Part 2: Mythe's Adventure - Part 2Unlimited Saga, Part 2: Clairvoyance
Last time, we started Mythe's story and began the trip down to Loch Vaan, where Sapphire runs a fortunetelling shop. I was unable to explain combat very well due to the fact that, more or less, Mythe can one-shot any enemy right now regardless of what we do. Once we get some more party members and fight tougher enemies, it'll make more sense.
Currently, we are in Zomar. It's not a particularly interesting town, though a few sidequests do start there. We could also leave and visit Longshanks. Like so:
As we visit new cities, either through sidequests or main quests, the world map will fill up with locations. However, not every character can visit every city, which means there is a limit on how many quests they can do. A few characters can eventually go anywhere, meaning they have many more potential sidequests to perform. They still won't be able to do them all, however, since storyline quests can sometimes take their place.
It's good to periodically check the other towns and their shops, since they all refill at the end of a quest. We really, really, really need obsidian in this storyline, and it's relatively rare. It's unlikely that it will show up this early, and we probably couldn't afford if it it did appear, but we need seven pieces by the end of the game in order to protect our party. Mythe's story is unique in this way, since everyone else can deal without it.
I also wanted mullock, but no shop has mullock. We may end up being mullock-less, which will be an issue for various reasons, but less disastrous than never finding obsidian. In the end I just bought a wooden spear, since wood is handy to have if you want to make steel or whatever.
So, it's off on another simple quest. Again, we have a few other places open to visit, like "Abandoned Castle Adventure," but Mythe is unable to do those on his own. Plus, even if he could, we want them available so our future party members can do them too!
This quest is, again, pretty uninteresting. Mythe doesn't have any exploration skills right now, which means there could be hidden treasure all around and he wouldn't be able to easily find it. Each type of area has a connected exploration skill, which expands the visible map and also can be used to search for secret items. There's still a chance of finding stuff without them, but it's pretty low.
One thing to note is the picture there in the upper left. That is supposed to show us what the current location looks like. In this area it's not very interesting, but the Seven Wonders often have unique artwork for their locations and it's pretty nice.
Something notable did happen, though, which is that Mythe triggered a trap!
Hidden traps can appear anywhere in a dungeon, and they use a different reel from that used in combat. This one appears any time a skill check is performed, and it really is meant to be random. The game will slide the reel forwards sometimes to try and get the result you actually were meant to get or randomize the selection, much like when you do a slots attack in a Final Fantasy -- if Final Fantasy 6 doesn't want you to get Joker Doom or whatever, you can't do it no matter what. The same applies here. This happens whenever you attempt something like lockpicking or defusing a trap, and it also comes up when one triggers. Higher skills add more green success spots to the reel, and thus increase your odds. I don't think any skill actually raises your chances of dodging a trap, though; the trick is to get skills which prevent them from triggering in the first place, like Aura. I also like that every character gets their own reaction to traps, which can be pretty funny.
In this case we landed on the worst panel and got the worst result possible. This can do a lot of damage, and if they're already low may even damage the character's LP in addition to their HP!
I also ran into a skeleton, which should help explain some things people were confused about.
A few people wondered why we needed a Water Arts item for Mythe. Well, here's why:
When you select your commands, you pick the weapon or accessory you plan to use, and then the attack. If the equipment has an Arts ability on it, you can also select any spells of that element that your character knows. Mythe knows Purify by default, and it's a useful spell because it heals people's HP and can remove some status effects as well!
As you can see, attacks cost both HP and EN, which is durability. Some attacks cost more durability, but mostly it's just 1 per attack. You have to repair things if you want to use them a lot! The durability is only used if they actually perform the attack, which is another reason why doing gun combos on weak enemies is silly -- it's overkill, and wastes your gun's precious durability.
Mythe also starts with this special armlet. It allows anyone to cast boulder, even if they don't know it, but has low durability and can't be repaired. They can be helpful in a pinch, or for characters who have good magic stats but don't know any magic yet. The other way to cast magic is through a familiar, which is a special kind of panel. If it's on your panel grid, you can cast the spells it includes solely by spending HP, which is extremely useful! However, familiars only know basic spells.
Mythe has the potential to be a very good healer because he has good water growth, and Purify scales off of water. There is a much rarer healing spell that he could, perhaps, learn by the end, which is also water-based. Fingers crossed! I'll tell you more about getting magic later because there is already so much explanation, I had originally planned to get way further in the first update and then I realized everything would be so confusing for people like god damn
Eventually I finished the exciting road trip and got a series of new panels to choose from!
Left to right, the options were GUN Lv3, which I chose; lockpicking, which picks locks; sharpeye, which checks chests for traps; and weaponsmith. Weaponsmith is stupid because we're almost to a proper blacksmith who can do everything including work on guns. As you can see, the position of the panel determines which stats it increases, and how much. Gun panels actually have pretty good stat growth and can be used to raise your skill very high if you want. I have basically no idea how to build Mythe effectively so I stuck it next to the other gun panel, granting a bonus. It also raises spirit, which is pretty useless generally -- it's sort of magic resistance, except it doesn't actually block damage, just mental status effects. I'm much more worried about physical ones, which endurance covers instead; purify can cure essentially any mental effect we're likely to come across and we already have access to it!. The middle panel raises every stat at once equally, but to a far lower degree.
Incidentally, Kurt's gauntlet takes the form of a special panel right in the middle which levels up over the course of his story, and this gives him solid stats but makes it hard to build him in any way you want. And in Ventus's story, Kurt joins but can never upgrade his gauntlet, making him magnificently useless as a result.
Let's check out Loch Vaan!
It's Ruby! I mean, uh, who is that mysterious woman, who we've never seen before?
Welcome to Crystal Palace.
So you're Sapphire? You're quite young.
Look, don't expect us to be old ladies. Fortunetelling is all about sharp senses! What'd you like to know?
I'm looking for a girl. Her name is Tiffon.
Is she missing? People move around, so I can't always tell where they are.
That's fine. I want any clues I can find.
Water... Underground... A door... I've got it! It's a dried up old well. There's a mysterious door at the bottom. She's on the other side of it.
The bottom of a well?
She might not be there, but I'm sure that you'll find a clue!
After meeting "Sapphire" we're dropped immediately into the Bottom of the Well, which sucks because it's got some really good loot in it that we cannot grab due to Mythe not knowing how to swim or pick locks. I probably should have grabbed that skill panel before, but I forgot you just get shoved in here like this.
I was an idiot for buying into that fortune-telling nonsense!
There's nothing to do here without exploration skills, and since it's not a proper mission we can't get growth panels for clearing it. Strictly speaking, even if you perform actions in a quest you fail or can't finish, you still get rewarded for it when you do clear a quest, but I felt it was better to just climb the ladder and be done with it.
Welcome to Crystal Palace.
What's wrong with Sapphire?
I am Sapphire. How can I help you?
Whoah what a twist
What's going on?
I wonder myself.
Suddenly, Ruby is there too.
Ruby, you cannot treat fortunetelling so lightly. There could be serious consequences... I am terribly sorry, sir.
I thought something was strange. No one would go to such a place.
I will do the reading for you again. Please forgive my sister,
Water... Underground... A door... A place related to water. A great deal of water. Yes, it is a sea.
This seems far more trustworthy than the previous fortunetelling, so Mythe buys into it.
A coast... That's so wide...
She is behind the door. It seems the large, ornate door symbolizes the girl's ultimate objective.
A coastal town, eh. If not Longshank, then it has to be Gadeira or Vaftom.
The underground part must be related to the door. To an underground room?
Underground... Vaftom's masoleum, or somewhere in Gadeira? Wonder which one it is. Do you have any proof that this reading is accurate?
Fortunetelling is not prophecy. I cannot make guarantees. I can, for what it is worth, join you in your search.
What have I come to, that I must rely on fortunetelling... I used to laugh at women who wailed madly over lost loves. Now I'm the one who's gone mad.
So now, we have a second party member! Sapphire is pretty good, or at least has good potential, though right now she's pretty useless. She has a staff, which she's awful with due to having no strength, and she has a great setup for casting magic but doesn't actually know any. I bought her a sword with Deflect on it to at least keep her from dying while we go find Tiffon. Sapphire also has the Artiste panel, which both makes sparking attacks more likely (more on that later) and lets her look at more items in shops. It's very useful, especially early on. She also has a Lv4 Fortuneteller panel, though it's unfortunately right in the middle where it can't do as much good. Still, a useful skill if we find any treasure: Fortunetelling lets you spin a reel, and if you get a success the treasure chest's contents improve. You can do this forever if you want, as long as you have the patience and turns to spare, but if you hit a critical failure the treasure chest will drop to lv1 and probably also will explode, leaving you with either nothing, or a couple Kr. It's risky but, at level 4, it's actually very likely to succeed!
Tiffon's in the Gadeira Inn. Thankfully we don't have to walk there, it's added to the world map immediately and we can just head there through fast travel.
You sold a photo of a girl to Fugar in Longshank, right?
A girl? Oh, that photo. Sure, I sold him that.
Please tell me where you got it.
That's a trade secret, and quite frankly, it's none of your business.
No, that's my woman's intuition.
Tiffon ran off, but we're going to follow her and recruit her in a bit. Meanwhile, Gadeira has a smithy of its own, and while we still can't work on guns there, we can work on all pretty much every other weapon. No accessories, though. And since I was broke there was no point in checking the shops anyway. Time for the first real dungeon of Mythe's story:
What are you, some kind of burglar?
I hope so, because we really need someone who can do lockpicking.
So, this quest takes place in a haunted mansion! Spooky! It's actually the mansion other characters visit in the "Three Keys" sidequest, which involves exploring the mansion to find keys and open up doors (or just picking all the locks, because this game lets you do that too!) It's a neat quest which lets you skip stuff based on how you've built your characters, and if you do it right you get some unique items. However, Tiffon got here first, so she's already stolen everything. But first, let's take a look at Sapphire's stats.
As you can see, she's got pretty bad elemental growth... except for fire, which is the main damaging one anyway. She'll never be a good healer, but if you get some fire tablets you can have her burn everything regardless. She also has amazing physical stats. Low strength growth, but if you're building a skill-based character, i.e. daggers or archery, then strength doesn't matter at all. Basically it's pretty hard to mess up Sapphire unless you decide to give her an axe.
But please note that I said, if you get fire tablets. Sapphire doesn't know any magic right now, and the way you learn magic in Unlimited Saga is... you find it. There's some quests that have a tablet in them, or which give you one as a reward including that well we were dropped in, and if I had had access to swimming I would have grabbed it; otherwise, you just kind of have to find them. What type of magic they teach is random, with a few exceptions. This is why it's so, so nice that Mythe has Purify already -- even if we never find another water spell for him, he can usefully heal his party and do his job. Once we get a few more party members I'll start doing sidequests and grab some magic tablets, but if they end up being something Sapphire can't effectively use we may have to just let her stab things instead.
The random nature of things can be frustrating, but I like having to improvise and being able to make gimmicky characters. Sadly we have less freedom to do that here, since everyone has to be built well or they'll die, but in most quests you can mess around and have fun with the characters as you like. As long as you remember panel bonuses and check your characters' stat growth before deciding how to build them, you'll probably be OK. Equipment plays a big part in this, of course, but that's a separate issue!
North of the main room, there's a mysterious locked door. Could this be the door from the prophecy? Yes. Yes, it is. If we had lockpicking we could break in there right now, but we don't. So let's look around some more. But we won't look in the right side of the mansion because there's a tiger there that will kill us because this castle was designed for a higher level party of more than two people. He looks like this:
If you can take him on, you can maybe grab some sweet skills doing so, but I tried and was unable to defeat him.
If your protagonist dies then it's Game Over, so you should try to protect them as best you can. I reloaded my save and tried again, avoiding that room this time. West of the main room, I found a treasure chest! Nice!
Treasure chests can be locked or trapped, and at this time I had no way of telling if either is true. So I just opened it anyway, because why not? The worst that can happen is you take damage and the chest blows up. The best thing that can happen is... it turns out to be a mimic, because they can drop magic tablets and that's awesome. But it wasn't either, it just contained gold.
I could have used fortuneteller to improve the chest's contents, but I forgot. This castle has lots of undead, like skeletons, but nothing is particularly difficult right now. Unlimited Saga has a level scaling system, much like Elder Scrolls, and the enemies you encounter will adjust to fit how much you've fought and leveled so far. This affects many bosses, too, but not the final story ones, meaning you can either be underleveled for them, or in Ventus's case you can overlevel and destroy them easily.
In the northwest corner of the mansion, we find a room that's already been cleared out.
Tiffon's hard at work somewhere and we need to discover her secret!
There's a staircase near the entrance, which leads up to the second floor. I found a treasure chest up there!
Time for Sapphire to show off her skills. A success will increase the chest's level and also reveal the new contents. If you don't like them, or are feeling lucky, you can do it again! Note that, as the chest levels up, it becomes harder to pick locks or to defuse traps as well.
In this case it actually wouldn't have mattered. The fact it blew up means it had an explosive trap, which I have no way of clearing yet. So no matter what sweet loot was promised it was going to end with someone getting blown up by a box. Still unfortunate.
In an otherwise uninteresting fight against some evil books, Sapphire does something special:
That lightbulb means she has "sparked" a new skill! Learning new skills this way is a pretty standard SaGa mechanic, even if the details differ slightly each time. The general rule is this: when you use an attack, there's a small chance of learning a new special attack based on it. The odds go up if the enemy is very strong, or if you have a high skill in using that weapon. Sapphire doesn't have a sword skill, but she does have Artiste, which you may remember also increases sparking odds. And sometimes, you just get lucky. Sapphire was using Rear Blade, which is one of the basic sword attacks. I don't intend to make her a sword fighter, but it can stun enemies and she doesn't have anything else to do right now, but from now on she'll know Double Mist as a development of Rear Blade. In every other SaGa game, that would mean she could use the new skill whenever, though it'd probably cost more MP, or HP, or whatever you pay for skills with in the game. In Unlimited Saga, it does something else, which is this:
See the blue marks on the sword reel there? Blue indicates a Lv1 technique, which in this case is the one she just learned. Land on that spot and she'll do the attack. If you have a skill panel for the weapon, then more of the spots on the reel will be special attacks, while you'll also be more likely to learn new ones! So, if someone is going to use a weapon it's good to give them a panel for it as soon as possible. Fortunately, even if you miss the special attacks the result will still deal damage, unlike with guns. Every possible attack command (weapons will usually have a couple, and you get to pick which to use) has at least four techniques; some have five.
After exploring a while, the party returns to the ground floor and sees that big locked door is now open. Tiffon must be behind it!
The basement has more undead, as well as giant bees. After wandering around a bit, we run into Tiffon, who is face to face with some kind of... I don't know, weird thing? It's apparently undead.
Tiffon joined the party, too. And it's time for a proper boss fight! Alright!
I promised I would better explain how HP and LP work, and this is a good time to do so. Everything in the game, from characters to monsters, has both an HP and an LP value. Maybe a good way to think of this is... if you've ever played one of those old FPS games where you have both armor and life, like Wolfenstein. Armor protects your life, right? If you get shot up and it blows through your armor, then you have to worry, but otherwise it's not a big deal because you can easily refill it with pickups. It's only death when you actually run out of life -- out of LP. Or if you play Halo, and Master Chief gets attacked out of nowhere but it only damages his shield, it's no big deal because it recharges anyway. Maybe you hide and let it refill if it gets really low, or maybe you trust that you can avoid getting hit and your health, which doesn't recharge, will still be safe. That's how HP and LP work -- HP is a disposable buffer that protects your LP, which is the important thing you need in order to stay alive. HP will refill slowly if someone isn't fighting, but with magic (Purify, Refresh, etc) you can fill it up immediately and stay safe from attack without having to retreat!
In this case, Mythe got hurt by some bees earlier, and thus isn't at full HP; he's got 110 out of 140. We could heal this with Purify, if we wanted, or pull him out of battle for a bit to rest up, or just trust to his evasion skills to keep him safe. He has 8/13 LP, which is a bit more troubling, because if that runs out he dies and it's game over; however, this is the final fight of the dungeon so we're good there too. Remember, attacks also use up your HP, so it's dangerous to have one person fight without rest. Sapphire is in more or less the same position; she's not at full health, but not in real danger yet.
Tiffon is fully rested, but she has a Phobia against undead enemies. So she's useless for damage, though we could still shove her out to get beat up while everyone else heals.
Now, as I said, enemies work the same way. At full HP, it's very hard to damage this boss's LP and actually kill it. We want to wear it down through attacks and then, when it's low, smash through its LP with a piercing combo or a gunshot or something like that. Skill-based weapons and attacks, like daggers, have a higher chance of doing LP damage, but do less HP damage. In a tough fight it's good to lead off with strong attacks like axes or swords, and then finish off with daggers, spears, and bows. Or just spam with daggers and hope for a lucky breakthrough! Combos also increase the odds of damaging LP, and remove the damage limit, so a good long combo can be very effective... but risky, too! There's different strategies you can adopt, and that's something I like.
But suffice to say, everyone hits the boss for a while, draining its HP over time.
Sapphire learned a new move, this time for punches.
Only the people you actually give commands to will participate in a round. You can cycle through your party, letting everyone recover, or put out as many people as possible to spread out the attacks. It's good to let everyone do something, though, because Max HP increases based on how many things a character did during a quest.
Eventually, Mythe combos a couple shots together and manages to break through the monster's defenses.
White numbers represent HP damage, and red are LP. This boss actually had a very low LP count, but because its HP was so high it took a while to actually hurt it. If we had someone who was very good with a piercing weapon, then a good combo from them might have finished the fight early; since we don't, we had to wear it down more slowly.
After the fight, this happened:
Equipment will unlock new abilities over time. Cloth armor doesn't have much defense, but Life Protection is awesome and every cloth armor will unlock it eventually. What it does is add a 5% chance that LP damage will be negated, regardless of circumstances. It is useful in literally any situation, for any character. Some end-game special attacks target your LP directly, and if this activates then the boss wastes his turn. Plus, it stacks.
Endurance also lowers the odds of damage actually reaching your LP. A tanking character will have high endurance, HP, LP and the toughest armor they can find. We don't get anyone with high LP, really, so we're going to want a lot of Life Protection, both on armor and on accessories. The former is down to finding it or buying it from shops; the latter we can do with blacksmithing... except it'll be tougher because nobody is willing to sell me any mullock! There's a high-end recipe which includes mullock and guarantees life protection, but it's becoming increasingly unlikely that we will find any. We'll have to get it from other things, instead.
Anyway, we beat the boss and discovered Tiffon's secret: she's a thief. And that's fantastic, because we really needed one! It's unfortunate she's ineffective against the undead, but we'll fight lots of other things, and anyway locks aren't undead so she's useful regardless. If you want to know why she's afraid of the undead, well, that's in Ventus's story. Sometimes peoples' negative panels will disappear for plot reasons, and sometimes they won't. You'll see one example of that later in Mythe's scenario.
This is how you stole the girl's photo?
That's right. I make my living selling stolen items to guys like Fulgar. Are you taking me to the Knights now?
I don't care who you are. I just want to know where you found the photo.
And thus, the quest is over! Everyone gets new skill panels, and I lucked out here because both Mythe and Sapphire got Iron Body, which is awesome:
Iron Body has great stat growth, so you can put it anywhere, and you should because it means your character will take less HP damage from most everything. There are non-physical attacks, but as I said before, even the final boss does some physical stuff. Iron Body is pretty rare but it'll make both of these characters live longer, and that's great.
Tiffon got a bunch of stuff she doesn't need, but one of the panels was swimming and that's useful sometimes so I gave her that. The big PHOBIA panel in the middle of her grid means she has less leeway to pick up useless skills, but for the moment it fills one of the blank spaces and, hey, maybe we'll use it. More skill is always useful for a thief-type character, and that's what I want her to be.
So that's it for this update. We got two new party members, and next time we should be getting a fourth. After that, I'm planning to do some sidequests and hopefully get people to start learning magic! See you next time.