Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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Completed Let's play Seal of Evil!

Discussion in 'Codex Playground' started by Pussycat669, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. Pussycat669gender: ⚧ Liturgist

    Pussycat669
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Parrots:
    667
    Location:
    In a fine suit
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    Or, as I like to call it, let's play something Chinese (in German translated to English)!

    Chapter 1
    1.1 Witches & Wine (see below)
    1.2 I see the past and it is brown

    Chapter 2
    2.1 Morning exercises
    2.2 The Legend of the Imperial Stones
    2.3 Big trouble at Giants Keep

    Chapter 3
    3.1 Red as clay, red as blood
    3.2 The Message
    3.3 A hero's obligation

    Chapter 4
    4.1 Tragedy at the Wudi's Estate
    4.2 The second Imperial Stone
    4.3 The River Demon of Cloudfield Village
    4.4 Treasure Hunt
    4.5 Dark Omen
    4.6 Broken Bandit Mountain

    Chapter 5
    5.1 Saviour
    5.2 Huns ain't nuns

    Chapter 6
    6.1 Storm&Thunder! (...not)
    6.2 Among Beasts
    6.3 Sweet Poison

    Chapter 7
    7.1 Mission Liang Hu
    7.2 The Power of the Imperial Stones

    Chapter 8
    8.1 Crossroads
    8.2 War of Flowers
    8.3 Avatar
    8.4 The God, the Bitch & the Ugly
    8.5 Witch Commander: Prophecy
    8.6 Lady in Blue

    Chapter 9
    9.1 Blood for the Bastard
    9.2 God's End

    Little stuff
    Seal of Evil reviewed by a famous person
    Original soundtrack (mp3)
    German patch from Dropbox (just in case)

    Some introducing (and a warning)
    Curious story about that one. What was meant to be just a random grab into the bargain bin turned out to become a surprisingly long lasting endeavour full of hardship but also of some great entertainment.
    Seal of Evil (or World of Qin: Seal of Damnation as it's called around here) might be best described as a Diablo clone made by Bioware (judging by the amount of mundane dialogue). Although there are a few twists to the gameplay, coupled with all the joys of jRPG melodrama in a tale that mixes several familiar themes, like the hero coming of age, why respect and tolerance for others is important, that love between cousins conquers all and that foetus murder can be the only heroic thing to do at times. There is also the neat crafting system to boot. So while the game itself is probably never going to stand on top of the Mount Olympus of action RPGs, I still count it to the better ones of the breed.
    As mentioned above I'm playing the German release, so be ready for some wonky (meaning bad) grammar and odd choice of words. On the upside, I think I was able to remove most of the many, many naming errors, if it didn't serve my personal amusement.
    Fellow Krauts out there should also take note that there is a game breaking bug in the German version that makes the game crash whenever you talk to specific NPCs, even some vital ones much later in the game. Incidentally I wasn't too happy when I suddenly hit a dead end. Turns out that the publisher released a patch that fixes the problem. The website of said publisher has been moved however and the download link was lost during the process. Luckily for me the support team was nice enough to send me a backup, and I've put it up on Mediafire so that it may not get lost for future generations.
    Siegel der Verdammnis Patch 1.06a

    The story takes place during a dark chapter of Chinese history, marked by the fall of the long lasting Zhou dynasty. Following this downfall, seven nations are now struggling for both self-preservation and domination, most notably the Qin Nation, lead by an uncompromising visionary called Ying Zheng. A man obsessed with his goal to unite China by any means necessary. One of his current targets is the Baiyue Nation which has already been weakened by the loss of its western provinces but is yet withstanding all invasion efforts. Since final victory seems inevitable however, it's high time to send those barbarians an offer that they can't refuse.

    [​IMG]

    Qin-Ambassador: I hope for your people's sake that you're going to consider the gracious offer our king is willing to make.

    [​IMG]: My chieftain is not present and it is not my place to make such a decision.

    Qin-General: Do you even grasp the gravity of the situation, wizard?

    [​IMG]: All too well, I'm afraid.

    Qin-Ambassador: I want to make this as easy for you as possible. If you have any concerns, tell me and I shall report them to my king. I'm certain he's going to pay great interest...

    [​IMG]: I understand. I'm sorry, but you're wasting your time.

    Qin-General: You are no fool, Chi Huan! The Qin Empire will soon unite the Central Plains. We have one hundred thousands soldiers. How can you believe that Eastern Baiyue is going to stand a chance? Accept the offer, wizard, before it is too late.

    [​IMG]: Stop!

    [​IMG]

    Qin-Ambassador: Who are you?

    Good question.

    [​IMG]

    This is Lan Wei, main protagonist and witch by trade. Since she will stick with us for most of the time, she's practically designed to be a well balanced offensive mage, not only blessed with some devastating dancing moves and regenerating capabilities but also with the ability to weaken enemies with curses. Something that will become very handy once available. She also gets a fairly large amount of HP for a spellcaster which is a plus since her death means game over by default. Anyway, let's check her skill level in diplomacy.

    [​IMG]: I'm a Baiyun and I spit on your offer! We will never surrender! Tell them, Uncle. You speak in my father's name. Let them know!

    Qin-General: What do you know, you stupid little wench!

    [​IMG]: I know you believe my people to be dim-witted and feeble but you couldn't make a worse mistake. Today I will teach you that lesson.

    The general is obviously not amused.

    [​IMG]

    Qin-General: Such insolence! It will be a great pleasure to beat the living daylights out of you!

    Fortunately for her, a fair maiden can always count on the honour of gentlemen.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: If you put even one hand on her, you'll die.

    [​IMG]

    The odd orc/lion hybrid is Liang Hu, an Animal Man soldier. In practice that means that he has a ton of HP at his disposal and hence can soak up damage like no other. Add some decent armour to it and there will be close to nothing that can put a scratch on him. On the downside, while his damage output is quiet high as well, his attack rate is severely lacking. Still, if you need a true brother in battle who will never let you down, Liang Hu is your man thing.

    [​IMG]: Liang Hu, thank god you're here! Throw this idiot out!

    Qin-Ambassador: Think, General Wang. We are alone and have a truce.

    Qin-General: Just as well. Wizard, inform your chieftain about our offer when he returns. And advise him to think very carefully. He would certainly regret any rash decisions.

    Thus the Qin people leave, avoiding a diplomatic fallout and a beating, for now.

    [​IMG]: Must peace always be so short lived? A war seems inevitable.

    [​IMG]: Don't worry, Uncle Chi Huan. The Qin soldiers may be great in numbers but they are weak as well. There is no need for us to be afraid of them.

    [​IMG]: You are still young, Lan Wei, and you have much to learn. It is late. We will talk again once your father has returned. You should better go home.

    [​IMG]: As you wish, Uncle. Good night.

    Lan Wei leaves the cutscene and the hut only to be engaged in another, less interesting conversation for some more character build up.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: Lan Wei!

    [​IMG]: Oh, it is you. You startled me. How long have you've been back?

    [​IMG]: What? Oh, three, maybe four days. Probably five, come to think of it. I'll soon go back to the Central Plains.

    [​IMG]: The Central Plains? What could you want there?

    [​IMG]: Why, to make business, of course! I know that the people from the Central Plains can be wicked and cruel but they also make some beautiful craft. They've also got things which could be of use to us.

    [​IMG]: Really? Then you better have something for me as well the next time you return!

    [​IMG]: Haha, I wouldn't dream of anything else! What!? Did you see that? Qin officials! What on earth are they doing here?

    [​IMG]: Those two! They are the envoys sent by Ying Zheng to demand our surrender.

    [​IMG]: I can't believe that Lan Xiong will agree.

    [​IMG]: Of course not! Well, it's getting dark. I'll head home, I need some rest. See you, Yin Cheng.

    [​IMG]: Not if I see you first, Lan Wei.

    [​IMG]: Don't forget to bring me presents from the Central Plains.

    And with that we are finally released into the first chapter.

    [​IMG]

    This chapter is more of a tutorial replacement to get you into the groove. The main objective: get the heroine to bed. While this is as easy as it sounds, we would miss a lot of extra XP this way. Many quests in the game are completely optional although missing those will mean more time spent on grinding of which there is already aplenty, sadly. You will also skip some precious upgrades for your

    Skills
    There are two skill slots at the bottom of the screen (the two green circles in the above screenshot). The one on the left hand is the current choice of active offensive skill, this one will trigger automatically when the PC attacks an enemy. The one on the right hand is for both offensive/defensive skills and can be activated manually by right clicking. Left click on one of those slots let you select a skill for the slot. There you can also hotkey skills by aiming the cursor at them and push the key of your choice. More importantly, you can put defensive skills on auto cast too by holding shift and right click on them. This will save you some micromanagement since every character will get at least one support aura later on and you will really want them to keep those up at all times.
    New skills are unlocked automatically as the story progresses. Each skill can be upgraded up to four times (roughly translated: basic → schooled → senior → super → final) either by scrolls that can be found in chests or by solving sidequests. Their effects can also be altered to the better (comes even with a fancy icon upgrade) if special requirements are met. Since this is just the starting area however, our skill arsenal isn't that impressive.

    Liang Hu
    [​IMG]: Attack of the Praying Mantis (Offensive)
    Effect: Basic melee attack. Increases the 'attack skill' by 10% (not quiet sure what's meant by that. It's either chance to hit or increased damage, maybe both)
    Notes: You cut something, it dies. 'Nuff said.
    Upgrade: Another +10% increase per skill upgrade, +1% for every 5 points of iron

    [​IMG]: River of Life (Defensive)
    Effect: Increases HP regeneration by 200% and defence by 10
    Notes: Makes Liang Hu practically immortal for a fair amount of time. Definitely preferred this aura to all the others he'll get. It takes a large chunk of his MP though so you'll better wait until he runs low on HP before actually casting it.
    Upgrade: +10 defence per skill upgrade, +5% HP regeneration for every 5 points of wood, +5 defence for every 5 points of water


    Lan Wei
    [​IMG]: The five divine Elements (Offensive)
    Effect: Basic ranged attack. Increases the attack skill by 10% (again, not a clue)
    Additional Effects:
    Casts slow on enemies and 10% of the dealt damage is added to Lan Wei's HP, requires Wood Talisman and a wood weapon
    Increase attack speed and range, requires Fire Talisman and a fire weapon
    Notes: The Fire/Wood Talisman are support auras we'll get later. A very versatile skill, if the above is any indicator.
    Upgrade: Another +10% increase per skill upgrade

    [​IMG]: Attack with a Stick (Offensive)
    Effect: Basic melee attack. No additional effects.
    Notes: If you should ever have to fall back on this skill, you're screwed. Only use as a last resort or, even better, just make a run for it.
    Upgrade: Can be upgraded to Exorcism, requires 30 points of earth

    [​IMG]: Exorcism (Offensive)
    Effect: Basic melee attack. 100% chance to remove any positive buffs from enemies on impact.
    Notes: Not particularly useful until much later when enemies actually bother with buffs but then it can turn out to be a real lifesaver.
    Upgrades: None


    At this point you might be slightly puzzled about what could be meant with all the 5 points of earth, wood, etc. Let's see if we can make sense of it by pushing some buttons at random until we reach the character sheet.

    Attributes
    [​IMG]

    According to the manual, the gameplay relies heavily on an old Chinese philosophy of the five elements, from item crafting, over the skills to the PC's attributes where they replace the more common placeholders like strength and such. Every PC gets 5 points per level up which he can distribute among those elements for the following effects:

    Iron: Increases base damage
    Wood/Water: Increases the amount of HP/MP and improves recovery respectively
    Fire: Increases attack rate and the chances to dodge an attack
    Earth: Increases base defence

    All these elements exist in a perfect harmony, meaning that there is not the one truly best element (at least as theory goes). Therefore every element is restricted by another. They also get a supporting element each but this is only important for advanced crafting which we'll cover another time.

    As for now the important thing to remember:
    Iron (restricts)> WoodEarthWaterFire

    This is vital both on the defence and on the offensive since every enemy is devoted to a certain element (visible at the lifebar). It usually stands for both their attack and armour element although there are a few exceptions when weapons are concerned, if I remember correctly. So thwacking something which main element is iron (most humans for example) with wood weapons is not likely to wield satisfying results, while switching to fire weapons is going to kill them a lot faster.
    The efficiency of armour depends on what enemy you're facing as well. The defence of a PC is also split up into the different elements (seen in the right bottom corner of the box above). For every 2 points an attribute is raised, the base defence of the PC against the element the attribute restricts is also raised by 1. Every 3 points will raise the defence against all elements by 1 except the element which restricts the attribute. Hence if you put every single point into fire, prepare for some pain if you face enemies with water as main element. The only exception here is the earth attribute which will raise the defence against all by at least 1 per invested point, regardless the element.

    Considering how heavily the philosophy of the five elements factors into pretty much everything vital to an aRPG, it is advisable to choose at least two main elements for every character, to keep them more versatile. With the different skill bonuses and upgrade requirements in mind, there are a fair lot of possibilities for a character to expand. There are some obvious choices for Lan Wei as her skills mostly revolve around fire and wood, with some earth and water added to the mix for extra MP and protection. Liang Hu can go several ways from pure tank built to total war machine. I choose the save middle road, with emphasis on fire, a lot of earth/wood and a wee bit of iron and water.

    This should cover most of the basic mechanics. Let's move on.

    Inventory
    [​IMG]

    Lots of buttons here. From top to bottom we got 'Use' for consumables, 'Equip', 'Craft' which will come later, 'Refine' also for later, 'Drop', 'Sort' and 'Exchange' which will open the inventory of another PC for swapping items. Lan Wei also has 100 gold on her. Not a fortune, but since we're mostly relying on self-made equipment, money won't be of much of a concern anyway.
    More interesting are the tabs at the top. The stick is for the PC's private stash where usable items and equipment are stored, the rest of the tabs is reserved for the shared group inventory for crafting materials. We get general crafting items (rock) which can be used for any crafting attempt with varying applicability. Next are exclusive materials for weapons/armour crafting (horn)/(skin), jewellery (cheese?) and medicine (weed). I'll push the details further down since all this explaining is already taking a little too long. One thing worth mentioning however is how to acquire such material. Exclusive materials are usually dropped by enemies (e.g. a panther will drop either a tooth as weapon material, skin for armour, sinew for jewellery or meat for medicine). General materials however can hide everywhere. Sometimes in obvious places like chests and breakable pots but more often than that in plain scenery, like within the rock to Lan Wei's right.

    [​IMG]

    Or on the tree at this hut (note the easy to miss hand icon at the trunk).

    [​IMG]

    This makes exploration a lot more rewarding since some awesome firebamboo for a new hat could hide just around the corner. On the downside, if you're too diligent, you'll soon find yourself with an overflowing inventory and no idea what to do with it.

    We'll settle with some quest hunting instead. Maybe this could be a good opportunity even to improve foreign relations. ('k maybe not)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: Hey! Watch where you're going, girl! That was my foot you just stepped on!

    [​IMG]:
    → 1.<Examine the stranger>
    2. I beg your pardon but you don't need to get so upset about it.

    One of the first instances of multiple choice dialogue although it's mostly “Do you want quest? Yes/No”

    [​IMG]: The young man is about twenty years old. Judging by his clothes, he hails from the Central Plains. He rubs his foot while giving you an angry stare.

    [​IMG]: Don't be such a donkey. Are all people from the Central Plains like you?

    [​IMG]: You rude, backwater yokel! You stepped on me! Did your parents raised you in a barn? Don't you even have enough decency in you to offer an apology?

    [​IMG]: No, not if you can't behave yourself.

    The temptation to add a Smug here is almost overpowering.

    [​IMG]: He turns away form you, obviously angered about your behaviour. “Go away, I don't have anything more to say to you.”

    [​IMG]: Uh, oh... I'm sorry. Can I ask you a question?

    [​IMG]: The man looks at you resentful. “Well, isn't that great? First you mistreat me and now you want to chat with me! You're quiet strange, huh?”

    [​IMG]: I'm strange? You're the one far away from home! You know that it is dangerous for everyone from the Central Plains to be in Eastern Baiyue...

    [​IMG]: “You...you...you dare threatening me?” He becomes aware that everyone is staring at him. “Well, if this would be the Central Plains, I would teach you and all your degenerate friends some manners!”

    [​IMG]: Ha! You want to teach us? I dare you to try. Begin, so we can feed you to the dogs!

    [​IMG]: The frightening sight of Liang Hu leaves the man neither intimidated nor scared. He says to Lan Wei: “You're a rather young girl. It's amazing that you've got manners similar to the ones of a half starved billy goat.”

    [​IMG]: <Prevents Liang Hu from killing him> Boy, you've got a sharp tongue, maybe you can use it to tell me what you're doing in Eastern Baiyue. Or would you prefer to discuss good manners with my ugly friend here?

    [​IMG]: He blinks and suddenly realizes how misplaced he really is. “All right. My Name is Wu Xiong and... well, I hail from the State Chu, as you might have noticed. I'm here to see the Old Man Qiu. Unfortunately he's not here, so I'm waiting for him. Are you now satisfied?”

    [​IMG]:
    1. <Thinks> Old Man Qiu? He is as crazy as a bedbug, I better leave him be.
    → 2. <Thinks> Old Man Qiu? What does he want from him?

    [​IMG]: Old Man Qiu... I know him well. What's your business with him?

    [​IMG]: You are a very curious person, you know that? If you really want to sniff around in my business, tell him that I bring a bottle of good wine.

    [​IMG]: Wine? It is a custom to bring a present from the long journey to the Central Plains.

    [​IMG]: “I hope that not all such travellers are greeted like this in your village,” he says, still irritated. “Not that it is any concern of yours but Old Man Qiu cured the paralysed legs of my father two years ago when he visited our town. And before you ask, it was 'Sleeping Bull' [wonder if this is a rare instance of name translation or something else]. My father was so grateful that he promised to send him a bottle of our Flowerwine, a family heirloom.”

    [​IMG]: I see. An interesting story.

    [​IMG]: I'm glad you allowed me to tell it. Now you could do me a favour and leave me alone, yes?

    [​IMG]:
    1. Yes, of course you can go. But be careful not to cause any more trouble...
    → 2. <Thinks> I need something from Old Man Qiu... this could be a good opportunity...

    [​IMG]: Wu Xiong turns around to leave.

    [​IMG]: Oh, hold on a moment, please. Your story, uh, has moved me deeply. Let me help you. Old Man Qiu has left and no one knows when he will return. Why don't you leave the wine with me and I'll deliver it to him? I owe you one for stepping on your foot after all. That way I can make up for it. What do you think?

    [​IMG]: “I don't know,” he looks doubtful. “No, I don't even know you.”

    [​IMG]: My name is Lan Wei. My father is the chieftain of this village.

    [​IMG]: “No wonder you're such a spoiled brat,” he mutters. “All right, I accept your offer. Here is the wine. I trust you that you'll not drink it yourself.”

    [​IMG]: You have my word as a Baiyun. Not one drop shall touch my lips.

    [​IMG]: Well, thank you then. I need to go. Farewell.

    I'm kind of saddened that Wu Xiong won't appear ever again. Someone needs to put that girl's jackassery into perspective. Since such a person is now absent, she is not hindered on her search for ever more wine.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: Hello, Ah Dan!

    [​IMG]: Ah! You scared me, Lan Wei!

    [​IMG]: What are you up to?

    [​IMG]: Master Chi Huan gave me some gold to buy a few bottles of Tigerbone Wine but I can't remember where I've put it. I can't find it anywhere! Can you help me?

    [​IMG]: Tigerbone Wine? Did the innkeeper finally open his private stash?

    [​IMG]: Yes. When the master heard the news, he sent me right away to get a bottle. And then I found the most amazing stink bug that I've ever seen! It was huge! And when I tried to catch it, I dropped the gold he's given me!

    [​IMG]:
    1. The money didn't disappear on its own. Look carefully. If you can make out a bug in the grass then you shouldn't have a problem with the coins.
    → 2. I know the innkeeper well. Maybe I can help.

    [​IMG]: But master Hao has been sitting on those barrels for ten years now. He wouldn't sell the wine to anyone, even for a mountain of gold.

    [​IMG]: I think I can convince him to give me a bottle. Go on, catch a stink bug. I'll get the wine for you.

    [​IMG]: Thanks, Lan Wei. You are so nice. Especially for a little girl. If I should catch a big stink bug, I'll give it to you as a present!

    [​IMG]: Haha, no thanks. Give it to Uncle Chi Huan instead. I'm sure he can make good use of it for his medicine and salves.

    I wanted to ask the barkeeper about rumours anyway but maybe the patrons have something interesting to say as well.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: That's good stuff! Master Yao makes the best brands of wine.

    [​IMG]: Yes, he does. Best of the world, isn't that right, Brother Huo?

    [​IMG]: Wrong! There is better wine than the one from Master Yao. I know because I drank it several times.

    [​IMG]: <Thinks> Brother Huo is really cruel to talk Master Yao down like that. What will happen if we need his help in the future?

    [​IMG]: Can there be anyone more powerful than Master Yao?

    [​IMG]: You bet. Sure, there's no human better than him. I talk about apes. Their wine is better than anything that Master Yao ever brewed.

    [​IMG]: Are you making fun of me? Apes can't make wine!

    [​IMG]: Sure they can. If bees can make honey, then there is no reasonable explanation why apes can't make wine.

    [​IMG]: And how on earth do they do that?

    [​IMG]: You can't possibly know but there is a very rare fruit, that grows at the cliffs of the Skyrose Valley. Only apes can get there. Usually they hide the fruits that they collect in the trees. Sometimes they forget the fruits and they start to ferment after a few weeks and become delicious wine. You have never drank anything so good!

    [​IMG]: Incredible! So, if I could get my hands on those fruits, I could make some wine for my own?

    [​IMG]: Ask Brother Yao. It depends on him. Sadly the cliffs are very steep. Impossible to climb. Don't risk it.

    [​IMG]: If no one ever climbed them before, how could you know that it is impossible? I bet I can do it.

    And that makes wine quest number three and a rather obscure one at that, robbing wine making apes. While a pitiful drunkard, Brother Huo also has a secondary function as village healer. He can revive KOed team members and since Lan Wei is the princess with an attitude, he will do so for free. Later on you'll have to pay for this service (costs depend on level) or simply use a (significantly cheaper) revival potion for the same effect.

    Back to the main wine.

    [​IMG]: Well, if that isn't little Lan Wei! Some nice bracelets you're wearing. I heard someone saying, that those who wear one of your bracelets will be protected against snakes.

    [​IMG]: I wish that would be true!

    Because they would be of invaluable service for the entire community?

    [​IMG]: If my jewellery was magical, I would become even more wealthier than you.

    [​IMG]: How about a nice swig of wine to get that dust off of your upper lips?

    [​IMG]: Wine would be good but I don't need any for me. I need a bottle of Tigerbone Wine.

    [​IMG]: That's for your boy Yan Hong, right? Tell you what, as proof of your undying love for him, it shouldn't be too cheap. 500 gold pieces or you won't get any!

    Best way to make potential love interests unappealing is to make them unavoidable and expensive.

    [​IMG]:
    1. That could be the ransom for a king! I don't have that much. How about a discount?
    → 2. <Thinks> 500 gold pieces are usury. But I'll have to buy the wine...

    [​IMG]: Master Hao, care for a trade? I will give you my blue bracelet for the wine, what do you say?

    [​IMG]: It is the same bracelet that you carry during our [some Chinese festival]. The one that was your mother's? No, it obviously means too much to you. I can not accept this. If you offer me such a precious treasure, then you must really need the wine. Take it, my dear. See it as a gift.

    [​IMG]: <Thinks> This bracelet is one of the few memories that I've left from my mother. I wanted to give it to Yan Hong.

    [​IMG]: You are a very generous man, I thank you for the offer but I can't take the wine with me for nothing. If you need my help with anything, please don't hesitate to ask me. I'll do what I can for you.

    [​IMG]: Now that you're mentioning it, there is something you could do. I'm preparing a very special meal and I require some snake meat. Could you go into Skyrose Valley and get some for me?

    [​IMG]: I'm glad that I can be of help.

    Liar. No matter, with all done what can be done within village borders (the other sidequests don't get any more exciting), we venture out into Skyrose Valley to face our first enemy: snakes, lots of snakes.

    [​IMG]

    Combat is the standard RTwP fare. Press space to pause (although that is seldom necessary), issue commands, drink potions and kill anything with a red circle around it. There are some additional factors for more tactical oriented players who don't shy away from micromanagement. For one that projectiles don't hit automatically and can be dodged. Also many skills require a short time to charge up and can be disrupted when the caster is hit hard enough. Really dangerous for people like Liang Hu when casting River of Life since a lot of MP can be wasted this way. Probably most important however is that any combatant is a lot easier to hit from behind and will suffer significantly more damage this way.
    So the basic rules of survival are to keep moving, stay at your enemy's back and watch your own.

    This is still all tutorial though so Lan Wei&Co are not yet allowed to face danger all by themselves.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: There are many snakes in Skyrose Village and their poison is deadly.

    First obvious case of portrait recycling.

    [​IMG]: Tie Sheng, I've brought you an antidote for the snake poison from my uncle Chi Huan [which I stole from his private chest although I somehow fail to mention that].

    [​IMG]: Splendid! The medicine of the wizard is the best in the entire country.

    [​IMG]: Tie Sheng, be careful.

    A big lore dump follows. Short version: fish can fly, spiders eat people and there is a boss battle waiting for us in a nearby cave.

    [​IMG]: Lan Wei, be on your guard in Skyrose Valley. There is a snake plague every year.

    [​IMG]: I'm not afraid of snakes.

    [​IMG]: You're the brave daughter of the chieftain and the one person most experienced with magic. Those snakes shouldn't pose any significant threat.

    [​IMG]: Of course.

    [​IMG]: Yet you should stay on your guard. There are more things in this valley than snakes. Dangerous animals like scorpionfish and poisonous spiders. A wise man wouldn't enter here.

    [​IMG]: Scorpionfish? I've never heard of those.

    [​IMG]: They are an old race that lived in the mountains.

    [​IMG]: You mean that they lived there in underground streams and rivers? My father told me fairy tales about them, when I was younger, but I never believed them.

    [​IMG]: One thousand years ago, when the world was ruled by chaos, those strange fish creatures despised the humans of Baiyue with passion. They conspired together to flood the lands with water of the eastern sea. The God of War always protected us Baiyun and so he stopped the incoming flood with a mountain out of soil. As the water dried out, the fish creatures had to realize that they were trapped beneath the earth. They evolved over time. They learnt how to life with the absence of light, they grew a scorpion tail, and some of them were even able to learn how to fly.

    [​IMG]: This is a very odd tale. Are you sure it is true?

    [​IMG]: If I'm sure...?! Girl, look around you, when you're in the valley, so you can see it for yourself. Be careful, since some of them have an affinity for the element of the forest, the wood – other than their larger siblings who tend stronger towards the water. They share a dire enmity with the witches of Baiyue who, as you know, are skilled in wood magic.

    [​IMG]: How about the poisonous spiders? Do you mean those large beasts that live inside the Spider Cave?

    [​IMG]: Yes. They differ quiet radically from the normal sized brood. You know why?

    [​IMG]: I don't have the slightest idea although I'm sure you're about to tell me.

    [​IMG]: They say that the wife of the Yellow Emperor, Lei Zu, was the most skilful weaver in heaven and on earth alike. All the other weavers, from the silkworm on the berry tree to those in the great citadels of the forest spiders, acknowledged this fact. The proud spiders of Baiyue were the only exception. She decided to invite them into her palace and host a weaver contest. The competition was rough but Lei Zu won at the end. The spiders of Baiyue left. She collapsed shortly thereafter and almost died. [The rest is cut off since it was apparently too much German for the dialogue box to handle. I can only speculate that the spiders are accused of poisoning Lei Zu and get cursed never to weave again or somesuch.]

    [​IMG]: That is terrible. What do they eat without their nets? How can they survive?

    [​IMG]: They adapt without their nets. They had to work together to catch they regular prey. They became a hunter race, that sneaks up on animals and men to drag them into their dark lair. As they were fed with the flesh and blood of mammals, they started to become bigger and wilder. Today they're almost as large as tigers and panthers.

    [​IMG]: How terrifying! I will avoid their cave that's for sure.

    [​IMG]: That is not all. There is another cave I should warn you about.

    [​IMG]: You mean the Snake Cave? My father and his advisor were there quiet often.

    [​IMG]: Maybe, but if they were, they can be glad that they never had to face the Snake King. He is one thousand years old, big as an elephant and twice as dangerous. Compared to him, a Boa-Constrictor looks like a harmless kitten. Together, the chief and the wizard may be able to slay the Snake King but it would be dangerous and they would have to put great effort into it.

    [​IMG]: You underestimate the skills of my father and the magic of his advisor.

    [​IMG]: The elders in town always tell stories about the Snake King. They think that his flesh and blood contains the power of longevity, even immortality, since he feeds on the blood that his smaller brood collects for him.

    [​IMG]: Once my magic is strong enough, I will set out and kill the Snake King and then I will make pills out of his flesh for my father and my uncle.

    Shifting our focus back to the tasks at hand, we search for the animalistic wine producers.

    [​IMG]

    Lan Wei has three options here. Throw a rock at the fruits, throw a rock at the apes or try to climb the cliff. Only one choice will end in success. Obviously Lan Wei throws rocks at the apes if only for the giggles. They throw fruits in retaliation. Puzzle solved.
    At this point we've finally collected enough raw material to open the crafting menu for the very first time.

    Crafting (basics)
    [​IMG]

    Crafting is divided into several steps:

    1. Choose the category
    You can craft helmets, body armour, boots, amulets, rings and potions.

    2. Choose the class
    The stats of equipment you create may vary according to class. The armour of a witch for example will always turn out significantly weaker than of a fighter like Liang Hu. This step is ignored for potions, obviously.

    3. Choose crafting technique and material (see above)
    The only crafting technique available right now is the Eight Diagram (upper Yin-Yang symbol), the most basic one. Later on we can use the tabs at the top to choose others but right now all there is to do is to fill the slots with the material of our choice.
    General crafting materials have all possible attributes next to their element: attack strength, defence strength, required level and required attribute. Exclusive material for armour/weapons will lack either attack or defence strength for obvious reasons. Some materials also get special effects in addition, like an increased attack rate for weapons. Those are most common in boss remains and crystals but the later come with the trade-off that their attack and defence strength is often significantly weaker compared to other material. The element of a crafted item is usually decide by how many materials of one element is used. So using two branches of the element wood (not as apparent as it sounds) and a metal of the element fire will create a helmet of the element wood. The manual claims that it will always work this way (alternatively the element is chosen at random if one element isn't overrepresented) but I experienced cases where one strong material absorbed several weaker materials of another element, making the process a little less predictable.
    Coming to the restrictions, the chosen technique too is handled as a skill. Stronger materials can't be used if this skill is not of a sufficient level. Leveling the skill for a technique is a bit different than PC skills in a way that it follows the learning by doing approach. After you reach a specific level you either craft until your hands bleed to increase the skill or save yourself the trouble and bribe a nearby blacksmith to teach you. This can become a little problematic when you get a new technique only to realize that you can't use any of your current material (since you most likely discharged all low-level materials at that point) to upgrade the skill and a blacksmith is nowhere to be found. Next you need to reach a minimum level requirement to craft the stronger stuff. This is usually not a problem since those requirements are well adjusted to the player's progress. It's only when you want to refine equipment that this will start to bite you in the arse. The attribute restriction is more of a concern for the PCs as their attribute will have to match or surpass the given attribute requirement to equip a crafted item. Those restrictions are usually fairly low for self-made items but get worse with the things you can buy from merchants.

    Refinement
    Every piece of equipment can be refined up to two times. The process is identical to normal crafting only that there is a special slot added for the item you want to work on. Again it is most likely the raised level requirement (way out of proportions if you ask me, which is also the main cause for level grinding in the game) that is going to break your neck here.

    Since Liang Hu is our most efficient fighter at the time, we reward his good performance with a new set of armour that would fill every girl's heart with glee.

    [​IMG]

    Turns out to be a smart move since the battlefield can get crowded very fast. Gear makes a big difference here.

    [​IMG]

    At least we get enough snake meat to feed the entire village (can't do any potions yet). We even receive some fine snake skin as a reward for our effort. It's only in front of the Snake Cave where the adventure comes to a shrieking halt.

    [​IMG]

    No boss fight for tonight since our heroes just don't feel like it. Time to backtrack our steps and return to the village. There we encounter one of the more mean aspects of the game: fetch and collector quests that don't get logged. Every now and then you'll stumble over the usual one sentence NPCs who babble such informative things like how much they like pie. Here however chances are high that there indeed is a pie lying around which you can exchange for an extra XP boost. Take this boy for example who only said something in the line of “I'm hungry” before we left the village for the animal hunt.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: I would really like to eat some fruit.

    [​IMG]: [Choice I've forgot to include]

    [​IMG]: Yours is so fresh! It tastes a lot better than that awful fruit from Ah Wa, that he got from Trap Woods.

    [​IMG]: There are no other trees there. Where did he find that fruit?

    [​IMG]: He told me that he found it in a trunk. He said that it can strengthen your magic, even if it tastes horrible.

    [​IMG]: <Thinks> Interesting...

    Interesting in a sense that this is the start of one of those collector quests that will haunt us the longest. Going from chapter 2 all the way through to chapter 8 (of overall 9). Neat if you hoard everything that you find, even consumables. Frustrating if you don't.

    With all those wine giving, wine making, wine taking tasks out of the way, the events of the evening finally start to come full circle. Total exhaustion and a hangover.

    [​IMG]

    Guess this room is as girly as it gets in medieval China.

    [​IMG]: My father would have rebuked me for my outburst if he would be here. I know it was wrong but... I'm so tired. I have to sleep, Liang Hu. You should better do the same.

    [​IMG]: I will. Good night, Lan Wei.

    Meanwhile, back at Chi Huan's hut.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: Chieftain! You return early!

    [​IMG]: Yes, it went really well with the farmers. Chi Huan, my old friend, I begin to feel my age. I need rest but... first I want to talk to you.

    [​IMG]: I have some very unpleasant news for you, brother. While you were away...

    [​IMG]: What happened?

    [​IMG]: Ying Zheng, the king of Qin has sent us a delegation.

    [​IMG]: And?

    [​IMG]: They want Eastern Baiyue to kneel under the banner of Qin...

    [​IMG]: Never! The daggers of Baiyue shall rather be red with their blood! That will never happen!

    [​IMG]: As you wish. But it will not prevent them from killing every single one of us. You know that better than anyone else.

    [​IMG]: My wife and my son...


    I hear a dramatic flashback brewing on the horizon. The first of many yet to come.

    Personal note: despite all the mentions of alcoholic beverage, no drunken fist references so far. Colour me surprised.[/url]
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
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  2. Phelotgender: ⚧ Arcane

    Phelot
    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Parrots:
    17,919
    Looks good! You know, this is one of those games that I've heard the name before, thought it looks nice enough, but have never had any interest in playing for some reason. Maybe it's because I dislike oriental themes, I don't know.

    Anyway, now I don't have to play it since you're doing it for me :D
     
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  3. Avégender: ⚧ Liturgist

    Avé
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2004
    Parrots:
    468
    I bought this when it came out as it got fairly ok comments here, never got around to playing it though.

    Interesting to see how the LP goes!
     
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  4. Yeeshgender: ⚧ Magister

    Yeesh
    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2006
    Parrots:
    2,875
    Location:
    your future if you're not careful...
    I came for the hacking, but I expect I'm going to stay for the slashing.
     
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  5. LusciousPeargender: ⚧ Savant

    LusciousPear
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2009
    Parrots:
    719
    Location:
    SF
    MCA Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    For an ARPG, this really doesn't seem so bad. I like non-whiny female protagonists.
     
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  6. Drakrongender: ⚧ Arcane

    Drakron
    Joined:
    May 19, 2005
    Parrots:
    5,758
    I also played this but never got around to finished it and completely forgot the name (and were the hell is the DVD) but not the game.
     
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  7. Brother Nonegender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman inXile Entertainment Developer

    Brother None
    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2004
    Parrots:
    5,621
    Holy crap Lan Wei is a dick.

    That was a bit exposition/mechanics heavy for a first update but this looks interesting. Especially with Lan Wei's dickery. Keep it up.
     
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  8. Gonchigender: ⚧ Scholar

    Gonchi
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2006
    Parrots:
    154
    Location:
    Montevideo, Uruguay
    I liked Prince of Qin enough to go out and buy this one years ago, but I never got around to playing it.
     
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  9. Pussycat669gender: ⚧ Liturgist

    Pussycat669
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Parrots:
    667
    Location:
    In a fine suit
    Her boyfriend is actually a lot worse :smug:
     
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  10. ghostdoggender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Patron

    ghostdog
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Parrots:
    9,482
    Good stuff, but why did you change the aspect ratio of the portraits, you don't have to make them square you know.

    How good is the English translation of this game ?
     
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  11. Pussycat669gender: ⚧ Liturgist

    Pussycat669
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Parrots:
    667
    Location:
    In a fine suit
    But I like my boxes :(
    Can't say anything for sure about the translation but judging by the German text that was apparently taken straight from the English release (some English proverbs got horribly mistranslated), it looks decent enough. There are rumors though that the voice actors are quiet horrible (german ones are tolerable average to good most of the time).
     
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  12. MicoSelvagender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Monstroterratum Furiosum Patron

    MicoSelva
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2010
    Parrots:
    6,788
    Location:
    The Secret World
    Codex 2012 Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Divinity: Original Sin 2 Bubbles In Memoria A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Same.
    Fine idea to LP this. Good luck.
     
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  13. Pussycat669gender: ⚧ Liturgist

    Pussycat669
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Parrots:
    667
    Location:
    In a fine suit
    Narrator: Fifteen years ago...

    in a place lost in time, Lan Xiong is brooding.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: “It is late. You should rest,” she says kindly. “You haven't slept since Banyu fell...”

    [​IMG]: That is because your husband is the head of Baiyue's eastern armies. I'm sorry that I've been so demanding of you lately.

    [​IMG]: “Yes, that may be true.” She gives the sleeping child a friendly clap on the behind. “She's asleep at last. She's so misbehaving at times. Just like her father.”

    [​IMG]: Haha, true, but she has your looks. How time flies by... can you believe that she's already three years old and almost ready for the naming ceremony?

    [​IMG]: “Don't look at me. You are her father. You have to think of a name.” She smiles.

    [​IMG]: The naming of a child is a great responsibility. I'll have to think about it.

    A man storms into the hut.

    Ah Qing: Chieftain! You must come quickly!

    [​IMG]: What happened?

    Ah Qing: Soldiers from Qin are attacking the village! Lan Ying and his men are fighting them!

    [​IMG]: What? They've reached us already? Hong Wei, defend our daughter with your life. Ah Qing, you're with me!

    [​IMG]: No, Lan Xiong! My place is at your side. I'll come with you. Ah Qing, take Lan Wei [Continuity Alert!] with you and bring her and the other villagers to the other side of the mountains. Hurry!

    [​IMG]: Hong Wei...

    [​IMG]: Our swords fight together or not at all! [Incidentally, both of them fight with sticks]

    [​IMG]: Let us go then.

    [​IMG]

    This is the only interactive flashback that we'll see during the game and your best chance to get used to the more advanced skills like healing and area based attacks. Lan Xiong and his cohort do already start off at level 20 (in comparison, you will most likely be around level 30 at the end) so they are not in any real danger here. We pick up Chi Huan on our way out of the village and together we face the invading hordes of soldiers.

    [​IMG]

    Humans are a lot smarter than the snakes we faced before. Most notably these soldiers will not lock onto a single target but will also switch, depending on who deals the most damage to them. They are also runners, meaning that they will panic when their HP get low enough. Panicking enemies are annoying since they will always run faster than you and if you don't keep an eye out for strolling party members, chances are high that they will get lured into the next enemy group, often resulting in a horrible clusterfuck.

    We make our way to an old ruin where Lan Xiong's son has his last stand.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: He's surrounded!

    [​IMG]: We have to do something!

    Lan Ying: Father! Mother! Get out of here! I'll hold them off! [An arrow hits him in the back] Aaah!

    [​IMG]: Watch out!

    Lan Ying: It is... too late. Go... I beg you...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: No!

    Lan Ying dies in a blaze of glory, dragging the frame rate down to a single digit.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: I'm coming, Lan Ying!

    But there is not much left to be saved and the amount of goon reinforcements is getting ridiculous.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: Chieftain! They are too many. We must flee!

    [​IMG]: I will not leave my son to the mercy of these dogs from Qin.

    The archers fire away, hitting Lan Xiong several times.

    [​IMG]: My love!

    [​IMG]: It is nothing. But we must run or we will all die!

    [​IMG]: Lan Ying... I must go and help your father. But I'll return, I swear!

    You can theoretically run back and kill all those soldiers. It won't change anything about the outcome however.

    [​IMG]

    Qin-General: You can't escape the arrows of my bowmen! Fire!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: My wife!

    [​IMG]: Hong Wei! Hong Wei!

    The heroes suffer another barrage.

    [​IMG]: Chi Huan, are you hurt?

    [​IMG]: I'm all right. But I don't think that we'll escape this time, brother.

    Lan Xiong makes a determined gesture.

    [​IMG]: Then let us fight until the death and pray that we'll take some of them with us!

    Qin-Soldier: Help!

    The camera shifts to the back seats.

    [​IMG]

    Qin-Soldier: A devil!

    [​IMG]: It is Yan Peng!

    The summoned demons go on a rampage. Those soldiers that don't manage to retreat die a terrible death.

    [​IMG]: We'll meet back in the village. Hurry!

    The conversation with our mysterious saviour teleports us back to the village right away. Not much to do here except to talk to him.

    [​IMG]: Yan Peng!? I thought that you died many years ago!

    [​IMG]: The rumours about my death were a little exaggerated, as you may see. My elder brother couldn't bring himself to kill me. Come, we must bury my good sister and Lan Ying.

    [​IMG]: Ah...

    Narrator: Two days later...

    We witness a reoccurring scene: people lamenting in front of graves. Whether this serves to empathize the deep seated respect of the Chinese towards the dead or if it is just a case of a writer trying pathetically hard to establish an emotional bond is anyone’s guess.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: My love, I swear, that I'll avenge you and our son.

    [​IMG]: Hong Wei...

    [​IMG]: I've chosen a name for our daughter. It comes from your name – I call her Lan Wei. She has your kindness, I just know. You will be proud of her.

    [​IMG]: Chieftain...

    [​IMG]: Go in peace, my love. May you and Lan Ying rest in heaven. Don't worry about Lan Wei. I will take care of her.

    With all farewells spoken, Lan Xiong can shift his attention to more urgent family matters.

    [​IMG]: Yan Peng... it's been a long time...

    [​IMG]: Yes indeed, cousin. I can't stay for long.

    [​IMG]: You are leaving so soon already? But why?

    [​IMG]: My life is on the road. I just returned to bring my charge, Yan Hong, to you. He has gotten through a lot those last three years because of me. No child deserves the life of a poor stroller. Lan Xiong, help me. Can you take care of him?

    [​IMG]: If you are his protector then who else could...

    [​IMG]: He is the son of my brother. Three years ago, when the Qin attacked Western Baiyue, I tried to help but I was too late... I only could save the boy. They had banished me before because of my interest in the black arts. My brother should have executed me but he let me go. I owe him everything, cousin, and I must make sure that his son is left in good care.

    [​IMG]: I understand. I will accept Yan Hong as my apprentice. But only because of your brother. You are twisting our most holy rites and traditions, Yan Peng, and that troubles me. It is probably the best path for this boy.

    [​IMG]: I'm a searcher of enlightenment, nothing more and nothing less. Yan Hong knows some magic and tricks as well. His mind is quick and he has some astonishing talents. But I must demand of you to be strict with him. He may not like it but he won't disappoint you.

    [​IMG]: Uncle, you must stay!

    [​IMG]: Like Lan Xiong said, it is for the best. Calm yourself. And follow your new master. We shall see each other again, I promise.

    Yan Peng disappears as sudden as he came.

    [​IMG]: Uncle is gone...

    [​IMG]: Skyrose Valley is so far away from the Central Plains... it will be save from the Qin. Let's go home.

    We cut back to the present for one final evaluation.

    [​IMG]: It has been almost fifteen years... how could we let ourselves get so old, Chi Huan? Life in Skyrose Village has certainly been idyllic, hasn't it? And still war has found us here.

    [​IMG]: This fate seems inevitable. You know that Lan Wei will soon turn eighteen. She grows fast. Rumours in town say that she and Yan Hong are going to be a couple.

    [​IMG]: My wife always said that I was the worse. She comes right after her father, eh?

    [​IMG]: She's no worse than you've been. And you know she not a little girl anymore. She will have to marry soon. Her responsibilities as daughter of the chieftain can no longer be delayed.

    [​IMG]: Yes, you're right. I will talk with her tomorrow. The night is growing older – just like us.

    Thus ends chapter 1. Cuddle time is now officially over.
     
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  14. spekkiogender: ⚧ Arcane

    spekkio
    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2009
    Parrots:
    7,195
    Good job, soldier!

    :thumbsup:
     
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  15. Yeeshgender: ⚧ Magister

    Yeesh
    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2006
    Parrots:
    2,875
    Location:
    your future if you're not careful...
    Now I'm all misty eyed and vengeful over loved ones' lives cruelly cut short, and morose with pathos over my lost youth, and sullen with the feel of my the few sands in my own life's hour glass falling away.

    You know what would cheer me up? SLAUGHTER!
     
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  16. Pussycat669gender: ⚧ Liturgist

    Pussycat669
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Parrots:
    667
    Location:
    In a fine suit
    As you wish, the RAGE! shall be unleashed. We'll need to get Lan Wei out of bed first though.

    [​IMG]: Mhmmm...what a nice dream – like a bird, flying over Skyrose Valley. Now I'm getting an idea! I should ask Liang Hu to practice some magic in the valley with me.

    But he and all other relevant people are still asleep. All except for this poor sod.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: Who goes there? Lan Wei? What are you doing out here during this early hour?

    [​IMG]: I can't wait to practice my magic.

    [​IMG]: Ah Wa's eyes widen in terror. "P-Pr-Practice magic?"

    [​IMG]: Why yes! Wait a minute, you mean, you will practice with me?

    [​IMG]: Uh, it... it is... uh, surely an interesting thought..., but... I still feel the pain from last time, that's all.

    [​IMG]: Hahaha, don't be such a wimp. It will be fun! I promise.

    The game cuts away for a moment.

    [​IMG]: Ah Wa, I will never forgive you if you run away again.

    [​IMG]: Only if you promise me to cast your spell correctly this time, Lan Wei.

    [​IMG]: Hey! Last time was intentional.

    [​IMG]

    The green magic ball hits Ah Wa in the lower abdomen, knocking him out cold.

    [​IMG]: Ah Wa? Ah Wa!

    There is no response.

    [​IMG]: I know that you're only faking it, Ah Wa. You're not really asleep, I can feel it.

    Narrator: A few minutes later...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: Oh. Apparently not. Strange. I cast the exact same spell on a bunny yesterday and it worked just fine. I think I will have to bother uncle Chi Huan again.

    Back to Chi Huan's it is.

    [​IMG]: Uncle, uncle! Help!

    [​IMG]: Have you lost your mind?

    [​IMG]: Father... you're already back?

    [​IMG]: Ha ha ha, in what troubles have you gotten yourself into this time, Lan Wei?

    [​IMG]: Uh, nothing serious. It's just... [she explains the situation]

    [​IMG]: Hahaha. Clumsy girl, how can you use magic before mastering it?

    [​IMG]: Uncle, don't laugh at me. At least try to help me out.

    [​IMG]: Don't worry, Lan Wei. Saving Ah Wa will be an easy task but I will require the gallbladder of a Snake King. There is a snake cave in Skyrose Valley. It is dangerous and not many people dare to go there. There you will find one such creature.

    So what was it again? 'Big as an elephant and twice as dangerous'?

    [​IMG]: Who is afraid of snakes? I will go right away.

    [​IMG]: Don't underestimate the Snake King, Lan Wei. You should ask Liang Hu to come along. He will watch over you.

    [​IMG]: Don't worry, father. I will be careful.

    [​IMG]: Just a moment, Lan Wei. The world becomes more dangerous with every passing hour. As the heir of the chieftain, you must watch after yourself more than ever. Let me teach you two new arcane arts, with which you can protect yourself.

    He grants Lan Wei two new skills, the Wood and Fire Talisman. I will put the in-depth description of acquired skills at the end of the entries from now on for a more fluid reading experience (and because I've mostly forgotten when I got them).

    [​IMG]: I understand. I'll go now to get the gallbladder. I will return with good news soon.

    Liang Hu is already waiting for her outside and together we can now finally enter the cave. Many snake filled hallways await until the heroes come face to face with the Snake King himself.

    [​IMG]

    Bosses will always get at least two health bars that you'll have to tear down (I think it went up to four or five at maximum. Stronger critters may also get two life bars at times) and often have some mean tricks up their sleeves. The Snake King can make a bull rush, even running right through the PCs, causing some severe damage in the process. The attack takes a while to charge up but you will still want to position Lan Wei somewhere behind the fiend to keep her out of harm's way.
    Otherwise it's just a matter of who is too stubborn to die.

    [​IMG]

    But time doesn't stand still in Skyrose Village either while Lan Wei is gone.

    [​IMG]

    Kid: Look! There comes Yan Hong! Yan Hong, Yan Hong, how many bandits have you slain this time?

    [​IMG]: Haha...at least ten. Maybe even twelve.

    Kid: You're great! I hate the people of the Central Plains! When I grow up, I want to kill them too like you do.

    [​IMG]: Bah! What do you know about killing, boy? Go on! Scram! I greet you, Yan Hong. Lan Wei missed you.

    [​IMG]: Oh, really?

    [​IMG]: Yes, she did. You fit well together, you know that. You should marry her.

    [​IMG]: Ah...hmmm...well.. I, must talk to the chieftain. Goodbye, Ah Qing.

    He enters the throne room.

    [​IMG]: Master, I've returned!

    [​IMG]: Good. Splendid. How did it go?

    [​IMG]: Everyone got home safe and sound.

    [​IMG]: Very good! But you look tired. Go and rest for a while but don't fall asleep. We have to take our part in the sacrificial ceremony tomorrow.

    In the meantime, we come to test out the new skill toys we got for killing the Snake King. Most notably

    Rage Skills
    Next to the health and mana meter, every PC has a third bar below his portrait, representing his current rage. Rage is earned by killing enemies and once the bar is full (after 50 kills), he is able to use his rage skill, often with devastating results for his enemies. Rage skills, like crafting techniques, improve with use, once a certain level is reached. But even without upgrades, those snakes don't stand a chance against Lan Wei's Red Bird.

    [​IMG]

    Due to the recent influx of snakes skins, there is also another new factor to consider.

    Sets and Item Attributes
    [​IMG]

    An item may have several bonus attributes (like +100 HP), one additional attribute that, while always visible, must be unlocked first, and one hidden attribute. You unlock the additional attribute either by equipping an item with the supporting element in the appropriate slot (according to the manual it is amulet unlocks helmet, ring unlocks weapon and boots unlock body armour) or, the easier route, by collecting set items. You will recognize that items belong to a set by the golden frame they'll get like seen with Yan Hong's half finished armour set. Usually you need three items of such a set to unlock the additional attribute but sometimes two seem to suffice as well. Hidden attributes are very rare and can only be unlocked when you find a full set. Last thing worthy of note is that from time to time the name of an item will be coloured but I still wasn't able to figure out what this is good for.

    With nothing left to do in the wilderness, we just as well could visit Yan Hong for some cheesy romantic banter.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: I heard that you're up to no good. Haha, Ah Wa is really unfortunate to have you as a friend!

    [​IMG]: What do you expect? You just left without saying a word and I needed the company.

    [​IMG]: Haha, you alone are responsible. I already travelled through half the valley while you were still dreaming about butterflies and dandelions!

    [​IMG]: Nonsense. Anyway, tomorrow is the ceremony. You better not forget. And if you do, you better not blame me.

    [​IMG]: Don't worry, I haven't forgotten. And you better don't sleep at the time! Hahaha.

    [​IMG]: You worry about yourself. I'm leaving.

    Looks like the two are really a perfect fit. The other NPCs have finally gotten up too, so there is another chance for some sidequesting. First we need to bring the one we're already dragging along to its conclusion though.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: Old Man Qiu, you're back!

    [​IMG]: “What is this? You're here to steal my most precious belongings, isn't that right?” he chuckles while stroking his beard.

    [​IMG]: Of course not! You're acting as if I would only come here when I need something. It's not fair, you know. I'm grown up now... ask Liang Hu. He will tell you.

    [​IMG]: Haha. Yeah, yeah, of course.

    [​IMG]: “A grown up? You?” He laughs. “I will start to treat you as a grown up when you start to act like one. I will not be grateful when you keep on pestering me with your juvenile rubbish. What do you want this time? Speak!”

    [​IMG]: I have... a present for you.

    [​IMG]: “A present? For me? What in the...” He shakes his head in disbelief, wondering what devil has taken over Lan Wei.

    [​IMG]: <Opens the wine bottle> Grandfather don't be silly. Look here...

    [​IMG]: What? Wine? Judging from the smell an excellent vintage. Let me see!

    [​IMG]: No, you don't want my present. Maybe my father will though. He always liked his noodles with beef together with some wine...

    [​IMG]: Aiyo! Noodles with beef? You must be joking! No, look, I was wrong... I really want your precious gift. It is meant for someone with taste, like me, not for an uneducated palate!

    [​IMG]:
    1. <Thinks> He is desperate. Maybe I shouldn't tease him so much...
    → 2. It's all right. But... I want something for it.

    [​IMG]: “An exchange? What gift is this when I have to pay for it!” Although he is resistant, the temptation is too great and he says: “Very well, what do you want?”

    [​IMG]:
    1. Hmm, let's see... how about that woven hat?
    → 2. The clothes in your chest are very nice.
    3. I like the shoes. I want those.

    [​IMG]: “Why don't you take my shirt as well while you're at it?” He gives you the bundle with hesitation. “Here you go. Give me the wine.”

    [​IMG]: <Thinks> Haha, finally got it!

    [​IMG]: The old man grabs the bottle and takes two or three big sips. Lifting the bottle from his wine coloured lips, he says: “Ah, that was good. Where did you say is it from?”

    [​IMG]: Mhm...well, it is...

    [​IMG]: You've tricked me, haven't you?

    [​IMG]: Only a little. You see, the wine was yours all along. A young man from Chu called Wu Xiong, well... he...

    [​IMG]: I remember him. I cured his father's legs two years ago. He brought me this? What do you think of that? A boy makes his way through all those dangerous realms to fulfil a promise of his family... he's certainly no coward, that boy.

    [​IMG]: Liang Hu argued with him but he didn't do anything. He's quiet a coward if you ask me.

    [​IMG]: You're mistaken, Lan Wei. He is stronger than me!

    [​IMG]: What? Impossible! You fought with him? Why?

    [​IMG]: It doesn't matter. I only did it because I was worried about you. I knew I couldn't defeat him but I had to at least try.

    Touching, yet slightly overprotective and creepy.

    [​IMG]: Oh, thank you. But apparently he was afraid of you as well.

    [​IMG]: I believe, he just didn't want to cause me any trouble.

    [​IMG]: It is strange. Yan Hong always said that the people of the Central Plains are brutal and barbaric. You think that Wu Xiong really comes from there?

    [​IMG]: Yan Hong is a narrow minded fanatic. The people of the Central Plains aren't even remotely as bad as he believes. Maybe you will go there some day and see it for yourself. Wu Xiong is the descendant of Wu Zixu, a famous general. You see, this boy has to carry a heavy burden as heritage.

    There are probably tons of non-obvious historical and mystical references in the game that I missed due to me being the average European who has enough problems to cope with his own culture. I still hope that there might be some China enthusiasts around that are willing share their educated opinion on these matters but even if not these background informations aren't important for grasping the overall plot, thankfully.

    [​IMG]: If you say so, old man. Enjoy your wine. I have to attend to other things. Goodbye.

    [​IMG]: The old man smiles and raises the bottle to his lips.

    Yet there are more old people in dire need of a hero.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: Lan Wei, do you know where I can find Yan Hong? I need to speak to him as soon as possible and you seem to be the only person who knows where he goes when he's in a foul mood.

    [​IMG]: I'm not his mother. I have no idea where he could've went. [Ignoring the fact that I just talked with him a few minutes ago, in his own hut] Why do you need him?

    [​IMG]: Oh it would be horrible if we couldn't find him. He is the most skilled and the strongest young man in the village. Our only chance now is to go to the chieftain. Dear, someone must rescue Bai Yue, or she will be in great danger.

    [​IMG]: What is it? Has something happened to Bai Yue?

    [​IMG]: She went out this morning to collect flowers but she hasn't returned. The poor thing... I'm so afraid for her.

    [​IMG]: Bai Yue is not a very talented magician, she can't fend for herself. Don't worry, I'll find her. I swear.

    [​IMG]: Oh no, it is too dangerous for you. Maybe some of the men can help but they're out on the hill to work. Dear, I... I know that you're good with magic but if anything should happen to you... Lan Xiong would... We'll go to him, he'll save us.

    [​IMG]: I can find her. Look, it is the least I can do and my magic is now more than good enough. Trust me, I will return her home safely.

    [​IMG]: You're really kind. Very well, but please be careful.

    We will, Granny, as our search will lead us to Trap Woods.

    [​IMG]

    This is where things start to get ugly. While the little grass monsters are still fairly weak, their numbers can quickly become a problem, especially if they are supported by one or two demon trees that like to lure around. Although these move very slowly, they have an incredible fast healing rate, making a fight with them all the more difficult. The increased attack rate of Lan Wei's fire staff/talisman combo is a real boon in this situation.

    The hunter who is hiding behind the trees gives us another lesson in lore albeit in bite-sized pieces at least.

    [​IMG]: Lan Wei, be careful in Trap Woods. The beasts there are wild.

    [​IMG]: But it is just a forest. What's there for me to be afraid of?

    [​IMG]: There is a reason why it is called Trap Woods. They say that, after the God of War was defeated in this forest, he released a terrifying howl in a fit of rage. The plants trembled before his fury and grew into the bodies of the dead animals, that were scattered around the ground, fused with them and brought them back to life. Those creatures don't know anything but hatred. Although they feel the thirst for the blood of the enemies of our god, they couldn't tell anyone apart and now hunger for every living thing that comes their way.

    [​IMG]: What a strange kind of flower. I think Yan Hong once mentioned that he wanted to cut them down.

    [​IMG]: There are many kinds of unnatural plants in this forest. In it's centre, it is believed, there are giant vines, that ambush any hapless travellers. They set them traps, sneak up to them and then strike. They're called Mantraps after which this forest is called Trap Woods. The poison of this plant paralyses the victim, who is swallowed alive. After about six hours, there is nothing left of him but sugar water.

    [​IMG]: Yan Hong never mentioned them before. But tell me about the wandering trees.

    [​IMG]: Haha, yes, that is a by-product from the diet of the Mantraps. Sometimes a Mantrap will hide it's prey inside a hollow trunk but then forget about it. The corpse gives his life to the tree bark which then comes to life. In time, a Wandering Tree will learn how to walk. Since the corpse will be mostly drained by then, the tree will look for new human prey, to regain strength.

    [​IMG]: That's disgusting. Maybe I should return to the village. Watch yourself, Tian Sheng.

    Not a chance with a profitable rescue quest still on-going.

    [​IMG]: Bai...Yue...Bai...Yue...

    [​IMG]: Lan Wei?

    [​IMG]

    Mission almost accomplished.

    [​IMG]: Yes, where are you?

    [​IMG]: I'm here. Look! There are so many camellias. They are so beautiful!

    [​IMG]: Be careful Bai Yue, that's dangerous.

    [​IMG]

    Mantrap attacks!

    [​IMG]: Bai Yue! She's unconscious! And it appears I've got my hands full with this Mantrap!

    Another boss fight is in order although a fairly easy one since the Mantrap can't move. It can however shoot vines as an areal attack which hurt a lot and slow the heroes down. Lan Wei is therefore again well advised to do her magic from a safe angle while Liang Hu draws the attention to himself. Luckily for us, he has enough rage built up inside to activate his Qi.

    [​IMG]

    This fight is pretty much over at that point and the girl is saved.

    [​IMG]: Look what you have done! You set all the camellias on fire! Lan Wei, your pyromania is putting even the bad reputation of fire elementals to shame.

    [​IMG]: Is this the gratitude for saving your life? Next time you can look after yourself. Why did you come here alone? I was worried sick about you.

    [​IMG]: I wanted to collect flowers. Yan Hong said that the camellias here are blooming. So I went here early this morning to pick some. I must have triggered a trap and this terrible animal wanted to eat me whole! Thank god you turned up to rescue me but you destroyed the flowers as well, sadly.

    [​IMG]: You went all this way just for some stupid flowers?

    [​IMG]: Lan Wei, they are not 'stupid'. They are important to me on this day. At least I've got some of them left in my basket. Can't you admit that these are the most beautiful flowers that you've ever seen?

    [​IMG]: Yes, they are. And... I'm sorry I called them 'stupid', Bai Yue. Come, we're going home. Your grandmother is waiting for us.

    Yan Hong makes his way through the woodwork.

    [​IMG]: Bai Yue, are you hurt? I know that I mentioned this place but you shouldn't have went here all by yourself. There are Mantraps under those camellias.

    [​IMG]: Lan Wei saved me. She had already killed those smelly things when I woke up.

    [​IMG]: Nah, it was nothing.

    [​IMG]: You should have asked me for help when you wanted to pick some camellias. Why did you accept such a terrible risk?

    [​IMG]: It is something I must do on my own. Look, aren't they pretty?

    [​IMG]: Yes, they're extraordinary. White camellias are rare.

    [​IMG]: Yan Hong, do you want to join us?

    [​IMG]: So...uh...very well. If you would excuse me. I see you're getting along just fine.

    [​IMG]: What? I asked him to come with “us”. There is no “us” if you don't come along.

    She walks off.

    [​IMG]: Come on, Lan Wei.

    [​IMG]: No, it is all right.

    [​IMG]: You'll regret it if you don't do it.

    That's a wee bit too high and mighty from the guy who got the girl almost killed.

    [​IMG]: Hey, Yan Hong, wait...

    Lan Wei tags along regardless.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: Mother...Father...
    For ten years I refused to visit your graves to honour you. You know why? Because I despised you both. Father, you left to fight the Qin when they invaded us. But you also left us behind in your selfishness and we had to fend for ourselves. Mother, when I needed you, you followed father to war. Neither of you returned. You were reunited in the afterlife while I was left alone in this world.
    Today, on my eighteenth birthday, I finally understood...I can't hate you any more. You did your best when you were there. When you went to war, you did your duty. I'm ashamed of my behaviour. Even if life in Skyrose Village was hard at times, it is a peaceful place. I like the mountains, the rivers... and I love the people.
    Mother, these are the flowers you liked the most. Father always said that you were as beautiful and unique as a camellia flower.

    Lan Wei takes Yan Hong aside.

    [​IMG]: Bai Yue is the same age as me. Today is her birthday.

    [​IMG]: Cursed lowlifes from the Central Plains! They took our houses and loved ones... her parents should be with her on her birthday! We've lived here for ten whole years! How long will it be before the past stops torturing us?

    Get used to Yan Hong's nigger hate remarks. We'll hear them a lot.

    [​IMG]: Her parents may be dead but that doesn't mean that they're not with her.

    [​IMG]: If you say so...

    [​IMG]: You knew what she was up to, right?

    [​IMG]: I feared as much. A few days ago, when she asked me where to find camellias, I remembered that her mother was also called camellia.

    [​IMG]: Why didn't you tell me earlier. This is so humiliating.

    [​IMG]: I thought you knew. And... I thought she would ask you to come with her. There are dangerous creatures in the forest.

    [​IMG]: Like Mantraps for example...

    [​IMG]: Hey guys. I'm ready. Let's go home.

    That's for the more engaging sidequests of today. Back on track for the main quest, we bring the gallbladder to Chi Huan, get medicine, bring medicine to Ah Wa, then go back home for some well earned scolding.

    [​IMG]: Father.. I'm home.

    [​IMG]: Hmmm....

    [​IMG]: Father, what are you thinking about?

    [​IMG]: What a beautiful ring. It is wonderful! Thank you!

    [​IMG]: <Thinks> It doesn't look like father is going to scold me!

    [​IMG]: Ah Wa has woken up again.

    [​IMG]: Good, good. Considering the damn time”, he mutters. “You know that you are not a little girl any more, Lan Wei. You should claim more responsibility for yourself. You are the chieftain's daughter, so start to act like one!”

    [​IMG]: Yes, father. I know. By the way, did uncle tell you about the ambassadors from Qin? They want us to surrender.

    [​IMG]: They would prefer that we surrender because they know how hard it is to defeat us in battle. Do you know why they wish for us to die?

    [​IMG]: No. You never told me.

    [​IMG]: A long time ago Chi You, our God of War, and their god, the Yellow Emperor, fought each other. The fight took longer than one hundred years. When Chi You was defeated, we had to leave the lands of the Yellow Emperor. So we came to the south where we settled down.

    [​IMG]: How is it possible for the God of War to lose a fight?

    [​IMG]: Who could tell? Nobody ever saw him again after his defeat. The ambitious Qin know this and now lust for our land because they think that we are no longer in Chi You's favour. They underestimate us.

    [​IMG]: We should pay our respect to Chi You that he deserves and ask him to bless our people!

    [​IMG]: That is what we've planned for tomorrow. We will ask for his blessing during the sacrificial ceremony. Remember, you're now eighteen. This time you must be there as well.

    I like how it is left in the open what exactly is going to be sacrificed during the ceremony.

    [​IMG]: Yes, father. Of course.

    [​IMG]: Ha, ha, forgive me. I'm babbling like a senile old fool. Go to bed. Don't be late tomorrow. Oh, Yan Hong returned if you didn't know. Why don't you meet him before you go to sleep?

    [​IMG]: I would rather not. That's his loss for leaving without telling me.

    [​IMG]: Ha ha ha, it's your choice.

    Another eventful day ends in Lan Wei's bedroom.

    [​IMG]: What a surprise – father didn't yell at all. I must go to bed. Liang Hu, you better go home and get some rest as well.

    [​IMG]: Don't stay up for too long.

    Lan Wei is for herself again.

    [​IMG]: I'm so tired. I don't even know how to bring myself to wake up this early in the morning.

    Next time: the sacrificial ceremony and the point when things start to get into motion.

    [​IMG]: Oh no! I've overslept again! Father is going to be mad!

    Plot relevant things I mean.


    Skill Corner

    Lan Wei
    [​IMG]: Wood Talisman (Defensive)
    Effect: Increases base damage by 8 and HP regeneration by 20%
    Notes: Usually the better choice for a talisman since a) the slow down effect for Lan Wei's standard attack is quiet useful in practice and b) Lan Wei will be a lot harder to kill. The talisman also improves all of Lan Wei's wood based skills
    Upgrade: +8 damage per skill upgrade, +2 damage for every 5 points of water, +2% HP regeneration for every 5 points of wood

    [​IMG]: Fire Talisman (Defensive)
    Effect: Increases base damage by 8 and moving speed by 20%
    Notes: Only advisable if you want to use the improved fire based skills. We will soon get a better alternative for increased travelling speed
    Upgrade: +8 damage per skill upgrade, +2 damage for every 5 points of water, +1% walking speed for every 5 points of fire

    [​IMG]: Red Bird (Rage)
    Effect: Ranged attack, increases attack skill by 1000%
    Notes: Pretty much the game's equivalent of a nuclear strike. Slow but absolutely deadly. Just remember that Lan Wei will have to stand still for a few seconds, making her an easy target for archers. Also make sure that your enemies don't walk out of range before the bird can rise
    Upgrade: Another +100% increase per skill upgrade

    Liang Hu
    [​IMG]: Tiger's Claw (Offensive)
    Effect: Melee attack which can hit all targets in front of Liang Hu. Increases the attack skill by 10%
    Notes: Good if Liang Hu is facing several opponents at once but it drains his MP fairly quickly
    Upgrade: Another +10% increase per skill upgrade. There is some babblefish talk about the five-element-points but I've yet to figure it out. Once I do, I can increase the attack skill by another +1%

    [​IMG]: White Tiger (Rage)
    Effect: Increases base damage by 15, attack speed by 200%, moving speed by 100% and HP regeneration by 200%
    Notes: If you want to see Liang Hu killing things fast (or need him to run really fast) then this is the skill for you. As a little extra plus, his kills while in White Tiger mode will still get added to his rage
    Upgrade: +15 damage per skill upgrade
     
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  17. Yeeshgender: ⚧ Magister

    Yeesh
    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2006
    Parrots:
    2,875
    Location:
    your future if you're not careful...
    There's a lot going on here. They really seem to be cramming a lot of story in. Heavy melodrama and tons of killing? What more do you need?
     
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  18. Pussycat669gender: ⚧ Liturgist

    Pussycat669
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Parrots:
    667
    Location:
    In a fine suit
    Yeah, I especially appreciate the extra effort that was put into the sideuqests like in Bai Yue's case, all cheesiness aside. Bonus bosses, extra cut scenes and voice acting, it's a nice touch.
     
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  19. Pussycat669gender: ⚧ Liturgist

    Pussycat669
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Parrots:
    667
    Location:
    In a fine suit
    Lan Wei quickly makes her way through the deserted village just in time to join the ongoing ceremony.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: Oh great God of War, bless your people and this land. Give us the strength to defeat our enemies.

    All: Oh great God of War, bless your people...

    Tragedy strikes however...

    [​IMG]

    and Lan Xiong suddenly collapses on the floor.

    [​IMG]: Father! Father!

    Villager 1: Oh gods! The chieftain...

    Villager 2: What the...?

    Villager 3: Lan Xiong!

    The crowd gathers around him.

    [​IMG]: How... how could this happen?

    [​IMG]: Uncle, what is going on? My father... why?

    Narrator: Three days later...

    much tear fuelled drama ensues.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: Father... Father...

    [​IMG]: Lan Wei, please calm down.

    [​IMG]: Uncle, why did my father...

    [​IMG]: I don't know, child. Your father has always been so tired lately, and he had troubles sleeping at night. Maybe his heart just gave up.

    [​IMG]: Go. I want to remain with my father for a while.

    [​IMG]: As you wish, child.

    [​IMG]: Don't take too long, Lan Wei. It is getting cold out here.

    They leave.

    [​IMG]: It's all my fault, father. If I wouldn't have angered you so often. Father, please, wake up.
    We've always been together in this world. Now you're in heaven together with mother and my brother. And I'm all alone.
    Father...

    A while later at Chi Huan's.

    [​IMG]: Lan Wei hasn't stopped to grieve for several days now. I'm worried about her. It really is strange that our chieftain died so sudden.

    [​IMG]: Uncle, I don't believe that his death was natural. Don't you think it's an odd coincidence that this happens only days after we rejected the ambassadors from Qin?

    [​IMG]: Really? You think it was their doing?

    [​IMG]: I don't know. It is late, and Lan Wei hasn't returned. Let's go and look for her. We can talk about this tomorrow.

    Narrator: On the other side of the mountain...

    [​IMG]: Lan Wei! Lan Wei, why are you sleeping here?

    [​IMG]: Bring her back to the village. Careful – you shouldn't wake her up.

    Narrator: Lan Wei has been severely sick for several days...

    [​IMG]: Oh my head. It's killing me.

    We finally regain control over Lan Wei. She doesn't get far from her bedroom though.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: Uncle, what are you all doing here?

    [​IMG]: Lan Wei, it has been decided to make you the new chieftain.

    [​IMG]: What!? You want me to become chieftain? But I'm not the right choice. It should be you!

    No disagreement about not being the right choice part.

    [​IMG]: Maybe it will comfort you to know that your father was your age as as well when he was made chieftain. Everyone believes that you're up to the task.

    [​IMG]: But...

    [​IMG]: Chi Huan turns to the others and says: "Leave us alone. I want to talk to Lan Wei in private."

    They do so.

    [​IMG]: Uncle you can't expect this from me!

    [​IMG]: Lan Wei, the Qin are breathing down our neck like a hungry tiger. We still have no chieftain and the fear of the people grows every day.

    [​IMG]: Then you do it, you're the most suitable choice for this task!

    [​IMG]: You know that this is not possible. I haven't felt well since the day I was wounded in battle when your mother died and I don't get any younger either, you see? No, I can't be chieftain.

    [​IMG]: What about Yan Hong? We all respect him.

    [​IMG]: “Are you joking? He has the personality of a camel. No, he is way too stubborn." Chi Huan has a faint smile on his face. "Lan Wei, you and your father are more alike than you admit. Believe me, you are the right choice."

    [​IMG]: But uncle...

    [​IMG]: Enough of this discussion. Your father has been beneath the earth since seven days. It is time for you to sweep his grave. Think about our talk while you're at it. Hmm?

    [​IMG]: Oh, I wish my father was still alive!

    Not much to do but to go to the grave since Lan Wei will always have a mental breakdown when she tries to talk to people right now.

    [​IMG]: Father, I've come to see you.
    Father...

    As good a time as any to bring up some treasured childhood memories.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: Chieftain, you should rest. For four days you've been watching over Lan Wei - you can't keep this up any longer!

    [​IMG]: Leave me alone, brother.

    [​IMG]

    Lan Wei: Father, what does my mother look like?

    [​IMG]: Your mother is the most beautiful woman in all of Eastern Baiyue. Even the flowers during the spring can't compare to her.

    Lan Wei: Do you think that I will be pretty too when I grow up?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: Father...I...I'm scared...

    [​IMG]: Many years ago, when your brother was fighting the invaders from Qin, he wasn't scared. He wasn't afraid of anything in the world, you know that. Lan Wei, you too have nothing to fear.

    He also died a painful death from the looks of it but I don't want to ruin your momentum here.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: My daughter, tomorrow you will turn eighteen. You are no child any more. As my heir, you must start to take responsibilities. The Baiyun need you.

    [​IMG]: Yes, father, of course!

    [​IMG]: Good girl. Now go to bed, but don't sleep too long.

    The stream of memories ends here.

    [​IMG]: I don't know what to do, father. The villagers want me to become chieftain, but... I'm scared. I don't want to let them down.

    Obviously our heroine needs a strong man to get her back on track. Yan Hong rushes in to the rescue.

    [​IMG]: You are still not well. You should be in bed, Lan Wei!

    [​IMG]: Yan Hong, what should I do? The villagers want me to be chieftain. If only my father was alive...

    [​IMG]: Ten years ago, when me and my uncle travelled through the Central Plains, we met a very peculiar person. I remember that encounter as if it was yesterday...

    [​IMG]: And...?

    [​IMG]: It was in the middle of the night. I awoke and saw him standing next to me. "There are five magical stones in this world," he said in a gentle whisper, "the Imperial Stones. Find them, and you can bring the dead back to life. One day you will need this power. Don't forget it."

    [​IMG]: Is that true? If it is, we could use those stones to bring my father back, right?

    [​IMG]: I'm not sure, Lan Wei. My uncle said that I just made it all up in my dreams. But sometimes I wonder if it hasn't been real. It seemed so, at the time at least – I just don't know.

    [​IMG]: Let's ask uncle Chi Huan.

    [​IMG]: Yes, let's do that.

    And thus Yan Hong becomes an official member of the team. The living proof that flaws of personality don't necessarily lead to flaws of character.

    [​IMG]
    As priest, Yan Hong serves two major functions, one of course being the healing and buffing of party members. His primary function however is the summoning of demonic creatures from other planes of existence that support him in battle, often serving as a handy damage absorber while the party takes care of the damage dealing. The game makes the distinction between two types of summons, big and small. Yan Hong can have two small and one big summon at his side at any given time (otherwise a newly summoned creature will just replace an old one). Unfortunately, summons can't be controlled directly and always go for the nearest target (which complicates things for a coordinate advance) and they will constantly drain Yan Hong's MP, making large investments into his water attribute seemingly unavoidable (I also put some points into earth since he's not exactly the sturdy type).

    Another visit to Chi Huan's hut is in order.

    [​IMG]: Uncle, I've thought about it. I don't think that I would make a good chieftain.

    [​IMG]: The Qin will soon unite the Central Plains and then turn their attention towards Eastern Baiyue. You, Lan Wei, must accept your predestined duties and lead Baiyue against the Qin aggressors, like your parents did before you.

    [​IMG]: Uncle, what would happen if father would come back to life?

    [​IMG]: Chi Huan looks shocked. “You want to bring the chieftain back to life?”

    [​IMG]: Yes. We must know if the stories about the Imperial Stones are true and if they're really able to revive the dead. If it is so, then we can find them. We can bring my father back. Maybe they will even work for my mother and my brother...

    [​IMG]: Lan Wei, who told you this story?

    [​IMG]: Yan Hong did. Why? I don't understand...

    [​IMG]: The face of Chi Huan is twisted in anger. “Don't mention such rubbish! It's a legend, nothing more. Never talk about this again, Yan Hong, you hear?

    [​IMG]: And what if those legends are true?

    [​IMG]: Lan Wei, I'm tired and want to rest. Let it be. Qin troops have already been spotted close to the Ancient Path yesterday – this is not a good sign for our peace. We have more important things to think about.

    He throws the two out.

    [​IMG]: How strange. My uncle seemed mad when I mentioned the stones. Why? Surely he wants my father alive just as much as I do.

    [​IMG]: Yeah, I feel strange as well. I want to find those stones too. Your family is not the only one that we could revive...

    [​IMG]: Uncle must know something about those stones that we don't. I wish he would tell us what it is.

    [​IMG]: Ah... Yin Cheng is quiet calm and knowledgeable. Maybe we can ask him?

    [​IMG]: Good idea. Let's go ask him.

    We talk to the fat trader again.

    [​IMG]: The face of Yin Cheng looks pale. He seems sick.

    [​IMG]: Yin Cheng, you don't look so good. Are you feeling all right?

    [​IMG]: It's nothing. Just a little headache.

    Hate to mention it but you're a dead give away, brother.

    [​IMG]: I wanted to ask you something. Did you ever hear the legends of the Imperial Stones, which can bring dead souls back to life?

    [​IMG]: I heard about it and even saw one with my own eyes.

    [​IMG]: Really?

    [​IMG]: Look, I don't know, if the stories are true or not, but the man who told it to me was a good friend of mine and he never lied before.

    [​IMG]: What did he say then?

    [​IMG]: He said, that, before the Qin conquered Western Baiyue, chieftain Yan Bo – Yan Hong's father – asked him to bring a stone to Lan Xiong. He once allowed me to look at it but I couldn't see anything special about it.

    [​IMG]: That is really odd. My father never mentioned it. Uncle Chi Huan even forbid us to search for the stones when we asked him about them.

    [​IMG]: If the stories are true that the Imperial Stones can revive the dead then it is our duty to find them and give them to the chieftain.

    [​IMG]: Right. I believe the same. Where can we start?

    [​IMG]: I've never seen my friend again after we said our farewells. It appears that he kept his promise to Yan Bo and finished his mission. You want my advise? Go home and search for the stone. Maybe the chieftain was hiding it somewhere.

    [​IMG]: Yes, you're right. Yan Hong, off we go.

    We search Lang Xiong's bedroom for clues and find a key hidden on a shelf which opens a nearby chest which reveals a little stone statue which in turn has a strong resemblance to the sacrificial altar for the God of War. We go there next.

    [​IMG]

    Placing the statue on the altar reveals a stone tablet. Still not the stone we're looking for though.

    [​IMG]: Yan Hong, does this stone look familiar to you? I think I've seen it somewhere before.

    [​IMG]: I agree with you. Wait a moment, I remember our journey to the Spider Cave...

    [​IMG]: Oh yes, me too! This concave spot on the backside of the wall... it's formed like this stone tablet here!

    [​IMG]: I would bet this stone tablet is the key! Come, let's go there and take a look.

    [​IMG]: It may be better if we take Liang Hu with us.

    Liang Hu is again waiting right outside like a good soldier. The route leads through Trap Woods until we reach the entrance to the Spider Cave.

    [​IMG]

    Looks inviting, let's rumble!

    [​IMG]

    This place will severely punish you when you haven't bothered to gear up until this point as the spiders are excellent team players. The little green ones spit some sort of nasty acid while the bulky ones entrap the heroes in webs which is especially dangerous for Lan Wei and Yan Hong if a brute, the large spiders, is close because there is a fair chance that it will kill them before they can escape the web. Best strategy that worked for me was to let Liang Hu and summons handle the web weavers and brutes while Lan Wei and Yan Hong concentrate their effort on the little spitters.

    Our well prepared party doesn't have much of a problem with fighting its way to this important looking door.

    [​IMG]

    The door leads to this important looking crystal.

    [​IMG]

    The stone is hidden nearby. Quest complete!

    [​IMG]: Lan Wei, I've seen stones that looked just like this!

    [​IMG]: What? You've seen such stones? Where?

    [​IMG]: In my home town but I was a lot younger then. It looked just like it.

    [​IMG] That is great! Let's go back and tell uncle then we will go to find your home town together.

    [​IMG]: Liang Hu's village? That means that we will have to travel through the Central Plains.

    [​IMG]: Bah! It's just the Central Plains. Even when the Qin are bad people, we are not afraid of them. One Baiyun alone is more worth than ten of them together!

    [​IMG]: Ah! Watch out! Poisonous spiders.

    [​IMG]

    Two very large brutes challenge the heroes to a duel. They constantly spawn new spitters and pack quiet a punch. The tight space isn't of much help either. We stall one of them with hordes of summons while we focus on the other. Once a fat brute goes down, the second one doesn't pose much of a threat any more.

    Victory is celebrated with another show-off demonstration of some new skills. Like Lan Wei's Poisonous Wave.

    [​IMG]

    Or Liang Hu throwing really large rocks, or Yan Hong's new tree summon.

    [​IMG]

    I was also supposed to make a joke about the fact that you can make new armour for Yan Hong out of spider webs but I can't for the life of me remember the punchline.

    Time to head home.

    [​IMG]: Lan Wei! (coughs) You must come back! The master wizard...!

    [​IMG]: What happened?

    [​IMG]: The master wizard.... he is... he is dead.

    [​IMG]: No! Uncle!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: Uncle!

    [​IMG]: Uncle Chi Huan!

    [​IMG]: Master wizard...

    No fancy grave or flashback scene for you, old man.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: Ah Qing, how did my uncle die?

    [​IMG]: Let Ah Dan explain it to you.

    [​IMG]: A poisonous bug bit him. First he was paralysed, then he became unconscious. He had no chance to recover without the antidote. But I don't get this. These insects only live way up in the mountains. How did they get here? Except...

    [​IMG]: What?

    [​IMG]: Well, except someone brought it into his house on purpose.

    [​IMG]: The envoys from Qin...?

    [​IMG]: Isn't it a strange coincidence that both the chieftain and the master wizard die shortly after their departure?

    [​IMG]: Since our chieftain is now dead it is time for Lan Wei to take his place. But without the support of the master wizard not everyone will be willing to follow you.

    [​IMG]: Terrible! I'm not ready to be chieftain!

    [​IMG]: If the Baiyun are unsure about who should lead them then they will not be strong and united enough to repel the invasion from Qin.

    [​IMG]: Yan Hong, what should I do?

    [​IMG]: We already found one of the Imperial Stones. If we make haste and get the rest, we may be able to revive both the chieftain and the master wizard. Without their guidance and wisdom, Baiyue will fall like weed cut by a scythe.

    [​IMG]: Very well...

    [​IMG]: Then let's go! We don't have much time.

    Can't escape from a tearful goodbye from the townsfolk though.

    [​IMG]: Lan Wei, you are still inexperienced when it comes to the nature of this world. But Yan Hong is not. Please be careful out there and do what he says.

    [​IMG]: Yes, of course grandfather.

    [​IMG]: Don't worry yourself, Ah Qing. I will take care of her.

    [​IMG]: Lan Wei, take this scroll. I have written down some secrets about item crafting. Maybe it will be of use to you someday.

    [​IMG]: I... I don't know what to say. Thanks!

    Yeah, let me push this one in really quickly so that we're done with the tutorials for today.

    Crafting (advanced)
    [​IMG]

    The good workman has just taught us the River-Map technique which allows one support material for equipment. Potions, like seen above, will always have three of those. Later techniques for the most part will just increase the number of supported material slots. Next to a restricting element, each element also gets a supporting element as follows:

    Water(supports)>WoodFireEarthMetal

    Using supporting materials (arrow pointing to the supported slot turns white in that case) will unlock bonus attributes for the created item although often at the expense of the basic attributes (like damage for weapons). Depending if the created item is for (d)efensive (armour/amulets) or (o)ffensive (weapons/rings) purposes, each element usually has several possible bonus attributes to offer. The ones I found were:

    Water
    +max MP (d)
    +xx% MP Regeneration (d)
    +xx% MP from kills (o)

    Wood is pretty much the same only for HP

    Fire
    +Dodge (d)
    +Attack speed (o)
    +xx% chance of fire damage (o)

    Earth (all defence)
    +Damage reduction
    +xx% anti-shock (I think they mean any stunning effect)
    +Anti-abnormality (probably against all negative effects)

    Metal
    +Damage while wounded (d)
    +Damage when backstabbing (o)
    +xx% chance of critical hit (o, very rare, very lethal)

    Potions work differently as there are no bonus attributes to contribute. Rule of thumb here: using only one ingredient will create one or two potions that are double the value of those from the original ingredient (e.g. using +15 HP meat only will create two +30 HP potions) while mixing them with an ingredient of the supporting element will create more numerous (up to nine) albeit less potent potions. One important thing to mention is that 6 angelicas will create two revival potions. This is good to know since you can't buy potions from traders and the game certainly doesn't bother to spell it out for you.

    [​IMG]: I don't need gratitude, child. But don't start to steal me work, once you come back!

    [​IMG]: I would never do that!

    [​IMG]: Just don't forget to use your magic frequently, Lan Wei. You'll need all the practice you can get!

    [​IMG]: Very funny.

    [​IMG]: Lan Wei, don't trust the people from the Central Plains. They are not honest!

    [​IMG]: Right. And you shouldn't trust Ah Wa, Ming Xia. He's just trying to trick you into marriage.

    [​IMG]: Really! Oh, Lan Wei! You are only trying to make fun of me!

    [​IMG]: No! I wouldn't never do something like that!

    [​IMG]: Come, we have to leave.

    [​IMG]: Take care! We will be back so soon you will not believe it.

    We watch the heroes embark on their banally epic fetch quest.

    [​IMG]: Lan Wei, if you hurry, I swear you can try your magic on me every day!

    One last stop before leaving Skyrose Valley.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: We will walk towards the Skypeak and then leave Skyrose Village behind us. Come on, hurry!

    [​IMG]: Yan Hong, look, the flowers in the valley are in full bloom!

    [​IMG]: Isn't Skyrose Valley beautiful at this time of year! Hey! Those are the flowers that we planted when we were children. Remember that?

    [​IMG]: How could I forget? You were so clumsy and always tried to plant the seeds too deep. Wasn't it the time when Liang Hu came to our village?

    [​IMG]: Yeah. He almost scared you to death when you first saw him. Do you also remember when we used to catch butterflies together? You always caught more than me.

    [​IMG]: And you always freed them so it would make me look bad.

    [​IMG]: Haha... yes, I remember. We were so happy and without worries. What a shame, that it couldn't stay that way. Damn Qin scoundrel...

    [​IMG]: I know...

    [​IMG]: Everything will be all right again. Once we found the Imperial Stones.

    [​IMG]: Yan Hong, I'm scared...

    We see some scenes showing the people back in Skyrose Village to make you all touchy feely. Good opportunity for one last scenery shot of the chieftain’s hut before pushing on.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: I know. Me too.


    Skill Corner

    Lan Wei
    [​IMG]: Poisonous Wave (Offensive)
    Effect: Ranged attack, releases three bolts of poison, increases attack skill by +10%
    Additional Effects: +10% poisonous attack, requires wood talisman
    Notes: Very nice crowd control skill, especially because, unlike with Lan Wei's basic attack, the bolts will go right through enemies without stopping. The poison helps against fast regenerating foes like the demon trees we faced before. The attack speed is slow and the MP cost fairly high though
    Upgrade: Another +10% increase per skill upgrade, +2% for every 5 points of wood

    Liang Hu
    [​IMG]: Rock Throw (Offensive)
    Effect: Ranged attack, increases the attack skill by 10%
    Notes: Liang Hu's one and only ranged attack, only feasible if you want to keep a little distance for him to regenerate. There is also one particular critter against which this skill becomes quiet useful
    Upgrade: Another +10% increase per skill upgrade, +2% for every 5 points of iron

    Yan Hong
    [​IMG]: Divine Retribution (Offensive)
    Effect: Basic ranged attack, increases the attack skill by 10%
    Notes: Pretty similar to Lan Wei's five divine Elements only without all the neat bonus effects of the talismans
    Upgrade: Another +10% increase per skill upgrade. There is again the weird talk about five-element-points. I experimented a little if it could mean that all attributes must be raised for five point or maybe just one attribute at all but nothing had any effect. It could be a bug. If it's not then it should be possible to raise the attack skill +1% for every 5 points of ?

    [​IMG]: Summon Earth Demon (Defensive)
    Effect: Summons a small creature, max number of summons:2, the creature's level always equals your own
    Notes: Yan Hong's very first summons. Not very powerful but good enough if you're just stalling for time
    Upgrade: HP of the creature may increase with wood

    [​IMG]: Summon Green Terror (Defensive)
    Effect: Summons a large creature, max number of summons:1, the creature's level always equals your own
    Notes: Sadly lacking the awesome regenerating capabilities of the demon trees in Trap Woods. Still quiet endurable despite the increased MP costs
    Upgrade: HP of the creature may increase with wood

    [​IMG]: Divine Favour (Defensive)
    Effect: Healing spell, recovers 100 HP
    Notes: A huge step up from healing potions because the recovery is instantaneous (potions only increase HP regeneration) and especially useful if you rely on less endurable characters like Yan Hong himself
    Upgrade: Increase amount of recovered HP by 50 per upgrade, +5 for every 5 points of water
     
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  20. Yeeshgender: ⚧ Magister

    Yeesh
    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2006
    Parrots:
    2,875
    Location:
    your future if you're not careful...
    Jesus, team. Some random guy appears to you in a maybe dream and makes a decidedly outlandish claim about rocks conquering mortality, and on the strength of this you're going to leave your weakened tribe in the middle of a crisis and possible invasion to go looking for a bunch of stones?

    Well that's just:

    :thumbsup:
     
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  21. Pussycat669gender: ⚧ Liturgist

    Pussycat669
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Parrots:
    667
    Location:
    In a fine suit
    Well, to be honest, if I had the choice between supporting an eighteen year old girl to unite an entire nation against an almost invincible enemy or going on a wild goose chase because of some story a child stalker whispered into my ear which will lead me as far away as possible when shit hits the fan, I would choose the later.

    More seriously though, Yan Hong justifies this move later on with the fact that the Qin already have their hands full to keep the Central Plains together, so he hopes to get the stones in time before they can gather enough troops for an invasion. He is an informed barbarian, you see?
     
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  22. Pussycat669gender: ⚧ Liturgist

    Pussycat669
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Parrots:
    667
    Location:
    In a fine suit
    While climbing Skypeak, we face the terrible scorpionfish Tie Sheng was talking about.

    [​IMG]

    The green ones spill some nasty poison but this isn't much of a big deal thanks to Yan Hong's healing support. The blue critters however can freeze up party members which hampers their moving and attack speed for quiet a while. A very annoying experience but we are finally on top of the mountain.

    [​IMG]: It's hard to believe that I'm really on my way back.

    [​IMG]: What is it, Liang Hu?

    [​IMG]: I'm thinking about home.

    [​IMG]: What do you mean, Liang Hu? What about your home?

    [​IMG]: It is beautiful. The mountains reach the clouds and the caves go all the way down into the hot, red heart of the earth.

    In other words, there will be fire dungeons.

    [​IMG]: I always wondered why you left.

    [​IMG]: Oh well... something happened...

    Narrator: Twelve years ago...

    [​IMG]

    Tie Lang: Haha... Didn't I tell you that I would win, Liang Hu? I always do! You'll never beat me! Will you ever admit it?

    Liang Hu: Yes, Tie Lang, I do admit it. But one day...

    Tie Lang: You've lost. That means that you'll have to jump over that cliff! What are you waiting for? An invitation from the chieftain's wife? Or are you afraid?

    Liang Hu: I'm not afraid of anything. YAH!

    Tie Lang: Oh gods, no! You jumped...! Liang Hu! I was only kidding! Liang Hu...

    Admittedly, this is kinda embarrassing.

    [​IMG]: You really jumped?

    [​IMG]: Yes. It wasn't the easiest thing that I've ever done. Luckily some tree branches broke my fall and I survived.

    [​IMG]: What happened when you got back home?

    [​IMG]: I never returned. I was too ashamed.

    [​IMG]: Well, you'll be there soon enough. Aren't you looking forward to it?

    [​IMG]: I'm not sure.

    It still might take a while however since there is that woman running into our general direction.

    [​IMG]: Cai Xin, out of breath and covered in sweat, says: "Lan Wei! Lan Wei! I was just on my way to Skyrose Village!"

    [​IMG]: Cai Xin? What is it?

    [​IMG]: Giants Keep... it is attacked by Qin soldiers!

    [​IMG]: What?

    [​IMG]: I noticed them too on my way back. They kept themselves hidden.

    [​IMG]: Dammit! We must go to Giants Keep!

    And so it comes that another woman joins in to enchant our lives.

    [​IMG]

    The assassin is a personal favourite of mine and not only because of her obvious merits. The girl really is pure damage personified, combining an incredibly high attack speed with the feminine sense for weak spots. I think probably 60% of the overall party kills can be traced back to her. She is quiet fragile however compared to the other fighters so you'll need some skills in micromanagement to keep her alive. The fact that I go steel and fire with her all the way doesn't help much either. Another neat little extra feature of hers are the

    Combos
    [​IMG]

    Every attack skill of Cai Xin (except for her most basic one and her limit break) count as a combo attack. The third of every such combo attack will become extra fast and powerful and might even score some additional effects. Since it is hard to mix such moves in the heat of battle, we can use this menu to create pre-set combo settings (the four symbols next to the arrows) for our ease. We could also use this to create combos for special occasions (like throw weapon+dash+spin if Cai Xin faces a cramped group of foes).

    Since we're now over the party limit of three active PCs, there is one final tutorial segment to deal with.

    Party management
    Click on the arrow symbol next to the bar of active party members and replace the PC you want from the reserves with an active PC (can't replace Lan Wei though). Only works when no hostile creatures are nearby.

    And that's it with the tutorials. Hurrah! Let's go whack some Qin.

    [​IMG]

    First of the many, many generals we're going to fight. Every single one of them is a real melee beast but with some slow curses and a tree summon to keep him occupied, this one will go down eventually. Just need to rout the few remaining troops that are left and we can pad our shoulders for a job well done.

    [​IMG]

    Clan Eldest: Cai Xin, I'm sorry, that we've been so hard on you. We were ashamed for all the things we said when you ran away.

    [​IMG]: Despite the fact that my father came from the Central Plains, I am still a Baiyun, like my mother before me. Giants Keep will always be my home. How could I leave you behind? I'm not angry at you. There is nothing to forgive.

    Way to spell it out for the audience.

    Clan Eldest: If you say so. Lan Wei, I want to thank you in the name of all of us. If Cai Xin hadn't asked for your help, everything would have been destroyed. But how did you get here from Skyrose Village this quickly?

    [​IMG]: We were outside your village on the Ancient Path when we met Cai Xin. Maybe you haven't heard that my father and my uncle died recently.

    Clan Eldest: They are dead? Those are terrible news in such troubling times. The Qin are preparing to attack Baiyue. Without a chieftain we won't stand a chance! What can we do?

    [​IMG]: The most important thing is to nominate a new chieftain. Lan Wei, what do you say? You are the rightful heir of your father.

    Clan Eldest: Lan Wei? Chieftain? Well... Giants Keep will support you, I believe. It is the least we can do after you saved us from those soldiers from Qin. The problem is that maybe not all the other villages will follow this example. They might say that you're too young and inexperienced.

    [​IMG]: I... I don't think that I can already handle this responsibility.

    Clan Eldest: The other villages are prepared for this situation. They have their own candidates. They'll will be ready to fight for them...

    [​IMG]: My friends and I may have found another solution. We want to retrieve the five Imperial Stones. With them, we can revive both my father and the master wizard. If we succeed, then our troubles will be solved. We already have one stone and know where to find another.

    Clan Eldest: Let me take a look at it.
    Dammit! I've got one of those! I mean, I had! Those Qin dogs stole it during the attack. It seemed strange to me that they would look for it but now it starts to make sense.

    [​IMG]: How did you get the stone?

    Clan Eldest: During the time when Western Baiyue fell, a man, who was running away from the fighting appeared in the village. It was obvious he would die of his wounds. But before he died, he gave me the stone and begged me to hide it at a safe place. I had no idea that the stone was this powerful. Otherwise I wouldn't have put it on my mantelpiece as decoration.

    [​IMG]: You think it was the same man Yin Cheng told us about?

    [​IMG]: No idea. It doesn't matter. Where do you think have they brought the stone?

    Clan Eldest: I heard one of the soldiers saying that it would be brought to Jiuyuan, to be delivered to general Huan Qi.

    [​IMG]: Huan Qi? You don't think that...?

    Clan Eldest: That he is your father? I don't know. If it is so, then it is all our own fault. If we wouldn't have banished him for marrying your mother, he wouldn't have had any reasons for retaliation.

    [​IMG]: We will ride after the soldiers [although we lack the horses but it's all right 'cause we now got Cai Xin's aura of run-like-hell]. Hopefully we can catch up with them in time. If not, we will have a little chat with Huan Qi in Jiuyuan.

    [​IMG]: I know Jiuyuan well. It is close to my home.

    [​IMG]: My father? Really?

    Searching through the wrecked village rewards us with jade and a level up.

    [​IMG]

    But there is still one more sidequest to be solved.

    Wizard: A wizard comes running towards you. “Lan Wei” he urges you, “I need your help! Our Vessel of War has disappeared!”

    [​IMG]: Not the one that we use for our holy rituals!

    [​IMG]: What do you mean with 'disappeared'? Just like that?

    Wizard: I was out fighting the Qin when they appeared. When the battle was over I returned to the sacrificial altar and realized that the vessel was gone.

    [​IMG]: Those Qin bastards took anything they could get their dirty hands on. Obviously one sneaked up to the altar while you were busy and stole it.

    Wizard: No, I don't believe it was one of them. For what purpose could they've done this? It is not worth anything. I remember now... I remember, when I left the altar, that Lin Fen spied on me behind a pot. It must have been her!

    [​IMG]: That crazy old witch Lin Fen? Why would she do something like that?

    [​IMG]: Is there a reason why she wants the Vessel of War so badly?

    Wizard: She has been the master wizard of this village for a very long time. The best that we ever had, in fact. One day she defied an ancestor, and the ghost made her insane. The chieftain had to release her. Now she is just the village healer. She is bitter but she desired the vessel for quiet some time, since it is the symbol of the master wizard's power.

    [​IMG]:
    1. As former master wizard she'll know what the vessel can do. We better ask her once she comes back.
    → 2. She crossed the line this time. I can't speak well of her in front of the chieftain anymore.

    Wizard: Lin Fen must have went on the other side of the mountains. There is an abandoned altar. It's the only place where she could hide.

    [​IMG]: Now I know what to do: I will follow her and get the Vessel of War.

    No sooner said than done.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]:
    → 1. <Examine Lin Fen>
    2. Lin Fen, hand over the Vessel of War this instant.

    [​IMG]: Lin Fen is way past her best years. She wears the colourful robe of a witch and her eyes are calm. She goes to the cave opposite to the altar and starts casting her magic with disciplined ease.

    [​IMG]: Aunt Lin, why did you steal the Vessel of War?

    [​IMG]: Lin Fen turns to Cai Xin. “Go away, child. You're in terrible danger.”

    [​IMG]: By stealing the Vessel of War you've endangered everyone who relies on the skills of the master wizard. Did you really believe you could hide out here?

    [​IMG]: Lin Fen looks embarrassed. “Beat it, girl. Don't make me waste my magic on you. This is a dangerous place and if you know what's best for you, you leave, now.”

    [​IMG]:
    1. Step back and let her finish the ritual before asking for the vessel.
    → 2. <Thinks> The master wizard and the villagers are relying on me. I must get the Vessel of War as quickly as possible.

    [​IMG]: “Go away and leave me alone. You can't possibly understand in what situation you've gotten yourself into.” A dangerous spark appears in her eyes.

    [​IMG]: Give me the vessel or you shall fell my wrath!

    [​IMG]: You will have to tear the secrets of this item from my cold, dead hands before I give it to you willingly.

    [​IMG]: I can look into that...

    Lin Fei throws some curses at us which weaken our defences. Not cool at all since her attacks are water based and hurt Cai Xin all the more. She is also surprisingly tough for an old lady but we beat her eventually.

    [​IMG]: Lin Fen looks angered. “Oh, look what you've done! Giants Keep is doomed because of you!”

    [​IMG]: What are you talking about?

    [​IMG]: “This is the end”, she answers “The giants are awakening. The first thing they will do is to stomp towards Giants Keep and eat anything in their path.”

    [​IMG]:
    1. You talked enough nonsense. This is your last chance to give it to me.
    → 2. Giants? What giants?

    [​IMG]: The giants were the original masters of these mountains. With time they wanted to enlarge their territory when human prey became scarce. My ancestors lead a band of heroes that used the Vessel of War to seal the giants inside this cave.

    [​IMG]: What could prevent them from breaking out?

    [​IMG]: The master wizard of Giants Keep must re-enforce the magic, that keeps these caverns sealed, every three years but the new wizard didn't took the time to learn this. Neither did he heed my warnings. This is why I stole the Vessel of War, to seal the entrance myself.

    [​IMG]: So that's why you stole it?

    [​IMG]: I spent a long time with the preparations of the ritual, to strengthen the seal. The preparations that you have disturbed, I should say. Now Giants Keep is lost...

    [​IMG]:
    1. All I care about is the vessel. The giants aren't my problem.
    → 2. Let's say if I believe you, what now?

    [​IMG]: It is too late. If...

    [​IMG]: If what?

    [​IMG]: When the caves open and the giants awake, then there is a way to solve the problem. Like our ancestors did...

    [​IMG]: And what way is that?

    [​IMG]: The giants will wake up slowly. They'll need time before they can come to the village. I will repeat the ritual of my ancestors, while you kill any giant that leaves the caves. You also need to warn the villagers; tell them, that they must prepare for the worst.

    [​IMG]: As you wish. It is our duty to help you.

    Indeed we happily oblige as giants grant lots of XP and drop some very good crafting material.

    [​IMG]

    Going back to Giants Keep, killing giants on the way.

    [​IMG]: Wizard, something terrible has happened! A giant arose...

    Wizard: The wizard seems terrified. “What are you saying?”

    [​IMG]: A giant woke up and I killed him. He was so wild. Lin Fen says that there are hundreds of them inside the mountain who are just waiting to get out. If they do, they'll destroy everything in their path, including Giants Keep.

    Wizard: The eyes of the wizard are opened wide. “Can it be true? The giants are real? Then this means... Lin Fen really wanted to seal their prison with the Vessel of War... what have I done?”

    [​IMG]: You have to tell everybody that they're out there and that they are coming.

    Wizard: The wizard is wringing with his hands. “If the giants really are awakening then we're lost! Only our ancestors were able to defeat them.”

    [​IMG]: Lin Fen said that she believes that there is a way to send them back into their slumber. She would use the same method as the ancestors did.

    Wizard: The wizard ponders for a second if such thing would be possible. “She is one of the few people capable of such a feat but still, it would mean suicide.

    [​IMG]: Suicide?

    Wizard: Ten years ago, the old master wizard was able to channel the power of the vessel to seal the giants inside the mountain. But he sacrificed himself to do so. In a state between life and death his power grew immensely and the ritual was successful.

    [​IMG]: Then Lin Fen is going to...

    Going back to Lin Fen, killing a lot more giants on the way.

    [​IMG]: Lin Fen, we're coming to help you!

    [​IMG]: Aunt Lin, wait! Wait for us!

    A giant bumps in our way, ready for the trial and tested assassin approach.

    [​IMG]

    Dash,

    [​IMG]

    slash,

    [​IMG]

    kick,

    [​IMG]

    go! But even with this little spectacular filler our heroes arrive too late.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: Aunt Lin, don't do this!

    The screen fades to black.

    [​IMG]: The future of the village lies in your hands.

    There is a loud rumbling noise.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: ...Remember, seal this cave again in three years...

    [​IMG]: Aunt Lin!

    Don't worry, her heroic sacrifice shall not be for... limit break!

    [​IMG]

    Anyway, we're done here. Time to move on.

    [​IMG]: Lan Wei, I want to say goodbye to my mother.

    [​IMG]: I will go with you.

    Just try to keep this brief, please.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]: Mother, I'm going to the Central Plains to find father...
    If I find him, I'll return him to you.
    Mother, rest in peace. And don't worry, I can look after myself.
    Aunt, I thank you for looking after me for so long. I'll go now. Wish me luck, that I can find my father.

    [​IMG]: Don't worry, aunt Lian. Cai Xin and I will watch each other.

    [​IMG]: Mother, aunt, goodbye...

    Lan Wei and company leave chapter 2 and their beloved Baiyue behind shortly thereafter to enter the Central Plains. We're definitely on the move now.


    Skill Corner

    Lan Wei
    [​IMG]: Fire Dragon (Offensive)
    Effect: Ranged areal attack, increases attack skill by 10%
    Additional Effects: +10% fire attack, requires fire talisman
    Notes: A lot faster than the Poisonous Wave and the additional fire effect does arguably more damage. That comes at the expense of higher MP cost and decreased area of effect however
    Upgrade: +10% attack skill per skill upgrade, +2% for every 5 points of fire

    Liang Hu
    [​IMG]: Purify (Defensive)
    Effect: Removes the currently active aura from Liang Hu
    Notes: This makes more sense later as every of his auras except River of Life comes with one major downside
    Upgrade: Can be upgraded to Peace of Earth, requires 30 points of earth

    [​IMG]: Peace of Earth (Defensive)
    Effect: Removes the currently active aura and any other abnormal effects from Liang Hu
    Notes: Very handy against enemies which hampers your movement like the blue scorpionfish from before although you will have to cancel River of Life as well if it is active at the time
    Upgrade: None

    Yan Hong
    [​IMG]: Summon Scorpionfish (Defensive)
    Effect: Summons a small creature, max number of summons:2, the creature's level always equals your own
    Notes: A big step up from the Earth Demons. More damage and occasional freeze effect. What more could you possibly ask for?
    Upgrade: Base attack of the creature may increase with iron

    Cai Xin
    [​IMG]: Fang Xiang's Cut (Offensive)
    Effect: Basic melee attack, increases the attack skill by 10%
    Notes: Cut, cut, slice, cut, cut, slice, hack... you get the idea
    Upgrade: +10% attack skill per skill upgrade, +1% for every 5 points of iron

    [​IMG]: Merciless Heart (Offensive)
    Effect: Melee attack, increases the attack skill by 10%, increases base attack by 10 for a short period of time
    Notes: Stronger version of Fang Xiang's Cut and more MP demanding
    Upgrade: +10% attack skill and +10 base attack per skill upgrade, +1% for every 5 points of iron, +1 base attack for every 5 points of water

    [​IMG]: Fire Rider at the Sky (or more commonly known as 'kicking') (Offensive)
    Effect: Melee attack, increases the attack skill by 10%, increases base attack by 10 for a short period of time
    Notes: Has a random chance to drive enemies back and stun them for a short period of time so it's a good choice if you need some free space to manoeuvre. Rather slow compared to other skills
    Upgrade: +10% attack skill and +10 base attack per skill upgrade, +1% for every 5 points of iron, +1 base attack for every 5 points of water

    [​IMG]: Song of the Wind (Offensive)
    Effect: Melee areal attack, increases the attack skill by 10%
    Notes: Your run of the mill yet nice to look at spin attack. Very MP intensive
    Upgrade: +10% attack skill per skill upgrade, +1% for every 5 points of iron

    [​IMG]: Swiftness of the Shadows (Defensive)
    Effect: Increases dodge by 200 and moving speed by 10%
    Notes: Basically this game's quick travel function
    Upgrade: +100 dodge and +10% moving speed per skill upgrade, +20 dodge for every 5 points of water, +2% moving speed for every 5 points of fire

    [​IMG]: Starfall and Skyrift (Rage)
    Effect: Melee areal attack, increases the attack skill by 300%
    Notes: A lot more effective when it comes to kill stuff than Lan Wei's Red Bird as it is both faster and has a greater range
    Upgrade: +50% attack skill per skill upgrade
     
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