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Thread: Romancing the SaGa (3)

  1. #1

    Default Romancing the SaGa (3)

    Aaaayyyyy, it's the time of year again and the itch to replay Romancing SaGa 3 overtook me, so I decided to pick this LP back up and complete it alongside my current run of the game. The intention of the original LP was an interactive experience with forum goers directing where our party went and who comprised it, but that fell through completely, so this time I'm just doing a casual playthrough at my own pace without, which will generally include all of the quests and most unique equipment that doesn't require a ton of investment to acquire (seriously, you have NO idea what hunting for all the rare drops is like in this game if you haven't tried it). I also made a few informational errors in the previous LP that I will be correcting here, but I am going to drop the index I was working on before in favor of simply tagging important concepts in the LP itself.

    That said, for players that are unfamiliar with the title, Romancing SaGa 3 is the sixth game in Squaresoft's SaGa series and has a large focus on quest based game progression rather than story and event driven progression like the company's more famous Final Fantasy series. It also eschews the traditional leveling systems found in many RPGs of the time, instead basing character growths on the actions they perform in combat, ala Final Fantasy 2 with a whole hell of a lot more refinement. What makes the title extremely interesting is the wide range of characters and the absolute freedom the player has in selecting what they want to do in when, with only a handful of quests being locked behind checkpoints, and this makes the game far less about hopping from boss to boss and more about prioritization -- who do I want, what gear do I want, what's the fastest way to get here, can I make this build work, ect. It contributes a wonderful amount of replay value to the right type of player, and if you are the kind of person who liked the second half of Final Fantasy 6 more than the first I highly recommend this title to you, it is well worth the time.

    Now then, with that little bit out of the way let's move on to the first choice the game gives us: main character selection! Relatively unique to the series, when you start a new game you are offered eight main characters to pick from, each with their own little perks and penalties, and I'll give a quick rundown here of each and what I think of them overall.

    Sara Carson:

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    Sara is, insofar as it matters, the true main character of the game, though I won't go into any storyline spoilers here as to why that is. That said, she is also the character I LEAST recommend new players selecting, as she and a semi-unique character she can recruit cannot be used for a certain end game story battle, which means another party member has to be trained up to replace her. Do be aware this isn't a problem for familiar or forewarned, as you now are, players, and, storyline fittingly, she is the best character for a !Commander Mode! Commander Mode is an alternate combat style available to the player once they have six party members; by opening the formation menu and placing your main character in the inactive party slot you will enter Commander Mode, losing direct control over your characters and gaining the ability to issue large scale orders instead. Additionally, formations will gain additional properties, characters will recover HP each turn automatically, and multi-techs become available. playthrough, if that is your fancy. She can also always recruit Zo, who otherwise becomes locked once the fourth Abyss Gate is closed.

    If she isn't selected as the main character she loses the ability to recruit Shonen, comes with the Hunter Shift formation to boost bow damage, specializes in bows, and can be recruited at any time past the introduction in Pidona in Thomas' house. She will leave the party as part of a storyline event however, so only use her to train up bow skills for a planned replacement, as a stopgap until you recruit another permanent party member, or to recruit Zo in Rashkuta.

    Leader Rating: 2/5 (5/5 for a Commander game)
    Recruit Rating: 2/5


    Ellen Carson:

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    Sara's rugged older sister, Ellen is the most vanilla leader in the game, with no special events or characters tied to her. This also makes her the least hindered of the main characters, and she is my general preference for main character due to this and her general design -- I dig the ponytailed tomboy look. Also turns out she is a complete offensive monster and makes a fantastic Monk with the Fighter / Kung-Fu combination, which is my general build with her, though Hunter / Kung-Fu deserves special mention for making her crazy fast without lowering her damage. She and Sara also share a supposed special interaction with the Rapier specialty that makes them good at learning any weapon tech, though it isn't something I've ever bothered with testing.

    As a recruitable character the game drops Ellen in northwestern part of Lance and focuses her on axes/maces, though Nora is generally better at these tasks. She has no special perks other than her general reliability -- grab her if you like her, but otherwise she isn't going to offer anything amazing to your group.

    Leader Rating: 3/5
    Recruit Rating: 3/5

    Monica Ausbach:

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    Monica is kind of an interesting main character for three reasons: first, she is the character that kicks the entire game off; second, she and Julian are the only ones that see the resolution to the Godwin coup; and, lastly, she, for whatever silly reasons, can have the highest constitution value of the main characters in the game at 23 with the Fighter / Kung-Fu combination, making her potentially the sturdiest member of the cast. I have no idea why this is, but take this knowledge and do whatever terrible things you will with it, because I made her a support mage tank with a Spike Shield to bash people last time for pure lolz and it was . . . well, certainly a thing. Those points aside, Monica is a fine main character, being able to recruit Julian before most other people, having a low !Greed Value! the Greed Counter is used exclusively to determine access to Ward's Ice Lake quest and its value increments based on certain 'greedy' actions the player can participate in, such as demanding money to help Vanguard's mayor or accepting bribes from thieves for early money, and has the easiest time obtaining a !Magic Crown! Crowns are the reward for specializing in either physical or magical techs and reduce the TP/JP cost of all corresponding skills by 1. The formula for obtaining a crown is TP/JP => 45 + (JP/TPx10) out of the main cast, making her one of the two best options for a mage character. Her downsides are that she can lose access to certain locations early in the game for storyline reasons and is unable to participate in the tournament in Zweig, meaning she is out a chunk of cash, unable to recruit Leonid, or obtain the Holy Grail, though none of these are particularly large issues, as someone decided to balance the Grail between RS1 and 3.

    On the recruitable character front, Monica is . . . unexceptional, outside of the crown thing, for a great number of reasons. First, she is one of three most difficult to recruit characters, being in Loanne castle which can only be accessed for a limited amount of time by most people; second, she cannot be in a party with Mikhail in it, meaning she has limiting party requirements; third, she doesn't unlock any unique formations, characters, or locations; and, fourth, she has a fairly unexceptional stat spread. Pick her up if you want another mage, but I wouldn't bother prioritizing her outside of that unless you like her design or want more female party members. Amusingly, I'm fairly certain she can participate in the Zweig Tournament as a recruit, though I haven't tested this yet.

    Leader Rating: 4/5
    Recruit Rating: 2/5

    Katrina Lauren:

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    Be still, my beating heart. While Harid and Ellen end up being the most reliable damage dealers in the main cast when recruited, neither is especially geared toward two handed sword usage, making it a powerful class of weapons only slow characters are especially good with -- Katrina breaks this mold, being exceptionally fast with great physical stats all around, making her the best character in the game for this role in her recommended Merchant / Two-handed Sword configuration. In fact, she is generally an exceptional character for ANY physical loadouts, just watch out her for her extremely low intelligence value if you actually want to damage things with magic. Regarding unique elements, Katrina is the single most exclusive character in the game, only playable during her scenario and for a small section of Mikhail and Harid's introduction, and she loses access to Loanne immediately after her introduction and is free to explore the world with no other restrictions. She also gets an outfit change.

    As a recruit, well, she has some okay-ish stuff for Harid or Mikhail to steal from her during their introductions, by that's about it -- no one else can get her in their party.

    Leader Rating: 5/5
    Recruit Rating: N/A

    Julian Naul:

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    Soooooooooooo, Julian is probably my least used main character in the game, just due to my dislike of his visual design -- the green and orange color pairing does absolutely nothing for me. He isn't bad though, and as a main character he makes a great swordsman and his high Will makes him more resistant to status ailments than the other cast members. It also makes him the best status inducing mage in the party if one goes that route, though the value of that particular setup is a bit dubious due to generally limited skill availability. Nasty Sewn Bind on this man, though. Beyond that, Julian has a special extended introduction he shares with Monica and is able to recruit her earlier than everyone else -- he is also able to permanently lose her via in game choices, so if you are playing as Julian make sure you talk to Monica instead of / before Mikhail whenever possible if you want to keep her around. For his specific downsides, he loses access to Loanne like Monica and Katrina after a certain point in his story if you take logical choices, but you'll regain access to the location once the first Abyss Gate is closed, so that's nothing too big.

    As a recruitable character, he's a decent enough sword user and would be fully usable if he wasn't inside of Loanne castle like Monica and Mikhail and thus unrecruitable until relatively late in the game, at which point you've probably already assembled your party -- not that swapping in / out character is all the big a deal. He's a solid pickup for both Monica and Mikhail though, and generally the first character you'll want to pick up due to his reliability as either of them.

    Leader Rating: 3/5
    Recruit Rating: 3/5

    Thomas Bent:

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    Thomas is the, hands-down full-stop, most powerful mage in the enite game, with an absolutely monstrous 27 intelligence with the Scholar / None setup, with his only real downside being his low speed and difficulty obtaining a JP crown, neither of which are especially crippling weaknesses. He's also got unique access to some backstory regarding Muse and Sharl in Pidona which no one else can see or learn about, which is kind of nifty, if unimportant. He can also score a fairly easy 30,000 monies via his trading game, which he conveniently doesn't need to recruit Thomas to participate in.

    As a recruitable character, Thomas is available to everyone in Pidona once the introductory chapter is done, though he does have to be followed through the town to Muse's house to actually recruit him the first time, which isn't at all hard. He starts the game with water magic and is pushed towards either bows or spears with his starting gear, though, as with everyone else, you really can make him use whatever you like. He should also come with the Hunter Shift formation to boost bow damage and is required to start the Merchant minigame, which is fairly simple and nets the player a bunch of money and should be picked up for at least that.

    Leader Rating: 4/5
    Recruit Rating: 4/5

    Harid el Noon:

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    Unless you have a specific playthrough idea in mind, be it a Commander game or wanting a super mage or silly tank Monica or whatever else, Harid is tied with Katrina for what I consider the 'best' lead character, as he has great stats and a fantastic bonus dungeon and unique weapon, not to mention being the only character able to fight the final Dragon Ruler, on the offhand chance you are the kind of person that matters to. He also starts the game fairly tanky, a trait he really only shares with Mikhail, and he's the reason literally every other main character starts with the fantastic Desert Lance formation. He does have some downsides, though most are minor. First, he is one of the two characters forced into War Battles during the introduction, which can be quite annoying; second, he has the highest greed counter in the game, meaning you need to either beeline Wood's quest or be an upstanding citizen and forego big early money; third, he, for fully understandable storyline purposes, refuses to wear the robes of the Divine Church and thus must pay 10k to enter the Divine Tower; fourth, his first weapon slot is locked, again for story purposes, exclusively to scimitars; and, last, he cannot head to Pidona immediately after completing the introduction and travels to Zweig instead, which is so incredibly minor I'm just mentioning it for completeness -- I normally take that path at the start anyway. All of these things are completely trivial and offset by his bonus dungeon, by the by.

    As a recruitable character Harid is the single most reliable swordsman in the game, generally !Glimmering! Glimmering is how characters learn new techs in the game, with different characters learning at different rates and harder opponents allowing the player to learn more complicated skills all single handed sword techs reliably and be available without prerequisite in the Holy King's Palace in Lance. He doesn't have access to the King's Capital as a recruit however, so he is slightly worse since he cannot acquire the True Kamsheen, and he still refuses to wear the Divine Church robes so you might want to drop him for that quest. He's nearly always one of my final party members in spite of those points, though.

    Leader Rating: 5/5
    Recruit Rating: 4/5

    Mikhail Ausbach:

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    Rounding out our character roster is the Marquis of Loanne, Mikhail, and he's . . . well, he's an oddball. The most important thing to note about him is that is the only character in the game that can fully complete the workshop, and he is also the single best character to use it in general, as he can both order and acquire items from it on his throne, receiving double the normal quantity when he does. He also has a unique ruling minigame where he manages Loanne and participates in various wars to protect it, AND he starts with a fully stocked armory he can pull decent starting equipment from for his party. His major downsides? He is the only character that can drop the game into an unwinnable state, though this is fairly difficult to do and super easy to avoid, and he cannot use the bank to store money over 10k, as everything beyond that is automatically sent to the Loanne treasury for use in the ruling minigame. In particular this can make acquiring high level sun and moon magic a pain, as the top spells both cost 9999 gold.

    As a recruitable character, he's pretty solid, if only for his Heal Rod and good Lord armor, and both Harid and Katrina benefit greatly from stealing from him during their introductions. The only real problem with using him is that, like Julian and Monica, he is inside of Loanne castle and thus most characters need to clear an abyss gate to access him.

    Leader Rating: 4/5
    Recruit Rating: 3/5




    After selecting and naming your character you get to assign a profession and weapon specialty to them, which will augment their base stats and Learning Type, the latter of which determines what weapon skills characters are good at learning. Heads up if you swap from the default setup though, there is a glitch that requires you to save and reload your game before what you pick takes effect, so just do so as soon as you can.


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    For this run I'm taking Ellen down the Fighter/Kung-Fu path, so she'll be fast with decent strength and passable toughness, but if you are looking to use certain weapon know that Axes scale with pure strength, Martial Arts use strength AND speed, Epees and Bows pure Dex, and everything else uses strength for damage and dex for accuracy. Anyway, with that out of the it is time to move onto the game and into the introduction! ^_^ /
    Last edited by Rez09; 03-11-2019 at 04:28 PM.

  2. #2

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    Part 1 - The Introduction

    Rather than screencap the whole pregame intro, I'll just include a link to this here video someone was kind enough to upload to the utubz. :3 This sets the backdrop for the game, so it might be worth a watch.



    Following that we enter into the character creation detailed above, and start our quest, which, as with all great things, begins on a dark and stormy night~~

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    What's this? It's Monica, who we know from character creation, making her escape through the woods! :o And she is running from something? Or to it? Such mystery. Unfortunately for her however, her horse gives out in the woods just as a thunderstorm rolls in, and she is forced to travel on foot. The screen then pans over to give us this shot of a village in the background through the trees, which actually looks really nice with the parallax scrolling, though sadly the effect is a bit lost with static images. (And I ain't heartless enough to subject you all to terrible gifs. Yet. >: 3)

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    We then cut over to the village itself and get to meet our main cast as they wrap up their patrol in the town pub, which is, of course, the only thing more traditional to a good story than a dark and stormy night. :3 We also get to see Julian crash and burn as he attempts to make a pass at Ellen, which I will forever include in every screencap of this scene, for he shall never live it down!

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    Ahhh, saved for posterity. We also pick up a little bit of world development here, though it is pretty easy to miss for various reasons, most notably the goblin problem the village has actually plays into a later scene we will, quite unfortunately, be missing in this playthrough as it is dealt with by other characters. We also get a bit of a look into Ellen's personality here, as she seems pretty confident and up front about things, which I like. There are very, VERY few character moments in the game, as that was never the title's focus, but that doesn't mean the devs didn't at least try to communicate character personalities to the player in small ways, and I appreciate that. Anywho, not long after this . . .

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    Monica arrives! She made it through the woods and she didn't even get kidnapped! :O Of course, no one here knows who she is, they just see a drenched woman desperately asking for a horse, and Julian rushes over to her side, the barkeep revealing that he does indeed have a spare horse, buuuut . . .

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    This is when the quiet man at the bar, who you might recognize as Harrid from character creation, chimes in on events and reveals Monica's identity to everyone, then questions whether the pioneers really want to help this woman or not; the barkeep also points out that the trip might be dangerous. Not that Ellen is having any of that, and she even tosses out a taunt at the man when he scoffs at her.

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    Balls of brass, sir, polished to the nth degree.

    Fortunately for us, he is completely unaffected by the insult and decides to explain exactly what he means. See, normally, helping a princess would be an ideal situation for commoners like us, but it turns out there is a power struggle for Loanne's crown at the moment, and if the princess is out here in this backwater town in the middle of a storm like this, then, well . . . things must not be going well for her side and a rebellion has likely started, and it might be less than wise to involve ourselves in this struggle. After all, no one really wants to be on the losing side of a crown war, especially not people with no political protection. Or those with certain . . . financial concerns.

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    Yeah, Harrid doesn't give a damn, as long as there is a steady paycheck involved, he'll do whatever you tell him.

    Not that any of that information dissuades Julian in the least, especially as Monica's dialogue fairly well confirms Harrid's suspicions, and Julian explains that both the Marquis and his father have been fighting to protect villages like this one, and thus he's willing to help her regardless of the risks.

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    Such a noble lime-headed young man.

    Of course, running into a conflict like this might be battrout crazy for a group of kids like us, so the innkeeper inquires into hiring Harrid, not knowing who he is and offering his horse as payment (seems poor Monica isn't getting it after all), which is accepted, and we get another bit of insight into Ellen's personality here as she tries to stop her sister from joining the party, being worried about Sara as she is on the frailer side. Ultimately Thomas steps in announces that all 4 of them will be joining Monica and Harrid, which Ellen isn't too happy about this and steps forward to object, but the party is decided and good ol' Harry swears to complete the job on his sword.

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    An interesting cultural practice, and one that catches the barkeep's attention, as he now identifies Harrid as the 'Tornado', which I half think is supposed to be Sandstorm, a man well known for his looks and goodness at battles. ( ) Harrid then confirms his identity, and we are effectively informed of his badassitude, which, to the credit of the game, honestly isn't overstated; the rest of the party then introduce themselves, though oddly Sara and Ellen don't give their last name. Hrmmmm. Monica wants to rush forward, but Harrid tell her to rest her anxious butt for a bit so she doesn't pass out on the road and drag us down. And with that we are finally onto the game proper!
    Last edited by Rez09; 04-15-2019 at 04:30 PM.

  3. #3

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    Part 2 - Tutorial Pass

    I mean, I say tutorial, but realistically all you get is Harrid telling you to . . . well, I'll let the man explain it himself.

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    Poetry.

    But seriously, while there are a few elements worth explaining here, this area is a quite simple and unexceptional tutorial area where the player can get used to the battle system and we are basically jumping straight to the boss after some tips and equipment shuffling. Notably I steal Harid's Hard Leather and swap it with Ellen's Leather and steal Monica's Spirit Stone, which I'm going to sell later on. I also move the Fur Vest onto Ellen and remove her axe, as we have opted her into the Monk build over the axelady one.

    We also have the option of shifting up formations in the menu here, but the game conveniently starts us out in the Desert Lance formation with Harid on point, which will easily carry us through this area and boss, and I don't particularly recommend swapping it around unless you want to try putting a martial artist on point in the hopes of learning Counter, which, even then, is a pretty sketchy plan right now for various reasons and probably not the best of options.

    ! Player Tips - Formations !

    While the game can be completed without ever touching the formation screen in the status menu, I highly advise making use of it, as proper utilization will drastically increases the effectiveness of your party and certain equipment loadouts. Notably, the Desert Lance formation Harrid starts you in here is among the best solo tank formations in the game, eclipsed only by the late game Phoenix formation, and I highly recommend making use of it when you can.

    ! Player Tips - Spellcasters !

    If you wish to play a non-hybrid spellcaster, it is important to avoid using physical attacks at all times, as these can grant WP growth and significantly delay you earning your magic crown. The snake enemies in this area have a chance to drop an early MP recovery item called Snake Scent, so it might be worth fighting a few just in the hopes of finding one.

    ! Player Tips - Harid Players !

    If you started the game as Harid you are strong enough to solo the boss and can safely remove everyone you don't intend to use later's gear and sell it; you won't be seeing them again until after the entire introductory sequence is over and they don't contribute a meaningful amount of damage during the boss fight itself.

    Following that gear swap, we run north between the trees and follow them to the east, taking a quick step down and around, then right again to this river.

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    Now instead of following this all the way up, which will trigger the fight, we are actually going to save here -- not because the boss is hard, because it certainly is not, but because this is the first place in the game where two mechanics come into play and I figure this is a good time to explain them for the curious.
    ! Player Tips - Rare Drops !

    Several enemies in the game have semi-to-extremely valuable rare drops, and it is completely up to you whether you feel it is worth grinding in an attempt to get them. I will generally be ignore them, but there are at least a few story events where it is possible to snag some of the very valuable ones and I will mention the drops beforehand, just in case you want to put in the effort to snag these drops well before they are otherwise available or required. Be warned, however, rare drops are RARE, and the Harid playthrough I was originally working on for this LP picked up over 40 hours of game time drop hunting. You never need these drops, just know that they are there and can be extremely valuable.

    In the case of this boss, it drops the 'Hair Ornament', which is a semi unique accessory that provides strong magic resistance for this point in the game, especially notable for it double defense value against the 'Status' element. Another character comes with this item, but he has a departure stipulation that can be annoying to meet for anyone other than Julian or Monica, who essentially get a copy for free.

    The drop is nice to get, but I advise against farming for it.
    ! Elements and Elemental Resistance !

    Though your characters have a generic displayed defense value, what is actually going on under the hood is much more complicated than what that value shows, and by looking at gear you can see that some gear will have symbols indicating augmentation to their defensive values.

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    For instance, we can see here that Sara's Silk Dress has a blue circle in the Mag Def field and says Cold, so this item offers additional defense against that element, doubling with circles and quadrupling with concentric circles, as I recall, except for Blunt elemental defense which I recall having a different, reduced formula because. . . I have no idea why, really, likely because all the helmets running around in the game reduce it.

    There are also red triangles and 'X's that reduce the defense against an element as well, with the triangle halving the defense value and X negating it entirely. The important thing to remember here, however, is that those symbols do NOT apply to your character as a whole, only to the defense value the piece of gear itself is contributing, so running a Troll Stone with an X in fire does not mean you have 0 magic defense against fire, just that the Stone itself will not contribute resistance against fire attacks.

    Almost all attacks in the game will use one of the 8 coded elements and almost all armor will contribute towards defending against all of them, so you can generally trust your displayed defense values, but be aware of armor penalties if you find yourself taking a lot of bonus damage and look for resists if you know you are going to be dealing with a lot of a certain element.

    The single most important magical element you can have resistance against is the 'Stat' element, because the game creates psudo extra elements like Water and Anti-Air by using this element in conjunction with flags, so it operates like a non-elemental defense that hits 'fake' elements as well.

    That out of the way, we decide to travel north a bit more when this lovely bird decides to pay us a visit by ramming right into us! :O

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    Oi, she's a lot bigger on the inside. X_X This is the Garuda Wing and I believe this is the only time we will see this enemy, so if you want the Hair Ornament drop you can choose to farm it here, but I'd recommend just letting the chips fall where they will on that -- it isn't THAT great a drop. If you are playing as Harid here and didn't remove everyone's gear for the fight I'd recommend having the back row use up the their techs, just in the hopes they'll master something for you. If you are playing as any of the settlers or Monica, I'd advise using normal attacks against the boss in the hopes of learning new techs. Either way, just have Harid spam Demi-Rune until the boss dies annnnd . . .

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    Wow. We actually got stupid lucky here, I never get this thing.
    Welp, we'll definitely be using it since we got it. We also learned a few techs during the fight, but nothing I'm super excited about or consider noteworthy, other than Deflect which is a very bad sword based counter attack that I recommend going into your skill screen and removing it whenever you learn it. There's a lengthy explanation of why, but I'll save you all of that and just say to trust me on this one.

    We also get a moment of Ellen taking note of the strength of that monster, which is pretty fair considering the strength of, you know, snakes and goblins that are normally around here.

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    She also mentions a rumor going about that the Abyss Gates have reopened with the most recent Death Eclipse. Hrrrrrmmmmmm . . . first we've heard of that, and we haven't had a new King, devil or holy, emerge yet, so this bodes a bit poorly. Then again, it's not like anyone built a castle on top of the still living body of a demonic god this time around or anything, so fate can still twist in our favor.

    Following this we march north to meet Monica's brother Mikhail in his warcamp so Monica can finally deliver her message.

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    Yep, turns out Harid was right and a rebellion has swept Loanne while Mikhail was away. That's a blow that's gotta sting.

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    Like a wet noodle.

    So, yeah, it turns out Mikhail, being the genius strategist he is, is completely unsurprised by this turn events, and you find out had even planned for it in his and Harid's introductions, but he was certainly not planning for Monica's escape from the castle to warn him. I've always been a bit curious how he planned to deal with her being a hostage when he invaded, which is never addressed, but she explains who we are and how we helped her, and he thanks us and even offers us a reward when he retakes Loanne! :0 Confident fellow, this.

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    He also points out that he can't really bring kids like us into a warzone with him, mostly for reasons of our squishy bodies and not goodness at battles, but also that he can't really drag Monica into the warzone either, and so he offers us the job of escorting Monica north to Podol until the fighting is over. Seems like a good plan to me, I mean, we basically used Harid as a crutch to get here, so it isn't like we're going to contribute much to his plan if we do go anyway. Certainly the safer option.

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    Oh. Oh, okay. Thanks, boss. I'm sure Monica will enjoy her time there.

    He then explains that he trusts the Earl and Monica agrees to the trip, though, in all honesty, she doesn't exactly have many other options. Also, Mikhail is a strategic genius, so there isn't much of a reason to disagree with his plan.

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    Thanks boss!
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    Well, whatever, we've got a job to do and a princess to protect, and, much like the previous area, Harid is strong enough to carry us through to Podol without issues, so with this cutscene done we take our leave of the ten...

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    %^%$ING THANKS, BOSS.

    *Sigh*
    Well, I think I figured out the character of his plan for dealing with his sister being a hostage. Guess we'll continue this next time.

    Last edited by Rez09; 04-18-2019 at 10:10 PM.

  4. #4

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    Part 3 - Leonid's Castle

    Of course, since he is taking Harid, Mikhail isn't totally heartless to us and actually drops us some nifty gear into backpack, which he briefly mentions before he and Harid see us off. As a nifty aside, almost everyone has a slightly different version of this scene, generally what is in the their thought bubble after the others have left, and I have to say, Ellen's is hiiiiiilarious.

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    I mean, it's better than running into a bunch of heavily armed troops, right? I mean, all we've got to look out for is a vampire. Honestly though, I can understand why Ellen isn't too enthused by this assignment, as we are effectively babysitting a . . . kind of terrible unit, but at the same time at least Monica is a pretty agreeable young woman -- a bit anime-naive, sure, but not spoiled or anything like that.

    Anywho, following this scene the game now drops us off in the second part of tutorial pass, this time without Harid and in the Free Fight formation, so we are going to take this time to quickly hit up that gear Mikhail gave us and swap back to Desert Lance before moving on, putting Ellen on point to boost her defense and damage. I give Monica and Julian shields, as they are both using 1 handed weapons, upgrade Julian's sword, give someone leather armor, and slap our nice new hair ornament onto Ellen. Beyond that there isn't much to say here, so we head east to this log bridge over to the wall and take a hidden path through the trees north -- it can be a pain to get through some times; just wiggle around and you'll get it. There'll be a couple more encounters at the top, which we murder and continue on north again.

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    This next screen is a bit more tricky with its path split; both work, but encounters are far easier to avoid on the top path this time around, unlike the previous tree path.

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    More encounters are not a problem in this game, nor are less, so it is really up to you which you prefer, though for newer players it might be better to stray on the more side. Either way, I take the frog path north through here and curve around to meet up with the forest path on the other side of the river, then proceed north to this point when I save.

    006.png

    This little red wisp is our next 'boss' and was, it appears, intended to explain another aspect of the combat system, but said explanation ISN'T ACTUALLY IMPLEMENTED anywhere, so this fight can be surprisingly dangerous sometimes if you avoid all of the encounters here, though buddy Mikhail was nice enough to provide us a plan B on the offhand chance things are going extremely poorly for our party. Anyway, enough of that, let's take a look at our next encounter: the Whirlwind!

    007.png

    So, first and foremost, this is a NORMAL enemy, it just has beefed up stats for this encounter, so don't worry when you see them in normal enemy formations quite shortly after this -- the other ones are all very weak. The idea here is to shift the elemental field away from wind, usually via Thomas' Squall spell or the Sand of Mars items Mikhail gave us, to stop its regeneration and beat it down afterwards, though, depending on what you sparked along the way, the shift might not even be necessary. It's only semi-dangerous attack is Wind Dart, which is a complete joke for us as it does barely 30 damage to Ellen due to her hair ornament, and we stomp this quite easily. Annnnnnd with that . . .

    ! Player Tips - Elemental Fields !
    Elemental spells and attacks in this game has the ability to shift the battlefield's elemental field, granting certain benefits to both your party and the enemy based on creature type, equipment, and spells. Notably, the spells Water Pole/Ball and Dancing Leaves grant regeneration and a magical shield to party members when in the appropriate field, and each of the elemental fiends regenerates a significant amount of health each turn in their own fields. This mechanic is underutilized for the most part in the game, but it is important enough to bear remembering, and can be built around for highly evasive teams.

    Welcome to Podol.

    008.png

    Podol is a sleepy little town of eternal night, but, honestly, not a lot is going on in this place and I don't spend much time here, usually only if I need it during Fullbright's sidequest a bit later, and there's no need to stop by the Inn here. A bit surprisingly, the people here are not hostile towards the Earl despite needing to offer up maidens to him from time to time, but talking to the selected woman reveals that she is . . . not at all offput by becoming a vampire and sees it as obtaining eternal beauty. Eh, if that's what she wants, right? You also find out the Earl keeps all of the vampires confined to the castle, so they aren't out terrorizing the countryside, in stark contrast to the RS1 vampire, and, indeed, I do not believe there are ANY vampire random enemies in this game. Props to him. There are also some shops in the town if you are interested in poking around, the most interesting at this point in the game probably being the magic vendor, but I just skip north towards the castle.

    009.png

    Listen to them, doggos of the night. What music they make.

    This is a short single screen area with dogs and birds, which I believe CAN be used extremely late game as an easily accessible location for drop hunting Roc Featers, so it might be worth keeping in mind if you decide to take that route. Otherwise we just need to follow the path right here, then down a slope, left, and up to the castle itself. Which, of course, has a fiant door that opens itself as we approach. Seems we are expected.

    010.png

    Well, it'd be rude NOT to go in, right? After all, what could go wrong?

    011.png

    Welp, he's into you, you done now, girl. Was nice knowing you.

    But nah, Leonid seriously a pretty chill dude, and after making their introductions Monica inquires into the Earl knowing why we are here, which he actually does!

    013.png

    It seems that long confinement in his castle as led to him developing 'ears' elsewhere, and one assumes the raven he has with him is one of many collecting news of world events for him. It even caws when he mentions rumor collecting. Hearing this and being the sweetie she is, Monica wastes no time trying to enlist the Earl's aid for her brother.

    014.png.015.png

    Though he does turn her down. He is correct, of course, but I do have to wonder as an aside what the in-universe consequences of him aiding Mikhail here would have actually been, considering Leonid's primary political adversary is one of the two major factions in the world and Loanne is affiliated with neither -- it is possible his involvement here may have been the spark needed to kick off the brewing war. Interesting thought.

    Anywho, following this he tells us to simply relax as guests in his castle and directs us to our rooms on the left. HIS left. Don't take the other left. He even sends a wisp to guide us to the proper left. Which isn't the left you are thinking of.
    ! Player Tips - Seriously. Don't take the other left !
    He isn't lying about this being a vampire's castle; the other left leads to a late mid-game dungeon you cannot complete the quest at the bottom of yet, and the best loot down there, the Dragon Scales, cannot be used until around the same time.
    Following that wisp we reach our guest rooms, which is why we skipped out on the Inn earlier, and get a humorous cutscene involving, you know, sleeping a in a vampire's castle.

    016.png018.png
    020.png.021.png

    Bwahahaha . Yeah, but no, seriously, I get'chu, ain't nobody sleeping right in this place.

    Anyway, after that we pop out to talk to Leonid again and he tells about a nearby treasure cave we can explore -- technically you can just talk to him before sleeping to skip the above scene and just unlock the cave, but I like doing it this way more. We also don't have to fully explore the cave he is sending us to, just step inside it and come back, but there is absolutely NO reason not to explore this cave, so that is where we will meet up next time!
    > _< /

    Last edited by Rez09; 04-23-2019 at 01:29 AM.

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