Let's play Dragon Warrior!

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François
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby François » Fri May 18, 2018 6:44 am

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Huh. It's like half the town lives in here, what's the deal?

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Image: Would have been too much trouble to just leave it at the castle, eh?

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This gives us a goal in our later travels in that direction for sure.

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Image: Sheesh, fine.

Maybe that explains the lock.

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We have a friend helping us out with cartography. His name is Marvin Simonson Paint. Very famous.

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Image: So. Uh. I presume no one minds if I open these crummy old chests that someone carelessly left on the ground here, right? Anyone object? Anyone?

No one. Sweet!

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Well, we already had a Torch, and I presume the empty chest would have contained an Herb if we weren't already maxed out.

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Image: Aight, gotcha. Hey, I-
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Image: ...wh... Err... Ooooh, I get it. Your secret's safe with me, boys. But I'm not spending another key to shut the door behind me.

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Hmm. It doesn't look like we're any closer to finding Garin's tomb. But it's got to be around here somewhere. Let's think about this for a moment...

...

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A wall of darkness! Maybe this is... Let's see...

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Score!

The north wall here isn't visible, since it's cunningly made to be part of the "outside" section of town that we can't see from inside. Trying to leave that way usually results in a THUD sound since we're hitting our head on a stone wall, but the third brick tile from the west has an actual exit.

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This is as much of a warning as we're likely to get.

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Garin's grave is the first real dungeony-dungeon-with-a-plot-item-at-the-end we get, and it is not messing around. I'm not 100% convinced we even have any business in here with our current level and gear, but I guess we'll see. This is where the Dragon Warrior death penalty mechanic brings a bit of freedom, for two reasons. First off, no matter what happens, we'll get some experience out of this, so it doesn't feel like I'm entirely in danger of wasting time, or at least not quite as much as if I had to reload and just wipe out all our progress since the last save. And second, if we find what we're looking for, of course it's best if we can walk out with it under our own power, but if we get ganked on the way back we'll still get to keep it.

Alright then, let's bring some peace to Garin's spirit, shall we?

We run into Skeletons and Poltergeists on the first level. Taking HURT casts to the face worries me, but luckily they mostly hit for 1 damage or run away instead. Dang but I'm still really happy about this Half-Plate. Heck, we might even be close to a Full Plate once we get out of here.

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Huh. I'm glad we stocked up on keys after all.

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The grey square is the door. We're not done mapping out the first floor, but we can do a thorough clean-up later; for this first run I just want to see how far down we can make it. Since we've found this staircase behind a locked door, it's probably the right way down.

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Ehhh, this one seems almost too convenient, but maybe that's what Garin's gravedigger wants us to think! Let's keep going down.

We run into a Wolf just before we reach the stairs. It's easy pickings by now, but things are definitely escalating.

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...well we've been outfoxed. Back to the second floor then.

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There's another staircase to the south, with a Metal Scorpion nearby. These are definitely Rimuldar-grade enemies, so we'll probably start meeting some new critters below.

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Druinlords are about equivalent to Wolflords in stats, more robust but not as strong. They're highly resistant to SLEEP, but completely vulnerable to other spells. Considering they're 75% likely to cast HEAL when wounded, and 25% likely to cast HURT otherwise, they're worth spending a STOPSPELL on.

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Specters are Wolf-equivalents, with very slight resistances to SLEEP and STOPSPELL. Seeing as they have a 25% chance to HEAL themselves and a 75% chance to cast HURT otherwise, they're also worth the slight MP expenditure to silence.

We're starting to take some real damage from attacks, so I pop an Herb. MP is way too precious a commodity this deep in to spend it on healing if it can be helped.

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Ooooh, a lone chest in the northwest corner.

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Image: Yeah... Yeah, no. Maybe I'll just... not put that thing on right away.

Definitely not what we came in here for. Let's keep going.

The path we were on ends in an up staircase, taking us back to the second floor, and eventually to some place we already went through. It's becoming apparent that diffent staircases going between the same floors don't maintain exact distances from one another from floor to floor, so you can't use their positions on one level to map their exact positions on another; that's kind of a shame. That said, they've mostly been off by a few tiles so far, so it's not completely disorienting, just tricky to map.

Finding an alternate way into the center of the second floor...

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... leads us to a previously unexplored region of the third floor. RADIANT helped us see a down staircase from our previous jaunt here, so I suspect there's at least one more floor underneath here.

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Okay, that's a second inaccessible down staircase on the third floor. Our MP's still holding up so far, gotta keep going.

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Aw man, that super-important-looking staircase in the center of four pillars just leads to a couple dead-ends. Back to the second floor then. There must be another stairway down from there that'll take us deeper; maybe in the southwest corner.

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Yup, southwest. Fingers crossed.

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There's still maybe a third of the third floor we haven't seen, but this is our first stairs down to the fourth. Whew.

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Hmm. A way back up. We don't run into anything down here, but we've seen Wolflords on 3F and I'm not in a hurry to see what's worse than this right now.

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Ah-ha!

...as if on cue, another Wolflord pops up exactly on the chest tile. We put the puppy to sleep, and then we put him to sleep.

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NICE!

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Yeah, yeah, I think so. We've just hit the inventory limit of 10 items. Herbs and Keys stack up to 6 in one slot, but everything else takes up one space each, even consumables like Fairy Water. For now we can just throw away the extra Torch we found topside.

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Well would you look at that. It's about time we had a real win, isn't it?

Our MP's still about half full, we've got a few Herbs left, and a few holes in our map. Maybe we can just clear the place out in one run! And at this rate we'll definitely be able to pick up that Full Plate. If not right as we leave, at least after a tolerably small amount of Wolf hunting. Ahhh, things are looking up!

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We run into this bad customer on our way back through the third floor. Wraith Knights are a fair bit stronger than Wyverns in every way, with about a 1 in 3 chance of resisting SLEEP and a 75% chance to cast HEAL when wounded. They're making me a bit nervous, so I just cast SLEEP and run away. We definitely don't want King Lorik to find himself 790 gold richer if we can help it.

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And here's what I suspect is the last new critter down here. Drollmagi are Wyvern-equivalent, with a 50% chance to cast STOPSPELL and insignificant resistances. Nothing much to worry about.

Okay, the second and third floors are mapped, but there's still half the first one remaining, and our MP's dangerously low. I'm just going to leave, sleep in Garinham, then finish up and get back to you.

...

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And that's the last room. If you come in here without a key to open the door in the south, these three chests are your only possible reward. They contain... 11 gold and a Herb. Wow.

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(I didn't map the 4th floor, it's just two up staircases, you can't possibly get lost.)

Welp, anyway, we're done here. Overall I'm quite pleased with the difficulty in this place, it felt pretty much just right for where we're at right now. The first two floors are kind of a cakewalk, but the bottom two are filled with critters that we'd best not underestimate even with our current gear. I could especially imagine runs cut short by just a couple Wraith Knight encounters going sour. If we had done just a little less grinding in Rimuldar I suspect it would still have been doable, just a lot more nerve-wracking.

Okay then. We return to the surface, then restock on Herbs and rest at the Inn. The next region we'll explore is in the far southwest, but I want to go in Full Plate and with a full stock of keys. Besides, we've got a Harp to trade in, too.

Speaking of the Silver Harp...



When the old man said the Harp attracts monsters, he wasn't kidding. Using the Harp anywhere on the overworld gets you in an instant random encounter. You'd think this would be useful for grinding, but unfortunately, it only ever summons Slimes, Red Slimes, Drakees, Ghosts, Magicians and Scorpions. It's absolutely not worth hanging on to.

On, and, hmm. What the hey. Let's see...



Image: Ugh. I don't know what I expected. At least I know my pants won't fall down.

The Cursed Belt is all downsides. It'll randomly squeeze our body during combat, causing us to lose our turn. In addition...

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The guards at the gates in Tantegel won't let us in anymore. We can't save.

If you try to sell the Belt while wearing it...

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(Don't mind the level discrepancy in that last image, I somehow lost the original pictures and had to retake a couple after the fact.)

And this doesn't actually happen to us this time, but if you commit the unspeakable offense of dying while cursed...

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Image: Leave at once!

...the King teleports you out of the castle, alive but with 1 HP.

Slight problem... but simple solution.

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Image: I've never been so happy to get an old man to take off my belt.
Image: Now, go.

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Aaaand it's gone, like it was never there. We can save again. The Cursed Belt is your basic piège-à-con booby-trap. Don't wear it, and if you wear it, don't forget about the old man in Brecconary who mentioned curses and will just take it from you for free. Otherwise, as long as it's not actually around your waist, you can sell it for 180 gold.

That bit of foolishness done, let's head for the shrine west of Kol. We'll be using our last Fairy Water, there's not much to gain on the way but time.

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Image: I robbed a dead guy for this, old man. You better deliver.
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Aaand he just disappears. No stepping aside, no handing it to us, he's gone.

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Just like the Stones of Sunlight, it does nothing. We'd need to take it to the "magic shrine" in the far south to combine their magic, but the guy running the place won't give us the time of day. It's a shame we're not the descendant of Erdrick, because we're doing a pretty decent job at it!

We haven't gained a single level since we last fought the Green Dragon, so that's still off the table. But getting our Full Plate will be a trivial effort, and we're finally up to the task of seeing more of Alefgard, and maybe even find Hauksness, or Cantlin, where mighty weapons are made.

You know the drill. See you on the other side of the grind, true believers!

Niku
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby Niku » Fri May 18, 2018 10:46 am

About a year ago, I tried playing through the DQ1 SNES remake as I've never actually played through a single DQ game to completion other than Rocket Slime. And I still haven't, as I ended up getting sidetracked and not returning to the game, but I got what felt pretty damn deep into it! So I'm curious just how close to the end I actually was (I at least got past the Golem), and this LP rules for clarifying a lot of the little design choices and things.
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Mothra
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby Mothra » Fri May 18, 2018 11:56 am

Going to make a banner image for this tonight. Sorry, been slammed.

This has been a delight so far.

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Friday
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby Friday » Fri May 18, 2018 2:31 pm

I imagine the design for the cursed belt went something like this:

"Hmm, let's put cursed items into the game."

"Oh, like in DnD?"

"Yeah."

"Okay! What should we call it!"

"How about 'King's Belt' or something cool sounding like that?"

"Well, that seems unfair to the player. We should give them a warning."

"Hmm, maybe something subtle, like 'Black Etched Belt With Frowning Skulls On It', or --"

"Right, Cursed Belt it is."

"But, nobody would put that on."

"Have you met people? We should call it 'Deletes Your Save File Belt', we'd catch more players that way."
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mharr
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby mharr » Fri May 18, 2018 7:09 pm

We are immortals with reality breaking time travel powers by default in almost all universes. This tends to encourage a very direct approach to science.

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Friday
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby Friday » Fri May 18, 2018 8:21 pm

That's my favorite part about the Dark Souls game design: You're still immortal, but you lose your time travel powers. Personally, I genuinely believe that is the absolute best way to do things in games.
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François
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby François » Sat May 19, 2018 1:18 pm

Niku wrote:About a year ago, I tried playing through the DQ1 SNES remake as I've never actually played through a single DQ game to completion other than Rocket Slime. And I still haven't, as I ended up getting sidetracked and not returning to the game, but I got what felt pretty damn deep into it! So I'm curious just how close to the end I actually was (I at least got past the Golem), and this LP rules for clarifying a lot of the little design choices and things.


As much as Dragon Warrior is mechanically-speaking a pared-down, "accessibilized" version of its immediate predecessors, there's a lot to the details of its design that has to exist for a reason and serve a purpose, whereas a great many of its successors have the luxury of "we do this because it's how it's always been done and we know it works" as a shortcut. It's kind of like examining how antique Roman culture appropriated elements of antique Greek culture. Anyway I'm glad I have an outlet for this kinda stuff because going through the series and examining the way the design sensibility progresses even in the space of a single console generation is gonna be half the fun of this whole nonsense. (The other half is gonna be to see how soon and then how often I can imply that a ghost has farted and then derive jocularity from the situation.)

And yeah I can't blame anyone for not finishing this one. It has a lot in common with Shin Megami Tensei 1 in that in a great many ways it's interesting to look at and analyze but I can't in good conscience advise anyone to play it for themselves for the fun of it. There are maybe three places in the game where even if you do your best to follow a sort of logical progression you're gonna have to sit your ass down and grind for an hour or three, and even with the few wrinkles in the combat system there is practically zero tactical interest to any single fight taken in isolation. Fortunately that starts changing even as early as the first sequel, but yeah, this one's a right pill sometimes.

Mothra wrote:Going to make a banner image for this tonight. Sorry, been slammed.

This has been a delight so far.


Ha, no pressure mang, it'll be appreciated all the same.

Friday wrote:"Right, Cursed Belt it is."

"But, nobody would put that on."

"Have you met people? We should call it 'Deletes Your Save File Belt', we'd catch more players that way."


I'm kinda tempted to believe it was pretty much meant to be a joke. That said, its selling price is higher than the gold content of any chest in the game, so it might be a way to look at it as occupying one of your limited inventory slots with a worse-than-useless item that is also technically among the most valuable things you can find in a dungeon.

Its location in Garin's grave is also almost certainly meant to be a fake-out for the Silver Harp. No matter which way you approach it from, it's at the end of a long hallway and in a room that looks unusually important (inasmuch as the limited dungeon tileset and lighting system can evoke importance in a room). You think you've finally found what you're looking, but nope, it's just terrible garbage. You need to go deeper in Wraith Knight territory.

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François
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby François » Sat May 19, 2018 2:07 pm

Before we start today, I'd like to go in detail on something that I haven't really mentioned yet: encounter rate and terrain types.

Dragon Warrior rolls its encounter chance every step you take, depending on what kind of tile you're entering. This is very different than with certain other games, that set a random countdown (usually based on distance traveled) at the end of every battle and guarantee an encounter when that countdown reaches zero.

As I mentioned a while back, the world map is divided into 64 square sections, and each section has a set of five enemy slots, each of which has a roughly equal chance of being picked when an encounter is triggered. (Many of these sections share sets.) These five slots aren't always filled with five different enemies, in order to weigh the odds; for example, the short dead end just southwest of Tantegel has two Slime slots, two Red Slime slots, and one Drakee slot.

Individual dungeon floors also have a set of five enemies associated with them, just like overworld sections.

In normal circumstances, every grassland or bridge tile has a 1 in 48 chance of triggering a random encounter. Swamps and forest have a 1 in 16 chance, while hills and deserts have a 1 in 8 chance. (Mountains and water are of course impassable.) In dungeons, standard brick tiles and 15HP trap tiles have a 1 in 16 chance, while stair and chest tiles have a 1 in 24 chance. The latter is really nice, as it reduces the chances that you'll reach the exit or goal of a dungeon and get ambushed for it before you can open your command menu.

Overall I'm fairly happy with the encounter rate. Sometimes you get several in quick succession, sometimes you get to travel a surprisingly long distance between fights. It feels pretty good, and the difference between terrains is absolutely noticeable. It is worth taking detours through grasslands to travel far, and it is worth patrolling hills to grind.

Speaking of grinding! The area far south of Rimuldar (but north of the magic temple island) has an enemy we hadn't met yet.

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Wraiths are marginally stronger than Wolves. They have a 7/16 resistance to SLEEP, and a 25% chance to cast HEAL when below 25% of their Max HP.

Level 12 earned us 8 Strength, 5 Agility, 1 HP, 7 MP, and a new spell.

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OUTSIDE teleports you from the interior of a dungeon to its overworld entrance; it costs 6 MP. Fortunately Alefgard is entirely devoid of monsters that can drain your MP, so the only things that can keep you from being able to bail from a cave at any time are your own recklessness and inattention. (As long as you're not in the middle of a fight of course.)

And finally...

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The Full Plate increases our Defense Power by an additional 8 points! We now ought to be able to travel further southwest without having to turn back at the first hint of a wolf with delusions of lordship.

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This is the area of the continent that we have yet to explore. We know of two towns in that region, with Cantlin being east of Hauksness. We've been outright told to go to Cantlin with the Fairy Flute, and we might want to pick up some dragonslaying gear there, but if it turns out that Hauksness is closer, it'll still be good to have a safe place to rest. Besides, Erdrick's tablet mentioned three special items, and we have only two. Maybe we can pick up some info that we could pass along to the descendant if we ever meet them.

Aight then, time to get a move on.

The trip to get back to where we left off is largely uneventful.

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We get into fights with Wolflords, Wraiths, Wyverns, Wraith Knights and the occasional Goldman, all dispatched with relative ease. The latter now deal around 5 damage per hit, and we can take them out in 3 to 4 turns. And the rewards, oh my!

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Can't complain!

Going further south...

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Rogue Scorpions are about as strong as Wyverns, but with much higher defense power. Their HP is relatively low though, which should make them vulerable to HURT, but that spell does such low damage by now that it's hardly worth the expense. (Never mind the level in this screenshot, I forgot to take one the first time around.)

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Knights also make their first appearance as we travel further southwest. They're a fair bit stronger than Wraith Knights, with middling resistance to SLEEP and STOPSPELL, and the ability to cast STOPSPELL themselves.

They hit us for over 20 per turn, and we can only answer with 5.

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Oh dear. We lose about 400 to the royal tax, and spend another 100 to replenish our Herbs. That said, we don't currently have a money-related goal, so it's not a great tragedy. It'd be nice to scrape 7700 together for the Magic Armor, but it has the same defense value as Full Plate and would not have saved us from that Knight. There's little to it right now but to restock and try to make it further this time.

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In fact we do make it to sign of civilization! Before we can get any closer, though...

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Ouch. Demon Knights are a bit less durable than Knights, but they're highly resistant to all magic and have a whopping 15 in 64 dodge chance. We go through half our stock of Herbs trying to take it down. We can't be in that town soon enough!

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Whew. Maybe they still have tomatoes here.

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Music: Dungeon (third floor)

...okay then, no tomatoes.

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We're almost immediately greeted by Guild a God-Damned Werewolf(tm).

They are just a slight touch weaker than Green Dragons.

Can't nope out of here fast enough! They only have a 7 in 16 resistance to SLEEP, let's see...

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Yeah we don't need to turn this town inside out to figure out what happened here. We were told folk weren't sure Hauksness still existed or not. Now we know.

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We've still got some resources left. Maybe we can go east and reach Cantlin. I guess it depends on whether the Demon Knights and such are here because we're so close to Hauksness, or if it just gets tougher all the way to the next town.

We're about to find out.

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The desert is swarming with Knights and more Demon Knights, but we manage to escape from them all mostly unscathed to the relative safety of the forest. Good grief!

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Magiwyverns are about as strong as Demon Knights, with a nasty habit of casting SLEEP, but without the ludicrous dodge stat. They have only weak resistance to SLEEP and no resistance to STOPSPELL whatsoever, so we can make good use of our disabling abilities.

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Or... bad use of our disabling abilities, as the case may be. I landed a STOPSPELL, but it refused to waste any of its subsequent turns on magic.

Cash-wise we end up about the same as last time, and I'm certainly glad we get to keep our experience. The next trip should turn out a least a little better, as we can avoid Hauksness and the thick of the desert.

Once more, then.

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This does not bode well.

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Yeah, no. This time we end up upside down on the trip's expense. If we keep going at it like this, before long we won't even be able to afford Herbs. We can't buy combat stats anymore, so we have to gain a level or two. It's actually a new position we're put in. Money for equipment used to be the limiting factor, but now the only piece of kit we could upgrade to wouldn't help us survive the fights we need to win.

Experience points are very dear in Dragon Warrior. Beating one Knight gives us up to 129 gold, but only 33 EXP. The King helpfully informs us that we need 978 more to level up once. I need to figure a good grinding spot that will get us there in a sensible amount of time, and ideally without leaving us destitute. Gimme a sec...

Alright, let's try this.

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To the southwest of the ruins of Hauksness, in the far, untamed reaches of Alefgard, dwells an elusive legend...

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Metal Slimes are strange creatures. They have 4 HP, a 1 in 64 dodge chance, and 15 in 16 resistance to all magic. They have a 75% chance to cast HURT on their turn, and otherwise attack with their Strength of 10.

They also have an Agility of 255, guaranteeing that your Attack Power is lower than their Defense Power, which means that your attacks either do 0 or 1 damage. (A successful HURT cast will one-shot them, but as it only works 1 in 16 times, that's a serious MP expense in the long run.) Their low Strength also gives them the typical 25% chance to run each turn.

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We get to see a lot of that.

Metal Slimes sound like a whole lot of trouble, and they are. But the suckers are worth 115 EXP apiece. Yeah. Only a handful of endgame monsters get close to that. That said, the other four slots in their encounter set are Wraith Knights, Knights, Magiwyverns and Demon Knights.

We'll spend a bit of time trying our luck down here, but if we really can't hack it, I guess the next best spot would be either the lower floors of Garin's tomb, or the magic temple island south of Rimuldar.

Or... hmm...

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There's another bridge to the east of this area. Maybe another mad attempt to find Cantlin might work.

Yeah, I'm giving it a shot.

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OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT NOPE NOPE NOPE RUN RUN RUN

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Oi.

Starwyverns are statistically as tough as Green Dragons, though they have much worse magic resistances. They have a 75% chance to cast HEALMORE when critically wounded, and will otherwise breathe fire or attack. Enemies casting HEALMORE recover 85-100 HP. (Most fire breath attacks in the game are functionally identical, I'll only detail the exception when we get to it.)

Cantlin might just be beyond our reach for now. Seeing as the locals don't take our Metal Slime hunt very well, I'll be spending some more time in Garin's tomb after all.

...

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...

Yeah, the Drollmagi, Druinlords, Specters and Wolflords are trivial by now, and we're making both cash and experience faster than were were around Hauksness, considering the time walking back to that remote area from Tantegel. Only the Wraith Knights are at all a threa-

...

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...right.

Maybe the Goldmen, Wraiths, Wolflords and Wyverns south of Rimuldar will find me less susceptible to occasional miscalculation.

...

I think I'll be queuing up a couple podcasts.

Alright, whew, level 13. 4 Strength, 8 Agility, 7 HP, 5 MP, and a new spell.

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RETURN duplicates the effect of Wings of the Wyvern, and costs an entire 8 MP to cast. Keeping 14 MP in your pocket so you can both bail out of a dungeon with OUTSIDE and then teleport to safety with RETURN is going to remain a good idea throughout the series, if maybe a good idea too often giving way to overconfidence.

Just these extra stats won't be enough to take us to Cantlin. Gotta keep going.

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...

You know, I'm kidding, this is nuts, but... at some point, and this is funny, I think to myself, "at this rate I'll have enough money to buy the Magic Armor and I'll still be level 13". Haha, let's share a sensible chuckle together.

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...

I'm watching a LP while making a LP, this is neat. LPception!

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...

...

Welp.

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Again, the Magic Armor offers zero Defense Power improvement over the Full Plate. It does offer two special benefits, though whether those are worth the cost is questionable. It reduces received HURT spell damage by one third, and regenerates 1 HP every four steps we take. The latter effect does increase long-term survivability by a small measure, but it does nothing to help us beat new tiers of enemies.

It's also the best piece of body armor money can buy, so that's settled. Anyway, levels are still what we're most after, so I'll get right back to it.

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...!

Whew, level 14! 8 Strength, 7 Agility, 7 HP, and 6 MP. That's pretty substantial! Maybe we can viably grind in the far southwest by now.

That's the life. I'm grinding so I can go to a better grinding spot.

...

No. Wait. No.

No.

We're a Dragon Warrior. We War Dragons. This is the only thing that matters right now. If I have to kill another critter so I can kill a bigger critter that'll make me able to kill an even bigger critter, my skull will detonate. We're going to materially improve someone life's Right The Hell Now.

Let's go. We doin' this.


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Friday
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby Friday » Sat May 19, 2018 3:29 pm

For all the vaunted and deserved shit that grinding gets, it's only when the double grind falls apart that grinding -really- becomes intolerable for me. As long as you're saving up for new gear AND leveling at the same time at a reasonable (even if slow) pace, I will happily kill the same thing over and over.

Dragon Warrior 1 fails this test in the endgame. Even getting to Cantlin doesn't help much. They simply did not balance endgame gold/exp drops properly. I think having every endgame monster drop 25% less gold and 25% more exp would have gone a long way toward improving the game.
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby TA » Sat May 19, 2018 6:29 pm

Francois, I 200% don't want to step on your toes here, but reading this kinda gets me in a Dragon Warrior mood. Are you planning to proceed to more of the series when this wraps? If not, I might want to do Dragon Warrior 2 once you finish.
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby François » Sat May 19, 2018 9:08 pm

Friday wrote:For all the vaunted and deserved shit that grinding gets, it's only when the double grind falls apart that grinding -really- becomes intolerable for me. As long as you're saving up for new gear AND leveling at the same time at a reasonable (even if slow) pace, I will happily kill the same thing over and over.


I feel you there; once money stops being useful, the grind gets punishing. It's like, by the time you reach Charlock, maybe three quarters of the numbers you earn from beating enemies go completely to waste.

Friday wrote:Dragon Warrior 1 fails this test in the endgame. Even getting to Cantlin doesn't help much. They simply did not balance endgame gold/exp drops properly. I think having every endgame monster drop 25% less gold and 25% more exp would have gone a long way toward improving the game.


I suspect the design philosophy here is that the devs expected players to die a hell of a lot and lose a ton of money all the time. In that case, having to earn your gear upgrades possibly multiple times over might start to put a dent in the experience requirements for leveling up as a side-effect. But even then the EXP rewards would probably still be way undertuned. Can't get it all close-to-right the first time, I guess.

TA wrote:Francois, I 200% don't want to step on your toes here, but reading this kinda gets me in a Dragon Warrior mood. Are you planning to proceed to more of the series when this wraps? If not, I might want to do Dragon Warrior 2 once you finish.


Ooof, I'm gonna feel like I'm hogging the good stuff. The plan has indeed been to do 1, 2 and 3 at least since they're so connected, and the only reason I'm not outright promising 4 is that if I want to bail out for some reason I can still tie a neat bow at the end of the original trilogy. But I love it so much I'm pretty sure I'm gonna do it. I'm even eyeing blind runs for 5 and 6 but that's a long ways off and much much less likely. (I do love 7 but it's off the table because while I may be crazy, I am not insane.)

Anyway, I don't want to tell you what to do and I really appreciate that you ask, but yeah, this is what I got planned.

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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby TA » Sat May 19, 2018 10:14 pm

Well, that's why I asked. 2 and 3 are much bigger games and it's a lot of work, work that I don't know if I want to do or would be able to deliver on once started, so if you're planning to do it then that's kind of a load off, because you're doing a real thorough job here and they're good to read.

I might go PLAY 3 though. 2's easier to LP but it's hell to play through, but 3 is an all-time great game.
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby Friday » Sun May 20, 2018 6:08 am

I'd say 3 is my favorite RPG of all time, except then 8 came along, so. Even then, 8 really feels like a refinement of 3. (I mean, all the DQ games are refinements of the previous games, with small changes, but 8 and 3 felt really similar compared to the rest, to me.)
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby François » Sun May 20, 2018 10:40 pm

Dang, nice work Mothra! It's an honor! :grin:

TA wrote:Well, that's why I asked. 2 and 3 are much bigger games and it's a lot of work, work that I don't know if I want to do or would be able to deliver on once started, so if you're planning to do it then that's kind of a load off, because you're doing a real thorough job here and they're good to read.


Ha, yeah, screenshot LPs are serious chuckles, but I got a good workflow going and if anything in-game is painful, it'll usually make for something interesting to say. In a way though, compared to doing SMT, Dragon Warrior is almost easy mode. Let's just say that for this series I'm probably never going to have to dig up scans of 40 year old anthropology textbooks to find out what the hell's the deal with this or that obscure mythological figure and then find a way to distill it into a small paragraph.

Friday wrote:I'd say 3 is my favorite RPG of all time, except then 8 came along, so. Even then, 8 really feels like a refinement of 3. (I mean, all the DQ games are refinements of the previous games, with small changes, but 8 and 3 felt really similar compared to the rest, to me.)


I tend to prefer 4 because its narrative structure is so brilliant and I have a soft spot for nearly everything that it does, but yeah, 3's really strong on so many levels. And its mechanical flexibility definitely echoes in 8.

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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby nosimpleway » Sun May 20, 2018 11:51 pm

With multiple people chomping at the bit (or I guess in Friday's case idly considering doing an LP in #finalfight) I move you-plural coordinate a Let's All Play or something.

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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby François » Mon May 21, 2018 2:46 pm

Hmm... If I was anyone else this would be a great idea but I gotta admit the thought of it stresses me out a fair bit. I mean, we have The Best People around so that's not the issue, and I can handle collaboration if it's a job or something like that, but I need what leisure/hobby time I have in a day to relax my mental state. And I know that, in a completely internal sense, working with someone on a project like that would crank up the pressure instead.

I hope I'm not coming across as an asshole about this, and I'm still open to suggestion, but that's where I'm at right now. And I don't want to put on a happy face and a thumbs-up and go "swell, let's do it!" while on the inside feeling convinced I'd end up flaking out. I've... done that before and it sucks for everyone.

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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby François » Mon May 21, 2018 2:47 pm

Just like that, we take Princess Gwaelin home. I know I said we got our final sprite when we bought our first shield, but this is something else, right?

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Not only do we have two characters clearly depicted in a 16x16 sprite from four directions, but they are placed in a way that allows them to have their own color palette! The limitations of NES graphics make it so any given 8x8 block of pixels on a sprite has to use the same set of four colors, one of which is often a transparency that lets the background show through. But this princess-carryin' sprite is cleverly drawn so the character's palettes don't bleed into each other. The only flaw is in the north-facing one, where there's no helping the princess' hair turning blue.

I'm sure you've also noticed a less impressive piece of spritework.

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That one is pure compromise. The NES has only two layers on which it can draw: a background layer, and a sprite layer on top. Due to how the game is coded, Dragon Warrior's dark dungeon levels only ever have the player character's sprite on the sprite layer. I presume it's because they didn't figure out a way to have sprites interact correctly with the light radius system; either sprites would show up clearly on top of a background tile that should be dark, or they couldn't be made to transition smoothly from a dark tile to a lit tile. Remember: you can't just put a black square on top of a sprite that's meant to be in darkness, because there's no layer on top of the sprite layer.

So the solution to make the princess appear in a place where you can't draw a sprite is to make her part of the background layer. And it so happens that the background layer in these dungeons has an extremely limited palette, probably due to memory constraints. If you'll notice, the princess shares the same red and greys as the brick tiles and stone walls surrounding her, and she's not animated at all. As far as the display system is concerned, she's the same as a chest or a staircase.

Alright, that'll be enough digression, let's get back to our princess-rescuin' antics.

If you don't care about saving your game ever again, you can technically complete the entire rest of the game with Gwaelin in your arms. It doesn't change much though, and practically nobody seems to notice her presence. That said, if you get yourself killed while carrying her, she'll be taken back to the tunnel between Kol and Rimuldar, and you have to go get her again. The Green Dragon stays dead, though.

Image: So, six months, huh?
Image: Indeed.
Image: Did that dragon feed you?
Image: Let's say I had to choke down a lot of charred goat meat.
Image: Eesh.
Image: I requested vegetables after the first week, and she started bringing in tomatoes by the cartload. I shudder to imagine where she got them from.
Image: She? The dragon, you mean?
Image: Yes. Somehow it felt like she hated being stuck in that tunnel almost as much as I did.
Image: The Dragonlord made her guard you, did he? Do you think she would have let you go if he was out of the picture?
Image: No, I'm certain she would have eaten me.
Image: Right, dragon. I don't know what I was thinking.

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Image: Alright, we're coming up on some serious bad terrain. Do you mind holding on to your hem? Better not get any of that crap on your clothes, it'll kill ya.
Image: Art thou going be be fine?
Image: Yeah, don't worry. I've recently discovered that I'm a powerful wizard for some reason. There's nothing this swamp can do to me that I can't fix.
Image: I've read about this phenomenon! It must be the power of Erdrick's bloodline!
Image: Well, I don't know about that. It would be nice if it was.

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Image: So. What are you going to do once this whole nonsense is over?
Image: Going through the castle library in my youth, I found many tales of lands beyond the sea. I've always wanted to see them with my own eyes.
Image: Ah, a traveler at heart then. There are worse ways to spend your time.

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Image: Before the Dragonlord appeared, my father was about to marry me to the son of the mayor of Cantlin. I will never travel.
Image: Dang, right, that princess kinda crap. Do you at least like each other?
Image: ...
Image: Yikes, I get it. I could tell, your dad's a dick.
Image: I-

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Image: Okay, hold that thought.

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Image: Right. Where were we?
Image: My father being a dick.

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Image: Ooof, yeah. Bad scene. Wish there was something I could do.
Image: That is not ne-
Image: Heck, maybe I'll figure something out. I wouldn't mind setting you free a second time.
Image: If thou defeats the Dragonlord, thou wilst have done far more than should ever be required of one person. I will be fine.

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Image: The arranged marriage thing, is it for money? Some kind of alliance?
Image: It is for prestige. Cantlin is the largest city in my father's realm, after all.
Image: Prestige, huh?

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Image: ...didst thou hear something?
Image: Just harmless wildlife, no worries. Anyway, princess, how good is your acting?
Image: What dost thou mean?
Image: Your dad seems pretty convinced I'm the descendant of Erdrick. Do you think that'll be prestigious enough for him?
Image: Perhaps!
Image: If we can make him believe there's something going on between us long enough to get a ship built and sailing right out of here with you on it, it's beginning to look like a solution. Do you think he'd buy it?
Image: Ooooh, he would love that whole "marrying thine savior" story! It would be child's play!

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Image: Alright then, we have a plan. Wanna go for a victory lap in Brecconary before you have to put your game face on?
Image: Gladly!

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Image: You gotta admit the resemblance is uncanny, though.

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That's the guard who once told us that the quest to find the Princess had failed. He's still in terrible shape though, it would be bad form to rub our success in his face.

Nobody else in town seems to react to the princess' visit.

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Image: ...what? Screw you, buddy!

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Image: That's better. You're welcome.

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Image: Now, Gwaelin, come to my side.
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Image: Even when we two are parted by great distances, I shall be with thee. Farewell, ZedPower.
Image: *wink*
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The save/continue dialog with the King continues as normal. If we speak with the Princess, we randomly get one of three responses.

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Well, that's a classic right there. If we say no...

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...she immediately asks again. She keeps asking as long as we keep saying no. And if we say yes...

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We get to hear the same jingle as when we rescued her in the first place. By the way, back in the tunnel, when she asks if we'll take her home, she serves you the same dish if you say no.

Oh, and, of course you'll notice that Gwaelin gets her real sprite once she's out of the dungeon. That's much better.

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That felt alright... but it didn't earn us much of anything in terms of reward. We're no closer to the end of this crisis than we were before. Hmm.

...

Wait, what the...

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...what?

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Image: !!!
Image: My hope is with thee. From where thou art now, my castle lies... 0 to the north and... 0 to the west. I love thee, ZedPower.
Image: Uh... The King's over your shoulder, isn't he? I love you too, sweetie.

So that is our gameplay reward for rescuing Princess Gwaelin. We can now hear how much experience we need to level up from anywhere in the world, and also our exact position relative to Tantegel. Convenient and neat. Fair enough.

Anyway. Detonating skull or not, it's back to grinding! Just gimme... multiple moments.

...

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And that's level 15. 8 Strength, 9 Agility, 7 HP, 1 MP, and a spell.

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REPEL exactly mimics the effect of Fairy Water, at the cost of 2 MP. Considering how often we need to shlep through Tantegel to save, this is a decent quality of life improvement.

Also, notice the money we've got in the above images. We may have crashed Alefgard's economy by flooding the market with Goldman corpses.

It's 3000 to level 16. I'm gonna take a chance and see if we can grind someplace with mostly monsters that give about 30 instead of about 25. Woo!

...

Ooooh, we now do more damage to Knights than they're dealing to us. The plan is to hunt Metal Slimes until we almost run out of MP, the RETURN to Tantegel, rest up, and go back. If we don't manage to take out any Slimes, it's about 400-500 EXP per trip.

...

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We take out exactly two Slimes.

...

Level 16 rolls around. 4 Strength, 6 Agility, 5 HP, and...

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...21 MP!? Alright, we'll take it.

So. Let's look at our map again. This is what we know of the southwestern region so far.

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There are two bridges leading to the east. The northern one, closest to Hauksness, seems pretty rough going, what with all the hills and deserts. We ran into the Starwyvern past the southern bridge, but forests have fewer random encounters and we might be able to go further with our improved stats anyway.

Alright then, south it is.

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We've only had to fight Knights on the way there, so it's looking good so far.

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Past the bridge are more Knights, Magiwyverns and Demon Knights, which are beatable at some cost, and more Starwyverns, so strong as to not be worth attempting to fight; we take a few blasts of flame to the face trying to run away. Those 21 MP from last level disappear in a flash.

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Another bridge... Things are already hard enough, let's stay on our path for now.

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Gah. We put him to sleep and run. We better be getting somewhere soon.

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!!!

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Huh, look at that wall. They might still be alright in there.



Golem is tied for second highest Strength stat in the game, and he's highly resistant to all spells, but his Agility is lower than any of the dangerous critters' we've had to fight through to make it here. He's beatable without putting him to sleep with the Fairy Flute, but probably not at our level with our current gear.

Alright then, let's check out this town.

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Image: The last to have it was a fellow named Wynn.

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Image: Wait, what? You're real? Well, okay, don't worry, I won't!

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Image: I'm beginning to suspect the rumors of mighty weapons in Cantlin may have been embellished somewhat.

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That's small change by now.

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Image: If you put it like that, I have to say I'm tempted to wait for the descendant of Erdrick to show up.
Image: That is good. No one will say thou art afraid.
Image: I've seen Hauksness on my way here though. I can't just sit here and do nothing.
Image: Thou art truly brave.

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Nothing in here. Huh.

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Image: Not quite what I'm looking for. Sorry.

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Nothing of note at the item shop either.

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Image: I... Uh... I appreciate the offer, but I got someone waiting for me back home. If you see the mayor's son, let him know, alright? No reason!

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Image: You and me both, lady.

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Hmm.

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Image: Oh... Oh dang. Okay then. I'm as glad to have this information as I am terrified.

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The large building in the center of town is a covered park, but of course you can't enter it if it means you'd be stepping on a water tile, so it may momentarily trick you.

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Image: Huh! Well okay then, that's a lead. If I got my hands on that proof, it'd sure make my life both easier and more difficult.

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Image: Aw heck.

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Image: You better have more than well wishes for me, old man.
Image: May the light be thy strength!
Image: Heard that one before, what else you got?
Image: Thou may go and search. From Tantegel Castle travel 70 leagues to the south and 40 to the east.
Image: Alright, that's oddly specific. I'll check it out.

This would be the true gameplay use of Gwaelin's Love. You can technically work this out yourself by carefully counting steps as you travel all the way from Tantegel (or if you're familiar with the game and just outright remember where the spot is), but good grief just rescue the dang princess, will ya?

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Another tiny empty building.

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You can get Fairy Water from here without spending a key, but I can't imagine making it here before you're high enough level to know REPEL.

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Hmm! We've heard that the Dragonlord's scales are hard as steel, so we're definitely going to have to track it down.

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Not as crap an inventory as that other store's, but still no use to us.

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So, Erdrick's armor is near a tree behind a shop in the east of Hauksness. We also definitely want that.

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This is the last building here, so it better have something real good!

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Eh, sure. Inflation is making our currency worthless anyway.

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Image: Yyyyyyyyyyes!
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Image: Oooooh mama!

These happen to be the best sword and shield money can buy. In addition, apparently Erdrick didn't carry a shield, because the Silver Shield is in fact also the best shield in the game.

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It increases our Defense Power by an additional 10 points! That's massive.

We're about 600 short for the Flame Sword though, so let's step outside for a bit and see if we can round up that much.

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Hmm, it looks like whatever proof we might be looking for is in this large swamp to the south. We can't get to it directly from here, but that bridge we came across on the way here probably leads to that region. It'll be worth investigating on our way back.

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Wizards are slightly weaker than Starwyverns, with high resistance to SLEEP and HURT, and 50% resistance to STOPSPELL. They have a 50% chance to cast HURTMORE on their turn, which is (of course) an upgraded version of HURT, dealing 30-45 damage. Fortunately, our Magic Armor also reduces that range by a third, so we only take 20-30 instead. It's definitely still worth trying a STOPSPELL.

Aaaand a few Werewolves, Starwyverns and Wizards later...

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The Flame Sword gives us an additional 8 Attack Power. It sounds fancy and magical but it's really just a stat upgrade, there are no special effects associated with it. And with that, large sums of money are now useless to us. I mean we'll buy Herbs and stuff because they're still useful but we're never going to be so poor that we can't make a couple hundred within 30 seconds and there's no longer anything more expensive than that.

Alright then, let's hit the inn and see if we can reach the swamp.

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Whoa! They sure turned into random encounters quick. They still hit hard enough that it's best to try to put them to sleep, though.

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Le sigh.

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Right... here!

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Image: Wow. Either I really am the descendant of Erdrick and one of my ancestors tossed this thing in here, or the real descendant died in this swamp like a chump.

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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby Friday » Mon May 21, 2018 3:39 pm

The Eyes of Ganon are everywhere, even in Cantlin.
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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby François » Tue May 22, 2018 1:13 pm

...okay it took me an embarrassingly long time to get that one.

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Re: Let's play Dragon Warrior!

Postby François » Wed May 23, 2018 12:05 am

The tablet we found in the cave between Tantegel and Garinham mentioned that we'd need three items. Chances are, these are the Staff of Rain, the Stones of Sunlight, and Erdrick's Token. If that's the case, we're in business.

It does raise something of a question. Erdrick built a rainbow bridge to the Isle of Dragons. Invoking rain and sunlight for this purpose makes perfect sense. Where does the token come in, though? Surely Erdrick did not have to prove he was related to himself, but the trinket was still necessary. What power does it hold?

There must be more to this story than meets the eye.

We have more urgent matters to settle at the moment, though. Maybe this should be the work of a scholar, in more peaceful times.

Alright, what's left on our plate?

-Delivering the three items to the magic temple south of Rimuldar, then assaulting Charlock.
-Investigating Wynn's shop in Hauksness for Erdrick's armor.
-Finding out where Erdrick's sword ended up.
-Thoroughly exploring the rest of the Cantlin region.
-Grinding up thousands upon thousands of experience points. Probably. It seems to be a theme.
-Tracking down everyone who asked for proof of our ancestry and rubbing the token in their faces until they can read Erdrick's name in a mirror.

Getting the armor first should make almost everything else easier, so back to Hauksness it is. Maybe we can sneak in and out without attracting too much attention. We won't be hiking there from Cantlin, though; things are going to be bad enough once we're inside the city, we don't want to have to fight through a gauntlet of dragons and demons on the way there. Instead, we RETURN to Tantegel first, and only have to wade through now-trivial monsters from that direction. We can one-shot Wolflords with our new blade! Dang but we've come a long way.

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Okay then, let's keep our wits about ourselves. We're looking for a shop on the east side of town, but from the state of affairs here, it might not even be standing anymore.

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Hmm, might be a shop, but this is definitely not the east side.

Several Green Dragons, Starwyverns and Werewolves try to block our path, but we elude them so far.

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A tree behind a shop. It better be the one, because it's the only one left.

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An Axe Knight ambushes us as we reach the tree. These knaves are even stronger than Green Dragons and Starwyverns, and are highly resistant to SLEEP. They do have a 25% chance to cast SLEEP, but only have a 3/16 resistance to STOPSPELL, and we can't take the chance of having them wail on us in impunity for any length of time.

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Okay, we're off to a good start. (Sorry about the doubled lines, I had to catch the window mid-scroll.)

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Image: I. AM. MIGHTIER. THAN EVEN YOU!

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Image: HA!

This Axe Knight is a guaranteed fight on this specific tile, one of the few boss-type encounters in the entire game.

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Erdrick's Armor is only four points stronger than the Magic Armor (or Full Plate), but it comes with its own unique benefits. First off, not only does it reduce received spell damage by one third, it also reduces fire breath damage by the same amount. That's huge! In addition, it regenerates your HP by 1 every step (instead of every four steps), it makes you completely immune to enemy STOPSPELL casts, and it negates all damage from both swamp and trap tiles. It is incredibly good.

Alright then. While we're sort of in the neighborhood, let's see if we can complete our exploration of the south-central region of Alefgard.

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...wait.

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We've been here before.

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Yeah, that's a big dumb loop around Cantlin. Once you've retrieved the Token from the swamp in the south, there's nothing else of interest.

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That said, we've finally mapped out the entire realm of Alefgard, except for the Isle of Dragons. If we can't find someone who'll open up about Erdrick's sword after seeing the Token, we might have to do without.

Speaking of which, it's time we start our grand "HOW DARE YOU QUESTION MY HERITAGE, YOU CRAVEN PEON" tour.

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...huh. Apparently nobody wants to believe that this trinket we dug out of a swamp indicates that we're related to an ancient hero. Well, they'll all come to rue the day that we save them from the Dragonlord and ensure they can live long and peaceful lives.

Or... maybe they won't.

Yeah they probably won't rue that day at all.

Eh, fine.

We do need to convince one recalcitrant man in particular though.

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Image: HEY BUDDY. GUESS WHAT?

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Image: Oh. Uh. Alright. Thanks man.
Image: Thou hast no business here. Go away.
Image: Okay, okay, sure. Light forbid we get to warm up to each other for even a second.

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Without further ceremony, we've inherited the legendary Rainbow Drop.

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It does nothing here. Which... is fortunate. This isn't exactly the right spot.

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This is.



This isn't much of a rainbow, but it sure is a bridge!

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Knights, Demon Knights, Werewolves, Starwyverns and Magiwyverns try to stop us, to no avail.

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Even Charlock's poisonous moat parts before us.

Here we are. Here we go.

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Music: Dungeon theme (first floor)

There are two staircases right off the bat, and a lot of now-harmless trap tiles. Let's try the right side first.

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Locked doors. Of course. I don't know why I'm surprised.

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This isn't a surprise though. This is the final dungeon, there will be darkness, and cartography. And monsters.

We've met Green Dragons and Werewolves on the ground floor, and we can beat those at some expense to heal up afterward. For now, the limiting factor of any given run down here is our MP and Herb reserves. And the 10-17 HP we get from a single HEAL cast is beginning to feel inadequate. It certainly doesn't outpace the damage we typically take in a single round, and hasn't for a long time.

The fact that we have no leads on Erdrick's sword is worrying, but maybe the forging and enchanting techniques of Cantlin's swordsmiths will have surpassed whatever was available in Erdrick's time.

Not that this was the case for armor. Oof.

Welp, there's no choice but to go forward and see where the Fates take us.

Monsters on the first basement include Wizards, Axe Knights (!), and more Green Dragons, Starwyverns and Werewolves, all beatable but costly to fight. This cost will only diminish as we keep gaining levels, but even here those come slowly, and we have far to go.

...

I have to call our initial foray after a narrow tussle with an Axe Knight putting us to sleep. We're down to 10 MP anyway, and I'd rather not have to walk all the way from Tantegel if it can be helped. We cast OUTSIDE and go rest in Rimuldar. This is what we know of Charlock so far:

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A is the entrance from the eastern side of the ground floor, while the B and C staircases form a short, pointless loop. We'll definitely cover more ground on each subsequent trip as we eliminate known dead-ends and wastes of time, so this is actually pretty satisfying progress even if level-ups don't come quite as quickly as they perhaps should.

Not having to worry too much about dying is also something of a stress relief. Worst case scenario, we end up in Tantegel, without half of our largely-useless money. Better hit Rimuldar if we can, though; it's much closer to walk.

Alright, back to it. East side again.

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Okay, that entire eastern section only has two branches that loop in on themselves. We're about out of gas, so I call the second run right there. Even our Herbs are low, so... uh... Right, no item shop in Rimuldar. Back to Tantegel it is.

Herbs are an emergency resource, as they're still our only recourse to recover in one turn more than one turn's worth of enemy damage output.

Alright, third trip.

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This time, we try the west side.

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Oh hey, we level off a Starwyvern pretty early on! We gain 8 Agility, 8 HP, and 5 MP. The lack of Strength increase is pretty bad, but it's more than compensated by our new spell!

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We finally learn our own version of HEALMORE, which restores 85 to 100 HP at once, at the cost of 10 MP. This a lot more efficient per MP spent than the standard HEAL, and we never have to be in another situation where we scarf down three Herbs in a row just to keep a Dragon from finishing us off.

We'll get our next level in 3000 more points. In other not-so-great news...

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...the western staircase (A) quickly leads to a dead-end. That's something of a problem. Let's get back up and see if we can find another staircase from the ground floor.

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This must be the Dragonlord's throne. Is he just out for a stroll? There are no other visible exits from here.

Hmm.

...

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Image: Heheh. Ahhh, if only the Princess could see me now.
Image: ...hmm!
Image: Heyo.
Image: ...eh?
Image: It's me. Are you busy?
Image: No... No... I was only... I am about to go to bed. Dost thou need something?
Image: Oh, uh, no, nothing in particular. It's just... I'm pretty sure I'm sitting on the Dragonlord's throne and I thought that was surreal as heck.
Image: What art thou doing on thither? Did he let you...?
Image: Oh, no, no, he's not here. I just found his chair and thought of you.
Image: ...
Image: Yeah, that came out wrong, never mind. I apologize, I didn't mean to be a bother. I don't know what I was thinking.
Image: No, don't worry, it's fine. I am certain thou art in a very stressful situation. Please feel free to reach out anytime.
Image: You're too kind. Alright then, I'm surrounded by dragons and werewolves, I better get going. You have a good night, okay?
Image: Fates willing. Take care!
Image: ...
Image: Well that was a bust. Anyway, what am I missing here? Hmm...

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Image: Wait a minute...

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Image: 'Tis also said that he entered the darkness from a hidden entrance in the room of the Dragonlord.

Let's see...

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Ah-ha! Let's keep going!

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Just to the east is a staircase down leading to a small portion of the first basement that we can't seem to reach from here. Better keep an eye out below.

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Finally a proper way to the second basement!

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This small section in the east must lead to the area we're missing above; it must reach even deeper.

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...and what's this? A chest, and an up staircase? Presumably that's from that area on the first basement. Dang but this place doesn't make a lot of topographical sense.

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Anyway, we nearly run out of juice a couple fights later, time to call it again. We're a third of the way to level 18 now, but with HEALMORE the next sortie will certainly be even more fruitful.

...

...we use up two thirds of our MP just making it to where we left off last time.

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And we earn ourselves a new tier of monsters. Blue Dragons are slightly tougher than Axe Knights, with high SLEEP resistance and medium HURT resistance; they only have their 25% chance of fire breath instead of a SLEEP spell, but that means they don't waste turns trying to cast through a STOPSPELL. By this point though, fire breath hurts us a lot less than just getting our face gnawed on. And they drop a decent 60 EXP.

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Whuh-oh, I forgot to save enough MP for OUTSIDE. Looks like Lorik's gonna make a mint off us this time.

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Another new floor. Erdrick's Armor will only keep us alive so long, but there's also no reason to save Herbs; might as well go for broke, run from everything, and see how much more we can map out.

Stairs up...

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And back down. Eh, another loop.

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That must be the right way further down. These floors are significantly smaller than the first basement, and I can't find it in myself to have a problem with that.

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Okay, we're coming in from D. E is the only way back up from here, so it might lead to that chest.

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Another straightforward path to a higher floor.

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Yep, this is looking good.

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This is definitely the first basement again. We still have our Herbs! If we can only make it a bit further...

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If this is 10 gold, I'm gonna weep.

An Axe Knight tries to stop us on top of the chest. Not today!

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...

......

!!!

Image: Dragonlord, you absolute dumbass. Don't keep the one thing that can kill you in your house.

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