Gon and the Devil Emperor's Palace
Last time, we were finally given free control of Mikhail, so it's time to go on some adventures!
Wandering around Loanne Castle, we can talk to various people. Most of them just say "Good Morning" or whatever. We can find Julian, who says he'll do his best. It's a lot of stuff like that. The castle's pretty big, but there's a whole lot of nothing in it. Actually, a lot of this game is like that (as are many SaGa environemnts, it seems.) But in a way, that's realistic, I guess. What kind of world has treasures laying around every 10 meters?
Mikhail has two amenities available in the castle -- his bedroom which can function like an inn for free, and the storage guy. Storage guys are scattered across the game, and are basically a place to put items that you don't have space for in your inventory. Your inventory is limited, so you can only take so much with you on an adventure, so you might want to leave extra stuff here.
But talking to the storage guy reveals that Mikhail has like an entire armory worth of stuff in here to start with. Seriously, it's ridiculous! He has multiples of many strong armors and weapons, like mid-game level stuff. There are quite a few potions in here, too!
We have plenty of space in the inventory now, so we take out all two pages worth of equipment and shove it in Mikhail's... pocket, I guess.
Are those 9 Longspears in your pocket or...
We upgrade Mikhail's equipment so he now has a spear (Amen Tomb?! I don't know what it's supposed to be called) with 27 power. That's... very high. He's also decked out in some nice armor.
The inventory space is limited in slots, but same items stack, so taking all 9 of the Longspears doesn't take up any space, since the one Mikhail had previously equipped is in the inventory anyway, for example. And these will be nice to sell later when we need some quick Aurums.
Also nice to note is that while there is an underground dungeon, the cells are completely empty, so Mikhail must not be big on imprisonment.
Leaving the castle, you can have the guards part for you simply by bumping into them...
But what's funny about it is that you can continue bumping one of them and they will continue parting...
Until they're just about to fall off the cliffs! And for some reason the spaces before them at this point are now unwalkable, so you can't try to push them any further. But yeah, this is very funny to me... I actually went in and out of the castle a couple times to reset their position to do it over and over >_>
We're now able to walk around Loanne and talk to the people here and browse the shops. Talking to NPCs is vital in this game. Not only do you learn about the game's lore, but you'll get hints toward locations of treasures or possible quests, actually trigger or progress some quests, as well as open up new areas on the map by learning about them.
I missed getting a screenshot, but pubs are nice places for information in the game, too. You have the option to ask the bartenders one of three things -- you can ask them how business is going, ask them if they've heard any rumors or interesting information, and ask them if they can dismiss a member from the party. They'll talk to the party member and tell them they gotta go -- I guess Mikhail feels too guilty to do it himself.
The bartender tells us that a ship has arrived from Meurs. A woman in the bar asks us if we've seen the Devil Emperor's Palace, which stands in Pidona. In a house, a man who was apparently a well-traveled mountain climber (in the screenshot above) tells us that the Toughturn Mountain southeast of Loanne is always shrouded in fog at the summit, so climbing the mountain is impossible.
When we walk toward the exit, Mikhail realizes he can't just leave Loanne like this.
So it's back to wandering, I guess.
Back in the castle, I go into Monica's room, which I somehow bypassed before. She tells her brother that it would be a good idea to take a break from all this hard work and rest for a while in his room.
So, I go to do just that, figuring that this might be the key to advancing the game.
Entering the room promps you with the choice to take a nap, so we do. But nothing seems to happen.
There are actually two entrances to the room, a left and a right, and I spent a long time only going in the left one before I discovered that you get a completely different prompt by going in the right entrance...
Entering from the right side (to be honest, it's weird that I never tried this considering the right entrance is much more prominent...) gives you the option to "call out to the shadows."
Upon choosing this, Mikahil calls out to the empty room, "Are there any shadows lurking in here?"
And a lookalike falls down from the ceiling. Does he just hang up there waiting for Mikhail to say that...? Anyway, Mikhail tells the "shadow" that he's going out for a while, and he's going to leave the rest up to him like always.
So I guess Mikhail has an impersonator that acts in his stead when he wants to leave Loanne.
Returning to the city exit, we're able to transition to the world map. From where we are now, we can already see Toughturn Mountain and the neighboring city of Meurs, which both opened because we heard about them in town, so we can visit them now.
The world map is much larger than that one screen, though. You can go to a 'full map' mode where you can choose a section of the map to zoom in on, or while on the normal map, you can click on the edges of the screen to move the map one screen in that direction. The map is pretty expansive, actually.
We move the pointer wand thing to the city of Meurs to travel there, hoping to pick up some more information from the people there.
In the bar, we find one of these mage women who tells us that if we talk to women who look like here, we can learn magic arts from them.
Magic arts in RSG3 are divided into six schools: Suzaku, Seiryu, Genbu, Byakko, Solar, and Lunar. The schools 'compete' with each other, so a character can only know magic arts from up to two schools at a time -- one from the four elemental lords' schools, and one of the two cosmic schools. Learning a Genbu magic art, for example, will cancel all Suzaku, Seiryu, and Byakko arts you have, leaving you only able to do Genbu arts. It doesn't override Solar or Lunar arts, though. But Solar and Lunar arts will override each other.
You acquire magic arts simply by purchasing them from a mage teacher like this, but they can get pretty costly. If you don't have any magic arts at all, the first time you buy some, your JP will increase to 5 (from 0).
The mage teacher here in Meurs happens to sell Seiryu arts, which are exactly the type I wanted to get for Mikhail! So I went ahead and bought Nap, which cost 300 aurums. Nap has a chance of putting all enemies to sleep, which is good for Mikhail since he has a high Spirit stat.
Meurs is a stony-looking town like Loanne. Though they have blue roofs here instead of yellow. When we talk to this guy, he says a girl in weird clothes has been loitering around lately.
It's not long before we find out who he's talking about. This oddly-dressed girl with bright pink hair is not only wandering around the town, but upon seeing Mikhail she chases him down.
"Caught you!" she yells out.
Mikhail just kind of grumbles, "Who the hell is this kid?" and we move on.
Meurs has a harbor, where we can take a boat to either Zweig or Pidona, which will open them both up on the map by travelling to them. We heard someone talking about Pidona before, so let's try to go there.
Pidona is a pretty big place with a lot of stuff to see, and lots of rumors and stuff to hear. There's a palace in the center that we can't enter. East of the palace is the House of Claudius, where we can talk to a lot of people.
A woman tells us that a lot of people from the Naj Empire, which was destroyed by the Church of the Divine Emperor, have been immigrating to Librof.
A man tells us that just before the Death Eclipse, there was an astronomer that foretold the eclipse, but they were burned at the stake for committing sin. The family of that astronomer seems to have moved to Lance.
Another man tells us that in the lands to the north, the village of Stanley is being threatened by the Farce Army.
Someone tells us that the Royal Ring, one of the Holy Emperor's relics, is still passed down today to the head of the Holy Emperor's family in Lance (I assume they mean the Holy Emperor's descendants, as the Holy Emperor was born over 300 years ago).
The beard in the screenshot above tells us that he used to work at the workshop here in Pidona, but it's since been closed down. Apparently the Holy Emperor's Symbol (a spear) was stolen, and the master of the shop was murdered.
In the upper level of House Claudius, we're told that the best place to vacation is at Great Arc. And it might be fun to seek out the pirate Black's hidden treasures.
The guy across the table from him says he hears the new Marquis of Loanne is a very capable man. (hehe, that's us!)
In the northwest side of town, we can find the Church of the Divine Emperor. Around town we can find people in these robes wandering around, but they won't speak to us like other NPC's. In here, though, they seem more talkative. The receptionist (?) tells us that anyone interested in the Church is welcome.
Standing at the head of the Church is Maximus, who tells us that the coming of the Divine Emperor is nigh, and we all must prepare to meet him. Our strength is needed, too, and we must completely devote ourselves and everything we have to the Church.
Around the Church are various hooded followers who basically tell us the same kinds of things -- they ask us if we've come to see Maximus, and tell us that they're waiting for the arrival of the Divine Emperor and that we need to wholly submit to Maximus and the Church.
And that's about all we can do there.
Looking around some more, we go into the armory, but it's empty. Oh, yeah, this must be the place that beard guy from earlier was talking about -- the workshop where the spear was stolen and the master killed.
There seems to be a staircase here, so let's go there.
Upon entering, a woman is working away on a weapon, but suddenly shouts out, "It's still no good!" in frustration, and storms off. The man who was standing with her calls out to her, so we find her name is Nora, but she doesn't respond. Passing us on the stairs, she says that the store is closed today.
Approaching the guy still standing at the anvil, Mikhail asks if he doesn't have any good armors or weapons. The man apologizes, and Mikhail points out that it's a bit strange for just two people to be running such an elaborate workshop. The man says that it wasn't always like this, and starts to tell the story of the workshop.
The master who originally founded this shop was a skilled craftsman who fashioned the Holy Emperor's spear using the magic spear of the Devil Lord Arakes.
After the Holy Emperor sealed the Abyss Gates, the spear was given back to the shop, and it became the symbol of the shop. People from all over the world came to see it, and over the course of 300 years, this workshop developed into the world's greatest armory.
But in the chaos brought upon by the warring between Ludvich and Clemens, the Holy Emperor's spear was stolen. And during this time of turmoil, the current master left on a journey to seek out the stolen spear.
After a year of travels, the master had deduced that the spear must be in Pidona somewhere, so he returned; however, three days later, his body was found at the docks. After the death of the master, the craftsmen working at the shop began to leave one by one.
Eventually, the only two people left were the man and the master's only daughter, Nora.
Nora comes back downstairs as the man is finishing his story, and addresses him as Cain, so we've learned his name now, too. She tells him that she's decided to continue the master's search for the spear and is going on a journey, so she's leaving the shop to him.
We're given the option to choose to help Nora or just see what happens. I choose the first option, and Mikhail asks if this stolen spear really exists, and if Nora has any idea how to find it.
Nora only has two clues to go by left by her father -- a red coral earring and the name "Jackal."
Mikhail suggests that it's better not to go alone, and Nora formally introduces herself. Now we have a new friend!
Nora's not part of the intended harem party (this is meant to be an old man harem!), but none of the characters we're going to ultimately recruit are available right away, and we'll need some friends to help us reach them.
Nora is one of the physically strongest characters in the game, so she's a great addition to any party. She's also great at glimmering and mastering weapon arts, especially club and axe arts. With Strength of 23 and Skill of 24, she can handle any weapon you give her and will probably end up being your strongest character with it.
If you want a big damage-dealer and you love badass women who own their own business AND journey around the world to find legendary spears, Nora is the choice for you! She's not only one of my favorite characters in this game, but one of my favorite characters from the SaGa series. Though if you are familiar with the, uh, "character development" in these games, you should realize that this is the last of her story we'll get to see. I don't know if it's possible to actually recover the Holy Emperor's Symbol or not. I have played this game quite a bit and even looked at some guides a little, but I haven't spoiled myself on everything. I've also never actually finished an entire playthrough of the game, so... who knows what's out there!
With our now two-member party, we leave the workshop and... run into this pink hair girl again. "Didn't you hear me?! I said I CAUGHT YOU!"
Mikhail tells her he doesn't have time to play with her, and we move on.
Exploring around Pidona some more, we enter a merchant's house, and a man somehow recognizes us as friends of Master Thomas. He tells us that Thomas is in the room at the end of the hall.
Thomas was one of the Shinon settlers that helped escort Monica to the encampment and then to Count Leonid's place.
But in another room down the hall, we run into Sara, another of Monica's escorts from before. Talking to her, she just says, "Lord Mikhail!" and we're given the options "MAKE FRIEND" or "DON'T" lol.
While Sara is still just a kid, she's actually quite a strong character. At first, she's quite weak because of her very low HP and starting abilities, but she has great Skill, Speed, and Magic, and she glimmers bow arts very well and levels up her bow skill quickly, too.
Her Spirit of 11 is a shame, as one of the most useful bow arts is Shadow Sew, which inflicts paralysis.
Sara is another of my favorite characters, and I often like playing as her or Monica as the protagonist when I mess around in the game. She's always a good choice to recruit, though I tend to not like recruiting the other protagonists for some reason.
In the back room, we do indeed find Thomas, but he says he has errands to run for his grandfather that he must attend to, and we should look around the city without him.
Leaving that house, we can see Thomas heading somewhere to the south.
Exploring the rest of the town, we learn that Maximus, the leader of the Church of the Divine Emperor, is for some reason intensely interested in relics of the Holy Emperor.
The bartender is funny; if we ask him about business, he offers us food like Devil Emperor Palace Buns and Abyss Candies.
Going back and talking to the beard who said he used to work with Nora and Cain, he'll say the same thing, but Mikhail will tell him that Cain hasn't given up on the shop, and that by working together he believes they could create some amazing things.
The guy seems inspired by these words and Cain's perseverance, and decides he, too, will try going to work at the shop once more!
We're instantly teleported back to the workshop with the guy, and he asks if he should work on weapons or armor. I tell him to work on armor.
From now on, we can recruit the old workers of the shop to return and help Cain out, and assign them to either the weapons team or the armor team. We can also suggest to each team what to work on next, and they'll spend time creating that item. The more workers you recruit, the faster the work can finish and the more options you'll have.
For now, there's only one option for each group (Cain is automatically the first member of the weapons group once you recruit a worker). We ask Cain to work on a Partisan, and the defense beard to work on a Headband.
In the southern district of Pidona, we find a smaller weapons dealer that carries a few items. There's a merchant in the corner who lets us know that we shouldn't worry about the money we acquire beyond 10,000 aurums -- he and his buddies will hold on to it for us. (EDIT: No, he doesn't! I just mashed through it because I thought I knew what he said LOL)
For some reason, you can only carry 10,000 aurums at once. Anything more will just be deposited into this 'bank' and you can go pick it up from them whenever you want. Since they're all over the place and you'll never need money in a time when you can't reach them, I don't really understand the point of this system.
After leaving that shop, we again catch a glimpse of Thomas heading off somewhere to the west. The first time I played this game, I didn't even realize you could go over there, so I'm glad they had this little scene after talking to Thomas in the house so you can see that there's an entrance to another district here.
Before checking that out, there's one more thing I wanted to look at -- the pier. You can take a boat from Pidona to a ton of different places -- some of these are places we've heard people talking about like Farce and Great Arc, some we've never heard mentioned like Wilmington, and others we've even already been, like Meurs. You have to pay to take a boat from Pidona, but once you've been somewhere, you can just access it from the world map, so be careful not to buy a ticket to somewhere you've already been and waste your money!
Finally, we go finish our stalking of Thomas, and find a slums. Talking to the people wandering around, we learn that these slums exist right outside the Devil Emperor's Palace, and a lot of refugees escaping from Ludvich have moved here. the Devil Emperor's Palace seems to be a bit of a tourist attraction, even though it's quite dangerous. But adventurers go there sometimes to plunder its treasures.
In one of the houses, a man tells us that a goddess is living next door, and her presence helps mend the shattered hearts of the refugees here, giving them the will to keep living their lives.
Entering this goddess's house, a man quickly runs up to us to prevent us from coming in any further, demanding to know who we are. Thomas notices us, too, and recognizes us, but wonders why we're in such a place. Mikhail apologizes for following him.
Thomas tells Sharl, the man at the door, that we are his friends and come in peace. Thomas tells Mikhail that he was just telling Lady Muse about Loanne. Muse, the woman in the bed, is delighted to have so many guests like this, which she hasn't had in a long time, and invites us to gather round together.
But as we approach Muse's bedside, a small child runs to us and says that Mitch is lost, and Gon went into the Devil Emperor's Palace looking for her when he couldn't find her anywhere!
Muse is shocked to hear that Gon has gone into the Palace, and asks Sharl to immediately go and retrieve him. Mikhail offers to come along, too. Thomas also just kind of subtly joins the party during all of this.
Before we can even get moving, the little girl Mitch runs through the door crying. Sharl asks if she knows where Gon is, but she can only say she doesn't know through her tears.
After comforting the children, Mikhail, Sharl, and crew head out to the Devil Emperor's Palace. At this point, you can't turn back, so you have to find Gon in the Palace before you can go anywhere else.
We see a scene of Gon searching around the stairs leading to the Palace calling out for Mitch, saying their playtime is over and she needs to come out. A little "narration" appears as he does this, telling us that the Devil Emperor's Palace has anymore turned into a haven for fugitives and bandits, and is nothing more than a monsters' nest. Furthermore, the Church of the Divine Emperor seem to be actively investigating the tower hoping to unearth treasures.
As Mikhail and company approach the tower, we get a cool panoramic view of it from top to bottom. It's really an intimidating looking place!
It's pretty cool-looking inside, too, with stained glass windows and lots of broken areas and stuff. In the main hall when you enter, there's some kind of stained glass ceiling that makes a pattern on the floor.
Now that we have a party of five, we can start making use of battle formations! There are formations for less than five members, too, but they're pretty basic.
Formations not only change the positioning of the characters relative to monsters, but they also grant all kinds of bonuses and special effects.
I switch over to a pretty simple one -- Desert Lance, Harid's signature formation. This one offers no particular bonuses other than the fact that it makes one character the main target of monster attacks.
Since Mikhail is pretty bulky, this works out well -- most of the monsters' attacks do 0 damage to him.
... And battle is pretty dangerous for new characters like Sara, who was knocked out by taking a single attack and already lost 1 LP.
Though, after she died, I remembered the tons of armor that I had swiped from Mikhail's armory, and outfitted everyone.
I even unequipped everyone else, and got to boost up Mikhail even more!
I switched the party formation over to Whirlwind since I was much less worried about defenses, which is a formation that boosts speed of all members and has a more even distribution of members.
Sara glimmered Random Arrow and Shadow Sew right away, but her current JP is only three so she doesn't have much opportunity to use them, much less master them.
We also fought some elemental enemies (those big tornado guys) which can be kinda scary at the beginning of the game. I have Mikhail practicing martial arts so he doesn't have much damage output right now, and the only people who can deal decent damage are Nora and Sharl.
While looking around the Palace, we find this strange glowing symbol on the ground. Stepping on it makes a sound, but otherwise it does nothing.
And in another room, we can see Gon! But he's up on a ledge that we can't reach, so we have to find another way to get to him. There was another door opposite the one we came in, so that's the best place to check next.
Another thing I want to point out about the game systems -- you have two movement speeds, walking and running. Walking is slow and generally you can't outrun monsters that way. Running is fast, but you can't see monsters very well while running, and if you get into battle while running, the enemy breaks your formation.
If you look on the screenshot above, you can see a little shadow on the ground to the left of Mikhail (he's running straight at it) at the part of the balcony that turns diagonal near the left side of the screen. You can barely make it out, but that's the location of an enemy -- rather than showing the enemy's full sprite. That's all you can see while running, so it's very easy to completely miss an enemy because of this. Running should be used with caution.
If you do get caught while running, the enemy will break your formation. There's a player-bonus counterpart to this where if you approach an enemy from behind, you can get a first strike, but it's next to impossible to do since enemies move quickly and chase you whether they look at your or not. So there's not really any way to sneak on them?
Another fun mechanic we got to see was elemental fields, which appeared because one of the fireball enemies did a lot of fire-based magic.
Whenever enemies or allies use magic arts or elemental abilities in battle, it has a chance of engulfing the field in that element (or removing an elemental field from play if one is active). These do a variety of things, such as boosting the power of related magic arts, but certain enemies, characters, and abilities have unique reactions to them, as well, such as the Water Ball magic art that makes a bubble around a character. Normally it just protects the character, but during a water elemental field, it heals their HP every turn, as well.
It was at that point I realized I could be using magic arts with Mikhail. Except... that I couldn't, because after buying Nap from the mage, his max JP was increased to 5, but his current JP was still 0. And since I didn't go to an inn nor did I have any items to recover JP, I was stuck without being able to use magic arts. Putting all the enemies to sleep would have been fun, though!
When we find Gon, he asks about Mitch, and we let him know that she is safe and back at Muse's place. Gon starts crying and says he's scared. Mikhail comforts him and says we'll help him get back safely.
Upon exiting the tower, Sharl thanks us for helping save Gon, and then returns to Muse's place. With all that equipment that we gave him.
Going back to Muse's house, Sharl will just tell us she is sleeping and no longer will join the party. So we've lost a bit of equipment, but we have tons anyway, so it's no big deal, I guess.
Heading back to the workshop, we find that the Partisan and Headband have been completed! They're... weaker than the stuff Mikhail had in his armory, but you have to complete them to move on to new projects, anyway. We start them working on a Bastard Sword and Protect Suit, again the only options we have at this time.
And with that, I think we've had plenty of adventuring for one night. Even though we only really did one little quest, I feel like there was a lot of content in this entry with all the traveling leading up to it...