One week later...
: Well, maybe if your standards weren't so high-
: My standards? HIGH!? Do you have any idea what I'm up against?
: In fact, I do, which is why I think you should take any help you can find!
: You wouldn't tell my father to take these chumps.
: You're not your father.
: Why I-
: Excuse me.
: S-sister? Yes?
: I do hope I'm not interrupting anything.
: No, no, not at all! Nothing important!
: Very well, then. I'd like to sign up for-
: Oh! Oh, oh! Can you fight?
: You could say that.
: Okay, look, my name's Zofia, I'm Ortega's daughter and I'm... hunting... a fffiend. Would you join me?
: That sounds a bit out of my league. I was only hoping to help open the road to Reeve, to be honest.
: I'm definitely going to Reeve at some point. We could tag along until then.
: Alright, fair enough. My name's Isabel. I'm very glad to meet you!
: Believe me, the pleasure's all mine!
Pilgrims received 68 votes, taking the first spot by a considerable margin. Ain't that a sigh of relief, heheh. Isabel here starts with a Club and a set of Wayfarer's Clothes. She also already knows Heal, which restores around 30 HP for 3 MP.
Newly created characters start with a set of stats specific to their class, but also receive 2 to 6 bonus points placed at random; she got 1 point of Strength and 2 points of Intelligence. It's possible to "re-create" characters at the registration deck on the second floor hoping for more favorable bonuses, but I just took the first roll.
You can also create a bunch of characters only to sell their starting gear over and over again (Soldiers get the most expensive equipment), but that's lame, so I'm not doing that.
: So, sweetie, are these the rest of our team?
: Yikes, no. You're... actually the first. Well, after me. These are just a bunch of id... uh... local color.
: Oi! Who are you calling an idiot?
: Oh! I'm sorry! I didn't see you come in. Are you signing up?
: Hell yeah I'm signing up. Fiend hunting, right?
: Can you fight?
: I can set stuff on fire real good, if that counts.
: When's the last time you were pass-out drunk?
: Uh... Last month? It's hard to get a good drink these days.
: My father always said never to trust a drunken wizard. If you're not perpetually soused, that's good enough for me. Welcome aboard!
: Wait, who're you again?
: I'm Zofia. Ortega's daughter.
: Everybody knows Ortega's got an only son.
: Well everybody's wrong.
: Eh, I don't care none. I'm Rebeca. Call me Reb.
: Hello, Rebeca. I'm Isabel. Nice to meet you!
: Wait, is the nun coming along?
: Yyyyeah. Is it going to be a problem?
: I don't knnnnnnow. Is it?
: I don't see a problem here.
: Alright, but if you start preaching at me, I bail.
: Duly noted!
Wizards came in second place, with a solid 47 votes. There's our spellcasting sorted out! Rebeca starts with a Cypress Stick and a set of regular Clothes, and she knows Blaze. Blaze us what used to be DW2's Firebal, which is to say your basic single-target fire damage spell. It costs 2 MP, and rolls against your foe's fire resistance, dealing 8 to 13 points of defense-ignoring damage on a success.
Unlike in the previous game, damage spells actually have elements associated to them with appropriate resistance stats, instead of all being lumped together as generic magic damage. Spell resistances are measured from 0 to 256 this time though, with a resistance of 0 meaning the spell always works, and a resistance of 256 being complete immunity.
Rebeca's bonus stats are 2 Strength, 1 Agility, 1 Intelligence, and 1 Luck. Not the best for her class specifically, but such is life in the zone.
: Excuse me, miss Zofia, did I hear you say you were Ortega's daughter?
: Sure. Who's asking?
: Ah, please forgive my manners. My name is Alvaro.
: Can you fight?
: I'm certain you'll find my meager martial talents agreeable. I grew up hearing about your father's exploits, and I've been training in hopes of fighting by his side one day.
: Well that's not happening.
: Quite, unfortunately. But it would be an honor to support his daughter wherever she may go, if she is to fight evil.
: Well, that's the plan.
: Glorious! Are these ladies coming along?
: We are.
: What excellent company, then. Are you all ready to go?
: Sure. Do you want to swing by... wherever you're staying at? And pick up your gear? It's dangerous to go out without...
: I travel light. This will be fine.
: Ooooookay then.
: Alright, suit yourself.
Fighters just barely made third place, with 41 votes. Alvaro here starts with only the Clothes on his back, and he received an extra 2 Strength, 2 Agility, and 1 Intelligence. The Intelligence isn't helping, but it's still a decent roll.
And that's our party. Merchants almost made the cut, with 40 votes. Goof-offs managed fifth place with 31 votes, and Soldiers came in last with 19 votes. But do not despair, we might still see them in action one day!
The 50 gold the king gave us can't buy us any useful upgrades, so we're just about ready to leave.
Well, would you look at them go.
: It's so strange to see a group of adventurers who aren't related to each other.
: But it must happen all the time.
: Sometimes it's about the family you choose.
: Twenty gold says the witch ends up setting the nun on fire.
: Ha, no bet.
: And sometimes it's about the family you don't.
: Mom! I got my team picked out!
: ...are you really taking us to see your mom?
: It's a pleasure, madam.
: Actually we were just about to l-
: Wow, she does not take no for an answer.
The next day...Music: Overworld
: So, uh, where are we going again?
: Well, I'm thinking the Tower of Najima would be a good place to start.
: Weren't you going to Reeve?
: If monsters are using the Tower as a base, we're not clearing the road without taking out their nest. Besides, I'd like to check on an old man living there on his own.
: Fair enough.
: I thought we were going fiend-hunting.
: Do you have any leads on fiends?
: ...nope. I was kind of hoping you did.
: I... well... maybe I do. But the tower needs clearing.
: I've heard of a cave on the west side of the bay. Rumor has it it connects to the Tower.
: Yeah, that's what I'm counting on. But how about we stay close to town for a bit and see how we fight together? This is going to be a long trip and I don't want to go in unprepared.
: It'll make the people a bit safer. Let's do it.Music: Battle
DW2 wouldn't have dreamed of putting up the lone Prince of Midenhall against five enemies at once right off the bat, but here we are absolutely expected to start with a full party.
Just like in the previous game, you can only aim standard attacks and single-target spells at groups rather than individuals, and the specific enemy hit is determined at random. What's new here, however, is the little arrow at the top of the target selection box.
It allows us to target our own party members. The reasons to actually do this are vanishingly few, but there is in fact a confusion status ailment, and you might want to put an ally to sleep to prevent them from causing too much damage.
Since Zofia doesn't know any spells yet, she gets the Parry command instead, which uses up your next turn to reduce all incoming damage. There is a notorious bug about this though, as you can select Parry, then cancel the command with the B button and pick something else, and you get to act as normal while still receiving the damage reduction. (This doesn't work for the fourth character in the formation, since selecting Parry for them immediately starts the combat round.)
In case you're wondering, I'm not going to exploit this at all.
One last thing to note about the interface is that only the first character in the formation gets a Run command, and if they know any magic, the Spell command completely replaces their Parry command. There is something to be said about only putting non-casters in front for this reason, but if you're not making use of the Parry bug, it doesn't actually cause problems very often.
The battle takes three rounds. Zofia and Alvaro can take out a Slime each per turn, but Isabel's 3 damage and Rebeca's 1 aren't seeing much use. Alvaro tends to hit for a point or two less than Zofia, but considering he's unarmed and she's packing a Copper Sword, it's still impressive.
Oh, and there's not much to say about Slimes, they're still the weakest enemies in the game, and have no resistances to speak of. It's easy to underestimate large amounts of them if you're alone, but, you know, don't be alone.
After a bit of wandering around, something strange happens. The overworld looked like this when we left town...
...but now it looks like this.
Well... that's odd.
We get ambushed by three Black Ravens soon afterward. They're marginally stronger than Slimes, but have no special abilities or attributes.
We pull out the big guns for these suckers. Alvaro gets his first ever critical hit (but hardly his last), and Rebeca's Blaze one-shots the second Raven.
Holy crap, six enemies, literally outside the first town. Yeah, you can beat this game with just your Hero, but come on, bring some allies along, will you?
Oooh, gotta love that little white arrow there. It means...
He gains 1 Strength, 3 Agility, 1 Vitality, 1 Intelligence, and 1 HP.
Unlike in previous games, stat gains on level up are random, to a degree. Each class has a range of possible increases for every stat, so while you can usually expect Fighters to get good rolls on Strength and Agility, they're never guaranteed.
On top of that, each stat for each class has a soft limit on it, where the game thinks that it's too high for your class/level combination. If the stat about to be increased is higher than that number, instead of rolling whatever your class' increase would be, it instead randomly increases it by 1 or not at all. So in essence, if you get a bunch of good rolls for several levels in a row, you might be set up for a few crappy ones as the game tries to keep your power in check. I suspect this is to counter save-scumming to get the best stat increases per level every time (as well as balance out a couple other mechanisms we'll see later), but it ends up having a few unpleasant side-effects that we'll touch on in time.
Isabel follows suit, for 2 Strength, 1 Agility, 1 Luck, 3 Intelligence, 6 MP, and a new spell: Expel. For only 2 MP, Expel targets an entire group and has a chance to cause enemies to "disappear into the light". It has a lot in common with DW2's Defeat spell, in that it is effectively an instant death effect. However, you don't earn any gold or experience for enemies "killed" by Expel, so it's more a panic button than anything else.
Most enemies are at least moderately resistant to Expel, and it largely ceases being effective by midgame, but there are even a few endgame creatures that are surprisingly vulnerable to it.
Rebeca also earns 1 Strength, 1 Agility, 1 Vitality, 1 Intelligence, and 3 MP.
Different classes need different amounts of experience to level up, and I think Heroes need the most, so Zofia stays at level 1 for now. We're low on MP though, so we head back home to rest.
When we leave again...
The colors are back to normal. Odd! Strange!
We almost have enough money to buy a Leather Shield, so we pick a few more fights around town.
Zofia finally levels up, for 1 Strength, 1 Agility, 1 Vitality, 1 Intelligence, and 2 HP. We're starting out pretty slow there.
Isabel's low HP and defense right now means she needs the shield's 4 points of defense a lot more than Zofia does.
The rest of our shopping list is another Leather Shield for Zofia, and a Copper Sword and Leather Armor for Isabel (the same gear as a Soldier or Merchant would want). Isabel's starting Wayfarer's Clothes would then go to Rebeca. Alvaro can't even wear the Wayfarer's Clothes, so there's no expense on his end. I'm not going to grind for any more of that stuff if I can help it though, and in fact it'd be nice if we were able to move on with our journey without having to spend all that cash, but we'll see.
We get into one more fight outside to afford Wings of the Wyvern, then we rest again, and start exploring in earnest.
: Alright, it's good to know we're at least not getting in each other's way. Time to head for that Tower.
: This must be Cave on the Promontory. Let's go around to the north.
Along the way, Isabel levels up again, for 2 Str, 1 Agi, 2 Vit, 1 Luc, 2 Int, 2 HP, and 2 MP.
I still don't get why the world keeps changing colors like that. Is this is the Archfiend's doing?
: Oh, dear.Music: Underground dungeon
And here's our introductory dungeon. We can already see it's keeping to how DW2 did things, with its maps built out of 2x2 square blocks, but there's a bit of perspective in the tileset's shading that give it a lot more depth than there used to be.
We get ambushed by these Rabbits, but unlike in the previous game, enemy ambushes don't always give a free turn to all enemies, and only two of the three here get surprise shots on us.
There's not much to say about Horned Rabbits, other than they're slightly stronger than Black Ravens.
This gets Rebeca to level 3, for 1 Str, 1 Agi, 1 Vit, 1 Luc, 3 Int, 2 HP, and 4 MP. The next fight against another trio of Rabbits gets Alvaro to follow, for 2 Str, 4 Agi, 1 Vit and 1 Luc.
Okay, let's try the eastern tunnel.
Ah, our first treasure chest. I wonder if they'll be any good this time around.
Eh, could be worse.
Oooh, a single tile corridor! Maybe it's not staying so close to how DW2 did things after all!
Looks like Rebeca gets her Wayfarer's Clothes sooner than I thought! Man I'm glad we didn't grind for it. Her defense goes from 7 to 11. It's not as big a deal a defense increase would be for Isabel, since the character in the fourth position gets targeted literally 1% of the time, but every bit helps.
Giant Anteaters are, you guessed it, a bit tougher than Horned Hares. They're hardy enough that we can't one-shot them without Blaze, and Rebeca's running low on MP, so we turn around and retrace our steps out the exit without incident.
Zofia finally reaches level 3 on the way back, for 1 Agi, 3 Vit, 1 Luc, 1 Int, 8 HP (nice!), 1 MP, and her first spell: Blaze. If she had Heal available, we wouldn't have much use for her Blaze, but since right now it's all she has to spend MP on, it'll certainly help us delve deeper next time.
Is it just me or did the colors change again?
: W-what the... what!?
: Baramos must already be attacking the castle!
: Hurry up, everyone! Don't let demons take over Aliahan the way they took over Moonbrooke!
: It must be nice to always have the luxury to go to sleep before sunset and wake up after sunrise.
: That's night-time, my love. Nothing more natural.
: Oh! This is what night is! I read the stories, but I've never seen it with my own eyes!
: How eerie.
: Well I don't like this one bit.
: Haven't you ever noticed the sun moving around in the sky at least?
Yeah, but I guess I always figured it was going in circles. I mean, I always had more important things to do than care about where the sun was.
So, yeah, Dragon Warrior 3 has a day/night cycle! In 1988! How about that? It's not even just a hard transition. When we wake after resting, the time of day resets to morning. After a set distance traveled on the overworld map, the colors brighten for noon, then return to normal for the afternoon, then grow dark for night. Our interface even turns a nice shade of blue to reinforce the atmosphere.
This isn't just cosmetic, either. All random encounter rates increase slightly at night for all types of terrain, and some enemies appear only during the day or night. And there's something else as well.
Towns are also very different at night! Businesses tend to close (except for inns), and NPCs are in different locations, with different things to say. Let's explore Aliahan again and see if we can get new information.
: Oof, your mom looks pissed.
: She's just worried. I don't usually stay out this late.
: We should head in, then.
: Yeah, but... Let's check out the rest of the town for now. She's going to need to get used to me not coming home in the evening at all.
: First her husband, then her daughter...
: Forgive me. I'm sure what you do needs doing.
Luisa's Place is even emptier than usual, but both the Vault and the party management services are still available.
The NPCs who hung around Luisa's have their own rooms at the inn!
: Yeah. Only every day for the past week. Lay off the sauce, will you?
I can't overemphasize how mind-blowing this was back in the day, and dang, even now there are so many games out there that don't even try to do this.
The castle is completely closed. It's probably to save on memory and avoid having to write new dialog for all NPCs again, but it does make sense that they don't let people in at night, so I can't be too disappointed.
The House of Healing is open, but the attendant definitely is a little annoyed with us at this hour.
: And to think Luisa kept trying to get me to bring you along.
This is in case some players don't understand why they can't shop at night, I suppose.
We couldn't get into this building during the day, since the owner stood in the entrance.
: Oh, uh, just dropping by I suppose. Never mind!
: ...yeah. I'm going.
Aliahan doesn't have much in the way of new stuff at night, but dang, it's still a neat and flavorful introduction to the concept.
: Time to face the music.
: I'm glad I made it back too, mom.
: We're taking excellent care of your daughter, madam. Please don't worry too much.
The next day, we sell Rebeca's old Clothes, leaving us with 23 gold short of a Copper Sword for Isabel, so we go pick fights with Ravens and Slimes outside. It earns Isabel and Rebeca level 4. Isabel gets 1 Str, 1 Agi, 1 Vit, 1 Luc, 2 Int, 4 HP, and 3 MP; Rebeca gets 1 AStr, 1 Agi, 1 Vit, 2 Luc, 3 Int, 1 HP, 5 MP, and her first support spell: Upper.
Upper is a single-target defense power buff, costing 3 MP. It's percentage-based so it won't turn your squishies into tanks, but it makes a hardy ally even tougher.
We buy Isabel her Copper Sword, increasing her attack power from 16 to 21, which is exactly the same as Zofia's and one more than Alvaro's. Just like that, our Pilgrim is tied for best physical attacker in the party.
Alvaro can equip Isabel's old Club, but it decreases his attack from 20 to 17, so let's not do that. And Rebeca can't use it at all. We could sell it, but I leave it at the Vault instead for Reasons.
Alright, we're ready for our next attempt at the Cave. Alvaro reaches level 4 on the way, for 1 Str, 2 Agi, 4 Vit, 1 Luc, 1 Int, and a delightful 9 HP.
After several fights with a ton of Ravens and Rabbits, Zofia gets to level 4, for 3 Str, 2 Agi, 2 Vit, 1 Int, 5 HP, 3 MP, a new spell: Heal. Her Max MP is only 11 right now, so it's definitely good to have Isabel for a main healer.
Just like in DW2 again, enemies have specific items they can drop at the end of combat. Here we see that Horned Rabbits can drop Medical Herbs, which are definitely welcome.
The same fight sees Isabel reach level 5, for 2 Str, 1 Agi, 2 Vit, 3 Luc, 1 Int, 6 HP, and 2 MP. Not bad!
Yeah, that's more like the chests we're used to.
: This must be the basement to the Tower of Najima.
: So we're under the bay, then. What a marvel of engineering!
: I don't know why they couldn't just build a bridge.
: I don't... I don't do well with water. Let us not tarry.
Masked Moths are slightly weaker than Horned Rabbits and Giant Anteaters, but they'll occasionally cast Surround. Surround is pretty straightforward: if you're afflicted with it, any standard attack that would hit has a 5 in 8 chance to miss. The spell effect no longer references a weird "Phantom Force"; its targets are "surrounded by mirages" instead. Having two party members with Blaze would allow us to bypass that in an emergency, of course.
That fight gets Rebeca to level 5, for 1 Agi, 3 Vit, 3 Luc, 1 Int, 6 HP, and a new spell: IceBolt. It costs 3 MP, and hits one enemy for 25 to 34 points of ice elemental damage. It's a lot more efficient than Blaze per MP spent and it'll easily one-shot anything we've seen so far.
Isabel and Rebeca still have 11 MP, so I'm not necessarily in a hurry to leave, but I'm starting to worry a little. Let's try the north path from here.
Froggores are a bit stronger than Giant Anteaters, but are otherwise unremarkable. All these incrementally more difficult jabronis make the difficulty curve really smooth, though.
: It's not as fun as setting things on fire, but I gotta say stabbing things with icicles is pretty-
: I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that.
Another set of Froggores drop a Medical Herb. That's reassuring!
Dang but this place is getting pretty large.
A fight against three Froggores and a Horned Rabbit gets Alvaro to level 5, for 2 Str, 2 Agi, 4 Vit, 1 Luc, 1 Int, and 6 HP.
The Herbs we've picked up can take care of our healing, but Rebeca's running out of juice. Let's get that chest and then go home.
Every bit helps, but hopefully we won't have to spend it on resurrection. Time to bail!
: Hmm. Let's try these stairs. If they lead to the ground floor of the Tower, I have an idea.Music: Tower dungeon
: Alright, we're in business!
: Weren't we calling it quits for today?
: Yeah, but just follow me.
: We don't need to walk all the way back. Now that we're outside, we can just use these Wings I bought.
: Hey, if it's that easy, I got some juice left. Can we kill a few more things before we go?
: Yeah, sure.
: What a bloodthirsty lass.
: These are bloodthirsty times, Isabel.
: True enough.
We might as well start checking the place out while we're still here.
: Is that... a dining table?
: Could this be where the old man lives?
: Hmm, I guess so. I figured he'd be on the top floor, but I can't say for sure.
: Um... Hello?
: I can't imagine you get a lot of business down here, my good fellow.
That's 2 per person, same as in Aliahan.
: Well, that's unusually convenient.
: Wait, are you all just going to trust this guy?
: I'll keep watch if it puts your mind at ease, miss Rebeca.
: Eugh, fine.
: Enjoy thy stay here!
: Huh. Thanks.
Aaaaand we awaken well-rested and ready to continue our journey. I was beginning to think this whole dungeon was a bit of a hurdle for a new player, but this inn is placed exactly where we needed it, and that's brilliant. Alright then, stay tuned next time for the Tower of Najima proper!