Part 7: Annoying azcan be
Like I said, we may have been able to avoid the swamp, but I'm not about to walk all the way back again only to find out we needed to visit the swamp anyway, so meh.
This cave is home to an old friend and of course he goes down extremely quickly. Not even Merlin has all that much trouble hitting these guys any more.
The LT doesn't get to do much either,
and we cheerfully loot his stash. Questor gets the Web; Merlin already bought his.
Not pictured: Dispel Magic, +1 Leather Armour, both of which are useless to us. Well, Questor scribes Dispel, but he'll never use it.
This guy may have been a threat when we met him around level 1.5, but now he's just fodder.
We're heading for the jungle on the other side, but I take a detour to gather all the stuff in here, because I can. The minotaurs' loot was location 1.
Location 2 has a couple of cleric scrolls and some money. And owlbears. Fucking owlbears everywhere.
I actually go out of my way to use up some of those scrolls here because I'm running out of inventory space.
This guy is weaker than fire giants. We've killed fire giants already, so he's pretty pointless.
Around 400 GP and four healing potions at location 3, nowhere near worth the side trip. Let's see if there's anything better in the last location...
This guy is new. I don't know if he can do anything particularly interesting, because he doesn't get much of a chance.
Also some cave bears and beetles and other shit you've already seen. More importantly...
...some more trolls, and this time we have the advantage. It feels great to turn them into a fine green mush on the cave floor.
I'm not sure about D&D, but in the Advanced version, trolls wouldn't die unless you burned the corpses or poured acid on them. They actually came back to life after a few turns in the gold box games unless you killed them the right way, but here, you can kill them just like you'd kill anything else.
There's also a Troll Chief a little deeper in, but, eh. You know how this goes, same sprite, goes down before he can touch me.
Either way, it's worth the trouble. The Ring of Regeneration recovers 1 HP every few seconds; it goes on Thor because he takes the most damage. The downside is that it makes a BLEEP noise whenever this happens and it gets rather annoying. The Fireball scroll goes to Merlin who will be scribing it posthaste.
...oh, and there's a Prot Evil 10' in there as well, but no one cares. Merlin scribes it mostly to save space.
Let's roast some bugs. It's super effective!
I'm having trouble coming up with anything interesting to say. These are still dangerous and will murder you if given half a chance. Probably the strongest enemies in here.
Pretty sure this is the last gelatinous cube in the game. (Gygax! )
And here we are! (Questor got in the way of a Sabertooth along the way. Ouch.)
Here's the jungle.
And the jungle has new music.
"Jungle Combat" may sound like a film about the Vietnam war or something, but this one is at least better than the swamp, and the combat theme is pretty .
Like the swamp, we won't be able to see the map until we find one, so let's
Azcan shamans are dicks. They like to cast Cause Disease, which exists pretty much solely to annoy the player. It causes a penalty to hit (so basically it's what Light/Darkness should have been) and this is obviously not a good thing.
This is why you want a cleric. Cause Disease is a waste of a slot; fill them with Cure Disease for this area.
Fortunately Thyra levels up to 7 and gains a second third-level spell slot, so it's all good. Now if only I could find something...
...score, I guess? This seems to work like the tree in the swamp; if so, there is no way to resurrect characters here, but you shouldn't be getting killed, so...
Oh, you motherfuckers.
...what's this, then?
It's a step pyramid! A golden one!
It's populated by assholes!
The game won't let me aim Fireball "around the corner" of the stairs, but Merlin gets two of them with this.
Then he starts casting Magic Missile, which can be cast over the non-walkable areas.
The party gets through this fight unscathed and gathers a rather crummy reward. Maybe there's something more interesting inside...
The pyramid's inner walls are quite nicely decorated - it's a welcome change from the generic dirt caves and generic stone caves we've encountered so far.
It is, of course, also populated by azcan warriors. These are identical to the one we fought in the beastmen's caves, and I believe the number by their name is their level, in which case... well, you know what I'm getting at.
The wokan's name doesn't make as much sense as some of the other things I've seen here but they're some kind of mages and can also cast disease at you. Murder quickly.
This place is full of traps. Here's where a thief would really come in handy, but we don't have one, so I'm going to have to
The 1 is a Continual Light scroll. It's even more of a waste for arcane casters.
The [X] marks are traps. Not too many here on the first floor, but...
These guys make me sick. Literally.
(insert rant about this spell here again, or perhaps a smugface because I have the cure with me, or whatever you want; either way I murder the guy, cure Thor and move on)
Here's a new hat. Other than that, the men are about as threatening as the women. At least the game doesn't discriminate.
(pay no attention to the fact that the only woman in the party is the healbot)
But the pyramid has more than one floor.
The second one is fairly easy to navigate; just take the second secret door and you're pretty much done.
Don't misstep, though!
The third floor is where it starts getting annoying. There's no loot on this level, no new enemies, just a fuckload of squares you can't step on because they will ruin your shit. Fortunately, you can often shoot the azcan over the trapped squares and they'll pretty much just stand there and take it. That's a small mercy, at least.
Here's level 4 and it is full of fuck. Once you catch on to the trick, you can probably guess your way through it pretty well, and of course an elf or thief helps.
There's an old "friend" here (and a scroll nobody cares about, but that's it for the loot). In this shot, Questor has detected one of the five hidden doors I've gone through.
Level 5 is thankfully the last. If you don't have a map, it's basically a huge "fuck you" to the player. However, I do, so it's rather quick and easy. From the stairs, go out and left and take the first path in on your left, and...
...you reach the deepest reaches of the pyramid and the high priest himself.
What follows is a rather simple "boss" fight against a horde of azcans. The wokan comes to you, but the rest won't move unless you enter the room...
...allowing them to catch you in a pincer attack. Nevertheless, they are easily dealt with.
There's something in the distance... but we have to deal with the rest of these guys first.
Level 8! That's the toughest one so far, but with only one of her and four of us, it's a rather one-sided affair.
The treasure they were guarding is something we're going to make use of in the near future: a bunch of rings of fire resistance, one for each party member (uncanny!).
We also obtain the map over the jungle, but it's not much use down here.
Of course, then we have to walk out again, and all the enemies on higher floors have respawned. I get a little impatient with the upper floors...
...or perhaps very impatient.
The party is in pretty bad condition once we finally (finally!) reach the top, but on the plus side, Merlin gains a level somewhere in that mess and that makes everything better. It allows him to memorize a second fireball.
Here's the map. The restoration pond is the little one to the far west, and the exit is the brown trail leading out to the east.
Questor levels up on the way, but he doesn't have Fireball so no one cares.
One swift dash through the cave later...
...and another, slightly slower dash through the wilderness...
...we find that things aren't much better in the village than when we left.
In fact, it's probably worse.
I don't even know anyone named Jack!
What did I do? I just find rare and exotic animals and/or cultures, kill everybody I meet and take their stuff. I wasn't even here!
The cleric has gone decidedly loopy, but at least he still heals us...
Okay, this time? Not so close.
I don't know, and I'm still not talking to you.
Watch out for, uh, "dinosaurs"!
What the fuck, man, that's not cool.
...okay scratch that I kind of do want to hurt you guys.
Seriously, someone tell me what the shit is going on.
There is no new equipment, but there are some new spells... and a very cranky shopkeeper. That's an awesome wand right there but I'm not going to buy it; it's expensive and I have little room in my inventory as it is. Questor does finally get Fireball, though.
...I'm... I'm scared.
Thor's inventory is full. One potion, the rest is gear he's actually wearing. The Ring of Regeneration is pretty nice for someone on the front lines, but it's really not all that important; Thyra has more than enough "cure light wounds" if I should need healing.
Questor has magic! And the withered vine, which I'm not sure why I'm still carrying around. There's no other place where it's useful and I'm not going back to that stupid swamp.
Thyra doesn't need Cure Disease any more, but I'm not sure why I swapped it out, either; it's not as if I'm ever going to care enough to cast Striking.
And Merlin still has no protective gear, but with all that magic there's not going to be much that can hurt him anyway.
Next up... uh... stuff.