|This sign wasn't kidding. I probably cast 200 "Repel" spells in this dungeon.|
For this most recent session, I basically looped the same track as the last one, crossing items off my "to do" list and correcting the previous mistakes along the way.
Knowing I needed an elf to find favor with the goddess Oraniana, I decided to return to the Elven village of Llendora. I was getting sick of Subia's ineffectiveness by now, and I wanted to replace her with someone with better charm and capable of casting spells. After cycling through several elf options, I settled on Lupi, who came with strong music skills (in case I ever wanted to explore that), and some magic and bow skills. Her charm was high enough that I could propel it to 12 with the "Glamour" spell (see below). More important, she had her own little side quest to retrieve a lost magic bow, "Darkfinder," from some monsters' "catacombs." I knew of only one town with "catacombs" in them, and I was headed there anyway.
|Don't be; I'm just min-maxing.|
I felt bad about getting rid of Subia for role-playing reasons, but then I rationalized that choosing the best team for the job is role-playing.
At this point, I noticed it was October, when Ziyx said he'd be done with his new "Emenad" spellbook. I returned to him, but there was a glitch. Though he bragged in several dialogue options about having finished the book, when I asked for it specifically, he kept saying it would be done in October.
I returned to Ussa, where a mage was selling the book, and was able to buy it for quite a bit of money. I gave it to Lupi and started having her memorize its powerful spells, although ultimately her magic wasn't powerful enough to make the most use of it, and I transferred it to Eflun.
|Like her player, Gia is colorblind and not always sure what she's talking to.|
Before Ussa, I stopped back in Telermain and briefly picked up Perin, who has been slaving away the entire game at a metalworker's. He had over $6,000 by now, enough to make up for the cost of the spellbook. It's worth pointing out that I haven't been dealing with my multiple party members as efficiently as possible. I could have left Perin with a mindstone so I could contact him remotely and give him orders. I could have had him meet us at one of the many strongholds on the continent with his proceeds, rather than trek all the way back to Telermain to see him. But in a game with no time limit, the need for such efficiency isn't as pressing.
|Hey, Perin. I'll just be taking everything you've earned in 3 months.|
Back to the trail we went. With Lupi "Glamoured" high enough in charm, I talked to a few NPCs in Wanasol I couldn't talk with before. From a mage named Pharus, I got a song called "Sambali" which is supposed to help with doombeasts, if I ever face them again.
We woke up the goddess Oraniana south of Wanasol, and since I had an elf in my party this time, she looked on us with favor and increased our dexterity, agility, intelligence, and resistances. Unfortuately, I still didn't have the right password for the god sleeping in a temple above the chasm. I have one I haven't used (KIMYABIN), but I'm not sure who it goes to.
|It's about time a god did something for me in this game.|
And with a ruby now in hand, I was able to bribe the goblin leader in Deadwood and get the password to the catacombs. They were one level, but very large. In them, I found the magic conch shell that will supposedly get me to the southern islands and Lupi's "Darkfinder" bow. Ironically, she's too weak to actually wield it. I'll have her hold on to it in case I find a god who increases her strength.
|Is this really "your" bow, Lupi?|
Someone else in Deadwood (I took bad notes) gave me the password to the fortress at Maratul, and an anonymous comment about maximizing "Teleport" range with a Turpin mushroom turned out to get me to the island. For some reason, I had been under the impression that "Teleport" always just presented a 3 x 3 grid. Boy, was I wrong.
|Enhanced by a Turpin, I can "Teleport" anywhere.|
Most of this session took place there, in a dungeon of 8 levels with an insane number of teleporters, spiders, and snakes. I hate the spiders and snakes because you have to keep casting "Repel" to get rid of them, and you have to do it for every damned one in case he happens to be blocking a key teleporter or treasure square.
|One section of Maratul had me teleport away every time I got near this chest.|
To pass the time, I decided to experiment more with spells, especially now that I have (I think) all the books. I spent about 7 days resting and continually memorizing a variety of them and then tried them on monsters I was in no danger of losing to.
The spell system in The Magic Candle II is unchanged from the original. There are 7 spellbooks with 5 spells each, and you have to possess the physical book (it's a tradeable object) to memorize the spells within it. If you don't own a spellbook, you can rent one at a couple of wizards' lodges, but resting there is a pain. You can also occasionally get batches of spells from magic fountains in dungeon rooms.
|Memorizing a spell in "camp."|
Memorizing spells takes from minutes to hours--time when the rest of the party is usually sleeping--so mages spent a lot of time hopped up on Sermins to restore their energy. The time it takes to memorize a spell is dependent on the characters' magic skill, as is the power of the spell when cast, as is the amount of energy needed to cast it. A Turpin mushroom will cause the next spell to cast as if the caster has 99/99 in magic.
|This screen shows some of Eflun's memorized spells, how many minutes it will take to memorize them, and how much energy they will consume when cast.|
A lot of spells are binary--they either work or don't. "Repel" is one of these, as is the "Pierce" spell that makes magical energy barriers go away. I guess the game's nuclear option, the "Destroy" spell, also falls in this category. A good strategy is to have lower-magic-skill characters memorize these.
|"Repelling" a corridor full of snakes.|
Up until this point in the game, I had barely experimented with offensive spells, mostly because the combination of Mirget and Gonshi mushrooms plus the "Jump" spell turns my party into an unstoppable force that can wipe out most enemy parties in the first round, and none of these resources costs much to replace. No offensive spell, even at max power, improves upon a good warrior with a Mirget mushroom (which causes max damage in the next attack) in her system.
There are a handful of exploration spells without which the game could not be won. If you don't have "Repel" to get past the magic spiders and snakes, "Pierce" to get past the magic barriers, and "Walkwater" to cross ponds and streams in the dungeons, and "Disguise" to enter enemy-controlled towns, you simply wouldn't be able to win the game. "Soulspeak" is also necessary to talk to a few NPC ghosts, and "Restsoul" is essential to permanently kill undead. Otherwise, you'd have to flee combats with them because they keep getting up every round until the spell is cast.
|In the midst of an ambush, a "Restsoul" permanently kills a skeleton.|
Part of me rebels against the idea of mandatory magic in the game. Even though I wouldn't dream of playing a game that offers magic without a magic-using character, I resent a bit that I must have magic ability. I like the idea that a game can be won with a party of just fighters or something.
|It's mandatory, but the game gives me a choice anyway.|
A few spells make travel and exploration a lot easier. "Locate" shows you the positions of enemy monster parties so you can avoid them; "Confuse" keeps them from attacking. (Monsters are easy enough to flee without them, but it feels cowardly that way.) "Teleport" gets you to hard-to-reach places. "Glamour" elevates a character's charm ability and lets him talk to NPCs who would otherwise ignore him; I forgot about it until just recently. "Sense" warns you of ambushes in dungeons; I'd almost call it essential.
|I don't think anyone requires charm higher than this.|
The most useless spell in the game is "Vision," which you cast before you enter a room, and it tells you that there are enemies there.
|In other words, it's the same as every other dungeon room.|
There are a few combat spells that are not essential, but I wouldn't want to live without them. "Jump" is chief among these, instantly putting melee fighters in hacking range of priority enemies, who tend to start way in the back. It's almost game-breaking, really. Without it, you'd have to strategize a lot more, and perhaps use a greater variety of spells. "Shield" is necessary to create magic shields around party members to protect them from magic damage. At this point in the game, I find that I use "Heal" and "Resurrect" only rarely, usually when I've screwed something up or forgot to cast "Sense" often enough to detect ambushes. I'm glad they exist. "Energy" is an odd one that acts like a Sermin spell and restores the character's energy to 99. Since casting it takes less energy than it restores, it feels like it ought not to work, like a perpetual motion machine.
|I'm glad this spell exists, but I'm sick of having to cast it every 10 steps.|
On the offensive spells, my experiments confirmed my belief that the non-damaging offensive spells are just a waste of time. "Fear," "Weaken," "Freeze," and "Drain" all perform as promised, but not better than jumping a melee warrior next to the same enemy and hacking away.
|They probably wouldn't have done him much good in the first place.|
Similarly, the damage spells mostly underperform melee attacks, even with high magic skill (or a Turpin). "Fireball" is probably the best, but we're talking 50 damage to more than 60 from a good melee attack. (And melee attacks don't run afoul of enemies' shields.) "Shatter" and "Acidball" suffer from the same problem.
For these reasons, even the so-called "powerful" spellbooks fail to impress. The "Zoxinn" spellbook has a bunch of spells that duplicate other spells in the game but affect everyone instead of just one character or enemy, usually at lesser power. "Zapall" is "fireball everyone"; "Zengrl" is "heal everyone"; "Zishoxe" is "shield everyone"; "Zefoar" is "area-effect fireball"; "Zutyun" is "weaken everyone." They're impressive, but they take so long to memorize and cost a lot of energy and I simply find that I rarely need their power.
One spell that I admit I like is "Forget." Gaem demons often cast it against my party members as their first action, when they've ambushed me and I don't get an opportunity to kill them first. It causes the recipient to forget all copies of whatever spell he currently has in memory, which sucks when you've just spent 8 hours resting to memorize 60 "Jump" spells. It can even make a battle unwinnable if the spell in mind is "Restsoul" and you're facing undead in the same enemy party. Anyway, getting hit with it is so infuriating that I occasionally like to cast it back on the Gaems, causing them to "Forget" their own "Forget" inventory.
|How does it feel!?|
That brings us to the "Emenad" spellbook that I waited so long for. There's some awesome stuff in here, theoretically. "Betray" turns a foe against his party. "Summon" summons an enemy creature to fight with the party. "Terrify" causes all monsters to flee. "Double" makes a duplicate of a party member, with the same skills and equipment, for the duration of combat. "Timestop" causes the enemy to lose a combat round. Each of these costs about 50 energy but would definitely be worth it for a really tough battle. I just haven't encountered any of these yet.
Emenad's crowning spell is one called "Destroy" that simply obliterates any enemy--at the cost of every other spell that the caster has memorized. I have a couple of memorized in case I really need it, but I've yet to find a single enemy who could last a round against a couple of Mirget- and Gonshi-enhanced fighters "Jumped" next to them.
|Killing one enemy wasn't quite worth it.|
Two more notes:
- I still don't understand the music system. Lupi successfully used the "Morning Mist" spell to charm some bargs for a few seconds, but since you can't take any other action when the spell is playing, that didn't really seem to help me. They were just as hostile when the spell was over. Maybe it cost them the one round? If so, the music system isn't really worth the time.
|Some bargs are briefly enraptured by a song.|
- My characters have largely stopped getting skill increases even though I've switched some to secondary weapon types. I figured skills level fast when they're low (as in the beginning of the game) and slow when they're high, but now I'm wondering if the speed of leveling isn't based on the totality of all the characters' skills.
|This is getting almost formulaic.|
Maratul culminated in another encounter with a ghost--this time the mother of one of the doomed forty--who gave me a gray scroll to use at the Candle of Pain. I just need to find the right library to record the correct incantation, then return with it to Ruz, which I've already cleared. I'm still not sure where the Candle of Anguish is (for which I have a pink scroll), but I have some southern islands to explore, so maybe it's there. It's about time to be wrapping up, so let's see if I can push through to the end for the next posting.
Time so far: 52 hours