Travels with Iskandar 5

So we left from Iskandaria to head toward Torle, the final destination of the Travels with Iskandar sub.... plot? IDK if you can call it a plot because nothing happens but walking...

But I wanted to show a nifty thing... Sapphire's armlet that she was using to do magic got to durability zero...

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But she was still able to use it :D When your equipment gets to EN0 (EN is short for durability. IDK.) then you can still continue to use it for the rest of battle. It breaks only after the battle is over :)

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"Breaking" just means that the abilities can't be used anymore, so it's pretty much useless. Though at least in the case of accessories, they still provide their defense. This screenshot was from the next battle. I forgot to swap this for a non-broken item between battles, oops. Actually I did that for like 4 more battles. I do this a lot...

Anyway, at this point, you would have to take it to the blacksmith. The Quick-Fix map ability will not work on broken items. So you have to be careful. You can also use the spell "Recycle" during battle, but it only works on the caster and only for the weapon in their main hand. Of course, I can't do any of those because of the challenge run :P

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This battle ended with Iskandar and Sapphire both buckled over on the ground XD

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I finally went to equip Sapphire with a new armlet and... I noticed something! At the bottom it says you can press triangle to "view skills" ????

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?!?! It shows your panels! I didn't know ??? So uh, I guess this is a slightly faster way of viewing your skills without having to go to the Magic Tablets menu. But um... it's still just... a weird alternate view of the Equipment menu...???? Like neither of those things seem intuitive if you're just wanting to check your skills...

Actually... I just realized the main "Skill" menu where you actually use your skills will list all your skills >______> so I guess that makes sense LOL but they'll be greyed out if you can't actively use them on the target you're targeting so most of them will be hard to read.

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When you try to use Locksmith on a chest that doesn't have any locks, you get this message. It feels kind of insulting, hahaha. If it is locked with magic, though, it will actually tell you that instead, which is very nice. Generally, you can't tell if there are locks of any kind without trying to unlock it first. If you just want to observe the treasure chest, you have to use an ability called Sharpeye. The point is that a person who can only pick locks will just fiddle around with the lock but not recognize the traps that are on it. Locksmith will indeed let you know what kinds of locks are on the chest, but also requires you to attempt to unlock it, which if you fail, can set off traps.

Sharpeye, on the other hand, works automatically (no need to spin a reel or anything, it's 100% success rate -- this is actually a change made to the English version which I think makes a lot of sense. How can you fail at looking at something and set off the traps on it??? The Japanese version made you roll a check, and critical failure resulted in setting off all the traps... did your eyeballs try to look so hard they popped out of your head and bumped the trap spring...?!) and it will tell you all the types of locks on the chest and each type of trap that's on the chest. This is also useful if you're wanting to hunt treasure slimes to try to acquire magic tablets, or if you're wanting to avoid poking around at a chest that has an explosion trap, or to know not to bother with a magic-locked chest with traps on it if you don't have the magic to unlock it. Stuff like that. Sharpeye is great XD

Anyway, I don't have Sharpeye for now, so I'm just blindly fiddling with chests. Generally I try to unlock them first, since reading them with fortuneteller will raise their level, and I don't have a high level Locksmith panel, so I'd rather try to pick the locks at the lowest level possible (the game compares the level of your Skill Panel to the level of the chest, and then gives you a different difficulty of reel to roll with accordingly). If I fail picking the lock, I'll set off the traps, and at this point, I don't want that.

The next thing I do is fortuneteller once to see what type of item is inside. Even though fortuneteller always re-randomizes what is inside the chest when you use it, chests tend to always have the same type of item. For example, if you fortuneteller and find money, no matter how many times you read the chest, it will keep having money in it. With other types of items, they tend to trend toward certain types of materials (like metal items, wood items, etc.)

After fortunetelling, if it's money, I disarm the traps right away. If it's anything else, I just keep fortunetelling, since the chance of getting something I really want at this point is pretty low. And I just keep going until the level gets so high I end up failing to fortunetelling, setting off the traps, and if it doesn't explode, getting the low-level item. But if it does happen to 'land' on a good item, I'll try to disarm the traps and open it. My Defuse (Lv3) is better than my Locksmith (Lv2) and the chests I find right now tend to be around level 25-35, and after one fortuneteller, they're usually still not over 40, which is within the range of where Defuse Lv3 is still a pretty good reel that I can hit green most of the time.

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Anyway, I ended up triggering a trap and it was a mimic trap, so a treasure slime appeared, and it dropped a magic tablet!! This is always an exciting thing XD

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Also since Sapphire has Defuse now, she can disarm the field traps, granted that they don't spring the turn you land on the space.

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Sometimes monsters can get crowded up on one space. It's a bit scary. If one attacks you, the entire group will fight you at once. And I've seen it have so many monsters it couldn't fit all the names on the screen :P

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Anyway, we were back at the silver hills again. Like, the same ones from last time that I said I knew meant we were getting close to Nivacolina (though we never go to Nivacolina on the Travels with Iskandar adventures, we just go straight to Torle from here). So... that means last time we literally went north and then too a detour to the southeast to go to Iskandaria?!?! With no explanation...!!

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These guys are appearing as enemies :) I love them. They have great animations and they're kinda sexy.

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Found some big bucks :D Good after I accidentally failed fortuneteller on two money chests before this making me get less than 10kr each :(

Anyway, the adventure was just walking around again so not much happened... but when it ended...!!!

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MAGIC TABLET LV4!!!!

Lv4 is the highest level of magic tablet you can receive, and there are only 5 different types (well, technically 6 but the 6th one is nearly impossible to obtain... it's a super rare drop from a super rare enemy that you can only encounter when playing with clear data). Forest Philosopher Guaneri's tablet is a very good one. Not the #1 I would have wanted if I could choose, but one I'm quite happy with. There's going to be a lot of strong magic on this, so Sapphire will probably be studying it for a long time...

It's very rare to find a Magic Tablet above level 2. Like very rare. I had to grind magic tablets for my SCC, and I needed either one of the five Lv3 tablets or one of the five Lv4 tablets for a specific spell I was looking for that only appears on those two. After about twenty hours of farming tablets only, I didn't find a single tablet over level 2.

I think they're just supposed to be super rare, plus there are probably other factors that determine the level, similar to how your panels and their levels are determined by things you do on the adventure. But no one seems to know the specifics. Even the Kaitaishinsho just says it's random. But some Japanese players on YT and NNDG have videos of tests to try to 'influence' level of tablets. The most successful one seems to be to have many abilities release on your equipment in the fight that you get the tablet drop. It didn't seem to work for me, but some people on the GameFAQs board think it may have increased their chances, but nothing definitive. Someone was even trying to do it to get the 6th type of tablet :P

I do tend to get Lv3 and Lv4 tablets early in games, and often on main scenario adventures, rather than subadventures. So perhaps adventures themselves have different tablet rarities or something???

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Anyway, here's some more about stat boosts by placing panels, and panel combos. I'm replacing Artiste in the top right with the new magic tablet. By looking at the board you can see it's closest to the Wood Elemental spot, but also touching the Strength (flexing arm) and Skill (knife) spots. This is actually the spot that influences Strength the most (and whatever element is in the top-right for that character).

Anyway, you can see Strength and Skill go up only a little if I place it here. Even though this spot has great influence over Strength and Sapphire has good makings, Magic Tablet panels are very weak in physical attributes so they don't give much of a boost at all. Even for a level four panel!

But Wood goes up to 28, even with Sapphire's Wood Making of 2, so that's pretty nice! Also, a cool thing about Magic Tablets is once you master them (learn all the arts on them), they give you some additional bonuses to your stats.

Also, notice how all the other elemental levels raise by 1. (Wood is actually being raised by an additional 1 here, too -- normally a Magic Tablet Lv4 placed in this spot would give you a Wood level of 27.)

This is because of the panel combo bonus I talked about earlier. There are two panels with the same picture (the magic tablets) touching each other on one of the sides. This gives you the boost that comes with matching magic tablet panels, which is to raise all elemental levels.

They only go up by 1 here because this is the weakest form of combo you can make. I mentioned it before, but the three types of combos are two touching on the edge ("Joint," the weakest), three in opposite corners from each other ("Triangle," medium strength), and three going in a row across the middle ("Line," the strongest). Also, matching colors increases the bonus you get, too (colors are based on level, so if this was a magic tablet Lv1 I was placing, I'd actually get a bigger boost to each element since the bonus would be two of the same picture + same color).

You also can't "stack" a panel into two combos. A single panel will only count for one combo bonus, so if you try to make another combo using a panel that's already used in another combo, only one will count for the bonus. Strangely, which type of combo gets "priority" is actually different by character.

This seems a bit complicated, but it's really not. Just make shapes with the pictures and you get bonus stats.

When you're on an adventure, you can open the status menu and see a list of what bonuses you currently have and exactly what they are. So it would say that I have a magic tablet joint bonus and that it's giving +1 to each element. You can experiment to find out which stats are affected by which picture. It's always the same for the same picture (so magic tablets in a combo always are +all elemental levels) so you can learn which are the 'best' combinations for useful stats.

Sadly a lot of pictures only appear on one type of panel (so like... Sword picture only appears on Sword panel...) so you can't really make a combo with it unless you want to have just... multiple levels of sword panels on your board which is wasting space that could be used for a bigger variety of panels/abilities.

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Anyway, we've finally arrived in Torle!

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Sapphire realizes that this is the birthplace of Leith Torles. Outside of that, it doesn't really explain to you who that is or what the significance of it is, other than he's a powerful wizard. This is part of what I mean about learning about the world from playing all the scenarios. Just like you go to Escata and see it destroyed with no context, here we hear about Leith Torles, but the characters already know his importance, but as a player, we don't... unless we've played some of the other stories where this is explored further. Some characters even can visit Torle and get pretty much no explanation, similar to how we visited Escata.

A lot of the famous places, historical figures, legends, etc. are not explained in detail every time you come across them, but usually you'll learn a lot about them in one story or another. A part of Judy's story has to do with Leith Torles (her story tells you a lot about magic and the famous wizards and witches of this world).

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I stopped by the inn and talked to the people there. Almost nobody lives in this village so there was just this person and a little kid that said something uninteresting.

He's gonna go get ice O_o

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Sapphire's Artiste ability is gone because I replaced it with Magic Tablet L4 so we can't expand the shops' inventories anymore :(

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Since part of this challenge run involves no fixing items, I can just sell the broken items for some extra cash...

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So we can go to this house called "The birthplace of Leith Torles?" ...

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Sapphire tells the old woman here, who supposedly can help her, that she saw her future and is now too scared to be able to read the future anymore. The woman instead asks if she is really afraid, and then says "the other girl looks like she is the one that is afraid" (referring to Ruby). As if only one person can be afraid at a time or something, IDK lololol. But yeah, just a bit more foreshadowing that there's more to Ruby's power than we've seen so far. (BTW, Ruby does have a TINY bit of fortunetelling power at this point -- not only does she start with the Lv1 panel, but during her fake fortunetelling stuff, she would get vague visions -- that's how she had a hunch where to find the kitty)

But yeah, after this, there's no direction or instruction at all, and I think you just need to clear any subadventure at all and then come back here later, and that will advance the story. In case you have been trying to clear all the available ones up til this point, a new one appears in Torle after seeing this scene so you won't have accidentally "run out." It's usually the one I end up doing, too.

Fun (random) fact: When I first bought this game (I had gone out to pick up FFX-2, and saw this on the shelf and thought the art was REALLY cool, and it was Square game, so I figured I'd try it), after watching the really exciting intro FMV, I played Ruby as my first character ever :) I never got past the kitty adventure because I couldn't figure out how to open the door, even after I realized I had to pick up the key.

But for now, we've finished our main journey, and we'll go do a little subadventuring.