Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Bloodstone: Groaners

Does speaking intelligibly include knowing when to use "who" instead of "that"?
At the end of my last Bloodstone session, I had been trying to reach a northern island in pursuit of a scepter, but it was a stupid quest, as I didn't even know what island. I had teleportal combinations to a couple of them. Teleportal chambers work by using a selection of tiles called "aster," "berat," "dunha," "henta," and "otala." Each combination is three tiles. You (U)se them in the three positions in front of a gateway. After you lay the third tile, you're automatically teleported to your destination. Unfortunately, the destination isn't another teleportal chamber but a random wilderness square, so it can be hard to find your way back.
Laying down the tiles.
I searched through my notepad for the combination to the island marked on the map as "Balat." I love this process. I wish every game kept an automatic log of the text you've encountered like this. I don't even mind that it's organized chronologically instead of topically, and that it takes a long time to conduct some searches. Too much organization would ruin it. (I want the game to give me some help, not hold my hand.) This is a feature utterly lacking in most modern games despite how packed they are with lore. I shouldn't have to go to an online wiki to remember where I heard a name 20 hours ago.
The vital note.
It turns out I had learned the combination to Balat in the tavern of Phoroshe. I went to the chamber, laid the tiles, and--poof!--I was on a new island.
I explored about, running into some combat with thamalques (undead). I'm not sure if I've covered this in the past, but as you move around the wilderness, only some fixed locations (like cities) are constantly visible. To see most places--dungeons, teleportal chambers, camps, groves, mushroom patches--you have to be within one square. This means that to find everything, you have to essentially lawn-mow an area. I frankly admit that I save before doing this and reload if I haven't found anything after a couple of game days of searching. I don't know if time means anything in the game, but I don't want to risk it.
A dungeon entrance appears when I'm one square away.
With this method, I found a store run by a Tlengle (lizard-man) named Tenglog. He sold only picks and ropes and offered to buy shovels for the wood of the handles. I guess this island doesn't have much wood. A camp had another Tlengle named Rifnrnra. She fancied herself a comedian, told a terrible joke, and gave me the teleportal combination for her home island. This was the joke:
Q: What do you call a Tlatol that can speak intelligibly?
A: A genius!
Near the shore, yet another Tlengle trained in "Swimming." I took the time to complete a couple of sessions with him, as I'm getting sick of some of my weaker characters not being able to cross rivers.
Finally, I found a dungeon in the northern part of the island. Only then did I realize that I didn't have a password to this particular dungeon. And all my explorations of this island had failed to turn up a teleportal chamber. I had to reload from back on the mainland and lose a couple of hours of progress.
Well, @#$%.
Objective-based exploring had gotten me nowhere, so I decided to go back to systematic exploring. I had a couple of dungeons marked as "too hard for now," one in the southeast called SeaTemple, and one to the northeast called DarkTemple. I decided to conquer them come hell or high water.
The typical end to a battle against ghosts.
It was no picnic. Both temples had tough enemies that required me to enter every room with Gonshis (multiple actions per round), Mirgets (next hit causes massive damage), and Nifts (protect against next three physical hits) loaded and shields maximized. Once in the rooms, I had to "Jump" fighters directly to enemies, and I had to use Gonshis and Mirgets practically every round. Even then, I lost about a third of my battles, and there was at least one battle against a dozen ghosts that I had to fight about six times before I won.
Danat, my best fighter, does a little damage to a killgrill.
My most hated enemies were "killgrill." They look like scorpions but have a lightning-based attack. They also have strong armor and shields and powerful physical attacks. They can survive multiple Mirget-fueled attacks. I tore my party to pieces against them. "Skeletiers" are no fun, either--giant spiders with over 200 hit points and "Shatter" and "Freeze" attacks.
Employing a summoned enemy against skeletiers.
The exercise was good for my magic knowledge. I learned the value of spells that I had rarely cast before, including "See" to see ghosts who go invisible and "Courage" to reverse "Fear." Pran and Maxon, my two primary spellcasters, had started the game with a handful of spells we haven't purchased the totems for yet, so I have no easy way to replenish them. Still, a few spells from their small starting arsenals were worth a lot in a pinch, particularly "Wherrigan" (summons a powerful ally), "Motility" (reverses paralysis), "Imbecile" (prevents an enemy from casting spells), and "Timestop" (gives the party an extra round).
"Timestop" gives us an extra round.
The SeaTemple had three levels. Rooms had the usual treasures--tiles, mushrooms, gold, gems. On the second floor, in a chest in a corridor, I found a magic axe called "Natal" that no one is strong enough to wield. In a room, I found an Azure Hide, which I assume is the Hide of the Azure Sky Shark, an artifact that an NPC had asked me for last time.
Hmpf. Then it's probably poorly balanced and not a good axe anyway.
As you explore dungeons, characters occasionally have bits of dialogue. The problem is, I think that only certain characters will say certain lines, and if you didn't take those characters, you only get the other characters' reactions. For instance, take the screenshot below, in which Maxon pipes up with a comment beginning with "Actually." It sounds like he's responding to someone, but no one else spoke. I Googled Maxon's comment and found that he's supposed to be responding to another character, who would have said, "Benches, bones, and books--what a great combination!" But that character isn't with the party, so we only got Maxon's reply.
I hate people who begin sentences with "actually." Imagine how I feel about people who begin entire conversations with it.
The final battle in the dungeon was an oddly easy one, with just over a dozen "Felfrin." I'm not sure what they're supposed to do, but they die in one (regular) hit, and I cleaned them out in a single round, before they could attack. 
Eventually, we came to the frozen chamber of the sleeping god Melmalan--the first that I've found in the game. This is a staple of all the games in the Candle series: ancient gods are all sleeping in special chambers, and you can briefly awaken them for bonuses. I paged through my notepad until I found information about Melmalan, the god of the sea, including the codeword (HOROOPA) that would wake him up. I whispered the word . He awoke and gave us all +1 strength, +1 endurance, +1 intelligence, +2 dexterity, +1 charm, and +15 swimming. The strength boost was not enough for anyone to be able to wield Natal.
I think I'd be crankier if someone woke me up after hundreds of years.
Nearby, another teleportal chamber took us back to the surface without forcing us to walk back down three stories.
The DarkTemple was less lucrative. I had already cleared some of it in a previous session. Unless I missed something, it's only a single level, but a very complicated one, with multiple portals and stairways up and down creating a twisting maze. I'm not sure I found everything, and I'll probably take another swat at it later. I discovered the chamber of the sleeping god Palelil, god of the Taldor, but alas I didn't have the code word for him.
Maybe, since I'm trying to destroy them, I shouldn't awaken the Taldor god anyway.
This entry is so short because a storm hit while I was in the middle of it, and we lost power again. The wind was blowing so hard it was terrifying. The house groaned.
Earlier in the day, I had been doing some work outside and had slipped and fallen in some mud. I had taken off my muddy pants and tossed them over the railing of the back deck to deal with later. Later, as Irene and I looked out the back door at the piling snow, a gust of wind gathered up my hanging trousers and carried them away.
Irene turned to me and said, "The pants, sir, are blowing in the wind."
It's 12 hours later and the wind has died down, but I think the house is still groaning.


  1. And here I thought "Groaners" was for the bad joke and losing two hours of progress and not your house :)

  2. (Blades of Arkania)

    1. That was an awfully silly thing to use your one comment on.

    2. This reminds me, do you remember a post where you complained that a game didn't satisfactorily resolve a mystery? I think maybe it was in an Ultima, 6 or 7? Someone did a hilarious imgur with Jonathan Frakes delivering your analysis of the mystery. Yesterday I spent like half an hour unsuccessfully trying to track this down (and for some reason reading a bunch of your nethack posts on the way).

    3. :-D

  3. Your house groaning honestly just sounds like a typical Tuesday in the midwest. Minus a cow through the window.

    Speaking of bad puns, shouldn't a "killgrill" have fire attacks? I'm sure you can cook something with lightning, but not grill it. It'd make more sense if they were fire gorillas or something.

    1. I believe they do make electric grills, but does cooking something on one really count as grilling it? Seems like the kind of question that could spark off an epic flame war.

    2. It sounds more like a monster from early M&M, to be honest.

    3. Actually, (sry) a scorpion with lightning attacks sounds like a D&D monster. At least there's one like that in Dungeon Hack (called Scaladar).

  4. Irene turned to me and said, "The pants, sir, are blowing in the wind."

    Do you remember the tagline from the old Geritol commercial? (A pun like that is a far better basis than making you take Geritol!)

  5. I await news on the recovery of the pants.

    1. I suspect they're long gone. They got carried into the ravine, which has subsequently flooded worse than I've ever seen it.

      Maine got hit with two windstorms that brought record high tides this week. Tons of coastal properties were obliterated. I'm on a hill, fortunately. I just lost some roof shingles and stairs.

    2. That is unfortunate. Life is cruel.

  6. It sounds as if one complaint about the earlier mainline games - that the combination of 'Jump' and mushrooms makes most combats too easy, so you do not use many other mechanics - does not equally apply here. Unless you did these two dungeons 'too early' and the rest will be a walk in the park (let's not hope so for your and our enjoyment).

  7. Thanks a lot for your written preservation of Game 493: Dungeons and Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun

    Its helped me get past a really sticky spot, and it feels like I'm playing the game with someone else so it felt like a fun parasocial experience. I loved reading through every bit of it. Its a bit weird too because its not the type of console you usually play either.

  8. I'm not sure who had the smartest idea to have names like "Natal axe" and spells like "Imbecile", but you get the idea where the desire to parody CRPG's comes from; give it enough iterations and the writing becomes insufferable.

    1. What’s the issue with natal?

      As for imbecile, I suspect its just a synonym for D&D’s feeblemind.

    2. Emm, what exactly do you hack away with natal sword? And does it come in a set with prenatal pantaloons and post-natal greaves?

    3. I think it's a proper noun, ala Excalibur. It could just be a made-up name the writer was unaware was also a word, but if the axe were wielded by the founder of the kingdom, 'Natal' would actually be a pretty cool name.

  9. I'd say those pants are... Gone With The Wind


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