Last time, we learned some stuff about the tchiitra, mainly that the farmers are screwed.
The guard says stuff now:
Oh no, text box failure again. Maybe it’s got something to do with NPCs that offer quests.
Anyway, I’ve got some skill points, so let’s see what I can get.
I’m going to start with purchasing the passive skills, even though they’re the most expensive. Characters start with their passive skills completely untrained, and you have to purchase the first rank before they’ll begin to take effect. Each character has two passive skills – generally, one is fairly generic and just gets numerically improved every rank, while one is more special, with a different effect every rank (usually revolving around powering up the active skills). Dehl here is a bit of an oddball in that both his skills are the former. His first passive skill is just a chance for a critical hit on melee, but since I never use his melee attack I’m not wasting points on it. Instead I’ll put points into Unwavering Faith, which gives him a nice stat boost. (For some reason I couldn’t screencap it, but it’s basically the same as the teaser for rank 2 – I think it’s +5 willpower +1 agility or something.) I’m particularly interested in the agility boost, as passive skills are the only way to improve agility.
Poor Zargos didn’t have enough skill points, so let’s skip to Santes. Pure Cleric is useful if you want her to be a healer, but I’ll put it on the backburner for now and get the first level of Blessed Are We. “Bulwark” is overpowered for a first-rank passive skill – it gives her a massive agility boost in addition to a nice boost to her body defense. Most tier 1 passives only give one or the other. Regardless, this makes her much more effective.
Tehgonan’s two passive skills are a stat boost line and a skill improvement line. However, even with Geomancer, his skills still suck, so I’ll take the stat boost. (And I thought he was supposed to be a “spectrumancer”?) I feel like there should be a bit more leniency with the skill improvement passives – the way it’s set up, it feels like it’s ranking the various skill effects, and it also means that you have to trudge through powerups for skills you don’t use in order to get a useful one. It might have been better if you could choose the powerups in any order, with the ultimate rank 5 powerup only available after you’ve gotten the other four. Tehgonan’s rank 5 Geomancer skill is quite nice, actually – it’s a massive stat boost across the board instead of a skill powerup, presumably designed to counteract his awful stats and make him useable. However, it’s too little, too late – you’re only going to be getting rank 5 passive skills at the very end of the game, if you get them at all.
Fero has a melee improvement line that’s useless to me, and a line that’s a mix of stat boosts and skill improvements. “Predatory” will make him a little stronger, which is nice since he’s a bit lacking in that department.
Qualstio’s passive skills are rather similar to Tehgonan’s. He has a stat boost line and a skill improvement line (although the first stage is an agility boost for some reason). Qualstio’s wisdom stat is already through the roof, so I’ll pass on Arcane Barrier for now and take the agility.
Looks like the Fortian kid is willing to talk to me now. Let’s see what he has to say.
This guy talks in a very emotional, excited manner:
“My name is Brenetto. Fifth Rank Fortian… but I’m, I’m trying my best, yes. I traveled to Wadassia just recently, yes, to share with the world our newest creation! But…I…well, I was going to assemble it when I got here, so it didn’t get damaged…”
Unfortunately, he lost all the pieces. He wants the guild to try and recover them. Qualstio makes a jab about fetch quests sucking but I think this one is relatively painless. You don’t have to go on a completely separate quest just to get the pieces; they’re in places you visit anyway, so you just have to multitask a little.
He gives us a long rundown of the pieces. One of them’s the frame, which he says he lost at sea, so of course it washed up on shore somewhere and is definitely not lost forever. The second are the “discs”, which he stored in a sack and which he believes are still in the city. The third is an “analysis agent”, which he had entrusted to someone else, but they appear to have met misfortune on the road – he hypothesizes that a tchiitra might have scavenged it if it was lost.
He doesn’t offer the guild money for doing this though, oh no.
If I’m able to reassemble it, I’ll let your guild use the prototype! Fair payment, yes?”
Santes: “Yeah! Yeah! … What is it?”
Brenetto: “You’ll see, yes, you’ll see!”
He’s not very good at this, is he. He’s lucky the guild’s led by someone as selfless as Dehl. I guess they could theoretically negotiate other payments if they don’t like the prototype.
However…given that the whole guild structure is a commentary on RPG player behavior, I think this is potentially quite clever. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m always far more interested in unique items than money or even experience points when it comes to sidequest rewards. Perhaps some guilds are too?
I think I already know where one of the three items is.
Brenetto must be really incompetent if he can’t find something that’s like twenty feet away from him.
The next piece is a bit harder to find, but not terribly so. Back when I was hunting, there was a scout that looked like it should have been guarding something, but nothing happened when I defeated it. Now, though, I get a message.
That Tchiitra scout was carrying some sort of object in its mandibles. It appears to be box-shaped, and it clicks intermittently. It must be the device that Brenetto wanted us to find. And, if not, it’s still pretty neat and too cool to pass up.
So, it’s usual video game logic of the sidequest item doesn’t exist until the sidequest is triggered. (And look! I was totally right. We are all magpies deep down, aren’t we?)
I can’t get the frame yet; it’s located in a later quest area. For now, I’ll talk to a farmer I ignored in favor of the guard.
He seems to need someone tough for whatever job he’s planning. He explains that he runs a farm that contains a “Lushbrew Apple” tree. The fruit is only harvestable for a very short period of time, and that time is rapidly running out, so he wants someone to check up on it. That…seems like a pretty lightweight job. Why does he need tough soldiers for it? Is that area of the farm completely swarming in tchiitra and he’s just conveniently neglected to mention that? As to why he can’t do it himself:
with this heat and th’ bugs and all, I gotta tend to th’ fields close by. No time to go all dilly-dallyin’ around when there’s people starvin’ out there.
These farmers sure are dedicated to their work. I really hope they’re compensated fairly and not screwed over by the system like modern farmers.
Just let me know how it’s lookin’; if it’s ready for my Shra farmhands to pick it
Oh wait, they have slaves. Never mind.
Well, whatever. Let’s help the slaveowning farmer.
I can talk to the guard, who mentions a lost hiker. As with most starting-area quest NPCs, this hints towards a special objective, but it’s a singular event so most players will run into it anyway.
I can also talk to a “sunburned scientist” in the other corner.
“Mind the Tchiitra ambush spots in the grass. They look like discolored areas. You’ll be attacked if you step in one, and it will signal others in the area to be on alert. So, please, avoid them all if you can. We cannot all be so well-armed, you know.”
This is another one of the special objectives: avoid springing these traps. I’ll obey, even if it means less essence for me. Yay stealth!
There’s a workman up ahead who is freaking out about losing his tools somewhere in the tall grass. Fear not, the heroes are here! We’ll do all your miscellaneous fetch quests for you.
There’s a trap rather cleverly situated here. I carefully step around it.
Here we go. When I return them to the workman, he says, “I’ll, I’ll find some way to pay you and your guild back some day. You’ll see!” Dude, it took me like two minutes. No big deal. (And come to think of it, he never does pay them back, unless he personally donates the favor bonus.)
There’s a side path here. I follow it.
This is the lost hiker. He desperately asks which way to go even though he’s like five minutes from the entrance? I guess he lost sense of direction and doesn’t realize he can follow the river.
Then, because it’s very important to make sure we know Dehl’s life sucks, we get this:
Sweaty Looking Fellow: “Er, wait, you… N-never mind.”
Dehl: “Of course I can help. Follow me to the trail—”
Sweaty Looking Fellow: Wait a minute, you understand me? You can… talk?”
Dehl: “Uh. Is this a trick question?”
Sweaty Looking Fellow: “But, you’re…a Shra?”
Dehl: “Do you wish to get out of here or not? If you prefer, I can just point where to go.”
Sweaty Looking Fellow: “I… sure, yeah, pointing. Yeah.”
…Anyway, I clear out some of the tchiitra in the area, and move north.
Dehl: “That Tchiitra. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s…glowing. Orange.
Suddenly, the bugs all turn and notice the group.
This is actually a pretty tough battle. The same music for this chapter’s boss battle plays during it, and I daresay it’s appropriate. That “firefiend” in the middle is incredibly dangerous, and the sheer number of other tchiitra can wear you down even further.
This is the firefiend’s special attack, and it hits hard. Significant mind damage to everyone within a large area, and it heat-enchants the squares afterward. Even at full health, most of my party members will be instantly defeated if they’re standing on a burned square when this hits. Dehl, being cold-elemental, is hit particularly hard, but Zargos and Fero aren’t looking too good either.
After I get rid of the other enemies, things become a bit easier. Unfortunately, I can’t exploit any elemental weaknesses, because it’s physical, and I don’t have any mental attacks. I can, however, exploit its light armor weakness. I put Santes on the front line and have her tank, with Dehl and Zargos standing just outside of Phospho Spray’s range. Dehl’s White Cleave and Zargos’ regular attack deal some pretty significant damage.
Victory! And I made it without losing anyone. The firefiend went down surprisingly fast once I concentrated my efforts on it – I think you’re actually supposed to kill it first instead of picking off the flunkies. That’s a reversal of the typical approach to flunky bosses, come to think of it.
So they are used for brews. Apparently people eat them normally, though. I guess there are some masochists who will eat them even though they’re described as “inedible”? Or maybe they’re more edible when cooked.
Ques walks up to the tree and says he’s made all the necessary records. With that, the quest is finished.
Hm, is this still sarcastic or could it be genuine? It’s getting harder to tell.
I also acquire a new cutscene.
Oh hey, rain. Maybe that’ll help with the drought problem.
Dehl: “Thank you. I shall wait nearby for him to complete his business, then, if I may.”
Human Guard: “In the rain? Well…I guess it doesn’t bother you much, since you have no hair and all.”
It would still get his clothes wet, though. And if he’s coldblooded, chilly rain could be very dangerous to him. …Huh, maybe shra aren’t coldblooded? That could be interesting. It would certainly explain how they don’t freeze to death when wearing white clothes.
“Go ahead and keep that sword, too. You picked the one with the blunted edge, right?”
Wait, what? But it deals slashing damage. White Cleave does too, but that’s a special technique so maybe he’s using magic to sharpen it. There are no such excuses for his regular attack.
“Heh, I remember how long it took before you’d even pick up a sword at all. Then you go and pick the one that can hardly cut anything anyway.”
BUT IT DEALS SLASHING DAMAGE.
Actually…huh, I wonder if Dehl has a phobia of edged weapons? That would make sense.
Dehl: “My cold-cast sword? Thank you very much. I shall leave you to your post, Sir.”
Huh, I think my theory about him liking the guard because they’re nicer to him may be true. This guy at least certainly seems far nicer than the people he’s interacted with elsewhere.
But of course, this is Dehl, and therefore any happiness in his life must be immediately followed by misery. He accidentally smacks into this guy as he backs away. Him and his wife (I presume) start laying on the verbal abuse, and eventually the man escalates it to physical.
An Unseen Voice: “Hey!”
Oh look, Qualstio’s here! We have nothing to worry about now that such a trustworthy and virtuous man is on the scene.
Dehl: “Qualstio…Tehgonan… I brought this upon myself. Please, leave me.”
Dehl nooo D:
Tehgonan: “Hey! He might be a Shra, but he’s OUR Shra, so bugger off, ya punks.”
Such inspiring words. The man misinterprets this to mean Dehl’s their thrall and says as much. Dehl does not like this, saying “I am thrall to no one,” though more to himself than the others, I think.
…Huh. You know what might have been a good backstory for Dehl, maybe even better than his real one? What if he never really was a Sikohlon, but an escaped slave? He could have put on the Sikohlon persona after hearing about them and tried so desperately to act the role that he started believing it himself, maybe to atone for murdering a bunch of people during his escape. This line would certainly make more sense if that was the case. I don’t see why he’s so affected by this, honestly? It provokes arguably even more of a response than mentions of the Blue Plague, yet he never has or had any involvement or experience with slavery. Just a few lines earlier he was making a bit deal about keeping his head down and not escalating things, so I feel like he’d only speak up now if this was incredibly important to him. Perhaps this was intended to foreshadow something that got cut?
The man becomes angrier and moves to attack (presumably; it’s not conveyed in the sprites). Qualstio steps in:
I didn’t screencap this well, but Qualstio used his Sand Comet spell to send him flying. I know he was being a jerk, but from how high and fast he’s been flung, I think he’s going to be pretty messed up. That’s a bit disproportionate.
Also there is a guard RIGHT THERE how does no one notice this.
Tehgonan: “Haha, AWESOME.”
Tehgonan is really shaping up to be a sociopath.
The woman runs off after the man, leaving the group alone.
Dehl: “Kah… Qualstio? Why did you do that?”
Yes, he was being honest back there. That’s really, really messed up. This is almost definitely one of the reasons Qualstio wants him to leave the city.
Dehl: “I would never strike one of my own counrymen, even one deserving.”
Tehgonan: “But, that guy was gonna clock you good!”
Dehl: “And rightly so. I was in error.”
Yeah we’re going full-on Stockholm syndrome here. Or at the very least, something like an oppressed second-class citizen being a true believer in a despotic regime. I actually really like those kinds of characters, they’re delightfully creepy on a psychological level.
Tehgonan: “So, wait, you never get angry?”
Dehl: “… … …Never.”
This…is probably intended to look like a really obvious lie except he really doesn’t, does he? At least prior to this. I was thinking maybe resentment at all the shra haters but this scene just established that he doesn’t actually resent them. Unless this is referring to anger towards himself, which…yeah, that would make sense.
The conversation moves on to why he was here in the first place. Turns out he’s decided to resign from the guard – of his own free will! That’s nice. On my first playthrough, I was really worried he’d be fired after Qualstio’s “I’m sure they won’t notice you’re gone” jab. It’s nice to see there’s a glimmer of hope for Dehl and not everyone’s a morally bankrupt bigot. You need those moments of happiness to make a story of suffering work – otherwise it feels like you’re overdoing it and the tragedy become hollow.
Tehgonan: “Uh huh, and you picked the one that pays better, right?”
Dehl: “Mmm… I’ve my reasons.”
poisoned his mind got through to him then. He turns away.
Dehl: “Pardon me.”
Qualstio: “Wait, where are ya going?”
Dehl: “To tend to the wounds of that man which you have so graciously relieved me of.”
Qualstio: “What?! What if he tries to attack you again?”
You’d think that both of them would be used to this by now, given that Dehl said it was a common occurrence. Qualstio’s surprise doesn’t make sense if he’s seen something like this before.
Dehl: “Then my fate is sealed as such. Fret not. I shall return shortly.”
Instead of telling Dehl he’s being an idiot, Qualstio just walks the other way and leaves him alone because what is consistent character behavior. We never see the outcome of Dehl’s ill-conceived attempt at philanthropy, but somehow I can’t imagine it ending well.