Saturday, 16 September 2017

Lure of the Temptress: Save the Girl . . . BE the Girl!

by Alex

Since gender-bending is all the rage these days (though David Bowie was doing it forty years ago), have I got the post for you.

But first, let’s take stock of where Diermot is in his quest to rid Turnvale of the wicked sorceress Selena:
  • Captured while on mission with the king 
  • Escaped from prison
  • Discovered rebellion lead by Luthern the blacksmith 
  • Learned that the Goewin, the apothecary, had been kidnapped 
  • Found Grub, fellow leader of the resistance 
  • Learned that the magician Taidgh had been arrested, but that something in his house may help 

So essentially the first main quest of the game (that is, after escaping from the dungeons), is to rescue Goewin, whom we learned is being held at the Town Hall.

Which is guarded by a Skorl I cannot get past.

There were some other quests in between the points listed above, but the point is—and this is why I’m reiterating them—I actually find myself enjoying Lure of the Temptress’ approach to puzzles. My earlier complaints notwithstanding (and it looks like I’m not the only one experiencing pathfinding issues, though this seems to be more of an issue related to the ScummVM emulator), now that I have more time with the game under my belt, understand the interface and what the developers were trying to do . . . I kind of like it. Commenter Ruy San, who also enjoyed it, described the game as “a nice middlepoint between Sierra and Lucasarts,” and I have to say his assessment is spot on . . . and seems to be intentional on the part of the developers.

But back to the pathfinding . . . look at this screenshot! It’s insane.

Okay, enough background. Here’s how I managed to rescue Goewin from the clutches of Selena. But let me tell you, there was much flailing around at first before the pieces fell into place.

Like I mentioned at the end of the last post, I went around asking everyone about Taidgh. No one had any useful information, and although Grub had given Diermot a lockpick, he apparently had no skills. So in addition to talking to everyone, I tried using every inventory object on every character. The only thing that worked is that Luthern drank the potent liquor in Diermot’s flask that Nellie had given him in thanks for returning her jewel, which was actually made out of paste.

Yeah . . . I just typed that sentence. You have to love adventure games.

Dang, Luthern! You need to get out more!

So now Diermot has an empty flask. I find I can fill it with water from the well at the castle wall, but something bugs me about this. I reload just in case I dead-ended myself. Maybe I need to give the liquor to Luthern later . . . or maybe I need to use it for something else. Still, an empty flask would be helpful, seeing as how the bottle Diermot had shattered in his escape from the dungeons.

Maybe I’m overthinking this. Adventure games will do that to you.

Among other things, I did manage to sneak into the monastery or whatever it is on Blackfriars’ Row by hanging out near the door until one of the monks opened it up. I was . . . underwhelmed.

Every once in a while a monk comes in and tells you that Diermot is interrupting his meditation and that he doesn’t belong there. The only thing I can interact with is the book and, well . . .

I have to say, that’s a pretty funny little gag.

Interesting, but I’m no closer to getting into Taidgh’s house.

So I think back to the manual which was, remember, written by Ratpouch. Something in there tickles my memory . . . in explaining the game’s approach to giving other characters complex commands, Ratpouch uses “giving Ratpouch the sewerage and making him drink the sewerage” as an example. A gross one, but it made me think of the sewerage coming out of the drain Diermot and Ratpouch escaped from. Maybe I need the sewerage?

Bereft of any other ideas, I head back to the drain where Diermot and Ratpouch first embarked on their journey through Turnvale, and guess who I found stuck like a dumb-dumb between screens?

That’s right! Mr. Ratpouch himself!

As an aside, what the hell is a rat pouch? A pouch made of rats? A pouch in which one carries rats? Did Ratpouch get his name by . . . gulp . . . eating rats? Like his stomach is the “rat pouch”?

I . . . need to stop thinking about this so much.

So regarding this issue, commenter Laukku mentioned that he faced a similar issue with Ratpouch getting hung up in the tavern, but that he would find me eventually. Again, this appears to be an emulator issue. BUT, as you can see from the screenshot above, finding the little guy gave me an idea: Diermot might not be handy with a lockpick, but perhaps Ratpouch is!

I “Give” Ratpouch the lockpick, which he accepts. I then “Tell” him to “go to The Market Place” and “Unlock” the “Door.”

And he does! Ratpouch actually gets there before Diermot, so the door is already unlocked, but I want to see it for myself so I reload, find Ratpouch, give him the lockpick and tell him to go to The Market Place, and wait. When I’m there, I give the command to unlock the door.

Alright! Taidgh’s home is open!

Inside is an Alchemist’s apparatus with an oil burner, as described in the diary, and a tap. I futz around with things, but . . .

Oh no . . .
Not again!

That’s right: Although adventure gamers are, to paraphrase commenter Voltgloss’ words, all about OPENING doors, not CLOSING them, the simple solution here is to, once Diermot is in the house, close the damn door! Now I can see what’s going on with the apparatus.

I light the oil burner with the tinderbox, and, although the in-game description makes no mention whatsoever of there actually BEING anything in the burner, a strange mixture starts making its way through the tubing to come out into the flask at the other end of the apparatus.

This end is where the tap is, allowing Diermot to empty the mixture—presumably the potion that let Taidgh change his shape into that of Selena as described in the diary—and save Gowein!

This is really cool puzzle design, actually, and I especially enjoy how the obvious answer—bribing the guard—isn’t what needs to be done. Let’s guzzle this potion and . . .

Oh, wait . . .

The flask is . . . full.

And Diermot can’t just . . . drink the liquor himself or, you know, dump it on the ground.

I have to go and . . . give it to Luthern so he can swig it down.

Bottoms up, Luthern.

Remember what I said about good puzzle design? I have to put an asterisk there, because this is really silly. It’s not quite approaching Sierra levels of moon logic (to be fair, that should be Roberta Williams levels of moon logic), but it’s toeing the line.

I mean, who in their right mind would think that for someone who desperately needs an empty flask to save someone from the clutches of an evil sorceress and her brutal Skorl minions, and who already has a full flask, that the only way to empty said flask would be to give it to a very thirsty (and sweaty) blacksmith.

I mean, it’s just

Anyway, off I went to feed Luthern’s alcohol habit, bring the empty flask back, get a few drops of the red potion, guzzle it down, and voila!

Diermot has a perfect disguise!

The citizens of Turnvale have some . . . interesting reactions.

But the only important thing is that Diermot can get into the Town Hall.

With just a few words to the Skorl, Goewin is free, cleared of all charges per Diermot-as-Selena’s decree.

So here’s where Lure of the Temptress drops the ball in, say, a way that a Quest for Glory game would not. I go back to Luthern, but Diermot makes no mention of the fact that he just rescued Goewin. It’s not a big deal, but it’s a bit silly.

Goewin goes back to her shop as though she hadn’t just escaped a terrible fate. And Diermot is still under the guise of Selena, so Goewin is less-than helpful.

Interestingly, Goewin’s voice makes Diermot’s enchantment shimmer. I had been wondering how to get rid of this disguise. As Diermot can’t talk to Goewin again here, I just walked off-screen and then back into the shop, and it wore off in a poof.

Diermot gets to talk to Goewin now, and falls madly, irreparably in love.

But the first quest is over! Goewin is safe! Let’s see what Luthern has for us next!

Yeah . . . Luthern’s great plans for ridding Turnvale of Selena is to strike symbolic gestures. Scrawling “Selena out!” on the Town Hall sign is what got Goewin arrested and Wulf arrested and tortured to death in the first place. It’s pretty funny, actually, that this is Luthern’s method of resistance, keeping with the game’s relatively light tone. I also like how Luthern discusses this with Diermot with a Skorl right there, as you can see in the screenshot.

Anyway, this opens a new dialogue option when Diermot talks to the various inhabitants of Turnvale: How do we get rid of Selena? And who happens to walk on by but Mallin? And he has another request of Diermot: to return a book to Morkus.

When Diermot asks why Mallin can’t bring it himself, Mallin responds, “I’m being watched! You can’t trust anyone in Turnvale.”

Sounds ominous. Morkus, if you recall, was the guy who sold Goewin out to Selena in the first place. But I don’t know if I can trust Mallin either . . . not that the book is particularly incriminating right now, written in an elegant but indecipherable language.

Anyway, this is the first step in Diermot’s second quest: get rid of Selena. We’ll see how this goes, and if Ratpouch will be of any help yet again.

Inventory: Broken glass, knife, tinderbox, flask of water, book, diary, 6 groats

Session Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours, 55 minutes


  1. Actually Ratpouch lingering in taverns seemed to be a feature - IIRC he'd chat with the bartender and/or try order a drink.

    1. Yeah . . . I thought you meant getting stuck in a way that wasn't intended, like being trapped in a wall or confined to the strange limbo I found him in in one of Turnvale's alleys.