The Pirates' Dirty Work
Last time we left off, we re-opened the canal by beating up the bad guys who had occupied it, who seemed to be under the influence of Bokhohn, one of the Seven Heroes. And after that, 117 years passed, and we were prompted to choose a new heir to the Empire.
We're given two Court Mages and a Light Infantry as options (btw Onix's color scheme is GREAT), but we're also given the option of this guy named Crow. Clicking on him to preview, it seems his class is Vagabond, which I don't ever remember seeing before.
Thankfully, though, this Crow dude has a Speed Level of 21, which will be extremely useful. With an 18 in Dexterity as well, he should be able to do pretty good with stunning and paralyzing enemies early in a turn of battle. Which is something we desperately seem to need in this game...
And like before, our party has been reduced to just our heir since everyone is gone now, so we go mingle around the castle to pick up some more recruits to travel with Crow. First person I make sure to grab is Ox, the Heavy Infantry to replace Bison. I'm still really enjoying bows (which seems to be my favorite weapon in every SaGa game lol) so I grab a Ranger. This time I went for the male Ranger, who was named Louis, because his color scheme was too cute to pass up (pink spaulders and chestplate!). The next recruit was another obvious addition, the Court Mage, Taurus.
But before deciding on my last party member, I decided to go see about recruiting a Brawler or maybe a recolor of Cat if there is one.
The first place I headed was the Thieves' Guild hideout under Avalon, since it was easier to reach. Upon entering, I noticed there's a recolor of Crow standing in the room, so I realized that the Vagabond class must be the Guild members here. And indeed, there was a recolor of Cat behind the counter where Cat was standing before, this time with purple hair. And her name is... Beaver. Yeah.
But thinking to myself, "Hey, I can have three bow people!" I ended up deciding on her without even going to check on the Dragon Lair Brawlers. Beaver doesn't have the same big speed as Crow, but it's still 19, which isn't bad at all. She also comes pre-equipped with an item called Healing Sandals that can't be removed, similar to how the Court Mages are stuck with their Erudite Robes.
And with that, we have another party of five members! We head back into the castle to check up on everyone. Both the R&D guys want 400,000Kr to build some crap, but we're saving up our money in hopes of getting the option to build that magic laboratory.
The information peep has a LOT of crap to say. He tells us again about the mine in the southern Ludon area that may be beneficial to our revenue. Then he tells us that Cumberland lies on the other side of the Oreon Sea, followed by telling us that King Harold stated he wants to see us. I don't know if these were meant to go together, especially with the way he added "Your Majesty" to the end of the note about King Harold. And apparently even though we liberated the Victor Canal, it seems that it's still not fit for trade because of a group of "Armed Merchants" based out of Moblem.
When we talk to the soldiers practicing their formations, the leader peep has a little converstaion with Crow and then everyone gets into a new formation. Basically, it's the Free for All formation, but the emperor stands behind to be better protected. Crow names the formation Free for All 2 which is probably the most creative name I could imagine to use for it. But hooray for our first new formation!!
But what's even greater than that is that there are three peeps sitting in the benches in the corner of the practice room thing, and I almost didn't even talk to them because I figured they were just more generic NPCs added as filler to show the Empire is growing or something.
But I'm very glad I did!
These guys are called the Dojo, and they can teach our party members the skills that we glimmered in previous generations, it seems! So I guess this is kind of like the system in Romancing SaGa 3 in which once party members "master" an art, they can "teach" it to anyone else at any time.
Also similar to that game, our party members have a limited number of skills they can know at one time. But thanks to the Dojo, they can 'forget' and relearn skills whenever they want.
And that means we already have Stunner on all three of our bow peeps without having to fight a single battle!
Going back to the world map, when we go to where the canal fortress was before, we find now that it's been replaced by a small town called Miramar. This place is tiny -- there's like one house on each side of the (extremely small btw) canal waters, who are mostly just generic NPCs, with ones that let you take a little boat across the water to get back and forth.
There's also this guy that just stands in this field of crops staring at a tree and the only thing he does is say, "Just as planned," if you talk to him. That's it. Nothing else. And there's no context that makes this make any sense, either. Reminds me of the "Easy money, easy money" creepers from RSG3.
Walking out the eastern side of Miramar, the only thing on the world map is Mobelm, which is the place those Armed Merchants are supposed to be based. So I guess we'll just go there.
Mobelm is a weird place. I don't even really know where to begin with this place, so we'll just go with the shop. The weapon and armor shop are one building and the merchants of each seem to "not get along," and every time you go to buy something, you have to listen to their bickering for a bit. It's worth it, though, because Weapons Guy (that might even be his name, idk) has a Gothic Axe, which is the first Axe weapon we've been able to find in the game!
In the inn, there's an old lady standing at the desk...
But when we talk to her, she turns into a different sprite of a green-haired woman and tells us that the "wig is too much;" she apparently dresses like an old lady to keep the Merchants from bothering her.
The bar is not as weird, but there are a bunch of singing Merchants, but each one only sings one line of their song, so you have to talk to them all (counter-clockwise, I think) if you want to hear their whole diddy. It goes, "They are our mates... The wind and the sun... The storm and waves are, too! We be... We be... the Armed Merchants!" Yeah. It's gonna be a chart-topper!!
There's also a woman wandering around who says the Armed Merchants are good people "deep down inside," while a man at another table tells us they're all "from the bottom of the barrel."
The guy in the bottom-right corner actually says something somewhat useful -- apparently the Armed Merchants have a hideout in Cape Chalier, where the steep cliffs make it impossible to dock.
We find a little building on the west side of town that seems to be some kind of little meeting place for the Armed Merchant, where there's a meeting going on at the moment! There's a guy standing in front of the door who tells us we're not allowed in, but we tell him that it must be hard being the lookout and ask him to go get a drink with us. He decides he could use a break and starts to walk toward the door... and then Crow knocks him out with a single punch to the head.
I definitely was not expecting this and was a bit annoyed I didn't get the choice to do this or not (because I would not have!!) but... that's how things go. At this point, I haven't even really decided if I think the Merchants are really bad guys or not, though. They just kinda seem like pirates with weird names. But I guess pirates are "bad guys" but ... in games, pirates are often not so bad. And purple peep said that they were good people deep down!!
Either way, we start eavesdropping on the meeting, which begins with one of the Merchants asking if the Nuono Charm is safe (I wonder if 'Nuono' is related to the Noono place in SCARLET GRACE XD), to which someone responds that only a few merchants know how to navigate the Waterway Maze. If you can't navigate, you'll end up as "octopus bait." And then the next thing they say suggests you can't get to Cape Chalier neither by land nor sea, so I guess you have to go through this maze thing.
But shortly after saying that, someone notices that someone is hiding in the doorway. Apparently they didn't notice the lookout guy arguing with us, or us beating him unconscious right next to the door, but somehow just knew we were there now. Then they all just RUN AND JUMP OUT OF THE SIDE OF THE BUILDING like, into the black area?? And then just keep running until they're off the screen.
It all happened quickly and I wasn't expecting it at all, so I didn't manage to get a screencap of it, though.
We also are able to walk right onto the Merchants' boat. The merchants are all talking about generic pirate stuff, like scrubbing the deck, wasting all their money, and Narwhals.
One of them seems to be the head peep or something, even though he's the exact same sprite as the others, and we're able to ask him to work for us or offer to work together. I have absolutely NO idea what this is supposed to be about -- well, I guess I have an idea. These guys are making trade across the canal hard, right? So I guess we're... trying to solve that but what exactly does it mean for them to work for us or for us to work together...? Are we supposed to be making some kind of deal with them or something?
Being the non-confrontational loser that I am, though, I decide to pick "Let's work together" -- well, actually I picked neither at first because I got scared and ran around the ship some more being nervous about my decision. Then I went back and picked it. Big Merch Peep says that he doesn't trust us enough to make a deal, so we need to show him a sign of good faith. He tells us that there are monsters infesting the Messina Mine to the east where the group gets their iron.
We say, "So you want me to... clean up," which is super shady sounding??? What is going on? Am I becoming a Bad Peep? :( :( :(
There doesn't seem to be much else to do, though, so we just head to the mine to... clean up.
The mine is kind of big, definitely the biggest dungeon we've seen so far. There are lots of Merchants everywhere, and every last one of them says, "The dastardly creatures are forcing us to work," when we talk to them. It's kind of annoying. Also none of them seem to be doing any forcing, because they're just wandering mindlessly. But I guess at the same time, none of the Merchants appear to be working, either.
There are actually a couple branching paths in here, making this also the most complicated dungeon we've encountered! It's interesting that the dungeons so far have been so... unexciting. But at the same time, I kinda get it -- the reason they didn't even put dungeons at all in SCARLET GRACE was because Kawazu thought they got in the way of the more important aspects of gameplay, which going by the way he designs games, seems to be in strategic battles focused on character nurture, and making various choices as the player to have your own experience. So it's kinda like the dungeons were just simplistically designed here to keep the focus not on dungeon exploration but on the choices you're able to make as the leader of Avalon.
Or something. It's not like I really know lol...
The two chests in the screenshot were definitely missable. From them we picked up a "short sword" (btw it's annoying that foils are referred to as 'short swords' in this game when they are clearly foils. I mean, I realize that foils are swords which are short, but... 'short sword' doesn't mean foil to me) ... Anyway, we got one called Lob Omen which has 17 power and "maddens" enemies. It's the strongest short sword we have at the moment, and by far; the Fluerets we have are only 6 power. The other chest had a hundred grand crowns in it.
Beaver gets the Lob Omen, and the money of course goes to the treasury. We also get some kind of monster drop called a Tricorne. I have a screencap of getting the drop but I never bothered to actually go look in the inventory and see what it did I guess? Or I did and I didn't cap it and then I forgot what it did by the time I wrote this, so...
There are a pretty big variety of enemies in the mine, and some of them can be pretty rough. There were these winged ladies called Valkyrie that were pretty scary if we didn't paralyze them, and they almost took out the entire party once. There were also a lot of frogs, which was cool, because Beaver had the Sidewinder skill, which is a short sword skill that "sometimes" defeats frog enemies instantly. Even though the description said "sometimes," it worked every single time I tried it. Instant KO is very satisfying~~
We're still fighting those Rotten Beast things that caused us a little trouble before in that one cave, but now they'll be in groups and have other enemies with them, too. Status infliction continues to be very important -- I'm sure I would not survive a lot of these battles if it weren't for Stunner to paralyze enemies and Light Ball to blind them. Enemies that can be neither paralyzed nor blinded are terrifying. Magic spells seem to be my best offense right now (especially Blades of Wind which does lots of damage to pretty much anything ever) so if I run into an enemy that can't be debuffed, Crow and Taurus start blasting it with as much wind as possible. Sort of like the hit we tookto our Speed which we chose Sagi as our last emperor, Crow is not nearly as good at magic as Gerard or Sagi were. But hey, he's super fast. And Blades of Wind is awesome enough that it's still good even when he does it. Taurus is equipped with magic-boosting accessories and is a natural mage, though, so his Blades are phenomenal.
Eventually we come to a dead end in the mines where there are three enemies standing together in a suspicious formation. They end up just being regular battles, with the final one just being against two Valkyrie, which is a pretty common encounter around here anyway. But after defeating them, we get the victory fanfare and the mines are cleared of monsters. And now when we talk to the Merchants in the caves, they say there's mighty fine iron in the mines instead of saying the dastardly creatures thing... so I guess we finished.
There weren't any immediate scenes or anything, so I decided to go check back on some stuff in Avalon now that we've fought quite a few more battles. Sitting on the throne, the advisor comes and offers to build the magic laboratory again! And this time we had just a bit over the one million Crowns we needed, so we were able to start the construction! Crow shouts, "Get it done!" as the advisor runs out of the throne room.
I also stopped by the garden to see our cute little tree, and it grew a bit! It even played victory music lol. And the peep at front told me that they had "planted a tree" but there were no new trees, so I'm assuming he means that the tree grew? There's also a Steam Achievement for fully growing "the" tree, so I'm assuming this is the only one we get. But it now generates an extra 200Kr in revenue. Which is pretty much nothing, but according to Ronfar's comments on the previous entry, it seems the revenue is gathered after every battle and not after every game year like I had assumed, so an extra 200 per battle should add up fast.
After our little trip home, we head back to the Merchants' ship. Now the Big Peep wants us to clean the bottom floor of the ship. I think it's a little insulting as the emperor to be scrubbing floors for some wannabe pirates, but we need to progress the game. I actually had been in the bottom floor before, which is just a little room with these little dust clouds everywhere, and if you step on one, it disappears. I guess that's the "cleaning" part. But it didn't do anything even when I cleaned them all up before, so I guess they existed for this part of the game.
As soon as we clean up this time, though, Crow just shouts out, "We're riding the waves!" I was really confused at what this was supposed to mean (I AM VERY SLOW, OK?) so I went back to find the Big Peep and he was not in his little quarters or whatever. So I head out to the deck and -- the ship has set sail! So we're kinda stuck on here. I ran around talking to everyone but nothing seemed to trigger any kind of progress. And then when I came out onto the deck another time, we were docked at some land. I guess the Merchants didn't want us to know how we even got here. I thought we were supposed to be working together, but I don't ever remember agreeing to be shipped anywhere...
When we head to shore, we're immediately blocked and greeted by some kind of pirate-looking guy. At least this guy actually looks like a pirate. He asks us what business we have, and we ask for a guarantee of safety for imperial ships. He says as long as we pay the toll, he'll guarantee our safety. We're given the option to pay the fee or refuse to pay. Of course, you know me. I agreed to pay the pirates to let our ships stay safe. He tells us that he'll collect the toll yearly (wait, did we just buy into a contract with him?!) and sees us off.
The screen turns black and we get a message saying that the ordeal with the Merchants had been solved, and we're taken back to Avalon's throne room, where Crow says "Phew."
And I guess that's over with. We can now access Nuono on the world map, which is where we were before with Pirate Peep, and if we talk to him again (he's now in a different location, though, allowing us to move around the area a little) he just says he's looking forward to our future (maybe we are getting married). There are various Merchants around but they just say, "We are Merchants!" if we talk to them, which reminds me of "We are Pirates!"
So it looks like we're ready for our next adventure.
And suddenly, a lot has opened up to us. Back in Mobelm, the peep that previously talked about all Merchants being scum now tells us that there's a town called Miles to the east, which is the gateway to the Steppe. A Merchant outside tells us that Ancient ruins have been discovered in South Longit. Another Merchant at the docks offers us a boat to either Toba or Atlanticus. In Somon, an old guy tells us that there's a village to the south called Tefal. Then another boat guy here allows us to travel to Douglass (which is the same name of my owl character on the cover of thaao.net hahaha) or Miles. Of course, I have no idea what any of these places are, so now we're feeling a lot more like a SaGa title.
Interestingly, though, thanks to that old man telling us about Tefal, Tefal has now been opened on the world map, which is in Ludon. We previously couldn't access Ludon at all, but now we can -- and that's where the mine that might be good for our treasury is supposed to be. So I think that might be a good place to try out as our next destination...
But before I go, I have to share this hilarious convo with a child NPC in Somon. He wonders if he could be emperor some day, and Crow is just like, "Noooo kid it sucks! Don't do it!"