Last time, I was given an opportunity to strike a true blow against the tchiitra. Time to see if Hiu’s theory was correct.
Dehl suddenly says he smells something weird. Fero hears something, too. The rest of the party is more sensory-deprived and has no idea what they’re talking about. Everyone moves forward.
Everyone starts freaking out. Tehgonan, surprisingly on the ball for a little kid, says maybe they can back away slowly and come back with guards.
Looks like it’s already noticed them. A shrieking noise accompanies this. Fero says other tchiitra are rapidly approaching.
Qualstio: “DESTROY IT!”
For once I agree.
And here’s our first real boss, significantly easier than Yat due to the combined factors of having twice as many party members and the boss not having a “you die now” attack. Playing elemental rock-paper-scissors will be tricky, though – it has a special armor with no weaknesses, and I have no mental attacks to exploit its physical affinity.
It starts the battle with Fungal Harvest, which increases all three regeneration rates for all its allies. It looks intimidating, but just like debuffs, buffs only increase regeneration by a fixed rate. They don’t increase defense, so I can still defeat its underlings fairly easily.
Carrion Boil (which for some reason I could not capture the animation for) is the closest thing the broodmistress has to Yat’s Lightning Strike in terms of sheer power. It’s not nearly as bad, though – it can hurt Santes, but her mind stats are good enough that she can take it. It leaves defiled squares, which can be dangerous if it’s used twice in a row, but with three casters, I can cancel out the enchantments with my own pretty quick.
Pebble Shock is meh. Even Tehgonan isn’t hurt too badly by it.
With the sheer amount of enchantments getting thrown around, Tehgonan gets to actually be useful for once. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get him on a mental square to hit the broodmistress’ elemental weakness, but imbuing Prism with any enchantment at all gives it a boost, so this will do.
The broodmistress is still pretty strong even after defeating her flunkies, but she can’t hold up to a concentrated assault. She stays in the back the whole battle and is thus out of range of my melee fighters, but Fero and the spellcasters provide enough firepower to take her out.
Because he’s a dick, Qualstio tells him to poke it if he wants to be sure.
Looks like it wasn’t the only source of the shrieking, though. Dehl says it came from the left.
The fih’jik flounders around for a bit, then turns to them.
Dehl tells Qualstio to remove the webbing.
Qualstio: “Hooo, feisty little lady, aren’t we! Hold still, toots, and I’ll get you riiiight out.”
Hello surprise misogyny. He burns away the webbing, which, again, raises the question of why he couldn’t burn that one earlier.
The fih’jik asks who they are, but they turn the question back on her, wondering how she got stuck here. She introduces herself as Lani and says she was exploring when a rainstorm flooded the tunnels and trapped her.
Qualstio: “That rainstorm we had! That was days ago! You musta been miserable down here.”
Lani: “Tshyeh, I hadn’t noticed.”
…How’d she survive without water? She might have been able to drink the floodwater, but if she was trapped in place here that wouldn’t have been possible. I guess this is just another instance of her incredible durability.
Dehl mentions they’re from Wadassia, to which she takes offense: “Real obnoxious lot you all are. And now I guess I hafta thank you.” She does, but then declares she’s going to leave. Zargos says she’s a wreck and should take some time to recover.
Lani: “Humph! My strength never leaves! I can smash you solid – just say the word!”
Santes: “Oh no you don’t! Hands off my husband, if ya know what’s good for ya!”
If I have to read it so do you.
Dehl agrees that she should rest and offers her a room in the guild’s quarters. Lani reluctantly agrees, but only because he’s a shra. People are understandably perplexed. Fero says he knows why, but refuses to explain beyond a vague Ours is an…odd relationship, with the Shra people.
Dehl: “Come because I’ve asked you to, and not because ‘one of me’ did. Understood?”
Why does Dehl get snippy about this? He doesn’t care about all the prior racism but all of a sudden he’s concerned about this. What, is it because it’s positive discrimination? Is his self-loathing really so extreme that that’s the only discrimination he objects to?
The camera then cuts to the right and shows some hatchlings mourning the broodmistress I think? Or maybe they’re supposed to be newly-hatched. To me that implies that yes, the broodmistress is just going to be replaced and this is only a temporary solution.
Ques has obtained a travel license, as well as the ability to add new members to the roster. Qualstio immediately jumps on this and assumes it means they can ignore the party size limit, but Ques says that’s still a no. For some reason he doesn’t explain what new members would actually do in that case.
Dehl says he’s pleased with the work they’ve done in Wadassia and looks forward to helping another area. Aw, he’s finally expressing a smidgen of happiness!
Ques: “Mmm, the human city of Nal, to the east, is the closest geographically. However…”
Qualstio: “Nal, huh? Been there once. The kinda place we don’t wanna hang around in. All kinds of crime, and slaves, and disease, and dirt, and people who just don’t care.”
So of course the next place on the list is a nasty cesspit of crime and corruption. Haven’t you learned not to tempt fate by feeling positive emotions, Dehl? He’s unfazed, though – “If the people there are in need of aid, then we stay as long as necessary.”
Suddenly, Lani barges in.
Ques: “It seemed prudent to allow you to rest undisturbed, Lady Derra.”
It seemed prudent to leave a stranger alone in your guild house? She could have robbed you blind! And even ignoring the pragmatic angle, it’s a dick move to offer someone shelter and then disappear in the morning. You could at least have left a note!
Lani: “I want to come with you! I HAVE to come with you!”
Dehl: “Well, that was rather to-the-point.”
Nooo Dehl you’re like the only character who’s not a snarky jerkface don’t catch the sicknessssss
She goes on about how she has nowhere else to go and can’t really do anything on her own, claiming she can’t keep fighting as she is. Dehl immediately jumps on this by telling her to cast aside her arms and live a life of peace, but she says she can’t do that either.
Lani: “I got to fight. I don’t care what, or where. But… I ain’t good enough… When I messed up, and I was stuck down there, alone…before you all came… I just… I… Urggggaaaah…”
So I guess she’s a faux action girl then. Pity.
Dehl: “Calm yourself. We needn’t any sort of hysterics in a place such as this.”
And now she’s being described as hysterical. Lovely.
I guess it’s time to bring up the biggest problem I have with The Reconstruction: If you’re looking for a good portrayal of female characters, this is not your game. Oh, sure, it’s loads better than the disgusting YA books Farla’s been reviewing, but only because that’s a very low bar. I think the developer does at least try to have action-y girls in his cast, but there’s just so few of them and they’re all consistently sidelined by the narrative. Fortunately, the prequel, I Miss the Sunrise, is much better in this regard, so the developer is improving at least. I think he still has a ways to go, though.
Qualstio thinks they should take her up on her offer. She “might” be able to “help us out after all”, he says.
Dehl: “Hmm. T’was a brave thing to scour the caves alone, and braver still to admit her faults to us.”
So actually doing something isn’t nearly as brave as admitting she couldn’t really do it?
Qualstio: “Forget that, look at her! Built like a boulder!”
Hmm. Fih’jik are actually supposed to be the frailest of the three species; Lani is a freak exception in this regard. Odd that no one comments on this. It’s not given as much mention as the Fortian and shra stat layouts, so perhaps the developer hadn’t solidified this until The Drop.
Qualstio throws her a bone (I guess) by building up her self-esteem with “are you strong/tough”-style questions, so which she answers emphatically in the affirmative. Then…
Qualstio: “Can ya follow orders? Don’t mind bein’ pushed around by Dehl over there?”
Lani: “My life is discipline! Your mission becomes mine. Just tell me what to crush!”
So…the last and most important aspect of her we learn in this defining character introduction is that she can follow orders and has no real will of her own. Great.
However, Dehl brings up the party size limit – they can’t bring her with them without leaving someone behind.
Qualstio: “So you could take a break! You can go back to your li’l gate guarding hobby, just like you wanted!”
I thought the whole reason Qualstio was being a patronizing jerk and trying to get Dehl fired was because he thought the guard was bad for him! But I guess ruining Dehl’s life is just a hobby and he was being a dick for no reason?! Aaaaaaaaagggghhhhh
Fortunately, Ques has discovered a compromise based on a wording technicality like a true bureaucrat: the guild is only limited to six armed individuals at a time. It can still hold additional members, they’re just limited to “supporting roles”, whatever that means. Cheerleading? Dehl is satisfied with this, and asks Lani to join. She is a “wandertower”.
A toughened, heavily-armored Fih’Jik female warrior, she fights with a massive tower shield and insatiable urge for victory. Proficient at stunning and disabling enemies, and strengthening allies to fight together in formation.
And that’s Lani, in a nutshell. I want to like her, I really do. She’s such a good basis for an awesome fighter lady, but the execution is just so awful. I do think the writing for her improves as time goes on – she doesn’t have another breakdown like this and generally seems to be portrayed as emotionally competent – but this character-establishing introduction is still really, really bad. Furthermore, she’s probably the most static character in the story. Everyone else has at least some character development, even if the game sometimes stretches for it, but she never really develops, or has much involvement in the plot at all, honestly. What you see is what you get.
She is a good contrast with Fero, though. At first I thought that him being so straight-laced and stoic was a fih’jik cultural thing, and then Lani shows up and nope!
Characters who support members in the active party cannot fight, but gain essence and skill/mana points alongside their partner. Additionally, certain character pairings will yield stat benefits for both. Experiment with amicable characters to find match-ups!
Yessss. I personally find this mechanic to be pretty fun. It’s nice to see little characterization snippets by pairing the right characters together.
Suddenly, the Blue Guard walks in.
Adi is the human, Cort is the shra, by the way.
Havan: “Congratulate our friends here for their continued unwavering service to Wadassia.”
Ooookay. He’s really into this. I wonder how much of this is just for show? Could he really be genuine at this stage?
Dehl, more in touch with reality, deflates him and gets down to business, asking him how the search went. He says it went well.
Havan: “The mines are of great interest to the Blue Guard, and require much delving. While our progress yielded little on the Tchiitra threat as it stands…”
So your search didn’t go well, then. You wasted time on a wild goose chase. And that “of great interest to the Blue Guard” sounds really, really shady.
There is indeed something of interest which shall be explored to the fullest! In fact, I’m here to request a blockade so that only Blue Guard members may enter.
Yeah this is really suspicious. He completely failed at his appointed task, but found something else he claims is important but won’t say what it was, and also he won’t allow anyone else to see it. I wonder if in the initial draft the artifact had some eldritch properties and was supposed to be mindcontrolling him? This is pretty extreme. The idea that he’s becoming this obsessed out of his own free will is much more compelling and fits with his character more, but I think this stretches suspension of disbelief a bit, especially since no one ever calls him out on it.
He does provide a flimsy excuse of it being to protect squishy civilians from wandering into danger, which Dehl swallows…and apparently so does everyone else? I can see an idealist like Dehl taking him at his word, but do even the cynics like Qualstio and Ques not realize something’s up here?
Well, whatever. Dehl mentions the guild is heading to Nal, and they leave. However, something gives Dehl pause.
Ah, we have a name. Moke looks surprised to see Dehl. Apparently he’s been gone for several days. Huh, does that mean they have separate houses? I got the impression they lived together.
Moke has apparently agreed to meet the representative of “that organization”. Dehl asks if he’s perfected his “special magic craft”. Why in the world are they being so coy about this? The only time I’ve ever seen people talk like this is in translated Japanese novels, and I presume it sounds natural in the original language. This really reads like they’re tying language into knots for no other purpose than to hide information from the reader.
Moke: “I intend to perfect it while in service to the Council.”
Oh, so they do explicitly mention the council. So, wait, is this “organization” something else? I’m confused.
Moke is nervous about things going wrong. Dehl encourages him to be confident, and says that he’s leaving the city. He also says I am leaving you in charge of the house so wait they do live together? Maybe Dehl’s been living in the guild quarters.
Dehl: “I wish to hear of your acceptance when I do return.”
Hmm. Is this support from a friend, or an expectation/demand from a master? I suppose it can be read as both.
With that, chapter 1 is pretty much over.
There’s a new quest, as you can see. This one is just an optional bonus sidequest. I’ll be putting it on hold for now, though, because it bestows a skill point bonus, and I’m going to be getting a new party member soon. Yes, I’m a shameless minmaxer, sorry.
Speaking of new party members, let’s look at Lani.
She’s slower than molasses in January, but she’s tough – even tougher than Zargos. Her Inner Strength skill makes her mind and soul even tougher, making her a truly well-rounded tank. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have much offensive potential. This is a problem, since a good offense is the best defense in this game. She only has one offensive skill, though it inflicts a different damage type than her regular attack, so she can still inflict two damage types (barely). Her main selling point is Rising Morale, which grants the empower status (+3 soul regen) to everyone. Knockout can be useful against bosses, too – it inflicts stun and disable, which can be crippling if used at the right time.
I’ll probably get rid of her in favor of someone else eventually, but for now, she’s still better than Tehgonan. Speaking of him…
I’ve attached him to Qualstio, since they have a good support combination. Qualstio is, oddly enough, rather lacking in the intelligence stat. This makes up for that deficiency, with some bonus agility thrown in as well. (And for some reason the two find this hilarious.)