Part 15: The Horny UpdateUpdate 013: The Horny Update
And not just because the Rapax have horns.
So the Rapax Castle is probably the second-most-annoying part of the game for me every time. Normally I have an impeccable sense of direction, but this place fucks me up utterly every time. It consists of three layers, the cellars, the main castle which we're in now and the upper castle. The cellars are irrelevant and feel strongly like more was planned for them. But let's look at the other two.
Oddly enough, the main castle is actually the easiest to navigate since most of the silly-looking corridors are because of 3D corridors being layered on top of each other and are actually part of one-way sub-areas. Fundamentally, the main castle floor is just a square with up/down stairs at three of the corners and the Temple of Al-Sedexus at the fourth. The other place of interest is Ferro's forge on the south side.
The upper floor, on the other hand, is a total shithole.
The main floor is oddly void of decorations, with only a few actual rooms and mostly just corridors. First thing I do is set a direct course for Ferro, because he sells some incredible stuff. On the way I, of course, get ambushed by the locals.
Levels are a bit of a mixed bag since we're starting to hit the top tier of the level cap for some of the locals. Most creature types span a range of 6 or 7 levels, with three variants in there, a low, a mid and a high-level one. Once you start out-levelling an area, the game doesn't really have any tricks for dealing with it. It does not, for instance, keep cranking up amounts or spawn rates as far as I'm aware. You'll just start being free to laugh as you scythe through them.
The fighting carries me past this tease of a look into a treasure room which is also one of the biggest dick moves in the game, because there's actually no way to get in there. There is a way to get some stuff out of there, but you probably won't realize that's where it's coming from when you do so, and thus it can lead you on a wild goose chase for a long time.
In a decent bit of signposting, these purple lights are explicitly posted at up/down passages in the corners of the castle, making them easier to find.
We enter Ferro's forge by the side entrance so we can yoink his bellows for Stony. It gets combined with the hose from the Mine Tunnels to form...
Something that's perfectly ideal for washing away Rapax.
While I'm poking around in the back, a random patrol comes to check up on Ferro who, as an example of great customer service, takes his forge hammer to their heads in our defense.
They would have gone down easily enough without him, but he does help speed things up. My biggest worry was that they'd dogpile him and manage to kill him, as Wizardry 8 doesn't really do much in terms of invincible NPC's and we are, currently, in one of the few parts of the game where I believe we can actually softlock ourselves out of progress.
So Ferro is probably the last merchant you'll meet in the game, and what he sells is, appropriately enough, very rad.
He's got top-tier ammo for your ranged guys and gals.
And amazing pieces of armor for just about everyone. The best thing is that "unique" items sold by merchants also get reliably restocked when their inventory refills, which means we'll be able to slap Infinity Helms, Robes of Rejuvenation and the like on every single party member who's actually capable of equipping them.
He also sells high-level spellbooks and a single quest item, and has a small selection of custom items, though the only one I'm interested in is the Ivory Blade. We've already got all of the ingredients for all of his custom stuff, one of which is the huge silver nugget we've been lugging around since the mine tunnels and can now finally unload.
His quest item is the non-descript "Dark Nectar."
Anyway, let's go join a weird sex cult so we don't have to butcher twenty rapax just go walk down the hallway.
What we're headed for is the two distant yellow(i.e. provisionally non-hostile) NPC's on the far side of the area.
Another new enemy type here are Rapax Courtesans(or Concubines, depending on how they're levelled), who are generally non-entities except they have a non-zero chance to land instant kill hits. Thankfully they're also about as fragile as you'd expect a Rapax armed only with a knife and wearing a wet T-shirt to be.
Delightful, by which I mean goddammit you horny artists.
Sucks for the pack of Rapax Janitors who have to go through this place later and clean up the pool.
The main roadblock towards reading the semi-friendly cult NPC's is this shoddy throne room where a big pack of enemies seems to consistently spawn. Thankfully, once I fight my way into the throne room proper there's enoguh headroom to start summoning elementals and speed up the cleanup.
The throne room is always funny to me because clearly there's no way any goddamn Rapax could actually sit on that throne.
I also misremember that there's something hidden behind the throne and get myself stuck on the geometry coming back, forcing a reload. Goddammit game.
There are two exits to the rest of the castle on the ground floor, the cultists and an exit to the upper castle on the top floor, and a couple of exits to small dead-end areas. One of them is actually interesting.
This little lounge area exists for us to pulp a bunch of the locals and collect some nice items.
It's a shame this horn is more or less useless in the Rift, but we might still get some use out of it during the last couple of sections of the game.
There's also a kitchen at the back of the lounge in case anyone was wondering what happened to those Trynnie the Rapax managed to get their hands on. Gross. Still, there's a reason to palm this poor unfortunate squirrel. If you give it to Ferro, he'll unlock a closet at the back of his workshop for you which contains a number of items we've mostly outgrown, but also a second Brilliant Helm.
Anyway, what we actually care about is these two dorks up top who've watched us casually skewer a couple dozen of their countrymen down below without giving a fuck.
We of course tell him we're here to join his weirdo cult and he lets us in right away. Score.
Now, the reason we're joining this cult, aside from it turning every Rapax in the castle friendly so we can explore without getting hassled, is that it's the only way, as far as I'm aware, to access a portal to Ascension Peak, which is necessary once the landslide hits if you haven't set up a portal up there beforehand. I'm honestly unsure what security the game has if you murder Surdan and Saydin, or Al-Adryian, or even Al-Sedexus the first time you meet her in the Rift, before joining the Templars. I personally suspect it just gets you a nice, fat softlock.
Adrian doesn't have a whole lot to say, he's just here to recruit us for the cult. If we tell him we're all aboard, he sends us back outside to talk to the other goon at the entrance.
I always fuck up spelling Al-Adryian's name with this guy. Oh and he also charges us a percentage of our total gold to join, which is why it's deeply important that we spent as much as possible of it at Ferro's before going over here.
He opens the door to this nice carpeted area which doesn't look suspicious at all by which I mean it looks incredibly suspicious.
Which it is, because the floor drops out from under you and deposits you in the testing chamber. Or one of the three testing chambers. They share some similarities.
All of them have a pair of big elementals behind a gate.
A lever to let them out.
A riddle-dispensing Rapax tart behind the elementals.
And a piece of locked-away gear, a part of the "Canezou," as a reward for answering the riddle. The fights are all pretty trivial(well, mostly, one of the earth elementals gets off a lucky punch that one-shots Saxx), but the riddles are, I suppose, somewhat interesting. As is the gear we get as a reward.
They're kind of basic riddles, but the classics are strong and I like the voice acting. But what does this actually get us besides their approval and some XP?
Three items equippable by all classes and all races. So they're ideal for rounding out your Fairy or Monk's gear. The stamina regen on the robe also makes it ideal for a backline Gadgeteer or Bard, likewise the helm as the Vitality ups their Stamina, and the dagger is actually a quite solid off-hand. It's a shame there's no way to join the cult multiple times for more of these.
Once we're done, it's time to head back to Adrian to ask him about the next step.
Sounds entirely safe. I choose to dress Stony in the Canezou because it's funny to me to expose him to whatever weird-ass initiation we're gonna get.
...I feel like that altar has a slightly suggestive shape. I'm sure it's just my imagination.
Welp, time to dunk this sinister goop on the platform and see what happens.
Description of the content spoilered below in case someone feels(rightfully) edgy about watching this video.
Al Sedexus shows up and quizzes us on the riddles we just had, when we answer correctly she asks for a sacrifice(who must be wearing the full Canezou and be male) and drags them off for some(mercifully fade to black) boning. Surely this will not come back to haunt is in any way.
Banging Al Sedexus opens doors for us, literally, as it raises the portcullis on the far side of the altar.
Now every single Rapax is friendly towards us, hooray! Also that portal on the far side of the big book will take us to Ascension Peak any time we're ready.
Lurking in the alcove on the right is the game's last recruitable NPC...
The problem with Sexus is that he requires you stay aligned with the Rapax to remain your buddy. Maybe there was a more in-depth Rapax-aligned endgame at some point or something. But as it stands, killing Al Sedexus pisses off all the Rapax, and as we'll soon learn, killing Al Sedexus is gonna be something we will very much want to do.
Look at all those lovely green dots. Anyway, now we can really explore the castle without someone trying to kill us all the time.
The Cellar has three sub-areas.
One is literally just a storage closet with a weird goopy chest(it's from the Dark Savant) that always drops garbage for me.
Then there's the jail, which holds a prisoner and a jailer who won't talk to you. Boo.
The third one holds a bar brawl where half the participants are allies and the other half are hostiles. It does not go well for Team Intoxicated once Team Drunk has us on their side.
Nice-looking place, though, except for all the blood. There's a single "talkative" NPC off down a side corridor.
We'll be back to cut this guy into ribbons later because he has something we want, though I will feel slightly bad about it. Only slightly, though.
The Upper castle is more expansive and also sucks shit because I ALWAYS get lost here.
It has a bunch of rooms that are just full of guards and nothing of interest, and a few servants' quarters you can raid, and then a couple of "set piece" encounters.
This is why we want to kill the Constable, btw, he has an office and the only way to open the safe is with his key.
One of the set piece encounters is bumping into the Rapax Prince and his entourage.
I swear I remember the whole pack of them going aggro as soon as he fades/teleports out, but they don't. I'm not sure if their going aggro in the past was a bug or if this is the bug, either way, they talk like they're not letting me past but in fact I can easily squeeze past them and loot the chests in the room.
One of the things of moderate interest is this zoo on the roof. It's full of nothing but horrible carnivorous creatures. There's the final piece for the Jackhammer(casts Earthquake, dealing moderate Earth damage to all enemies in view) in one of the sheds, and also you can open the cages and kill all the animals. A side passage leads to the Prince's old room on the roof.
Considering how bleak the Prince's playground looks, it's no real surprise he grew up to be an asshole.
Also if you for some unholy reason made a Fairy Fighter/Lord/Valkyrie and never got the Zynaryx Plate from Ferro, this is the first and last chance you'll get all game to dress them up in something other than robes, as there's a collection of platemail for dolls lying in the corner that you can equip them with.
There's also a really unsubtle secret passage under the bed. Now, you might wonder, how do you access it? You can't just do the logical thing and push the bed aside.
Instead the statue next to the bed(of course holding a pike at head-height, great idea for a kid's room) is a wind-up statue. So you wind it up...
And it swings the pike and knocks the bed aside. I stand by saying that this is a demented puzzle and that if it hadn't all been contained inside the room, it would have been outright cruel because who the hell would have figured that out.
Anyway, obviously the response is to jump down the tunnel and land in...
A Rapax war room.
The drawings on the table are amusing to me, though I'd be worried if we had to meet that Rapax tank.
And now we reach the bane of my existence, because despite this next section consisting of only three corridors and like four doors, I somehow always manage to get lost here. Don't ask me why. Don't ask me how.
It should theoretically be simple enough. You've got the Queen's chambers, the King's chambers, the war room and this little torture/leisure(?) room, and that's it.
Part of what fucks me up is always that little keyhole you may be able to see next to the rack there.
Oh and remember the treasury downstairs? This is the "access" to it. You drop vouchers for treasure into the pneumatic tube on the right, and they pop out of the doors at the end there. There are only a couple, one up here and the remaining three in the constable's safe, hence why you'll want to gib him. And I maintain again that anyone who can figure out that this is actually coming from the treasury downstairs is a big-brain hyper genius.
I think part of what gets me lost is that there's no central room at any point, literally ONLY corridors, running parallel to each other with little connecting bits.
One of the chambers also has this ominous portal, which you might think is very important but is it ever not.
Chains on the beds and a cat o' nine tails next to a corpse. The Rapax aren't subtle about what they like. Also the dead body has the first of our vouchers.
Also really the least interesting of them.
Getting the key makes the "King's Assassins" pissed at us but, as far as I can tell, and as far as the internet at large can tell, there are literally no Rapax in the entire game that belong to this particular faction. They were probably part of some cut content related to the queen.
The key doesn't open this keyhole. In fact, what opens it is the key that was on the war room table earlier. I've tried that key, though, with no luck. What's up is that a couple of items in the later game have incredibly fiddly interaction points, like padlocks we'll see shortly that can only be interacted with from the side, not from the front. So after trying five times, I give up, assuming I remember wrong, leading to my confusion and running in circles being convinced I've missed something.
What the Queen's key unlocks is this little closet with the metal rod for the ominous portal earlier.
Now, you see where it takes us? The temple in Arnika. Imagine if you didn't recognize that and hopped through without a portal set up here. You'd feel like a real goofus, as there's no portal leading back from there. You also have to wonder why the queen would have a portal to Arnika, capital of her people's supposed enemies.
After a quick visit at the constable in the basement, I return with his key to grab his vouchers.
Which get us...
A kind of lame amulet.
An absolutely rad staff that RFS will be bonking enemies with for the rest of the game.
And a hat that will up someone's chance of instakilling quite a bit. Sadly instakill chances are apparently capped, no matter how many attacks you have per round there's only one check for it and it caps at about 4% or 5% per character, and the monster still has a chance to resist it like any instadeath effect, which is strongly affected by compared levels, which makes it much stronger in less-than-full parties as XP gets split less ways.
Still, for now we've done what we can at the Rapax Castle(I think) and it's time to go investigate the Rapax Away Camp which I happen to know where is.
Also since Purple Has Played The Game Before, I take a detour to the Umpani camp to park RFS and Saxx first(I wouldn't have to, but since RFS stays where he's put, leaving him where Saxx will return to simplifies matters). But as I do so...
Apparently Al-Sedexus has left Stony with a demonic STD. Now, this one sucks. Firstly it has a very minor HP loss effect(you likely won't even notice it, as even a single point of +HP regen counters it, and at this point you should be drowning in that kind of gear), but a second later it Hexes him, a condition that will persist until Al-Sedexus is dead. As a refresher, Hex applies something like a flat -30 Malus to all skills and stats. This means that he can actually no longer use his top-tier gadgets and is all-round a much bigger loser now.
Normally I'd be tempted to go flatten Al-Sedexus right away, but this time I need her to stay alive for a while, because I want the Rapax to stay non-hostile for a while.
Parking the boys.
Then return to the Southeast Wilderness by way of the portal to the Rift(since it drops you right at the Rift/Mountain entrance, and said entrance drops you right at the Mountain/SE Wilderness entrance).
Since the formerly pristine Wilderness Clearing is where the Rapax King and his team have set up shop for the conquest of Dominus.
Everyone here is friendly... for now. That's gonna change.
Most of the tents have mid-level chests in them which I constantly fuck up busting the traps on because Stony is, of course, also my lockpicking "expert" who manages to, over the course of all these chests: melt the party's gold, get everyone drained and get us attacked by elemental lords. Twice.
Now, it's not gonna be a surprise for anyone that we'll butcher everything in this camp(bar three people) before we're done here. So take notice of those towers. See what they're missing? Stairs. There are ladders you can interact with to climb up them, but only when not in combat, which means every tower has two archers you can't reach to instantly pulp, leaving you relying on low spell or ranged damage to take them down.
In any case, there are three locations of interest here at the ground level of the camp.
First, we can piss off the Rapax Prince again.
Secondly, this cave behind the king's tent holds the Rapax Queen. Sadly we can't bust her out just yet, but she'll be one of the camp's three survivors.
Lastly, there's the king's tent.
Cool guy, he just watches and laughs while I bust open his chests and murder huge elementals too big to fit in there each time. Let's go see what he has to say.
Real funny guy. Also a real huge asshole. You're on our list, buddy.
A broad switchback path leads up the side of the hill to where the Rapax are keeping their prisoners. It's worth noting that at the end of the first "switch" there's actually a semi-hidden path leading right up to the cells. With the archer towers being on the main path, taking that path once things get hostile can save you some amount of grief and having to deal with two of the three emplacements.
Once they're denied access to magma, the Rapax become a lot less clever at designing prisons.
Also as mentioned before, fuck these padlocks. You cannot interact with the front face of them at all, only the dark "side" on the right side of them, and depending what angle you're standing at, it may be impossible to find an interactible facet at all. Consider this to be another thing that had me completely stumped for like ten minutes before I finally found a place where I could nudge it open.
Anyway, the reason I left Saxx and RFS back at Mt. Gigas is because the only way to actually get these two imprisoned idiots out is to recruit them as RPC's.
They also have quite a lot to say when you bust open their cells.
At least they're decently levelled and the Rapax have been dumb enough to leave them with all their gear. Unfortunately their gear isn't actually... very good and they don't have a great spell selection. So mostly they're dead weight, except you want to make sure neither of them actually dies. Because if one of them dies(or even just gets KO'd), the other is apt to lose their shit and run away from the party screaming and howling and tanking the alliance quest.
As soon as you're out of the stockade, you're in a fight. The guards at the bottom aren't too great a threat, and will go down pretty quickly, but the archers up top will prevent you from getting away too quickly.
As soon as the immediate danger is cleared, I bolt for the back door as the aggro has "spread" and pissed off pretty much every high-level Rapax in the camp. How high-level? I find out when one of them catches up to me.
Pretty much as tough as Rapax can be. They have a 90% chance of casting spells, and a 20% chance of that spell being Nuclear Blast. If they catch you without your magic defenses up, they could very well cause a full party wipe.
When more than one of them is on scene they can do some considerable damage even through the various magic buffs, especially if the beat the party on initiative and get off a shot before Elemental Shield goes up.
Slowly but surely, though, the fight carries downhill. Technically I could have warped out of there the instant I freed them and before I fought the stockade guards, their chatter about needing to kill the King is, as far as I can tell, just chatter. But I'm not letting him live, and also I'd like to liberate the queen since she doesn't deserve to be stuck in a dank hole in the ground.
Reaching the bottom I have the problem that there's an archer platform overlooking the entire area and thus impossible to fight anyone else without aggroing.
So first I run right into the middle and aggro everything that's not inside a tent and some things that are(like the Prince's concubines). Then I summon up elementals and get murdering.
Then I hide at the bottom of the ladder where the archers can't see me until they forget about me, because Rapax have issues with object permanence.
Then I haul ass up the ladder and brutally evict them from their treehouse. Now I can deal with the king at a calm, sedate pace without these idiots wasting my time or putting arrows into the back of Stony's head, guy's got enough to deal with after his new demon girlfriend gave him demonic crabs.
In all honesty probably the biggest thing to learn when playing Wizardry 8 is how/when to trigger combat without aggroing anything so you can use it to reposition. I can just barely manage to slip through the front of the King's tent and ready myself right next to the entrance to his crappy little throne room in the field, meaning I get to go in with all my buffs up without wasting a turn being at range.
The king is frankly kind of chumpy. He's only got a single guard inside with him and isn't much tougher than the Master Templars we've been wading through for the last twenty minutes. Though something funny does happen. Normally monsters are very respectful of each others' personal space, no clipping and such, but here...
The King either has a very devoted bodyguard or a bodyguard who watched too much DBZ and wanted to do a FUSION.
Doesn't help them, though, they get splatted. If the King was outside so he could summon elementals and maybe had the backup of the camp, he could actually be scary, but in this case he really was not. Now let's rifle through his pockets.
Again, the King can drop nice stuff. He just doesn't for me, but he does drop the key for opening his ex-wife's cell out back. So let's go let her out.
So she's saner than her husband, and considering the portal to Arnika in her bedroom, probably friendlier to the planet in general than he is. Sadly, there's no payoff to opening her cell or anything. It feels an awful lot like a cut quest. Likewise, if we had actually talked to Drazic and Rodan without recruiting them and returned to the King, there would have been nothing more for us there. Still, we can probably assume she has some kind of happy ending, especially considering what's coming up in a bit.
For now... let's take advantage of placed portals and scoot back to Mt. Gigas with our new friends.
The next part is mostly just portalling back between Mt. Gigas and Marten's Bluff. If we hadn't gotten the Dark Savant's coordinates before now, we'd have had to go clean that up with Rodan and Drazic in tow, not that it would have taken awfully long.
Imagine how long this would take without Set/Return to Portal.
And with that, we've got the basics of the alliance down. Now we just need to make it accomplish something. What Z'ant just gave us was a tracking device to allow Umpani weapons to locate the Savant's cloaked vessel and blast it out of the sky. This is going to be very satisfying. I also drop by Sadok to see what praise he has for us.
I love these friendly weirdos. I'm generally charmed by the weirdest, most villainous-looking faction in the game being super reasonable and appreciative of you. Anyway, back to Yamir with the good news.
Though I'll be honest, the portalling also makes it kind of anticlimactic. It could strongly have used some intermediate questing and maybe some attempts by the Rapax and Savant to fuck up the alliance by ambushing you or whatever.
Anyway, Yamir has now given us access to the top of Mt. Gigas, where the BIG GUNS are.
Honestly I would kill for a Wizardry 8 remake just to patch up these holes and to add stuff the original engine couldn't handle like giving you an amazing view of the lands of Dominus from the top of Mt. Gigas.
So what the Umpani have up here is a couple of huge missiles(not sure why everyone calls them guns)-
-a short runway for their mothership. The way you destroy it if you side with the T'rang is that you sabotage the runway and then call it in for a landing and it crashes and booms-
-and this little observatory/traffic control structure.
It has an elevator around the back to take you to the roof.
Press the button and the roof opens up...
Huh, you have to wonder what that is they're scoping out in the sky. We'll find out eventually, but, mind you, it makes hilariously little sense that they can actually spot it through a telescope.
The inside is pretty spartan and serves little purpose unless you want to fuck over the Umpani. Nothing really interesting to look at.
Out back is the missile aimed at the T'rang mothership. We will, of course, not be firing it. In fact, it isn't even how you take them down. Instead you call them up and tell them to maximize breeding output and then shut down the teleporter so they literally overcrowd their own mothership and die in orbit. Brutal.
Let's go back to the other missile, that's the one we get to play with.
Zero percent hit chance until...
Chewbecka with her usual finely tuned sense of humour. Let's go tell Yamir the good news.
And that also finally expends Rodan and Drazic's usefulness. Sadly it also doesn't change a lot of things, like, Saxx and Tantris will still refuse to go to each others' home bases, and Yamir and Z'ant will not in fact show up at Ascension Peak. On the one hand, it sucks, on the other hand, I cannot imagine dealing with some of the later-game fights if I also had 20 Umpani and T'rang taking their turns.
Now, time to go get the crew back together and fix up Stony.
And the team's back together again, though one thing worth noting is that because this quest requires leaving your RPC's behind, it'll create a pretty decently-sized XP-difference between your PC's and RPC's, which is a crying shame. I wish catch-up XP was part of the game's mechanics.
Time to go deal with Al-Sedexus. At least this time we have all the keys and other gubbins and it's a straight line.
Of course we still get this happening every five minutes so it still sucks.
At least it gives Stony a chance to get a bit of exercise with his water pump gadget. Suck it, Rapax nerds.
So, Al-Sedexus as a boss.
She's got some beefy-ass resistances, with only Water and Divine being slightly below 100%. She's got a 70% chance to spawn Rapax aid every turn. And a 30% chance to whip out a selection of very nasty spells including a Heal All or a Nuclear Blast.
Theoretically she is thus a quite nasty boss encounter if your Fairy Ninja doesn't paralyze her with the Cane of Corpus on round 1 of the fight.
She literally doesn't get a single action in before the party splatter her all over her own temple.
Good thing that isn't what it takes to cure all STD's. So the big upshot of this is that now the Rapax are quite unhappy with us, but that's a them problem, not an us problem, since we can own them easily.
Good boy, best robot.
I portal back to the Rapax Castle and prepare for the last stage of the game. At this point it's one, at most two, updates and it'll be sorted, assuming I can get the "hitbox" on the goddamn hidden keyhole on the wall of the King's apartment to work as intended. Which might be asking a lot.