing.

: In my estimation, if it can't do anything for you, it's not worth your time.

: Best of luck then, I'm leaving.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Ha ha, I am crazy and sure love murdering. I plan to escape with all my minions!

: Hey Sages, wanna help me gank this guy?

: You can't turn my minions against me if I kill them! Die, Sage who was making no threatening gestures!

: What a moron.

: Now that I've gotten you to slaughter your own men, peace.

These guys don't even get names, I'm not giving them portraits.

: You're right. A life spared won't turn the tide. You're not worth killing.

:hist101:: Both of them visibly relax. The soldier slumps back against the shelves and the Sage returns to his work, binding her wounds. Thank you. Finding mercy from anyone in here is the last thing I expected.

: I'll let you know when the way is clear.

Anyway, now we have to kill the gang in the way.

: [Attack] You really need to die.

: Cutting right to the chase without any of the foreplay? A woman after my own heart!

Fortunately these idiots provided us with a convenient chokepoint.

We magic them all to death.

Cleo levels up and gets two more spell slots. With that, we're done with the magic tree. Really. We have enough spell slots to never care about cooldowns ever again because we can just rotate through our selection of attack spells. You might think there's more cool stuff to pick up that makes Cleopatra a better mage, but...there's really not. There are a few attack abilities that sound like a good idea to pick up, but they run off the might stat, not wits, and thus are weak in Cleo's hands. There are talents to add energy damage to our attacks that we will never use. We can upgrade the energy shield I never mentioned because I forget to use it, which is cute, but we need our points elsewhere so Cleo can explode people good.

You can apply level ups in the middle of battle. It's hilarious.


They're guarding a sigil that we can apply to reduce our spells' cooldowns.

We fill Cleo's spell slots with this and the Aura of Fear, which we can cast on Barik to have him continually hit our enemies with a fear attack. They rule.

We can report to these guys and they give us some sweet cash. Moving on!

They're right next to the final passcode.

First and foremost, for those that have the strength of will, the door to the north shall open.

Secondly comes passion, burning in the south like an unending fire, to provide vitality to the dedicated.

Then from the west shall the one with true resolve come to explain the gravity of commitment to knowledge.

Lastly, look to the east and brace yourself against those who would pull you down. Let your might be solid as stone.

Moving on! You can remember the riddle to shave...2 seconds off the puzzle later. I always forget it.

We run into Ulsten here.

: What's going on?

: That man must really enjoy the taste of his own fingers. But in fairness, if I were trapped in this lava-soaked shithole, I'd be a few oars short of a full crew too.

: [Subterfuge 25] Go on - why don't you tell me what you found?

: Go on.

This is the game telling us the cost of our Kyrosian methods. By turning our enemies against each other we let human cruelty loose.

: [Leave] Thanks for your help.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: I found the book but then I got tortured into trauma! The jokes on him, neither of us can read!

More loot! Seriously, the dungeon aside from the Chorus is kind of boring.

Finally, we make it to the lowest level where the barrier is.

Bane. Sure. Why not.

Repeat Tyranny Combat Algorithm until victory.

What's this?


Remember when I said Lantry shouldn't feel bad about betraying the Sages? This is why. Renata is actually the head sage. The Sages were literally working with both Archons to betray the Tiers.

Let's go deactivate the barrier.

: While you look at the barrier preventing your progress, you hear a noise behind you.

Notice that Gaptooth is down to herself and one other guy. There's a Sage hiding offscreen. If we hadn't tricked her into fighting Numbly we'd have to fight a full gang.

: Your death can easily be arranged.

Thus, having used the unfortunate Fat Ulsten for our purpose we dispose of him.

: [Attack] Only one group can get inside and it's going to be mine. Looks like you're out of luck.

We blow them all to hell.

I discover this hidden Sage, he also dies.

This lets us learn the Sigil of Influential Domain, which lets us attach huge CC effects to an area.

Unfortunately Cleo is too dumb to learn it.

One last sigil. This one increases spell duration. Score!

The lower level. It is a spooky cave.

Once we reach this point the camera pans over to reveal...

The Silent Archive, a scroll with some weird magic shit all over it.

You again.


: Funny. When you ran away crying, I figured you were scared of me.

: Don't confuse caution with cowardice, Fatebinder. It's easier to assess an opponent when you know what he is capable of. You seem quite capable, but I think you'll find me to be as well. You will not have the Silent Archive.

: And while I thank you for your help opening up the passage and finding the Silent Archive, you are no longer of any use to me. It's time to end this.

I actually had a little trouble with this fight. I blame myself for getting overconfident.

See, you can't actually keep all these fucks off the mages with one tank, so one of them is going to tear your gang a new asshole.

Here you can see Lantry slain by repeated use of Nancy Reagan quotes. Say no to drugs!

I'm doing a reasonable job of keeping these idiots controlled, but Barik can't hold aggro on all of them. They're going to go after Eb and Cleo.

The Beastwoman can tear through our mages like they're made of tissue paper. That's 57 damage on a regular hit. Jesus Christ! They also do enough damage to Barik to take him down.

This is totally a deliberate strategy to show off the game over screen, and not me getting destroyed by overconfidence. I completely forgot to equip healing potions.

Round 2: The vicious beating.

Everyone take a potion. We just take the attack option in the preceding dialogue, it's faster.

So far so good.

Right now these guys are tearing Barik a new one. He's got the Iron Marshal's greatsword right now, maybe I should have switched him to a shield. Oh well. The only person we have on the mages is The Censor herself.

Barik is about to taunt all these guys, but they're also in perfect formation for us to use our cone spells. You get a lot of mileage out of the cone sigil in the early and mid game simply because it has the greatest AoE and you don't have the lore for bouncing bolts or bigger fireball radii.

Through the magical power of potion chugging we keep the team up and keep blasting.

The party is still taking a massive pummeling from these stupid jerks so I elect to show off Lantry and Cleopatra's basic combo ability. I'm not expecting much, I just need a bit of healing so we can keep fighting.

Baller! That's a ton of healing, AND the entire team gets hasted! I can't say this enough, never let Lantry leave the active party. The man is just too good.

The Censor dies - which, to be honest, is much better than what happens to her on the Scarlet Chorus path. Read and find out!

The resulting 4 on 1 is a foregone conclusion.

We grab this obsidian fragment from the wall, we might need it.

We can put this on Lantry to send his lore to even more batshit levels. We will of course do that.

We also find this sweet magic staff for Cleo.

This thing rules. What the game doesn't explain very well is that this is a permanent Wits bonus. We will save this until Cleo hits the soft cap on Wits, and then use this to go over.

Anyway, notice the little "your power has increased" message? This is because we found the Staff of Hours. The Staff of Hours is our first artifact, and they're special.

The artifacts in this game are less the Diablo legendaries and more that we're wielding something like Excalibur or the Aegis. They're artifacts that everyone has heard of, and thus in the game's allegory people perceive us as more powerful for wielding them, which actually makes us more powerful.

The Staff of Hours lets us use an AoE slow that I've never actually used, but we're putting it on Cleo because it distorts time to make her harder to hit.

I also realize I forgot to get this so I go back for it. It's right near Bone Whittler, but more importantly it's a critical (heh) part of Cleo's build. The endgame for Cleo is going to be farming for spell criticals to explode dudes faster, and we absolutely want that Annihilation passive. If a weapon is in any of your weapon sets at all you'll have its passives available to you, which is great for us because we can stack all these passives until Cleo just kinda deletes people.

Those deflection bonuses are real good for not dying.

Back to the pit!

There are a few dead sages around here which conveniently carry notes to let us know what's going on.

First Sage Arwel's Directives posted:

Sage Torven,

Kyros’ armies have been rebuffed for now, but it is only a temporary victory. I have no doubt that we may hold these walls a good deal longer, but you must remember that the Overlord aims not to butcher the Citadel’s keepers, but to destroy its secrets. Kyros is not omnipotent. Her powers may be known and understood in time, and she rightly fears the knowledge we hoard here.

The Silent Archive must be protected. There is no library in the Tiers that is its equal! Nothing else matters. Nothing. We may not know the Overlord’s plans, but, with time and research, we can circumvent any of her designs. I need you to ensure that we will have that time when the moment is right.

Focus your efforts on Sage Steya’s theoretical forays into temporal magic. While we were right to deny such dangerous experimentation before, now is the time in which its risks are justified. Gather the Elder Sages and make your way to the lower chambers. You are to remain there until you devise a solution to Steya’s problem of scale. Halting the flow of time in a single chamber won’t be sufficient if Kyros drowns us all in a storm or hurtles this library into the firmament. You must find a way to encase all of the Citadel in such a spell, should disaster come.

Your success isn’t optional. This library will be a distant memory if Kyros has her way. Should we both survive, I will be happy to congratulate you on your breakthrough. Until then, get to work.

-First Sage Arwel

Sage Torven's Notes posted:

Sage Litotes,

We can’t help you with the ringing in your ears just yet, so we’ll have to make do until the conflict is over. Yes, Arwel was very explicit in his directives. I know they seem impossible, but that is the situation we face. Everyone that could interpret the Silent Archive died in last night’s attack, so we’re not getting any assistance in this matter. Thankfully, I do have an idea, one which requires everyone’s participation.

Scale is the issue. Steya’s last experiments only affected as much as a small chamber. I believe that we can amplify the spell’s effects by repeating the motions of its sigils as a group, similar to the “ritual” magic used in primitive cultures that pre-dated modern Tiersmen. Sage Dangling Participle believes that this will create an exponential growth in the spell’s effects, but at an expected cost to stability. I’m inclined to agree. Also, we have no other ideas.

No one else here has your expertise in magical foci. You’ve told me countless times how minor baubles can have a profound leveling effect on spells that exceed the control of their casters. What if we used something as powerful as an artifact as the focus of the ritual? Without one, the energies involved will quickly become chaotic and almost assuredly deadly for all of us. At least with an artifact, there’s a chance that Steya’s spell will encompass the entire Citadel and put it into state of stasis.

In my opinion, there’s only one artifact to use and that’s the Silent Archive itself. It’s clearly the most potent object in this room. Sage Dangling Participle believes that the Staff of Hours will suffice, but I’m not going to leave anything to chance. Better that we use the Silent Archive as our focus now and figure out how to safely retrieve it later. Nod if you agree after reading this.

I really hope that blast didn’t take your sight as well.

-Sage Torven

We have two options - we either give up one of our artifacts to save the empty library, or we take the scroll and run. The only artifact we have is the staff of hours.

: Amazing. I had suspected there was more to the Silent Archive than a simple vault...extraordinary. This scroll must represent thousands of scholarly works.

: Examine the magical aura surrounding the scroll.

: Analyze the active spell.

: [Lore 43] Deconstruct the spell's focus.

: Read the scroll.

: The parchment's surface is impossible to read, ever-shifting and convoluted. You see characters from Old Verdant written over calligraphy of the Northern Empire, which transforms into words used by the nomadic tribes of ancient Azure, and then again into phrases of the common tongue of the Tiers.

: Touch the scroll.

: You reach out to touch the scroll, but as soon as your hand passes through the cloud encasing it, a violent tremor erupts in the hall. The shaking continues for a few seconds, and then vanishes.

: What are you?

: As you utter the question, the scroll's surface is suddenly wiped clear. After a moment, words begin to form on the page.

No wonder everyone wants this thing.

: Fatebinder, should this be true, the Silent Archive would be worth more than some of the Old Realms!


Decisions Lie Before Us!

We've got three options.

We can take the Silent Archive, which will cause the library to be consumed in fire, but won't cost us anything else. We can replace the Silent Archive with the Staff of Hours, which will permanently destroy the staff but save the library and let us look for more secrets, or lastly we can go elsewhere and try to find another artifact we don't care about and swap that for the Archive instead.

Choose wisely!