The Let's Play Archive

Vampires Dawn

by TheMcD

Part 10: Game Design 101: Do not use your RPG engine to make platformers

Alright, so last time, an entire city got blown up, we got a key, and now we don't know where the fuck to go. Well, I know where the fuck to go, and I told you folks where it is, but as far as the game is concerned, we're flying blind. This seems as good a time as any to catch up on some things, particularly, since we're in the area, we could go back to the areas around Limm associated with sidequests and see if any of them have lost their red skull of low-level deathness.



No- oh hey, this one's fine!

Some rather tough enemies bopping around here - "shadow wolves" and "devil chickens" (yes, devil chickens - which look more like cockatrices to me, but whatever). They're considerably tougher than anything we've faced so far, a given since the last dungeon had a suggested level of 15, and this one requires you to be level 21 for the red skull to disappear, and you should probably be a bit higher than that. These guys follow the standard enemy pattern I'm seeing emerging - enemy with standard attacks plus one status effect. The wolves inflict bleeding, the chickens inflict blindness. Wonderful. Still, we're at about level 26~27 now, so we can still deal with them with no real issue.

Not a very roomy dungeon here, but it's just a sidequest, so whatever.

The treasures aren't exactly all that great either. We start off with this life nectar, which we've had before. Raising HP by one is pretty much pointless at this point, but it's free, so hush my mouth about gift horses, I guess.

In a hidden chest behind a tree in the top right corner, we find the best treasure of the dungeon - a "vampire stone". "A powerful relic (full healing for everybody)". This, much like the Gift From the Gods in Düsterburg, revives everybody that's dead, gives a full HP heal, a full MP heal and heals all status afflictions. However, it can not be used in combat, which is kind of huge. Given that you're probably going to be rich as fuck in this game, you can buy more than enough healing items to be able to fully heal while not in combat very easily. The only time this healing nuke would be really useful would be in combat. Well, I'll see when I'll end up using it. Or if I'll end up using it.

Inside, we find lots of fun things, like healing items I've bought like 50 of. There's also a Potion of Eternity, some out-dated equipment, some largely useless equipment, and the best armor in the game.

...wait. Yes, one set of the best armor in the game is in this dungeon, in the hidden room to the top right. Why am I just kind of glossing over it? Well, because it's in a red chest that requires Valnar's Intelligence to be over 160, and he's not even breaking double digits right now. We're quite a bit off from getting that, and we'll be coming back to get it sometime down the line. I am using a fair share of the souls gathered by grinding to boost Valnar's Intelligence because I know there's great shit in those chests, but it's a slow process. Making Valnar smart is quite the Herculean task.

There's also this, a "spellcaster's belt". "An enchanted belt (+30 INTELLIGENCE)". This, of course, will be a big help in getting those red chests open, but still, as I'm demonstrating here, it only brings Valnar's Intelligence up to 118, a far cry from what we need. For now, it goes on Alaine, where it helps the most, since she's the main spellcaster of the group.

And now, for the main prize, the chest in the bottom left corner.

Hm, look here, Valnar! There's a spell book in here!
Hey, that's a summoning spell, isn't it?
Yes, it's called "Summon Skeleton Mage". Here, remember it!
"Learned 'Summon Skeleton Mage'!"

So, now we can summon skeleton mages. How great are they? Well, we'll find out once we get to an area with more intense combat, because this ain't it. However, from what I've heard, it's not as great as the golem summoning spell, and we already have that, so who knows.

After using Refuge to make a quick and comfortable exit, I drop by Klennar and Melsan to pick up some more healing items because really, why not? I've got more than enough money to spare, and it's always better to be overly prepared.

However, for now, that won't really matter, because our next stop... Thessa, the carnival! Now, bear with me here, because strangely enough, my recording started lagging rather strongly here, and I couldn't notice while playing. I don't know if you'd be able to tell (read: if I was able to reconstruct anything that might have gotten lost) if I didn't tell you, but let's see.

First thing we see is a merchant that sells a bunch of useless crap, except the ring of protection (protects against blindness, silence and stasis) maybe. Still, we've already got three of those, so bollocks to this guy.

Young Man: Hey, are you as happy as I am?
No, not really.
Young Man: Well, that's your problem then.
You're being quite cheeky there, pal!
Young Man: Bah. Leave me alone.

So, strewn about the carnival are a whole bunch of tents with these guys inside. They all have games on offer, but...

Illusion Mage: Hello! Here is the tent for the attraction "Guess the Number"! However, you need a point card to use this attraction.
Where can we get one?
Illusion Mage: From the carnival's supervisor. You'll find his tent in the center of the carnival!
Thanks! Then we'll go and get one.

And sure enough, in the center of the carnival, we find this guy's tent!

Carnival Supervisor: Hello! You must be here to buy a point card, right?
What is a point card?
Carnival Supervisor: With this card, you can collect points at all the attractions of this carnival, and then you can trade those points in for useful things in the storage! The card only costs 500 Filar!
Hm... 1) ...we'd like to buy one! 2) ...we're not interested!

Sure, why not. Minigames are fun. Usually at least.

Carnival Supervisor: Great, then please give me the money.
Here you go!
Carnival Supervisor: Thanks! And here's your card.
"Obtained 1 Point Card!"

Alright, so now we can play the minigames at this carnival. All the games cost around 30~50 Filar to play each, so you do need to spend money to get points.

But first, talking to more people.

This really is a wonderful festival!
I guess...
You know, this reminds me of older days, about 50 years ago... Yes, back then... were still pretty?
Yes... er, no! What do you think you're doing? Well, back then...
...your husband was still a real man?
Now, I don't have to put up with this! Get lost!

Now, here's the first attraction. The illusion mages running the place just say the same thing all the time except for the name and description, so I'll just describe the games myself. This is "Find the Pearl". It's your basic shell game - guy puts pearl under one of the coconut halves, swaps them around and you pick the one the pearl is under. There's three speed levels you can play at. You win 1, 2 or 4 points depending on the difficulty. Because I'm hardcore, I choose to play on the highest difficulty.

Oh fuck. Uh, I think it was the middle one?

Illusion Mage: Congratulations! You found the pearl! You get four points for that!


Next up is... er. Hrm.

Oh boy. The word fucking with me here is the title of the event - "Schlachtfest". Instinctively, I would have just called it the "Slaughterfest", like it was a fake video game title made up during the moral panics of the 90s - "Murderfest 9000" and whatnot - but I decided to look it up just in case, and apparently, the "Schlachtfest" is an actual thing. So, first question: "What IS the Schlachtfest?" Well, that's a good question, as this thread on shows. If you speak German, check it out for a great look into what happens when people aren't sure how to translate certain local traditions - it's a fucking mess. Some just call it a "social gathering at which meat and sausages from freshly slaughtered pigs are served", some liken it to barbeque parties, others dig out potentially similar local traditions, one person compares it to the Muslim Festival of Sacrifice. The most sensible one, to me, was "butcher's feast" - at least that fits this description of a Schlachtfest which I found as a source on the German Wikipedia fairly well.

Essentially, the Schlachtfest is a day that comes during winter time, when the big fucking pigs you've been feeding all year finally get slaughtered. Of course, here, we're not talking about professionals or anything, we're talking about families that had a couple pigs. The pigs would be killed, given an inspection by an official meat inspector, and when the inspection was passed, the family would start preparing the meat, splitting it up into pieces that would be pickled, pieces that would be smoked, and other parts that would be put in the pig's guts to make sausages. When the work was done, the family would get together and have a massive feast where they ate as many sausages as they could along with sauerkraut, horseradish and mustard. And this whole process - the slaughtering alongside the big feast when the work is done - that's the Schlachtfest. Don't you feel educated? So what does this mean for my translation of the word? Well, I'm still calling it Slaughterfest. Why?

Because the game is about running around an area killing masked men by walking up to them and hitting ENTER. The quicker you do it, the more points you get.

I ended up killing everybody in 24 seconds, which got me 4 points.

Next up is "Guess the Number". This is the most basic shit ever. Guess a number between 1 and 99, and he tells you whether you're higher or lower. Get it right in six guesses and get two points.

I went 50, and the number was smaller, then 25, and that was correct. I am a genius and a psychic.

Sooooo many balloons!
... sooooo many balloons!
Stupid brat!
Come on, Asgar... she's just a little girl!
But she still has blood.

Asgar, we're at a carnival with a whole ton of people, and you want the blood from a little girl, which you've established is the worst possible option when it comes to getting blood? You're just wasteful!

Imagine the old man's first text box into this picture, please.

Oh, if only I was young again... then I'd do all the attractions here! Especially the "Freefall" interests me... but my heart couldn't take it, I'm afraid.
What is the "Freefall"?
You get a magic illusion created around you, and you feel like you're falling down a huge mountain. The further you manage to fall without getting hurt, the more points you get.
Sounds interesting.
You should definitely try it!

Next stop, arm wrestling. The way this works is that you mash the shit out of your ENTER key until you win. If you're using a gamepad like I am, you can cheat because you get double the keys to mash easily. I haven't really tested whether mashing both ENTER and the space bar would work similarly, largely because some of my keys are already starting to get more sluggish, and I don't want to exacerbate the process.

Essentially, what you need to do is push your portrait over the line entirely by mashing the ENTER key. If you make it, you get 1 point for beating this guy, 5 points for beating the smith in the middle, and 15 points for beating the burly motherfucker on the right. This guy is no problem at all.

The smith is a bit more of a problem, but still doable.

And this guy HOLY SHIT DO MY FINGERS HURT. I was cheating by using a gamepad, and it took me 2 minutes and 30 seconds of sustained dual-button mashing to beat him. Though I guess it makes sense, because getting 15 points in one fell swoop is impossible with most other games - hell, pretty sure even getting double digits is impossible.

Hm, that teddy bear there looks familiar...

A yellow plush bear...
Cute, don't you think?
Um, well...
Oh, forget it!

Asgar has no appreciation for cute things.

Girl: I love clowns!
He's alright...
Yuck, clowns! Those always taste so much like make-up!
Girl: What?
Oh, don't think about it... just keep watching the clown!
Girl: Ooooh... he's so great!
"Taste like make-up"... heh...
I'm not lying! Try it yourself!

Man: That clown really isn't half bad!
Well, he's OK...

The man turns around.

Man: Hey, where'd my son go?
I didn't see him!
Man: If you do see him, please bring him to me!
Umm... 1) ...of course! 2) ...most definitely not!

Sidequest! I think?

Man: Thanks! He's a seven year old boy with brown hair!
We'll keep an eye out for him.

Also, one thing to note about this clown here. Remember that kid in Asran that wanted to see a clown? Well, here's how you solve that sidequest: You transform this clown here into an item, which turns out to be a clown nose. You go back to the kid, that item in hand, and that makes him give you an antique vampire ring, which boosts the healing rate by 2 HP as opposed to the regular vampire ring only boosting it by 1. It's a pretty potent item, all things considered, though of course, the method of getting to it is pretty damn obscure. However, I'm not going to be doing that because ~*roleplaying*~.

There's another merchant here that again just sells out-dated crap. Of course.

Fat Man: Oh man, when I see that clown there I'm getting hungry again.
(Heh, and when I see that fat guy there, I'M getting hungry again!)
Why hungry?
Fat Man: Those balloons he's working on remind me of nice, big sausages...
Well, with a lot of imagination...
Fat Man: Oh... *slurp* *drool*...
Juck! Come on, we're leaving!

And then, on the top right corner, we find the kid we were looking for!

I've talked to your dad, and I'm supposed to bring you to him!
...alright, I'll come with you...

And now this kid is following us - for given values of "follow". It's less following and more "generally meandering in the same direction as us, having no problem with running into walls repeatedly". The "Move Toward Hero" setting in RPG Maker is a bit iffy, it seems.

So we bring him back to his father.

Man: Thank you so much! Come here, you little rascal!
Daddy, I want a balloon!
Man: Later! First, we're watching the clown!
Bah... clown's boring!
Man: Why do children have to be so complicated? Still, thank you!
No problem!

The FAQ says that doing this doesn't give you anything, but it does in fact give you a +1 to Humanity, which is always nice.

Next minigame. This is called "Death Track". And hoo boy, this sure is a game. Those of you that know their RPG Maker 2000/2003-era games know exactly what fun awaits when I mention these three words of doom:

RPG Maker platforming. This is a particular genre of RPG Maker game that existed during those days - be it in the form of minigames in more regular games, or actually as a main gameplay feature. And it's not pretty. Those of you that have played around with newer RPG Maker versions might be used to the engine actually being quite flexible, but back in the day, that was very much not the case. Things like the extra menu that you open from an item in your inventory and the spell learning system were not meant to be made in this engine, and making it work required a lot of hacky workarounds and using a lot of pictures put together in just the right way. However, those are relatively static menus. All in all, that still works. Trying to make platforming work in this engine? That's just asking for disaster.

Now, RPG Maker games are very basic. They pretty much just have movement keys and one "interact" button, with nothing that at first glance could make an actual physics engine or the idea of "jumping" work. So how did Marlex, and also a whole lot of other people, make this work? The answer, as with so many things in early RPG Maker, is hacky workarounds. Come with me, let's jump into the editor and take a look at exactly how this works, because I think it's interesting enough to show.

In this case, we have events, and lots of them. Each of these pink squares with a white border is an event. The ones that have graphics attached to them are just dummy events that make it so that there is a layering effect - you need this to draw the grass tile and the tree stump on the same tile without having to make a separate tile graphic, for instance. This is a pretty widely spread technique and a smart thing to do, but it's not what we're looking at here. Now, there are three types of events we have to look at here:

1) In the air, above pits.
2) In the air, above solid ground.
3) On solid ground.

Furthermore, we need to remember one important thing. This is still RPG Maker, so there is no "gravity". Even though we're simulating a 2D side-scroller, as of now, we're still in the standard top-down perspective where "up/down" and "left/right" are just the X and Y axes of a flat plane. Note that this is why most of the playfield area is just one tile wide.

Let's check out the first one.

Alright, so this event triggers if we walk over the tile over the pit to the left from where we start from. What it does is that it moves the event "Hero" in some way - we'll get to that in more detail later - then "proceeds with movement", which is just telling the game to fully do the "Move Event" thing before continuing with the rest of the event, plays a falling sound, teleports us back to the tent where we started from and has the illusion mage say "maybe next time". Basic stuff, really. Now, for the "Move Event" in particular:

To start off, the game locks the direction Valnar is facing to make it look like he's falling and not like he's just moving down. Then, it turns on "Phasing Mode", which means that Valnar can pass through any tile. I'm not sure why Marlex does this, I think it's just a safety measure in case something did get in the way, even though I see no way for that to happen. Next, Valnar is moved down twice, and then phasing mode and the facing lock are turned off, since the next time Valnar will move is when we regain control in the tent. So what this does is "simulate gravity". If you go on the only possible tile over the pit, you get dropped down two tiles and thrown out.

Type 2) is essentially a simpler variant of 1). You don't fall down and leave the map, you just fall down one tile, onto the solid ground. Again, just a "simulation" of "gravity". It's so rough that I feel the quotes are appropriate. Finally, we have type 3).

This is the most common one, and it "simulates" "jumping". So, depending on which direction you're facing, it does different things (the same, just mirrored, really). Let's look at the "facing right" variety in more detail:

So if we're facing right, we have a standard jump sound effect and the facing lock and phasing mode book-ends, with Valnar moving in an arc to the right inbetween.

And this is the end result. Looks relatively smooth, but of course is completely static and really awkward to deal with. And these events need to be on every bit of ground Valnar can stand on. To cap things off, the monsters:

This is one of many, but they all work pretty much the same anyway. If they touch Valnar, it plays a damage sound, he flashes and is sent back to the tent with the same "game over" message from falling down a pit. The monster is set to follow a "custom pattern"...

...which in all cases boils down to "move X spaces to one side, then move X spaces to the other".

And there you go, that's the basics of building a small platformer in RPG Maker! There's some small variations in there... when you have a "staircase" like this, which means that the jump event needs to be modified a bit to make Valnar jump up the "staircase" properly, but all in all, it's not that much of a difference.

And in the end, it sucks. It's awkward, clunky, and just a pain to play. There's a reason this sort of thing generally isn't remembered fondly. Thankfully, here, it's just a completely optional minigame. I take several shots at it on the different difficulty settings (which change how many monsters appear and how fast they move), but can't make it through. Eventually I just give up. Let's check out the next game.

This is "Firewalker".

Essentially, what this is about is shoving masked men around and into the lava. They walk around randomly, which makes things a bit annoying, and you can shove them two tiles in the direction that you're facing when you interact with them.

I end up taking them out in 25 seconds and getting 1 point for it. Well, fuck you too, game.

Next up is "Get the Gold". What is this?

It's Pac-Man.

It's fucking Pac-Man. Collect the gold, avoid the masked men. Doesn't even have a power pellet equivalent. That's the map for the normal difficulty, worth 5 points if you win...

...this is the easy one, worth 2 points...

...and this is the hard one, worth 9 points. I tried the normal one once and got my shit pushed in, then just gave up. Next game:

"Throw the Dice". This is really basic. The game selects a random number between 2 and 12 inclusive, and you pick whether the next random number between 2 and 12 inclusive will be higher or lower. Guess right, gain one game point. Guess wrong or get a tie, lose a game point. Get 5 game points to win 3 points on your card, get -2 game points to lose the game. And yeah, it's not actually random[1-6]+random[1-6], but random[2-12], which, as Catan players know very well, are actually completely different odds, and only the former is actually throwing two dice. I could do the math on whether this is a good game to play or not, since all potential outcomes and their probabilities are known, but eh. I'm not particularly hyped about grinding points in any game here - and I'll demonstrate the reason later - so fuck it.

Next game: "Freefall".

This is an interesting one. Essentially, Valnar is falling down an infinitely high mountain (read: he falls down a bit then gets teleported back up) and rocks are falling up the same infinitely high mountain (read: they fall up a bit and then get teleported down again, with the rocks getting a random new pattern). Keep from hitting a rock for a minute and win a certain amount of points based on the difficulty (which largely only seems to change the number of rocks) - 1, 4 or 10. Now, I know the timer shows over 1 minute. How that works is that the timer starts at 2 minutes and counts down to 1 minute, at which point the minigame ends. I have no idea why. I can only assume it's a quirk in the RPG Maker engine that requires this sort of thing, though I have a couple ideas on how you could have done it and made it not look that awkward. Oh well. Moving on to the final game...

...we have "Get the Bad Guy"...

...or in more common parlance: Whack-a-Mole. Nine spots for something to appear, a masked guy and a girl appear on a random spot about every second or so. Attack the masked guy, get a point, attack the girl, lose two points. If both appear on the same tile because that's not a thing that is prevented in code, both trigger and you get one minus point. This goes for a minute, your points are tallied up, and you get 0 to 5 points depending on your game points.

So that's all the minigames, but what can we use these points for?

That's where this guy in another central tent comes in.

Hello! I'm responsible for giving out goods. If you want to trade in the points you've accumulated on the carnival, you can do that here.
Here's our card...
OK, you have 39 points. And I have this to trade:

And then we get a big list of items, presented three items at a time. We start with simple healing items and stuff like the flame potion for 2~40 points, get into the bigger stuff like a healing elixir (full HP heal) for 60, a vampire stone for 90, a talisman for 110, the life and blood nectar (raise HP/BP by 1) for 120, a save crystal for 120 (yeah, nah), and capping things off are a vampire ring for 190, an "Infinum Armor" for 250 (about two levels above what we have now, will be available in shops for a much more reasonable price soon), a blue stone for 350 (probably the item I'd go for if I went for anything, those attribute boosts, when we get to them, are pretty neato) and an antique vampire ring for 500 (!) points.

I guess if somebody wanted to, they could play these games over and over again to get some good items, but personally, I've never trusted carnies, and I suspect these games are not going to be worth my time.

Instead, we're heading out to the next part of the main storyline, though you wouldn't know it from what's going to happen. Our next stop, as previously mentioned by me, but not by the game, is Uruya, the town in the north.

This one's relatively small apart from its main attraction, which we'll check out later.

There's a weapons/armor shop, and since we've leveled up a bit since our last shopping trip, the gear available has improved again.

Armor: "Estario Armor" - "A nicely decorated armor (+85 DEFENSE, protection against ice)"
Helmet: "Knights' Helmet" - "A helmet made especially for knights (+55 DEFENSE)"
Shield: "Blade Shield" - "A shield with blades affixed to it (+55 DEFENSE, +10 ATTACK)"

Better Defense boosts are always welcome, and that Attack boost from the shield is especially cool.

Sword: "Poison Sword" - "A sword with a paralyzing poison (+97 ATTACK, can cause paralysis)

Oh, go fuck yourself. You heard me complaining about the disconnect between the "poison" and "sickness" status effects and the words used to describe the weapons that cause them, so you rewrote yourself to have a "poison" weapon that causes paralysis. Don't try to deny it!

Claws: "Rending Claws" - "Claws with barbs on them (+80 ATTACK, can cause bleeding)"
Sabre: "Esthar Sabre" - "Very sharp sabre (+96 ATTACK)"

It's always nice to get better weapons. However, by the end of this shopping trip, I've already burnt through most of the cash I got from that six hour waiting! We need more mines, soon! Selling off some assorted crap helps, but still, about 80K aren't going to pay for the next set of gear.

Also, there's this guy living in the shop, which is weird.

Man: Yes, what is it?
Um, could you maybe give us a tip as to where we could go to have some fun?
Man: Of course! Go to the brothel!
And apart from the brothel?
Man: Hm, if you're looking for a real adventure, you could check out the mountain range west of here to see if you can find some caves. I've heard there's one that hasn't been explored a lot yet due to all the wild animals in there.
Thanks. That does sound quite interesting!

Uruyans are proud of their whorehouse.

Knight: Yes, what do you want?
Um, has there been anything suspicious or something like that around here?
Knight: Something suspicious? Nothing, apart from you.

Woman: Hello, what brings you to Uruya?
Well, we just wanted to relax a bit and keep an eye out for news.
Woman: Relax? Well, you can definitely do that here. At least if you're a man.
What does that mean?
Woman: Well, after all, here in Uruya, we have the only official brothel in the world.
A brothel? Tsk... what kind of man goes there?
Woman: Hm, actually, pretty much every one. Everybody wants to at least have sampled the product.
Well, if they need it that much...

Interesting factoid from that conversation you might have glossed over - this is the only official brothel in the world. That means that not only is prostitution legal in this world, it's government regulated. Looks like Marlex might have been writing from personal experience here, what with Germany being one of the countries where prostitution is legal and regulated.

On the outskirts of the city, we find this guy just moping around.

Blond Man: Hello. How come do you want to talk with me?
Why not?
Blond Man: Because nobody else wants to talk with me. Everybody's avoiding me. And everything's just because of this curse!
What curse?
Blond Man: That damn witch's curse! It's a curse that dooms you to eternal loneliness!
Hm... 1) ...could we help you somehow? 2) ...well, that's a terrible problem of yours!


Blond Man: You... you really want to help me?
Blond Man: Then kill that damn witch! The curse will only be lifted when she's dead! But be careful, I've already tried to kill her, but she's too strong.
Don't worry, we can deal with that old witch. Where is she?
Blond Man: In a little hut far east from here, close to the mountains. I hope you can find her.
Alright, we'll see what we can do.
Blond Man: Already, thanks just for trying.

So that's another one on the pile. Finally, before heading to the brothel, let's check out the pub.

Man: Hello! Have you heard the latest? A traveller told me that he found a massive treasure on a small island. Sadly, it was being guarded by a large monster, so he had to flee. But I'd just love to know what he means by a "massive treasure"!
Where is this island?
Man: Um, that's a good question. He couldn't explain that to me all too well...
Alright. Thanks again.

To be fair, there aren't a lot of small islands on the map. Working through those shouldn't take too long.

Woman With Hat: You can see that I'm trying to relax here, so please, don't disturb me!
I'm sorry. We're leaving.

Bartender: Hello! Do you want something to drink?
No, nothing right now, thanks.
Bartender: As you wish. Hm, you don't just happen to have a bottle of "SephiMike's Beer"? That customer back there asked for one, but I'm out. And the next shipment will take some time to arrive. I don't like not being able to give my customers what they want.
Um, yeah, we actually do.
Bartender: Really? How wonderful! I'll give you a rare ring for it! What do you say?
A rare ring for a bottle of beer? The happiness of your customers must be REALLY important to you, eh?
Bartender: Uh, yes, yes, it is! So, do we have a trade?
Hm... 1) ...alright, let's trade! 2), I'd rather not!

Since this is a sidequest, we must trade!

Bartender: Oh, that's good. Here's the ring.
"Obtained 1 Ring of Agility!"
Thanks, here's the beer!
Bartender: Very good. Now, let's take a look... EUREKA!

He jumps up and down.

What are you talking about?
Bartender: HARHAR! I won! I WON!

What, the lottery that let you get away with not getting crucified?

Bartender: Didn't you know that "SephiMike's Brewery" was holding a sweepstakes? Whomever gets the bottle with the number 239411 on the label wins 100000 Filar! HARHAR! Now I can give up this joint and buy a whole city! Or even an entire island! See ya, idiots! HARHARHAR!

Bartender: MUAHAHAHA!
Don't you dare say a single word, Valnar! NOT A SINGLE WORD!

And no, you can't actually claim the prize for yourself. That ring is the best thing you're getting out of this. Speaking of the ring, I completely forgot to check what it actually did. RPG Maker to the rescue!

"Ring of Agility" - "Increases dodge chance, Agility and protects against critical hits"

Well, that's pretty useful. It's a +10 to Agility, and it ticks the boxes "Prevent Critical Hits" and "Increase Evasion" in the item window - no idea how much it increases evasion, but that's nice nonetheless.

Another ghost. This one increased our skeleton summoning duration, which is practically useless at this point. Now, let's check out that whorehouse! WARNING: Things get a bit racy here, as you might imagine, though nothing explict. My commentary so far has probably been more explicit, given that I swear like a fucking sailor.

Alright, so here we are.

God damn, look at that shitty portrait with all those pixels of blue all over the place. The one in the files doesn't look that bad, what happened?

Can I get you something to drink?
Where do you get the drinks from? I can't see a bar or anything like that here.
Um... ummmm... sorry, I'm not allowed to tell you. But trust me, you'll like it!
I'd rather not, thank you!
You're missing out!

This drink smells kind of strange...

You know, I'd love to know what Marlex is actually implying here, because I'm sure I can come up with three or more things that are more disgusting.

Don't disturb me! I have to watch the dancer! She's a master!
Well, if you like that kind of stuff...
I DO! So don't get on my nerves!

Damn, she's good!
Well, it's alright.
ALRIGHT? You have no idea! She's wonderful!

Hello... welcome to our wonderful establishment. Whether you're a man or a woman... we can fulfill all your desires...

I figured that much. You're the only official whorehouse on the planet, you'd only be needlessly cutting into your profits if you didn't have something available for the female palate as well. You probably have to ask at the counter for it, though, given the clientele here.

I see.
Don't be so shy. Sit down at a table if you want to watch our talented dancer, or go upstairs right away and get what you need. Drinks are 20 Filar, and an adventure on the first floor costs only 280 Filar. Really cheap!

I don't know. On the one hand, the weapons and armor we buy regularly run over 10K Filar, and we could instead get laid ~40 times for one of those. On the other hand, it's getting laid twice or learning the language of the Elras. This money stuff is getting kind of weird.

And what awaits us upstairs?
Depends on what YOU want. We have a Spanish room, a Greek room and a "Royal Suite", however, the latter of which is occupied at the moment.

Also, what the fuck is "Greek" and "Spanish"? These countries don't exist in this world, where did those names come from? Who wrote my lines?

The two free rooms are there to fulfill your most intimate of wishes. I see that there's three of you. Maybe you would like an "adventure" in a group of four, and the three of you join one of us. Then the two pairs can watch each other... or maybe you even want a little "Clusterfuck"?

Blargh. Original term: "Ramba-Zamba", meaning something similar to "uproar, upheaval, commotion" - shit going down, essentially. What happens when your friend gets shitfaced and pukes on the girlfriend of the big guy with the combat boots. A regular feature of western movies. How the fuck to translate that in the context of what is pretty clearly a suggestion for an orgy is beyond me. So I went with the first thing that could describe a crazy bar fight with a whole bunch of fluids flying around - be they blood, puke or beer - and could also describe an orgy. A clusterfuck. I'm not happy with this choice, and if I were actually doing this professionally, I would work out something better, but as it stands, calling it a clusterfuck amused me, and so it stays.

Everything's possible, and that all just for the incredible price of an all-inclusive 280 Filar.

That's fucking amazing. Pretty much anything I want, for a flat rate of 280 Filar? How does this place make any money with an offer like that? You'd think people would abuse that for all it's worth!

We'll think about it.

You know, I don't think we've ever established the sex drive question for this incarnation of vampires. Is it like in the World of Darkness, where every human lust is overwritten with the desire for blood? Well, it can't be quite that way, since Asgar was clearly in love with Alaine, but that might have just been a base desire for companionship, not a sexual thing. Hm, I think we have too low a sample size to really work this out. Valnar's too preoccupied with his "I WANT MY AYSHA" thing, Alaine isn't really a fan of the concept, as she established earlier, and Asgar, even if he was interested, wouldn't dare to say so while Alaine was around. Though we do know that vampires can fuck, as established by the spell that made Valnar a target for Asgar in the first place.

Don't think too long. I know that you need it!

Hello... I hope you're having fun?
Um... yeah, sure.
If you "really" want to experience something, go up the stairs. There, you'll get ALL your wishes fulfilled... you catch my drift? Right now, the Royal Suite is occupied, but the Spanish and Greek rooms are still free.

What's with the quotes around "really"?

Who's in the Royal Suite?
Some young guy, I don't know. The other two rooms are great as well.
Thanks for the tip.
No problem. I'm here for your well-being, after all.

Arrr... don't look at me like that. Can't I have a little fun?
Oh, of course. We'll be leaving you be.

Oh man, that dancer is just incredible! The way she plays with her breasts!
You don't have a woman at home, I gather?
Sure I do, but I think it's good to take a look around for others every once in a while. After all, I can never know if my wife just up and leaves some day, and then I'd like to keep a few in reserve!
"A few women in reserve"? I can't believe what I'm hearing! You pig!

Hey, it's the one time I actually feel like translating "Schwein" as "pig" because of context!

You a libber or something? That's just a man's natural right. Take a look at Lombar, in the desert. Women have absolutely no say there - that's the way it ought to be!
(We should kill him right now!)
Calm down, dear!

I am Alaine, hear me roar! And then eat your fucking face off! I bet the suffragist movement would have advanced a lot quicker if they had vampires on their side.

Bouncer: Hello! If you want to go upstairs, that'll cost you 280 Filar total.

Damn, it's not even per person, just total! That's a serious bargain there!

Umm... 1)'s the money! 2), we don't want to go up there.

Yeah, sure, I want to check this out.

Bouncer: Thanks, you may pass.
You're not serious, are you, Valnar? You don't really want to...
No, of course now. But I've got a feeling...
Bouncer: Heh, I get you. Don't worry, even special desires are included in the price!
Not that kind of feeling!
What kind then?
I have the feeling we're going to find some kind of clue up there.
Bouncer: Of course. You'll find dozens of clues towards the greatest adventure of your life up there!
Alright, let's head upstairs then.

Valnar's got the right idea, though. We know somebody's up there, and listening in on people perusing prostitutes is a prime point for potentially pertinent... talk. When we walk in front of the door to the Royal Suite, we listen in on the two currently in there.

You know, I just noticed the rooms only have one double bed. How the fuck is a foursome going to work with that, let alone a Clusterfuck? Anyway, it's time for a scene, and I'll just keep quiet for now.

...very nice!
Oh, thank you!
Turn around a bit!
Of course...

Nice, nice...

Wonderful! And now start undressing!
As you wish...

First, my hair ornaments...

Really great! Wait, I'll take that...

And now, continue!

I'll take that, too...

You really are a very pretty girl!
Thanks! But you look really strong, too...
Heh... I'm a member of the royal army, after all!
Oh my... then you really have to be very strong...
Right, right... how about you take off your mantle?
I'd do anything for a STRONG man like you...

You really are one of the prettiest girls I know!

And what brings a strong man like you to this place?
That's all top secret... but I can tell you! A few of the king's men and I found a strange cave a few days ago!
A cave? Oooh... exciting!
Yes, this cave lies hidden in the forest south of this city! That's why we're here right now. My boss gave me the day off because I discovered the cave! And that's why I'm here with you!
What's so special about this cave?
We actually were on our way to the mountains for survival training, to strengthen our bodies. But then I just happened to discover that cave. We went inside and partially explored it, and there's disgusting creatures in there!
Anyway, we found a door after a while... we tried breaking it open, but it was pointless! We just couldn't open that door. Regardless, my boss gave me the day off. I think the others are still trying to open that door. They might manage to do it. But now I'm here with you!
That's good! You really are a cute guy!
So how about we take this to the bed?
Come on!

I'm only waiting for you!
I'm coming!

Come on, let's go! We've heard enough!


HELLO! I'm talking to you! We're leaving!
What? Oh, of course!
Come on, let's check out that cave he was talking about!
Somewhere in the forest south of this city...

So that's that. Three things about that scene. One, I was probably about 14 when I played this game. Two, I didn't have internet at the time. Three, I had a save made just before that scene. Some might say that was entirely unneccessary to mention and that they would have preferred I didn't, but quite frankly, I wouldn't be sharing my full Vampires Dawn experience if I didn't.

Also, some things actually about the scene - Sir Patrick there mentioned that there was a cave with a door that they couldn't get open... almost as if it was locked magically. And guess who just recently got a magic key that could match it? Yeah, that's what it's coming down to - that cave is the next storyline dungeon we need to go to.

In searching for the right place, we run into some enemies - "wild warriors" and "robbers", but at this point, they're just no match for us.

There's also some "spellcasters". The robber can do the paralyzing attack, the warrior can do a bleeding attack, and the spellcaster can do a shadow attack spell, which I guess could do some damage. Never got to use it.

We find the right spot...

...and find ourselves in the "shadow forest". We could not have found this place if we didn't see that scene in the brothel - literally, it checks for the switch that is flipped during that scene and only lets you in if it's on.

Now, the shadow forest is massive, but with not a lot actually in it...

...except random encounters, of course. The "devil bug" is quite the annoying enemy - with two status effect inflicting attacks, one doing sleep, and one doing illness - but still not that strong.

Though I still transform into a bat to limit the random encounters.

We find this cave to the right...

...and in the tiny cave, we find a vampire stone, which is welcomed. However, at that point, I get tired of the place and its hugeness, and decide to bail using Refuge.

Back in Valnar's room, we can now open that red chest, and it contained three save stones. Fucking whoopee.

Finally, I make use of the souls we've accumulated to boost Valnar's Intelligence, knowing that the great armor we know is in that ruin isn't far away. And with that, I decide that it was time to end the session. Next time, we'll probably clean up some side quests - or explore new towns and pick up even more! Nobody knows right now, so get excited!