Part 8: Through the fire and flames
When we last left our fearless troupe of adventurers, they were... cowering in fear a few steps from the duke's throne okay fine they're a bunch of spineless wimps what do you want me to say?
In order to build courage, they decide to go out and kill something big.
All the way up here, because now we can finally get through the lava fields without taking damage every step.
But seeing as we're here, this is about the right time for...
Breaking WotES: Step final.
Cast Entangle and never fucking stop.
You know why?
I'll tell you why after you give me some rum.
Entangle is, essentially, a single-target Sleep spell.
"Oh, but that hardly sounds useful," you may say, but you would be oh so very wrong. Allow me to enlighten you:
Entangle never misses.
This second-level spell will turn any enemy, be it toad, snake, giant, bear, spider or beastman into a helpless victim for your stabbing pleasure.
(unlike Fireball which does nothing to salamanders because they are made of fire or something or whatever its weak excuse is)
You could wander around out here and fight trash mobs like elementals and such, but that one cave, with the dragon right inside, is probably the best grinding spot in the entire game. And because this is the point where you should grind if you're going to, that is exactly what we're going to do. Entangle, kill. Entangle, kill. Entangle, kill. Entangle, kill. Sleep to recover spells. Entangle, kill...
It goes something like this.
There's also a scroll of Antimagic Shell just around where you fight the dragon. Supposedly it makes the caster immune to magic. It's useless and thus I will never use it.
But here's where this turns tedious and so I'm going to cheat. Not that I particularly need the levels, especially considering the rest of the game takes place in first person dungeons, but the stores get new merchandise when you level up, and I need to show off everything in this game, right?
So here's the weapon store when you've reached the max level. Possibly there's a weapon or two that you can get if you have three characters at lv14 (Questor can only reach level 10, as previously discussed) but I'm not sure I care. Anyway, I get gauntlets of ogre power for Questor and Thyra, but not for Merlin who gives no fuck about physical damage, and +3 weapons for the three non-Merlin people. The flame-bladed sword Questor is holding is a "+3 sword vs regenerating", and I'm not sure what it does - it's more expensive than the standard +3 sword, which should mean it's not awful, but it doesn't tell you the full story. Usually, you'd have a weapon that's "+1, +3 vs regenerating", gaining an extra bonus against a particular kind of creature. I have no way of knowing what this does against non-regenerating creatures, but he seems to hit things well enough with it, so he keeps it for the unique icon.
The armoury also upgrades to +3 for everybody who isn't Merlin. +3 plate is hella expensive, but it's the best protection you're going to see for anyone who can use it.
The green ring is a Ring of Protection +1, which does exactly what the name suggests and boosts AC by 1. Even Merlin can use these! The blue is a Ring of Regeneration, which Thor already has, but the others get some as well.
Finally, the magic shop's final upgrade. In order, after Fireball, that's Confusion, Ice Storm, Cloudkill, Stone to Flesh, Flesh to Stone, Feeblemind, Anti Magic Shell, Disintegrate, Death Spell, Wand of Fireballs, Wand of Cold and Wand of Fear.
Of these, I'm really only interested in two: Ice Storm and Cloudkill, both of which are awesome... once you've used up your Entangles.
Both Merlin and Questor get all of them, because I can. Well, Merlin gets all of them; Questor can't use sixth-level spells. Because he's an elf and elves suck.
(As much as I'd love to load up on wands, I don't have room for them.)
Here's Thor, fully upgraded. 18 DEX, +3 plate, +3 shield, +1 ring adds up to -8 AC. Basically, if something actually manages to hit him after this, I'm going to be very surprised.
Questor is not quite as dodgy but he has three entangles. His problem isn't that he doesn't get sixth-level spells, because they pretty much suck - it's that he doesn't get more low-level ones.
With more DEX than Questor, Thyra has more AC. She also has the healstick and I'm not sure why with all those spells. Clerics get a lot of them.
Speaking of which, I haven't gone over those yet.
Cure Serious Wounds - Heals 4-14 HP.
Cause Serious Wounds - Reverse of the above. Use on enemies, not party members.
Dispel Magic - Prevents hostile magic in area.
Neutralize Poison - Does what it says, and can I just say fucking finally.
Create Poison - If the target fails to resist this, they die. (Getting poisoned for the party just causes damage over time.)
Protect from evil 10' - Just above three meters for those of us who like to make sense. Supposedly protects party from "special attacks". I prefer... not getting hit.
Cure Critical Wounds - Heals 6-21 HP.
Cause Critical Wounds - Causes 6-21 damage.
Dispel Evil - Supposedly destroys "magical or undead" monsters, or causes them to flee.
Cureall - AKA "Heal" in AD&D (or Fullcure in Final Fantasy). Heals all but 1-6 of target's HP and recovers other problems as well. Not sure why it doesn't just set HP to max, but we can't have D&D making sense, now, can we?
Merlin has all the spells he's ever going to need, and more. He has little else, and so he's the only one with any inventory space left, which is going to become a pain.
So let's get with the program.
So that's where the cat went! Run away, kitty. Run away while you still can!
The next time I see your faces they will be before an army or on the end of a pole!
Guards! Take them away!
The duke is even less pleasant than he was last time. Just try it, I have Entangle.
...but the party does not object to this unfair treatment,
and are "escorted" out of town.
And not allowed back inside again.
This is why you do your grinding before talking to the duke.
...at least I can cross this damn bridge without anyone complaining...
Well, back to the cave, and this time we're going all the way and grabbing all the loot we can hold. I already have most of these but Merlin finally has Lightning Bolt! This allows... shenanigans.
VIDEO: Check it out.
In case you were wondering, this is what Ice Storm does. It's better than Fireball because it pierces enemies and goes on to hit everything behind them as well. Anything unfortunate enough to be standing in front of you when this goes off is pretty much boned.
Fireball isn't quite as awesome, since it stops at the first thing it hits, but it's good enough to deal with zombies. Crispy!
Cloudkill does what it says, and deals damage equal to the target's HP... when it works. Otherwise, it deals 1 HP. It seems enemies are either strong or weak against it - I've never seen it work on a dragon, but enemies that are vulnerable to it seem to die damn near every time. It's nice when high-level magic is actually worth using!
1 was the Antimagic Shell scroll way back in the beginning, the 3 was where I found the Lightning Bolt scroll. At 4, I find some Cure Poison potions that I can't carry. Oh well.
Merlin attempts to Deathspell the gargoyles, but one survives.
He then tries Disintegrate which also fails to kill it.
Then he punches it to death instead. Because.
Deathspell and Disintegrate pretty much do the same thing as Cloudkill, but seem less accurate. It's possible they'll "occasionally" work on higher-level enemies, though, but .
Here's treasure location 3, and it holds...
...the only armour-like object Merlin will ever be able to wear!
Actually, this could go on Thor instead, and probably be more useful, but screw that; Merlin has been naked the entire game and deserves this. It's only a 2-point boost anyway.
Down to level 2 and Merlin gets poisoned. He takes revenge with Cloudkill and drinks one of the Cure Poison potions he finds in the same room.
That was at location 4. We head on to 1 and...
...Questor one-shots the ogres with Cloudkill. They look just like fire giants, and I'm not sure why they're here - ogres are rather wussy compared to giants and dragons.
This is 1/4 of what a red dragon drops. Shitty treasure, woo! (Also four healpotions.)
Location 2 holds more gold and some scrolls we still have no use for. I'm not sure why they bothered to put these behind secret doors; I've seen better just lying out in the open. There's a +2 sword as well, oh joy.
There are some undead here and Thyra finally gets to use Turn Undead. It wipes out all four. Fireball would have done the same, but this is free.
Turn Undead also pierces. Two groups, one shot!
These are probably the worst enemies in the game. Turn kills them, but they manage to land a hit on Thor (I am very surprised!) before that. The problem?
Wights drain levels when they hit you. Thor has lost 120000 experience points in a single hit.
...however, he is massively overlevelled, has no spells to lose and still hits everything he aims at, so I'm inclined not to give a shit.
Level 3 is even worse with the undead. In fact, there's nothing but undead here!
The Spectre looks pretty scary, but Thyra can still kill it with Turn.
Much better! I mean, still not good, but better. Also, +1 plate, +1 shield, Dispel Magic scroll. No one cares.
The Shadow is identical to the Spectre, but it's apparently stronger - it's the only thing in here that doesn't fall to Turn Undead!
That doesn't stop us killing them, though. Swords and fireballs succeed where prayer fails, a lesson we should all remember.
Ghouls share the wights' sprite, but are much less threatening
...well, we've searched the entire level, and I still can't find a way to continue!
But at least now, finally, this dungeon is over.
At the same spot as the merchant, there is a medallion. We have no idea what it does, but it looks important...
...and then we must fight our way out.
These aren't anything new, nor are their sprites.
But are we truly done with the lavapits yet?
All signs point to no.
Each of these rooms holds a bunch of undead. The large one on the far end has a Shadow which must be pummelled to death; the others are minor ones that fall to one Turn Undead, and now we've used that skill for the last time.
From now on, it's Ice Storm all the way. Merlin crosses "one-shot a red dragon" off his bucket list.
Well then, mission accomplished - let's get back to our...