Part 24: The Black Gate - Gargoyle Pedophiles & Lazy NPC Characterization
Gargoyle Pedophiles & Lazy NPC Characterization
It's Halloween and I'm under constant assault by Naruto ninjas and other unwashed brats, so let's keep this one concise, shall we?
We've arrived in Vesper. It's a little hole of a mining town in the desert. There are some humans on one side of town and there are some gargoyles on the other side. They don't like each other. There's racial tension. People have misconceptions. You've seen all this before, it was called Ultima VI. Normally, a rehash of themes from previous Ultima games in Ultima VII is interesting in their referential attitude and quirkiness.
That really is not the case here. It's just a lot of NPCs who don't say much and who like talking about how much they do/don't like gargoyles/humans.
The little rugrat running around in front of Steve is Catherine, the only child in town. Keep this in mind as it provides the only interesting nuance to the town story.
The mayor's in the town hall and, guess what? Elizabeth and Abraham aren't here.
"I think they went to Moonglow or something. Honestly at this point I think it should be obvious you're never going to catch up with them."
"Yeah, well, thanks for your support."
Everybody else in Vesper just talks about how we must run the gargoyles out before the savage brutes kill us all or that we should tolerate the gargoyles because we're all people.
"I already know this. I'm the one who fucking said this 200 years ago."
"What's going on in here?"
"To not be what it looks like, Avatar!"
"You think just because I'm down with gargoyles that I'll accept this, man? This is sick. She's just a kid!"
"But, Avatar, we're-"
"I know what you've been made to do, you poor little angel! Show me on the baby where he touched you."
"To be wondering why you are carrying a random infant, Steve."
"I'm not on trial here, you greasy red pedophile."
"I wasn't aware anyone was, Steve."
"He's just telling me stories!"
"Stories of rape."
"No, just regular stories."
Okay so in all seriousness, For-Lem is a gargoyle historian who keeps records and tales of his people. Catherine sneaks off every day at noon to visit For-Lem and listen to his stories about gargoyle history. He begs you not to tell her parents. If you do tell her mother, she gets super pissed, and says she's going to do something about it.
Specifically, she has her husband murder him. And as far as I know, you can't bust them for doing this. Admittedly given the spin I've put on here it's sort of oddly prescient, but 1992 was a more innocent time.
1993, however, was a wild orgy. We'll get to that come Serpent Isle.
This is Wis-Sur. In addition to being a cool asshole who nevertheless sells cheap reagents and fun spells, he also looks totally awesome:
Goggles are awesome.
"Go inside. Tell them you are the Avatar!"
"This sounds like a wise thing to do in a town full of racial tensions."
"lol whur u"
"lol okay gtfo"
"Also the Avatar"
Because attacking the Avatar and her companions when you have no weapons or armor whatsoever for no good reason is a fantastic idea. Let's see how it turns out for them, shall we?
"What have we learned?"
I'm not a total ass, so I'm going to drag these unfortunate saps back to LB and get them resurrected. But he refuses to do it. He doesn't even recognize the gargoyle corpses sitting in his throne room. To be fair, he doesn't notice them in Ultima VI either, so it's possible he's just colorblind.
Back in Vesper, it's off to the mine.
The mayor mentioned that the mine foreman (the aforementioned father of Catherine) spoke with Elizabeth and Abraham before they left. This is all he has to say about the matter. Right now.
I'd love to say the mine has loot but other than some food, these magic bolts are about as awesome as it gets.
The only gargoyle cooler than Wis-Sur. The helmet and expression are just awesome. You'd think he would have an awesome story, and you're right, kind of. If you speak to a man in town named Blorn, he talks about how much he hates gargoyles and how a gargoyle named Lap-Lem (which he says means 'man slayer,' but which actually means 'rock one') beat him up and robbed him. Go back to Lap-Lem and he'll tell you that Blorn attacked him and robbed him. Tell Blorn this and he will grudgingly give the amulet back. You don't really get much for this, but I have to give Blorn credit for not just randomly attacking a group of heavily-armed strangers when they call him on his bullshit.
For his part, Lap-Lem admits that there's a lot of hatred but he deals with it because he likes his job. Also, he's not on drugs. I'm not sure why he isn't, since the Britannian Mining Company seems to enjoy drugging up its gargoyle workers. I guess the Vesper branch is slightly less idiotic.
There are a few secret areas in the mine. They're not really interesting except from a plot perspective.
A blackrock mining machine.
A blackrock storage room.
Obviously, something is up here. All the mines in Britannia are run by Fellowship members. All of them are mining blackrock in secret. Fellowship leaders are requesting things be constructed out of the material, then kill the people who made them.
We can't confront Batlin or Lord British with this evidence. It's one of the more frustrating things in the game. You'd think Britannia's government would want to know where this rare and powerful mineral is going. But they pretty much don't, so it falls to us to actually resolve this.
Thankfully, we're nearing the end of Elizabeth and Abraham's trail, and what the Fellowship is doing will clear itself up soon. If you haven't already guessed. It's kind of obvious.
Alright, let's see, I just got Steve to level 7, which puts us within reach of the awesome spells at the end of the spellbook. That gives us False Coin, so let's False Coin something.
The Vesper mine is great for lead chunks; lead and iron ore chunks randomly respawn on the ground when you leave the area, so you don't even have to mine them. If you want to, there's also a lead mining machine in there.
False Coin changes lead into gold. It just doesn't do so very efficiently. Gold nuggets are worth 10g. Reagents will cost you less than that, but not much less than that. The real kicker here is the cost in magic points. If I hadn't cheated to take this screenshot, Steve would've needed to rest for several days.
And that's all we get for all the lead I've been collecting the entire game. It's really pretty lousy. Farming dragons for gems is a much more lucrative process, especially when you have the Black Sword.
Even so, we've broken my personal record for finances. Doug the Eagle has a method which allows for many many times this figure, and indeed, many times the Wisp trick in U6. It's such a good moneymaking method that it crashes Ultima VII. We'll get to that in a few more updates. For now, it's off to Moonglow and (probably) Terfin, then we're directed to a very intriguing stopover which will get us on track to find the Time Lord. From there, we'll be working to more directly screw with the Fellowship. But not before Steve's past catches up with her.