Today is the day I gain some skills. I promise!
As I’d just collected the last ingredient that the Dryad told me to collect (fairy dust), I started this session by heading over to the healer’s cottage. I gave her the acorn, the fairy dust, the green fur, the flying water, and the flowers from Erana’s Peace (11 points), after which she informed me that the potion would take quite a while for her to make. I left her house and then immediately re-entered to find that she’d finished making it (a bit silly, but then making me wait an hour would have been pretty annoying). She gave it to me (7 points), saying: “Use it by splashing it on the victim of a magic spell. Mind you, this won’t work if the spell is caused by a magic item rather than a cast spell.” I can only imagine Elsa will be the target of this potion, as she has apparently been enchanted by Baba Yaga.
What if I step outside and then back in? Will it be ready then?
Ok, so I had my dispel potion. What should I focus my attention on next? I decided there were two things I really should do. The first was that I should go around chatting to all the important characters on the map, asking about topics that I may not have known when I first visited them. The second was that I really needed to increase my fighting skills if I was going to make it as fighter. I’d pretty much avoided battle at this stage, but from now on I was going to chase after it! You might remember that I restored my game after my first visit to Erasmus in case I did something wrong, so it made sense that I go back there now to see what I could get out of him. The gargoyle asked me slightly different questions this time around, including the “favourite colour” question that someone commented on in an earlier post. I was pretty surprised by the third and final question though, which was “what is the thieves’ guild password?” Since I literally didn’t know the answer, I typed “I don’t know”, which turned out to be the right thing to say (clearly Erasmus doesn’t want thieves entering his home). (3 points)
I spent some time checking out the items in Erasmus' house this time, including the cleverly named Rosella Stone.
Enry had suggested Erasmus liked nothing more than playing games, so the first thing I did was “ask about game”. “You must first develop more skill in the magical arts” was his answer, suggesting I’ll never be able to partake in whatever the game is, at least not with this character. I then asked Erasmus all sorts of other questions, including about his missing mirror (1 point), but eventually have had to conclude that he plays little role in the game for non-magic users (or so it seems to me). My next destination was the castle, where I intended to clean the stables once again for the increased strength and agility stats. I was shocked to find a sword wielding man in the castle grounds, practising his moves! I asked him about his sword (1 point), and he then offered to give me fighting lessons for a gold coin. Given my new goal of increasing my abilities, I quickly accepted! (3 points)
Better my skills? What are you suggesting?
Fighting against the sword master was a little tricky at first. I was required to use the exact same keys as any other battle in the game, but the shift to a side-on perspective made that less intuitive (pressing the up key to attack left just didn’t sit well with my brain). I got the hang of it fairly quickly though and while I don’t think I challenged the guy in any way, I dodged a few hits and got a few in myself before I ran out of stamina and collapsed to the ground. He concluded with a tip about how I could improve my skills before wandering off, leaving me exhausted and not certain what to do next. I decided it was time to go pay Baba Yaga a visit, stopping in to ask each character I came across on the way every question I could think of. I gained a point for asking the sheriff about the brigands, another point for asking the female centaur about her father, and then three points for asking the centaur father about the brigand leader, but didn’t gain any really useful information from any of them. Probably the most interesting revelation was that the brigand leader is a fairly compassionate individual. (5 points)
I feel like I should know who the leader is, but I don't remember!
After these slight detours, I arrived at Baba Yaga, telling the skull that I did indeed want to enter Baba Yaga’s house again. I repeated the rhyme that Bruno had told me: “Hut of brown now sit down”, and watched as the chicken legs bent at the knee and dropped the little house to the ground (7 points). I then entered (2 points), finding Baba Yaga stooped within among her friends (a bat and a spider). She immediately cast two spells on me! The first one was “Powers of Night, Shadows of Day, Heed now my Words, Henceforth you STAY!”, which froze me to the spot. The second one was “Hear me, oh Powers Of Klatha and Mana! Turn now my guest into species called Rana!”, which turned me into a frog! Baba Yaga then dangled me over a boiling pot while taunting me, before finally realising she might actually have a use for me.
You do like visitors don't you!?
She asked me whether I am brave, to which I naturally answered “yes”, and then gave me the task of collecting the root of a mandrake plant that grows in the graveyard. I’d tried collecting the root previously, only to be told that I was doing it wrong. So what was the trick? “Hear what I say and hear me right. Mandrake must be pulled at precisely midnight!” Aha!!! So that’s how you do it! Baba Yaga finally demanded that I return with the root before the break of the next day, and then teleported me back outside her house (firstly as a frog before turning me back into my normal form). Obviously the next thing to do would be to get that root from the graveyard, but I had a bit of time to kill before midnight. I decided to try and increase some stats, starting with my throwing skill.
I don't exactly have a watch you know. How am I supposed to know when it's precisely midnight?
I spent probably fifteen to twenty minutes throwing my dagger at the target on the Spielburg wall, then fetching it and doing it again. My throwing stat increased throughout, and I only paused to rest (to regain stamina) and check the time (to make sure I didn’t miss midnight). As soon as it arrived, I made my way quickly to the graveyard and pulled the mandrake root out of the ground (6 points). This time I wasn’t told that I was doing it wrong, and instead heard a “scream like that of a dying child” as I yanked it out. Since Baba Yaga had told me to bring the root to her before morning, I thought I better head straight back to her hut. On the way, I was attacked by a Mantray (which is pretty much a Manta Ray that can fly), and I decided to fight it instead of running.
Screams of dying children are always a good sign that you're doing the right thing.
Thankfully I’d saved my game just before the fight, as the Mantray crushed me. It was at this point that I realised once and for all that the game was simply running too fast. Corey suggested in one of his comments that the game may possibly be running too fast to fight properly on modern PCs, and I really do think that’s the case. As soon as I slowed the game down just a little bit, I was able to dodge attacks and pick the right time to thrust my sword into the enemy. It wasn’t guesswork anymore, and I was able to dispatch of the Mantray (2 points) while losing under half of my health points. Finally I gained some dodge skill points along with weapon use, and I was now feeling much more confident taking on monsters.
Is that all you've got!? What? I cheated!? Hell, things were running just as slow for you as they were for me!
I faced no further monster attacks on my way back to Baba Yaga’s house, where I entered with the root in hand. Once again she froze me where I stood and turned me into a frog, only to realise she would have to turn me back into a human so that I could give her the root (3 points). It turned out that the witch only wanted the mandrake root to make mandrake mousse, and the only reward I was given for helping her out was being allowed to walk away alive. I’d been hoping that this scene would somehow open up another part of the game for me, or at least give me a hint as to what to do next, but it didn’t. I stood outside Baba Yaga’s hut, wondering what I should do next. I looked at my map, and wondered if I would have any more luck fighting the ogre with the game speed slowed down a bit.
There's a pretty big hint there for those that pay attention.
I stopped in at Erana’s Peace to eat some fruit and sleep until morning, then saved my game and prepared for battle. I really didn’t think I was going to be able to beat the ogre, but I hoped I could at least get a few shots in and figure out how much more training I needed. Surprisingly, while I did die on my first attempt, I got pretty close to taking him down, giving me the confidence to restore and try again. Lo and behold, I defeated him on my second attempt, successfully dodging three quarters of his attacks while getting plenty of my own in. The big pink guy crashed to the ground and lay dead! (2 points) Now I could finally find out what was in his cave, but before that I searched his body. I’d read in the manual that all ogres have a treasure chest, but I didn’t expect to find one on him. I forced open the lock and found 1 gold and 43 silver within, which I eagerly collected.
No wonder he lost. How can you possibly fight while carrying a treasure chest!?
I walked towards the cave, having absolutely no idea what was in there. As soon as I entered though, it all came flooding back to me! There was a large bear in the shadows, and I had a flashback of this bear transforming into a human. Was this where I was supposed to use the dispel potion? Was the bear Elsa? These thoughts were all set aside when I was not able to use the dispel potion on the bear, so I was going to have to think about things a different way. If I got close to the bear, it would rise up onto its hind legs as though preparing for attack. I highly doubted that fighting it would end in my favour, nor did my instincts tell me that fighting a bear that was chained up was the way forward. I noticed that the game was making a real point of telling me how hungry the bear was, so I typed “give bear food” and it worked. (5 points) The bear took on a much friendlier attitude towards me, and I was now able to walk straight past it. (2 points)
That makes two of us!
The next screen was even more familiar to me, and I can only assume I spent quite a bit of time staring at it as a kid, wondering what to do. There was a kobold sitting rather meditatively facing away from me with a large brass key around his neck, and there were three items sitting on a table in front of him. If I made any move towards him, the kobold would become aggressive and start sending magic balls of light in my direction. A few hits and I was toast, but any attempts to get within fighting range would cause the kobold to teleport itself to the other side of the room. I wasn’t going to be able to beat this creature with my sword, so I was going to have to find another way. I threw my dagger at it, which made contact but didn’t kill it, and the kobold then teleported. I then threw a rock at it, which also made contact, before the kobold teleported again. This process was incredibly familiar to me, and I realised it was the way that I’d defeated the kobold in my youth.
We meet again Kobold after 20 years...
Unfortunately, despite being certain throwing things at the kobold was the solution, I quickly ran out of rocks. There were none to pick up in the cave, so I was forced to restore back outside the cave after just having defeated the ogre. I figured I should go in with 50 rocks to make sure I had enough, but unfortunately I was only able to pick up around 30 before I was over-burdened and unable to move. I began dropping unneeded items, including the 10 apples I had and two empty flasks, but it wasn’t enough. In the end I was forced to drop my shield, but I only went through with the plan once I satisfied myself that I’d be able to come back and pick it up later (there is no visual representation of anything that you drop). In the end I had 49 rocks and one dagger to throw at the kobold when I entered its cavern. I hit it with all 49 rocks, but it still wasn’t dead, so I was really holding my breath when I threw my lone dagger at him. Miraculously, the dagger finished him off (10 points), and I was able to collect the key.
...and you still are completely unable to dodge rocks.
I figured the key was likely to release the bear from captivity, but I thought I should thoroughly explore the kobold’s cave before I left. The items on the table ended up being some sort of mushrooms, and I received no points for picking them up. More interestingly though, as I walked around the bottom of the screen checking to make sure there were no other exits to the room, I bumped into a hidden chest (7 points)! The key didn’t fit the lock, so I used my strength to break it open. The chest was booby trapped and pretty much exploded when I attempted to open it. Thankfully it wasn’t enough to kill me (I hadn’t saved my game since beating the kobold!), and I was able to pick up the coins that had showered the ground around me. In total I found 10 gold and sixty silver coins (5 points)! Not enough to go purchase that much wanted armor, but it was still a significant amount.
Oh my god! My eyes! Damn it that really hurt! Ooooohhhhh!!!!! Gold!!!!!!
Happy that I’d done everything there was to do in the cave, I left the room and released the bear using the key (25 points). Just as those earlier flashbacks had suggested, the bear transformed before my very eyes into a man! It was the missing Baronet! Strangely, the guy started talking to me in a very disconcerting way. “You have the honor of meeting the Baronet Barnard von Spielburg. We are pleased that you broke our enchantment. Perhaps our father the Baron will reward you should you ever visit our castle.” Hmmm...I had to wonder whether the Baronet was completely insane, talking about himself as though he were more than one being, but he disappeared before I could question him further. I guess it’s time to go visit the castle to get my reward, but you’ll have to wait until my next post to see how that pans out. I’m keen to find out myself!
So were the huge claw marks that were found on the Baronet's horse from the ogre or the kobold? Or something else?
Session Time: 3 hours 00 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 00 minutes
Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've written a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!