The Let's Play Archive

Vampires Dawn

by TheMcD

Part 12: Striking at the Heart of the Enemy

You wanna get crazy? Cause I wanna get crazy. Let's get crazy. So, let's talk the order in which we're supposed to do things. There are four major things we need to do in the storyline. This is technically spoiling things, but like with a lot of things that are technically spoilers, you probably already worked this out if you've paid any sort of attention. The things we need to take care of as of right now are as follows:

1) Take care of Aysha, probably by killing her and everybody that associates with her.
2) Take care of Abraxas, probably by killing him and everybody that associates with him.
3) Take care of King Gerald, the one behind sending Sir Esthir to Asgar's castle, probably by killing him and everybody that associates with him. I guess. I don't really care about this guy, and it seems that the story agrees, given that beyond being behind Sir Esthir, the guy has been involved in pretty much jack shit. He seems to be entirely outside of this vampire loop, too, and just got involved because Asgar's hyper-aggressive squatting caused a bit of a communications disruption.
4) Take care of Mr. X, the mysterious financier of Abraxas, probably by killing him and everybody that associates with him. Mr. X may or may not be King Graham, but chances are that Abraxas was not going to be scared of being killed by the king if he can seek out and kill other vampires with relative ease, so he's probably not. In fact, I'll just say it right now, King Buxton is not Mr. X.

Anyway, the way the game is set up, you're supposed to be taking care of these tasks in that numbered order, as the enemies you'll encounter will become more difficult as they go along, and you will get a push towards the next part when you finish off one of the items. So right now, we should be taking care of Aysha. Instead, I'm going to poke my head inside Castle Tranak, where King Booker is at, and see what's shakin'. Because why the fuck not.

And what's shakin' is that there's some guards!

Hello, how's it going?
Gate Guard: Get lost, you can't come in here!
But... 1) ...I'll show you! 2) ...alright, we're leaving!

Hey, go fuck yourself! We vampires answer to no man, and we enter where we please!

Gate Guard: OK, that's it! Come on, Markus, we're giving these guys a right pounding!

Fun fact, the two guards indeed have different names, so if you talk to the guy on the left, he'll say a different name. The one on the left is Markus, and the one on the right is Joe. Why is his name Joe? I have no idea.

Anyway, it's time to fight.

Gate Guard: Your time is up!
Strong words... let's see if you can back them up!

So, the gate guards... well, what can I say about these guys. How's about this - this here is the stat block for the captain on King George VI's ship:

HP: 300
Attack: 200
Defense: 180
Intelligence: 120
Agility: 130

Attacks: Regular attack, two stronger, but not THAT much stronger attacks that can inflict bleeding, 33% chance to pick any of the three.

Now, here's the stat block for a gate guard. Note, we're fighting two of these:

HP: 700
Attack: 300
Defense: 270
Intelligence: 200
Agility: 190

Attacks: Regular attack, a MUCH stronger attack that can inflict bleeding and paralysis, 66% chance to pick the regular attack, 33% chance to pick the stronger attack.

Then note that Attack/Strength (I've noticed that I'm using these interchangeably at times) and Defense work in an additive way (the formula apparently being "Damage = Attack/2 - Defense/4"). Essentially, when we have about 220~240 Defense, somebody with an Attack of 200 won't be doing THAT much damage (assuming 230 Defense: Damage = 200/2 - 230/4 = 42.5), and the captain went down much quicker due to lower Defense and HP. However, somebody with an Attack of 300...

...will be doing approximately 45~55% of our max HP in damage. And there's two of them. If we get particularly unlucky, these two can easily gang up on one party member and straight up two-shot them with no chance of preventing it, since they can do it to somebody at full HP and as of right now, we're completely outmatched in the Agility department, so they will be moving first pretty much all the time unless we do something about it.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a fight on our hands. So, now, what can we do in the face of such insurmountable odds? Well, there is only one thing we can really do, and that is status effects.

First blood goes to Valnar, whose Holy Storm manages to send the first of the two guards into the berserk state, which is excellent. This means that that guard will be much easier to damage, and will not attack us, but either itself or the other guard. This drastically cuts down on damage taken, which is the #1 thing we need to do in order to not die.

In the second round, Asgar strikes true with Poison Rain, poisoning the second guard. This essentially puts that guard's life on the clock, since it will lose 10% of its HP plus 5 every turn. The question is whether we can properly survive those seven or eight turns we need, or if we're going to get ganged up on to death.

Alaine tries out one of those flame potions that were home runs against Sir Esthir. They do exactly zero damage. So yeah, when I said these things were going to become entirely worthless eventually, it seems that we've hit that point now.

Asgar drops in the fourth round, which is a problem, as is our drastically dwindling BP supply. We start getting into the problem of having a nearly infinite amount of healing items, but not enough opportunity to use them. We could heal HP, but that means we're running out of BP, and regular attacks do jack shit for damage. We could heal BP, but that means that chances are good that somebody else is going to drop. And of course we still need to revive people - like Asgar - and that also cuts into our healing and attacking opportunities. As of right now, I decide to stick with just Valnar and Alaine, because reviving is just asking for the recently revived to get instantly slapped down again.

Thankfully, in the next round, the poisoned guard dies to a spell from Alaine. Technically. Of course, it only died because the poison dragged its HP down to 1, because Alaine's mid-range spell only does 1 damage. I am quite regretting some of my spell choices right about now.

And then the other guard's berserk state runs out, which is capital B bad.

Thankfully, Alaine is on the ball and inflicts bleeding on it, meaning that its life too is on the clock.

And only one round later, the second guard's fate is sealed, netting us two strong souls and 1000 EXP, a haul worthy of a boss battle.

And now, I wish to enter!

And there we go! The one thing that seems to be helping me in these battles is that Vampires Dawn is not like most JRPGs - status effects can actually work on a ton of enemies. You just need to know that and actually try to make them work for you, and you can see some great results letting you swing way above your weight as long as you can deal with the whole "getting pounded into the dirt" thing.

And there's my first use of a vampire stone for a full heal. I guess that's where it's really useful - when you just got beat to shit by an enemy that might as well have been a boss for your current level. Now, let's go check out King Arthur's castle... after saving again, of course.

So, now we're inside... let's see if we can get some kind of information here. I get the feeling that Sir Esthir was stationed here...
That seems likely. After all, this is the king's castle. And Sir Esthir could have been one of the king's knights.
King... bah! Nobody reigns over me! Not even when I was still human.
In your case, anything except that would have been quite unusual, Asgar!
I know, my love!

The first thing I do is fidget around a whole bunch in front of the exit in case of way-over-our-heads random encounters, but as it turns out, there are no random encounters here! In fact, the knights around here are not hostile to us! We can just walk up and chat with them! And that's what we're doing!


But first, we try to nick their stuff and actually fail for once. Looks like we'll need a key for these chests.

Guard: Are you looking for something in particular?
No, not really...
Guard: Well, if I were you, I wouldn't go into the tower in the north-east.
Why's that?
Guard: Now, it might sound silly, but I think it's haunted at night... oh, how I hate having to do my guard duties near that tower. I mean, I haven't seen a ghost or something like that, but you can hear these spooky sounds. Whispering voices and that kind of stuff... really scary! But now I need to get back to work.

Guard: Please don't disturb me, I'm on guard duty!
As you wish!

Oh hey, remember this guy? The sleepy priest from the royal meeting cutscene?

Welcome, my children! Praise the Lord!
Of course...
You don't sound too convincing. We should have a long conversation about God!
About God? I don't think we should do that. It would shatter your faith, Father!
Oh, you are truly, deeply sorrowful. Come, let me show you the path of light and truth!
Listen, Father! I'm neither in the mood for this, nor do we have the time.
You poor, misguided sheep! Come, talk with me, and I will lead you back to the flock!
What my friend wishes to say is that we really don't have the time right now, but we will definitely come back soon to listen to your words...
I will pray for you! Come, before it's too late... heaven awaits! But you seem like your souls are traveling the path of hell...
(This filthy human! How dare he?)

Asgar's anti-theism still going strong.

Down the stairs, we find a familiar room and a boss indicator. I get the feeling that if we had massive trouble with a mini-boss level encounter, then the boss encounter is not going to be a good time. Let's not try this.

Instead, let's go back to talking to the guards.

Guard: You must be bored, or why do you really want to talk with me of all people?
Well, actually...
Guard: What's your deal? First you just chat me up like an idiot, and then you don't even know what you want to ask me?
Erm... no, I do...
Guard: I can't stand people like you! Get lost!
(What an idiot. I'd just love to tear his head off right now!)

Well, looks like some people are quite the assholes around here.

Knight: What's happening?
I just wanted to ask if you've heard any rumors.
Knight: Do I look like a gossip? I don't spread rumors!
Um... no offense!

Guard: What do you want from me?
I would like to ask you where you get your weapons!
Guard: Our weapons? Why are you interested in that?
Just pure curiosity!
Guard: Well, I guess I can tell you. They come from the desert city Lombar.
Why Lombar in particular?
Guard: The king said that we need to save money, so now we're buying from Lombar. They're cheap there, and you can tell...

Knight: What do you want from me?
Where can I find the king?
Knight: Go up the hall, then go to the right into the room with the red carpet floor. Then just go down the stairs there.
Knight: No problem!

And it seems like some people here are actually capable of being nice! Shame we're going to kill all of them eventually.

Why are we going to kill all of them? Well, it has to do with this guy.

Hello... I've never seen you here before!
Um, we signed up to... er... become knights!
You want to become knights? Hm, well, you don't exactly look like weaklings. You should talk to the king, he'll explain the entry test to you...
Um... of course, we'll go and do that!
(I have to say, Valnar's starting to get better at lying...)

Now, why does this guy mean we have to kill everybody? Well, that's because of one particular thing: Remember WAY back, when I mentioned that there are no enemies except one that drop items when you beat them? This guy is that one, and he drops the key to the chests we saw earlier. And I want that key. So, how do we get it? The only way to do so is to start some shit.

So we head outside and do our little time magic thing...

...and just straight go for transforming him, because...

Ahhhh... damn it, what's the meaning of this? You're vampires!

...certain characters can not be transformed without a fight, so we'll get the key regardless and won't have to fight somebody else to start some shit.

Damn, how can that be? You really are vampires!
You won't have a lot of time to think about it!
You'll never make it out of here alive!
We've been dead for a long time...

Valnar, you're like a few months old as a vampire, and so is Alaine. Don't act like you're fucking Methuselah up in this shit.

Anyway, Jagus Gorda, who I guess is the captain of the guard here in Kaiser Franz's castle. What's his deal?

HP: 1200
Attack: 370
Defense: 350
Intelligence: 170
Agility: 150

Attacks: Regular attack, very powerful attack that hits the entire party. 66% chance of using the regular attack, 33% of using the strong attack.

...welp. At least he's only one guy? But then again, he's got a full-party attack, so... blargh, I might have overstepped my boundaries here. Vast array of items and status effects, don't fail me now!

Groda goes first without fail thanks to his superior Agility, and even his regular attack hits like a Mack truck. The first round of attempts to inflict status effects fails horribly, and that's not a good sign.

Like a braindead fucking idiot, I then throw ice dust at the guy twice to see how much damage it takes. I DON'T throw the itching powder at him, which can inflict Berserk and Blind. In fact, I don't think of that until like 30 minutes later, when I took a look at my items and just saw it there. The second round of attempts fails as well, as does the third.

Finally, in the fourth round, Valnar manages to inflict Berserk on Groda. The fact that Groda missed two out of four attacks and hasn't used his powerful attack yet is the sole thing having kept me from drowing in Shit Creek at this point. I use the ensuing lull in combat to heal up as Groda punches himself in the face.

In a real stroke of luck, Valnar manages to blind Groda on the same turn he knocks himself out of Berserk. However, this is only a partial blessing - while this does drastically decrease Groda's chances of hitting with regular attacks, his party-wide attack, being a skill, still has a flat, unchanging success rate, which is... 100%. Of course.

And as if I summoned it, he unleashes it on the next turn, dealing 120 damage to Valnar, 144 to Asgar and 133 to Alaine. This is not good.

And then, I save myself with another stroke of braindead. For some reason I can't remember, I have everybody just attack Groda, even though they would deal at most like 5 damage because of his extreme Defense. BUT, in attacking, Alaine procs the 20% (base) * 60% (Groda's bleeding resistance) chance of inflicting Bleeding on Groda that the claws she currently has give her. This is excellent, since like with the guards, it puts Groda's life on the clock.

However, our life is on the clock as well, and in a much more drastic way. All of our party members' HP are in the double digits, meaning that there are a few ways this next round can go. I obviously use healing items for everybody to not die, but Groda goes first due to Agility, meaning:

1) He attacks normally and misses. Best case scenario, everybody gets healed. Has a 66% * 80% chance of happening.
2) He attacks normally and hits. Not great, but two live. Has a 66% * 20% chance of happening.
3) He uses the party-wide attack. Everybody dies. Has a 33% chance of happening.

Time to roll the dice!

And we hit 2), the least probable one. Oh well, not looking a gift horse in the mouth.

A bit later, we're still in pretty much the same precarious situation, just without the threat of one-turn TPK. This time it's Alaine that drops. Again, getting lucky with the lack of party attacks.

And finally, I get into a situation where I can attack freely, and the bleeding has finished its work for me, leaving Groda with 1 HP and easily killed. I say easily, but really, this could have gone wrong at any moment. It can't be overstated how much that bleeding proc saved my ass.

And for our reward, we get the soldiers' key.

Finally, Groda is transformed, now that we've beaten him, and we get a vampire stone!

And now everybody's on our ass! Fuck! Refuge!

Oh god damnit, back in the shadow forest. I really hate this "Refuge brings you back to wherever you used it the last time you used it to return to the castle" thing, because whenever I use it, I always want to go to the castle. I get that it's supposed to be for going to do something in the castle and then returning to whatever you were doing, like a dungeon, but still, it's never really been useful for me in that way.

Then, through complete happenstance, I just stumble into the shadow shrine while trying to find my way out. Of course, I don't have any black stones to throw in the hole there, so no reason to linger here.

Eventually, I do manage to find my way out and return to Castle Tranak. Time to loot!

Some nice stuff here. This is the same shield that Valnar and Asgar are currently using.

This "warrior's mantle" - "A blood red cape (+10 DEFENSE, +10 AGILITY)" - is also some very nice loot. Agility boosts are always welcome.


Yes, holy fucking shit, we actually found some equipment that's one step better than what we're currently using! And all it took was going through two boss-level encounters that could have killed us dead at pretty much any moment!

"Claws of Rage" - "Claws with aggression-causing poison (+100 ATTACK, can cause Berserk)". Pretty good stuff.

And after the looting, we run into one of the guards, which are now roaming the castle and raring to kick our face in.

Guard: You damn monsters!
You damn human!

So, castle guards. Are they terrifying too?

HP: 400
Attack: 350
Defense: 330
Intelligence: 140
Agility: 170

Attacks: Regular attack, a MUCH stronger attack that can inflict bleeding and paralysis, 66% chance to pick the regular attack, 33% chance to pick the stronger attack.

Better stats than the gate guards, but less HP. Also, they're much more susceptible to status effects.

Of course, they can still inflict them, as Alaine finds out, getting slapped with a 50% HP loss, bleeding, and paralysis, all at once, from the get-go.

And then getting knocked out in the second round.

The hell of it is that we didn't even need any status effects to kill this one. Valnar and Asgar did about 100 HP damage per round, and Asgar's Poison Rain managed to inflict Poison on the third time around, meaning that the fourth time around would have killed the guard regardless. However, I have no more desire to fuck around with this castle, because when enemies can two-shot, that's never a good time. So let's just leave.

We pop another vampire stone for a full heal...

...and this seems as good a time as any to take a break. Next up, it's a whole lot of exploration and side quests. In fact, the next chunk of game will be exploring all the remaining towns, and cleaning up pretty much all of the remaining side quests apart from a few.