A Slippery Revenge
The Age of Sagittarius has begun. And since everyone in the party from last time died, we now have to choose four new additional party members to tag along. We still just have access to the same old people from last time, now with just different hair colors and stuff.
First stop is the Ranger room, where we get to pick up Pink Therese, otherwise known as Marie! She's super cute. Then we head over to grab Andromache from before -- the class seems to be called Mercenary, not Free Fighter. But that pretty much means the same thing anyway. This time we take Emerald, the lady Court Mage, instead of the dude. And then we grab Bison, the Heavy Infantry who sat alone before, to replace Bear's position. Basically, it's the same party as before, except instead of Light Infantry we have Mercenary. Oh, and our lead character is now definitely more mage-like.
I was hoping that Emerald would have another new type of magic to play with besides fire. Like, since Aries had water and wind both, I was thinking Emerald would have fire and something else. But instead, she has fire and... more wind. So now we have Blades of Wind all around. But that's fine, because Blades of Wind already seems to be pretty effective against Gel Matter.
Though the characters seem to be more than just recolors -- they have different base stats than their predecessors, and even come with some pre-learned skills, so we don't have to glimmer those. But the terrible part is that other than those few pre-learned skills, all the skills we havae glimmered thus far in the game have disappeared. So we have pretty much nothing in the way of skills... which is not too bad for now, since we're going to go fight Gel Matter which is essentially immune to anything except magic spells anyway, and hopefully we'll glimmer some more along the way...
I also found this nifty menu called the "Imperial Log," which details all the story events and subquests and stuff you can do. There's a ton of ???s throughout it, and there are sections for each area in the game. There's a huge section for Avalon, of course, and even completing each of the R&D projects seems to get you an entry in the journal! It's very thorough and seems to be a great place to look if you're unsure of what to do.
Well, the better place to look first is the "info guy" in the castle, though. Talking to him, I found that there's been an uprising of thieves in the city, and talking to other people after that reveals that they have been sneaking around at night. So I tried sleeping in the bed again and... the thing I did before wasn't some kind of weird glitch, but rather at this point in the game, you're always able to get out of bed at night so you can go look for the thieves, I guess...
After hearing about the thief and visiting that weird room we found past the rooftops the other day, we do indeed run into the thief! She runs away before we can do anything, though. But it's not long before we catch up to her -- she gets trapped by some monsters just outside the room on the rooftops outside the castle. We have the option of helping her out, or telling her that she got herself into this mess on her own.
I think that's cruel and unusual punishment to leave someone to be mauled by a bunch of monsters because they stole a little bit of money or whatever (uh, thinking about it now, why are these monsters randomly in town at night...? This seems like a security issue) so we decide to help her out.
Instead of getting into a battle, the monsters just kind of disappear when we select to help out, and the thief tells us we have a 'soft spot.' It seems we've made a new ally, though, because she tells us to call on her whenever we need anything, and we can do so by mentioning "the cat" to the pub master.
She disappears into the night, and we get some sleep, now that the thief ordeal is over with. Pretty short subquest. After waking up, we take a seat on the throne to see if there's any leaderly things we can do. One of the castle peeps appears and Sagi says he'd like to build a laboratory to research new magic spells. YES YES YES I WANT THIS!
But Peep tells us that it will cost 1,000,000Kr, which is funding we simply do not have. Sagi mutters, "Unfortunate," which is a huge understatement. Why did I have to go and research the newest battle fashions and grow a stupid tree? We wasted all the empire's money...
There isn't too much more to do in town, so after equipping ourselves with all the previous equipment that got teleported to the storehouse (or maybe like some castle employees came and looted everyone's bodies after Gel Matter went to sleep?), we head on out for our big revenge showdown. I decided to stop by some of the other places we'd already been, like the first cave we went with Leon and that goblin cave. The first cave was sealed off per imperial order under Leon (so I guess that's where the fancy door came from after all?) and the goblin cave was completely deserted. It seems that dungeons we've cleared of monsters actually stay cleared, so we can't use them as monster-spawning points to go grind out a few battles and try to glimmer some skills.
There's still the monsters in the cave on the way to Gel Matter, though, of course who all come back. The dungeons don't clear out until you defeat the bosses, so you can keep zoning in and out before that point to respawn monsters at least. There aren't a ton of monsters in the cave, but glimmering isn't a complete necessity at this exact moment, since we can only use magic spells against the boss anyway, but it would be nice to go ahead and start making some progress toward getting our skill list back to a decent level.
While the stats are a little different, our new party isn't particularly strong. Severely lacking in skills, larger enemy hoards can be quite a pain, even with seemingly harmless enemies in them. We lose a few LP easily here and there, and just barely scrape by in some battles that feel like they should be a clear victory.
But we manage to make it to Gel Matter without too big of losses. This time, we make sure not to fight the unmoving slime monster guarding the door until we are ready, which includes getting into the Free-For-All formation. It doesn't have any kind of benefits or special attributes like Imperial Cross, but at least Gel Matter's electricity attack can only hit one party member at a time. And with everyone defending except Sagi and Emerald, members can even withstand more than one hit, too. If one of the mages go down, we just toss them a balm.
With two Blades of Wind attacks per turn, the Gel Matter goes down a lot more easily than before. We even get to the end of the battle with all five party members still alive!
We head north into the room the Gel Matter was guarding, but the place is crawling with monsters everywhere. The Dragon Lair Brawlers said they were going to finish up the work here, though, and the party is pretty bruised up at this point, and still lacking in skills. And I have no idea what to expect ahead. If it's going to be even tougher than Gel Matter, it might not be a good idea to go ahead just yet.
We head back to the Dragon Lair training hideout thing and talk to Karl, who congratulates us on defeating Gel Matter, and heads out with his team to take on the rest of the monsters in the cave. Heading back to the village, it doesn't seem like everything is safe yet, so maybe it will just take some time. We decide to head back into Avalon and check up on some stuff!
Our orchard construction has finished and our cute little tree has begun to sprout. The orchard now brings in revenue for Avalon, too -- currently 2,000Kr. I think this is a yearly revenue. And years seem to pass based on how many battles you have completed (or during certain story-driven timeskips, though I don't know if these produce revenue or not).
R&D wants more money, but we're saving up to hopefully get the chance to build that magic lab again. We also stop by Somon (the town that Kzinssie had taken over before) since we haven't gone again since it was liberated from evil, and in the weapon shop, we're able to find a spear, which is the first spear we've found yet in the game. I go ahead and buy one, though I'm not sure if it will be that great on anyone we currently are using. I go ahead and give it to Andromache anyway.
Heading back to Nibel, the village still doesn't seem to be safe, so we decide to go back into the cloister and check on the Dragon Lair Brawlers. Fortunately, the entire first two floors are cleared of monsters since we defeated Gel Matter, so we only have to walk up to the cave where we had left off before. It's not terribly large inside, though if we take a couple small dead-end paths, we end up finding a Ring of Nibel and 90,000Kr for the treasury.
At the end of the cave, we find a monster surrounded by the brawlers. When we approach them, we have the option to intervene or let them take care of it. Since they agreed to do this part and we did our part, I just let them take care of it. Plus, I'm kind of afraid of fighting any bosses right now.
Karl says that the Brawlers have retained their honor thanks to our efforts defeating Gel Matter and letting them clear the rest of the monsters and thanks us, and offers the support of the Dragon Lair to the Empire if it is ever needed. So it looks like we've found a new ally! While this doesn't mean anything at the exact moment, I think this will add the Brawlers as a new character class we can recruit. I know Karl and many of his recolors are playable characters in Imperial SaGa at least.
I also think it's possible to "miss out" on classes. The way the scenario structure has played out so far, though I haven't played that much yet, is really reminding me of SaGa SCARLET GRACE. Considering that SCARLET GRACE was intended to appeal to Romancing SaGa 2 fans, it makes sense they'd use a similar structure. Dungeons are of minor importance (while in SGSG they just don't exist at all) and the focus is on the choices you make the sequence in which you unfold events.
In the case of this little Nibel scenario, it seems like we had many different options -- we could have gone straight from Nibel to the cloister as soon as we learned there was trouble and cleared out the entire cave on our own; we could have denied offering help to the Dragon Lair after meeting them, and then still cleared out the cave on our own; we could have offered to help them, then never reported back and cleared out the cave on our own; or we could have reported back but then interrupted the final battle to take the glory and credit for ourselves. And of course, we had the option to report back after agreeing to help, then allow the Brawlers to finish the job like they wanted. Of course, these are just my own perceived available paths -- there could be more or less than that. But like in SCARLET GRACE it leaves me very curious of all the different ways we could have chosen to solve the problem, and what kind of outcome it could have created. In SCARLET GRACE, you get different kinds of outcomes, rewards, and even subsequent quests or branches in a quest based on the choices you make, and you can miss out on things like unique weapons or recruitable characters depending on which path you take. So I assume this game is very similar. At the least, that feeling is there, which was something I found very intriguing in the other game, so I'm really enjoying it here, too. It makes you want to replay again and again.
With Gerard and his party's lives avenged, we're able to go to the only place left we haven't visited yet -- the canal that has been occupied, so we can try to liberate it. But that will be a story for another time...