Travels with Iskandar 3
There's not really any story in here because nothing happens during the 'travels' segment of Ruby's scenario. You just do a bunch of travels. Even Ruby is apparently bored with it though LOL. I mean, I'm not bored. But there's just no story. Just game. But once you finish the travels part, there's kind of an explosion of story, really.
I mean most characters have travelling as part of their scenario (why would you just stay in one place lol) but usually there's story as you go so it's not just a bunch of walking XD Except Ventus who that is pretty much the purpose of his quest is just to travel all around, and you'll just kinda... find stuff eventually and then later his story unfolds XD
Anyway, we arrived in Wanda at the end of the last travels. This actually took like 40 minutes or so, and now that I think about it, the trip to Zomar probably took that long, too. Though I think it was split into two adventures, so halfway through you got panels. That's also why this is "Travels with Iskandar 3" and not "2."
Wanda is one of my favorite places in the game. Even though it's literally just a painting as the backdrop for the menu like every other town, I tend to spend a lot of time looking at the paintings and trying to imagine what the places are like. I think that's the kind of game this was intended to be -- just like tabletop games, the real story is in your head. It's not shown to you, but rather suggested to you, and you have to actually roleplay with yourself. I realize that's not an experience most people want when playing games like this but personally I enjoy it quite a bit.
Wanda is a town just on the outskirts of the desert. The towns/areas really come more alive when you start playing the subadventures that are available from each one. You get to learn more about the surrounding area. Most of the entire eastern part of the world (I don't know if there's actually a name for this world like romasaga has 'Mardias' ... I've never heard one at least) is just DESERT and Wanda is kind of like the gateway into that desert.
I feel it's interesting because it's not the normal ~barren sand world~ kind of desert, but rather people live here, and things happen in the desert. There's definitely a big part of it where people don't really go, but stuff happens on the outsides of it. Just like the desert areas of the USA. There's population there. And so I like to think of Wanda as one of those outside-of-the-desert towns with lots of quirky people and a lot of interesting local culture.
Anyway, the last thing we need to be doing is running around in a desert, so we're continuing our travels north.
Before heading out to the next adventure, it's shopping time. I probably mentioned this before, but shopping quickly becomes the most tedious thing in the game. It's a nice little break between adventures, but later there will be so many towns and so many shops to check...
Importantly, I bought this armlet for Sapphire. She has a magic tablet now, which means she'll need to be able to do magic before she can learn magic (lol). In Loch Vaan there is a magic shop (Selma's Adventure Lodge is also in Loch Vaan; I went there to equip it XD) where you can buy items that allow whoever wields them to do magic without having to actually have leard the magic art from a tablet. Pretty handy!
So, back to Wanda to head out. You can actually depart from any lodging site in the world to go on main adventures -- you can start the next Travels with Iskandar adventure from Loch Vaan if you want, and it will just kind of... warp you to Wanda IDK it doesn't really show this part, you're just ON THE ROAD.
Anyway, I hadn't talked to the people in The Tumbleweed Inn so I went there to see what was up. Tuffitte is quite lovely. To be honest I feel like the people of Escata could probably use a minstrel... but it's true she wouldn't make much money there.
Anyway, we head out on our journey to Escata. The first thing I make sure to do (which I always forget to to -- I forgot this time and fought a battle and then got mad LOL) is to tell Sapphire to study her tablet. She won't do it on her own even though I gave her the tablet. I assume the main reason for this is that you don't want them to start studying other tablets when you give them a second one or something.
Anyway, you go to that 'Magic Tablets' menu and choose the tablet, and you can have her start studying it. Now when she uses magic in battle, she will be able to start deciphering a magic art...
After using Purify from the armlet, she was able to work toward learning one of the three arts on the tablet. There are more than three arts on the tablet, but you have to finish one before you can get a new one to try. Generally, the weakest/easiest arts are 'first' and you can only get to the stronger ones by finishing the earlier ones, but if you have an ability called Arcane Tongue, it's the opposite (the rare/strong arts are first).
Magic Lock is pretty easy to learn because it has very situational usage, though it's very helpful.
After a few battles (four, actually), Sapphire deciphered Magic Lock! Now it's in her list of skills and arts. Magic Lock is REALLY REALLY USEFUL when fighting treasure slimes because it paralyzes them. Paralyzing something means it no longer acts at all, and treasure slimes tend to get TONS of actions per turn sometimes. It also can build a magic barrier -- this a map skill. Basically, it lets you place a barrier on the map that monsters can't pass through. It's temporary, but when you are trying to avoid fighitng and have monsters chasing you, it can be helpful. Personally, I never really use the barrier arts on the map, though.
After that, "Shock" has opened up and I start learning that. It's a lot harder to learn -- I got this far after like 3 battles. Whereas on Magic Lock screenshot above, that was the progress after a single battle haha.
There's no description of the magic arts before you learn them, so you just have to learn them to find out what they do. I know what most of the magic arts do though so :P Shock sends out a shockwave that damages all enemies. Multi-hit abilities are pretty rare in this game so this is very nice. Though another multi-hit ability is the Random Arrowshot line of bow arts, and Sapphire has access to that, too >_> But she's good at magic and bow and magic can have different speeds.
Anyway, here's an example of the whole target-interaction menu thing. Which you press "Skill" from the main exploration menu, you'll get taken here.
Along the top is everything that is on this space. The first thing is the space itself, the second thing is a birds monster that is on the space, and the third thing is the treasure I'm targeting.
Below that is a box that says Treasure Chest L24. This just tells you what your current target is, and can have information about it.
Below that are the characters in the party. These are always here even when you're not in this menu, but you can press L1 and R1 to choose which character you currently have selected.
On the right is the list of available actions for the curently selected character. "Action" is to perform a basic interaction like I said before. In the case of the treasure, this means attempt to open it. If I used "Action" on the birds, it would fight them (and I'd get pre-emptive strike, but I am pretty sure that does absolutely nothing???). If you use "Action" on a space, you just look around. If there's some kind of special description/event that plays on stepping on that space, you'll see it again. You also have a chance of finding a hidden treasure if there happens to be one on that space. You also have a chance of setting off any traps that are on that space, too, though. Basically this is the same as stepping on the space from another space, you just don't have to move off of it.
Below "Action" is "Melee." You can use punch, kick, or throw on a treasure chest to try to open it if it is locked. But you risk destroying the contents of the chest. But if you have no way to pick the lock, you can try this.
Below that will be the seven abilities of the Skill Panels that character has. You can use skills if they are appropriate. For example, you can use "Fortuneteller" on a chest, as I explained in the last post. So it's available here.
Below those (not shown) will be the character's equipment. You can use skills from there if you want. For example, if the chest was locked with magic, you'd have to destroy the magic lock with magic arts. Magic arts are channeled through equipment... so if you had a knife with Fire Arts, you'd have to go to the knife, select it, and then all of the knife's abilities would appear in a sub menu, and you'd have to go pick Fire Arrows. Of course, it only works if the character knows Fire Arrows. Then you can try to destroy the magic lock with Fire Arrows. This is the only way to pick magic locks and it won't risk destroying the chest like physically attacking the regular lock lol.
Below those will be the items in your inventory. Sometimes these will have abilities, like keys will have the Locksmith ability in them.
So basically you have a LOT of options available to you at any given time. Generally you'll only use Action and each character's Skill Panel abilities.
I found a bestial sword... and it has Wood Arts on it! And all four abilities are already released. How lucky is that?! Having Magic Arts on a weapon is pretty rare. All magic items from magic shops will have it, but other than that, finding them is pretty hard. And magic shops only sell daggers, staves, and accessories. No swords or other weapons. Usually the way you get these is by making them yourself at a blacksmith, but I can't use blacksmith in this challenge run :P
I got into a fight with a treasure slime! It would be a perfect opportunity to use Magic Lock... but Sapphire can't use it. Even though she learned it. Because you have to channel magic through items... so she would need to have equipped an item with Metal Arts on it, and I have no such thing. The magic shop didn't have anything with Metal Arts last time so I wasn't able to buy one :( All she has is Purify from her armlet.
Instead, Sapphire is poisoned and about to get fire arrows down her throat D:
But yeah, this is what makes learning and using magic so complicated in this game. Once you know how it works, it's not hard to understand, but if you're new to it, there's so many steps to get from having no magic abilities to having them. Pretty much you have to do this:
- Find a magic tablet (fairly rare)
- Give the magic tablet as a panel at the end of an adventure
- Go into the status menu and tell the character to study it at the beginning of the next adventure
- Use magic during battle (either with familiar or magic item since you have no magic yet)
- After deciphering an art, equip an item with Magic Arts matching that element
- Now you can finally use the magic art you learned...
Magic is very useful but you don't need to have a ton of it, so you don't have to 'bother' with this too much unless you just want to know tons of magic. I didn't know how to learn magic for my entire first time through the game and still got through just fine. It's definitely more of a struggle without at least the buffs and stuff, but I did have at least magic from familiars and magic items. And Laura knows Fire Arrows from the start :P
I found a serpentine spear in a low-level treasure chest...!! What's with getting these pretty strong things from low-level??? I mean, these are not really all that great, but they're pretty much top-tier for the early game/low market rank...
After we get to Escata, it's panel time :D I can spend so much time on this screen hahaha.
Anyway, a common frustration unsaga players like to complain about to each other is that feel when you get four worthless panels you don't want for your character. I have had my fair share of raging over this. It's all part of the fun though XD
But I had a different problem this time... getting multiple panels I wanted but you can only choose one!!
Sapphire got Defuse, which allows her to disarm traps. Both the kind that set off on the field and hurt you, and the ones on treasure chests. VERY useful, especially when a chest has a chance of exploding.
But! She also got a familiar (the fish icons are familiars, even if they aren't fish familiars LOL), which is a cute pet that does magic for you. There are a lot of shapes for them but importantly, they don't have durability like weapons. Sapphire's armlet is already at like 6 durability or something so she can only use it a few more times before it breaks. If I had a familiar, I could use magic as much I wanted without worrying about that. However, familiars tend to not have a lot of arts and often don't have very useful ones.
She also got a bow panel, which she doesn't have yet, so she really needs one (as I'd like her to be good with bow).
In the end, I went with Defuse. I was kindof aiming for this (having her interact with chests a lot, and even spring traps and hurt herself hoping it would encourage this panel to appear, though I don't think it actually helps to spring traps haha). It's also the only L3 panel (blue is L2).
Iskandar actually got all L3 panels! And one of them was spear which I was hoping for. But dagger would be good, too--!! But I ended up placing Spear.
Hiro got Sword, so pretty much everyone got good things. Ruby I gave like... Road Guide or something. Hiro also had Architect and Cave Guide available which would have been really nice... but they will probably pop up all the time and having sword now is more helpful. Plus sword is really nice at raising physical stats so I was able to push his Strength up a LOT from this :D
At the end of the adventure, the market rank went up :D Basically, if you've spent enough money over the course of the game, at the end of an adventure, this can happen. Shops will start having better items, but this also means everything is more expensive. Some small-town shops (like in Zomar) will still sell cheaper, less rare stuff, though.
So, we finally arrive in Escata. I love Escata, too (okay I really love like everywhere LOL but Wanda and Escata are two of my top favs) but I feel like the painting of it is really... hard to understand. Escata is ... current ruins? I don't know if there's a word for this but shortly before the events of the game, Escata was destroyed, so it's like... a freshly-destroyed city lol. This is why that bard in Wanda said her plans changed XD Everyone is having a hard time just getting by in Escata so they're not going to have money to give to minstrels.
Shops are selling Quartz stuff now! Quartz is the best early-game material, I've found. Serpentine and Marcasite are pretty good, too. Quartz is a bit more expensive but tends to be more powerful.
Sadly, the shop inventory was bad this round. Almost everyone was selling raw materials (which would be great if I could use the blacksmith -- I'd be buying up all this quartz and making stuff XD) and the few weapons I found were axes.
I did find an Ironstone sword though, which I feel is really rare for Market Rank 2?!?!? I feel like it's a much later-game item... Anyway, it was in Escata which means you have to barter for it... I compared a quartz knife that I bought, and it put me at 44% barter rate thing. Basically you just have to get to 100%. So I'd have to go buy like two more quartz items probably to push me over. Maybe if I got one of the axes it would actually be enough to get to 90%, with Ruby's discount, I'd only need 90.
Ruby has Monger which negotiates discounts in shop. It's only L1 so it's only worth 5% discount... but she also has Fashion which makes it 10% :P I really like that you have to consider giving characters map and town panels and not just battle panels. There's a lot of skills that are pretty important like that... Monger is especially helpful for shopping (there's also Maharaja, which increases the prices of things, good for getting market rank up, and I've used it quite a bit to push up market rank late-game because it can get hard to move it to the later ranks).
There's also Artiste, which unlocks shop's extra inventory. Sapphire has that. It's a really rare panel but she comes with it.
For the exploration, you have skills useful for treasure hunting (Road Guide, Cave Guide, etc.) and then the skills for opening treasures (Sharpeye, Disarm, Locksmith, Fortuneteller). There's also Swimming and Obstacle Crossing which can let you take shortcuts or even get you into areas you can't get into otherwise. There are other helpful skills like Diplomacy (can negotiate with monsters to make them leave instead of battling them), Detect Gold which can hint you to where treasures can be found, Aura, a skill that lets you walk quiety and reduce chance of monsters attacking you, etc.
Anyway, we're now ready to head out on our next travels adventure. Ruby is getting bored :P Also note the inn ruins :) Personally I like the Tumbleweed Inn's look a lot. It's super cluttered but everything is kinda... wooden-colored. Like you'd expect from a dusty old inn next to the desert. Plus there's just SO much detail in that painting! Escata's paintings seem kinda rushed, honestly. But maybe they're just supposed to look that way to make it look... ruined, IDK.
But yep, that's it for now! Next time we'll travel more north... Maybe SOMETHING happens in the story during the next travels, idk. But I think there should only be a couple of these left at most...? Then Ruby's story really starts to unfold more. We also will start getting more party members after that, too... You can have 7 in your party at once, but each scenario usually has more than that available (usually only like 8 or 9 though).
Laura's adventure has 9 characters and two are optional/missable so if you miss those two, you'll end up with exactly 7, I guess. I think Ruby has access to Anzan, who is one of my faaaaaaaaav characters.