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All In, Enderal [Travelogue of Skyrim Total Conversion Mod, Enderal]

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Guile, May 21, 2017.

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  1. SolipsistSerpent

    SolipsistSerpent Endlessly Devouring

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    Speaking of Fallout, let me share my favorite way the ability to murder nearly everyone and quests and roleplaying interacted. I was playing Fallout 3 as a charismatic scientist-sniper who started out as a selfish con-artist but eventually developed a heart of gold. That wasn't my original intent but it flowed naturally from the events of the game (some guy on the radio praising you whenever you help some people out turns out to be a surprisingly good motivator).

    Part way through the transition, I was approached by a sketchy scientist to find a rogue android. The android turned out to be a nice guy. I convinced the android I'd take care of his hunters for him and he paid me with a gun. Then I approached his hunters and told them where he was and got paid by them. But because Fallout is so immersive, after they started walking out of the room to hunt down the android, I stabbed them in the back... almost literally. Well, shot them in the back. I got double-paid and sort of did the right thing. Because of the ability to derail quests by killing people, the android was still able to keep his life. It was amazingly satisfying. I wish more RPGs gave you that level of freedom.
     
  2. iamnuff

    iamnuff Connoisseur.

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    On the other hand, you got paid by people you were going to kill anyway, so that money should have just been on their corpses when you killed them.
    No need to trick them when you can just root through their pockets later.
     
  3. Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    Bethesda games being what they are, it wouldn't surprise me if the quest money came out of some mysterious fund that isn't on their person when you kill them.
    Skyrim had one of those, too. You could run into Redguards looking for a fleeing Redguard noblewoman, go find her in Whiterun and claim to help her, then lead her pursuers right to her, then stab them in the back for a double payment. Pretty neat.
     
  4. SolipsistSerpent

    SolipsistSerpent Endlessly Devouring

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    The payment was a cybernetic enhancement to my physical abilities by the shady scientist. Not something I can just pull out of the guy's pocket and slap into my skull. Although, my high Science score and choice of perks might suggest otherwise, now that I think about it, it was definitely easier to have someone who knows what they were doing handle installation. I basically got Wired Reflexes and an unique gun out of the deal, plus whatever I could loot of the corpses of the scientist and his body guard.
     
  5. iamnuff

    iamnuff Connoisseur.

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    Ah, Payment-in-services.
    Nevermind then, that makes perfect sense.

    Upgrades/Perks like that are the type I love too, like the challenge perks I mentioned earlier. Something you earn in gameplay for completing a quest, rather than just slotting points into something.

    That's true, but games have been getting better at that sort of thing.
    I've played a bunch where you can pay someone, then kill them later to get the money back. Or kill someone to get the money that you would have gotten if you'd done something for them.
    Usually they only have that much money on them, which is a little odd, but eh.

    All they need to do now is do away with the hidden chests for shop-stock.

    Whiterun's weapon-shop has all sorts fo armour and weapons all over the counter and walls. How hard would it be to have the stuff the guy is selling on the counter, so you can actually steal what he has in stock, rather than the crappy display pieces?
     
  6. SolipsistSerpent

    SolipsistSerpent Endlessly Devouring

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    And the fleeing noblewoman is safe, so your conscience is assuaged. That's the best kind of double-cross, where you're pretty sure the other side deserves it.
     
  7. Threadmarks: Update 43
    Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    - Before heading back to Ark and turning in the last Black Stone, I swing by a dungeon in the Silvergrove area called Old Yogosh.
    Going by the dead miners, the one Keeper draped artistically over a fence, and the many (before I got to them) living mercenaries, I can guess what happened; the same thing that always happens to Enderal’s poor working class. The mercs seem to either employ or are employed by a Nehrimese scientist brooding over a book about Skaraggs.
    Skaraggs are the barbarian types who made my armor, so I’m pretty interested: the book is actually a great little story right out of Lovecraft’s playbook. I wish I’d taken screenshots of the book, but from memory:
    The book is an autobiography of a soldier, captured by the Skaraggs during war. Mostly through raw sex appeal he convinces them to spare his life (that is, one of the Skaraggs falls in love with him). In time he finds his way into the forbidden caves, discovers a mural containing the faces of his fellow soldiers who have gone missing. Well, as anyone who has starred in a Lovecraft mythos story would tell you, reading about the Dread Old Ones is your first mistake. He starts losing time, fugue style, and the Skaraggs figure out that he was a naughty boy who went where he oughtn’t.
    I’m not entirely sure if the Skaraggs were feeding prisoners to whatever monster was inside the mural, or if they’d sealed it in there. Considering he woke up from another fugue state with the entire tribe murdered after they were planning to murder him for his trespasses, I’m leaning towards the seal thing.
    It actually ends pretty well, as so few archeologist protagonists of Lovecraft do; he managed to make his way down the coast, and the farther he got from the cave, the more he came back to himself. After stumbling into a village, he basically spent the next few years piecing himself back together and… that’s it. Happy(-ish) ending!

    - I was trying to figure out if the book involved Old Yogosh in any way, but as far as I can tell it’s just a cool story.
    In the process of working my way through the dungeon I do a miniquest that partially floods the place in the process of turning on the water for all the Powder Desert. Kinda hoping this is going to result in trees and oases sprouting up next time I ride through, but I suspect it’ll be like when I gave a bunch of Red Vynroot to the Order but still see ‘fleshmaggot sufferers’ all the time whenever I wander through Undercity.

    - At the end, there’s a great deal of fire (ever-burning and pressure plates), and charred-black corpses (in funny existential torment poses, stuck in burning, hanging cages, and piled in - well - piles).

    [​IMG]

    Poking one of the piles (because, you know, that’s how I do) causes this new friend to emerge.

    [​IMG]

    Mildly terrifying, but you know. 6 seconds of timestop goes a long way to taking the bite out of single boss encounters. Stab stab stabstabstabstab done.

    - Back at Ark’s sun temple, I overhear a tidbit from one of the rank and file: Sakaresh (that’s Calia) has been consecrated to the First Sigil. Has she been moving up the corporate rankings while I was away? Good for her! Not everybody gets a fancy title out of the gate like yours truly.
    Order titles go from Novitiate through First Sigil to, I think, Fourth Sigil for guys like our dear old disapproving jerk-dad Signet Leader Jorek.
    But of course, because nobody in Enderal can just say a nice thing about anyone, the guys I’m listening to add, ‘Good for her’ and ‘Dunwar would have deserved this so much more, but well, who am I to question Malphas’s will?’, both in the smarmiest, most passive aggressive tones ever.
    See, Calia? This is where keeping the fact that you can turn into an ass-kicking demon quiet comes back to bite you; maybe fear isn’t as good as love, but it’s still better than naked contempt.

    - I also notice in my inventory is a butterfly in a jar: a Moonglow Moth, the kind Rynaeus had be catch for him.

    [​IMG]

    - I trot over and me and Lexil the Archmage pop the last Black Stone into The Machine. Flashes of light, rumblings, Lexil getting knocked ass over teakettle, all that.
    He assures me that with this… with this, this might just work!
    Obviously, things can’t just work, it’s not good storytelling. Magic seems to be… not working at the moment. ‘The sea of eventualities’, Lexil calls it, which is pretty rad in a bookish sort of way. I’m to go find Yuslan Sha’Rim, who was supposed to be magically sealing the gates before the Nehrimese get here. Apparently we can do that!
    Yuslan, remember, is basically the last Order Nehrimese mage of note after Constantine and Lishari got murdered. The one that seems to be haunted by an old girlfriend or something. It kinda reminds me that we never did figure out who murdered her. That plotline seems to have fallen by the wayside with Coarek invading and the Beacon and so on.

    - Now I’m kind of amazed we can do it at all, but obviously we can’t just seal Ark away from all danger just like that! S’not good storytelling.
    No no, what we need here is an invasion. The Nehrimese, sailing right into the harbor, just as I always wondered why they hadn’t already. I like to think that the inlet full of giant spiders, the beach full of soil elementals, the graveyard of undead and the beached ship full of bandit marauders to the south of Ark bought us some much-needed time.
    Tealor joins Yuslan, me and some guard captain whose name escapes me.
    Tealor Arantheal turns out to have some magic after all: for our little pow-wow, he puts up a spooky green barrier, presumably to keep out the cannon shells dropping down on the Noble District.
    I suspect maybe it's been awhile since Tealor Arantheal threw up his last barrier spell. I mean, this thing seems to have holes like good cheese.
    Dogs?

    [​IMG]

    Guards who seem to think they’re under attack by the air around them?

    [​IMG]

    The important thing is that you tried, Arantheal.
    We have a quick huddle, decide it’s time to murder us some saboteurs, throw back the invaders, bar the gates, have Yuslan bring up the barriers, and then it’s just taunting Coarek from the battlements about how he smells of elderberries.

    - Me and Tealor team up to wander through the marketplace, killing an infiltrator who seems to have killed one of the two chickens that wander around the bounty board (also a few nameless NPCs, but I walk by that chicken every time I visit the magic box that holds all my shit, our bond is much deeper). He gets my sword all up in his guts, as is the fate of all chicken-murderers.
    Around the back, two infiltrators are dead and already stripped of their gear. Weird. Maybe there’s another Bethesda protagonist around here someplace.
    We link up with a small squad led by some guy named Harlejan. He’s appropriately surprised to see Tealor Arantheal down from his little mountain and breaking heads, which, you know, fair enough. There’s some speeches.
    More fighting, working our way through the harbor district, this time against proper Nehrimese soldiers led by some named lady mage. Considering I cut her down though, I’m not going to remember her name. I’m pretty sure it’s not Coarek’s righthand woman, she seemed like more of a rogue type.
    Also looting; Nehrimese Shields are worth a lot of gold, but so are City Guard Cuirasses, and the infiltrators each pack a pair of rune daggers that aren’t tremendously valuable but are light and easy to carry. Looking back at the many naked looted corpses strewn here and there across the harbor district, I can’t help but feel the moment is undercut somewhat.

    [​IMG]

    - So we go push some levers to bring the portcullises down (why do we need the portcullises down for Yuslan to put up a barrier? Who knows), you can hear Harlejan bringing up the cannons through the walls somehow, at one point I have a brief Future Vision flash of a bunch of voices shouting stuff like ‘You heard him, go!’ and ‘Retreat!’ and ‘Gah!’ and such...
    Busywork, basically.

    - Somehow or other, Harlejan and one of his nameless Guardmooks get trapped on the other side of the magic barrier when it goes up. He’s all ‘Grandmaster, open the gates’ and Arantheal looks down and says ‘... No.’
    Which, hey, I’m in full agreement with the hard choices, because I see who’s stalking up behind them.
    So Harlejan pleads at us for a good five seconds, and then… yyyyeah.

    [​IMG]

    That asshole. Samael, Coarek’s evil-looking executioner pal. Well he tears the souls right out of Harlejan and Guardmook #1.
    And then Coarek strolls up like he’s late for a Sunday brunch.


    The Takeaway:
    As great as Yogosh’s character model is, I kinda wish he’d come out of a painting or something, to link up with the story. Oh well!
    The invasion isn’t bad. Yuslan gets to show some spine, Arantheal gets to take charge, I get to murder a bunch of guys. I mean, it suffers a little from being compared to the last three quests I went on that had real character beats and cool plot twists and such, but it's not bad.
    I do feel like it stretches disbelief a little that Coarek can just walk up to our walls for a chat when we know Harlejan has been readying cannons and ‘firespitters’ and so on while me and Arantheal were pushing buttons. It might have been cooler if, say, Harlejan got to turn the cannons on him and Samael blew them the fuck up or something with his naughty black smoke magic. It’d hype Samael up more and make me feel bad about such a badass getting trapped outside and mined for cheap drama.
     
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  8. Malorius

    Malorius Not too sore, are you?

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    What was your late friend's name? His loot should have told you.
    Mhm, if memory serves me right, the First Sigil is the Keepers. Meaning, both you and Kalia should be involved in that story, but the rumors can deal with only one special snowflake, I guess.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
  9. Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    I think that was Yogosh. Usually the boss of the dungeon has the same name as that dungeon.
    Oh, so that's the rank we've both been since we got inducted as Keepers? So it's probably been a random voice line since the initiation and I've just never managed to hear it until now.
     
  10. SolipsistSerpent

    SolipsistSerpent Endlessly Devouring

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    Maybe his best barrier is a conceptual thing that requires the area protected to be walled off. Or it's lazy writing, one of the the two.
    It's been so long, what with all the (excellent) side quests that I don't even remember who these people are. Obviously, they're connected to the invaders somehow, I can get that just from context, but how they've interacted with your character is a blank. I suppose some re-reading is in order.

    About the cannons: Once the guy has walked right up to the gate, unless he's kind enough to stand directly in front of one, they're pretty much useless. They are not meant to be aimed at small targets or point blank range, much less both.
     
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  11. Malorius

    Malorius Not too sore, are you?

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    Wait, those levers were connected to some steaming machinery, right? Maybe that technomagic mumbojumbo acted as a source of power for the barrier. We have a precedent of a powerful magical effects produced by complicated machines. Like the Conduit.

    I mean the Beacon, of course.
     
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  12. Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    That's fair! I should rewrite this update a little to remind everybody about these names.

    Coarek is the head of Nehrim after they killed their wizard god king and got all anti-religious. Dresses like a Spanish conquistador, talks like a posh shithead. He's been having dreams that tell him he's an emissary called the Liberator, and that it's his job to make sure the Cleansing goes through without a hitch, but that bear High One from way back was all 'Emissaries lol they're fooling themselves you're the only one that matters Prophetess.' So who the fuck knows, eh?

    He has a rogue lady and this cultist-looking motherfucker Samael as his right hand wo/men. Last time I mouthed off to him he had Samael tear my soul out and I had to restart the game.
     
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  13. Malorius

    Malorius Not too sore, are you?

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    Ha! Good times. Don't you just love cutscene defeats?

    Btw, last I checked, the SureAI guys insisted that the big update for Enderal with new quests, locations (like that whole underdeveloped deep Undercity area) and ending will come out soon. That was a while ago... What's your version?
     
  14. SolipsistSerpent

    SolipsistSerpent Endlessly Devouring

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    Ah, that does sound familiar now. I remember you thinking the bear sounded disingenuous when you didn't get your own army. I pointed out that it probably just means the bear doesn't think armies matter. Maybe it can sense your narrative weight?
     
  15. Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    Hate them. Hate them so much.
    Whatever the newest one is.

    I do hope they come out with that DLC soon, while I'm doing this Let's Play thing. That'd be neat.
    Admittedly, I was more impressed by The Order 15 levels ago, when I hadn't found Keeper and City Guard corpses in every major mine and mountain pass from Ark to Duneville and Coarek hadn't just stoppered us up in our city with a fleet outside.
     
  16. Threadmarks: Update 44
    Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    - The Nehrimese mage Yuslan Sha’rif put up the entropy barrier, Samael on the other side tore out a couple of souls to set the mood, and I killed a lot of infiltrators, but now it’s Coarek and Arantheal’s show.
    Coarek makes the first shot across the bow, claiming surprise that Arantheal is even here getting his hands dirty.
    It is true that I’ve been the one actually schlepping Black Stones around and killing entire villages of monsters, but Tealor Arantheal has also had the unenviable job of corralling a bunch of hidebound Endraleans to do what he wants them to do, and that’s a Herculean feat in its own way.

    - Coarek has this habit of saying things that sound fair and reasonable on the surface but are also not really those things if you think about it for a minute.
    ‘Don’t make this conflict bloodier than it already is’... after sailing into our harbour and trying to murder everyone. So his rhetorical strategy makes it sound like we’re the bad guy for trying to resist the invasion. For a story about fighting ascended smoke monsters and the end of the world, some bits of Enderal feel way too real.
    Arantheal fires back with overflowing sarcasm.

    [​IMG]

    Pretty fantastic tough guy lean on Yuslan’s part. His head turns back and forth to watch who’s talking, it’s neat.

    - Yeah, so obviously Arantheal isn’t opening the gates any time soon.
    Coarek says that in that case, he wants to see every prisoner crucified by nightfall, and all Endraleans are to be killed on sight.
    Not that he takes enjoyment from this, you understand! Coarek considers himself a rationalist; it’s those religious people who choose dogma over reason that bring this on themselves.
    Arantheal refusing to submit to Rationality (and by extension, Coarek, its advocate) is the last proof he needs that Enderal is beyond saving.

    - Tealor Arantheal is not happy when we head back up to the Sun Temple, natch.
    But his day is about to get worse: our old disapproving pal Sigil Leader Jorek is laid out on the ground when we get back, with a small crowd standing over him. According to Natara (that’s the third leg of the leadership of the Order; Tealor as grandmaster, Natara the Tuchessa his 2IC, and then Jorek mostly by virtue of being there from the start with Natara and Tealor) he’s the one who let the Nehrimese invaders into the city.
    I could see this going either way, really.
    Jorek is just as old a hand in the Order as Natara and Tealor, he could have felt slighted that they got to be the heads while he’s still out leading patrols and doing initiations and stuff. He’s been played as being kind of bitter about the whole thing.
    But then, if the Tuchessa was the one sliding help under the table to Coarek, she’d want a convenient patsy to take the fall. She’s been bucking Tealor’s commands to focus on the Beacon as superstitious hoodoo when they should be focused on more earthly concerns.
    Arantheal, sounding at the end of his rope, orders Jorek imprisoned.

    - The good news keeps coming; Archmage Lexil and an elderly lady named Magistra Yaela are arguing about a ‘Numinos’.
    I think Yaela’s new to the plot, presumably because Yuslan has never shown any interest in the Beacon and aside from him and Lexil all our name-worthy mages are dead, and we needed someone to help hold up this conversation.
    She’s got some fire, but she’s no Constantine Firespark, I’ll tell you that.
    Apparently when we rebuilt this thing we neglected to acquire the very heart of the machine. All that stuff about getting the black stones for power? Without the Numinos to aim the energy, we basically just built a giant mystical bomb at the top of our city.

    - I also get to listen outside the door while they interrogate Jorek! That happened a lot faster than I thought it would.
    So turns out Jorek is a drunkard and a cap dust addict, and Tealor Arantheal and Natara have been covering it up for him. That seems like the sort of corruption I’d expect in the highest offices of the land here in Enderal, sure.
    A bottle of cap dust was left by Lishari’s dead body, remember. Jorek denies the charge, and to be fair that seems like a pretty easy frame job.
    Jorek also doesn’t know anything about the mercenaries Coarek has been hiring, but maintains that letting Coarek into the city would have been better in the long run. Just stop building the machine, sue for peace, live under Coarek’s benevolent rule, like that.
    I mean until the High Ones blow up the whole goddamn world, but in fairness I was there for all of that and I’m still not 100% sure I believe it. Jorek and Natara are kind of the sanest ones in this story.
    They give Jorek some good lines:

    [​IMG]

    Jorek actually seems kind of concerned about the fate of all the little villages and farms now that we’ve refused to let Coarek into the city, but I say if they’ve managed to survive the dead rising and the pirates and everything else, one more murderous threat in Enderal isn’t so much.
    Also, some spicy accusations about Tealor sharing Natara’s bed, you know how it goes.
    Tealor fires back, calling Jorek a ‘hollow man’ without talent or principles. And then, uh.
    Well, Sigil Leader Jorek isn’t going to make it to stand any kind of trial.
    Tealor just cut him down right in the middle of a ‘You’ll all see I was right!’ rant.

    - Tealor Arantheal told me to take a nap, and…

    [​IMG]

    Yeah, naps have historically been a pretty bad time for me in this game. Guess it’s time to go see Daddy again.
    Kinda puts things in perspective, in a ‘it can always get worse’ kind of way.


    The Takeaway:
    Just cleanup from the invasion and setup stuff for the next round of quests, seems like. I appreciate that Jorek has half a point, although frankly I wouldn’t trust Coarek as far as I can throw him. Although I’m willing to be convinced on that point, given say, 5 minutes alone with him and a steep battlement.
    I don’t like him. Villains that talk about peace and rationality if you just do everything they say and believe what they believe kind of tarnish the ideals they espouse.
     
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  17. Malorius

    Malorius Not too sore, are you?

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    So it's the final stretch now. I'd say you are about to plunge into the last quarter of the game, where (almost) all questions will be answered. Of course, it will get worse before getting better.

    But first, another dozen of hours of obsessive-compulsive sidequesting! (Try Apotheosis at least, it's really neat.) There is actually only a handful of those in Enderal, less than 20. Makes it more special that way, I guess.

    Really enjoy another perspective for this story. Some of those conclusions never occurred to me in the process of (rushing through) the game. Thanks, I guess.
     
  18. Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    Apotheosis is where he tries to become a giant robot, right? Did that one before the Black Stones, I think.

    I've still got a couple sidequests kicking around, like the one from the artist lady to go to Dark Valley
     
  19. Malorius

    Malorius Not too sore, are you?

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    Huh. You actually did, yeah. I am still conflicted about that storyline. On one hand it has some very important implications about Starling tech that will become relevant much later. On the other hand: very very long. (And hard, because some of us prefer to play on the hardest difficulty with inhumane overhaul mod selections. Incidentally, some of us don't have the best judgement for time conservation choices. Ugh.)

    Dark Valley quest shows some very intriguing applications of Enthropy in the game world. Check it out when you have motivation again.
     
  20. SolipsistSerpent

    SolipsistSerpent Endlessly Devouring

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    Painting yourself as the bad guy tends to make for less successful tyrants than the ones who can offer a lie that people can swallow, even if the people know it's a lie on some level.
    Full or empty? If there was still cap-dust in it, I call it a frame job. He's not leaving that stuff behind.
    Well, the army's got a lot bigger numbers than random wandering monsters, so I guess he could overwhelm the hardy farm-folk of Enderal if he's willing to trade a half-dozen or more men for each one.
    Tell me about it, I just finally got around to playing Baldur's gate and every time you sleep after a big plot event it's always drowning in oceans of blood or watching a perfect statue of herself smashed while a disembodied voice says you can be unmade
     
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  21. Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    I do definitely think the Nehrimese could kill the farmer folk, but I'm also remembering that time I unlocked a door in a barn and had to kill a rat swarm. And the time I stuck my nose into a disused granary and fought like 8 Vatyr to the death. Twice. The Vatyr farm is one of the four farms that surround the capital, even!

    When Endralean farmers get a monster infestation they just stop using that building and carry on business as usual.
     
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  22. SolipsistSerpent

    SolipsistSerpent Endlessly Devouring

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    Well, you can't let a little thing like a monster infestation get in the way of doing your farming.
     
  23. Threadmarks: Update 45
    Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    So, dream sequence time.

    - I kind of wish you could scroll back out at this point and your character model was replaced by a small child, but I guess locking it in first person is a good step in the right direction.
    On the other hand, it’s not like being level 45 and covered in heavy armor would save me when my childhood house inevitably catches fire again, maybe that would be a good option too. Embrace the contradiction.

    - Daddy is still hairless, burned, but not as crazed as usual.
    We have a pretty civil conversation, where Daddy thinks I’m as lost as all the others. ‘I know you still didn’t find it,’ he says.
    My line is, ‘You’re wrong, Daddy. We found the torch, and I found the fire.’
    I’m guessing this is the Beacon and the Black Stones to power it? The Beacon kind of looks like a torch, we just gave it power...

    [​IMG]

    ‘To listen,’ he adds.
    Pretty good zinger there, Daddy.
    Me and Daddy have a seat at the table in silence – the bagged corpses of Mommy and Sister are thankfully gone – and listen.

    - See, in the next room over, we get to hear Daddy and Mommy having an argument.
    ‘You make me very, very unhappy,’ Daddy says. And then…

    [​IMG]

    It’s not muffled at all, no matter what the subtitles claim, and actually sounds like an extremely satisfying meaty thud. Daddy wants to know whose child it is, growing in her womb. She claims it’s his, of course, but… well.
    ‘What am I to do, Lord?’ He asks.
    ‘Oh, thanks, Lord,’ he says, in the tone of someone who has received a revelation. I give it 50-50 that he’s either hearing the voices of the High Ones, or has just gone off the deep end into full religious mania.
    A child born of sin is tainted, you see. That’s why, when it’s born, he wants to drown it in the trough outside.

    - Yikes. If ‘I’ set that fire after all… I can see why. To be so powerless to do the right thing…
    Daddy – the Daddy in front of me – claims that there’s no more time. He has to go. He’s craving it, you see. Crisp, bloody meat.

    - The Prophetess wakes with the line ‘Save them… we need to save them… Light the Beacon…’ on her lips.
    I’m not sure what’s going on there either, unless… unless she considered ‘saving her family’ to be ‘lighting the torch’, and is relating the fire of her childhood with the ‘torch = Beacon’ idea raised earlier and her helpless family with the Order members still living?
    I dunno, bit of a stretch, but probably something metaphorical like that.
    I am suspecting that lighting the Beacon is either not going to save the day, or straight up bring about the Apocalypse all the faster. In a genre like this, suspicious dream visions are usually pretty spot on, and Daddy has no faith in the Beacon at all.
    Plus… well. We miraculously find a mysterious old blueprint from ages past, we acquire the power stones that we already know have the High Ones whispering their lies through it… I’m seeing a lot of ways this could go wrong.

    - Jespar is waiting for me when I wake up.
    He’s apologizing for that thing from last time, presumably when I found him surrounded by prostitutes and he told me he’d sell me to Coarek for a gold piece and shit.
    There’s an option to ask about that line, but I figure it’s all water under the bridge by now.
    I mean, I’m not 100% sure he wouldn’t, but it’s kind of like 90% believing in him and 10% percent believing that even if he sinks the dagger I do wear a lot of armor and can stop time now.
    … Maybe 80-20?
    I believe in him more than not, anyway.
    He asks about my relationship status with Calia. Unfortunately for my OT3 (why have Calia and Jespar not been on a quest together, I need that snarky rogue/virtuous paladin-monster combination in my life, SureAI) I’m pretty sure I can’t just romance everybody.
    Heck, get Tealor Arantheal in on this, my heart is big. It can contain multiple waifus.
    Anyway, I go ahead and claim me and Calia are just friends (she was pretty clear about not starting anything because she’s a monster and I’m… kind of also a monster, but I still haven’t told anybody, what the hell, me)

    - I swing by and meet Lexil the Archmage and Yuslan to get my new marching orders. Yuslan isn’t sure this is wise, which sounds pretty credible when I learn that Lexil’s plan is apparently, to put me on a spaceship.
    See, what happens is that a Starling broke into an Order storeroom looking for materials to finish constructing his spaceship. The name’s Kurmai, which turns out to be the starling you meet when you first show up in Ark. He gives you a quest for hammerbird eggs.
    Mostly at the time he was notable for referring to himself as ‘he’, as in: Kurmai says, ‘He wonders if you’re quite well in the head.’
    But when the Order went back to his workshop, they noted a lot of similarities between his work – which he claimed was done using ancient Starling blueprints – and the Beacon. So he didn’t even get horribly murdered for being an infiltrator or whatever!
    The plan is to finish the spaceship and send someone – let’s be real here, it’ll be me 100% – to the goddamn moon along with Kurmai.
    Well, they call it the Star City, where Starling lore says the Ancient Fathers came from. But basically that.
    On a hunch and a prayer that the Beacon builders and the Ancient Fathers are one and the same, or coworkers or something.
    Woo boy.

    - Also as a side note, Lexil says that ‘the nightmares’ are becoming worse (did I know everyone was coming down with a bad case of nightmares? I don’t think I did), Red Madness is catching, and the Nehrimese are setting up guard posts throughout the land. They seem to be settling down for an occupation.
    I suppose it’s too much to hope that the Red Madness and the Nehrimese problems will solve themselves? Or rather, that the former will solve the latter? Probably too much to hope for, yeah.
    RE: Red Madness, Lexil hypothesizes that the High Ones are drawing strength from the chaos, or the Cleansing is approaching (or we activated the Beacon recently? Bit of an out there theory, but it does fit the evidence...). Civilians are vanishing from town – through the entropy barrier? – and showing up out in the wilderness, crazed and murderous.

    - Wandering about the city on some last-minute business before heading out, I notice laborers with city guard overseers here and there fixing the city, and that all exits are thoroughly barred.

    [​IMG]

    The only in and out of the city is by teleport scroll. I was wondering about that, honestly.
    Also some of the civilians that hang around to give the zones of Ark more color remember me and Tealor fighting back to back through the marketplace, which is kind of neat.

    But now it’s off to the Powder Desert to visit Kurmai’s workship.


    The Takeaway:
    The day after the siege, my nightmares might be over (if the figments in my dreams can be believed), there was some serious broken home stuff going on in the Prophetess’s past, I picked Jespar as my waifu, and now I’m guess I’m flying to the moon and gonna play among the stars.
    This reeeaaally feels like Lexil is stretching. Possibly because he’s half-Starling himself, so the idea of the Star City is really appealing to him? Have we really exhausted all other options here?

    Yeah, yeah, I’m going...
     
  24. SolipsistSerpent

    SolipsistSerpent Endlessly Devouring

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    Probably too hard to do after giving players the ability to customize their character. At least if you want an actual child and not just a super-deformed version of your character.
    You're Monster Buddies. Hopefully, some day you'll actually let her know that. Interesting that Jaspar was able to pick up on how close you two are.

    I honestly can't believe this game is sending you to the Moon. And you just made that Honey Mooners joke earlier. But the game really should have had a little more evidence to suggest that's where you should go-- just something to link the Beacon to the Moon, even if it's vague, like surviving sketches of the moon city showing something that looks roughly like the Beacon (but might be a different magical device) or the Beacon having writing on it that's also been found at Ancient Father sites (and the joke's on you that's actually the writing of the High Ones, who felled the Ancient Fathers), etc.
    Maybe it only stops things from getting IN. And ancient beacons driving men mad is a pretty established trope, so you might just be dooming everyone around your pet project. Of course, the barred gates should stop people from going out, but if they're mad, they might be throwing themselves over the walls.
     
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  25. Malorius

    Malorius Not too sore, are you?

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    Ah, Father, always brightens my day... I mean, fires me up. Uh... Reignites my passion to brutally murder him (again)?

    This is harder than I thought.
     
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  26. Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    Option D: All of the above?
    One thing this game doesn't do very well is give me the sense that my party members are pals outside of the Prophetess. They do a much better job selling me on the idea that the Nehrimese mahe contingent in the Order are all friends. Lishari tears Arantheal a new asshole over Constantine, she's ex-lovers with Yuslan who seems to be thinking up dire new entropic tortures for her killer if he ever gets ahold of them. Even the nameless nages have sound bites like"I wish Constantine was around to see this" and "Lishari would have loved this."

    Meanwhile I don't think I've ever seen Jespar and Calia in the same room together.
    Freakin' magic. I do kind of like the idea of them throwing themselves over the wall though, it has a nice comedic edge to this zombie apocalypse scenario.
     
  27. Threadmarks: Update 46
    Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    - The first step in getting to Kurmai’s workshop is taking a teleport scroll out to Duneville in the Powder Desert. How did Kurmai travel to and from Ark and his workshop halfway across the continent? The man must pay a fortune in teleport scrolls.
    The Nehrimese are also invading Duneville, but just a little. You know, just enough so one passing adventurer can tip the scales and assist in murdering all the invaders. More of aLuckily they don’t bring the boats they used to invade Ark, since Duneville is built half on stilts over the water of their little cavern grotto.
    It is a smuggler town, so possibly it’s really hard to find their hidden cove from the sea?

    - Wandering up the coast in search of the workshop, I run into:
    1) That little building called the Hollow Hand from ages ago, with the crucified corpses out front to discourage visitors. It turns out to contain two wizards and half a dozen marauders. It appears to be half tavern, half brewery, and half… hookah den?

    [​IMG]

    They’d probably do better business if they didn’t attack everyone who comes in the door and nail their corpses up outside as a warning to the others, but who am I to oppress the local small business owner?
    2) A ship come aground with, for once, non-aggro people in it. They don’t have much to say, but apparently this is Duneville’s Fruit Corporation. I assume this is a polite way of saying ‘smugglers of same’, but who knows? All I really know is that they’re a little confused about how the logging profession works.

    [​IMG]

    3) Of course, a little further down the coast is the DFC’s warehouse, which will try to murder you on sight. Getting a lot of mixed messages here, guys.

    I am digging the jungle biome with dirt brick house motif, though. Looks like it's not just the giant apes that like that building style, everybody's doing it!

    [​IMG]

    4) A cool little grotto call Kynea Grotto, equal parts shallow water (I appreciate the ripples as I move about), glowing crystal, rudimentary buildings and scaffolding taking advantage of the crystal, and the occasional vein of shadowsteel ore. Also, fire and soil elementals, and a mage hobo.

    [​IMG]

    After killing the crazed mage, I get to read a tattered diary that sheds some light on things. It seems that all these hidden caves with crystal growing everywhere I’ve been finding are also Pyrean ruins.
    If the statue the man has been worshipping can be trusted to be a factual historian, anyway. It’s been telling him stories of the Pyreans, and he keeps the tales tucked away so that he might someday ‘fulfill her wish’...
    There’s probably something to it, anyway, since after killing the mage an Oorbaya manifests itself and tries to punch my face in with its hideous hand-fist.
    Was that the spirit in the statue, trying too late to save its only worshipper?
    Was it like, his ghost or something? I seem to recall mages who reach too far (arcane fever 100%, perhaps?) turn into Oorbayas.
    Or… I think in Silvergrove when things came to a head there with Ryneus, an Oorbaya showed up like a mini-boss, do these things come from the High Ones?

    - Actually, thinking about it, I’m wondering if all these spooky-ass Lovecraftian statues tempting men’s souls – this one, Kor from that side quest in the tropics, the one that got Constantine, etc. – aren’t just small heathen gods in Enderal’s fucked-up cosmology, but rather Pyreans. I’m suddenly reminded of the temple where Constantine went full cultist, and the old goat telling us how the Pyreans could stick their souls into objects, and how crazy such a being would likely be after thousands of years…

    - Kurmai’s workshop is located in a cave amongst pumpkin-shaped cacti grown to huge sizes, and the occasional Red Madness’d individual. I appreciate that they have unique soundbites that make them sound fucking nuts (‘Bring him back!’ and the one who’s just counting prime numbers or something), and how they run the gamut from a level 1 unarmed peasant-woman to possessed bandits with rune armor and axes.
    I’m much less enthused about the Myrad sitting on the nearby cliff. I mean, after a while in this game the sight of those creepy cow-bird-insect things is synonymous with safe travel and the bank boxes that let you store loot. I figure, ‘Oh, new fast-travel point!’ and walk right up to it.
    This, of course, is a wildMyrad, and it turns out they’re kind of like fluffy black-eyed dragons. They fly around and have a glowing green breath weapon and… well, it’s been a while since the game murdered me, you know? You almost start to miss it, after a while…

    - Aaaanyway, Kurmai’s workshop!
    There’s a nice little ledge from which you can see the mighty vessel moored, which… appears to be an honest to god steampunk airship. This is what we’re going to be flying into space in?

    [​IMG]

    The Agnod, that beast of a sidequest crash-landed in the frozen north, was a flying saucer of 100% ancient metal. This one – and to hear one mage underling tell it, a similar ship being built in Anku, the Starling city – is made of wood and a canvas envelope.
    We Spelljammer now, lads.

    - The Order beat me here and have sent mages and laborers. It’s pretty busy with people down here actually. I’m not entirely sure what the Order folks are doing, because I’m quick to learn that most of the actual work is being done by those little Starling machine critters that look like spiders and are filled with cogs and meat.
    They’re underfoot in the walkways, poking around here and there, doing their thing.
    I actually meet Kurmai in the middle of an argument with one.

    [​IMG]

    Cute, right? Any entropy mage that had to brave Agnod is also probably pretty fond of them. As the only beastie in that junker that could be controlled by Entropic Blood, they were extremely crucial in me managing to brute force my way through that horrid place.

    - Kurmai needs materials for ‘Gertrude’ (all ships are girls you know), and apparently I’m the only one around here who can go dungeon diving for him. I was kind of hoping it would just be like, shadowsteel or something. But no, there are some very specific old Starling mines and camps I’ll need to hit up.
    Most notably, Thalgard, which appears to be the local name for ‘hubris’ and ‘overreach.’ Also, ‘toxic mist.’


    The Takeaway:
    Questions about why Kurmai built his workshop across an entire mountain range aside (maybe Duneville smugglers have dynamo cores on the cheap or something), I’m liking the quest so far. The possessed people and Nehrimese attacks sprinkled throughout familiar old locations do what they can to ratchet up tension, we knew about his material issues from minute one so the fetch quest follows logically, and ‘sail a wooden ship to the moon’ is at least interesting.
    I’m already assuming I’m going to have to do battle with the undead ghost of Dal’Marak in the toxic ruins of Thalgard over that stupid drive core, but I’ve been hearing about Dal’Marak in loading screens and in the hushed voices of tavern-goers for a while so I’m kind of looking forward to the forced side quest rather than dreading it.
    I do feel like these nested quest chains can really bog a story down if the links are too tenuous (“So I need the drive core to finish the ship to get me to the moon in the hopes of finding the Ancient Fathers who might know about the Numinos which will let me aim the Beacon to destroy the High Ones? Got it!”), hopefully that won’t be the case here.
     
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  28. Malorius

    Malorius Not too sore, are you?

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    Ah, Thalgard, I remember that place. Even if I really wish I do not. It's another one of Enderal' great but absolutely underdeveloped locations. There is a lot of things to find there if you squint - but mainly, prepare to get lost. Like, really, really lost.

    Hm, so Pyreans could put their souls into objects. Completely forgot about this detail, it puts some things into perspective. Things like "Why did they, ahem, «survive» when others perished? Is it a hole in High Ones' perception?" I will bring it up later, when it will be less spoiler-y, I guess. Soon.

    Oorbaya. Yeah, those are very nasty. Every mages's worst nightmare, the end for untrained and careless, manifestation of a badly managed Arcane Fever. Considered to be the peak of Entropy mastery as a summon, and a sign of madness to actually utilize. All combined, it puts a kill-on-sight target on your back in a backwards religious place like Enderal. But Prophet is too special for that, obviously!

    I definitely remember a story about one of the Oorbaya summoners (a mad serial killer kid who used his sister's corpse to bind her spirit in a semblance of life and exact vengeance on those who ruined his family, iirc) in a Prestige Class book. The Stealth/Entropy one.

    The marvels of Lore!
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2018
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  29. SolipsistSerpent

    SolipsistSerpent Endlessly Devouring

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    And that's the moral of today's story kids, never stick your soul into something without a plan to get it back out!

    Really, though, if your theory's right, that's some nice subtle world-building. It even explains why this statue is in these ruins.
     
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  30. Malorius

    Malorius Not too sore, are you?

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    Heh. There are few subtle things in this game. When developers want to give you something to think about, they usually deliver the surprise with a grace of a warhammer.

    But it's effective!
     
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