Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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Completed Let's become the bookhouse boys in Magic and Magic VI!

Discussion in 'Codex Playground' started by Pope Amole II, May 24, 2013.

  1. Pope Amole IIgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Pope Amole II
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2012
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    Having completed LPs of part VII and VIII, it seemed unappropriate to me to leave part VI, arguably the best one out of the latter trilogy (and, according to the kkkodexian poll, of the whole series) without good showcase. From the powergamer/munchkin/game system analyst point of view, obviously - as I've mentioned before, good bro Azira has already completed a more casual LP of this game, so if this will be too shallow in softcore details for you, you can always try his.

    Now, let's get to the meat of it. There are three major things going for M&M VI.

    1. Whether or not it is the best one, it's certainly one of the most detailed ones. VII & VIII, for example, were extremely shoddily done - like, they had much better models of monsters & pictures of house interiors (because the tech got better and, probably, most of the budget was funneled into art department), but they had doghouses instead of dungeons, and very simplistic to boot. In VI, there are some dungeons where you can literally get lost and have to solve a puzzle or two to get through them. In VII and VIII, it's generally just a couple of rooms filled with monsters. Heck, the starting dungeon of VI, the abandoned temple, is probably as big as the ending one of VII, if not bigger. And since M&Ms are usually about exploring dungeons & managing your party (and fighting a boatload of monsters, but, being classic monsters, combat was never that interesting in them), gameplay takes a great hit from that.

    Another example of this is richness of the world. Mind you, I'm not telling you that VI has very detailed world or is particularly story-driven (it is not), but, at the very least, there were attempts of building it - there are lots of NPCs in the game, and while each has only 3 or 4 different and unique phrases to say, those amount to at least something. In later parts, there wasn't even that.

    2. Role-playing system. While seemingly same, there's world of difference between VI and VII-VIII.

    The sad part is, the name of this thread is not wrong. While improvements in later parts allowed for full melee and full archer parties, in VI, might tactics are extremely weak. Non-NPC healing is ridiculously weak (and NPC one is 1 use per day), weapon skills are weak (and the best melee weapon in the game is dagger which, ironically, spellcasting mages can wield as easily as full close-on oriented knights) and armor skills hardly help your tanking, so non-caster parties, while certainly not impossible, are hardly pleasant to play.

    The good part is, 5 of the 6 game characters can be full-pledged spellcasters, so it's only knight who is useless hunk of meat. Sure, there's a gap of difference between Sorcerers/Druids (they're tier 1), Clerics (tier-2) and Archer/Paladins (tier-3), but if you're such a proponent of multicultural diversity, all of them can work. And, thanks to the "if you can learn the skill, you can get as good in it as it gets" system, the builds of your characters can get really diverse whereas in VII and VIII they were extremely popamole.

    Another examples of decency is VI actually having a going economy (without millions of cash collecting dust on your bank account) and resistance system being much better. Instead of "each school has its own mag. resistance" (which made dark magic overpowered and some schools extremely unflexible", it's "there are six global resistances, shared between all of the schools". So air magic's sparks or lightning bolt are electricity, but implosion is physical damage, for example. That's great, flexibility is always great.

    3. Grind. Unfortunately, it seems that in metric systems of M&M VI map designers there was only one measure of quantity - a metric fuckton. There can be hundreds of mobs on the overworld, and you enter into small dungeon room - you encounter at least a dozen of bums if not more. Time from time, it makes for curious situations, but mostly it just pads & drags the game. It also amplifies "magic & magic" problem - sorcerers don't really care if there's three or thirty mobs standing there. More fuel for your fireballs. Knights, however, lack area of effect damage, so they're forced to hack those mounds of shit one by one, taking so many damage in the process that their extra HPs quickly become insignificant, because even relatively low-level dungeons are choke full of enemies who will do 30-50 damage per hit. Like, brigand - 2d4+20. Master swordsman - 3d7+20. Lieutenant - 3d3+20. Captain - 3d3+40. Good luck overpowering those early.

    Still, M&M VI is a great game if you play it accordingly (and that's what we're going to do). Even more so, to spice the things up, this is going to be a completionist speedrun LP, meaning that we'll try to do all of the stuff in as little time as possible. Mind you, I won't go extremely tryhard on the speed (you can finish main questline in five game days, after all, but that's not what I'm aiming for), because that'd require lots of reloads & extra hassle and I don't really want to bother.

    KK, let's start Part I

    Show Spoiler



    As usual, a bit of music to set the mood up.

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    Our party. I think that 1 druid and 3 sorcerers are the best mix for a full-caster party - archers suffer from low mana pool, and clerics, while powerful in the later game, aren't nearly as powerful in its earlier stages. Unlike the druid, who is useful in throughout all of the game (especially in the beginning, since he has a significantly larger mana pool at the get-go ). And sure, straight 4x sorcerers will deal somewhat more late-game damage, but not enough to compensate the full lack of healing & resurrection spells. Besides, unlike in later parts, we'll be relying on elemental skills much harder than on our mirrored ones (dark & light, I'm meaning), so he's gonna be hardly horrible in damage dealing.

    Stat distribution is obvious - as casters we're only caring about HP & MP so we're getting as much of them is possible. Skills might be a bit trickier - mass air magic is a given, it's basically bread&butter of this game. Mass earth is for but one spell - sure, the school is absolutely limp and we won't dabble in it seriously, but magic arrow is the best starting spell of them all(if you cook it properly). Water magic for the druid because we'll be rushing town portal & lloyd's beacon - can't be much of speedrun without mobility.

    Oh, and sure, Cooper should've been the first character, but it's a powergaming issue - it's better to leave water magic mastery (you only want to have one) to your druid and water master needs to be first member of your party (to save real world time, yes), and only Hawk fits to be druid, so there he goes. Just think that he's scouting the way.

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    Rest? No time to rest - we need to finish this as quickly as possible!

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    Let's start from stacking all of the useless spellbooks and rings on Hawk, to sell them later - we'll be spamming magic arrows, so there's no need for us to learn pathetic static charges, better to convert those in gold.

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    Here are our stats. As you can see, druid has 6 extra MP - while sorcerers get bonus mana from intellect, druids get it from both intellect in personality, so, once we'll boost them both, he'll have a great mana pool. That bonus doesn't scale very well, so in the endgame it'll become less obvious, but now it's as good as it gets.

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    Those extra skillpoints in for of horseshoes will all go to Hawk - remember, we're rushing master water magic (which requires rank 12) as fast as possible.

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    Let's show our quest letter to the shady guy in the in. Commonly, you ride to Castle Ironfist after that and get fully equipped with bows, but we don't have 4 days to waste on the trip - we'll deal with it differently.

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    Grabbing all the cash that we can is important. Here we see 4 goblins guarding the treasure chest. That means they're not long for this world, unfortunately for them.

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    Same situation, more goblins. Now, let me explain why we're spamming magic arrow - see, out of all the starting spells, it's the most damaging one. Others deal 1d6 or 1d8 (max). Magic arrow deals 2+1d6, meaning 5.5 on the average. Considering low-level monsters sport from 10 to 20 hps, that's a huge difference. It has a disadvantage of being able to miss, but that's fixed easily.

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    Yeah, we burned all of our mana, so it misses helluva lot, but here's the cure - the spell master NPC. She's expensive as hell, but she's 100% worth it. What does she do?

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    +4 skill points to all magic skills of your party. ALL of them. Elemental magic, self magic, mirrored magic - everything gets the boost. The amount of effective skill points you get by hiring spell master is unsurmountable. It's the best hireling in the game, hands down. Our magical damage output instantly becomes huge, and we don't have to recast spells as often.

    TBH, it's ridiculous that many of guides out there completely ignore brokenness of this class. They give advices like "get a banker, get rich!" But the amount of gold you'll get from banker won't match effective skill points you're getting here (especially in the beginning). Or "drag an instructor besides you, it's extra levels". Yeah, indeed, but since each level requires more xp and each skill level requires more skill points, those few extra levels you'll get will never be able to give you enough skill points to chase Spell Master's boost. Maybe in singleton, but definitely not in a party mode. If you're casting spells (and this is Magic and Magic, mind you), you're having spell master. Period.

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    One of the parts of flavor lost in VII and VIII was skills being learned only in specialized guilds (which require membership - luckily, it's cheap).

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    Then we gain 4+ luck for each member of our party from this well. Luck scales horribly(at least against common spells - not sure about more specific effects because formulas in this game are pretty obscure), but is more or less decent to have in the beginning of this game. You certainly dont' want any penalties from it.

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    Now, while we were missing a lot of magic arrows previously, with spell master each one hits, so we're already dealing twice more damage than we should be able to do.

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    We use this prowess to clean up accessible parts of the overworld as we're really hungry for cash. Small bands of goblins near, ehm, goblinwatch falls first.

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    After drinking some rejuvenating (not literally) water from local fountains, we switch to the mages. They're good at dishing out ranged damage...

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    But majority of them is lowest-tier red ones, and they die from one arrow hit.

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    It's not a big deal to break through them (and collect some herbs afterwards - those are also important).

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    Then it's time for a huge goblin camp. Goblins are a bit sturdier than mages (lowest tier are 13 hps - need roughly 3 arrows), but they're almost without ranged attacks so we're in no danger and can always run back to the town to heal.

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    Through all the slaughter, evening came. With it, local shady guild got open - yeah, working hours are also flavorful here. It's not just "6 am to 6 pm" everywhere. Thieves & extortionists work at night, local clerks work at day (and with very short hours - 10 am to 2 pm; yeah, it's good to be a government employed white collar), mages are also kinda lazy (magical shops are 8 am to 4 pm), temples are almost always open (5 am to 1 am), mirrored guilds get active near either midday or midnight.

    KK, enough with ranting. In this guild, we get merchant skill for Hawk so we can finally sell all the stuff that we've looted. We also get disarm trap to actually loot more stuff - we're not going to level it, but for this map just novice 1 is enough.

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    Afterwards, it's time for some extra slaying.

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    We're lucky with the loot - those plate armors cost a lot.

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    So much that we can buy perception skill for the entire party. Perception is useful in multiple occasions, and it's good to have it for entire party - unlike in later games, it's used to avoid damage from the traps (which are plentiful). And you don't need anything higher than expert 4 - it's already enough to open most of the chests in the game safely.

    Then we have some damn good coffee & some cherry pie in local tavern, resting until morning.

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    First thing we do, we buy a sparks spellbook from local magical guild. Sparks is one of the most important spells in this game, if not the most important. It's not the highest damaging one (that one is shrapmetal), but it costs 12.5 time less than shrapmetal while still packing a punch. Once we expert it, we'll fire 5 sparks, each dealing 2+8 (expert 4 + 4 from spell master) points of damage. 50 damage for just 4 mana, oh yeah.

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    We also learn air magic for the Hawk - it's quintessential for each member of our party to be well-versed in it.

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    I didn't want to force this move so early, but by some lucky chance I encountered another rare NPC while running across the street - the Gate Master, who allows us to jump at one of the six portable cities in the game once per day. Unlike with VII and VIII, there's no condition of visiting those towns previously required to do so. Meaning that while she's pretty redundant once you get your own master water magic up and running (which should be a priority for any playthrough), she's pretty awesome in the very beginning of the game.

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    Let's exploit that awesomeness. From the side wall of local bank, we get a fly spell scroll (somehow - let's not think about this too much).

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    We use it and, via hidden portal located on top of buccaneers' guild (I've sorta missed screenshotting that one), we're brought to the dragonsands.

    We were clicking that portal in turn-based mode, so we're not obliterated instantly.

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    Then, with swift dash we place ourselves inside of relatively safe niche in the nearby shrine...

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    And pray at it for a huge power boost. TBH, if you visit this shrine later in the game, those +20 stats are mostly unnoticeable, but early - oh, early they're God-given.

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    Seethwright, for God's sakes, get me out of here!

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    In Free Haven, while our flight spell still lasts, we rush to the local land lord, getting a knightly promotion quest.

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    Then we sweep across the map to meet the person who can dish out nomination for said promotion.

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    Short backtrack and we're done.

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    We also collect local horseshoes.

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    Actually, abusing the rest option, we spend a couple of days collecting all of the horseshoes in all the cities, available for teleportation.

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    We also visit this well in the blackshire - disease is nothing short visit to the temple won't cure, and permanent resistance buff is, well, permanent.

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    We've gained 6 levels for that measly quest. Nice!

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    We spend those skill points on air magic, and for Hawk it's also tons of water magic - actually, I kinda screwed up by also giving him air magic. He'll need it, but it could've waited for later. I rushed because he has the best mana pool and he'll be an excellent spark thrower (it's not easy to get a sparks spellbook for each party member so it's just one or two casters in the beginning), but we should've rushed water. This air preference costs us a couple of days.

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    Having collected enought ingredients, we brew black intellect potions for everyone and black personality potion for Hawk. What can I say? They also give a huge bonus to our performance so they should be rushed.

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    Finally, it's dungeoneering time.

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    We dispatch those bats so fast that we're not even able to screenshot it. Feels good to enter abandoned temple at level 6 and with good stats.

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    Cobras are somewhat harder to deal as they're much sturdier, but even they are hardly an issue.

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    Defeating them, we grab the candelabra they were unwittingly guarding.

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    The room across is filled with spiders - not a huge threat at this point. Our mana sure runs down fast, though.

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    Time to get rewarded for our not so noble actions (and get regenned in the process).

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    We're also exploiting a graphical glitch here - usually that air magic trainer is accessible only through either jump or fly spells (hence the fly magic scroll in the side of this building; anyway, this guy is a total jerk), but this hole in the balcony (which I prefer to interpret as simply throwing boulders at his door - hard to ignore that) allows us to circumvent the chore.

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    We had enough money for 2 air magic expert trainings - let's go test those!

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    My, this view is almost intoxicating! Quite literally, actually, although it's not exactly the view. Nevertheless, turns out it's much better to deal 50 damage for 4 mana...

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    Than 5 damage for 2. Sure, hitting with each sparks is not often possible, but heck, even 2 or 3 sparks landed still provide better damage to mana ratio.

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    Of course we'll take you home!

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    Just hang around us while we're looting those scary skeletons in dangling cages (possibly damaging your tender psyche irreparably in the process) and we're good to go.

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    After returning the kid to her mother, we remember that we've forgot to visit the local spell shop - that was quite a mistake, considering that another sparks spellbook was waiting for us there.

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    I've also forgot to show you my party's stats after all those shrines, levels & potions. Here we are. Hmm, that candelabra quest has really hurt our reputation.

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    A rather "generous" donation to local temple...

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    And we're back to respectable. Wow, what a cheap respect...

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    Back into temple. Since Cooper & co have air magic 6, they deal even more damage with sparks. Well, they'll deal once we find the books - atm it's just Coop & Hawk flinging it out.

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    And it's good that we have them, because look at that monster pack! Lots of crap out there.

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    We run completely dry in this battle (well, on important party members), but at least we're able to steal some eggs...

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    And open a chest with relatively fat loot - that pretty looking chainmail is surely expensive.

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    Eggs also turn out to be quite a commodity.

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    Back into fray, facing the scary queen spider.

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    She becomes less than scary after exactly one spark cast.

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    There are more monsters to mop up, but nothing significant.

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    KK, let's move to a different kind of vermin.

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    But I haven't meant rats, yes (though they're also here and, obviously, they're effortlessly easy).

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    Opening coded door (and solving this quest in the process)...

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    We run into a swarm of bloodsucker parasites, but they're still not the vermin I meant. Bloodsuckers are more annoying than dangerous, especially when powerful sparks are available.

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    No, this is what I meant - goblins!

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    Goblins and some more rats (and I don't know which one is higher on the evolutionary table)

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    Enough of them to catch all of our sparks.

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    Our mana & health get finished sooner than we finish the place, so we run out to heal. Unfortunately, it's late in the night so temples are closed, but instead of wasting the night to sleep we make a run across the land, gathering all of the reagents that we've missed without expert wizard eye (quite a lot of them, actually).

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    We also finish some quests.

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    Having healed up, we return to cleanse the goblinwatch dry.

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    It's painful, but easy. Note that our non-spark members fight with their daggers - thanks to the shrine of gods' blessing, they're quite able to inflict at least some damage that way.

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    Then we brew freshly gathered ingredients into luck potions.

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    Gathering some rewards also feels nice.

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    We're finished here at the time, so let's jump to Mist.

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    Local authorities ask us to investigate into possibly criminal activities of local semi-vigilante group - man, they surely are no bookhouse boys.

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    We're happy to oblige, but not without some preparations. We become more adept at learning stuff (hard to investigate without that)...

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    And stock on high-quality spells. Fireballs will be our second bread & butter spell - they're not as flexible or as mighty on lower levels as sparks, but they'll still carry us through this game. As I've said (and you already see), there are lots and lots and lots of trashmobs in tightly packed formations, just asking for it.

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    We also buy two more spark spellbooks, although at higher price than it would've been in New Sorpigal - eh, it's not that much higher, and we finally have an entire party of sparkcasters. We'll need it soon. Now, actually.

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    Also, a water walk spell. It'll quickly become useless (because fly is much better), but since we don't have fly yet, we might as well use it.

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    Now that we're fully prepared, we can get some job done.

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    Before taking on silver helms, set's evict some illegal immigrants out of this area.

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    Let's evict them straight into underworld.

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    I must add that this location seems strangely intolerant towards denizens of India. Why so hate, NWC? Don't you understand that it's a white male patriarch we must relentlessly fight to make this world a better place?

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    On the other note, those guys trap their chests good. Actually, since we're kinda stranded here (you enter the teleporter in and have to go though a couple of highly-populated islands to get to the teleporter out) we could've been in a pinch, but don't worry!

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    We bought that water walking spell for a reason.

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    Then it's some more racial intolerance (with a colonialismic tint, even). It even made me feel a lil' bit guilty, because look at those guys - they love each other so much that they die holding their hands (and dancing, but those are indians, after all - I doubt they do anything without dancing).

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    However, we're merciless. These are the two last immigrants remaining, and soon there are none.

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    Now it's silver helms turn.

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    Immediately, Captain & some of his Guard try to stop us. As I've said, Caps are tough muthas - they have 200 hps and deal 43-49 damage per hit.

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    Thankfully, with our turbocharged spark spells, it's just a 5-6 casts to get him down.

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    His friends try to run away, but they don't go far.

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    Hearing their cries, a monk came to their help - too late and too fatally for himself, obviously.

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    Actually, there's a whole bunch of dudes down the corridor, so we carefully lure them out in small bunches - they're stupid enough to buy into it, and this slope is great for spark throwing.

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    But, of course, the most effective way is just firing them from point-blank range. It's just that it's too hurtful against non-solitary adversaries.

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    Having dealt with that room, we move into other ones, meeting as much resistance there. Well, monks with their low hps are not much of resistance...

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    But swordsmen can be (and note that we ran out and healed in the temple).

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    On of the greatest boons of sparks is that they bounce of the walls (rest of the spells just explode when hitting them), so in choke points like this one we can hit enemies with all five of them easily.

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    Finally, we find some hard evidence against these buggers.

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    And a key to some place we've never heard about. Well, whenever you see a key lying around, be sure to grab it - it definitely will get useful (at some point). That's the best IRL advice I can give you today.

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    Releasing some prisoners, we learn that this place is not as simple as it seems.

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    Before that, let's clear the perimeter - in this narrow corridor, Captain is perfect target for our sparks.

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    Indeed, there are secret passages here, and with some quirky stairs also.

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    You can start to help us by getting that dress off, baby...

    Nah, you're not in our taste, to be honest, so keep it zipped.

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    Silver helms appear literally out of thin air to ambush us...

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    And while they knock the Hawk out, that's not nearly enough to defeat us.

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    Wow, you government boys are sure stingy - I bet your mayor's ink jar costs freaking more than you've just paid me. Whatever.

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    Back into Sorpigal. With water walk on, we can explore a couple of surrounding islands. Exploring contents of this cook pot...

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    We find ourselves ambushed by its angered owners. But I'm not sure that there's food in this pot - it clearly doesn't hold enough for this horde. Must be something else, but what?

    Nevertheless, these crowds are perfect test for our fireball spells...

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    And they work awesome, but not nearly enough. We kill lots of bad guys, but Harry & Andy lie in comatose state.

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    At least we can retreat easily. And come to kick their ass almost immediately.

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    Second island is much easier - yeah, lots of mages & goblins here, but not of the highest tier.

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    And fireball is still awesome.

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    There's an expert water magic living here (on an island that's only accessible by water walking spell). As I've said, trainers in Enroth are elitist dicks.

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    And the third island features obelisk (which we obviously read) and two more horseshoes.

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    Only now do we visit Castle Ironfist.

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    We unload our rescued damsel in distress & our incriminating letters here, gaining some cash and lots of xp.

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    And local self guilds teach meditation which is awesome for us - there's no such thing as enough mana for caster party.

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    Training time - we get to lvl 12 in one go. Unlike with VII and VIII, no matter how much you train, it still takes only one week (which makes this completionist speedrun possible).

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    With all the levels and horseshoes, we get the desired skill level for Hawk.

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    Rest of the bookhouse boys are far more spread out in their knowledge - we get some fire magic (for fireballs, obviously), learning (more xp - more fun) and meditation (as I've said, having enough mana is crucial - it saves us lots of tedium).

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    So we expert our meditation (each skill level of meditation acts like an extra level gained so now our mana pools are as if we'd been 8 levels higher than we are)...

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    And master the water! We had to jump to mist for this one, though.

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    We buy enchant item spell there (which is huge for our economy - gold is quite precious in this game)

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    And after waiting for our gate master to recharge, we jump into free haven where we buy our own town portal spellbook. Time to part our ways, sweetheart.

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    We then hire a mystic (who looks suspiciously identical to the gate master we've just fired, but maybe it's just a coincidence). What's a mystic, you'll ask?

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    It's simply the second-best NPC hireling in this game. It works the same way as the spell master, only adding +3 bonus instead of +4. Stacking bonus, as you can see, so all of our spells are cast at +7 skill level. Those lvl 7 sparks? Oh, they just deal up to 106 damage per cast. Those lvl 4 fireballs? 38,5 area damage. Oh, nothing to see here, move along.

    KK, that's end of the quite formiddable part I.

     
    • Brofist Brofist x 14
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  2. Aziragender: ⚧ Arcane Patron

    Azira
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2004
    Parrots:
    7,667
    Location:
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    Codex 2012
    I'll watch. It's definitely a different run from mine. :avatard:
     
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  3. Elwrogender: ⚧ Arcane Patron

    Elwro
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2002
    Parrots:
    11,056
    Location:
    Krakow, Poland
    Divinity: Original Sin Wasteland 2
    Great! Keep up please! :) That trip to Dragonsand only made sense because you already had the Town Portal NPC, right? Frankly, I never found that fly scroll in the wall. Do people do this just by random clicking? :)
     
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  4. Krivolgender: ⚧ Arbiter

    Krivol
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2012
    Parrots:
    775
    Location:
    Potatoland aka Prussia
    Scroll is in the south wall of the bank IIRC. Easy to find (just click middle part of this wall).

    I have similar party on my recent playthrough, but with Paladin not Druid (i tough some tanking party member could be useful, but I was kinda wrong).

    Great LP, as allways.
     
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  5. Elwrogender: ⚧ Arcane Patron

    Elwro
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2002
    Parrots:
    11,056
    Location:
    Krakow, Poland
    Divinity: Original Sin Wasteland 2
    Easy to know when you know where to click... or even that you're supposed to be clicking random walls.

    Is there any hint about this or did some player years ago find it by pure chance?
     
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  6. Krivolgender: ⚧ Arbiter

    Krivol
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2012
    Parrots:
    775
    Location:
    Potatoland aka Prussia
    No hint, so probably first player found it by reading gamefaqs or sth like this... :P

    But really it's not a one single pixel to be clicked. And, from the other side, you can allways hire an NPC with flying spell and forget about the scroll.
     
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  7. Pope Amole IIgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Pope Amole II
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2012
    Parrots:
    1,625
    Not really. There's a gate master for hire in local oasis village (I kinda forgot about that one), so we could've tried to just dash there, and there's also teleporter back to new sorpigal somewhere in that shrine. And, if this wasn't a semi-speedrung, we could've just died.

    Well, the hint is that door being on the second floor and having no ladder. When I found it for the first time, I just thought that some kind of hidden door must be involved and clicked around the building, however, it yielded slightly different (but still satisfying) result.

    Yeah, the way armor works in these games, plate barely makes a difference (unless you fight low-level trashmobs while equipped in artifact & relic plates). And, most importantly, there's no way to actually direct monster attacks at him.

    The only way of making a tank work (relatively) is taking a knight character with his 9 hp per level gain, giving him grandmaster bodybuilding of at least 20 (so he'll have, like, 1500 hp when buffed & equipped properly), then distributing those hps across the party with a shared life spell. Still, that'll hinder our damaging potential severly so I'm not sure if it's worth it.
     
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  8. Elwrogender: ⚧ Arcane Patron

    Elwro
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2002
    Parrots:
    11,056
    Location:
    Krakow, Poland
    Divinity: Original Sin Wasteland 2
    Heh, I always forget about the easiest solution ;)
    You're right. I guess I just subconsciously assumed the game to be so schematic that I shouldn't worry about missing doors.

    And yes, that other result is satisfying ;)
     
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  9. JagreenLerngender: ⚧ Arbiter Patron

    JagreenLern
    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2010
    Parrots:
    1,009
    Location:
    Compton, California
    MCA Project: Eternity
    MM6 LP with Twin Peaks references? Will follow.
     
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  10. Storyfaggender: ⚧ Arcane

    Storyfag
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Parrots:
    4,301
    Location:
    A Dark Place
    Ah, if only VII and VIII shared VI's attention to world design.

    Anyhow, great effort, Your Holiness :salute: Continue the good work :obviously:
     
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  11. MorteTormentgender: ⚧ Novice

    MorteTorment
    Joined:
    May 26, 2013
    Parrots:
    20
    This is an insanely entertaining LP, and a big part of why I finally created at account. Looking forward to seeing you continue it.
     
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  12. Pope Amole IIgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Pope Amole II
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2012
    Parrots:
    1,625
    Dianne, this morning, in-between of my thoughts on tibetian liberation, I pondered the nature of melee weapons and their cooldowns in M&M VI. While it is plainly obvious that by the nature of its design our party doesn't have much choice or need in them, I steel deemed useful to appraise what we have lost here. Unfortunately for the well-being of the game itself, not much. Let me remind you of their statistics and expert & master skill level bonuses (novice bonus is same for everything - bonus attack point for each skill point invested):

    Staff: 100 recovery time, skill gives bonus armor and chance to stun equal to skill (stun delays the next action of stunned monster; theoretically awesome, but chance is too small to actually help you), best common staff deals ~12 damage, no decent artifact staves available.

    Sword: 90 recovery time, skill decreases recovery time and allows to hold the sword in left hand, best common one-handed sword deals ~18 damage, two-handed - ~20 (meaning that two-handed swords are beyond laughable), and there's an artifact 1-handed sword that deals ~21 damage+20 poison damage per attack.

    Dagger: 60 recovery time , skill allows to hold the dagger in left hand and gives a chance equal to the skill to deal triple damage (but don't be fooled - only the damage of weapon itself counts, without strength or other bonuses), best common dagger deals ~11 damage, there's a quest artifact dagger in the game (meaning you can always find it) that deals ~12 damage and has a vampiric enchantment (very useful - 20% of dealt damage are drained into health, victim has to survive the attack for that effect to happen, though).

    Axe: 100 recovery time, skill decreases recovery time and increases damage dealt, best common 1-handed axe deals ~17 damage, 2-handed - ~21, no decent artifact versions available.

    Spear: 80 recovery time, skill increases armor and damage dealt, best common spear deals ~20.5 damage if used 1-handed, ~24 damage if used 2-handed, no decent artifact versions available.

    Mace: 80 recovery time, skill increases damage dealt and gives stunning chance (identical to staff), best common mace deals ~16 damage, there's an artifact mace that deals ~19 damage+30 fire damage per attack.

    It should be also noted that there are five main ways of decreasing recovery time (i.e., increasing your attack speed):
    1. Haste spell decreases it by 25 points.
    2. Speed bonus decreases it by up to 30 points (but more realistically by up to 15 points, because that +30 bonus requires some cleverness to achieve - 500 speed is needed for it, after all).
    3. There's a "swift" enchantment available for weapons, decreasing recovery time by 20 (but it takes an enchantment slot so no other bonuses for you)
    4. Via skill points (axe & sword only).
    5. Via of recovery enchantment - unlike swiftness, it can be on any item, not just the weapon itself. In original version, it decreased your recovery version by 50% (which is insane) and it applied as a multiplier, meaning that it even surpassed the "recovery time can't go lower than 30" limit. However, it got bugged on modern PCs, and during patched the patch author decided to nerf it a bit - now it works once again, but gives only 10% recovery time (still going lower than limit). You can restore this fix back to original value, however, so there's little need to rage if you're a purist type of a gamer.

    Also, leather/chain/plate armor increases your recovery time (making you slower) by 10/20/30 damage responsively (that penalty can be mitigated by mastering the according skill), shield adds another 10 (and, in VI, that penalty cannot be mitigated at all).

    Many conclusions come out of this.

    Staves are worthless. No matter who wields them, they just shouldn't be perceived as combat weapons.

    Dual wielding is strictly superior to two-handed weapons or shield-usage. It wasn't so in the vanilla game (proper rules is simple - you use the highest recovery time of your two weapons; vanilla was bugged, however, and it used a sum of recovery time of those weapons, so dual daggers became 120 - hell yeah!), it is so in patched one. Best halberd is ~24 damage, 80 recovery time. Best halberd + best dagger is ~31.5 damage, 80 recovery time. Best dual daggers is ~22 damage, 60 recovery time. And dual wielding gives you an extra weapon enchantment, which is either~11 magical damage or 20% life leech. And, of course, for most parties you use daggers in second hand - 90 recovery time of swords is way too big. There is a way of bringing the spear+sword combo to the minimum, but it requires you to either have a maximum speed bonus or have a sword skill of at least 15-20 and that's a huge investment.

    Daggers are the best early-game weapon. Remember that it's not only about physical damage of weapon itself - it's also about hero's might bonus, heroism bonus and enchantment bonuses. Even in the early game, you'll quickly have at least +15-20 damage from those, and since that damage will get effectively multiplied by your attack speed... And that's early game - from the very start of mid-game you'll have at least +50, dagger is 33% faster than spear, so it's, like, extra damage here for it - more than enough to chase down those spears.

    Spears are good in the late-game, though - despite dealing most damage of them all, they're the second fastest in the game. Once you max up your speed, you can switch your main dagger for spear. Not that it'll change much at that point, though - when you have, like, +120 damage from various modifiers, 10 points of damage difference between spears and daggers become not as significant. Yeah, if you pump up that skill and gain, like, +20 damage from it, it becomes better, but still, not critically better - skill level 20 is a big investment.

    Swords are uber-late game only - spears for your main hand & daggers for your off-hand are much better through the most of the game. Sorry, but 90 recovery time just doesn't cut it.

    Axes are worthless - they deal less damage than spears and they're much slower than spears. What's their point? Yeah, at skill level 30 they do become faster, but that's not where you want to put your skillpoints, believe me.

    Maces are cleric only - they have good recovery time, but spears just deal more damage than them without having any disadvantages. And the chance to stun is way too ephemeral to really count.

    TL;DR - in the absolute majority of parties, it's daggers for everyone. And, since everyone but clerics can learn daggers, you can begin to understand why I call this game Magic & Magic VI.


    Now for part 2:

    Show Spoiler




    Fits our chosen mood & the intro of current update.

    [​IMG]

    So we've gained considerable arcane power, what do we do with that? First thing first, let's increase our coffee & doughnut budget by enchanting all the junk that we've accumulated to this point. I won't be showing it constantly, obviously, but I'll enchant everything that qualifies from this point - money are really, really important in this game.

    [​IMG]

    Out of the whole batch, we've gained just one useful item - a ring of recovery.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    As I've just explained, it makes us 10% faster - quite powerful even in its nerfed form, so we'll want one for each of the bookhouse boys.

    [​IMG]

    We also dabble in art of throwing lit matches at anyone who displeases us.

    [​IMG]

    After training & selling our loot, we find ourselves somewhat short from a very important financial landmark, so we rund around Free Haven for a while, searching for easy marks. Those mages make perfect target for our fireballs.

    [​IMG]

    Things aren't as cushy with archers, but we're lucky to find a spawn without really annoying tier-3 ones.

    [​IMG]

    After them it's more mages to loot some spare change from their pockets.

    [​IMG]

    Oh, and we visit another one of these strange stones in the process - I wonder what could be the deal with them?

    [​IMG]

    Hard to be the bookhouse boys without books, y'know, and boy, what a book this is!

    [​IMG]

    Without a tint of procrastination, we travel to castle ironfist once again and set our first beacon there. I guess it's obvious that mobility is key in any speedrun walkthrough, so we don't want to waste any extra time in stables & boats.

    [​IMG]

    But it's not like we came here for beacon placement only - after all, it's the third easiest area of the game so it's only natural for us to clean it now. It's full of wacky indian dudes...

    [​IMG]

    And lizard archers - unlike VII & VIII, this game sports an extremely small number of overworld critters without either ranged attack or flight capabilities. Which is a good design, btw - no easy mode for the player.

    Lizards put out enough damage to bring us into yellow zone quickly, but they're also frail and drop from one fireball.

    [​IMG]

    In midst of roasting them, we remember that something is amiss - we forgot to buy a poison spray spell for Hawk. Basically, poison spray is same things as sparks, only weaker - yeah, it deals more damage at higher levels, but it's much harder to hit with all five sprays and lots of early game mobs are immune to poison. Still, as we have rushed our water magic mastery, it'd be stupid not to use this spell atm.

    [​IMG]

    After turning all of the lounge lizards into ash, we visit the seer of Enroth. Not that he has any useful advices for us, though.

    [​IMG]

    Then it's indian immigrants time. I could've understood if they were tibetian, but otherwise? Meh.

    [​IMG]

    But there's truly a lot of them here.

    [​IMG]

    Just look at those yellow spots on the minimap - it's mounds of corpses.

    [​IMG]

    Spending a great deal of time to loot them, we marsh westwards, across the waters. Here we find more pests...

    [​IMG]

    Guarding a temple of baa. However phony and vile their religion may be, their healing is as good as everyone else's while being ridiculously cheap. And it's not like visiting here affects our reputation in any way or has some other consequences - it should've, but it does not. One of the biggest design mistakes of the game, I think.

    [​IMG]

    Well, it's not like we're larping, so we continue onto north, raising our bodycount further and further.

    [​IMG]

    Time for another dungeon!

    [​IMG]

    Theoretically, you should equip your party with bows here and use those long, narrow tunnels to kite all of the thugs.

    [​IMG]

    In practice, we're able to electrocute the scum faster than they'll say "mama". Or whatever they wished to say, anything - when zapped by a thousand volts or two, any words quickly degrade into mumbling.

    [​IMG]

    Another portion of this dungeon that wasn't meant to become available this early is some sort of sewers, filled with physically immune oozes. Annoying nightmare for other party - piece of a cherry pie for us.

    [​IMG]

    Then, as we were boiling out a couple of oozes, suddenly...

    [​IMG]

    IT'S RAINING MEN, HALLELUJAH!

    [​IMG]

    IT'S RAINING MEN, OH YEAH!

    Umm, no. Just some guards from the higher levels decided to jump down to their sparky deaths. Nothing to see here, move along.

    [​IMG]

    After some healing in nearby Baa temple, we continue our blues with the ooze.

    [​IMG]

    They guard some treasure, but nothing over-serious - we just do it for completionism and a wee bit of xps.

    [​IMG]

    I hope those thugs will find our gaze to be most intoxicating (and last thing they see).

    Yeah, poison spray is, basically, 150 damage per casting - at this point, it's unthinkably huge. But, as I've said, lots of immune monsters - obviously it dealt nothing to oozes, for example.

    [​IMG]

    After a few bunch of thugs, we became sorta low on hps, but it was too late to heal - temples are closed from 1:00 am to 5:00 am. Can't blame them, though - people need to rest, after all. Most people, not us. As this is a speedrun, we'll sleep as little as possible.

    How do we regen? Well, thankfully, there are temples and when they don't work, the game offers us plenty of healing wells & fountains. Here we drink half of free haven's fountain...

    [​IMG]

    And beacon back to discover some incriminating evidence. We're police force, after all, that's our job.

    [​IMG]

    What I like about world design of this game is that many of the dungeons are flavorfully interconnected - yeah, Mandate of Heaven is extremely story-lite, but you still can get a sense of huge conspiracy, set in motion by devils (and their unwitting pawns). They can't overtake the kingdom as it is so they start lots of inner conflicts (mostly in secret and seemingly with no relation to each other).

    [​IMG]

    At the end of this dungeon we find sorta local boss - a powerful veteran, sporting a whopping 200-ish HPs. Yeah, that'll help him agains our ~36 dmg fireballs and ~150 dmg poison spray...

    [​IMG]

    The trap on that chest was stupidly powerful, though.

    [​IMG]

    Can't do a speedrun without some speed, huh?

    [​IMG]

    Since it was the shadow guild that goaded the dragoons into robbing everyone, let's pay them a visit.

    [​IMG]

    Same thugs as in caverns, just in smaller quantities.

    [​IMG]

    Since we were unsure if we'd finish the dungeon before 2 PM (stupid and lazy clerks chilling their asses while we're saving the world), we've made a quick trip to New Sorpigal, showing the evidence to the right man.

    [​IMG]

    Actually, thugs are mostly minority in the hideout - rogues are much more prevalent. Well, they're much weaker so it's not like we mind. You can also see why poison spray is not as good as the sparks - sparks would've bounced from those walls straight into our enemies, sprays just get wasted.

    [​IMG]

    One of the biggest advantage of crimefighting (vigilante-style, at least) is the fact that crime pays, and we're the ones who tax it.

    [​IMG]

    Melting last brigands in huge bursts of toxins...

    [​IMG]

    We discover a key to the local cells. Obviously, Any gets knocked out in the process.

    [​IMG]

    What? I thought the hostage was Audrey!

    [​IMG]

    Well, at least we've been so fast that we can get rid of her before the New Sorpigal town hall closed.

    [​IMG]

    A cup, well, a bottle of hot, strong, black coffee is definitely good for your health.

    [​IMG]

    Oh, and we forgot to return the harp to its proper owner - luckily, that's easy to correct.

    [​IMG]

    More books for us. This time it's fly - walking is definitely a chore.

    [​IMG]

    In sudden burst of joy we suddenly port to the frozen highlands, fly around and kill a couple of tier-3 archers - they're really unpleasant & strong, sporting lots of hps and throwing fireballs at our party.

    [​IMG]

    Also, as it is february, time to make a pilgrimage to the intellect shrine - unfortunately, we were too clunky in our early travels to make it in time to the strength one, but it's not like we really needed it. This one, however, is much more useful for us - having extra mana definitely won't hurt.

    [​IMG]

    Back in Castle Ironfist, we dispatch some remnants we've missed before...

    [​IMG]

    Then decide to pay a friendly visit to the local baa temple. Well, the second one.

    [​IMG]

    Before exploring its main hall, we descend into four side-rooms one after another. They have one thing in common - being choke-full of vermin. In case of first, it's spiders galore.

    [​IMG]

    Guess that's the Baa schtick (or just designers using one approach over and over again).

    [​IMG]

    There are also some cauldrons to boost your magic resistance here, but the bonus they give is hardly huge - just +1 per cauldron. Well, in the beginning of the game that still counts.

    [​IMG]

    Second side room is spiders mixed with skeletons.

    [​IMG]

    Skeletons are tougher than spiders, but are not much of a threat - most dangerous are the commie ones for they can curse us (and that's annoying).

    [​IMG]

    Third room is more spiders...

    [​IMG]

    And some Baa clergymen. They're another bunch of those "weak bodies - some ranged attack" types, their attack is nothing special, though. Really, this temple is all about quantity over quality.

    [​IMG]

    Fourth and a last room looked like anatomical museum - skeletons of all shapes and colours.

    [​IMG]

    Recharging ourselves in the nearby Baa temple (another true religion of peace - they absolutely don't mind us using their heals to slaughter their brethren, ah, if only all faiths were this tolerant, we'd been living in a happier world), we solve an easy riddle only to discover a single unguarded chest.

    [​IMG]

    The chest is not what it seemed to be - once we've opened it, a lot of weak guardians spawned all around us.

    [​IMG]

    Fighting them off took its toll, but we prevail in the end.

    [​IMG]

    "In the end" isn't really appropriate phrase in this dungeon as there's no end to respawning skeletons here. But wait, my complaining are a bit premature...

    [​IMG]

    And the logic of this temple is simple - you find hidden keys, you open doors with it (to find more keys behind them), a pack of skeletons respawns.

    [​IMG]

    In the end, there's this big altar surrounded with fireball fodder.

    [​IMG]

    Couple of clerics survived our initial assault and, as they were standing quite far from each other, we've decided to go all close & personal with them.

    [​IMG]

    After dispatching them, we've stepped on the final trigger, summoning the final spawn of this dungeon. Yeah, now it's the time to complain...

    [​IMG]

    Well, complaining won't help us achieve anything, so let's deal with this horde. First, we make a short charge to the right, allowing the skeletons to regroup in tighter ranks - they happily oblige because they're mindless bones, after all.

    We clean the near ones with sparks, then, having gained line of sight, we annihilate the farther ones with fireballs.

    [​IMG]

    Of course, this huge spawn is more of a riddle - you really are supposed to open a hidden door nearby, run upstairs and shoot those undead legions down from a comfy distance, but hey, doing exactly what game designer have planned for you is so boring. You're not his lapdog, y'know.

    We couldn't finish our foes in one swipe, btw - our mana pools were not that big at that point. So we've ported back to city...

    [​IMG]

    And, after a short & effortless mop-up, we've secured our target here.

    [​IMG]

    Helping ourselves through the temple's treasury made for a nice side trip, also.

    [​IMG]

    Kriegspire. Probably the most important beacon placement of them all. Why?

    [​IMG]

    Kriegspire holds two most important wells in the game. That's the first one - drinking from it gives us +30 temporary levels until our next rest (now matter how long it will take before that). Meaning that we gain extra hps and mps for those level - since we're wizards & druids, it's 2 hp & 3 mana per level - 60 hps and 90 mana in total.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, it pretty much doubles our health and mana reserves. And since, as I've said, they're only things that truly matter for caster party, it's a huge boon. After each rest, first thing we'll do is going to be jump to kriegspire, drink from this well. It's totally swell, believe me.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    And, since we've come here, we cast fly and quickly finish lord Stromgald's council quest, earning lots of xps for effortless task. Of course, we weren't supposed to know exactly how to solve it (exploration-based quests aren't great for repeating playthroughs), but even so, you're given a lots of hints so it was more about exploring this area than anything else.

    [​IMG]

    We also drop off the chime we've liberated from evil temple - couldn't have done it earlier because, you know, lazy clerks, 10 am & stuff.

    [​IMG]

    Mire of the damned. Yeah, at this point, we just travel between the locations, setting up the net of beacons across the whole continent. We walk here by foot, btw - it takes the same time as the coach travel, but we can do it any day, so why bother with waiting?

    [​IMG]

    Probably my least favourite area in this whole game - lots of trashmobs here that don't give much reward and are somewhat tedious to slaughter in combination with few things to explore. Still, we need a beacon here, so let's clean some place for it in midst of this army of the dead.

    [​IMG]

    This human settlement is also annoying - skeletons & ghosts here are intermixed with peaceful citizens somehow, so we can't use our lethal force freely for fear of causing great collateral damage. Another annoyance point of mine.

    [​IMG]

    Whatever. With beacon here, we now have instant access to all the stables in the country. Not that we ourselves have any need in them anymore, but we can solve another council quest this way.

    [​IMG]

    And that's what we do, but to declare our success first we have to battle some gargoyles.

    The most important thing here is never letting them close - since we're full casters, we don't give a damn about physical damage immunity of tier-3 'goyles, but they'll paralyze us easily in close combat and 4x characters paralyzed means party wipe. So it's fireball sniping from afar.

    [​IMG]

    But it all was for the sake of money so it was totally worth it.

    [​IMG]

    Next, it's time to declare our status as heroes. I mean, we're already pretty sure that we're heroes and few can doubt it, but this world is running on bureaucracy and it's not how it works. First we kill this dragon, then we're heroes.

    [​IMG]

    The dragon is seriously gimped, by the way - his damage & resistance are nowhere near the stats of real dragon. The better for us.

    [​IMG]

    He's just a pile of charred bones, and we've barely broke a sweat.

    [​IMG]

    Tell us something we don't know, mister.

    [​IMG]

    Training time. As we're rushing through the game, we will be training in more or less big batches of levels.

    [​IMG]

    Coop, Andy and Harry get themselves a wide array of skills plus small increases in elemental magics. We won't mind them dealing more damage, after all, and we'll describe our other choices in a couple of moments.

    [​IMG]

    Hawk tries to follow them closely, but he can't afford as much focus on the combat magic and he goes for master merchant instead of master meditation.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Mastering learning skill is elementary logic - it gives us enough extra levels to pay for it's training and even net us some profit. Actually, you can even overtrain it a bit - we could've gone 10 in learning and it would still pay off, although not as greatly. Anything greater is, unfortunately, a waste, however - at least in the speedrun. If you allow for the dragonsands, hermit's isle & paradise valley to respawn for two or even three times (which, if you do it right, is just a 1.5 year playthrough), you can go for, like, learning 14 or even 16, it'll pay off. But not otherwise.

    [​IMG]

    We give expert merchant for the whole party - for the training purposes. Training becomes really expensive later in game and money is precious so it's a good idea to save what we can. We won't go for master merchant for everyone, however - it seemed like a waste to me at the point of my playthrough, but actually, it was not. You just need to use one trick to exploit the master merchant fully, but I'll go about all of this later.

    [​IMG]

    And for Hawk, it's master merchant. I'll repeat, money are important in this game, so we wan't to have one character who'll sell our junk for as much as possible.

    [​IMG]

    Then we make some good, personality increasing coffee for our sorcs. Why do they need personality, a seemingly useless stat for them?

    [​IMG]

    Because Coop loves his meditation. Master meditation 7 is like gaining 21 extra level for mana purposes only. It's really useful in the beginning of the game, saving us lots and lots and lots of temple trips. And it's not that useless even in the late game - apart from sparks, good spells are really expensive in VI, so we'll always be short on energy.

    [​IMG]

    Here's the final progress report from this level-up - yeah, well abuse & master meditation gives us a huge, huge power boost. Also notice how Hawk, despite having just expert meditation, is not that far from our sorcs - being a druid has its own advantages.

    End of part II.

     
    • Brofist Brofist x 7
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  13. Takeda Kenshigender: ⚧ Savant

    Takeda Kenshi
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2009
    Parrots:
    715
    I always dug the Temple of Baa music:

     
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
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  14. Storyfaggender: ⚧ Arcane

    Storyfag
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Parrots:
    4,301
    Location:
    A Dark Place
    Yep, that's a great track.
     
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  15. Make America Great Again baturinskygender: ⚧ Arcane

    baturinsky
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2013
    Parrots:
    3,986
    Location:
    Russia
    Awesome. I like your to-the-point style of LP-s. And game mechanics lectures are my favorite parts.
     
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  16. CappenVarragender: ⚧ Phantasmist

    CappenVarra
    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2011
    Parrots:
    2,010
    Location:
    dead but dreaming
    Codex 2012 Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2
    Loving the mechanics discussion! :salute:

    And yes, all-caster is so much ridiculously easier, I really should get around to it soon...

    MOAR
     
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  17. Aziragender: ⚧ Arcane Patron

    Azira
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2004
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    7,667
    Location:
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    Codex 2012
    To think I've completed the game several times, and had fun doing it, even though I was clearly not doing it the most efficient way! ;)

    Anyways, loving the LP for showing me a wholly different approach to the game. My LP is the casual one, this one is the number crunching one. :hero:
     
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  18. Make America Great Again baturinskygender: ⚧ Arcane

    baturinsky
    Joined:
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    Question. Are archers significantly worse damage dealers than sorcerers in MM6?
     
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  19. Pope Amole IIgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Pope Amole II
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2012
    Parrots:
    1,625
    Actually, I've found a way for relatively melee party (2x knights, sorc, cleric) to be quite efficient. I'll talk about it in the epilogue of this LP.

    Unspeakably so. Like, they're more or less ok in the low level damage, but as they lack any way to increase their damage significantly, they fall behind quite fast. Theoretically, you can finish this game with an archer party (characters having bow skill of 30+), but it won't be that comfortable.
     
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  20. Pope Amole IIgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Pope Amole II
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2012
    Parrots:
    1,625
    Part III

    Show Spoiler




    [​IMG]

    Let's start from acquiring additional books - now that we have sufficient mana pools, we can engage in some ICBM tactics.

    [​IMG]

    At this point, meteor shower throws 12 meteors, each dealing 8 + skill (with henchmen bonus, our skills are currently at 13) point of damage in small area. That's roughly 240 damage for 25 mana, although that's extremely roughly because amount of meteors that will hit your enemies is somewhat hard to predict. Nevertheless, that's the second fastest way of cleaning up overworld maps in this game, and it's obvious that we'll abuse it a lot.

    Note: the fastest way is armageddon spell, obviously, but we won't use it as much because of the larping reasons. I'm not trying to role-play anything here, but causing huge collateral damage is hardly in the spirit of this party.

    [​IMG]

    With our new spell, we become so insolent that we even dare to fall into a known ambush.

    I absolutely love these troll wells, btw (and they were invented back when troll wasn't even a verb, unless you were talking about fishing or singing, that is). For a low-level party, this bunch of archers is an absolute annoyance or threat, even, and is definitely not something you would expect to result out of drinking from well.

    [​IMG]

    For us, however, the only challenge here is luring the archers away from the peasants so no innocents would be harmed.

    [​IMG]

    Mind you, not all of the bookhouse boys have meteor shower atm.

    [​IMG]

    So at times we have to use simpler spells. "Simpler" is an arguable adjective, though - with one fireball dealing 13d6 (~45 on the average) damage per 8 mana, it might be more efficient than meteor shower. Yes, for 24 mana you're getting just 135 damage, but you can be sure that it'll get dealt to each enemy in the area, while with meteors a huge percentage of potential damage may whiff due to inaccuracy. Still, right before us is a temple offering healing at 2gp per pop, why the hell would we care about mana efficiency? It's all about speed, baby.

    [​IMG]

    Too bad we can't use that spell in the dungeons.

    And talking about spellings - yeah, because the "dragoon" word is totally related to dragons and has absolutely nothing to have with the horse-riding.

    [​IMG]

    A tighly packed group of supposedly brawny melee fighters - could we hoped for something better? Doubt it.

    [​IMG]

    As we blast the initial bunch, we discover that we've forgot to expert one of our skills. Expert perception is somewhat broken in M&M 6 - it's needed for one subquest, it allows you to gather some minor riches and it almost negates the damage you take from chests. It works so well that you hardly need master level of it (or any points in disarm traps).

    [​IMG]

    Back into hot, steaming action.

    [​IMG]

    And so we open chests with impunity, although this screenshot is absolutely non-indicative of that - those are the combat wounds, you see. When you avoid trap damage with perception, the characters do a nifty dodging animation, however, it was nearly impossible to catch with my mega-screenshotting skills and setup, so use your imagination, folks.

    [​IMG]

    Harry looks like he's on the audition for the next "Judge Dredd" movie.

    [​IMG]

    My paint skills are not great enough to make the "X" around his nose, but yeah, he'd totally pass.

    [​IMG]

    I'm not talking about the dungeon as much because it's a rather trivial dungeon - just lots and lots of meat flowing at you. You grind it, then more keeps coming.

    [​IMG]

    The only non-standart moment is when you get trapped after pulling a suspicious switch down.

    [​IMG]

    Even then, just run around for a while and soon a laughably small party of fighters comes to check their newest capture (to their great displeasure, I guess).

    [​IMG]

    Zapping the final bunch of unlucky "dragoons"...

    [​IMG]

    We discover the greatest treasure of this dungeon. But, since expert perception has a great chance of evading the trap, but not 100%, Andy gets knocked out. Considering this is Andy, I prefer to think that the whole affair went this way:



    [​IMG]

    Wow, guy, some mighty merchant you are - not only are you letting us to keep the dagger, you're also paying us more than it costs on the market. Ah, if only there were more businessmen like you...

    [​IMG]

    We decide to spend the rest of the night in Frozen Highlands, cleaning the overworld. Since temples are already closed, we have to go relatively conservative about it.

    [​IMG]

    But that depends on the opposition we face, obviously.

    [​IMG]

    Besides, we can always port to the healing wells if we get really low.

    Harpies are the herpes of this game, however - you think it's just a quickie flyover, when bang! Your whole party gets afflicted. But this time we're getting off lucky.

    [​IMG]

    These magyars are also not that simple - they're capable melee fighters and their tier-3 form throws lightning bolt, which is really fast and thus hard to dodge. Look how much damage they dealt to us while we were herding them into an easy to blast position.

    [​IMG]

    Morning comes, and with it healing. We continue to dispatch herpes with an EXTREME prejudice.

    [​IMG]

    This time we weren't that lucky - characters' cursed faces are golden, btw. I'd make some constipation jokes, but I don't like crude humor.

    [​IMG]

    Not that the surface is relatively clear, let's keep rocking in the local fortifications.

    [​IMG]

    This particular one features some excellent, excellent furnishings, providing you not only with comfort, but also with riches.

    [​IMG]

    Apart from that it's pretty usual - melee-clogged & grindy. It hurts if you're not keeping your distance, otherwise it's quite easy.

    [​IMG]

    We pull down a lever...

    [​IMG]

    And engage in the battle with the main force of this keep. As I've said, it's easy. Supposedly, you were meant to bash half of them through the small window in the main door (exploity tech), then run back & forth in the corridors while peppering the rest with arrows - we're doing an archer's promotion quest here, after all.

    [​IMG]

    But, as we are the bookhouse boys, we just take the fight where we stand. And win it through sheer spellpower.

    [​IMG]

    Left wing of this dungeon featured ogres, right wing is more humane in its nature. The difference is negligible - just a meat to be flogged.

    [​IMG]

    The final room of this dungeon features a huge living ball of its defenders...

    [​IMG]

    Certainly invalid tactic in a world where explosive spells do exist.

    [​IMG]

    Loot is pretty fat here, btw. We get the quest item, obviously...

    [​IMG]

    And lots of relatively expensive stuff, with most important of it being the body magic ring. It gives a 50% bonus to our magic skill, no matter how big that skill is (so the bigger the better) and it stacks with the henchmen bonus (but it doesn't include it when determining those 50% - it's not that broken). Rings of magic are among the hardest enchanted items to find so it's a great boon that we won't have to worry about this particular one.

    [​IMG]

    The spoils of the hunt promote our ICBM capabilities even further - starburst works the same way as the meteor shower, except that 1 star deals significantly larger amour of damage (20+skill versus 8+skill) and it's electricity instead of fire, but the spread of this spell is much wider and, as we won't be encountering swarms of enemies that huge in size, most of that extra damage will go nowhere. Still, a useful tool to have.

    [​IMG]

    Completing the first archer quest...

    [​IMG]

    We do the second one in quick succession - town portal destinations strangely coincide with the locations of towers we have to attune, so it's just a matter of spending five minutes blinking here and there.

    [​IMG]

    Gotta love those effortless XPs.

    [​IMG]

    We can even allow ourselves the luxury of training.

    [​IMG]

    Hawk continues to focus on his salesman skills. See, master merchant 7 gives you but 66% of your merchandise's worth when selling - and that's in the best shop to sell. Since money are really important in this game (and can make or break your party, but that's more about melee ones), I want the whole 100% (and that's skill level 13).

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Other boys focus their attention on magical prowess - we want to drop those hordes as far as possible, after all.

    [​IMG]

    We take a trip to the Bootleg Bay so we can set up a beacon there.

    [​IMG]

    Then we port out to check magic guilds - they restock every week and, as we're not save-scumming to get our spell assortment easily, it's important that we check them accordingly.

    [​IMG]

    Besides meteor shower, we also stock on a couple of these - to be honest, they're not that great. They deal twice the damage of sparks for four times the cost and, since they can't ricochet from the walls, half of those shots usually gets wasted on nothing. They're useful against a couple of enemies, but they won't become our "go-to" spell.

    [​IMG]

    We came to the bootleg bay relatively late so it's a breese - it takes a single meteor to kill an average lizard, and we're spamming dozens of them.

    [​IMG]

    And handy temple of Baa once again allows us to cast as much as we please.

    [​IMG]

    I nearly forgot - here are our stats after the training. No significant increases this time, I guess we could've saved a week here and waited until we acquire more xps. Well, as I've said, it won't be a tryhard speedrun.

    [​IMG]

    We drink from the fountain magic - we could've ported to the Mist and became wizards immediately, but we won't. See, as I've said, money are huge issue. However, taking promotions makes your training twice (or thrice, for the second promotion) more expensive. And that's a great financial strain. Considering that we won't gain as much from becoming arch-mages, we can afford to delay them for a while & save some precious gold.

    [​IMG]

    Then we nuke some cannibals (black, obviously - if I was more versed in modern lib3ral speech, I would've thrown a great troll-fit about racial stereotyping, oppression and whatnot, but my knowledge is lacking so just imagine that it's here).

    [​IMG]

    This game also calls for some "rape culture" rhetorics, I guess.

    [​IMG]

    But let's keep that trash in the general discussion - we're here for gaming, after all.

    [​IMG]

    Bootleg bay features 4 dungeon. We'll start with the easiest one - perhaps with the easiest dungeon in the game.

    [​IMG]

    Near the entrance, we discover a pile of skulls (similar to the ones we've already seen, but not used in the temple of Baa). Expert perception allows us to get random spell scrolls out of them. Not like we need them, but we can always sell them.

    [​IMG]

    Then we murder a solitary monk...

    [​IMG]

    Squish some rats...

    [​IMG]

    Fry a room with a bunch of monks inside of it (I wanted to write full, but it would give you a wrong impression - it was far from full by this game's standards), destroy the crystal they're guarding and we're done. More like an M&M VII style dungeon, yeah.

    [​IMG]

    Not like we're getting anything exceptional for our small efforts, though.

    [​IMG]

    Temple of cannibals is more like it.

    [​IMG]

    Long halls with many rooms, full of cannibals and snakes

    [​IMG]

    And more cannibals - apparently they live in the progressive, egalitarian & feminist society so there's little gender difference between them.

    [​IMG]

    It's a large dungeon, but not overly complicated one - you just have to find this key and press enough levers, scattered across the rooms, to get to the door that it opens.

    [​IMG]

    The only "tactical" decision you can make here is to use your spark spell as sorta grenades in front of these pits (you're supposed to fall down and push button to get up; oh, and there are snakes on their bottoms).

    [​IMG]

    As usual, it culminates in the "room choke full of mobs" encounter. Been there, done that.

    [​IMG]

    And so we rescue the prisoner.

    [​IMG]

    Reward is crappy, but it's all about xps here - we're getting 10k xps for this one.

    [​IMG]

    Now it's time for our clerical promotion (and to get ourselves rid from those aesthetically imperfect hirelings - you thought I would tolerate them forever?)

    The whole quest is kinda ridiculous. Follow the minimap, please. Here's the temple that we're ought to reconstruct by hiring a duo of carpenter & stone cutter.

    [​IMG]

    First of those dudes lives literally in front of it.

    [​IMG]

    Second one lives on the nearby street - look at our minimap, temple is situated under the "-" button currently. Yeah, it took a great deal of effort & money to find and hire those guys, absolutely great.

    [​IMG]

    Time to restore our spell master + mystic combo. With spell master it is easy - there's a pretty one living in the temple of bootleg bay (across the room with that "temple of the fist" quest giving old dude). Mind you - hirelings that live in the houses will return to their houses if you fire them, so once you know their location and secure a quick road to it, you can always depend on having them available.

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately, things wasn't that easy with mystic - I found no pretty one easily available from the houses (though maybe I haven't searched that hard), so I had to do with the most tolerable one that rng has offered me.

    [​IMG]

    To spend the night somehow, we fly to the kriegspire and rain some atomic death on everyone here.

    [​IMG]

    It's important to remember that sparks aren't that weak (especially since they seem to have faster recovery time, meaning you can cast them more often) and have cheaper mana cost, so against solitary monsters it's easier to use them (at least when temple is not available, though it's already dawn here).

    [​IMG]

    So we fly inside of the volcano, drowning the rest of the creeps in fiery explosions.

    [​IMG]

    Now that we can regen & sell our loot (full inventory is another pesky thing that restricts our nightly travel - yeah, we can always return & grab the loot that we've left behind, but it's such a chore that I rather would not), we continue our questing.

    [​IMG]

    Temple of the sun is another VII style dungeon.

    [​IMG]

    Just a room full of monks to get killed by our fireballs.

    [​IMG]

    To build up some challenge, we even dashed forward, giving them time to spread out. They even made Andy weak (thus dealing 50% damage with anything - another annoying special condition, but it's pretty easy to cure it), but to no avail.

    [​IMG]

    The main challenge of this dungeon is a solitary (and probably pretty horny that way) minotaur king.

    [​IMG]

    And sure, he managed to insta-gib Harry with his first lucky Finger of Death spell (14% chance)...

    [​IMG]

    But it didn't took us much to finish him afterwards - those sparks in the narrow corridors did their job well.

    [​IMG]

    After resurrecting Harry, we give him this fine leather armor in consolation - btw, before that, we were running unarmored. Made a great difference, eh? And, considering I'm not going to waste points on leather armor skill, I'm not sure if slight (extremely slight) increase in survivability (versus physical attacks only, which are pretty rare in the mid to late game, btw) is worth 10 recovery time. Probably isn't and we shouldn't have bothered, but whatever. At least we'll look nice in it.

    [​IMG]

    Dropping the chalice at the temple, we jump to the frozen highlands (we've placed a beacon near the stone's castle for convenience's sake) and report our success.

    [​IMG]

    Then there's always more job to get done.

    [​IMG]

    Initial rooms of this tomb are filled with the skeletons - they became a non-threat long ago, so we just spam sparks at them mindlessly (and, since we've forgot to switch quick spells, also poison sprays - see, here's where it weakness shines, it's a dungeon full of undead and it does nothing in it).

    [​IMG]

    Main feature of this dungeon is burial niches - you're either getting gold or item out of it or you get poisoned by the fumes.

    [​IMG]

    Or is it sick? Hard to tell and, for us, not important at all.

    [​IMG]

    Past the creepy central room with hanging bodies we encounter some ghosts - they're nothing to write home about except for the highest tier ones. Specters can reduce you to 0 hp with one lucky special attacks, so it's better to dispose of them quickly.

    [​IMG]

    Then it's liches. Liches are annoying to fight against because they dispell buffs from our party - now, as mages, we don't care about that strongly because our damage hardly depends on them. Warriors, on the other hand...

    [​IMG]

    First room with liches is kinda trivial, but the second one holds quite a number of them, and they do have considerable damage capabilities. They even knock Andy out - whom else?

    [​IMG]

    That's why we drag coffee with us, however. The "+100 HP" bottle brings him back into shape instantly. We also unleash fire blasts on them - as you can see, we burn through hps here much faster than through mana reserves.

    [​IMG]

    We almost get wiped in the end, but almost doesn't count.

    [​IMG]

    Getting patched up (and instantly repoisoned again by those burial niches), we're heading into a third and the final room with the liches.

    [​IMG]

    This one is much easier (but not effortless) - we were able to soften them all with fireballs, and then it was just about quick, narrow, burst-damage action.

    [​IMG]

    Considering the damage we've dealt to the liches' cause, reward could've been more significant. Well, whatever.

    End of part III. This update seems kinda fillerish to me, but that's the nature of the game. Don't get disturbed - we'll feature some nice tricks in the next part.
     
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  21. CappenVarragender: ⚧ Phantasmist

    CappenVarra
    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2011
    Parrots:
    2,010
    Location:
    dead but dreaming
    Codex 2012 Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2
    Man, I remember those pesky fire archers - quite a pain in the ass if you encounter them early / with an unprepared party...
     
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  22. Storyfaggender: ⚧ Arcane

    Storyfag
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Parrots:
    4,301
    Location:
    A Dark Place
    Never was a fan of the quest in Ethric's tomb. Why do we have to destroy Undead for the living? Why can't we do the opposite?
     
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  23. CappenVarragender: ⚧ Phantasmist

    CappenVarra
    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2011
    Parrots:
    2,010
    Location:
    dead but dreaming
    Codex 2012 Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2
    Bump & Magic
     
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  24. Pope Amole IIgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Pope Amole II
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2012
    Parrots:
    1,625
    Dianne, it's 2:10 PM and I have finally discovered exactly where lies the fun in later Might and Magics. Before I tell that, however, let's first recount main sources of garmonbozia in games (attention! a huge wall of text incoming! skip to the bottom if you just wish to read the update:

    1. Core gameplay. Some sequence or course of actions you have to do constantly to keep the game running. If they're challenging and/or interesting enough, the game will keep you entertained. An obvious one, yes? But here emphasis is on the word "core" - something fundamental, something that can be built upon, something that can hold the weight of other elements. I wanted to say basic, but it doesn't really have to be basic - for example, core gameplay is main appeal in fighting games. Over the years, their mechanics have gone a long way from mashing A & B buttons and spamming hadoukens to roman cancels, false roman cancels, negative edges and whatever the hell they've managed to invent recently. However, all that progress didn't evolve fighting games into something else - their core element is still a centerpiece that it was in days of yore.

    Some games go even further and feature either multi-core or sub-core gameplays - the difference is decided by the importance of additional gameplay modes. For example, pazaak & racing in Kotor or arcomage in M&M VII-VIII are sub-cores - you can have fun with them, but you can't spend the whole game (or even significant part of the game) playing them. On the other hand, Space Ranger 2 is totally multi-core - you can fly from wormhole to wormhole to enjoy arcade battles and it's not hard to fight one planetary battle after another (and mind you, there can be sub-cores in sub-cores - planetary battles can be fought as either RTS or FPS/tower defense hybrid) or to solve planetary quests the same way. Sure, to majority of players rangers are more fun when you mix & shake all of those elements (maybe even skipping some entirely - I, for example, don't really like those planetary battles), but being able to play them in a smorgasbord fashion is actually one of the greatest strength of these, unfortunately, rather uncommon games.

    And don't be too impressed by the word "core" here - in game design world, being foundation doesn't always mean being really important. Take, for example, old school adventures. Their core gameplay is point n' click puzzles, but if you apply Occam's razor here and take all other elements from them, what will remain? Basically, you'll see letters A, B, C, D, etc. on one part of your screen. And you'll have numbers from 1 to whatever on the other part of your screen. And those numbers will be drag-able. And you'll need to drag them on those letters until you'll discover a proper sequence of drags that will remove the first set of letters from the screen and bring in the next one. And, occasionally, there will be additional numbers hidden in the first part of the screen, and hidden very well - like, just one pixel showing in the corner of your display. Oh joys, oh joys! And parser-based games wouldn't be much better - it'd still be about constructing a sequence from a limited pool of symbols.

    Actually, this relative simplicity of core gameplay might be the reason for traditional adventure gaming's decline in mid-nineties and the rise of Myst & 7th guest clones. Because there this weird "guess the right sequence" things were replaced with actual puzzles, with actual logic behind them. Unfortunately, this also brought total decline of the genre further on, because people didn't really played those games for their puzzles, or, rather, that wasn't why they enjoyed them so much. It was due to their...

    2. Story. Mind you, I'm using it as a convenience word - in reality, it's more about writing than story. For example, Monkey Islands don't have an intricate plot and most of those games you do some weird stuff that somehow manages to move the plot further, but isn't really related to it. Still, MI's are so riddled with jokes and overall zany atmosphere that you don't care about the plot much - you're just happy to hang around & listen to Guybrush's quips. Which are the things that were completely absent in Myst-clones - those games favoured stark seriousness in combination with thin and often abstract stories, which wasn't what adventure game fans loved in those games. And while there was a market for those "collection of puzzles" games (because that's what they are and it's not even like Myst invented anything revolutionary here - Sierra's Castle of Dr. Brain featured the same gameplay formula, it's just that it was still lighthearted and didn't put much emphasis on graphics), it wasn't large to sustain their rapidly growing budgets (as I've said, they put too much emphasis on pretty graphics) and so the entire genre crashed. And that's, BTW, why Neverhood is remembered so fondly - it followed the Myst formula, but it also had lots of jokes in it so it wasn't a boring (but pretty) stroll from one puzzle to another.

    But I digress. Story, writing and plot can be the main course of the game. Yeah, I know, there's tons of discussions about it here, on the Codex, and there's lots of hatred for "Storyfaggotry", but you see, I don't think it's the problem of the storyfaggotry itself. I mean, as I've said, adventure games are 100% storyfag games - I've yet to see a person here who would openly hate them (I'm sure they are here, this being Codex, but they seem to be in minority). Planescape: Torment is RPGcodex №2 rpg, and it's a game as storyfaggy as it gets. So I think that the reasons for this hate lie elsewhere. To put it precisely, I don't think that Mass Effect series are criticized here because they are story-centric - it's because their story is shit, their writing is atrocious, their lore is third-rated and cliche. I wouldn't even dare to call them pulpy because even pulp writers of 30s had higher standards in that. They're like a terrible fanfic brought to production, and while somehow there's a large customers willing to see exactly that (the fuck you can do - this world is corrupt), more monocled auditory would hate & mock & loathe crap like that. If you want a different example - let's take Morrowind into Skyrim transition. See, everyone agrees it's decline, but it's not really the rpg elements that are the fault of it (because you could easily break Morrowind, thus gaining an omnipotent char and so surpassing the rpg element of that game altogether, and still enjoy the game) and core gameplay (combat & spell-slinging were hardly interesting in Morrowind). No, it's about the shallowness of the lore (even if you think that wikipedia-NPCs were horrible, at least they brought a lot of depth to the world) due to voicovers everywhere and the general derpification of story. If skyrim and oblivion had interesting worlds, they wouldn't be that bad. But they don't.

    I also want to note that I don't want to see "the Citizen Kane" of gaming, I don't expect the games to have the writing level of Dostoevsky or Balsac or G.K. Chesterton or whomever the world considers to be a good writer. Let's take a look at Betrayal at Krondor - it feels like it has great story and plot, but I've tried to read other Feist's books and found them rather generic and boring. He's just an average fantasy writers, but that's more than enough for the games. Still, nowadays, most of the times we don't even get that "enough", far from it.

    Another scourge of the storyfaggotry is, surprisingly, the core gameplay. Which is shit in those kinds of games, usually. See, Helper was lambasted for her "I wish we could skip gameplay in games", but, considering the games she were working with and talking about, she was pretty right about it. Both ME and DA are padded to the max with their incredibly shitty, boring core gameplays that, instead of entertaining you, just waste your time in series of repetitive sequences. Really, why the fuck wouldn't you want to skip them? Obviously, the reasonable solution here is making a proper gameplay, not skipping it, but see, reasonable solution is not always available in real world. Part of the planescape's success was that, while having shitty combat, it was absolutely combat-lite - fights there were either skippable, unimportant or easy. And that's what made that game great. If you were forced to fight some repetitive trashmobs every 5 minutes or so in this game, believe me, it wouldn't be half as admired as it is. So if you can't make most of combat encounters memorable (which you usually can't - budget & development times are such a bitch; besides, there's little focus put on that in the industry - say, where have you last seen the "combat encounter designer" position?), at least tone their fucking number down.

    3. Exploration. Someone may argue that it belongs to the core gameplay, but I really don't want to argue about this crap - count this monologue as my vision statement or something like that, these are the rules that I use to breakdown games, not some absolute dogma that everyone and their dog should accept. In my opinion, the difference between core gameplay & exploration is their pacing. Core gameplay, when it's a focus of the game, is usually intense. Like, over the course of two previous years we've played the living shit out of Streets of Rage: Remake, and it's a rather simple core gameplay-based game, where a playthrough lasts about an hour (maybe less if you use low difficulties), but that hour is absolutely action packed - you kick and punch, and grab, and throw, and you kick, and punch, and grab, and throw, and so on. Morrowind, on the other hand, has a humongous world so that a complete walkthrough will take hundreds of hours, probably, because I've never managed to explore more than 40% of its territory, but what do you do during that time? Not much, to be honest, mostly you just run, watching around and trying to discover something new. And here's the difference - core gameplay is about constantly doing things, exploration gameplay is mostly about watching & learning, then, maybe, doing some things. Different pacings, different skills required - in exploration game it's more about your logistics and comprehension than anything else.

    Of course, most of the time, the player doesn't just explore - he usually needs a strong reason to do so. If aimless wandering was fun, no one would need games - people would just take a long stroll round their cities and call it a day afterwards. So you need to spice up exploration territories with either fragments of story (one of the best things to find in Morrowind's dungeon was a fresh skillbook - not because of the skill, just lore was enough) or gameplay relevant stuff (in my last and, I hope, final playthrough I put a small restriction on myself - no exploitation of endless alchemy supplies in the magazines; you use only what you can find - this did wonder for exploration purposes; before, those were "ah, another house filled with shit" and "another shitspamed bush", but with this restriction it changed into "damn, this guy has 10 units of saltrice, what a find!" or "hey, this bush has exactly what I need to brew more potions, great! ) or just some eye candy. There needs to be a reason to explore, so a 100% pure exploration game is not easy to make (but possible). That's also the reason for the decline of TES series - another great reason for exploration in Morrowind were artifacts. You wanted to skip grindy combat ASAP and you wanted to make your travels much more comfortable (by gaining strength and speed points) so you were on the constant search for good weapons and properly enchanted items. Unfortunately, in Skyrim there's a grossly overpowered crafting which makes artifact hunting utterly pointless and it's a great shame - two of my best moments in Morrowind were finding Goldbrand and Dragonbone cuirass.

    Another point to make is that exploration doesn't always mean sandbox games. Stealth-based games like old Thief (not the new one - new one is story based, obviously, because, according to its designer, Thief games were always about stories; I dunno, it's either PR lies or he's just that much incompetent) were always about exploration - basically, you learn your surroundings, you learn the routes of the guards, you plot a good course, you proceed. Obviously, you still need vast levels for this to work, but there's a big difference between true sandbox and vast levels. You also can't have these games in your typical corridor environment as it fucking kills their point - what's the joy of plotting a course through a fucking colon? There's only one direction to go there and you know exactly what goes down there.

    4. Management. But understand me right - this time there's no interconnection between the paragraphs and I don't mean that management goes down the drain. It does go a different way, though - if core is about doing and explo is about first scouting, then doing, management is about making decisions, not doing. Just like it is in real life. Well, that's speaking theoretically - practically, in games it's usually not about management instead of actions but about management overwhelming actions to the point of redundancy. Let's compare SoRR that I've mentioned before to the Age of Decadence (last year's demo - I hadn't played it since yet so I dunno if anything changed there significantly but, considering the staunchness of its designers views, I sorta doubt it). In SoRR, the better your skill is, the further you get into the game (at the very beginning of learning curve) or the more in-game money you make per one playthrough (money are awarded at the end of playthrough, based on your difficulty setting and whether or not you've used your continues; money are used to buy unlock in the in-game shop and there are plenty unlocks to make your game more interesting and fun). There's a gradient of success, you see. In AoD, there's nothing like that - if your character is built up properly, with enough grinding & throwing nets, you win. If not - fuck you sideways. With some weapons, you can reload until you succeed, but that hardly makes for an entertaining evening. There's no gradient - there's a hit or miss situation that is almost unaffected by your player skill. And if it's unaffected, why have it? Why won't the game just count your fighting skills and equipment and then either say "you win" or "you lose" - it's pretty much the same thing, but you don't waste excessive time on it. Note that I'm kinda overdramatizing things here, but that's a huge problem of that game.

    And not only that game - don't think I'm bashing AoD here specifically, it's quite good for what it is. It's a problem of tons and tons and tons of rpgs. So you've made a suboptimal choice - screw you. Well, that would be fair if their systems were more obvious - they usually aren't. If you're new to DnD, for example, how would you know that fighters or bards are crap while wizards rule? That's not what is usually written in the manual (not in official one, at least). And even if you pick wizard, you can still screw up by multi-classing or being a divination specialist (banning evocation or conjuration) or by picking the wrong feats... Yeah, those are parts of learning the system, but remember, we're talking about CRPGs here. In NWN, chances are that you won't lose, that you won't make your game unfinishable - that game is too easy to allow that. However, you will make your game way, way too tedious with each of trashmob encounters (and that game features like a billion of them) taking much more time to get through, meaning that you're actually punished much crueler than simple getting stuck up - your time is getting wasted, and it's much worse than a straightforward loss.

    I'm not saying that games with strong management aspects shouldn't have any core gameplay (that's not true - look at the starcraft, your micro skills show your affinity with the core gameplay, your macro and build choice skills do the same with management; both are considered to be important for pro players), but one shouldn't trump another completely. But once again I digress.

    5. Randomness. Sounds stupid, but even before the mobile platforms and social gaming booms people were making casino emulators and, well, who would want to play a virtual casino? Or a slot machine? Or whatever? What's the point? Apparently, there is, because they say that virtual slot machines are huge on smartphones and social webs, so... So let's not look at the grim examples, shall we? I mean, those are the worst examples of randomness, but it can be used for good too. Like, most of the roguelikes consist of randomness and management of said randomness - they're really defined by the monsters you encounter and the loot you find, and both are randomly or semi-randomly generated. 'Course, even that good point can be perverted into the vilest form possible (diablo III's auction house that was made the whole and sole point of the freaking game), but randomness (if you give enough tools to semi-control it) can be great. Best part of Magic: the Gathering is limited play, specifically drafts, and, while they are really random and unpredictable, the skilled player will win them much more often than a skill-less one. That's not quite a computer based game, but that's probably my favourite example(because magic is my part-time job atm).

    And even in tightly structured games randomness can add quite a bit to your gameplay. Take Fallout 1 & 2, for example - certain encounters could've had profound impact on your playthrough. Mostly beneficial (like founding alien blaster or bridgekeeper's robes early), but not particularly so - if you ironman or at least semi-ironman through it (fallout really benefits from that, I won't tire of repeating this), random encounters will make you afraid of journeys through wastelands and they will pose tempting, but dangerous, dangerous choices before you. Randomness, thanks to its inborn imbalancedness, can be quite thrilling.

    Another major selling point of randomness is that procedurally generated gameplay lasts longer than other sorts of gameplay, it's self-renewing. And the longer the gameplay stays fresh, the better your experience will be.

    OK, now these are the, shal we call them thematically, "White Lodge" gameplay-producing attributes (with randomness being a borderline one). I wanted to talk about bad one next and, finally, sources of fun in M&M VI, but as this rant has already become gigantic, I'll continue the talk in the next update and now, at last, will come part IV.

    Show Spoiler



    (not only it's Twin Peaks sampled, it's also thematically tied to this update's intro, lol.

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    Gaining access to mass meteor showers is the point where our party begins to snowball.

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    Practically every overworld map can be cleaned neatly via ICBM tactics - you fly around, you dodge incoming fire thanks to the flight's spell almost cheaty maneuvering capabilities, you nuke everything that moves until it doesn't move so much anymore. We could've rushed it even earlier (especially with our mystic+master combo), but that would've broke the early game way, way too much.

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    Under the heap of charred werewolf corpses, we find a chest with Lord Kilburn's shield - wow, no wonder the dude died when he was so stingy when it came to his equipment. I mean, he's supposed to be a big paladin or whatever, and what does he use for protection? A cheapskate level 2 shield? Invest in your life insurance, kids (and good weapons & armor is your best life insurance).

    To speak seriously - kilburn's shield is a great quest for rushing. If you travel to dragonsand and buff yourself via shrine of gods & NWC's day of gods room (something I haven't used because I consider it somewhat unfair), with gate master + wind master npc you can collect it easily on lvl 1. At day 1, pretty much. And there's a great reward for it - cavalier nomination + kilburn's shield will propel your party to level 12 (maybe with grinding overworld sorpigal monsters included, but that's easy) which, coincidentally, is what it takes (horseshoes included) to master water magic for your mage/druid. And starting the game with master town portal is fun.

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    Meteor shower also works like magic (well, it is magic, so no wonder) against those pesky air elemental - they can be annoying to fight since they fly out of your reach while breaking your items with their attacks. The most important thing is to enter the combat as soon as you're in your ICBM range, else they'll fly up and meteors can't hit anything that's flying high.

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    Another temple of Baa - not only shall we slaughter local creeps relentlessly, we'll do it under a minimal taxation available.

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    If mana wasn't so abundant here, I would have to kite this pack for a while, until it got into a tighter formation, but as it is dirt cheap - fire on!

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    Despite lower portion of map looking deserted (sic), it's actually choke full of monsters. There are some elementals that we've already seen...

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    And some giant lizards. Now, tier-2 and 3 hold little threat - yeah, their attack hurts somewhat, but it's evaded through fly and they die from a couple of meteor showers.

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    It's tier-1 that will delay us from wiping this place completely, as it's totally immune to fire.

    So we crush what we can...

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    And beacon to Kriegspire - we'll spend this night clearing the snowy part of that map. First we encounter some earth elementals & drakes - fuel for our fire, basically.

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    Flame drakes are also immune to it (yeah, game designers here loved handing those immunities, but that's for the best, I say - forces you from becoming way too powerful), but they're scarce and have low hps, so we can spark them easily.

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    Next on our menu are minotaurs - you guys wish your axes were throwing ones, eh? Sorry, no luck for you.

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    As we hunt for more minotaurs, we stumble on THE SWARM.

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    We throw a bunch of meteor showers at it and it goes down relatively quickly, but a glimpse of return fire (we've dodged the most of it) brings the bookhouse boys to half-death. The swarm is not something to take carelessly.

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    Therefore, we decide to mop up the minotaurs first, so we can focus are efforts on the flying menace. Minotaurs are pansies, after all...

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    THE SWARM burns.

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    Two of our guys were knocked out by it, Hawk got stunned while falling down and it's up to Dale to save the day by hanging on the tiniest edge possible.

    Now you probably want explanations. Remember that kriegspire +30 levels well? It tells you to look out. Look out for what? For this. Each time a character drinks from it, 4 tier 3 drakes are spawned here. Yeah, one gulp for the whole party - 16 drakes. Do it for ten days - 160 drakes. Nice math. Now, these drakes are not spawned infinitely (there's a gap of 250 or maybe 300 - don't know for sure; also don't know if counter resets with map respawning - it should, theoretically), but even with, iirc, 200 drakes that were here it's 91k experience per character and lots of loot. And it's extremely easy to kill them with either meteor showers or armageddons. That's a great exploit (feature?) that is hardly mentioned in most places.

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    Time to reap the rewards for our efforts - we deliver the shield to lord Humphrey (that's a minor part)

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    And we spend a good, long time at looting all those drake corpses. Quite a nice bump in gold, eh? What's more important is that amulets and rings of dark and light magic can be looted from them, and they're more important than air to a caster party. It's imperative to have 3 items of dark magic and one of light. Rings preferably - since there's 6 slots for rings and but 1 slot for amulet, we'd rather leave that slot for relic/artifact stuff. However, even against amulet of dark magic we won't mind - it's better than most of the relic/artifact stuff.

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    Now, we want to train, but the day is young so we have to spend it somehow. See, unlike with boats & stables, no matter when you'll go training, you'll exit at 9 a.m. next week. Meaning that it's better to enter them as close to their closing time of 6 p.m. as possible. As we're in a semi-speedrun, we squeeze this day by nuking some druids...

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    And exploring silver helm stronghold partially.

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    What can be said about it? What needs to be said about it? What saying anything about it could possibly change? It's somewhat passable dungeon - nothing truly memorable here, just hordes and hordes and hordes of trash mobs.

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    Exactly the thing that our party specializes at.

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    Apart from the pure melee soldiers & swordsmen, there are some blasty sorcerers here. They're frail, but have decent ranged attack and are immune to electricity (and thus our beloved sparks). But that's why we have fire blast spell handy - they drop like flies from it.

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    We go by the standard procedure - fireball them at long range, spark them at short range...

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    Burn them if they're witches.

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    In-between of this slaughter, we've took a rather spiritual visit to the White Lodge, the locus of kindness and goodness in this land.

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    We learn a day of the gods spell there - it won't be as beneficial for caster party as it is for the fighter one, however, even for us it will give some extra hps & mps, faster recovery from enemy attacks (remember, we need endurance 350 to ignore them completely and that's quite a high mark), bigger resistance to some debilitating conditions and some speed.

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    We also buy a create food spell, just cause - considering we're rushing through this game, we've got no time for resting, but it's quite cheap and you can never be sure.

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    Then Hawk works on his spirituality for a bit.

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    And, as the evening gets closed, whole party trains up to level 40.

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    Andy, as the purest of heart, is delegated with mastering the light magic in all its entirety.

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    Well, as we are the bookhouse boys, we all will master the light magic (except for Hawk who's more in tune with nature). However, Dale & Harry won't pursue it as high as Andy - Harry will learn a trick or two about repairing our items and Dale will save all of his points for further use.

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    Hawk continues to work on expanding his spirituality. Oh, and we all get to another point in our progression...

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    Through the darkness of futures past
    The magician longs to see
    One chants out between two worlds
    Fire walk with me

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    We also cash in on our other skill point investments.

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    And live up to our name once again. We won't use prismatic light often (it'll be good if we use it more than twice - 50 mp is way too much in the early stages of the game, it deals magic damage, which lots of mobs are immune to, and, while it'll deal good damage in the later parts of it, we won't always have a good shooting position for it), but we're never against having an option.

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    On the other hand, we'll have hour of power running constantly - yeah, once again, it's not as broken for us as it is for melee party, but even so, haste alone is more than worth it, and stone skin is also nifty. Oh, and you just wait for our late game...

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    Near the castle of lord Anthony Stone we nuke some random archers...

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    Then we brew up an accuracy coffee so Harry can meet the requirements of master repair trainer.

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    Experting light magic for Cooper, Harry and Andy, we're done with our long training session.

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    Here's how we look under +30 well(buffs excluded).

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    Now let's get some more books! Jump, well, it seems useful to have, but it's rarely useful. We'll cast it just a couple of times, basically. It's much better in 7 and 8.

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    More fire blasts against the future sorcerers we'll encounter

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    An inferno for Hawk, even - once again, rarely useful spell, but as he doesn't have offensive options of dark magic, perhaps it'll work better for him.

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    A slew of restorative magic for Hawk - remove curse and raise dead probably the most useful ones, others are taken just because we love books.

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    Power Cure. It has bad reputation and people often note that it doesn't heal nearly enough, but I'll just tell you that they don't know how to cook it. I know.

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    And we finish with another marginal spell. Well, it makes a couple of moments much easier and gives access to one filthy rich loot chest, so why not? Besides, you don't even need to master mind magic for it to work - even under novice it works fine.

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    Back into silver helms' stronghold - hope they didn't miss us too much.

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    I'm rather sure they did not.

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    In one of the dungeon's corners, we meet a ghost of its former leader - turns out that he was assassinated and so decline has begun.

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    Reporting to him about his niece's rescue, we get a passage to some secret treasure opened.

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    And these are, I guess, some really secret troops guarding this treasure.

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    Returning to main room of this keep after looting the stash, we find ourselves in small ambush by some freshly spawned guards - not a big deal.

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    So another bunch of dudes goes out with a blast...

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    We scorch their leader with a couple of furious spells...

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    And, taking the sign of leadership from his body, we finally finish this dungeon.

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    Or not - of course they had to ambush us once more, this time with ridiculously weak forces. I mean, if we were able to finish this dungeon, what danger will just a couple of tier-1 swordsmen pose to us?

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    We try to get some money for our efforts from local leader, but she just evades it, stating that this stuff is not in her jurisdiction and sending us to another ruler.

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    Luckily, he was much more generous than that bitch.

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    Dianne, it's way past 6 p.m. and we've got another evening and night to kill.

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    And can anything pose as a killing tool better than ICBM?

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    Our only worry is crushing the gargoyles before they fly high enough to become unaffected by meteors. They drop fast so it's not a huge concern.

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    As the midnight nears by, we visit the Black Lodge. However dangerous and soul-stealing it might be, we need to steal some of its power to rescue the world.

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    Dale and Harry invest those saved up points immediately, training follows shortly.

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    Another bunch of books for us - this update is rich with them. Shrapmetal is the highest damage dealing spell in the game, hands down. It also deals physical damage so almost no one resists it (when it comes to dangerous enemies, at least). It's only downside is the insane mana cost, so we'll be using it only under dire circumstances or as a boss-killing spell.

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    Day of protection is a must, it's an insanely strong buff without which the game will become, like, five times harder. It's truly irreplaceable.

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    Toxic cloud costs too much for average use (and it's animation is too slow so it wastes more of your time), but there are couple of extremely dangerous enemies with no resistance to poison, against whom we'll need it.

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    Dragon breath also deals retarded amounts of damage, but this awesomeness gets balanced with more than demanding mana costs. Nevertheless, there are lots of situations in tis game that get quite uncomfortable without these at hand.

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    Armageddon - great spell for quick leveling, but as we're the good guys and actually care about doing good deeds, we won't be using it as much. Only in areas where no collateral damage will be caused. But being able to cast 9 armageddons (eventually) is great and it saves you lots and lots of tedium.

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    Moon Ray is, eh... Thing is, thanks to the flight spell, it's not like we're taking much damage at overworld areas, so the whole healing factor is redundant. And for killing there always are ICBM tactics. We took a single copy of it for armageddoning the late game areas - there it can be useful, yes, but it's a very narrow spell.

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    Even at relatively low levels day of protection is awesome - that 70 points increase pretty much doubles our effective hps versus magical damage. And nearly all of high-end monsters deal magical damage.

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    Exploring silver cove further, we pull a sword out of the stone (thanks to our day of the gods given might) - nothing special, just a tiny bit of gold for us, we'll need it soon.

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    Obliterating a rather large band of druids (with no mana draining incidents, thankfully)...

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    We make a pilgrimage to the shrine of personality - it's march already. Now that we have day of the gods spell, shrines become somewhat redundant, but what can I say? Every little bit may help (especially as personality helps us resist those annoying curses).

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    We kill last hostile in silver cove long before the dawn, so we spend the rest of night in white cap, hunting harpies. Andy managed to get drunk in the process, but what can you do? It's Andy.

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    In the morning, selling our loot and getting all sober, we enter the monolith.

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    It's an easy but incredibly cute dungeon. It's not even that hard to guess that all those trees give you rewards when you interact with them, but it's still cute.

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    There are some druids here, but they're pretty much nothing in close quarters (apart from the rare mana drain hits).

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    On the other hand, earth elementals can spell trouble at this distance.

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    They're able to knock out a character in single attack and boy, it's super effective!

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    There's also a small and singular group of water elementals here - more for flavor than anything else.

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    So it's a breeze until the last room, where two of the bookhouse boys are bashed down instantly.

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    No worry - we didn't got power cure for no reason.

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    Then they lost their consciousness again, just by common attacks - yeah, low level power cure is not that strong. Using shrapmetal to provide us some cover (we have more than enough mana to spare - no use of being conservative to the point of paranoia)...

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    We ran back, spammed some more power cures, then returned with more durability...

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    Defeated our enemies and destroyed the altar (gaining another small, but nifty bonus for Hawk).

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    The reward wasn't as high, but it was an easy dungeon and we still got some quest xps which are as important as money are (or, rather, it's other way around, you'll see).

    End of part IV.

     
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  25. CappenVarragender: ⚧ Phantasmist

    CappenVarra
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    Codex 2012 Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2
    Pope Amole II Add this LP to your sig already, it's great stuff! :salute:
     
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